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The Alexander Hamilton Collection

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John Hancock Helps Build Washington’s Army and Appoints a Captain

JOHN HANCOCK, Partially Printed Document Signed as President of the Continental Congress. [Philadelphia, PA] July 1, 1775. Counter-signed by Charles Thomson. 1 p., folio.

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The Continental Congress had appointed George Washington as Commander in Chief of the newly-formed Continental Army on June 15, only two weeks before this document. Hancock, as president of the Continental Congress, began raising troops and officers for the war effort. Here, he appoints Stephen Kimball at the rank of Captain in the 14th Regiment of the Continental Army. The 14th, commanded by Col. Daniel Hitchcock, was part of the Rhode Island militia. The unit, which included some African American soldiers, went to Boston to fight under General Nathanael Greene. Later, incorporated into the Continental Army, it saw action in the Battle of Long Island and at White Plains.

Item #24001

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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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

Hamilton Supports Anyone but Jefferson to Replace Washington as President

ALEXANDER HAMILTON, Draft Autograph Letter, on George Washington’s declining a third term, and the importance of Jefferson not being president, c. November 8, 1796. Heavily marked and edited draft. Possibly to Jeremiah Wadsworth. 2 pp., 8 x 13 in.

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“it is far less important, who of many men that may be named shall be the person, than that it shall not be Jefferson.”

Item #24639

John Adams Reacts to the “Reynolds Pamphlet”:
“Can talents atone for such turpitude? Can wisdom reside with such Gullibility?”

JOHN ADAMS, Autograph Letter Signed as President, to Samuel B. Malcom. September 17, 1797. Quincy, Mass. 2 pp. 8 x 9¾ in.

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“Mr Locke says the world has all sorts of men. All degrees of human wisdom are mixed with all degrees of human Folly. To me, and I believe, to you, this world would be a Region of Torment, if such a Recollection existed in our memories.”

Item #24380

One of Hamilton’s Most Revealing Love Letters to Eliza:
“You are certainly a little sorceress and have bewitched me”

ALEXANDER HAMILTON, Autograph Letter Signed “A. Hamilton,” to Elizabeth Schuyler, August 8, 1780. [Dobbs Ferry, New York]. 4 pp. including partial integral leaf; lacking portion of page below signature; perhaps his signature on address relief was removed. 6½ x 8½ in.

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“you have made me disrelish every thing that used to please me, and have rendered me as restless and unsatisfied with all about me, as if I was the inhabitant of another world. ... I would go on, but the General summons me to ride....”

In the middle of their whirlwind courtship, Hamilton emphasizes his profound fascination with Eliza Schuyler. Hamilton both complains that she is distracting him from important military duties, while pleading with her for more distraction. Few of Hamilton’s letters to Eliza survive from this period.

As Hamilton was writing, tactical intelligence was being communicated at a frantic pace up and down the Hudson. On July 21, Washington had received intelligence from the Culper spy ring on British General Clinton’s planned attack on Rochambeau’s French squadron at Newport, and the massing of British troops on Long Island for an intensified invasion of New York. Hamilton now was in the middle of authoring a detailed “Plan for an Attack on New York” to recapture Manhattan and Brooklyn from the British. He mentions at the end of this letter his position at Dobbs Ferry, New York, a small town on the Hudson where the army was encamped. Hamilton ends when he is summoned by General Washington.

Item #24329

Hamilton Fires Back: The Infamous Reynolds Pamphlet

ALEXANDER HAMILTON, Pamphlet. Observations on Certain Documents Contained in “The History of the United States for the Year 1796,” in Which the Charge of Speculation Against Alexander Hamilton, Late Secretary of the Treasury, is Fully Refuted. Written by Himself. Philadelphia: [William Duane], “Pro Bono Publico,” 1800. 37 pp. plus appendix (58 pp.). Leaves a2-a4 (pages 3-8) duplicated. In late 19th-century three-quarter morocco and marbled paper boards, spine gilt. Binding rubbed at extremities. Title page lightly foxed. 5 x 8¼ in.

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“The charge against me is a connection with one James Reynolds for purposes of improper pecuniary speculation. My real crime is an amorous connection with his wife, for a considerable time with his privity and connivance, if not originally brought on by a combination of the husband and wife with the design to extort money from me.”

Item #24260

To Avoid Abuse from “bigots in religion...politics, or...medicine,” Thomas Jefferson Declines to Publish Benjamin Rush’s Private Correspondence

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph Letter Signed, to James Mease. With conjoined franked address leaf in Jefferson’s hand. August 17, 1816. Monticello, [Charlottesville, Va.]. 1 p., 9¾ x 8 in.

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Thomas Jefferson, long since retired to private life, declines the request of Dr. James Mease for copies of Dr. Benjamin Rush’s correspondence with Jefferson. Mease had hoped to include them in a volume of Rush’s letters to be published and specifically requested letters pertaining to Rush’s personal views on religion and politics. After demurring, Jefferson discusses at length the differences between personal and official correspondence, with philosophical thoughts on public versus private expression. He closes with assurances that his decision is nothing personal, and of his great respect for Mease: “I hope, my dear Sir, you will see in my scruples only a sentiment of fidelity to a deceased friend.”

Item #23233

The Charter for Hamilton’s “Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures”

[ALEXANDER HAMILTON], Newspaper. Gazette of the United States, September 10, 1791. Philadelphia: John Fenno. 4 pp. 10 x 16 in. Including the Charter for the Society of Useful Manufactures in full, and a report on Joseph Brant, the famous Mohawk Indian Chief.

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Item #30019

An Act to Incorporate the Subscribers to the Bank of the United States

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Newspaper. Gazette of the United States, March 2, 1791. Philadelphia: John Fenno. 4 pp. (765-768), 10½ x 17 in. Includes full text of February 25 Act to Incorporate the Subscribers to the Bank of the United States.

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“The establishment of a bank for the United States … upon the principles which afford adequate security for an upright and prudent administration.”

Item #23392

The Assumption Plan, Passed as Four Acts of Congress

[ALEXANDER HAMILTON], Newspaper. Gazette of the United States, New York: John Fenno. 16 pp. Included in full, all four parts of Hamilton’s Assumption Plan, as passed by Congress, in the issues of August 7, 14, 21, and 28, 1790. (4 pp. each)

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“Justice and the support of the public credit require, that provision should be made for fulfilling the engagements of the United States, in respect to their foreign debt, and for funding their domestic debt upon equitable and satisfactory terms.”

Item #30022.27-.30

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

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

The Declaration of Independence, Printed in 1776 Journals of Congress - Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson’s Chief Clerk’s Copy

[DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE], Book. Journals of Congress. Containing the Proceedings from January 1, 1776, to January 1, 1777. Volume II. York-Town [Penn.]: John Dunlap, 1778. Second issue (i.e. Dunlap’s imprint but incorporating Aitken’s sheets). 520 pp., 8 x 4 ¾ in. Title page with New York City Bar Association stamp, discreet accession number on verso. Lacking the index (xxvii pp.).

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This rare volume of the Journals of Congress, covering the pivotal year of 1776, has an unusual printing history. The first 424 pages were printed in Philadelphia in 1777 by Robert Aitken. The project was interrupted when the British marched into Philadelphia on September 26, 1777. Congress fled, and after a day in Lancaster established itself in York, Pennsylvania. Aitken escaped with some of his finished sheets but had to abandon his press. On the other hand, John Dunlap, the original printer of the Declaration of Independence, managed to remove his press. In May 1778, Congress hired Dunlap to complete the reprint of their 1776 journals.

This copy bears the signature of Henry Remsen Jr., (1762-1843), the Chief Clerk of the State Department when Jefferson was Secretary of State. At that time, the Patent Office was part of the State Department, so among his accomplishments Remsen recorded the first rules for the examination of patents, a subject dear to Jefferson the inventor. Remsen later became a noteworthy New York financier.

Item #23757

A Lazy Revolutionary War Doctor, Departing From His Life of Leisure, Reports on “Lord” Stirling’s Failed Attempt On Staten Island

SAMUEL VICKERS, Autograph Letter Signed “S. Vickers,” to Andrew Craigie. Cranburry, N.J., January 17, 1780. 2 pp., 8½ x 12¼ in. We believe the docketing to incorrectly identify the sender as John Vicker.

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Fellow physician John Vickers gives Dr. Craigie a nearly instantaneous account of Lord Stirling’s ill-fated attack on Staten Island of Jan 15-16, 1780. Stirling’s campaign was designed to surprise the British troops in their winter camp; the British were alerted, however, and were well fortified by the time the Americans arrived. Vickers also decries plundering of the island by Continental troops.

Item #23414