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George Washington
George Washington

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“Black Sam” Fraunces as Steward of George Washington’s Presidential Household

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Samuel Fraunces. Manuscript Document Signed, with the text likely penned by presidential secretary Bartholomew Dandridge Jr., March 10, 1794, Philadelphia, PA. 1 p., 6 x 3¼ in.

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“10th March 1794 recd of Bw Dandridge one hundred & forty six dollars and thirty two cents to purchase sundries for the President’s Household.  146 32/100      Saml Fraunces”

Documents signed by Samuel Fraunces, the famous tavern keeper and steward of George Washington’s presidential households in New York and Philadelphia, are exceptionally rare. During the British occupation of New York, Fraunces had been captured and impressed into the service of British officers. While doing so, he was able to help feed American captives, and was credited with providing information to American troops and preventing an assassination plot against Washington. 

Item #27320, $25,000

Unique Inscribed Set of John Marshall’s Life of George Washington, With Joseph Story Letter to the Daughter of the Late Associate Justice Henry Brockholst Livingston, Conveying Marshall’s Thanks and Noting That He Will Be Sending to Her These Very Books

JOHN MARSHALL, Inscribed books, signed “The Author.” The Life of George Washington, Commander in Chief of the American Forces, During the War which Established the Independence of his Country, and First President of the United States, Compiled under the Inspection of the Honourable Bushrod Washington, From Original Papers Bequeathed to him by his Deceased Relative, 2 vols. Philadelphia: Carey & Lea, 1832. 2nd Edition, Revised and Corrected by the Author. Volumes I – II bound in red quarter leather spine and brown leather, each inscribed and signed, “For Mrs. Ledyard with the profound respect of The Author.” John Marshall’s magisterial biography of George Washington was originally a five-volume set. This 1832 publication was revised by Marshall and issued in two volumes, with a companion volume of Revolutionary War maps: Atlas to Marshall’s Life of Washington, Philadelphia: J. Crissy, [1832], 10 hand-colored maps, bound in red quarter leather with original blue boards. With scarce printed errata for Volume I laid in, and manuscript errata for Vol II. The letter requires conservation.

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Item #26161, $27,500

For Washington, Hamilton Confirms Receipt of Hessian Troop Movement Intelligence

ALEXANDER HAMILTON, Autograph Letter Signed, on behalf of General George Washington, to Colonel Charles Stewart, Commissary General of Issues, October 24, 1777, Headquarters [Whitpain Township, Pa]. 1p. with integral address leaf note, “Let the Bearer pass. Tim. Pickering Adjt. Genl.,” 13 x 8¼ in. (open).

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Also see the Alexander Hamilton Collection: The Story of the Revolution & Founding.

Following the punishing battles at Paoli and Germantown, which left Philadelphia vulnerable to British control for the winter, the Continental Army under Washington spent two weeks recovering at Whitpain, Pennsylvania.

Alexander Hamilton was then Washington’s chief staff aide, with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, a position he would hold for four years. He played a crucial role in handling much of the General’s correspondence with Congress, state governors, and other military officers.

Item #24375, $35,000

Rare Important Declaration of Independence Linen Handkerchief

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, Printed Cotton Handkerchief, ca. 1821. 31 x 33 in.

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The intricate design of this handkerchief features images of Washington, Adams, and Jefferson, beneath an eagle and flags. In the center appears the text of the Declaration of Independence, together with facsimiles of the signatures. An oak wreath with acorns surrounds the text and features images of the seals of the thirteen original states. An image at lower left depicts the Boston Tea Party with the caption, “The Patriotic Bostonians discharging the British Ships in Boston harbour.” An image at lower right depicts “General Burgoyne’s Surrender to General Gates at Saratoga.” Around the edge runs a stars and rope border with anchors at each corner and at the center of each side. The design was printed with red ink using a copper plate.

The design draws much from prints of the Declaration of Independence by William Woodruff, published in February 1819, and John Binns, published in October 1819.

Item #26474, $38,000

George Washington’s First Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Gazette of the United States. New York, N.Y., October 7, 1789. 4 pp., In addition to the Thanksgiving Proclamation on page one, this issue also includes: a printing of the Treaty of Fort Harmar between the United States and the Wyandot, Delaware, Ottawa, Chippewa, Pattawatima, and Sac Indian nations (p. 1, col. 2 to p. 2, col. 2). A report from London about an “African Genius” (p. 2, col. 2). And a report on the proceedings of Congress, including an act to suspend part of the Tonnage Duties Act (p. 4 col. 3). 9½ x 14¾ in. Overall fine. Archivally framed.

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“to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.... for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness... for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge”

On September 28, 1789, just before the closing of the First Federal Congress, the Senate added its assent to a House resolution requesting that George Washington be asked to call for a day of public thanksgiving and prayer. Later that day, Congress passed the Bill of Rights to be sent to the states for their ratification, and on the next day the first session of the first Federal Congress was adjourned. On Saturday, October 3, Washington issued America’s first presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation. The Gazette printed it in full on the first page of this, their next edition, Wednesday October 7th.

Item #23257.99, $45,000

One of the Earliest Announcements of Independence

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, The Pennsylvania Magazine; Or American Monthly Museum for January-July, 1776. Philadelphia: Robert Aitken. [5]-344pp.

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A bound volume containing a remarkable issue—one of the most historic magazines ever printed.

July 2.  This day the Hon. Continental Congress declared the UNITED COLONIES FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES.

Item #21422.99, $48,000

George Washington Signed Military Commission, Preparing for a Decisive Victory Against Native Americans and the British in the Midwest

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Document Signed, Philadelphia, Pa., March 19, 1793, appointing William Winston as Captain of Light Dragoons. Co-signed by Henry Knox, Secretary of War, and John Stagg, Chief Clerk of the War Department. Imprint at bottom, “Drawn and Engrav’d by Thackara and Vallance, Philada.” With paper seal of the United States. 1 p., 16 x 20 in., on vellum. Framed with rag mats and UV-filtered plexiglass to 29 x 34¼ in.

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Two weeks after his second inauguration, President George Washington appoints William Winston as Captain of Light Dragoons. By the time Winston joined the army in the Northwest Territory, he had been promoted to command the entire cavalry of the new Legion of the United States. In that position, he fought at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, the decisive U.S. victory against the Native American confederation and their British allies in that area.

George Washington-signed military commissions are rare on the market, and we don’t recall ever seeing a more attractive example.

Item #20626.99, $55,000

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 20, 1776)

Remarkable manuscript book containing two separate versions of Washington’s General Orders of July 9, 1776, announcing to the Continental Army in New York that Congress had formally declared the 13 colonies to be independent of Great Britain. Of course, Washington’s name is notably absent on the Declaration of Independence, as he was in New York preparing to face the music of the inevitable British invasion.

Item #21461.99, $115,000

George Washington’s “Justice and Public Good” Letter, Written Just Before Becoming the First President of the United States

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Autograph Letter Signed, to Frederick Phile, March 15, 1789, Mount Vernon, Virginia. Washington’s retained copy, written on blank leaf of Phile’s letter to him as evidenced by partial address on verso: “[George] Washington / [Moun]t Vernon.” 1 p., 8 x 6¼ in.

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“I will go into Office totally free from pre-engagements of every nature whatsoever, and in recommendations to appointments will make justice & the public good, my sole objects.”

The still unofficial President-elect George Washington writes in March 1789 about his determination to go into the presidency with no pre-existing commitments, ready to purely judge the“justice & the public good” of every appointment. He would extend that sentiment to every aspect of his presidency.

Washington referred to the standard of “justice & the public good” only a few times, and the present letter is the only example we know of that has ever reached the market.

Item #27734, $550,000

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., 11.75 x 18.75 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 #27305, SOLD — please inquire about other items

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

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, SOLD — please inquire about other items

In Benjamin Franklin’s Paper, Colonel George Washington Reports as Positively as Possible on the Surrender of Fort Necessity, Which Sparked the French and Indian War

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Pennsylvania Gazette, August 1, 1754. Newspaper. Philadelphia: Benjamin Franklin and David Hall. 4 pp., lacking the advertising half-sheet, 9¼ x 14½ in.

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Item #22426.03, SOLD — please inquire about other items

The United States Constitution – Very Rare October 1, 1787 Connecticut Printing In Bound Volumes of The American Mercury, 1785-1788

[CONSTITUTION], Newspaper. The American Mercury, Two Bound Volumes, published in Hartford, Connecticut, each 10 x 16 in., in original quarter sheepskin and paper boards. Covers inscribed with name of owner*, Charles D’W. Brownell of Bristol, Rhode Island. Vol. IV, No. 169. The first volume contains 99 issues from February 7, 1785 to December 25, 1786, missing seven. The second volume runs from January 1, 1787 to December 29, 1788, likewise missing seven.

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WE, the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common Defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution of the United States of America.”

Item #26054, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Original 1789 First Inaugural Button: “Memorable Era / March the Fourth 1789

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], 1789 Inaugural button. Brass, original shank (slightly bent over), 34 mm.

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Item #25794, SOLD — please inquire about other items

The earliest obtainable printing of George Washington’s Clearest Statement on Religious Freedom: “the Government of the United States...gives to bigotry no sanction...” (SOLD)

[GEORGE WASHINGTON. AMERICAN JUDAICA], Newspaper. Newport Mercury, September 13, 1790. Newport, Rhode Island: Henry Barber. Moses Seixas’ letter to Washington, and his response, the “Touro Synagogue letter,” both printed in full on page 1. 4 pp., 8⅛ x 13 in. This printing, while sold, is available for appropriate museum loans.

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From fifteen Sephardic families who arrived in 1658, Newport’s Jewish community grew to be the largest in the colonies by the Revolutionary War. Many Jews left during the British occupation, but a significant number returned. By the time of Washington’s visit, there were approximately 300 Jews in the thriving Newport community.

On August 17, 1790, on behalf of the Congregation Kahal Kadosh Yeshuat Israel, Newport merchant and banker Moses Seixas wrote an address to welcome George Washington. Seixas’ letter (see below) welcomed Washington to Newport, and congratulated his ascendancy to the Presidency. Seixas also expressed his hopes for the new government’s success and its commitment to religious freedom, that a “government erected by the majesty of the people, a government which to bigotry gives no sanction, persecution no alliance, but generously affording to all Liberty of conscience,” would be created under the new Constitution. Seixas most likely gave Washington the letter on the morning of August 18, when other Clergy and townspeople met with Washington to express their regard for him.

Washington replied later on August 18. He thanked the community for its warm welcome, and assured the congregation that in his administration, “All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship....” He then echoed and built on Seixas’ words, “For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

The original letter is owned by the Morris Morgenstern Foundation, and is on long-term loan to the National Museum of American Jewish History. We were honored to have appraised the original prior to its exhibit, and to have arranged several loans to the museum. Each year, members of the Touro Synagogue in Newport read the letter in a public ceremony.

The Boston Herald of Freedom first published both Seixas’ letter and Washington’s reply on September 7, 1790, followed by a Newport printing on September 9.

Washington echoed Seixas’ words, and built on them, to make his most celebrated statement on religious freedom.

Item #25029, SOLD — please inquire about other items

George Washington to the Jewish Masons
of Newport, Rhode Island

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Newspaper. Gazette of the United States. September 11, 1790. New York, John Fenno. 4pp. The letter of the Masons to Washington, and Washington’s letter of August 18, 1790[1] in response, printed in full on page 4. This issue also includes a piece on the “Character of Dr. Franklin.” (p. 2, col. 1).

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“Being persuaded that a just application of the principles, on which the masonic fraternity is founded, must be promotive of private virtue and public prosperity, I shall always be happy to advance the interests of the Society, and to be considered by them a deserving Brother.”

Item #30022.06, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Washington’s First Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation, The Bill of Rights, and Establishment of Treasury Department (SOLD)

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Newspaper. The United States Chronicle. Providence, R.I.: Bennett Wheeler, October 22, 1789. 4 pp., 10 ½ x 17 in. With masthead featuring the seal of the United States and the fouled anchor “Hope” device of the state of Rhode Island.

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“for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness... for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge”

On October 3, 1789, the day after sending engrossed copies of the 12 Constitutional amendments passed by Congress out to the states for ratification, Washington issued America’s first Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation. Both the Thanksgiving Proclamation and the Bill of Rights are printed here on the front page. This exceptional paper also includes a complete printing of “An Act to establish the Treasury Department” [p.1-2], and a September 10 report from North Carolina supporting the ratification of the Constitution now that passage of a bill of rights seemed likely: “The amendments... will undoubtedly satisfy the minds of all its [the Constitution’s] enemies. Not a door is left open for complaint....It is an almost unparalleled instance of a public body possessed of power abridging it, and fully contradicts the grand argument of the opponents of the Constitution, that, ‘if Congress are once possessed of the power vested in the Constitution, they never will relinquish or amend it conformable to our wishes’.”  [p. 2 col. 1]. The Chronicle also reports from New York that President Washington was about to embark on his famous tour of New England [p. 2, col. 3].

Item #23813, SOLD — please inquire about other items

George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation (SOLD)

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Manuscript Document Signed as President. Proclaiming “Thursday the 26th day of November” as “a day of thanksgiving and prayer.” New York, N.Y., October 3, 1789. 1 p., 9⅝ x 14⅝. The text of this, and the other known copy (acquired by the Library of Congress in 1921) was penned by William Jackson, a personal secretary to the president and previously the secretary to the Constitutional Convention.

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Washington issues the first Thanksgiving proclamation under the new Federal Constitution, one of only two known copies, and the only one in private hands.

“for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness... for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge”

On September 25, 1789, as the momentous first Federal Congress drew to its close in New York, the new national capital, Representative Elias Boudinot introduced a resolution calling on President Washington to “recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer . . .  acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.” 

A leading opponent of the resolution, Thomas Tudor Tucker, asked, “Why should the President direct the people to do what, perhaps, they have no mind to do?” The skeptical Congressman noted that the people “may not be inclined to return thanks for a Constitution until they have experienced that it promotes their safety and happiness.” He also argued that it was a religious matter and thus proscribed to the new government. Regardless, the House passed the resolution — one of their last pieces of business before completing the proposed Bill of Rights. The Senate concurred three days later, and a delegation was sent to meet the President. George Washington, who had in fact anticipated the question in a letter to James Madison a month earlier, readily agreed. 

On October 3, George Washington signed the document offered here, America’s first Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation. Washington employed the exact language of the resolution to begin his proclamation, though he went further, giving thanks for “tranquility, union, and plenty” and asking the Almighty to guide the new nation’s leaders and government. He used the same approach a year later when he wrote what is now one of his most celebrated letters: “For happily the Government of the United States gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, [and] requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.” Washington willingly echoed Moses Seixas’s stance on tolerance and added to it, just as he did in his Thanksgiving Proclamation when asking the Almighty “To render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and Constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed.”

Item #23201, SOLD — please inquire about other items

The Declaration of Independence:
The First Newspaper Printing, the Second Publication in Any Form and the First to Closely Follow Thomas Jefferson’s Style (SOLD)

[DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE], Newspaper. The Pennsylvania Evening Post, Saturday, July 6, 1776, Philadelphia: Benjamin Towne, 4 pages (8½ x 10 in.)

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Item #DOI - 7-6-1776, SOLD — please inquire about other items
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