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Port-Au-Prince, St. Domingo, 26th September 1796.
A bill of Exchange for 81 Spanish Mill'd Dollars. Signed by John Wigglesworth, agent to the commander of the British invasion force. Paid to Edward Robinson, or An order for the equivalent sum to the account of the powerful Philadelphia mercantile firm of Willings & Francis for supplies.
Printed bill, completed in manuscript. Countersigned on back by Edward Robinson and below a note in French, with signature of Mennechet (?). The note translated: “passed to the order of M. Cottineau, value to his account Port-au-Prince this 10th November 1796”.
25 X 10 cm.
John Wigglesworth British Commissary General in St. Domingo. On the 3rd of June 1795 Mr. Wigglesworth a principal officer under the commissioners for auditing the public accounts, was appointed Commissary General & c. to the army arriving in St. Domingo.
There is a record of Wigglesworth and Edward Robinson being involved with the payment of wages for Cpt. Rainsford of the 3rd West Indian Regiment in St. Domingo in 1797.
In 1796 St Domingo was the subject of an ongoing battle for control between Spanish & British forces and the French colonial powers led by their Commander-in-Chief, the former leader of the 1791 slave revolt, Toussaint L'Ouverture. Despite the arrival of British reinforcements in early 1796, the inspired leadership of L'Ouverture and the devastating effects of Yellow Fever on the British forces, led to their withdrawal in 1798. It was, writes Basket, an expedition destined to fail: 'such was the conclusion of an enterprise which, abstracted from all considerations of justice and humanity ... ought never to have been undertaken'.
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Denis-Nicolas Cottineau de Kerloguen, was a French (Breton) Naval officer, who had become assigned to serve under the Father of the United States Navy, John Paul Jones. Under Jones he commanded the 32–gun U.S. frigate Pallas. On 23 Sept. 1779 off Flamborough Head, England, Cottineau distiqiushed himself in the famous engagement where Jones’s Bonhomme Richard captured the Serapis, Cottineau captured the 22–gun British warship: Countess of Scarborough.
Cottineau later settled in the French West Indies, where he owned a sugar plantation.
One reference noted that "Mortality was so high on the Cottineau plantation in Saint Domingue that the entire slave force was replaced between 1765 and 1778."
During the slave insurrection in San Domingo he fled to Philadelphia in 1793, where he joined several fellow French refugees in establishing a colony. Suffering from a ´lingering illness’, he came to Savannah early in 1808 as a cotton plantation owner. He died there, on Nov. 29 of that year.
In recognition of his service to the young country, he was made an honorary member of the Pennsylvania Society of the Cincinnati.
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Willings and Francis was a Philadelphia merchant firm established in the eighteenth century by two prominent Philadelphia families. Thomas Willing (1731-1821), Thomas Mayne Willing (1767-1822) and Thomas Willing Francis were proprietors of the firm. At the age of twenty-three Thomas Willing assumed responsibility of his father’s counting house. He was elected to the Common Council of Philadelphia in 1755 and as city alderman in 1759. In 1759 he also became Judge of the City Court and Common Please justice in 1761. Thomas became Mayor of Philadelphia in 1763 and served as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in 1767-1774. Influential in establishing a national banking system, Thomas became President of the Bank of North America in 1781 and President of the Bank of the United States in 1791.
Thomas Willing also helped to establish the London Coffee House in 1754 located in Philadelphia. He and approximately 200 other merchants contributed 348 Pounds to the establishment run by William Bradford. The Coffee House soon became the center of business and politics in Philadelphia laying the foundation for the Philadelphia Stock Exchange.