MastroNet August 2005
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As a consequence of the XYZ Affair, an exercise in failed diplomacy that nearly precipitated war with France, the Department of the U.S. Navy was established as its own, separate entity. Before May 3, 1798, the new division had been part of the War Office, but, with overseas disputes becoming more serious, John Adams saw it necessary for the two to have separate leadership. This partially printed document, issued in the Navy Department's first year, names Nathan Tisdale a surgeon's mate in the fledgling service. The text of this incredibly rare document reads, "To all who shall see these Presents, Greeting: Know He, That reposing special Trust and Confidence in the Patriotism, Valor, Fidelity and Abilities of Nathan Tisdale, I do appoint him a surgeon's mate in the Navy of the United States: He is therefore carefully and diligently to discharge the duty of a Surgeons Mate by doing and performing all manner of Things thereunto belonging. And I do strictly charge and require all Officers, seamen and others, under his command, to be obedient to his Orders as a Surgeons Mate, And he is to observe and follow such Orders and Directions from time to time, as he shall receive from me, or the future President of the United States of America, or his superior Officer set over him, according to the Rules of Discipline of the Navy. This commission to continue in force during the pleasure of the President of the United States for the time being." John Adams has signed the appointment ("9") with a large presidential signature that is so precise and smooth it looks as if he perfectly measured each character to maintain the same height and slant. The piece is counter-signed by the first Secretary of the Navy, Benjamin Stoddert, in the lower left. Embossed at the upper left corner is the U.S. War Office seal. Surviving appointments from this period are few and far between due to the fact that hostilities only lasted from 1798-1800. In 1801, Thomas Jefferson was elected as the new President of the United States. With the country secure, and the national debt high, the new Chief Executive set out to slash spending and limit the role of the U.S. Navy. This elegant relic displays an Excellent appearance with a few standard compacting-fold lines and associated creases; a small number of pin-sized holes to the surface have been closed by professional reinforcement and can be detected only upon the most determined examination. An important and extraordinarily presentable 207-year-old document! LOAs from Steve Grad and John Reznikoff/PSA DNA.
Exceptional 1799 John Adams (as President) Signed "Surgeons Mate" Appointment
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