U. S. Grant Presidential Appointment, Signed July 22, 1869, Collage

This is an authentic Presidential Appointment, signed by U.S. Grant as President on July 22, 1869. The document is a partially printed official document appointing John W. Hawley as Ensign in the Navy. The appointment is countersigned by Secretary of the Navy, George M. Robeson.

The document is printed in formal script, and completed by hand in black ink, now faded to a lighter black color. The document reads in part:

“TO ALL WHO SHALL SEE THESE PRESENTS Greeting: Know Ye, that reposing special Trust and Confidence in the Patriotism, Valour, Fidelity, and Abilities of John W. Hawley I have nominated, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, do appoint him an Ensign in the Navy, from the 19th day of April, 1869, in the service of the UNITED STATES. He is therefore carefully and diligently to discharge the Duties of an Ensign by doing and performing all Manner of Things thereto belonging.
And I do strictly charge and require all Officers, Seamen and Marines, under his Command to be obedient to his Orders as an Ensign. And he is to observe and follow such Orders and Directions from time to time as he shall receive from me; or the future PRESIDENT of the United States of America, or his Superior Officer set over him; according to the Rules and Discipline of THE NAVY.
This COMMISION to continue in force during the pleasure of the President of the United States for the time being.
Given under my Hand at Washington, this twenty second day of July in the year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Sixty Nine and in the Ninety Fourth year of Independence of the United States.
By the President, U. S. Grant.”

Prominently engraved at top is a stunning spread eagle, atop a rock amid the open seas. The eagle’s right talon clutches an olive branch. The eagle's left (sinister) talon holds a bundle of arrows. When Charles Thomson put together the final design for the Great Seal, the official description describes the bald eagle holding "in his sinister, a bundle of thirteen arrows." The thirteen arrows are tightly aligned – a symbol of "strength in unity" that can be found in traditional cultures everywhere, from the Romans to the Iroquois. In this case, the bundle is a nod to the unity of the original thirteen colonies. 

The document is further decorated with two vignettes at bottom. The first is an allegorical scene of a bare breasted Lady Liberty riding in Poseidon’s shell-shaped boat. Water nymphs and seahorses surround the boat as wave crash around them. Below this watery scene is a more patriotic vignette; a striking amassing of American flags, rifles, liberty cap, swords, drum, and horn rests on a grassy field. A blue War office seal is affixed at bottom center.

The Presidential Appointment is paired with a chromolithographed portrait of U. S. Grant, printed in 1864 by the famous chromolithographer E.J. Middleton. Elijah Middleton is regarded as one of the leading pioneers of chromolithography. Middleton opened his engraving firm in Cincinnati, a growing financial hub during the mid-nineteenth city. As the demand for color printing increased, Middleton and his partner W.R. Wallace shifted from engraving to chromolithographs. They added a third partner in 1860, Hines Strobridge, building a partnership that became the basis for the publishing giant Strobridge & Company.

In 1861, Middleton started his own company as a “Portrait Publisher”. Middleton printed his chromolithograph portraits with "warranted oil-colors.” The resulting prints were beautifully rich in color, closely mimicking original oil paintings. His portrait subjects were both historical, including a highly collectible pair of portraits of George and Martha Washington, as well as contemporary; Middleton published portraits of Ulysses S. Grant, Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, and an especially striking one of Abraham Lincoln. Middleton’s run of thirteen “American Statesmen and Heroes” done in quality “oil portraits” is one of the most impressive series of American prints of the nineteenth century.

This chromolithographed oval head-and-shoulders portrait of U. S. Grant depicts Grant as a Major General, facing slightly right, wearing his uniform. It was published by E.C. Middleton & Co., in Cincinnati, Ohio, 1864.


The signed appointment is in good condition, consistent with age and gentle use. Engraved document on vellum, completed by hand, one page, 20” x 16”, July 22, 1869. Grant’s signature is large and in black ink, now a dark brown due to time. Robeson’s signature is also in black ink, however his signature is smaller and more faded. The original blue War Office seal still remains intact and affixed to the document at bottom center. With light creasing to the upper right corner.

The Presidential appointment and oil lithograph have been artfully housed in a custom black and gold frame, with brown linen top mats and windows to display each item. They have been framed to highest conservation standards, with acid-free mats and backing and UV conservation clear glass.

Framed dimensions: 32" H x 46" W x 1.5" D.

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