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INV-24241 GEORGE WASHINGTON Manuscript Document Signed as President. Appointing Simeon De Witt Surveyor General of the United States. Philadelphia, Pa., May 30, 1796. 1 p., 14 x 10 in. With wax seal of the United States. 1796-05-30

Simeon De Witt, scion of the famous Dutch New York political family, served as a surveyor in the Continental Army and Surveyor General of the State of New York from 1784 until his death in 1834. In 1796, Washington, himself an experienced surveyor, tapped De Witt to be the first U.S. Surveyor general under the Public Lands Act of 1796. Congress created the position to organize the Northwest Territory of the Ohio Valley and sell the land. Remarkably, though, De Witt declined Washington’s offer, and instead Brigadier General Rufus Putnam took the job.

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