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Washington Cryptically Dreams of Resigning, Feigns Insult and Teases McHenry for Delayed Answer to Queries on Funding the Army

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Autograph Letter Signed, to James McHenry. August 15, 1782. Newburgh, N.Y. 2 pp., including integral address leaf. 7½ x 11½ in.

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“I was in pain … resolving (like a man in the last agony) not to follow the trade & occupation of a G---- [General] any more.… Do not my dear Doctor tease your Mistress in this manner – much less your Wife, when you get one.”

In this highly personal letter, Washington offers a glimpse of the man behind the otherwise stolid image. After victory at Yorktown, Americans were awaiting news of a final peace treaty from Paris. Washington remained head of the Continental Army, and warily watched British General Sir Henry Clinton’s army in New York City. For all its friendly tone and nebulous phrases, Washington and McHenry are actually discussing the very serious business of funding and maintaining troop levels to discourage future British actions.

Item #20987.99, $110,000

George Washington, Outraged over Continued Native American and Loyalist Attacks on the New York Frontier, Wishes “to chastise the insolence of the enemy in any future incursion,” But Cannot Provide Much Direct Aid

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Letter Signed as Commander in Chief, to Governor George Clinton. Newburgh, N.Y., July 30, 1782. 4 pp., 7 x 11¾ in.

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“I have learnt with great concern the repeated depredations that have been committed on your Western frontier … notwithstanding the order … for the buildings necessary at the posts on the Mohawk, I fear he will not have it in his power to do it for want of money.”

Between victory at Yorktown and recognition of American independence, British forces, Loyalists, and native tribes all continued raids on American outposts and settlers, especially on the New York frontier. Washington had to maintain the army’s strength in order to force favorable negotiations, but here defers to the local governor. Fortunately for both General and Governor, Colonel Marinus Willett was one of the Revolution’s most capable leaders with decades of familiarity with Western New York’s peoples, places, and potential problems.

Item #24418, $35,000

George Washington on the Impending Execution of Charles Asgill: “The Enemy ought to have learnt before this, that my Resolutions are not to be trifled with.”

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Letter Signed, as Commander-in-Chief, Continental Army, to Elias Dayton, Headquarters, [Newburgh, N.Y.], June 11, 1782. 3 pp., with free frank signed on address panel on verso of 3rd page. 9 x 14 in. Offered with discount issue of The Columbian Magazine, January, 1787, printing an excerpt of this letter relating to the Asgill Affair, and supporting documents.

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In the summer of 1782, following America’s victory at Yorktown the previous September, peace negotiations were just getting underway in Paris between the United States and Britain. With their outcome uncertain, desperate Loyalists here sought to strengthen the British hold on New York, undermine America’s vulnerable financial system, and exact revenge for their own losses. Spies were everywhere.

In this powerful letter about two major cases, Washington supports civilian authority, shows frustration over his troops’ handling of captured spies – especially a delay in following a habeas corpus ruling – and expresses steely anger over the British response to the pending execution of young Charles Asgill in retaliation for the murder of American captain Joshua Huddy.

Item #23811, $52,500

Congress Demands Pennsylvania Soldiers for a Final Assault on the British Army

[ARTHUR ST. CLAIR]. CHARLES THOMSON, Printed Document, Manuscript Order of the Continental Congress, to Arthur St. Clair, on levying troops in Pennsylvania to organize at Philadelphia, signed by Thomson as Secretary of Congress, September 19, 1781. 1 p., 5¼ x 7¼ in.

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As Washington’s gathered the Continental Army around Yorktown, Virginia, for a final, decisive battle against British forces, tactical planning continued for major cities and strategic points throughout America. The importance of victory and adequate defense weighed heavily on the Revolution’s military leaders. Alexander Hamilton, writing to his wife, Eliza, from his post in Annapolis on September 18, was concise: “I am going to do my duty. Our operations will be so conducted, as to economize the lives of men. Exert your fortitude and rely upon heaven.”[1]

Item #24011, $6,250

John Adams Repeats Good Battle News Including Capture of 55 British Ships, but Warns Not to Expect Peace: “The Heads of a King and Ministers is at Stake...”

JOHN ADAMS, Autograph Letter Signed, to William Churchill Houston. Amsterdam, Netherlands, September 17, 1780. 2 pp., with integral blank with recipient’s docket, 7½ x 9 in.

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“You will not mistake this for a Promise or an Hope of Peace. This cannot be. The Heads of a King and Ministers is at Stake ... the Capture of 55 ships at once by the combined Fleets of France and Spain … have cast down the English Cause to such a degree, as to put them upon the compassionate List, even with some who detest their Tyranny.” 

On the same day that John Adams received news that his fundraising mission to the Netherlands had been approved by Congress, he received more qualified news from William Churchill Houston, a member of Congress from New Jersey. Houston’s letter, sent from Philadelphia on July 11, 1780, informed Adams of Charleston’s occupation by the British, but also of a reawakening of patriotic spirit “that is fast pervading the whole Comunity, a Spirit which enlivens and encreases every Day.”[1] On September 17, Adams responded to Houston in the letter offered here, and presented him with the more immediate news of military victory.

Item #23797, $46,500

British Major General Henry Clinton Pays the Fraser Highlanders

HENRY CLINTON, Partially Printed Document Signed, July 13, 1778, Pay warrant for Simon Fraser’s regiment. Warrant to Captain Angus Macintosh, who also signs it to acknowledge payment. Bound by a cord, partially disbound and separated, 7¾ x 12½ in. The first leaf is slightly smaller at 7¼ x 12 in. 8 pp.

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Item #24755, $2,750

The Declaration of Independence, Printed in 1776 Journals of Congress - Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson’s Chief Clerk’s Copy

[DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE], Book. Journals of Congress. Containing the Proceedings from January 1, 1776, to January 1, 1777. Volume II. York-Town [Penn.]: John Dunlap, 1778. Second issue (i.e. Dunlap’s imprint but incorporating Aitken’s sheets). 520 pp., 8 x 4 ¾ in. Title page with New York City Bar Association stamp, discreet accession number on verso. Lacking the index (xxvii pp.).

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This rare volume of the Journals of Congress, covering the pivotal year of 1776, has an unusual printing history. The first 424 pages were printed in Philadelphia in 1777 by Robert Aitken. The project was interrupted when the British marched into Philadelphia on September 26, 1777. Congress fled, and after a day in Lancaster established itself in York, Pennsylvania. Aitken escaped with some of his finished sheets but had to abandon his press. On the other hand, John Dunlap, the original printer of the Declaration of Independence, managed to remove his press. In May 1778, Congress hired Dunlap to complete the reprint of their 1776 journals.

This copy bears the signature of Henry Remsen Jr., (1762-1843), the Chief Clerk of the State Department when Jefferson was Secretary of State. At that time, the Patent Office was part of the State Department, so among his accomplishments Remsen recorded the first rules for the examination of patents, a subject dear to Jefferson the inventor. Remsen later became a noteworthy New York financier.

Item #23757, $25,000

General Washington Orders Declaration of Independence Read to Army in New York

[DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE], Manuscript Orderly Book. Headquarters [New York City], [July 8, 1776 – August 21, 1776]. Containing two overlapping sequences in different hands: one 145-page sequence runs from July [9], 1776 to August 21, 1776, and another 13-page segment (written from the other end of the book) runs from July 8-13, 1776. 158 pp. 7½ x 6 in. Both versions vary slightly from the published text of Washington’s General Orders of July 9. This volume, with Brigade and Regimental orders, was either kept by battalion adjutant Aaron Comstock or an orderly sergeant in one of Gold S. Silliman’s eight companies enlisted in Connecticut shortly before. This is likely the battalion’s first orderly book after arriving in New York with approximately 415 men.

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the Honble Continental Congress … haveing been plead to Desolve Connection Between this country & great Britain & to declare the united Colonys of North America free & Independent States the Several Brigades are to be Drawn us [up] this Evening on their Respective Parades at 6 oclock when the Deleration of Congress Shewing the grounds & Reasons of the Measures to be Read with Laudable [audible] Voice the genl [George Washington] Hopes that this important Point will serve as a fresh incentive to Every officer and soldier to act with fidelity & courage as knowing that now the Peace and Safety of this country Depends under god solely on the success of our arms....” (July 9, 1776)

the gel being informed to his great surprize that a Report prevails & Industrously spread far and wide that Lord how [British General Lord William Howe] has made <145> Propositions of Peace Calculated by disguiseing Persons most Probably To Lull us into a fatal Security his Duty obliges him to Declare that No such offer has been made by Lord how but on the Contrarary from the Best inteligence he can Procure the army may Expect atack as soon as the wind and tide proves favorable He hopes theirfore every mans mind & arms may be Prepared for action and when caled to it shew our enemies & the whole world that free men Contendin for their own Land are Superior to any Mercenaries on Earth.... (August 20th 1776)

Remarkable 1776 manuscript orderly book, evidently kept for Brigadier General Gold S. Silliman’s Connecticut militia, containing two separate versions of Washington’s famous General Orders of July 9, 1776, in which he announced to the Continental Army that Congress had formally declared the 13 colonies to be independent of Great Britain. Washington ordered that the momentous text be proclaimed before all assembled troops in and around New York.

Item #21461.99, $125,000

Defending New York City in the Spring of 1776

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR], Autograph Manuscript, List of Tools Distributed to Captains on Duty. New York, N.Y., March 19, 1776. 1 p.

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Item #21007.51, $750

Thomas Paine’s Day Job While Writing Common Sense: Editor of the Pennsylvania Magazine

[THOMAS PAINE], Bound Volume. Pennsylvania Magazine; or American Monthly Museum. Volume 1. January-December 1775. Philadelphia, Pa., R. Aitken, 1775. 5 x 8¼ in.

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Item #23101, $45,000

Psalms of David, Carried by a Continental Army Officer and Inscribed in 1776

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR; RHODE ISLAND]. ISAAC WATTS, Book. The Psalms of David, Imitated in the Language of the New Testament: and Applied to the Christian State and Worship (title supplied). Norwich, [Connecticut]: Alexander Robertson, James Robertson, and Trumbull, 1774. Approx. 300 pp., 3 x 5 x 1¼ in.

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Bibles, psalm books, or other printed works carried during the Revolution are rare on the market. This edition appears to be scarce: the last offering we find was by Goodspeed’s in 1934.

Item #24693, $8,500

A Unique Pairing: Connecticut Printer Timothy Green’s scarce 1774 Proceedings of the American Continental Congress…, with CT Treasury Order Paying Him to Distribute it

CONTINENTAL CONGRESS, Book. Extracts from the Votes and proceedings of the American Continental Congress, held at Philadelphia on the 5th of September 1774 Containing the Bill of rights, a List of grievances, Occasional resolves, the Association, an Address to the People of Great-Britain, a Memorial to the Inhabitants of the British American Colonies, and an Address to the Inhabitants of the Province of Quebec. New-London: Timothy Green, 1774. Quarto, 16 pp. Sewn as issued. Edges chipped with small loss at corners of first leaves (not affecting text).

With:
CONNECTICUT REVOLUTIONARY WAR TREASURY. Manuscript Document Signed. Order to pay Timothy Green “To Transporting to the Several Counties, the Doings of the Continental Congress…,” April 17, 1775, New London, Conn. 1 p., 6 x 9 in. Signed twice by Nathan Baxter, countersigned by Richard Law, Thomas Mumford, and Caleb Knight.

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Item #23976/24244.01, $8,500

The Alexander Hamilton Collection:
A Show-Stopping Gathering of Highly Important
Original Letters, Documents and Imprints

[ALEXANDER HAMILTON], The Alexander Hamilton Collection contains hundreds of documents from leaders, soldiers, citizens and the press, written when the Revolutionary War and Founding were current events. The Collection includes powerful letters and documents of Hamilton, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Aaron Burr, among many others.

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We are pleased to offer a unique collection of original documents that made American history. These documents tell the story of the orphan immigrant founding father who fought for independence, founded our financial system, and fostered a government capable of surviving internal factions and foreign foes.

Item #24685, $3,800,000
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