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

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George Washington’s Rare Anti-Catholic Test Oath, Taken before being Appointed Colonel and Commander in Chief of all Virginia Forces

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Document Signed. A list of subscribers to the declaration denying Catholic doctrines. Washington’s signature is the 9th in the second column below the declaration. May 22, 1754 – July 17, 1755.

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

Item #23200, PRICE ON REQUEST

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 20th 1776)

Remarkable 1776 manuscript orderly book, evidently kept for Brigadier General Gold S. Silliman’s Connecticut militia, containing two separate versions of Washington’s famous General Orders of July 9, 1776, in which he announced to the Continental Army that Congress had formally declared the 13 colonies to be independent of Great Britain. Washington ordered that the momentous text be proclaimed before all assembled troops in and around New York.

Item #21461.99, $125,000

Profile Portrait of George Washington by Sharples

JAMES SHARPLES, Pastel on paper, 9.2 x 7.5 in.

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Item #24655, $85,000

George Washington on the Impending Execution of Charles Asgill: “The Enemy ought to have learnt before this, that my Resolutions are not to be trifled with.”

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Letter Signed, as Commander-in-Chief, Continental Army, to Elias Dayton, Headquarters, [Newburgh, N.Y.], June 11, 1782. 3 pp., with free frank signed on address panel on verso of 3rd page. 9 x 14 in. Offered with discount issue of The Columbian Magazine, January, 1787, printing an excerpt of this letter relating to the Asgill Affair, and supporting documents.

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In the summer of 1782, following America’s victory at Yorktown the previous September, peace negotiations were just getting underway in Paris between the United States and Britain. With their outcome uncertain, desperate Loyalists here sought to strengthen the British hold on New York, undermine America’s vulnerable financial system, and exact revenge for their own losses. Spies were everywhere.

In this powerful letter about two major cases, Washington supports civilian authority, shows frustration over his troops’ handling of captured spies – especially a delay in following a habeas corpus ruling – and expresses steely anger over the British response to the pending execution of young Charles Asgill in retaliation for the murder of American captain Joshua Huddy.

Item #23811, $52,500

John Adams Repeats Good Battle News Including Capture of 55 British Ships, but Warns Not to Expect Peace: “The Heads of a King and Ministers is at Stake...”

JOHN ADAMS, Autograph Letter Signed, to William Churchill Houston. Amsterdam, Netherlands, September 17, 1780. 2 pp., with integral blank with recipient’s docket, 7½ x 9 in.

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“You will not mistake this for a Promise or an Hope of Peace. This cannot be. The Heads of a King and Ministers is at Stake ... the Capture of 55 ships at once by the combined Fleets of France and Spain … have cast down the English Cause to such a degree, as to put them upon the compassionate List, even with some who detest their Tyranny.” 

On the same day that John Adams received news that his fundraising mission to the Netherlands had been approved by Congress, he received more qualified news from William Churchill Houston, a member of Congress from New Jersey. Houston’s letter, sent from Philadelphia on July 11, 1780, informed Adams of Charleston’s occupation by the British, but also of a reawakening of patriotic spirit “that is fast pervading the whole Comunity, a Spirit which enlivens and encreases every Day.”[1] On September 17, Adams responded to Houston in the letter offered here, and presented him with the more immediate news of military victory.

Item #23797, $46,500

The First Published Book by an African-American Woman

PHILLIS WHEATLEY, Book. Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. First edition, with the advertisement on the final page reading “Lately published in 2 vols. Twelves...” and engraved frontispiece portrait after Scipio Morehead (second state). London: Archibald Bell, 1773, for Cox and Berry, Boston. 128 pp., 4⅜ x 6¾ in. Modern half brown leather, marbled sides.

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“Celestial muse, my arduous flight sustain
And raise my mind to a seraphic strain!”

—from Wheatley’s“Thoughts on the Works of Providence”

Item #23638, PRICE ON REQUEST

George Washington, Outraged over Continued Native American and Loyalist Attacks on the New York Frontier, Wishes “to chastise the insolence of the enemy in any future incursion,” But Cannot Provide Much Direct Aid

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Letter Signed as Commander in Chief, to Governor George Clinton. Newburgh, N.Y., July 30, 1782. 4 pp., 7 x 11¾ in.

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“I have learnt with great concern the repeated depredations that have been committed on your Western frontier … notwithstanding the order … for the buildings necessary at the posts on the Mohawk, I fear he will not have it in his power to do it for want of money.”

Between victory at Yorktown and recognition of American independence, British forces, Loyalists, and native tribes all continued raids on American outposts and settlers, especially on the New York frontier. Washington had to maintain the army’s strength in order to force favorable negotiations, but here defers to the local governor. Fortunately for both General and Governor, Colonel Marinus Willett was one of the Revolution’s most capable leaders with decades of familiarity with Western New York’s peoples, places, and potential problems.

Item #24418, $35,000

With the British Headed His Way, John Hancock Implores the States to Send Supplies and Troops to the Flagging War Effort

JOHN HANCOCK, Manuscript Document Signed (“John Hancock”) as President of the Continental Congress, 2 pages, 8 x 12½ in., “In Congress” [Philadelphia], November 19 & 21, 1776.

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“Congress deem it necessary upon every principle of propriety to remind the several States how indispensible it is to the Common Safety that they pursue the most immediate & vigorous measures to furnish their respective quotas of troops for the new Army…”

Washington’s defeat at the Battle of Long Island at the end of August 1776 resulted in the British occupying New York City less than three weeks later. The news for the Americans only got worse, as they had to retreat from White Plains on October 28, and Hessian mercenaries captured Fort Washington, in northern Manhattan on November 16.

With the Redcoats in hot pursuit, the Continental Army retreated across New Jersey throughout December, eventually crossing the Delaware River into Pennsylvania for safety. Washington had split his troops (the other group commanded by General Charles Lee) in hopes of taking a stand before Philadelphia. With Washington’s command in jeopardy and the British headed towards the seat of Congress, Hancock stresses the urgent need for troops and supplies.

Item #23790, $35,000

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

“Liberty without End. Amen.” Incredibly Rare Toasts from Boston’s Sons of Liberty, 1769

[SONS OF LIBERTY.] WILLIAM RUSSELL, Autograph Document, Boston, Massachusetts, August 14, 1769, 1 p., with additional writing on verso.

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These patriotic toasts—written on the fourth anniversary of Boston’s Stamp Act Riot—defiantly salute American liberty. The writer may have numbered among the 350 Sons of Liberty who celebrated the event at a dinner in Dorchester, Massachusetts. He would have been in good company: John Hancock, Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and John Adams were among the guests.

Item #23891, $26,000

Declaration of Independence: Benjamin Tyler 1818 - First Print with Facsimile Signatures

BENJAMIN OWEN TYLER, Broadside, Drawn by Tyler and engraved by Peter Maverick, [Washington, D.C., 1818]. 1 p., 23⅞ x 31 in., archivally framed to approx. 32 x 40 in.

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“In Congress, July 4th 1776. The Unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America.”

Item #23683, $25,000

Hamilton Aids a Revolutionary War Loyalist:
Important N.Y. Confiscation Act Case Verdict

ALEXANDER HAMILTON, Autograph Document, 4 ½ pages (8 x 13 in.) hinged together, Supreme Court [New York], n.d. [ca. December 1784], being a special verdict of the case of James Leonard/James Jackson v. Anthony Post

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Item #24628, $24,000

Rare French Facsimile of the Declaration of Independence

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, Copperplate engraving, “In Congress, July 4, 1776, The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America…” Paris: Kaeppelin & Cie, 15 Quai Voltaire; engraved by F. Lepelle. [1840.] 25 x 32”. 1p.

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Scarce French reproduction based on William J. Stone’s official copperplate facsimile done by order of Congress. This French edition was produced for an 1840 adaptation of Jared Sparks’s Life and Writings of Washington, appearing as plate 22 in the atlas accompanying the multi-volume work.

Item #20627.99, $22,000

African American Revolutionary War Documents,
Including Caesar Ferrit, Said to Have Fought at Lexington

[AMERICAN REVOLUTION], Archive. Six Manuscript Documents, Natick, Mass., May 15, 1775. One document (.16) is signed by the town selectmen, listing the disposition and values of eleven guns, 6¼ x 7½ in.; and five smaller corresponding receipts (.17-.21) signed by the recipients. 6 pp. total.

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Weapon receipts, bearing signatures of two African American patriots, remarkably early in the Revolution.

Item #20632.16-.21, $18,000

John Binns Scarce and Most Decorative Early 19th century (1819) Declaration of Independence Facsimile

[DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE], Engraved Broadside. “In Congress July 4th. 1776. The Unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America.” [Philadelphia:] John Binns, 1819. Text engraved by C.H. Parker, facsimiles of signatures engraved by Tanner, Vallance, Kearny & Co. Ornamental border incorporating the seals of the thirteen original states after Thomas Sully. Medallion portrait of Washington (after Gilbert Stuart, 1795), Jefferson (after Otis, 1816), and Hancock (after Copley, 1765). 24½ x 34½ in.

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Item #23834.99, $17,500

Jefferson-Signed Act of Congress Enabling Revolutionary War Veterans to Settle the West

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Printed Document Signed as Secretary of State, An Act to enable the Officers and Soldiers of the Virginia line on Continental Establishment, to obtain Titles to certain Lands lying north west of the river Ohio, between the Little Miami and Sciota, August 10, 1790. [New York, N.Y.: Francis Childs and John Swaine]. Signed in type by George Washington as President, Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg as Speaker of the House of Representatives, and John Adams as Vice President and President of the Senate. 2 pp.

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Secretary of State Jefferson signs an act enabling Virginia to issue Northwest Territory land grants promised to veterans for their Revolutionary War service. Jefferson had already played a critical role in the creation of a national domain and the opening of the American West by orchestrating Virginia’s cession of the Northwest Territory to the United States. This act repeals a controversial 1788 Confederation Congress Act that invalidated the state’s right to lay out military bounty lands within a section of the Northwest Territory.

Item #23981, $17,500

The Day Before Independence, Connecticut Governor Jonathan Trumbull Orders Troops to New York to Help George Washington

JONATHAN TRUMBULL, Manuscript Document Signed as Governor, to Thomas Seymour. Lebanon, Conn., July 3, 1776. 2 pp., folio.

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On the eve of Independence, Connecticut Colonial Jonathan Trumbull orders Lt. Col. Thomas Seymour to New York to assist Commander in Chief George Washington. Seymour is ordered to march his three regiments of light horse to New York. In a postscript, Trumbull orders him to send the equipped parts of units without waiting for others to be furnished.

Item #24487, $15,000

An Address to the Inhabitants of Great Britain – July 1775 Print of Message that went with the Olive Branch Petition

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR], Newspaper. Rivington’s New York Gazetteer...and Weekly Advertiser, New York, N.Y., July 21, 1775. 4 pp., 11½ x 18 in.

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While 1776 will remain the most memorable year in American history, 1775 actually marks the moment when the colonists became Americans. Hostilities had already begun, yet the delegates of the Continental Congress still sought to avoid war. On July 8, the Continental Congress approved and sent the Olive Branch Petition to King George III. At the same time, they sent an appeal stating the case directly to the British people. Both attempts failed, and we have found no evidence that the address was even published in England. Here, in Rivington’s New York paper, it is published in the first two columns of page one, and the first column of page two.

Item #23544, $12,500

Declaration Signer James Wilson’s Signed Copy of, 1774 Maryland Guide, the First Original American Legal Work, Earliest on Law of Wills

[JAMES WILSON], Signed Book. Vallette, Elie. The Deputy Commissary’s Guide within the Province of Maryland. Annapolis: Ann Catherine Green and Son, 1774. Octavo. Engraved title & table by Thomas Sparrow. Signed twice by Wilson at head of title & on front free endpaper recto. Both signatures ruled through in ink by subsequent owners, other owner’s signatures on endpaper. A little blue & red crayon underlining & scrawl at head of title.

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An important association copy of a rare book with many first claims: this is the only edition of the first original American legal work, and the earliest book published in America on the law of wills. It also contains the only engraving from a colonial Maryland press, by Thomas Sparrow, the only engraver south of the Mason-Dixon Line before 1775.

Item #23609, $10,000

Continental Congress Address to the Inhabitants of the Colonies Urging Unity Against British Tyranny, and their Separate Address to the Inhabitants of Quebec

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR], Newspaper. Address by the Continental Congress “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. Printed in the Pennsylvania Gazette (Philadelphia), November 9, 1774 (No. 2394). Copy sent to Thomas and John Fleet, Boston printers. 4 pp., with Postcript, 2 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…”

In addition to the Continental Congress’ address to the inhabitants of the colonies, urging unity in the face of British oppression, this paper and supplement contain resolutions of the Massachusetts provincial assembly of October 26, 28 and 29, calling on the militia to be prepared and approving non-importation and non-consumption agreements (p2); a proclamation from Governor John Penn regarding Pennsylvania’s disputed border with Maryland (p3); Congresses’ October 26 Address “to the Inhabitants of the Province of Quebec” (p5-6); and several notices and advertisements, including rewards for several Irish, Dutch, and English servants who had run away (p4 & 6) and an advertisement for Poor Richard’s Almanack.

Item #30035.20, $9,500
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