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Gov. George Clinton Appoints New York City Militia Major
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GEORGE CLINTON. Partially Printed Document Signed as Governor of New York, appointing James Christie, April 6, 1787. With “Excelsior” seal, the motto of New York. 1 p. on vellum, 11¾ x 6⅞ in.

Inventory #24022.089       Price: $650

We reposing especial Trust and Confidence, as well in your Patriotism, Conduct and Loyalty, as in your Valour and Readiness to do us good and faithful Service; HAVE appointed and constituted, and by these Presents, DO appoint and constitute you the said James Christie Major of a Regiment of Militia in the city and county of New York (whereof Richard Varick Esquire is Lieutenant Colonel Commandant).

Historical Background

In April 1782, the New York legislature passed “An act to regulate the militia,” which specified that each militia regiment would be commanded by a lieutenant-colonel. In 1786, the legislature revised the structure so that each regiment would be commanded by three field officers, a lieutenant-colonel commandant and two majors. This appointment for James Christie is likely a result of Governor Clinton filling out the regiments with proper officers, in this case for New York County. Robert Harper, Dep. Secretary, recorded the commission on May 18, 1787.

George Clinton (1739-1812) was born in the Province of New York and tutored by a local Scottish clergyman. During the French and Indian War, he joined the provincial militia and rose to the rank of lieutenant. The governor appointed him as the clerk of the Ulster County Court of Common Pleas in 1759, and he held that position until his death. He read law in New York City and opened a law practice in 1764. He served in the New York Provincial Assembly from 1768 to 1776. In 1777, he was elected Governor of New York and was re-elected five times, remaining in office until 1795. He also served as a brigadier general in the Continental Army. The Democratic-Republicans nominated him as their candidate for Vice President in 1792. He held no political office from 1795 to 1800, but became Governor of New York again in 1801, serving until 1804. That year, he replaced Aaron Burr as Thomas Jefferson’s vice presidential candidate. He served as Vice President from 1805 to 1809 under Jefferson, then from 1809 until his death under President James Madison.

James Christie/Chrystie was an earthen-ware and glass merchant in New York City in 1786. He also served as an inspector of elections in the North Ward. In the New York state militia, Christie was appointed captain in 1786, major in 1787, and lieutenant colonel in 1789. In addition to leading a regiment as lieutenant colonel, Christie also served as brigade inspector.

Richard Varick (1753-1831) was born in New Jersey and was studying at King’s College (Columbia University) when the American Revolution began. He became a captain in the militia, then served under General Philip Schuyler and General Benedict Arnold. After the war, he served as Recorder of New York (1784-1789), New York State Attorney General (1788-1789), and Mayor of New York City (1789-1801). He also rose to the rank of colonel in the New York state militia.

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