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1793 “Walter Stewart” Revolutionary War General Signed Insurance Policy for Cargo of the American Schooner “Fly”

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WALTER STEWART (1756-1796). Continental Army and Pennsylvania Brevet Brigadier General in the Revolutionary War; Aide-de-Camp to Gates; Stewart’s full-length Portrait shown within the famous historic Oil Painting by Colonel John Trumbull of the “Surrender of Cornwallis” at Yorktown, his image on the left of the line of the American officers.

December 18, 1793-Dated, Printed Document Signed, “Walter Stewart” on an Insurance Policy for the Schooner “Fly”, 1 page, measuring about 16” x 13.75”, at Philadelphia, Very Fine. Intersecting folds, some strengthened on the back with glassine tape, short tears and some chipping along the bottom edge. Printed in black typeset on a large sheet of fine laid period paper watermarked “Brandywine.” This special Ship’s Insurance Policy issued by Wharton & Lewis, and taken out by E. Dutilh & Wachsmuth to protect cargo on the Schooner “Fly” on a trip to and from Philadelphia to Martinique. Here, Walter Stewart and Pette Hight sign just below the center, with each subscribing in the amount of 200 Pounds. Scarce, even as a period maritime insurance policy, greatly enhanced in value by the excellent signature of Walter Stewart.
Walter Stewart (1756-1796) was an Irish-born Continental Army American General in the American Revolutionary War.

Stewart began his military career as captain of a Pennsylvania infantry company at the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. He served as an Aide-de-Camp to Horatio Gates for a year with the rank of major. Given command of the Pennsylvania State Regiment, which later became the 13th Pennsylvania Regiment, Stewart led his troops with distinction at Brandywine and Germantown in 1777.

He was wounded while leading a detachment at the Battle of Monmouth in the summer of 1778. Despite Stewart's ability to cool tensions during the 1780 Mutiny of the Connecticut Line, his regiment later became involved in the Pennsylvania Line Mutiny.

The “Newburgh Conspiracy” was an apparent planned military coup by the Continental Army in March 1783, at the end of the American Revolutionary War. The conspiracy may have been instigated by members in the Congress of the Confederation, who circulated an anonymous letter in the army camp at Newburgh, New York, on March 10, 1783.

Soldiers were unhappy that they had not been paid for some time and that pensions that had been promised remained unfunded. The letter suggested that they should take unspecified action against Congress to resolve the issue. The letter was said to have been written by Major John Armstrong, aide to General Horatio Gates, although the authorship and underlying ideas are subjects of historical debate.

Commander-in-Chief George Washington stopped any serious talk of rebellion when he made an emotional address to his officers asking them to support the supremacy of Congress. Not long afterward, Congress approved a compromise agreement that it had previously rejected: it funded some of the pay arrears, and granted soldiers five years of full pay instead of a lifetime pension of half pay.

The motivations of numerous actors in these events are unclear. Some historians allege that serious consideration was given within the army to some sort of coup d'tat, while others dispute the notion. The exact motivations of congressmen involved in communications with army officers implicated in the events are similarly debated.

He was married in Philadelphia in 1781 before going south with the army to fight in the decisive Siege of Yorktown. After the British surrender, Stewart was deeply involved in the Newburgh Conspiracy. Following a term as Inspector General, he retired from the army at the beginning of 1783, and became a successful Philadelphia businessman and General in the state militia. He died on June 16, 1796 during an outbreak of yellow fever.

The mercantile firm of Dutilh & Wachsmuth was established in Philadelphia in 1790 and was dissolved circa 1798. Etienne Dutilh was born in France in 1748 and came to Philadelphia in 1783, after a career as a merchant in Rotterdam and London. Numerous members of the family were established as merchants in Holland, England, Smyrna, and the West Indies. E. Dutilh & Co. was established by 1784, trading primarily with the West Indies but also with Europe. John Godfried Wachsmuth was admitted to full partnership in 1790 under the style of Dutilh & Wachsmuth. Wachsmuth seems to have had American connections, while Dutilh maintained the ties with Europe.

Dutilh was away from Philadelphia a great deal, first at Cap Francois (1792-1793) and then in Holland (1793-1795), leaving the management of the Philadelphia house in the hands of Wachsmuth. Accounts for Dutilh & Wachsmuth continue through 1803, but the active partnership was apparently dissolved ca. 1798-1799. Wachsmuth then formed a partnership with John Soullier, an associate of Dutilh's, which continued through 1814. Dutilh anglicized his name to Stephen around 1804 and continued in business until his death in 1810. His widow married John G. Wachsmuth and raised Dutilh's three sons in his home at Germantown.
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