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Washington Privately Asks John Jay If He Will Replace Pinckney as Minister to London

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Autograph Letter Signed as President, to John Jay, April 29, 1794, Philadelphia, [Pa.] 2 pp., 9 x 7¼ in.

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President Washington, in a letter marked “Secret & confidential,” asks Chief Justice John Jay to consider becoming the U.S. Minister in London and discusses the difficulty in finding ministers to France. “Secret & confidential…after you shall have finished your business as Envoy, and not before, to become the Resident Minister Plenipotentiary at London....

Item #21635.99, $120,000

Jefferson Signs Appropriations Bill Funding Federal Government and Making Hamilton’s Assumption Act Payments in 1792

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Document Signed as Secretary of State, December 23, 1791, Philadelphia [Pa.] Signed in type by Jonathan Trumbull as Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Adams as Vice President of the United States and President of the Senate, and George Washington as President. 3 pp.

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The “ACT making APPROPRIATIONS for the SUPPORT of GOVERNMENTthe federal budget for 1792—was passed by the Second Congress during its first session and approved by President George Washington on 23 December 1791. It includes appropriations to pay off foreign debts incurred during the Revolutionary War, pay salaries and expenses, and fund the defense of the country and the departments of government. “There shall be appropriated a sum of money not exceeding three hundred and twenty-nine thousand, six hundred and fifty-three dollars, and fifty-six cents…

Item #21495.99, $37,500

Richard Varick’s Appointment as Mayor of New York City

[JOHN JAY], Document Signed as Governor of New York [Albany], March 4, 1797. On vellum, the date being the original commission appointing. Large paper and wax seal with “The Great Seal of the State of New York” and ribbon that suspended it. It is counter-signed on the verso by Jasper Hopper as New York Deputy Secretary of State. There is also an Autograph Attestation Signed by Robert Benson as Clerk of the City of New York. 2 pp., 9⅜ x 15½ in.

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This document appoints Richard Varick as Mayor of New York City for the year, with the approval of Governor John Jay. Prior to 1834, New York City’s mayors were appointed by the governor with the advice of the Council of Appointment, rather than elected. It also has an attestation that Richard Varick took the oath of office before him as Clerk of the City of New York. “The People of the State of New York … Do nominate, constitute and appoint the said Richard Varick to be Mayor of our City of New York…

Item #21492.99, $20,000

Thomas Paine Tries to Pull Strings in France for an American Friend

THOMAS PAINE, Autograph Letter Signed, to “Citizen Directer” [Philippe-Antoine, Comte Merlin, of Douai]. [ca. 1798-1799, Dieppe, France]. 3 pp., 8⅞ x 5⅞ in.

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Paine writes on behalf of a Connecticut-born merchant-adventurer, Nathan Haley, who had captured an American vessel, the Hare, because it carried British contraband. This occurred in 1797, a year before the “Quasi-War” between the U.S. and France. Haley and Paine were each violently opposed to Britain and to the pro-British Federalist Party in America. This letter does not paint Paine in a good light, as he is, by implication, advocating French attacks on American vessels. Paine refers to his famously harsh public letter to George Washington of July 30, 1796, written after Paine narrowly escaped the guillotine during the Reign of Terror, to appeal to his correspondent’s anti-British bias – therein, Paine had condemned Jay’s Treaty, negotiated between the United States and Britain. Paine writes this letter as Merlin of Douai’s “ancient colleague” in the hopes that Merlin of Douai would overturn the ruling that “condemned” Haley’s prize at Dieppe. “[Haley] had been cruelly treated by the British whilst he was their prisoner in the American Revolution, and, as I am informed, has been cheated by the London insurencers, and besides the British made no ceremony of seizing American vessels.... It was Hayley who carried my letter to America addressed to the ex-President Washington, on the subject of the British [Jay’s] Treaty, to be printed....

Item #21479.99, $45,000

Jefferson Praises the Spirit of Innovation

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph Letter Signed to Robert Fulton, March 17, 1810, Monticello. 1 p., with autograph address leaf, free franked (“Th: Jefferson”). 7¾ x 9¾ in.

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Jefferson gives succinct expression to some of the prevailing impulses of the Enlightenment – confidence in the future, curiosity, and innovation – in this letter to inventor and entrepreneur Robert Fulton. “I am not afraid of new inventions or improvements, nor bigoted to the practices of our forefathers … Where a new invention is supported by well known principles & promises to be useful, it ought to be tried. Your torpedoes will be to cities what vaccination has been to mankind. It extinguishes their greatest danger.

Item #21474.99, $50,000

President Adams in Suspense, Awaits News from France

JOHN ADAMS, Autograph Letter Signed as President, to son, Thomas Boylston Adams, March 1, 1798, Philadelphia, [Pa.] 3 pp., 9¾ x 8 in.

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At the height of the war scare with France, John Adams writes to his son, Thomas, then accompanying Adams’ eldest son, John Quincy, who had just been commissioned Minister to Prussia, a neutral power in the ongoing war between France and Britain. He encourages brevity in his correspondence, given the tense nature of European diplomacy and the seeming imminence of war between France and the United States. “We are all in suspense … without news from Europe. We learn that General Buonaparte has been at Paris and is gone to the Congress. But we know no more…

Item #21464.99, $40,000

Frustrated by Articles of Confederation, America’s Credit and Inability to Regulate Commerce, Adams Fails to Negotiate Treaty with Britain

JOHN ADAMS, Autograph Letter Signed, to Elbridge Gerry, May 24, 1786, Grosvenor Square [London]. 4 pp., 7⅞ x 12⅝ in.

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In London to negotiate a commercial treaty with Britain, Adams writes of his inability to succeed with the British ministry because the states are not strong enough to support their own credit and regulate their own trade. Addressing his critics in Congress, Adams says anyone who thinks they can do better is welcome to his job. “A more disagreable Situation than mine no Man ever held in Life…making brick without straw, which has been my employment ever since I have been in Europe…was never reckoned an easy or pleasant task, from the days of the Israelites in Egypt…

Item #21463.99, $90,000

“No Nation is Drunken where Wine is Cheap”:
Jefferson’s Famous Letter on Government and Wine

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph Letter Signed, to the Baron Hyde de Neville, December 13, 1818, Monticello. 2 pp., 7⅞ x 9⅝ in.

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The retired founding father offers thoughts on the political economy of wine importation and foretells the future stability and prosperity of France after Napoleon. “…her constitution, as now amended, gives as much of self-government as perhaps she can yet bear… No nation is drunken where wine is cheap; and none sober, where the dearness of wine substitutes ardent spirits as the common beverage.

Item #21189.99, $125,000

John Adams Elevates the “Independent Executive” – With Exclusive Access to State Secrets – Over Public Opinion

JOHN ADAMS, Autograph Letter Signed as Vice President, to Dr. Benjamin Rush, February 1790, Richmond Hill, Mass. 3 pp., 7⅜ x 9 in.

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A revealing letter to fellow Declaration of Independence signer Benjamin Rush, arguing for a strong executive power in a discussion about the Constitution of Pennsylvania. “‘I love my friend as well as you / ‘But why should he obstruct my view?’ contains a Truth, which has laid the foundation for every Despotism and every Absolute Monarchy on Earth… Emulation almost the only Principle of Activity, (except Hunger and Lust) is the cause of all the wars Seditions and Parties in the world …

Item #21178.99, $100,000

George Washington to the Convention of the Universal Church

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Newspaper. Letter to the Convention of the Universal Church, August 9, 1790, in Gazette of the United States, August 11, 1790. New York, New York: John Fenno. 4 pp., 9½ x 14¾ in.

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It gives me the most sensible pleasure to find, that, in our nation, however different are the sentiments of citizens on religious doctrines, they generally concur in one thing: For their political professions and practices are almost universally friendly to the order and happiness of our civil institutions.

Item #30022.19, $2,500

Jefferson’s Tragic Loss Sparks Hope for Reconciliation with Adams

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph Letter Signed as President, to John W. Eppes, June 4, 1804, Washington D.C. 2 pp., 7¾ x 10 in.

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A remarkable, poignant letter from a crucial chapter in Jefferson’s life, his presidency, anticipating his famous reconciliation with his predecessor and longtime compatriot, Adams, but still holding one grudge. “He & myself have gone through so many scenes together…that I have never withdrawn my esteem, and I am happy that this letter gives an opportunity of expressing it to both of them. I shall do it with a frank declaration that one act of his life, & never but one, gave me personal displeasure, his midnight appointments. A respect for him will not permit me to ascribe that altogether to the influence of others, it will leave something for friendship to forgive.

Item #21161.99, $180,000

Pennsylvania Assembly Pledges to Fulfill Terms of Treaty of Fort Stanwix

JOSEPH GALLOWAY, Autograph Document Signed as Speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly, to Pennsylvania Governor John Penn, February 10, 1769, [Philadelphia, Pa.] 1 p., 9 x 14¼ in.

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The Pennsylvania Assembly vows to enforce land-based provisions of the Treaty of Fort Stanwix, negotiated in 1768 by Sir William Johnson with the Six Nations Iroquois. “Nothing, therefore, in our power shall be wanting, which shall appear necessary and effectual to prevent future Settlements on the lands unpurchased of the Indians…

Item #21157.99, ON HOLD

Rare First Printing of the U.S. Constitution

[U.S. CONSTITUTION], Newspaper. The Independent Gazetteer, or, the Chronicle of Freedom. Philadelphia: Eleazer Oswald, September 19, 1787. 4 pp.

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We, the People of the United States…

This rare complete printing of the Constitution appeared on the first day it was publicly available, Wednesday, September 19, 1787. That same morning, the Constitution was published by four other papers, the Pennsylvania Packet, and Daily Advertiser, Pennsylvania Journal, Pennsylvania Gazette and Freeman’s Journal. The Independent Gazetteer is unique, in that it is the only one of the five first-day printings whose type was evidently not used to print another, stand-alone edition.

Item #21085.99, $325,000

President Adams Writes to an Old Friend, Reflecting on the Vicissitudes of High Office

JOHN ADAMS, Autograph Letter Signed, as President, to Tristram Dalton, March 30, 1798, Philadelphia, [Pa.] 2 pp., 8 x 9⅞ in.

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A wistful letter to a boyhood friend in which Adams mentions some guileful political colleagues and laments the “popular Passions of the times” and the general neglect of his political writings. “The Difficulty of leading or guiding Millions, by any means but Power and Establishments can be known only to those who have tried Experiments of it.

Item #20887.99, $40,000

Samuel Huntington Speech on Education, Liberty, and
“Acts of Insolvency … Repugnant to the Constitution”

SAMUEL HUNTINGTON, Autograph Speech Signed, October 11, 1792, [Conn.] 4 pp., 8 x 12¾ in.

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Governor Huntington, in a “state of the state”-style address, proposes modifying the taxation system and state militia, building new roads, and granting the Superior Court power to send a wider range of convicts to New Gate Prison. The speech also emphasizes the importance of education, for the continued strength and vitality of republican institutions, a recurring theme in his administration. “Let me observe...a firm belief that it is Impossible for a free people to preserve their liberties & privileges... unless useful knowledge is generally diffused among them, & the principles of Virtue & religion included …; and were these favours properly bestowed upon every rising generation, …all Arbitrary & Despotic Government would vanish away...

Item #20732.99, $6,000

General Edward Hand on Framing a New Constitution in Pennsylvania

EDWARD HAND, Autograph Letter Signed, to Jasper Yeates, February 4, 1790, Philadelphia, Pa. 2 pp., 6¾ x 8 in.

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Edward Hand apprises a Pennsylvania political ally of recent developments at the state convention for framing a new constitution. “Some time ago I forwarded you the plan of the Legislative Branch, & now send those for the Executive & Judicial, as agreed on by the Committee of the whole.

Item #20731.99, $3,000

Father of the Erie Canal and Future Governor DeWitt Clinton’s Copy of New York City Ordinances

DEWITT CLINTON, Signed Book. Laws and Ordinances, Ordained and Established by the Mayor, Aldermen, and Commonalty of the City of New-York, in Common Council Convened, for the Good Rule and Government of the Inhabitants and Residents of the Said City. Passed and published the 17th day of January, 1805. In the Mayoralty of DeWitt Clinton. First Edition. New York: James Cheetham, 1805. DeWitt Clinton’s ownership signature on title page. 160 pp., 7¾ x 4½ in.

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During the second of his ten terms as mayor of New York City, Clinton signs his copy of the ordinances for governing the city at the top of the title page.

Item #23636, $2,500

Bill of Rights: Early N.Y. Printing of First Draft Approved by the House of Representatives - 17 Proposed Constitutional Amendments

[BILL OF RIGHTS], Newspaper. Gazette of the United States, August 29, 1789. New York: John Fenno. Includes a complete printing of the first House of Representatives proposal for amending the Constitution on page 2. 4 pp., 10 x 15¾ in.

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Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, nor shall the rights of conscience be infringed.

The freedom of speech, and of the press, and the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and consult for their common good, and to apply to the government for a redress of grievances, shall not be infringed.

A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed....

After months of work, on August 24, 1789, the House of Representatives approved seventeen Constitutional amendments, including the first to use the exact phrase, “freedom of speech.” This newspaper includes the full text of the resolution sent by the House to the Senate for approval. The Senate began deliberating the next day, approving some articles and rejecting or altering others.

Item #25430, $12,000

Significant Collection of the Worcester Magazine, Publisher Isaiah Thomas’ Protest against Advertising Tax. Filled with News of Shays’ Rebellion, and Federalist and Anti-Federalist Essays

ISAIAH THOMAS, Magazine. Worcester Magazine, 56 issues from September 1786 to March 1788. Worcester, MA: Isaiah Thomas. Each issue approximately 16 pp., 5½ x 9½ in.

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In 1785, the state of Massachusetts instituted a stamp tax on newspapers but soon replaced it with a tax on newspaper advertisements. To protest the tax on advertisements, Thomas suspended his weekly newspaper, Thomas’s Massachusetts Spy; or, the Worcester Gazette, at the end of March 1786. In April 1786, Thomas began publishing the Worcester Magazine, which was not subject to the tax, as a substitute for the Massachusetts Spy. Although a magazine in name, the Worcester Magazine continued the same kind of news as Thomas had printed in his newspaper. Its most valuable features were political pieces and “intelligence,” including essays for and against the new proposed U.S. Constitution. It also included a series entitled “The Worcester Speculator” (16 essays from September 1787 to March 1788), along with agricultural articles, medical notes, recipes, anecdotes, and other items.

Thomas continued publishing the Worcester Magazine for twenty-four months (approximately 104 issues) until Massachusetts repealed the advertising tax effective in March 1788, then Thomas resumed publishing the Massachusetts Spy on April 3, 1788. The Worcester Magazine includes extensive coverage of the Massachusetts Ratifying Convention to consider the proposed federal Constitution, which met from January 9 to February 6, 1788.

Ownership signatures of “Coln E. Crafts” on some issues indicate they belonged to Ebenezer Crafts (1740-1810). Crafts was born in Connecticut and graduated from Yale College in 1759. He purchased a farm and built a tavern in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. During the Revolutionary War, he commanded a company of cavalry as captain. From 1785 to 1791, Crafts led a regiment of cavalry from Worcester County, Massachusetts, and he helped suppress Shays’ Rebellion in 1786-1787. He was one of the founders of Leicester Academy in Leicester, Massachusetts, and later moved to northern Vermont, where he helped found Craftsbury, which was named after him.

Item #24829, $14,500

George Washington’s Second Inaugural Address

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Newspaper. Gazette of the United States, March 9, 1793. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: John Fenno. 4 pp., 9½ x 14¾ in.

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I am again called upon by the voice of my country to execute the functions of its Chief Magistrate.

Although Washington wanted to retire after a single term, the members of his cabinet, especially rivals Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, were convinced that he was essential to lead the nation through the next four years. After being again unanimously selected by the Electoral College, Washington delivered his second inaugural address in the Senate Chamber of Congress Hall in Philadelphia. At 135 words, it is the shortest inaugural address ever.

Item #30027.12, $1,995
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