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Ratification of The Bill of Rights

[BILL OF RIGHTS], Newspaper. Columbian Centinel, March 14, 1792. Boston, Mass.: Benjamin Russell. 4 pp., 10½ x 16½ in.

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Item #25046, SOLD — please inquire about other items

New Hampshire Acts Organizing the Election of 1792 -Washington’s re-Election

[NEW HAMPSHIRE], Broadside, “An ACT directing the mode of ballotting for, and appointing the Electors of this state for the election of a President and Vice-President of the United States. ALSO— An ACT directing the mode of choosing Representatives to the Congress of the United States.” Organizing elections in the state, signed in print by Governor Josiah Bartlett, June 1792. 1 p., 15½ x 19½ in.

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Item #24603, $7,500

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, $8,500

Jefferson-Signed Patent Act of 1793

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Printed Document Signed as Secretary of State, An act to promote the progress of useful arts, and to repeal the act heretofore made for that purpose, February 21, 1793. Signed in type by George Washington as President, Jonathan Trumbull as Speaker of the House of Representatives, and John Adams as Vice President and President of the Senate. [Philadelphia: Francis Childs and John Swaine?, 1793], 4 pp. Evans 26309

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Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson signs the second U.S. Patent Act, which played a signal role in the commercial development of the United States. A key difference between this act and the one it replaced was that, in addition to new inventions, patents could be issued for improvements to existing products. The measure helped foster American innovation, successfully ushering the nation into the Industrial Revolution. We locate no other signed copies of this milestone act.

Item #22424.99, $125,000

Thomas Jefferson Signed Judiciary Act of 1793

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Printed Document Signed, as Secretary of State, “An Act in addition to the act, entitled, ‘An act to establish the judicial Courts of the United States,’” Philadelphia, March 2, 1793. 2 pp., 9⅝ x 15⅛ in.

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That the attendance of only one of the justices of the supreme court, at the several circuit courts of the United States, to be hereafter held, shall be sufficient....

At the request of Congress, Attorney General Edmund Randolph offered his critique of the new federal justice system with suggestions for improvements (see #26590). Chief among them was his recommendation to remove justices of the Supreme Court from their circuit court duties to allow them to focus on more important appellate decisions.[1] Soon after, all of the Supreme Court Justices together wrote to President Washington complaining of the burden of their duties. Congress took up the issue two days after Washington mentioned it in his November 6, 1792 State of the Union Address, and a day after he forwarded the Justices’ letter to Congress. This Act was passed on February 27, and signed into law by Washington on March 3, 1793.

Jefferson was required by a prior Act to authenticate two copies for each state of ever Act of Congress. By this time, there were 15 states, so Jefferson would have signed only 30 copies, of which very few survive. 



[1] Edmund Randolph, Report of the Attorney-General. Read in the House of Representatives, December 31, 1790 (Philadelphia: Francis Childs & John Swaine, 1791), 7-10.

Item #26594.99, $150,000

Declaration of Independence Signer Samuel Huntington’s Copy of an Act of Congress Signed by Thomas Jefferson

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Printed Document Signed as Secretary of State. “An Act to alter the Times and Places of holding the Circuit Courts in the Eastern District, and in North-Carolina,...” Philadelphia, Pa., March 2, 1793. 2 pp., 9¾ x 15 in. Signed in Type by George Washington as President. Lengthy docket by Samuel Huntington.

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This act establishes the exact places and dates for the spring Circuit Courts to meet for the eastern districts of New-York, Connecticut, Vermont, New-Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. This copy of the act, duly signed by Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson a day before the official date of the end of the Second Congress, was sent to Governor Samuel Huntington of Connecticut because the act specified that the spring circuit court “shall henceforth be held … for the district of Connecticut, at New-Haven on the twenty-fifth day of April…”

Item #23042.99, $30,000

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, $140,000

Pownall’s New Map of North America, 1794

THOMAS POWNALL, Map. A New Map of North America with the West India Islands, divided according to the Preliminary Articles of Peace, Signed at Versailles, 20, Jan 1783, wherein are particularly Distinguished The United States, and the Several Provinces, Governments &ca which Compose the British Dominions, Laid down according to the Latest Surveys, and Corrected from the Original Materials of Goverr. Pownall, Membr. of Parlimt. London: Laurie and Whittle, 12th May, 1794.

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Item #23539, $1,750

Relieving Persons in Debtors Prison

EDMUND RANDOLPH, Document Signed as Secretary of State. An Act to continue in force the act for the relief of persons imprisoned for Debt and An Act to alter the time for the next annual meeting of Congress, May 30, 1794. Philadelphia: Childs and Swaine. Signed in type by George Washington as President, John Adams as Vice President, and Frederick Muhlenberg as Speaker of the House. 1 p., 8¼ x 13½ in.

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Item #24428.04, $3,750

Act of Congress Attempting to Mitigate Brewing Whiskey Rebellion, Signed by Edmund Randolph

EDMUND RANDOLPH, Document Signed as Secretary of State. An ACT making further provision for securing and collecting the Duties on foreign and domestic Spirits, Stills, Wines and Teas, June 5, 1794. Philadelphia: Childs and Swaine. Signed in type by George Washington as President, Ralph Izard as President pro tempore of the Senate, and Frederick Muhlenberg as Speaker of the House. 4 pp., 8 x 13⅜ in.

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Excerpts

all spirits which shall be distilled in the United States, in stills which shall not have been previously entered at some office of inspection, shall be liable, together with the stills or other vessels used in the distillation thereof, to seizure and forfeiture.” (sec. 2)

any person or persons, who shall counterfeit the certificates for, or the marks or numbers to be set upon any cask, vessel or package containing wines, teas, or foreign or domestic distilled spirits, or upon stills... shall, for every such offence, forfeit and pay the sum of one hundred dollars.” (sec. 7)

That it shall and may be lawful for the judicial courts of the several states, and of the territory of the United States northwest of the river Ohio, and of the territory of the United States south of the river Ohio, to take cognizance of all and every suit and suits, action and actions, cause and causes, arising under or out of the laws for collecting a revenue upon spirits distilled in the United States, and upon stills, which may arise or accrue at a greater distance, than fifty miles from the nearest place established by law for holding a district court.” (sec. 9)

That the judicial courts of the several states, to whom, by this act, a jurisdiction is given, shall and may exercise all and every power… for the purpose of obtaining a mitigation or remission of any fine, penalty or forfeiture, which may be exercised by the judges of the district courts, in cases depending before them... ” (sec. 18)

Item #24317, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Robert Morris - Declaration Signer and Financier of the Revolution - is Drowning in Debt and Calls for Help

ROBERT MORRIS, Autograph Letter Signed with Initials, to [John Nicholson], November 21, 1794. 1 p.

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Facing ruin, Robert Morris desperately pleads with his partner John Nicholson to cover a debt resulting from speculating in the North American Land Company. Morris, who previously used his own funds to finance the American Revolutionary War, would suffer the indignity of imprisonment for debt between 1798 and 1801.

Item #23987, $3,750

George Washington’s Second Thanksgiving Proclamation, Sent to American Consuls

EDMUND RANDOLPH, Printed Document Signed, as Secretary of State, this copy sent to Nathaniel Cutting, American Consul at Havre de Grace, France, December 31, 1794, 3 pp and blank on one integral leaf. Randolph’s circular on page one notes that he is attaching a reprint of Thomas Jefferson’s August 26, 1790 letter to our Consuls, and an extract of Jefferson’s May 31, 1792 letter calling attention to a part of the Act of Congress governing the security that consuls have to give to insure they can meet obligations they take on for the United States. He then attaches the full text of Washington’s Second Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation, which was publicly issued a day later, on January 1, 1795. 15½ x 12⅞ in.

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When we review the calamities which afflict so many other nations, the present condition of the United States affords much matter of consolation and satisfaction.

A day before it is publicly issued, Secretary of State Edmund Randolph Sends Washington’s Proclamation to all American Consuls, as “a better comment upon the general prosperity of our affairs than any which I can make.” According to the President, “the present condition of the United States affords much matter of consolation and satisfaction. Our exemption hitherto from foreign war; and increasing prospect of the continuance of that exemption; the great degree of internal tranquility we have enjoyed…Deeply penetrated with this sentiment, I GEORGE WASHINGTON, President of the United States, do recommend to all Religious Societies and Denominations, and to all Persons whomsoever within the United States, to set apart and observe Thursday the nineteenth day of February next, as a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer…to beseech the Kind Author of these blessings…to impart all the blessings we possess, or ask for ourselves, to the whole family of mankind.

Item #24141, $19,000

Alexander Hamilton’s Autograph Legal Notes Representing a Widow in Mamaroneck, NY Appealing Her Case Against a Conflicted Trustee of Her Husband’s Estate

ALEXANDER HAMILTON, Autograph Manuscript, seven points on one page with Hamilton’s additional citations on verso, n.p., n.d., but early in 1796, relating to Peter Jay Munro et al, appellants v. Peter Allaire. 1 p. plus additional Autograph notes on verso.

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Mary Palmer had lost a case against a trustee of her husband’s estate who sought to buy her interest in the estate. Chancellor Robert R. Livingston ruled against her. Hamilton handled the winning appeal. The decision found that a trustee with power over the estate could never be a purchaser, a principle “founded in indispensable necessity, to prevent that great inlet of fraud, and those dangerous consequences which would ensue” if trustees were allowed to pursue their own interests perhaps at the expense of the estate.

Item #24622, ON HOLD

Secretary of War Orders Payment for Georgia State Militia Called Out to Prepare for War With the Creeks

TIMOTHY PICKERING, Autograph Letter Signed, as Secretary of War, to William Simmons, January 8, 1796, [Philadelphia]. 1 p., 7½ x 12 in.

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I am very much inclined to think the claim of Georgia to the whole will be supported.

Despite a 1790 peace treaty, small raiding parties of Creeks and local white militias continued to cross the disputed western border of Georgia to commit depredations. Painting an alarming picture of barbarous Indians in 1793, the governor of Georgia sought and received the promise of federal support for defending the frontier, though President Washington and the Secretary of War were clear that they did not approve of the governor’s plan to wage war.

This order represents an important point in the contentious relations between the state of Georgia and the federal government over defending the Georgia frontier against the Creeks. President Washington had already appointed the writer, Secretary of War Timothy Pickering, as Secretary of State; when he wrote this letter, he was filling both positions. Pickering was premature in thinking the additional claims of Georgia would be supported. Congress repeatedly denied the state’s request for payment for several times the number of militia that the President had authorized until 37 years later, when the potential for conflict with the Cherokee caused the U.S. House of Representatives to pay Georgia’s claim fully.

Item #25998, $1,750

Signed by Hamilton’s Second in Fatal Duel

NATHANIEL PENDLETON, Manuscript Document Signed as Federal Judge, District of Georgia. Deposition of Hannah Miller, March 14, 1796, St. Marys, Georgia.

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This affidavit is from a federal court case that Judge Nathaniel Pendleton heard in Georgia.

Item #24398, $2,000

Hamilton’s Advice to Holland Land Company on a New Law Relating to New York State’s Prohibition Against Foreigners Owning Land

ALEXANDER HAMILTON, Autograph Manuscript Draft, to Théophile Cazenove, c. May 19, 1796. 2+ pp.

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It is manifestly the interest of the parties concerned to avail themselves of this act. They are now intirely at the discretion of the Government....

New York adhered to the common-law prohibition against foreigners owning land. If a citizen purchased property in his own name but the money came from a foreigner, the purchaser was considered a trustee, and the State could seize the property. But Dutch investors, second only to France in their aid to America during the Revolution, invested heavily in American stocks, bonds, and western lands, working largely through their agent Théophile Cazenove.

Item #24625, $20,000

[George Washington] Rare Broadside Instructing Ships’ Captains re Impressment of American Seamen

GEORGE WASHINGTON, An extract of the Act, entitled, ‘An Act, for the relief and Protection of American Seamen;’ passed in the fourth Congress of the United States, at the first Session, begun and held at the City of Philadelphia, on Monday the seventh of December, One thousand seven hundred and ninety-five. May 28, 1796. Broadside. Baltimore, MD: John Hayes. Signed in type by George Washington as President, Jonathan Dayton as Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Samuel Livermore as President pro tempore of the Senate, printing the fifth and sixth sections of the act. 4 pp., 8½ x 13 in.

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it shall...be the duty of the master of every ship or vessel of the United States, any of the crew whereof shall have been impressed or detained by any foreign power, at the first port, at which such ship or vessel shall arrive...immediately to make a protest.

This rare historical broadside addresses the pressing issue of the impressment of American, a major factor leading the young United States into the Quasi-War with France (1798-1800) and later to the War of 1812 with Great Britain.

Item #24393, $3,750

Secretary of State Pickering certifies five Acts of Congress relating to the Whiskey Rebellion, debtor’s prison, the estate of General Nathanael Greene, etc.

TIMOTHY PICKERING, Document Signed, five acts passed by the first session of the Fourth Congress, ca. June 1796, [Philadelphia]. 4 pp., 8 x 13½ in. Each act bears printed signatures of President George Washington, Speaker of the House Jonathan Dayton, and President of the Senate, pro tempore, Samuel Livermore. Secretary of State Timothy Pickering certifies with his signature that five acts of Congress are “Deposited among the Rolls, in the office of the department of State.”

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The printed acts include: An Act to regulate the compensation of Clerks, May 30, 1796; An Act for the relief of persons imprisoned for debt, May 28, 1796; An Act Providing relief to the owners of stills with the United States, for a limited time, in certain cases, June 1, 1796;

An Act Making an appropriation to satisfy certain demands attending the late insurrection; and to increase the compensation to jurors and witnesses in the courts of the United States, June 1, 1796; and An Act To indemnify the estate of the late Major General Nathanael Greene, for a certain bond entered into by him, during the late war, June 1, 1796.

Item #25081, $6,500

George Washington’s Farewell Address (Alexander Hamilton’s Genius at Work)

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Thomas’s Massachusetts Spy or Worcester Gazette. Newspaper, September 28, 1796. Worcester, MA: Isaiah Thomas. 4 pp., 11⅜ x 18 in. Washington’s September 17th Farewell Address is printed in full on pages two to three, signed in type.

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Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that, after forty five years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion....

At the end of his second term, Washington sent an open letter emphasizing the importance of unity and warning Americans against entanglements with foreign powers. Though he had initially solicited James Madison’s assistance in crafting his remarks, Alexander Hamilton’s second draft is the basis of the final address. Delivered to Congress in writing, Washington’s Farewell Address warns against the dangers of sectionalism, and criticizes “the insidious wiles of foreign influence,” referring to the pro-French sentiments of Jefferson and the Republicans. Washington’s policy during the wars between Great Britain and France in the early 1790s had been one of strict neutrality, and in the closing paragraphs of his Address he argues for continued American isolationism. America heeded his advice against joining a permanent alliance for more than a century and a half.

Item #26439, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Prosecuting 1794 Slave Trade Act Violation, Washington’s First U.S. Attorney for New York Seeks Aid from Pennsylvania Counterpart

RICHARD HARISON, Document Signed as U.S. Attorney for the District of New York, December 3, 1796. 1p, 9.5” x 15.75”. To William Rawle, U.S. Attorney for Pennsylvania, requesting aid in securing a witness in cases pending in the District Court to prosecute violations of the Slave Trade Act of 1794.

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“The principal witness is supposed to have been prevailed upon, by undue Methods, to quit this District…”

Item #26786, $1,500
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