• Exiled Quaker, Accused Of Treason, Explored Acquiring A Survey Of Lands With Loyalist, British Spy

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    Offering a one-page, 7 3/4 x 13, ALS from Quaker Henry Drinker, Exiled For Pacifism, who wrote to loyalist [British] spy Samuel Wallis Seeking A map Of Pennsylvania Land on July 13, 1797.  Both Drinker and Wallis have a superb association with the Revolutionary War. [See below] 


    The letter reads, “Having yesterday afternoon missed seeing thee at thy own Dwelling, and being uncertain whether after a long hot walk that may not again be the case – I wish to be inform’d whether thou art not pssess’d of the draught on Map of the Country, so as to connect the Lands which I lately held on Snake Creek with the intermediate Surveys between them and the Meshoppen Lands, the north extremity whereof I believe cannot be many miles from the Southern bounds of the Snake Creek Tract – In short I want to send forward to the present owners of the Snake Creek Tract a Map of the Meshoppen Lands and to show them the distance & courses from such, having a prospect that about 25,000 Acres to the Eastward of the Meshoppen, may be sold & settled by an industrious respectable class of people, who are determined to improve the Lands near the Great Bend & may be probably encourage Settlers on the aforesaid part of the Meshoppen Tract – I wish to furnish DeBeauf with the necessary papers as early as maybe & therefore thy aid in this matter as soon as convenient will be acceptable.


    “Respecting the dispute with Gonzales, or the claim he makes to the Bald Eagle Lands, as nothing is yet done, I wish to confer with thee, thereon.


    “Thy assured Friend –


    “Henry Drinker


    “7 mo 13.1797


    “Samuel Wallis, Esq.”


    HENRY DRINKER (1734-1809) was a member of the Society of Friends and the clerk of the Philadelphia Monthly Meeting. He was also co-owner, along with Abel James, of the shipping firm, James and Drinker. Devoted to his religion and its commitment to pacifism, Drinker was later a victim of anti-Quaker sentiment during the Revolutionary War when he refused to participate in the military.  Unfairly accused of treason, Drinker and a number of other Quakers were exiled to Winchester, Virginia for many months. While imprisoned, Drinker signed the Quaker Exile Remonstrance in 1777, which demonstrated his belief in the personal freedoms that had been breached by the government.


    SAMUEL WALLIS was a loyalist spy, born in Maryland and of Quaker descent. He became a substantial Philadelphia merchant, shipper and speculator long before the War of American Independence.  An investor in frontier lands, he took advantage of the 1768 Treat of Fort Stanwix to build a substantial house in Muncy, Pennsylvania, on the west branch of the Susquehanna River, about twenty-five miles north of Fort Augusta at Sunbury. When the British arrived in Pennsylvania in 1777-1778, he worked secretly for them and helped them to organize Loyalist raids on the frontier.


    Wallis used his house as a rendezvous for British and Loyalist frontier agents and he was one of the spies who reported to John Andre and George Beckwith, Henry Clinton’s intelligence chiefs in New York. Andre made use of him in mid-1779 when Benedict Arnold was making overtures from Philadelphia. Beckwith tried to get Wallis to exploit the mutiny of the Pennsylvania Line (January 1 – 10, 1781) but the opportunity passed before anything could be done. He continued to send intelligence and food shipments to the British army until 1782, all the time keeping up close personal contacts with the Continental Congress and posing as a Whig. In 1782, he moved permanently to Muncy, expanded his land holdings to about seven thousand acres, and – especially as the agent of the Holland Land Company—became a major speculator in lands farther west. He died of smallpox in Philadelphia in 1798; his fortune, possibly owing to the concurrent financial crisis, was lost. So good was Wallis’s cover that his Loyalist activities went unsuspected until the Clinton and Arnold papers reached the public domain in the early twentieth century.


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