Printed broadside document signed ("B Franklin Presdt"), accomplished in a clerical hand, on paper (13 1/4 x 8 1/2 in.; 337 x 217 mm; watermarked star-wheel), [Philadelphia,] 11 September 1776, being Gabrail Blackney's commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Flying Camp, woodcut seal of the Convention printed upper left ("Liberty Safety & Peace"), endorsed in the left margin, "promoted to 1st Lieut. 4th October 1776," docketed on verso, "Cumberland Co."; some light browning and stains, pin-holes at intersecting folds, small mounting remnant on verso, minor marginal chipping. Half blue morocco folding-case.
"for the Defence and establishing of American Liberty": a Flying Camp commission, the rarest form of Revolutionary military commissions.
The "Flying Camp" was a mobile reserve militia corps authorized by Congress after the British evacuated Boston. Active from July through November 1776—and drawn largely from Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland—units of the Flying Camp served principally in New York and New Jersey. The present commission was presumably given to one Gabriel Blakeney, who served with Col. Watts's battalion. He was taken prisoner at Fort Washington, 16 November 1776 and not exchanged until 22 November 1780.
"To Gabrail Blackney Gentleman Sept. the 11th 1776 We reposing especial Trust and Confidence in your Patriotism, Valour, Conduct and Fidelity, Do, by these Presents, constitute and appoint you to be Second Lieutenant in Capitan [—] Company of Colonel [—] Battalion of Cumberland County in the Flying Camp for the Middle States of America, for the Protection of said States against all hostile Enterprizes, and for the Defence and establishing of American Liberty ... you are to observe and follow such Orders and Directions, as you shall receive from this Convention during their Sessions, from the Government now establishing, or from the Council of Safety for this State, or any other your superior Officers, according to the Rules and Discipline of War, in Pursuance of the Trust reposed in you. This Commission to continue in Force until revoked by the Government now establishing for this State, the Council of Safety, or by this or any succeeding Convention."
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