Arthur St. Clair

Major General Arthur St. Clair writes to General William Irvine.

Address leaf franked “Public Service / Majr Genl St. Clair,” addressed by him to “General Irwine / at / Carlisle,” 13” x 8.5”, address panel 7” x 3.5”. On laid paper, professionally silked for preservation. Fine condition.

On February 19, 1777, Arthur St. Clair was appointed Major General by Congress and was given the command of Fort Ticonderoga. In 1778, he was court-martialed for the loss of the Fort, but was exonerated and returned to duty, although he was no longer given any battlefield commands. On March 4, 1791, Arthur St. Clair was promoted to Major General by President Washington and was placed in command of the Army. In a March 19, 1791, letter to Lafayette, President George Washington writes, “Your friend, General St. Clair resumes his functions as Major General.” Ostensibly, even though St. Clair had been a Major General since being appointed by the Continental Congress in 1777, Pres. Washington thought it proper to issue a presidential commission as Major General as he “resumes his functions.” He has franked this address leaf as “Majr Genl. St. Clair.” General Irvine lived in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where most letters to him were sent during and after the Revolutionary War. It is interesting to note, that in the published letters of George Washington to Gen. Irvine, his name is misspelled “Irwine” as St. Clair has penned on this address leaf.

On November 4, 1791, Major General St. Clair, 1st Governor of the Northwest Territory since 1788, led an expedition against the Indians that resulted in a rout by a tribal confederation led by Miami Chief Little Turtle and Shawnee Chief Blue Jacket. Over 600 soldiers were killed as opposed to about 50 enemy dead. In addition, over 50 women and children were killed in the battle which became known to many as St. Clair’s Defeat. At the request of General Washington, St. Clair resigned his commission on March 5, 1792, remaining as Governor until 1802.

When the Pennsylvania State Society was organized in 1783, Arthur St. Clair and William Irvine (1741-1804) were elected President and Treasurer, respectively. St. Clair and Irvine later served together as members of Pennsylvania’s delegation to the Second Continental Congress (1786-1787); St. Clair served as President of the United States in Congress Assembled from February 2, 1787 to November 4, 1787.

In a September 28, 1881, letter to William Henry Smith, editor of “Life and Public Services: Arthur St. Clair” (Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1882), Gen. Irvine’s grandson, Dr. W.A. Irvine, sheds light on an incident in the Revolutionary War which has become one of the most memorable events in American history. He writes, in part, “Thomas Leiper, of Philadelphia, a member of the City Troop which served under Washington during the campaign of 1776, stated to my father, Callander Irvine, that St Clair had not received the credit he deserved – of having suggested to General Washington the crossing the Delaware into New Jersey, which resulted so favorably to the American cause, and to General Washington’s fame. Mr. Leiper said, the fact that St Clair did suggest the movement was well known in camp. Leiper was a man of high honor and veracity, and would not have stated the fact if not true ... It is not an uncommon thing for the Commander-in-Chief to reap all the laurels of his subordinates. True, he assumes all the responsibility of any particular course of action. General Washington, as a military man, had not, I think a suggestive mind, but he had the good sense to know when to follow sound advice...”

Item: 52090

Price: $1,800.00
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Arthur St. Clair
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