Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin Signed Philadelphia Land Deed as President of Supreme Executive Council

Benjamin Franklin Signed Philadelphia Land Deed as President of Supreme Executive Council

 

An extremely attractive Philadelphia land grant signed by Benjamin Franklin (1705-1790) as "B Franklin Presidt" at lower right, just one month into his first term as President of the Supreme Executive Council of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The bold and elegant signature measures 4.125" x 1.75" alone. Franklin appears to have relished his new role, as the addition of "Presdt" after his name suggests; this title is not present in later documents he signed while in the same capacity.

 

Signed and sealed on November 23, 1785, and beautifully inscribed in secretarial script on vellum. Countersigned by four witnesses along the bottom. Bearing an enormous star-shaped blind embossed seal of the State of Pennsylvania at lower left, and another oblong seal verso. Docketed verso. Expected wear including light folds, some well-creased, and a few tiny holes. Minor damage to one of the seal's points. Overall light toning. Else near fine. 20.25" x 11.375".

 

Franklin authorized this sale of land to shoemaker Martin Baish of Philadelphia. The oblong land tract on High (modern day Market) and Third Streets was steps away from the Delaware River, and had until recently been the site of the city's stone prison and poor house erected some 65 years earlier. The parcel measuring 22' x 80' was purchased for £1,000; a note on the document indicates that Baish paid a 25% deposit and mortgaged the balance. Today, Baish's property is found in Philadelphia's "Old City," the eastern part of the metropolis.

 

In part:

 

"The Supreme Executive Council of the Common Wealth of Pennsylvania

 

To all to whom these Presents shall come - Greeting Whereas in pursuance of an Act of General Assembly of the said Commonwealth entitled 'An Act for the immediate Sale of the Lot of Ground in the City of Philadelphia whereon the old Gaol and Workhouse lately stood" passed the thirteenth day of September last the Commissioners of the City and County of Philadelphia having first subdivided the said whole Lot in Nine Lots three on High Street and Six on Third Street from Delaware and given public Notice of the Sale of the said nine Lots in the English and German Newspapers at least two Weeks before the day of Sale did on the twentieth day of October last expose and sell at Public Auction unto Martin Baish of the City of Philadelphia Cordwainer For the Price or Sum of One Thousand Pounds, lawful Silver Money of Pennsylvania he being the best and highest Bidder of the same One Lot of Ground…"

 

Baish, along with his neighbors John Fries and Jacob Barge, can be found in late eighteenth-century Philadelphia city tax records. In 1780, "Martin Baish, cordw'r," a resident of Mulberry Ward in the east part of the city, had an estimated tax valuation of 36,300 (seven shillings in the £100), which resulted in a tax of £127 and one shilling.

 

The Supreme Executive Council of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the state's executive body, convened between 1777-1790. Founding Father and aging statesman Benjamin Franklin served as its 6th President (essentially state governor) between mid-October 1785 and early November 1788. This land deed was signed just one month into Franklin's 3-year-long term, the longest held term of any such President. "President Franklin" later hosted the 1787 Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia.

 

An outstanding document featuring the large and clear signature of Philadelphia's adopted son Ben Franklin!

 

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Item: 66216

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