2114
2114
Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette
MANUSCRIPT DOCUMENT SIGNED ("LAFAYETTE") AND CO-SIGNED ("FULWAR SKIPWITH"), APPOINTING SECRETARY OF STATE JAMES MADISON AS ATTORNEY, TO SETTLE ANY LEGAL ISSUES INVOLVING LANDS GRANTED TO LAFAYETTE IN THE LOUISIANA PURCHASE
Estimate
8,00012,000
LOT SOLD. 8,750 USD
JUMP TO LOT
2114
Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette
MANUSCRIPT DOCUMENT SIGNED ("LAFAYETTE") AND CO-SIGNED ("FULWAR SKIPWITH"), APPOINTING SECRETARY OF STATE JAMES MADISON AS ATTORNEY, TO SETTLE ANY LEGAL ISSUES INVOLVING LANDS GRANTED TO LAFAYETTE IN THE LOUISIANA PURCHASE
Estimate
8,00012,000
LOT SOLD. 8,750 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Fine Manuscript and Printed Americana

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New York

Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette
MANUSCRIPT DOCUMENT SIGNED ("LAFAYETTE") AND CO-SIGNED ("FULWAR SKIPWITH"), APPOINTING SECRETARY OF STATE JAMES MADISON AS ATTORNEY, TO SETTLE ANY LEGAL ISSUES INVOLVING LANDS GRANTED TO LAFAYETTE IN THE LOUISIANA PURCHASE
One page (12 3/4 x 8 3/8 in.; 325 x 215 mm), in clear clerical hand, on a sheet of laid paper (watermarked D ◇ W), Paris, 9 October 1804. Scattered soiling, a few small marginal repairs, neat repair stretching along bottom fold to lower margin. 
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Catalogue Note

Lafayette's Louisiana Lands: America's Debt of Honor

After falling into disfavor with the French Revolutionary government in 1792, Lafayette spent seven years in prison and exile. On returning to France in 1799, Lafayette took his family to his country estate at La Grange, but their fortune had been shattered. America proved a good friend to the French nobleman who had made the new republic's cause his own in 1777. During his imprisonment, Congress had voted him a grant of more than $20,000, representing his pay and expenses as an officer during the American Revolution (payment he had refused at the time). And in 1803, Congress voted him a grant of 11,520 acres in the Northwest Territory. However, the Louisiana Purchase provided the nation with an even larger pool of acreage with which to reward Lafayette. President Jefferson discovered that there was an attractive tract just outside New Orleans that would better serve the marquis's purposes, and in March 1804, Congress authorized Lafayette's grant to be made in the new "Orleans" Territory.

Secretary of State James Madison played a central role in the various measures taken to ease Lafayette's financial plight. With Albert Gallatin and President Jefferson, Madison worked to obtain the Congressional land grant. And, after Congress authorized it, Madison arranged a loan of 150,000 livres for the marquis, with the land as collateral. But in the fall of 1804, Madison assumed another, and more formal role in putting his old friend's financial affairs in order. The loan, no matter how generous its terms, would have to be repaid, and that meant locating and selling the Orleans lands.

The marquis and Madison had been friends for more than twenty years, even sharing a jaunt to the New York frontier in 1784. Like any proper Virginian, Madison was an incurable land speculator, and the marquis saw him as an ideal agent for his Louisiana lands. Thus, in this document, Lafayette authorizes Madison "... to execute in my name & to my use all necessary Deeds for the better locating or letting out the said lands & to enter with any person or persons he will think proper into such Leases, Bargains, Agreements & other Instruments of writing which may be found necessary for the above purposes & generally to do & cause to be done in the Premises all & every thing I could myself do were I personally present & altho' the matter should require more special authority than is herein comprised; Promissing & obliging myself by these Presents to approve acknowledge & ratify the same; & visiting my said Attorney with power to substitute & appoint one or more attornies under him & to revoke them at his Pleasure."

The next day, Lafayette sent at least two copies of this power of attorney to Madison. (one at the N.Y. Public Library, another in the Hist. Society of Pa.) The practical necessities of transatlantic communication during the Napoleonic Wars dictated multiple copies. In his covering letter, Lafayette explained to Madison that he had deliberately phrased the power of attorney broadly, "... I even forbore commissioning an Agent to act under your control thinking I had better leave that point as well as every other to your investigation & choice..."

Even if Madison performed no onerous duties as a result of this power of attorney, the document remains a splendid reminder of the friendships forged in a Revolution in America that survived time and distance to aid a patriot who found himself impoverished by a second revolution on the other side of the Atlantic.

Fine Manuscript and Printed Americana

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New York