Adams, John (1735-1826). Second President of the United States. Partially printed document signed as President, 1p, 12.75 x 14.5 in., with embossed seal affixed at lower left, Philadelphia. May 9, 1797. Document grants "Theodorick Bland (late a Colonel for three years)...one thousand three hundred and thirty three acres...between the little Miami and Sciota Rivers, north-west of the River Ohio" for his military service on the Virginia Line. Grant goes on to describe the acreage presented to Bland in detail, and closes with signatures of John Adams and Secretary of State, Timothy Pickering, at lower right.
Theodorick Bland, Jr. (1741-1790) was an important figure in the Revolutionary War and in the formation and running of the new nation thereafter. Though beginning his career in medicine, Bland soon turned to political pursuits, following in the path of many of his relatives, Thomas Jefferson among them. First serving as Clerk of Prince George County in Virginia, Bland, with his Whig Party leanings, soon became involved in the rebel cause as the Revolution drew near. In 1776 he joined the Continental Army as Captain of the First Troop of Virginia Cavalry, and was quickly promoted to Colonel, commanding the 1st Continental Light Dragoons (sometimes referred to as "Bland's Virginia Horse"). Reporting directly to George Washington, Bland helped to ensure a more favorable outcome for Washington and his men at Brandywine by reporting observations of British troop positions there in his correspondence with the General. Bland's wartime participation also included serving as Warden over British officers taken prisoner at Charlottesville, and providing Washington and his men with proper horses from his own stable and others.
In 1780, Bland was chosen as a delegate to the Continental Congress by the Virginia House of Delegates. He served in this capacity until 1783, was elected to the Virginia House in 1786, and served there until he was appointed as a delegate to the Virginia Convention, at which the Constitution was ratified in 1788. Bland was one of a minority of delegates to vote against ratification, believing the Constitution created too powerful a central government. Thereafter, Bland was elected as an Anti-Administration candidate to the First United States Congress, serving in the House of Representatives from 1789 until his death in 1790, becoming the first member to die in office. Bland was first buried in Trinity Churchyard in New York, but was reinterred in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, DC in 1828.
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