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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

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

New York City Commissions a Portrait of George Washington by John Trumbull

RICHARD VARICK, Autograph Letter Signed, to Tobias Lear, July 19, 1790, New York, NY. 1 p., 7⅞ x 12⅛ in.

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In this letter, New York City Mayor Richard Varick requests an opportunity to convey a request from the city to President George Washington to have artist John Trumbull prepare a portrait of him for display at City Hall.

Item #26584, $12,500

Charles Thomson’s Secret Journal of the Confederation Congress, Including Detailed Description of the Great Seal and Negotiations for the Treaty of Paris to End the Revolutionary War

CHARLES THOMSON, Manuscript Document, Journal as Secretary of Confederation Congress, 1782-1783. 104 pp., 6½ x 7⅞ in. Contemporary marbled boards; sympathetically rebacked; burgundy cloth chemise and slipcase, burgundy morocco spine lettered gilt. Together with: Mrs. Charles Thomson’s three calling cards.

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The Devise for an Armorial Achievement and reverse of a great Seal for the United States.... The Escutcheon on the breast of the American bald Eagle displayed...and in his beak a scroll inscribed with this motto ‘E pluribus unum.’

This remarkable handwritten journal includes a description of the Great Seal of the United States; Thomson is now credited with being the final designer. There is also a crucial diplomatic report by Edmund Randolph entitled “Facts and Observations in support of the several claims of the United States not included in their Ultimatum of the 15 of June, 1781”; the text of the Preliminary Articles of Peace between the United States of America and Great Britain, signed on November 30, 1782; summaries of the treaties between Great Britain and France and Great Britain and Spain, signed on January 20, 1783; and correspondence in French between British negotiator Alleyne Fitz Herbert and American Peace Commissioners John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, also of January 20, 1783.

Randolph’s report comprises two thirds of the text in this journal and was not made public until 1820-1821, when the “Secret Journals” of Congress were first published under the direction of President James Monroe in conformity with resolutions of Congress.

Item #26592, $925,000

Congress Begs the States for the Power to Regulate Trade and Negotiate Treaties

CHARLES THOMSON, Document Signed as Secretary of Congress. Resolutions Concerning Foreign Commerce. April 30, 1784, [Annapolis, Maryland]. 1 p., 7¾ x 12¾ in.

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“The fortune of every citizen is interested in the success thereof [of trade]; for it is the constant source of wealth and incentive to industry; and the value of our produce and our land must ever rise or fall in proportion to the prosperous or adverse state of trade.…”

Item #20874.99, $54,000

Steamboat Inventor Robert Fulton and Six Other Commissioners Ask the Governor of Georgia to Support Federal Funding of the Erie Canal

ROBERT FULTON, ROBERT FULTON, Printed Document Signed, October 8, 1811, New York. Letter to the Governor of Georgia David Brydie Mitchell announcing the formation of what would become the Erie Canal Commission. Also signed by GOUVERNEUR MORRIS, DEWITT CLINTON, SIMEON DE WITT, WILLIAM NORTH, THOMAS EDDY and ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON. 2 pp., 10 x 15½ in. Together with: ELISHA JENKINS Document Signed as New York Secretary of State. “An Act to provide for the Improvement of the Internal Navigation of the State,” April 8, 1811, Albany, NY; certified, sealed, and signed, July 10, 1811. 1 p. with docketing, ordered to be filed, Nov. 4, 1811, 8 x 10 in.

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“this Canal … will encourage agriculture, promote commerce and manufactures, facilitate a free and general intercourse between different parts of the United States, tend to the aggrandizement and prosperity of the country, and consolidate and strengthen the Union.

Item #26559, $17,500

Thomas Jefferson Signed Act of Congress Extending Temporary Post Office

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Printed Document Signed, as Secretary of State, “An Act to continue in force for a limited time, an Act, intituled ‘An Act for the temporary Establishment of the Post Office,’” New York, August 4, 1790. 1 p., 9½ x 15⅛ in. , 8/4/1790.

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the act passed the last session of Congress, intituled ‘An act for the temporary establishment of the post-office,’ be, and the same hereby is continued in force until the end of the next session of Congress, and no longer.

Item #26264.99, $27,500

Large 1801 Folio Engraving of Thomas Jefferson as New President

[THOMAS JEFFERSON], Print. Engraved by David Edwin, published by George Helmbold Jr., 1801. 1 p., 13 x 19¾ in. (image); 14⅞ x 22 ½ in. (sheet). , 1/1/1801.

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This engraving by David Edwin pictures Jefferson standing beside a table, with his hand on a desktop globe. Edwin copied the head from the Rembrandt Peale portrait of 1800. Edwin placed Jefferson in a black suit in a formal setting, comparable to the 1796 portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart (known as the “Lansdowne” portrait because it was commissioned as a gift for William Petty, first Marquis of Lansdowne).

Item #25421, $4,500

Alexander Hamilton’s Initial Steps to Create a National Banking System

Alexander Hamilton, Circular Letter Signed as Secretary of the Treasury, “Alexr Hamilton/Secy of the Treasury,” to Stephen Smith Esq., Collector of the Customs for the Port of Machias, Massachusetts [Maine], September 22, 1789, New York, New York. 2 pp., 7¾ in. x 9¼ in.

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On his 11th day as Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton orders Customs Collectors to accept Bank of North America and Bank of New York notes as the equivalent of gold or silver, and hints at forthcoming procedures to guard against counterfeit currency.

“In consequence of arrangements lately taken with the Bank of North America, and the Bank of New York for the accommodation of the Government, I am to inform you that it is my desire that the Notes of those Banks payable either on demand, or at no longer period than Thirty days after their respective dates should be received in payment of the duties, as equivalent to Gold and Silver . . .”

Item #26524, $65,000

Thomas Jefferson Transmits the First Patent Act to Governor of New York George Clinton, Who Later Replaced Aaron Burr as Jefferson’s Vice President

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Letter Signed, as Secretary of State, to Governor George Clinton of New York, April 15, 1790, New York. 1 p., 7¾ x 9½ in

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In his position as Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson conveyed copies of new federal laws to the governors of each of the states. This letter, signed by Jefferson, conveyed the First Patent Act, formally An Act to Promote the Progress of Useful Arts, to New York Governor George Clinton, who would later serve as Jefferson’s second vice president.

Item #26389.99, $28,000

Jefferson’s Excessively Rare Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom

[THOMAS JEFFERSON], Prominent front-page printing of “A Bill for establishing religious Freedom, (Printed for the Consideration of the People),” The Providence Gazette; and Country Journal (Rhode Island), May 13, 1780, 1:1-2.

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One of the three achievements of which Jefferson was most proud, as listed on his epitaph.

Only the second known newspaper printing, and the first front-page printing.

Item #25999.99, $105,000

Benjamin Franklin, President of Pennsylvania, Signs Deposition of John Rice Against His Bankrupt Brother, During Constitutional Convention

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, Document Signed, August 18, 1787, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 1 p., 6½ x 8¼ in.

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Joseph Rice is become Bankrupt within the meaning of the Acts of Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

John Rice, a ship’s carpenter in Kensington, a neighborhood of Philadelphia, filed this deposition stating that his brother, Joseph Rice, owed him more than £200 and had become bankrupt within the meaning of the Acts of the Pennsylvania Assembly. Franklin signed the deposition as President of the Council of Pennsylvania, a position he held from 1785 to 1788.

When he signed this document on Saturday, August 18, 1787, Franklin was also the oldest member of the Constitutional Convention, which was meeting in Philadelphia. The Convention agreed to a committee consisting of one member per state to consider the assumption of state debts and continued its discussion of Article VII, Section 1, the enumeration of Congressional powers.

Item #26405, ON HOLD

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, ON HOLD

Eighteenth-Century Archive from Hartford Free Grammar School, the Second Oldest Secondary School in America

[EDUCATION], Archive of 21 documents related to the Hartford Free Grammar School. 28 pp., 5¾ x 5 in. to 13 x 15½ in., 0/0/0.

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This small archive includes promissory notes for tuition and a series of accounts with teachers and others from the late eighteenth-century for the Hartford Free Grammar School, the second oldest school of secondary education in the United States. Items include the signatures of Thomas Seymour (1735-1829), who served as the first mayor of Hartford (1784-1812); Solomon Porter (1753-1821), principal of the school; Joshua Leffingwell (1762-1811), Hartford architect; and others.

Item #24151.01, $1,800

New York City’s 1797 Laws and Ordinances—James Kent’s Personal Copy

JAMES KENT, Signed Copy of Laws and Ordinances, Ordained and Established by the Mayor, Aldermen and Commonalty of the City of New-York...Passed and Published the first day of May, 1797, in the eighth year of the Mayoralty of Richard Varick, Esquire. New York: George Forman, 1797. First edition, James Kent’s signed copy with autograph notations to front endpapers. Modern calf. 67 pp., 8⅛ x 4¾ in.

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Item #23637.01, $3,500

During Peninsular War in Europe and Rebellions in Latin America Transmitting Order of Spanish Colonial Cuban Government Restricting American Imports to Cuba

JUAN STOUGHTON, Manuscript Letter Signed, to Joseph Wilson, May 7, 1810, Boston, Massachusetts. 1 p., 8 x 12½ in.

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Item #26005, $375

Providence Gazette, 1800-1801: George Washington’s Death, Contested Election of 1800, John Adams’ Opening of Washington, D.C., Thomas Jefferson’s Inaugural Address, John Marshall, Fries’ Tax Rebellion, Prosser’s Slave Rebellion, Barbary War, Napoleon, etc.

[Newspaper], The Providence Gazette, January 4, 1800 – December 26, 1801. Providence, Rhode Island: John Carter. Bound Newspaper Volumes. 104 issues, 416 pp. (4 pp. per issue), 11½ x 27½ in.

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Item #24902, $11,000

Franklin on Revealed Religion, and South Carolina on Freedom of Religion

[BENJAMIN FRANKLIN], Newspaper. Gazette of the United States, July 10, 1790, New York, N.Y., 4 pp. (pp. 517-20), 10½ x 17 in.

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Item #30022.11, $750

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

Incredible Andrew Jackson Letter to His Wife Rachel, Reacting to the Burning of Washington, D.C., Believing it Will Usher in a Patriotic National Response

ANDREW JACKSON, Autograph letter signed (“Andrew Jackson”) to Rachael Jackson, October 7, 1814. One page, silked, partial fold separations.

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“It appears, that all the Patriots, must have buried themselves on the news of the burning of the capitol, as tho our national existence or liberties depended alone on that gothic mass of costly marble…. it ought and will give impulse to the nation — and every man who has a spark of national-pride, an ounce of love of country, will step forward, and at once blow at it [at] every point, crush the enemies to our country…”

He also mentions a key battle that helped lead to his victory in the Battle of New Orleans.

Item #26263, $48,000
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