JAMES MADISON (1751-1836) was the fourth president of the United States from 1809 to 1817. Regarded as one of the most important Founding Fathers of the nation, Madison is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for his pivotal role in drafting and promoting the U.S. Constitution and the United States Bill of Rights. He co-wrote The Federalist Papers, co-founded the Democratic-Republican Party and served as the fifth United States Secretary of State from 1808 to 1809. Born into a prominent Virginia planter family, Madison served as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates and the Continental Congress. His Virginia Plan was the basis of the Constitutional Convention’s deliberations. He was one of the most influential people at the convention. After the Constitution was ratified, he emerged as an important leader in the U.S. House of Representatives and served as a close adviser to President George Washington. Madison supervised the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the size of the United States. Madison led the nation into the War of 1812 after a trade embargo failed to end British seizures of American shipping. Many Americans saw the war as the second war of independence, though it ended indecisively. Madison never reconciled his slave ownership with his Republican beliefs.
Offering an exquisitely framed document signed by Madison. The document is the Ship Goelet’s passport, dated May 17, 1809, 10 ½ x 15 ¼, with scalloped under the edge and the handsome eagle seal of the United States affixed to the lower left corner. The document is hinge-mounted and floated in conservation matting within the frame with UV glazing along with a 19th century engraving of President Madison. The passport also bears the signatures of Robert Smith, Secretary of State, and David Gelston, Collector of Customs for the harbor of New York. The passport lists John Lano, master or commander of the burthen of Two hundred five 62/95 tons or thereabouts with no guns mounted and a crew of 10.
ROBERT SMITH and Madison were often at odds. In April 1811, Madison wrote a “Memorandum on Robert Smith,” which was a laundry list of Smith’s shortcomings. In it, Madison questioned Smith’s loyalty, believed Smith had been indiscreet in conversations with the British, and opposed Madison’s efforts to secure concessions from Britain and France by limiting trade. Smith was bewildered and published an exoneration of the charges.
DAVI GELSTON signed the articles of association in 1774, agreeing to avoid British imports, even though this hurt his own business. He represented Suffolk County in the New York Provincial Congress of 1775 to 1777 and the 1777 New York Constitutional Convention, which debated and enacted the first constitution of the state of New York. He was a Democratic-Republican and worked closely with Aaron Burr. In 1789, the New York Assembly appointed him a delegate to the last session of the Continental Congress. President Thomas Jefferson appointed him Collector of the Port of New York, a position he held until 1821 when he retired.
Handsomely displayed in conversation mounts, the vellum is clean, with flattening and mends to separations at folds by a conservator. The signatures are strong as is the seal impression.
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