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Declaration of Independence Signer
Robert Morris Signs a Promissory Note

ROBERT MORRIS, Partially Printed Document Signed, Promissory Note, John Nicholson to John Greenleaf. Philadelphia, Pa., August 1, 1795.

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Morris signs a note involving his two partners in the doomed North American Land Company. Here, he orders John Nicholson to pay James Greenleaf $5,000 four years hence, in a move that no doubt contributed to Morris’s bankruptcy and imprisonment in 1798.

Item #23013.01, $2,850

Robert Morris Signed Note - Used as Evidence in His Bankruptcy Trial

ROBERT MORRIS, Autograph Document Signed. Philadelphia, July 17, 1795. 2 pp. 6 ½ x 4”.

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Two documents related to the business failures of Robert Morris and John Nicholson. The first is a partly printed promissory note signed and engrossed by Nicholson to Morris, and endorsed by Morris, later used as evidence in Morris’s bankruptcy trial. The note states, “Three years after date Promise to pay Robert Morris Esqr or order Eight Thousand – Dollars for Value Received.” The second document is Peter Lohra’s protest of Nicholson’s bad promissory note. The document has an embossed seal in the lower left corner and is tipped to a larger sheet. On the document’s verso is a note reading “Exhibited to us under the commission against Robert Morris, Philadelphia, 19th September 1801,” and signed by Joseph Hopkinson and Thomas Cumpston, commissioners appointed to oversee the proceedings after Morris had languished in prison for three years.

Item #21609, $3,500

Documenting Declaration of Independence Signer
Robert Morris’s Financial Troubles

ROBERT MORRIS, Partially-Printed Document Signed. Promissory Note. Philadelphia, Pa., May 12, 1795. 1 p., 4 x 6¾ in. Endorsed on verso by Morris. Ink burn through the “R” and “b” in “Robt.” Left edge irregularly cut.

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Item #23148.01, $2,950

North American Land Company Stock Certificate
Signed by Robert Morris & James Marshall

ROBERT MORRIS & JAMES MARSHALL, Document Signed, Stock Certificate for One Share of the North American Land Company. Philadelphia, Pa., March 16, 1795. 1 p., 12½ x 9¾ in.

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Robert Morris and James Marshall sell a share of their land trust to the company of Bird, Savage, and Bird. Morris was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Item #21287, $1,250

Maryland Ratifies the Constitution, Suggests Amendments; and Pennsylvanians Speak Out Against the Slave Trade

[CONSTITUTION], Newspaper. Independent Gazetteer; or, The Chronicle of Freedom, Philadelphia, Pa., May 6, 1788. 4 pp., 9½ x 11½ in.

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The Maryland ratifying convention suggests some amendments along with their approval of the Constitution.

Item #30007.003, $950

Benjamin Franklin Presents the Constitution
to the Pennsylvania State Legislature;
A Nantucket Indian Creation Myth

[CONSTITUTION], Newspaper. Pennsylvania Packet and General Advertiser, September 21, 1787. John Dunlap, Philadelphia, Pa., 4 pp., 12 x 18¾ in.

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Item #21449.18, $1,800

Assailing the Pennsylvania “Board of Censors”
for Failing to Amend the Constitution

[PENNSYLVANIA CONSTITUTION], Broadside. An Alarm. To the Freemen and Electors of Pennsylvania. [Philadelphia, Pa.], October 1, 1784. 1 p., 16½ x 21 in.

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Item #22886, $4,800

The Laws of Pennsylvania for 1781-1785, Signed by
Clement Biddle, George Washington’s Commissary General at Valley Forge

CLEMENT BIDDLE, Signed Book. Laws Enacted in the Sixth [-Ninth] General Assembly of the Representatives of the Freemen of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania... Vol. II. Philadelphia: Hall and Sellers [and Thomas Bradford], 1782-1785. Folio. 254, [3] 256-270, [3], 272 362, 362-365, 362-368, [6], 372-399, [1], II, [1], 402-857, [1], iv, [1], 590-704, iii p Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1782-1785. First six sections printed by Hall & Sellers, remainder by Thomas Bradford. Approximately 706 pp.

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Item #22236, $9,500

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

Thomas Paine Transmits Act for Resolution
of the PA-VA Border

THOMAS PAINE (1737-1809), Manuscript Document Signed, as Clerk of the General Assembly, [Philadelphia?], Pennsylvania, November 19, 1779. To Joseph Reed, as President of the Supreme Executive Council. 1 p.

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Paine, as Clerk of Pennsylvania’s General Assembly, transmits a resolution to the state’s Supreme Executive Council [no longer enclosed- but about the boundary with Virginia] and requests that it be forwarded to the governor of that state. After years of wrangling, the two states had finally agreed that summer to settle their dispute by extending the Mason-Dixon line. 

Paine was involved in Pennsylvania politics for several years after his arrival in America in 1774 - he was associated with the men who drafted the state's new constitution in 1776, and Paine wrote a series of letters in local newspapers supporting the constitution.  In 1777 Paine was elected to the Committee of Correspondence of the Whig Society in Pennsylvania.  Needing other employment in order to supplement his income as a writer, he was appointed clerk of the Pennsylvania Assembly in November, 1779, shortly after resigning his position as secretary of foreign affairs for the Continental Congress. Any manuscript material from Thomas Paine, especially during the era of the American Revolution, is rare.

Item #21919, $25,000

A Revolutionary War Doctor Defends His Reputation, Pennsylvania War News, and Congress Takes a Huge Loan

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR], Newspaper. Pennsylvania Packet or General Advertiser. John Dunlap, Philadelphia, Pa., July 1, 1779. 4 pp., 10½ x 17, untrimmed.

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Item #21556.07, $850

Washington’s Instructions Regarding Deserters
and Hospital Cases at Valley Forge

JOSEPH WARD, Autograph Letter Signed to Richard Varick, [Valley Forge, Pennsylvania], March 13, 1778, 7⅝ x 11¾ in., 3 pp.

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Available as part of The Alexander Hamilton Collection

Written from Valley Forge at the close of the terrible winter of 1777-1778. Commissary General of Musters Joseph Ward relays Washington’s directions for determining the status of missing men. Officers are to be given more leeway than the rank and file before labeling them as deserters (a delicacy which Officers ought to deserve”), and hospital surgeons are to be consulted as to whether a patient is “dead or alive” or “likely ever to join the Corps.” Ward also discusses an aborted “Secret Expedition” and a recent naval victory by Commodore John Barry.

Letters written from Valley Forge are rare, particularly if they relate to the condition of the troops.

Item #22299, ON HOLD

January 1776 Pennsylvania Magazine, Edited by Thomas Paine, Including Much Revolutionary War Political and Military Content

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR], Pamphlet. Pennsylvania Magazine: or American Monthly Museum. For January 1776. Philadelphia: R. Aitken, [February 7, 1776]. [9]-52 (44pp.), lacking first two leaves, incl. title, 5¼ x 8¼ in.

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Benedict Arnold’s bravery in the failed American attack on Canada; America’s chief medical officer Dr. Benjamin Church’s treason; an account of the burning of Norfolk, Virginia; anti-slavery piece written by Paine, etc.

Item #23750.03, $1,500

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

Very Rare Pennsylvania Signer George Taylor Receives Payment for Land

GEORGE TAYLOR, Autograph Document Signed. Receipt. Trimmed close, n.p., Dec. 6, 1774. 1 p. 4¾ x 3 in.

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Taylor’s signature is among the rarest of the Signers in part due to his limited role in public life and his death prior to an American victory that would have opened more opportunities to serve.

Item #22992.99, $27,500

John Morton Signs a Pennsylvania Land Survey

JOHN MORTON, Document Signed. [Pennsylvania]. March 8, 1770. 1p. 6 x 7¾ in. Folds are weak and separating with minor paper loss at the intersections; separation at the signature does not affect it.

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Pennsylvania Declaration Signer Morton adds his signature to a survey that divides off a plot of land to be part of a dowry.

Item #23276.99, $1,750

John Penn on the Final Year of the Mason-Dixon Line Survey

JOHN PENN, Autograph Letter Signed, as Governor. Black Point, June 17, 1767, to [Joseph Shippen]. 4 pp.

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Penn advises Joseph Shippen on how best to deal with the inordinate influx of Indian scouts arriving for the famous surveying expedition.  While on vacation, he directs the logistics of the survey party and foretells the survey’s running over budget.

Item #20734.99, $4,500

Earliest Known Letter from John to Thomas Penn
Also Signed Many Times by Thomas Penn

JOHN PENN, Autograph Letter Signed. Bristoll, 4 Decem: 1715. 1 page, with autograph address and six examples of Thomas Penn’s signature on verso.

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all Relations have much as they ware & give their Dear Love to Father & Mother…”

15-year old John, having just left the Penn household in Ruscombe, England, writes home. He mentions his mother’s cooking and the well-documented family love of chocolate. The recipient, John’s younger brother, Thomas Penn, who later owned ¾ of William Penn’s proprietary interest in Pennsylvania, practices signing his name on the address leaf. The “Black Cap” referred to in John’s postscript is a reference to the famous Quaker hat. Quakers, as a sign of their egalitarianism, refused to take their hat off for anyone, regardless of societal rank. “Addam” was William Penn’s nickname, a reference to the biblical first man.

Item #21619.99, $25,000

William Penn’s Copy of Privy Council Decision:
Delaware Belongs to Him, not to Lord Baltimore

WILLIAM PENN, Autograph Docket on Manuscript Document. [London, England], January 27, 1709 (document reads “1708,” but is actually 1709, because, before 1752, Britain and its colonies held to the old Julian calendar with March 25 as the first day of the calendar year). 2 pp., 7⅝ x 12 in.

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“Upon reading this day at the Board the Humble petition of Wm. Penn Esqr … Her Maty. in Councill taking the same into her consideration is Graciously pleased, to ordr accordingly, that the sd petition of the Lord Baltimore, Be, and it is hereby Dismissed”

Item #21622, $50,000

William Penn to James Logan, Future President of Council of Pennsylvania, Mayor of Philadelphia, Chief Justice of PA Supreme Court, and Founder of the Library Company

WILLIAM PENN, Autograph Letter Signed to James Logan. n.p. [London?], June 27, 1706. 1 p., 6¼ x 7½ in. bifolium with integral address leaf with panel in Penn’s hand.

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Penn, writing from England, asks his trusted secretary in Philadelphia to assist Thomas Haywood regarding his lands and debts. Penn was in the midst of his own ongoing dispute about ownership of all of Pennsylvania, which had originated with the crowning of William and Mary in 1688, and trumped-up charges of treason due to Penn’s championing of religious freedom, which led to an opportunity for Penn’s manager to, in effect, embezzle the entire colony from him. (See below for more details). A month after Penn wrote this letter, Logan advises Penn to avoid ruin by selling the government “for a valuable consideration” as the only “probable method of clearing thy debts.” 

Penn did not heed Logan’s advice, and the court placed Penn in debtor’s prison from January 1707 to August 1708. Penn eventually settled the Ford claim with a payment of £7,600, and then began negotiations to sell the colony to the Crown. Unfortunately, a series of strokes from 1711 to 1713 interrupted his negotiations, and he died in poverty. His family (after its own dispute between step-sons) retained ownership of the colony of Pennsylvania until the American Revolution.

Item #23806, $14,000
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