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Elias Hasket Derby     $15.00
Elias Hasket Derby
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Elias Hasket Derby (1739-1799) signed this document in the body of the document.  It is dated, Nov. 23, 1790, Salem, [MA] written and signed (in the text) by Elias Hasket Derby (1739-99), America's first millionaire (his nickname was "the King"), and signed at the conclusion by Thomas Briggs (1758-1810), shipbuilder who helped build the Frigate Essex during the undeclared war between the U.S. and France in the 1790s. The document is a receipt for 20 pounds, 10 pence and 2 shillings "on account" given by Briggs to Derby. Briggs was born at Pembroke, MA. Died at Dorchester, MA. Thomas learned his trade as a shipbuilder in his father's yard at Brick Kilns, and in 1789 was a shipwright at Briantree, probably with his brother Daniel. He afterwards went to sea as a captain, but left the sea and became a merchant in Boston, conducting a business there for may years. He lived in Dorchester. Son of Seth Briggs, a shipbuilder, he had 5 brothers, all ship builders in the Salem area. Thomas helped build the "Essex" during our undeclared war with France in the 1790s. Elias Hasket Derby was born in Salem. His wealth was inherited from the maritime business that his father, Richard Derby (1712–83), a sea captain who had acquired in trade with Spain and the West Indies previous to the American Revolution. Elias' brother, John, carried the first news of battles of Lexington and Concord to England aboard the Quero which sailed from Salem Harbor April 26, 1775. During the Revolution, Elias increased his wealth by fitting out a number of successful privateersmen. After the war he was a pioneer in exploring new trade routes, his ships being among the first to carry the Stars and Stripes to the Baltic and Asia. His most lucrative trade was with the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. The success of his enterprises was partly due to his wise selection of captains and supercargoes. In 1784 he opened the trade to St. Petersburg, and from 1785-99 he sent at least 37 different vessels on 125 voyages, of which 45 were to the East Indies or China. In 1791 he embarked in the regular trade with India, and is called the father of American commerce with that country. After this his ships made many voyages to foreign ports. He first displayed the American flag before the fortress of Calcutta, and his were the first American ships that carried cargoes of cotton from Bombay to China. When the U.S. Navy began in 1798 under President John Adams, Elias contributed $10,000 of the $75,000 raised by citizens. The Navy's establishment was due largely to his advice to the President and Congress, which in June 1798 passed an act authorizing the president to accept such vessels as citizens might build for the national service, and to issue a six percent stock to indemnify the subscribers. At his death he left an estate that exceeded $1,000,000, supposed to be the largest fortune in this country during the last century. The oldest Brick house in Salem is the house owned by Elias.  This Elias Derby autograph document reproduction would make a wonderfil conversation piece in an album or display.




 


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