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Revolution and Founding Fathers (1765 - 1784)
Revolution and Founding Fathers (1765 - 1784)

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“Cato” (William Smith, first Provost of College of Philadelphia) Opposes Common Sense, and “Cassandra” (Penn’s Professor of Mathematics) Answers

[THOMAS PAINE], Newspaper. The Pennsylvania Ledger: Or the Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, & New-Jersey Weekly Advertiser, April 13, 1776. Including Cato’s Letter VI, “To the People of Pennsylvania,” attacking Common Sense on political and religious grounds. This issue also prints the first part of Letter II by “Cassandra” [James Cannon]. Philadelphia: James Humphreys Jr. 4 pp., 10 x 16 in.

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you have only entertained us with some loose declamations upon abuses in the English government; and shocked us, for want of better arguments, by a perversion of things sacred; filling the papers with personal invectives, and calumnies against all who cannot swallow, at a venture, every crude notion, you may cook up as the politics of the day. This will as little agree with the stomachs of others as with mine; although I have declared that, when the last necessity comes, I have no expedient in view but to take my chance with you, for better and for worse.

Liberty or Slavery is now the question. Let us but fairly discover to the inhabitants of these Colonies on which side Liberty has erected her banner and we will leave it to them to determine whether they would choose Liberty tho’ accompanied with war, or Slavery attended by peace.

Item #25382, $1,600

General Hugh Mercer’s Will—Noting the Plantation he Purchased from George Washington (Ferry Farm, Washington’s Boyhood Home), and Instructions to Executors to “hire negroes” to Work the Plantation for the Benefit of his Wife and Children

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR. SLAVERY. GEORGE WASHINGTON]. HUGH MERCER, Manuscript Document, Contemporary Copy of Last Will and Testament, March 20, 1776, Fredericksburg, Virginia. 4 pp., 7½ x 11⅝ in.

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I direct that after my decease my dear Wife Isabella (if she survive me) and my children do reside on my plantation in King George County adjoining to Mr James Hunter’s Land which Plantation I purchased from General George Washington and that my Executors hereafter named out of my personal Estate purchase or hire negroes as they shall think best to work the said Plantation....

I further direct my Books Drugs surgical Instruments shop utensils and Furniture to be sold and also such Household Furniture Negroes or stocks of Cattle and Horses as may appear to my Executors hereafter named to be for the benefit of my Personal Estate....

Written shortly after Hugh Mercer became the colonel of the 3rd Virginia Regiment of the Virginia Line, his last will and testament disposed of his real and personal property, including slaves among his wife Isabella Gordon Mercer and children, including one yet to be born.

After playing a key role in the Battles of Trenton, in January 1777 at the Battle of Princeton, Mercer’s horse was shot from under him, and he was mortally wounded. Vastly outnumbered and mistaken by the British for George Washington, he was ordered to surrender. Instead, he drew his sword, and was bayonetted seven times. He died nine days later.

Item #27335, $12,500

Congress Responds to King George III’s Proclamation that the Colonies are in Rebellion

[SECOND CONTINENTAL CONGRESS], Newspaper. The Pennsylvania Gazette, December 13, 1775 (No. 2451). Philadelphia: David Hall and William Sellers. With the Response of the Continental Congress to King George III’s Proclamation of Rebellion. (December 6, 1775). 4 pp. 10 x 15½ in. [Significant damage: Half of column on p1 excised.]

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We are accused of ‘forgetting the allegiance which we owe to the power that has protected and sustained us.’… What allegiance is it that we forget? Allegiance to Parliament? We never owed—we never owned it. Allegiance to our King? Our words have ever avowed it...we oppose the claim and exercise of unconstitutional powers, to which neither the Crown nor Parliament were ever entitled.

Item #30035.30, $1,250

Boston Newspaper Publishes Former Governor Hutchinson’s Letters

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR], The Boston Gazette, and Country Journal, December 11, 1775. Watertown, Massachusetts: Benjamin Edes. 4 pp., 10 x 15¼ in.

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This newspaper features a masthead by noted silversmith and engraver Paul Revere, first used on January 1, 1770. The masthead features an illustration of a seated woman on the right with a laurel wreath on her brow and a lance with a liberty cap in her hand and the shield of Britain at her feet. She is opening the door to a birdcage and releasing a dove. A tree adorns the left side, and a town is visible in the distance. Beneath the image is the epigram, “Containing the freshest Advices, Foreign and Domestic.

This issue publishes a series of letters from Thomas Hutchinson in the late 1760s, demonstrating that Hutchinson had sought the post of governor. The publication of these and other letters by Hutchinson convinced many that he had conspired with Parliament to deprive the American colonists of their rights. Hutchinson left Boston for England in early 1774, and his request for leave was granted. General Thomas Gage replaced him as governor of Massachusetts Bay in May 1774, but Hutchinson’s letters continued, even in December 1775, to be evidence to American patriots that the British sought to strip them of their rights.

Item #27304, $2,500

Continental Congress July 1775 Message Asserting American Sovereignty & Rejecting Parliament’s Appeal for Peace. Drafted by Thomas Jefferson, Printed at Harvard. With Reports from London on Battles of Lexington and Concord

[SECOND CONTINENTAL CONGRESS], Newspaper. The New-England Chronicle, or the Essex Gazette. August 31-September 7, 1775 (Vol. 8, No. 371). Printed at Stoughton Hall, Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Samuel Hall and Ebenezer Hall. Includes front-page printing of Opinion of Congress in Response to Lord North’s Conciliatory Proposal (July 31, 1775), written by Thomas Jefferson, signed in type by John Hancock; and Resolution of Congress Clarifying Non-Importation Agreement (August 1, 1775). The original subscriber to this issue was Dr. John Wingate (1743-1819) of Hallowell, Maine (Massachusetts), who served as an army surgeon in the Revolutionary War. 4 pp., 10 x 15½ in.

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The colonies of America are entitled to the sole and exclusive privilege of giving and granting their own money...It is a high breach of this privilege for any body of men, extraneous to their constitutions...to take to themselves the authority of judging of their conditions.

it is the DESPOTISM of the CROWN and the SLAVERY of the people which the ministry aim at. For refusing those attempts, and for that only the Americans have been inhumanly murdered by the King’s Troops.

Historic background

On the night of April 18, 1775, Paul Revere rode to Lexington to warn that the British were coming. 700 British troops were met on Lexington Green by local minutemen; the skirmish left eight Americans dead. As the British continued to the armory at Concord, hundreds of minutemen and militiamen responded. The British were forced to march back to Boston; on the way, American snipers took a deadly toll. The war had begun in earnest.

Item #30034.05, $6,500

Eyewitness Account of the Battle of Bunker Hill from a Loyalist Perspective

[BUNKER HILL], Loyalist Account of the Battle of Bunker Hill Broadside. June 26, 1775, Boston. Boston: John Howe, 1775. 1 p., 8¾ x 14 in.

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This Action has shown the Bravery of the King’s Troops, who under every Disadvantage, gained a compleat Victory.... But they fought for their King, their Laws and Constitution.

Nine days after the British drove the Americans from the heights above Boston, Loyalist printer John Howe issued this broadside/handbill. Although the account of the battle is quite accurate, it inflates the number of Patriot troops and distorts the number of casualties. Although it claims the British troops were outnumbered three to one, other estimates suggest that approximately 2,400 Patriots faced 3,000 British troops. The Americans suffered approximately 450 casualties, including 140 dead, while the British lost 1,054 killed and wounded, a casualty rate of about 45 percent. The casualty rate among British officers was particularly high. This broadside’s emphasis on the courage of the British forces makes it an unusual account of the battle and an interesting piece of British propaganda.

Item #26495, $12,500

An Early Olive Branch Petition - Continental Congress Implores King George III for Relief

[CONTINENTAL CONGRESS], Newspaper. The Pennsylvania Gazette, January 18, 1775 (No. 2404). Philadelphia: David Hall and William Sellers. “Petition of the Continental Congress To the King’s Most Excellent Majesty” (October 25, 1774). 4 pp., 10 x 16¼ in.

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“We your Majesty’s faithful subjects...beg leave to lay our grievances before the throne… an act was passed for blocking up the harbour of Boston, another impowering the Governor of the Massachusetts-Bay to send persons indicted for murder in that province to another colony, or even to Great-Britain, for trial… a third for altering the chartered constitution of government in that province; and a fourth, for extending the limits of Quebec, abolishing the English, and restoring the French laws… To a sovereign, who ‘glories in the name of Briton,’ the bare recital of these acts must, we presume, justify the loyal subjects who fly to the foot of his throne and implore his clemency for protection against them.… We ask but for Peace, Liberty, and Safety.”

Item #30035.24, $6,500

Continental Congress Address to Inhabitants of the Colonies Urging Unity Against British Tyranny, also prints Letter to Inhabitants of Quebec

[CONTINENTAL CONGRESS], Newspaper. Pennsylvania Gazette, November 9, 1774 (No. 2394). Philadelphia: David Hall and William Sellers. Front-page printing of Memorial “To the Inhabitants of the Colonies of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode-Island, and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, the Counties of New-Castle, Kent, and Sussex, on Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina” (October 21, 1774); and Letter “To the Inhabitants of the Province of Quebec” (October 26, 1774). Copy sent to Thomas and John Fleet, Boston printers. 4 pp. 10 x 16¼ in.

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Friends and Countrymen:... we find ourselves reduced to the disagreeable alternative, of being silent and betraying the innocent, or of speaking out and censuring those we wish to revere. In making our choice of these distressing difficulties, we prefer the course dictated by honesty, and a regard for the welfare of our country....

it is clear beyond a doubt, that a resolution is formed, and now is carrying into execution, to extinguish the freedom of these colonies, by subjecting them to a despotic government…

Item #30035.20, $12,500

An Intrastate Merchant Dispute on the Eve of the American Revolutionary War

UNKNOWN, Handwritten Letter, to Hugh Gaine. November 1, 1774. New York State. 1 p., 8¼ x 8⅜ in.

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Shame, Shame, to take the Advantage of your country in such an oppressive degree…we are sensible of the Mortal Wounds we Received and do receive from you.

Item #24246, $2,400

An Important Boston Tea Party Broadside is Reprinted

[BOSTON TEA PARTY], The Connecticut Journal, and the New-Haven Post-Boy, January 28, 1774. New Haven: Thomas Green and Samuel Green. 4 pp., 8½ x 13¼ in.

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This issue of The Connecticut Journal contains a report from Boston that includes the text of a handbill distributed and posted there over the pseudonym “Joyce Junior.” In their choice of persona, the Boston Sons of Liberty paid tribute to Cornet George Joyce, an officer of the parliamentary New Model Army of the seventeenth century. Joyce was credited with having captured King Charles I in June 1647. The regicide “Joyce Junior” had made earlier appearances in Boston, including at the annual “Pope Night” in November when rival gangs of boys seek to capture one another’s carts displaying figures of the pope and the devil. Another version appeared during the controversies that preceded the Boston Massacre in 1770.

In 1774, “Joyce Junior” was John Winthrop Jr. (1747-1800), the son of Harvard professor John Wainwright Winthrop (1714-1779) and the great-great-great-grandson of Massachusetts Bay founder John Winthrop (1588-1649). More handbills appeared from “Joyce Junior” over the coming months, including one disavowing the tarring and feathering of John Malcom in Boston. In general, the “Joyce Junior” handbills tried to portray the Boston Tea Party and its aftermath as the result of principled resistance and not mob action.

Item #27819, $6,500

The Psalms of David, Carried in a Rhode Island Revolutionary War Unit in 1776

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR; RHODE ISLAND]. ISAAC WATTS, Book. The Psalms of David, Imitated in the Language of the New Testament: and Applied to the Christian State and Worship (title supplied). Norwich, [Connecticut]: Alexander Robertson, James Robertson, and Trumbull, 1774. Approx. 300 pp., 3 x 5 x 1¼ in.

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Bibles, psalm books, or other printed works carried during the Revolution are rare on the market. This edition appears to be scarce: the last offering we find was by Goodspeed’s in 1934.

Item #24693, ON HOLD

The King’s Attorney Bills Connecticut – including cost of putting down a church riot (over tithing and ecclesiastical conflict between MA. & CT.) – and Suing Stamp Tax Collectors

JEDEDIAH ELDERKIN, Autograph Document Signed (“Jeda Elderkin”), Hartford, November 9, 1768, being an accounting of monies owed to and collected by Elderkin in Connecticut for services rendered as King’s attorney from December 1754 to 1766. 2 pp., recto and verso, double-folio.

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To Trouble & Expence against Rioters at Woodstock £1… To my Trouble & Expence to bring Actions agst the Collectors of Excise pr order of Assembly, £3.10

Item #23409, $3,500

Connecticut Governor’s Proclamation Calling for a Day of Thanksgiving to Commemorate the Defeat of the French in Canada, and the Taking of Quebec

THOMAS FITCH, By the Honourable Thomas Fitch Esq; Governor ... of Connecticut ... A Proclamation for a Public Thanksgiving ... Thursday the sixth day of March next .... New Haven: by James Parker & Company, February 21, 1760. 12 x 14.5 inches.

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Broadside with a woodcut vignette of royal British arms at the top and woodcut initial. Some loss to upper right corner, a few nicks to the left and right margins. Penned inscription on the back.

Reference: Evans 8568; ESTC W34681 (locating only 2 copies)

Item #26605, $6,500

General Map of the Middle British Colonies in America, Printed by Benjamin Franklin

LEWIS EVANS, Geographical, Historical, Political, Philosophical and Mechanical Essays. The First, Containing an Analysis of a General Map of the Middle British Colonies in America; And of the Country of the Confederate Indians: A Description of the Face of the Country; … Philadelphia: Benjamin Franklin and David Hall, and sold by Robert and James Dodsley in London, August 1755. First edition. First state (before “The Lakes Cataraqui” caption was added just north of Lake Ontario), original hand-coloring, unfolded to 27 x 20⅛ in. Removed for conservation and display. The accompanying book is included, 7½ x 10¼ in. 36 pp.

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This hand-colored General Map of the Middle British Colonies in America, and the accompanying Analysis, is a first edition, first state printing of one of the most important maps of Colonial America. Particularly due to the details of the Ohio Country, it played a key role in the French and Indian War, with General Edward Braddock using a copy in his ill-fated expedition against the French in modern-day western Pennsylvania.

Item #27200.99, $275,000

Anti-Catholic “Test Oath” Signed by George Washington – as Required to Validate his Military Commission as Lieutenant Colonel at the Outset of the French and Indian War

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Manuscript Document Signed, [March 19, 1754]. With signatures of more than a dozen others, dating from Feb. 3, 1754 to Aug. 19, 1755. John West, Jr. and James Towers, whose signatures immediately follow Washington’s, subscribed on the same day, and, along with several other signers, served with Washington in the 1754 campaign. The subscribers, all Fairfax County, Va. public officials and militiamen, signed starting on the right side of the paper; a second column was then added to the left.

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“there is no Transubstantiation in the sacrament of the Lords supper or in the elements of Bread and wine...”

On March 15, 1754, Governor Robert Dinwiddie enclosed Washington’s commission as lieutenant colonel of the Virginia regiment in a letter directing the young officer and his men to the Ohio Valley to help defend against approaching French forces. Four days later, Washington signed this “test oath” – required of all Virginia civil and military officers – validating his commission. He would soon find himself at the center of a battle that ignited war between Britain and France, and a defeat that led him to sign the only surrender of his entire career.

Ironically, Washington’s signature on this document launched the military and political career that eventually proved instrumental in expanding the religious freedoms that this oath sought to restrict.

Note that we have agreed to steer this to a philanthropic individual, foundation or company willing to acquire and donate this to George Washington’s Mount Vernon or the Fairfax County Circuit Court Archives. Details on request.

Item #23200, PRICE ON REQUEST

Acquittal of Printer John Peter Zenger in Colonial New York Establishes Foundation for American Freedom of the Press

[JOHN PETER ZENGER], The Trial of John Peter Zenger, Of New-York, Printer: Who was charged with having printed and published a Libel against the Government; and acquitted. With a Narrative of his Case. To which is now added, being never printed before, The Trial of Mr. William Owen, Bookseller, near Temple-Bar, Who was also Charged with the Publication of a Libel against the Government; of which he was honourably acquitted by a Jury of Free-born Englishmen, Citizens of London, 1st ed. London: John Almon, 1765. Three-quarter olive calf, red morocco spine label, stamped in blind and in gilt, over marbled paper-covered boards; some sunning to leather; all edges trimmed. 60 pp., 5 x 8.25 in.

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It is not the cause of a poor printer...it is the cause of liberty.

This volume, printed in London three decades after John Peter Zenger’s trial, illustrates the continuing relevance of his acquittal to the freedom of the press. The volume also includes the story of William Owen, a London bookseller, who had been prosecuted for libel at the request of the House of Commons in 1752. Like Zenger, Owen was also acquitted by a jury.

John Almon, a publisher and bookseller known for his commitment to the freedom of the press, printed the volume as part of his challenge to governmental censorship of the press. In the same year that Almon published this pamphlet, the attorney general prosecuted him for the publication of a pamphlet entitled Juries and Libels, but the prosecution failed.

Item #27745, $3,500

Defending Georgia Against the Spanish in War of Jenkins’ Ear. Scarce Example of the Oldest Regularly Published Newspaper in America

[EUROPEAN AND COLONIAL NEWS], Boston Weekly News-Letter, January 31, 1740. Boston: John Draper. 2 pp., 13½ x 18½ in. Includes handwritten “Revd Mr Samll Cooke (at Bridger’s)” inscription in margin of first page.

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This issue of the Boston Weekly News-Letter features a report of early conflicts between the British and French empires in coastal Georgia in the early stages of the War of Jenkin’s Ear.

Item #27367, $3,250

The Alexander Hamilton Collection: The Story of the Revolution and Founding

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR AND FOUNDING], The Collection features Highly Important Original Letters, Documents, & Imprints representing not just Hamilton, but also Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Paine, Burr, the Schuyler Sisters and Brothers, & Many More. Telling political and personal tales of the brilliant and sometimes tragic Founders, this Collection of more than 1,100 original documents is offered as a whole, but can be reconstituted to make it most appropriate for Federal Hall.

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Can you imagine a nation with no uniting banking system or currency? With insufficient revenue for even the most necessary expenses? With no ability to act as one nation on the world stage?

Clearly, Washington needed a right-hand man for the incredibly detailed work of building a government, formulating plans, and bringing them from conception to completion. His choice was obvious. Alexander Hamilton had revealed his unique energy and capability throughout the Revolutionary War, at the Constitutional Convention, and in the ratification battles. 

On September 11, 1789, the same day Washington signed his letters transmitting the Act of Congress Establishing the Treasury Department, he made his first cabinet nomination: Alexander Hamilton as Secretary of the Treasury. Within hours, the Senate confirmed the appointment.

The financial system Hamilton designed created the possibility of a real United States of America, whose founding purpose was to advance the rights of the people to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Item #24685, PRICE ON REQUEST
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