• Van Rensselaer Provides Canal Report To Anti-Free Blacks Virginia Congressman Mercer

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    STEPHEN VAN RENSSELAER III (November 1, 1764 – January 26, 1839) was an early New York landowner, businessman, militia officer and politician.  He was a Federalist, serving in the New York State Assembly, the New York State Senate and as Lieutenant Governor of New York. After the demise of the Federalist Party, Van Rensselaer was a John Quincy Adams supporter and served in the United States House of Representatives.  He cast the deciding vote to elect John Quincy Adams as president. He was a supporter of higher education, serving on the board of trustees of several schools and colleges and was founder of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.  Long active in the militia, Van Rensselaer attained the rank of major general, commanding troops on the New York-Canadian border during the War of 1812. He resigned his commission after defeat at the Battle of Queenston Heights.

    One-page, ALS, Albany, April 2nd, 1834, to Col. Mercer, very likely Charles Fenton Mercer.  “Our board adjourned yesterday after a session of ten weeks. I herewith send you the answer to your intercession as far as I could procure the information which I hope will be satisfactory & also send a printed Report of the Canal Board...”

    CHARLES FENTON MERCER (June 16, 1778 – May 4, 1858) was a U.S. Congressman and lawyer from Loudoun County, VA.  He was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from 1810 to 1817 and was appointed lieutenant colonel of a Virginia regiment in the War of 1812.  He was later promoted to major in command at Norfolk, VA, and inspector general in 1814, aide-de-camp to Gov. James Barbour and brigadier general in command of the 2nd Virginia Brigade.  Mercer was also president of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Co and was a delegate to the Virginia Constitutional Convention in 1829. Mercer was elected a Federalist, Crawford Republican, Adams Republican, Anti-Jacksonian and Whig to the U.S. House of Representatives, serving from 1817 to 1839. There, he served as Chairman of the Committee on Roads and Canals from 1831 to 1839.  Mercer was an originator of the plan for establishing the Free State of Liberia and one of the founders of the American Colonization Society, dedicated to a plan to rid the South and North of free blacks.  Easily radicalized, the blacks, he felt, were a threat to the security of Southern communities.

    The letter has been inset into another sheet for conservation purposes, providing a large border on all four sides. Some ghosting on the verso from a 19th century engraving of Van Rensselaer, which is included with the letter.


    Light toning. Else excellent condition.


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