• Jacksonian Congressman DeGraff Helped Finance War Of 1812, Writes Of Deadly Sea Passage

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    JOHN ISAAC DE GRAFF (October 2, 1783 – July 26, 1848) was a Congressman from New York. He was born in Schenectady, NY, the son of Revolutionary War veteran Judge Isaac DeGraff.  He engaged in mercantile pursuits and banking and his firm prospered and maintained offices in London and Paris.  In the early 1800s, De Graff served in the militia and was appointed Ensign in the Schenectady regiment commanded by Jacob Swits.  DeGraff played a key role in the War of 1812 by lending money to the government to equip a naval fleet. He pledged $100,000 (equivalent of $1.1 million in 2015) and, with his financing, Thomas MacDonough built a fleet of ships used to defeat the British at the Battle of Plattsburgh. Depreciation of the treasury notes resulted in De Graff losing about $30,000 (equivalent of $330,000 in 2015) in aiding the war effort.  De Graff was elected as a Jacksonian to the Twentieth Congress (March 4, 1827 – March 3, 1829) and to the Twenty-fifth Congress (March 4, 1827 – March 3, 1839).


    2 pp, 8 x 10, Washington City, December 8, 1827, ALS to Col. David Campbell in Paris. 


    “I enclose you the President’s message. By the newspapers, you will find that we elected Andrew Stevenson of Virginia, speaker by a majority of 10 votes over the late speaker, M.W. Taylor, the former the Jacksonian candidate & the latter for the administration so you perceive that in the House of Representatives there is a decided majority for Jackson. In the Senate, the majority is still more decided for Jackson…I presume you must have had a short & boisterous passage. Reports were in circulation at Schenectady that 11 passengers were swept by a sea from the deck of your ship and that all were perished but as nothing was seen in the papers – no credit (after a few days had transpired) was attached to the report. It was said your ship had been shaken by an inward bound ship that such was the report from your ship.


    “I am with much regard


    “Your obed svt


    “John I. DeGraff”


    Folds, toning. Address leaf, which is on a separate page from the letter, has a piece missing, seal present as well as two postmarks and free frank stamp, resulting from De Graff’s status as a congressman. Small cello tape repair on address leaf. The DeGraff image is from the internet.


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