George Clymer (1739-1813) signer of the Declaration of Independence, was an American politician and founding father of our country. He was one of the first Patriots to advocate complete independence from Great Britain. As a Pennsylvania representative, Clymer was one of 6 men to sign both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Clymer was chairman of the Continental Committee of Safety.
John Nixon (1733-1808) was a financier and official from Philadelphia, PA who served as a militia officer in the American Revolutionary War. He was a member of the Continental Committee of Safety and from May to July 1776, was in command of the defenses of the Delaware at Fort Island, after which he was put in charge of the defenses of Philadelphia. Nixon made his mark on history on July 8, 1776 as the first person to publicly read the Declaration of Independence from the steps of the Pennsylvania State House. He would go on to become colonel and serve under Washington at the battle of Princeton. After the war, he would become prominent in the banking industry as the director of the Bank of Pennsylvania and president of the Bank of North America from 1792 until his death.
This extraordinarily significant document, dated June 10, 1776, was issued weeks before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Measuring 5.5 x 8.5, it is written and signed by Clymer and in good condition. There is minor browning due to age. The document was addressed to John Nixon and reads: "Please to pay to Mr. John Cobourne or his order Three Hundred pounds and charge the same to his account for expenses in sinking the Chevaux de Frize. By order of the Committee."
The Cheval (often called Chevaux) de Frise was supposedly developed by Benjamin Franklin, and consisted of a heavy timber frame bristling with iron tipped spikes which, when sunk in a river, could rip the hull of a vessel apart. Two of these contraptions were used during the Revolutionary War, one across the Delaware River south of Philadelphia, and one across the Hudson River below West Point. In December 1776, the Chevaux de Frise mentioned in this document, played an important role in the Philadelphia campaign.
The Philadelphia Campaign was a British initiative in the American Revolutionary War to gain control of Philadelphia, which was then the seat of the Second Continental Congress. British General William Howe, after unsuccessfully attempting to draw Continental Army General George Washington into a battle in northern New Jersey, embarked his army on transports, and landed them at the northern of Chesapeake Bay. From there, he advanced northward toward Philadelphia. Washington prepared defenses against Howe's movements at Brandywine Creek, but was flanked and beaten back in the Battle of Brandywine on September 11, 1777. After further skirmishes and maneuvers, Howe was able to enter and occupy Philadelphia. Washington then unsuccessfully attacked one of Howe's garrisons at Germantown before retreating to Valley Forge for the winter.
Howe's campaign was controversial because, although he successfully captured the American capital of Philadelphia, he proceeded slowly and did not aid the concurrent campaign of John Burgoyne further north, which ended in disaster at Saratoga for the British, and brought France into the war. General Howe resigned during the occupation of Philadelphia and was replaced by his second-in-command, General Sir Henry Clinton. Clinton evacuated the troops from Philadelphia back to New York City in 1778 in order to increase that city's defenses against a possible Franco-American attack. Washington harried the British army all the way across New Jersey, and successfully forced a battle at Monmouth Court House that was one of the largest battles of the war.
The Cheval de Frise referred to in this document, enabled Washington and his troops to take advantage of the delays experienced by British forces.
To learn more about the Cheval de Frise, click here!
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Heritage Collectors' Society unearths document signed by George Clymer, signer of the Declaration of Independence, to John Nixon the first public reader of the Declaration, dated June 1776 discussing payment for the sinking of the Cheval de Frise
George Clymer signed document to
John Nixon (click to enlarge)