large folio, 1p DS, Cincinnati, Ohio, Oct. 11, 1798.
A large document appointing Thomas Worthington, James Scott, Samuel Finley, William Patton, Elias Langhorn, Hugh Cochran, James Dunlap, John Sharp, William Chandler, John Brown, David Shelby and Noble Crawford as Justices of the Peace for Ross County, Northwest Territory, signed under the official seal by Gov. Arthur St. Clair. In some detail, the appointment defines the responsibilities and privileges of justice of the peace.
Ross County, now in southern Ohio, had been created seven weeks before by Gov. St. Clair and named in honor of his friend James Ross. A respected commander in the Continental Army under George Washington, St. Clair rose to the rank of Brigadier General by the end of the Revolution. Entering Congress in 1785, he was acting as President when the Northwest Ordinance and the United States Constitution were ratified. He went on to become the first governor of the Northwest Territory (including modern day Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan), and the governor of the territory of Ohio when it was separated out in 1800. St. Clair is perhaps best remembered for his greatest failure: the annihilation of an Army expedition under his command Battle of the Wabash in November 1791, resulting in the death of 623 soldiers. Forced to resign from the army, he declined in later years, dying in poverty, if not quite infamy, in 1818.
Arthur St. Clair was born March 23, 1736 in Thurso, Scotland and studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh. In 1757, he purchased a commission in the British Army, Royal American Regiment and came to America serving primarily under General Jeffrey Amherst during the French and Indian War. In 1762, he resigned his commission, achieving the rank of Lieutenant, and settled in the Ligonier Valley of Pennsylvania erecting mills and becoming the largest landowner in western Pennsylvania.
During the 1770s he served in several roles, his most important being prothonotary of Bedford and Westmoreland counties where he arrested John Connolly who was taking claim of the area around Pittsburgh for Virginia and raising a militia to fight the Ohio Indians during Lord Dunmore’s War of 1774.
During the American Revolution, he became a Colonel of the 3rd Pennsylvania Regiment and was later appointed Brigadier General by GeorgeWashington. In 1777, he was sent to defend Fort Ticonderoga where he ended up retreating and giving the fort to General John Burgoyne. St. Clair was court-martialed but exonerated and resumed his duties but not in any combative action.
St. Clair was elected a delegate of the Continental Congress from 1785-1787 where he served as the ninth President of the Continental Congress during his last year. He was appointed Governor of the newly-created Northwest Territory in the same year and moved to Fort Washington (modern day Cincinnati). Following Harmar’s defeat to the Indians in 1791, St. Clair became the senior General of the armies and led and ill-fated expedition against the Indians which resulted in the worst defeat by Indians in American History.
Eleven years later, St. Clair was embroiled in a battle with the citizens of Ohio who were petitioning for statehood in the United States. St Clair’s opposition resulted in his termination as Governor of the Northwest Territory, and he returned to Greensburg, Pennsylvania where he died in poverty on August 31, 1818.
Along with related lots, this document is an interesting piece of history from the Old Northwest Territory, linking several prominent political and military figures in the early Ohio Valley. A handsome and important slice of the early history of the Old Northwest, signed by St. Clair as governor of the new Northwest Territory. (See also the following lots, 244-247)
Condition: Document with staining and some separation along folds with some loss of text, but professionally backed with unobtrusive reinforcing tissue.