George Washington Signed Envelope, Addressed to Benedict Arnold
Washington, George (1732-1799). First President of the United States (1789-1797). Signed Envelope. 3.5 x 6.5 panel from a larger sheet. Across the top is Honble. Major Genl. Arnold. Second line has been water damaged. Lower left G. Washington and lower right Philadelphia. N.p., n.d. Most of the address is secretarial, with Washington's franked signature. Originally affixed to 13 x 17.5 in. illustration board along with an engraving of George Washington based on a painting by George Stewart, newspaper articles from The London Morning Herald announcing the death and funeral of Washington, Jan. 25 & 27, 1800, and a clipped medallion paper portrait of Washington. (There is a label for an early Washington stamp, now missing.)
Although the date is missing, it likely dates to between June 1778 when Benedict Arnold (1741-1801) was appointed military commander of Philadelphia after the British withdrawal from that city and April 1780 when he resigned this command. When he came to Philadelphia he was active in the social scene of the town, and through this met 18-year-old Loyalist Peggy Shippen. She would marry Arnold in April 1779, and throughout much of the year would try to convince her husband to offer his services to the British. After many conflicts with Washington and the Continental Congress (especially being passed over for promotion) and accusations about financial dealings, Arnold began secret negotiations with the British for a commission in that Army. Although negotiations with the British were "on again, off again," the British seemingly suspicious of Arnold's intentions, eventually the plan was conceived whereby Arnold would obtain the command of West Point, and turn it over to the British. Fortunately, British spy, Major John Andre, was captured carrying plans and coded instructions from Arnold. The General learned of Andre's capture on September 24 while waiting to have breakfast with Washington, and fled to the HMS Vulture, waiting for him downstream from West Point.
Some toning of all. Darker foxing along central fold of address panel. All have tape residue that has darkened some items.