JAY, John (1745-1829). Autograph letter signed ("John Jay") AS PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS, to Major General Benjamin Lincoln, Philadelphia, 2 April 1779. 1 full page, 4to. Fine.
THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS COMMENDS A YOUNG OFFICER. A more gracious and elegant letter of recommendation is difficult to conceive. "Altho I have not the honor of a personal acquaintance with you," Jay writes, "yet I am so well informed of your Character, as to believe you will always be happy in leading a young soldier to Glory, and to afford him that Countenance and Protection, which a brave and generous Youth seldom fails to invite. Permit me therefore to recommend to you Major Clarkson; who is now going to place himself under your Command, and to be assured that you will confer an obligation on me, by becoming his friend as well as his General."
Jay was involved in revolutionary movements from the time of the Stamp Act, and served in the First and Second Continental Congresses. He was elected its youngest President and served from 10 December 1778 to 27 September 1779. Matthew Clarkson (1758-1825) whom Jay here recommends to Lincoln as an aide-de-camp, enlisted as a private in 1775, then joined Colonel Josiah Smith's regiment of minutemen assigned to protecting Long Island from British invasion. After New York was lost, he fought with the northern army in 1777, was wounded at Fort Edward, and at Saratoga served under Colonel Daniel Morgan, and as aide-de-camp to Benedict Arnold. In 1779, at the personal request of Jay, the President of Congress (the present letter), he was assigned as an aide to General Benjamin Lincoln. He was in action at the siege of Savannah and the defense of Charleston, but was captured. Exchanged in 1781, he rejoined Lincoln's staff for the siege and surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. A successful banker after the war, he was noted for his unstinting philanthropy.