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Lot 219: April 20, 1776 Revolutionary War Period Autogaph Letter Signed, "John Collins"
October 29, 2016
Rancho Santa Fe, CA, USALive Auction
Rare "1776" Continental Navy Revolutionary War Letter to Esek Hopkins Commander in Chief Regarding Newport, RI
April 20, 1776-Dated Revolutionary War Period Autogaph Letter Signed, "John Collins" with Integral address leaf to Esek Hopkins, Choice Very Fine.
This historic content Letter of 1 page, measures 6.25" x 7.75" is boldly and clearly written in dark brown being easily readable on period laid paper, and dated April 20, 1776. Expected transmittal folds and minor paper loss repair in area of original wax seal being opened affecting some letters of text. Integral address leaf reads: "To - Esek Hopkins Esqr - Adml (Admiral) of the Continental Fleet - New London (Connecticut).
It is written by John Collins (1717-1795) and addressed to the Commander in Chief of the Continental Navy, Esek Hopkins. Collins was the Third Governor of the U.S. State of Rhode Island from 1786 to 1790. An admirer of George Washington, he was selected by the Governor of Rhode Island in 1776 to carry a letter to George Washington informing him of the condition of the RI colony and soliciting counsel upon the best method to adopt for its defense. Here, Collins similarly writes to congratulate Esek Hopkins soon after his appointment as the Commander in Chief of the American Continental Navy, expressing high hopes for the future and in thanks for prior assistance provided to Rhode Island. Collins writes, in part:
"[I] hope nay expect to see the day when the American fleets will give laws on the atlantick [sic] ocean." Collins thanks Hopkins for the cannons he sent and notes the preparation of defenses at Newport, declaring "it will give me great pleasure to see your fleet Rideing [sic] in the harbour of Newport."
Esek Hopkins proved unable to accomplish the difficult task of developing an effective challenge to the imposing, vastly superior British fleet and was suspended from command in March of 1777. A great content 1776 dated original Revolutionary War letter regarding the early Continental Navy and its first commander.
John Collins stood forth as a staunch advocate of the Independence of the Thirteen Colonies. An admirer of George Washington, he was selected by the Governor of Rhode Island in 1776 to carry a letter to George Washington informing him of the condition of the colony and soliciting counsel upon the best method to adopt for its defense.
Later (1782) he was made bearer to the President of Congress of a statement of Rhode Island's reasons for rejecting the Impost Act. During the American Revolution, Rhode Island was for the most part an agricultural area and as such opposed the restrictions of a national government.
In 1778, John Collins represented Rhode Island in the Second Continental Congress, where he served until May 1781, when he was superseded by William Ellery. He was, however, re-elected in 1782 and held the position until 1783.
When George Washington was inaugurated as President on April 30, 1789 Rhode Island was one of only two of the thirteen original states (along with North Carolina) not to have ratified the United States Constitution and was, technically speaking, an independent nation with John Collins as it chief of state.
Anti-Federalist elements in Rhode Island, up to 1790, vigorously fought against the calling of a convention to decide upon entering the Federal Union, but in that year (January 17) gave its sanction to such a call by a majority of one vote in the General Assembly. This vote was cast by Collins, who had come to realize the importance of a Federal connection. The vote cost him his popularity and the governorship. He left office on May 5, 1790. The Rhode Island General Assembly ratified the United States Constitution on May 29, 1790.
Later in 1790 Collins was elected to the 1st Congress but did not take his seat.