JAY, JOHN, President of the Continental Congress, Chief Justice. Autograph letter signed in full as U.S. Minister to Spain, to his wife Sally in Madrid; St. Idelfonso, 5 September 1780. One page, 4to, integral address leaf with panel in Jay's hand: "Mrs. Jay Madrid," seal hole in address leaf. Fine condition.
NEWS FROM AMERICA: THE FALL OF CHARLESTON, THE SPRINGFIELD (NEW JERSEY) RAID, AND "POOR" ROBERT MORRIS
A very good, newsy letter from Jay, who had been in Spain with his wife since January 1780, trying to obtain financial aid, war supplies and, if possible, formal recognition for the United States from the Spanish crown. "My landlord has delivered to me your favor of the 1st Inst., together with the little Bundle &c committed to his Care. You did well in opening the letter from America -- poor [Robert] Morris -- I sincerely lament his misfortune." [Morris had been widely criticized for his handling of the Congress's financial affairs and had been defeated at the polls in November 1779.]
"This will go under cover to Mr. Gardoqui. His Brother Don Diego is here - he speaks English very well, and seems a clever man -- There is nothing new here from any Quarter, tho we have had reason to expect Intelligence from many. General Du Portail, Hogan & Scott are among the Prisoners taken at Ch[arle]s Town [South Carolina]. All the Papers agree that Kniphausen at the Head of a Considerable Detachment was repulsed in an attack on our advanced Post near Eliz[abeth] Town, but none of them contain the account which it seems has been published by Congress of the Action -- I am well, & very affectionately Yours...."
Sir Henry Clinton's expedition against Charleston, South Carolina resulted in the seige and ultimate capture of the American army under General Benjamin Lincoln on 12 May 1780. As reported by Jay, the captured American officers included, besides Lincoln, Generals Louis Du Portail (exchanged in time to play an important role at Yorktown), James Hogun (who declined to be exchanged, preferring to remain with his men, and died in British captivity in January 1781) and Charles Scott (who remained a prisoner until the end of the war). The fall of this important port city was a serious loss to the Continentals; there was little organized resistance in the three southern colonies after its fall. Jay also mentions the ineffective raid of General Knyphausen into New Jersey, deflected by strong American defences at Springfield, New Jersey. The Hessian general and his forces were driven back to Elizabethtown and retreated across a pontoon bridge to their bases in Staten Island.