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Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson

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Thomas Jefferson Signed Act of Congress Authorizing Copper Coinage (the First Legal Tender Produced by U.S. Government)

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Printed Document Signed, as Secretary of State, “An Act to provide for a copper coinage,” May 8, 1792, Philadelphia. 1 p., 9⅝ x 15 in.

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That the director of the mint…purchase a quantity of copper...and…cause the copper...to be coined at the mint into cents and half cents...thence to issue into circulation….

That after the expiration of six calendar months from the time when there shall have been paid into the treasury by the said director, in cents and half cents, a sum not less than fifty thousand dollars … no copper coins or pieces whatsoever, except the said cents and half cents, shall pass current as money, or shall be paid, or offered to be paid or received in payment for any debt … and all copper coins or pieces, except the said cents and half cents, which shall be paid or offered to be paid or received in payment contrary to the prohibition aforesaid, shall be forfeited, and every person by whom any of them shall have been so paid … shall also forfeit the sum of ten dollars…”

Item #27505, $235,000

Ratification of The Bill of Rights

[BILL OF RIGHTS], Newspaper. Columbian Centinel, March 14, 1792. Boston, Mass.: Benjamin Russell. 4 pp., 10½ x 16½ in.

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Item #25046, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Thomas Jefferson Pays Import Duty on Famous Louis Chantrot Obelisk Clock

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Manuscript Document Signed, October 17, 1791, [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]. 1 p., 8 x 13 in.

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This declaration notes that Thomas Jefferson imported a clock, which arrived in Philadelphia on the ship Minerva from La Havre, France, on October 17, 1791. On May 12, 1792, Jefferson paid the import duty of $7.52 according to the provisions of the Tariff of 1790.

Consisting of a pair of black marble obelisks between which a brass clock was suspended, Jefferson commissioned this in the Spring of 1790 to replace a similar piece stolen from his Paris residence. He later had it mounted on a shelf above the foot of his bed. Susan Stein, the Richard Gilder Senior Curator at Monticello, described the obelisk clock as “arguably one of the most important and interesting objects at Monticello.” After Jefferson’s death, his daughter Martha called it the object “I should have prized beyond anything on earth.”[1] The original clock was passed down through the Jefferson family until it was donated to Monticello in 2016.

This is a rare record of payment of the tariffs that funded the nascent federal government, in effect bringing together Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, in the temporary capital of Philadelphia. Jefferson’s correspondence to William Short arranging for the purchase and delivery of the clock also mentioned obtaining two artists proofs for the Congressional Medal of Honor voted for John Paul Jones, which had yet to be completed.



[1] Martha Jefferson Randolph to her daughter, February 13, 1827, quoted in Sarah Butler Wister and Agnes Irwin, eds., Worthy Women of Our First Century (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1877), 59. Randolph wrote, “The marble clock I should have prized beyond anything on earth, and if, in our circumstances, I had felt myself justifiable in retaining a luxury of that value, that clock, in preference to everything else but the immediate furniture of his bedroom, I should have retained. However, in addition to the loss of the clock, which I regret more bitterly since I know how near we were getting it, let us not alienate so near a relation and friend, who, I dare say, is sorry for it now that it is past.”

Item #27514, $14,000

Thomas Jefferson Signed Act of Congress for Compensating Court Officers, Jurors, and Witnesses

FIRST CONGRESS. [THOMAS JEFFERSON], Printed Document Signed as Secretary of State. An Act providing compensations for the officers of the Judicial Courts of the United States, and for Jurors and Witnesses, and for other purposes. New York, N.Y., March 3, 1791. 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., 9 x 15 in.

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Under the new federal Constitution, the First Congress had the momentous job of creating the laws to govern the various branches of the new government, whether setting up the framework for executive departments such as Treasury and State, establishing its own rules and schedule, or, in this case, creating a federal court system. In its second session (January 4, 1790 through August 12, 1790) Congress passed the Crimes Act, which defined a plethora of federal crimes, punishments, and court procedures. Here in the third session, the Congress provides a schedule of compensation for officers and jurors, as well as a process for scheduling and meeting places for the various federal district courts around the new nation.

Item #26175.99, $16,500

Jefferson-Signed Act of Congress Funding the Federal Government for 1791

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Document Signed as Secretary of State. An Act making appropriations for the support of government during the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety one, and for other purposes, February 11, 1791. [Philadelphia: Childs and Swaine, 1791]. 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., 9¼ x 15 in. Variant of Evans 23860.

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

Secretary of State Jefferson signs an Act making appropriations for the federal government in 1791. The figures cited—expenses of the “civil list” and the War Department—were taken directly from Treasury Secretary Hamilton’s Estimates for 1791 Report to the House of Representatives.

This is the only Jefferson-signed copy known in private hands. The only two known institutional copies are at the Library Company of Philadelphia and the New York Public Library.

Item #23982, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Draft of Thomas Jefferson Circular, Addressing Duties of Consuls & Vice-Consuls

[THOMAS JEFFERSON], Letter, to Consuls and Vice-Consuls, August 26, 1790, New York. Draft or copy in the hand of a clerk. 2 pp., 7¾ x 9¼ in.

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In this letter, Thomas Jefferson provides initial and basic instructions to the consuls and vice-consuls of the United States in European and Caribbean ports. It focuses primarily on the logistics of monitoring and reporting the presence of American vessels in the ports under their authority and on other “political and commercial intelligence as you may think interesting to the United States.” It authorizes consuls and vice-consuls to wear the uniform of the U.S. Navy if they choose to do so and provides details on the features of the uniform. Finally, Jefferson offers advice on maintaining good relationships with the governing authorities. He urges the consuls to avoid minor quarrels and to use the utmost respect in communications with governing officials, “never indulging in any case whatever a single expression which may irritate.”

Item #25721, $3,500

Hamilton’s Assumption Plan, Passed as Four Acts of Congress, Plus the Residence Act Quid-pro-quo (SOLD)

ALEXANDER HAMILTON, Each of the four Gazette of the United States, August 7, 14, 21, and 28, 1790, were printed in New York: John Fenno. 4 pp. each. The four parts of Hamilton’s Assumption Plan, as passed by Congress, are included in full only days after each were passed. #30022.37-.40

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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.”

Alexander Hamilton understood the necessity of placing the new nation on firm financial ground.

On January 9, 1790, Hamilton delivered to Congress his First Report on Public Credit, a strategy for achieving seven key goals for America’s financial system. One of his primary recommendations was the federal assumption of all states’ war debts, amounting to approximately $22 million in addition to foreign powers who were owed nearly $11 million, and American citizens who had sold food, horses, and supplies to the Army, who held $43 million in debt. Hamilton’s ambitious debt plan aimed to draw both creditors and debtors closer to the federal government by honoring all the Revolutionary War debts in full, paying off the resulting national debt over time from excise taxes and land sales.

Many Southerners opposed Hamilton’s plan, believing it would create a dangerous centralization of power, unfairly penalize the southern states who had already paid off more of their debts, and give the North too much financial control. Ultimately, in a deal between Hamilton, James Madison and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, southern legislators agreed to support the Plan in return for locating the permanent national capital (then temporarily in NY) on the banks of the Potomac River.

The Gazette of the United States, the semi-official newspaper of the federal government, published the acts that codified Hamilton’s Assumption Plan in four parts: “An Act Making Provision for the Debt of the United States” (passed Aug. 4, in the Aug. 7 issue); “An Act to Provide more Effectually for the Settlement of the Accounts between the United States and the Individual States” (passed Aug. 5, in the Aug. 14 issue); “An Act Making Further Provision for the Payment of the Debts of the United States” (padded Aug. 10, in the Aug 21 issue); “An Act making Provision for the Reduction of the Public Debt” (passed Aug 12, in the Aug. 28 issue).

Item #30022.37-.40 & 30022.41, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Thomas Jefferson Transmits the First Patent Act to Governor of New York George Clinton, Who Later Replaced Aaron Burr as Jefferson’s Vice President

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Letter Signed, as Secretary of State, to Governor George Clinton of New York, April 15, 1790, New York. 1 p., 7¾ x 9½ in

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In his position as Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson conveyed copies of new federal laws to the governors of each of the states. This letter, signed by Jefferson, conveyed the First Patent Act, formally An Act to Promote the Progress of Useful Arts, to New York Governor George Clinton, who would later serve as Jefferson’s second vice president.

Item #26389.99, $28,000

Jefferson’s Religious Stance Against Slavery

[THOMAS JEFFERSON], Newspaper. The Massachusetts Centinel. Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia. August 29, 1789. Boston: Benjamin Russell. 4 pp.

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A Federal Era newspaper printing Jefferson’s key section on slavery from his Notes on the State of Virginia. Also Proposed Revisions to the Bill of Rights, George Washington’s letter to the Philadelphia Convention of the Episcopal Church, &c.

Also with the story of a captured African Prince’s bow and quiver being used by his master’s wife to defend her home from the British, is related with news of the bow being presented to Charles Willson Peale’s Museum.

Item #30027.30, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Jefferson’s Excessively Rare Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom

[THOMAS JEFFERSON], Prominent front-page printing of “A Bill for establishing religious Freedom, (Printed for the Consideration of the People),” The Providence Gazette; and Country Journal (Rhode Island), May 13, 1780, 1:1-2.

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One of the three achievements of which Jefferson was most proud, as listed on his epitaph.

Only the second known newspaper printing, and the first front-page printing.

Item #25999.99, $105,000

The Declaration of Independence, Rare Broadside Printed and Posted in July, 1776 (SOLD)

[DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE], Broadside. [attributed to Robert Luist Fowle, Exeter, New Hampshire], [ca. July 15-19, 1776], two-column format, sheet size approx. 151/8 x 195/8 in. Pin holes in three corners, with the upper-left corner torn in approximately the same position, indicates that this was posted publicly to spread the momentous news.

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Broadsides such as this fanned the flames of independence. Passed from hand to hand, read aloud at town gatherings, or posted in public places, broadsides (single pages printed only on one side) were meant to quickly convey news. Including the present copy, there are fewer than a dozen examples of this Exeter, N.H. printing known. Pin holes in three corners and the torn upper-left corner suggest this example was posted publicly.

In a way, this Declaration broadside is even more “original” than the signed manuscript pictured by most Americans. This is not yet “The Unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States,” but rather “A Declaration, by the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress assembled.” On July 4, New York’s delegation abstained from voting for independence. After replacing their delegates, New York joined the other 12 colonies.

Moreover, as here on the broadside, the July 4 Declaration was signed by only two men: Continental Congress President John Hancock and Secretary Charles Thomson (here with the common variant “Thompson”). After New York on board, Congress resolved on July 19 to have the Declaration engrossed with a new title: “The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America.” Most of the 56 signers affixed their names on the engrossed document on August 2, 1776, with some added even later.

Thus, broadsides such as this one preserve the text of the Declaration of Independence as it actually was issued in July of 1776.

Item #21991, SOLD — please inquire about other items

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

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

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

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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