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John A. Dix

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Dix seeks to help a man find work:

“If you can give him something to, you will oblige a worthy man, and Yours Truly . . . ”

John Adams Dix, 1798–1879.  Union Major General, American Civil War, 1861–1865; United States Senator from New York, 1845–1849; Secretary of the Treasury, 1861; United States Minister to France, 1866–1869; Governor of New York, 1873–1874.  Autograph letter signed, John A. Dix, one page, 5¼” x 8⅜”, on stationery of the Office of the Corporation of Trinity Church, New York, [New York], January 15, 1871. 

The general for whom Fort Dix, New Jersey, was named, Dix recommends a man for employment.  Writing to “Commodore Nicholson,” he says, in full:  “The bearer is anxious to procure employment.  He is a carpenter & joiner, has done work for me, and understands his business perfectly.  If you can give him something to do, you will oblige a worthy man, and Yours Truly . . . ”

Dix likely writes to Commodore Somerville Nicholson (1822–1905), a prominent New Yorker who was the navigating officer of Commodore Matthew Perry’s flagship during Perry’s first expedition to Japan in 1853–1854.  He commanded the Marblehead during the Civil War and was with Admiral David Farragut at New Orleans. 

Dix had a broad public service.  He represented New York in the United States Senate for four years in the 1840s.  President James Buchanan appointed him Secretary of the Treasury in January 1861, and it was during his service as Secretary that Dix famously ordered Treasury agents in New Orleans to shoot on the spot anyone who attempted to take down the American flag. 

Dix was appointed the ranking Major General of Volunteers at the outset of the Civil War.  He was responsible for holding Maryland in the Union by arresting six pro-secession members of the Maryland legislature, thus preventing the legislature from voting to secede.  In 1861, Dix commanded the Department of Maryland and the Department of Pennsylvania.  He commanded a regional organization within the Department of the Potomac before commanding the Department of Virginia in 1862–1863 and the Department of the East in 1863–1865.  In 1862, Dix and Confederate Maj. Gen. D. H. Hill created an agreement for the exchange of prisoners of war between the Union and Confederate Armies. 

Dix served as the United States minister to France for three years under President Andrew Johnson and later served a term as Governor of New York.

Dix has penned and signed this letter in black steel-nib pen.  There is light brushing to some of the letters, likely from Dix’s hand.  The letter has two horizontal mailing folds, a bit of toning, scattered tiny ink splatter spots, and a small foxing spot at the bottom edge, and light erased old dealer pencil notations in the blank upper left corner.  It appears that the integral leaf has been cleanly removed.  Overall the letter is in fine condition. 


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