September 26, 2018 O'Connor's Americana Collection
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 9/26/2018
WASHINGTON, George (1732-1799). Autograph docketing on the verso of a manuscript table or memorandum inscribed by the future First President, "Length of the River Ohio--from Fort Pit[t]--with the Distances from place to P[lace]. pr. Mr. Hutchins" on the verso of the second sheet, no place, no date. The manuscript itself is written in an as-of-yet, unidentified and entitled "Dissance [sic--Distance] from Fort pitt to the Mouth of the Ohio". 2 pages, folio sheet, 12 5/8 x 7 7/8 inches. On laid paper with "Pro Patria/GR" watermark, bearing docket and endorsement by Washington as previously noted. Minor age toning, central fold professionally reinforced from recto. An important and compelling document, relating to Washington's adventures in the Trans-Allegheny frontier prior to-, during- and following his service in the French & Indian War and his lifelong interest in travel and land acquisition in the Ohio Valley. The manuscript, in an as-of-yet, unidentified hand, exhibits some irregularities in spelling: "dissance" for "distance," "plasses" for "places," and "seid" for "side"; these suggest that the scribe may have been a German-speaker. Further research may permit an identification to be made, who may have been one of the assistants to frontier explorer and cartographer, Thomas Hutchins (or one of the Indian traders or guides who assisted them in their surveys and explorations). In the form of a vertical table, the manuscript sets out in columns a series of 34 places, tributaries, and other landmarks along the torturous 1164-mile course of the Ohio River from Fort Pitt (later Pittsburg) through present-day West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois to empty into the Mississippi at Cairo. The original compiler, evidently Thomas Hutchins, precisely records the distance between each landmark (in units as small as 1/4 mile); in a separate column is a running tally of the distance (totaling 1164 miles); at the right, in four places, are the geographical coordinates for four key locations: the mouth of the Scioto River, the Great Falls (near Louisville, Ky.) the mouth of the Wabash and the junction of the Ohio with the Mississippi. Among the landmark features noted are "Loggs Town," "Big Bever Creek," "Mingo Town" (an Indian village), "Muskinggum River," "Great Kunhawa [Kanawha] River," "Great Buffalow Lick," "Littel Miami River," "Kentucky River," "the Falls of Ohio," "Waebash River," "Kean or Showany River," "Cheereka [Cherokee] River," and "Fort Missiac [Massac] River," as well as such intriguing landscape features as "where the Elophanto Bons [elephant bones] are found," "where the Low Contery Begains" (just beyond present-day Louisville), "the [beginning] of the 5 Island," "the Big Rock & Cave" (probably Cave in Rock, Illinois). Most of these can be pinpointed today; many names are unchanged. Eight entries are preceded by a small note "NS," at the bottom, the compiler explains that "where thiss marck stand NS are Rivers and plasses of the North Seid." On the recto, Washington has boldly docketed this work: "Length of the River Ohio - from - Fort Pit[t] with the Distances from place to P. Pr. Mr. Hutchings." Washington's first trip into the western country was his well-known mission at age 21, accompanied by Christopher Gist and an Indian guide, as courier for Virginia's Governor Dinwiddie to the French frontier outpost at Fort Le Boeuf. Washington made a second journey across the Alleghenies in 1754, commanding a detachment of Virginia troops reinforced by a British independent company in order to take control of the strategic forks of the Ohio (confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers), but suffered a humiliating defeat at hastily-built Fort Necessity while retreating from a superior French and Indian force. The next year he served as volunteer aide to Major General Edward Braddock on a more ambitious expedition against the newly-built French fort at the forks--Fort Duquesne--with its well-chronicled, and disastrous results for the Anglo-American side. Finally, in 1758, as a clonel of the Virginia Regiment, he served under Brigadier General John Forbes and Colonel Henry Bouquet in yet another campaign against Fort Duquesne. This attempt was successful: the French abandoned it without resistance and it was immediately renamed Fort Pitt. This document of river travel distances links Washington and a very interesting frontier figure, Thomas Hutchins (1730-1789), who served with Pennsylvania colonial troops (1757-1759) and later served the British Army as a military engineer, surveyor and cartographer/draughtsman. He was cited for bravery against the French and planned the new fortifications at Fort Pitt and later, at Pensacola. In the next decade he traveled extensively in the western wilderness, keeping detailed journals which he drew on for his book, Topographical Description of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and North Carolina, Comprehending the Rivers Ohio, Kenhawa, Sioto, Cherokee, Wabash, Illinois, Mississippi &c. (London, 1778); in this work was included an engraved "Table of Distances Between Fort Pitt, and the Mouth of the River Ohio" (a photocopy is included with the manuscript). The landmarks noted in Hutchins' 1778 table are almost identical to those recorded here. In his 1770 diary, Washington records that "the distances from Fort Pitt to the Mouth of the Great Kanhawa are set down agreeable to my own Computation, but from thence to the Mouth of River Ohio are strictly according to Hutchinges acct." The present manuscript clearly precedes Hutchins' 1778 chart and it is logical to conclude that Hutchins shared his surveys with locals, traders and fellow voyagers/former military comrades, the like of of Washington. During the Revolutionary War, Hutchins resigned his British commission and was initially jailed for treason, but released. Afterwards, he served as a military cartographer in the Continental Army and was later appointed United States Geographer, during which he undertook the first survey and mapping of the Northwest Territory. Washington's own travels in the Ohio River Valley (recorded in detail in his diaries) resulted from promises by Virginia's governor that all who served Virginia against the French would be granted liberal tracts of land in Virginia's western frontier as a recompense for military service. It was not until 1768, when the Treaty of Fort Stanwix opened much of the Ohio Valley, that Washington resolved to stake out his claim, as well as to work on the behalf of other claimants from the now-dissolved Virginia Regiment. In late October 1770, Washington and his party set out from Pittsburg by canoe to survey the available lands in the newly opened territory. They proceeded only as far as the junction with the Kanawha River (which they explored) before retracing their path. In Washington's diary is an entry, dated 19 November 1770, which almost certainly records his receipt of this manuscript table of distance upon their return travels "At Fort Pitt I got the distances from place to place down the Ohio as taken by one Hutchings [ sic ] and which are as follows w[i]th. some corrections of mine." Washington's own fairhand copy, with his corrections, is remarkably similar, although it corrects the erratic spellings of the original herein. As relations with England steadily worsened it was not until 1784 that Washington could again turn his attention to the frontier. Then, at the suggestion of Thomas Jefferson, he returned to the Ohio Valley to look into the feasibility of a canal and portage link between the Potomac and the Ohio Rivers.
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $7,500.00
Final prices include buyers premium: $20,400.00
Estimate: $15,000 - $25,000
Number Bids: 14
Auction closed on Wednesday, September 26, 2018.
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