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Chicago Lithograph of the Emancipation Proclamation

[ABRAHAM LINCOLN], Broadside, “National Proclamation of Emancipation.” Chicago: Rufus Blanchard. ca. 1863-64. Color lithograph, 11½ x 15½ in., on parchment-like paper.


An elaborate and colorful Chicago pre-fire imprint of Lincoln’s historic proclamation. Embellished with three-quarter borders of scrolling oak leaves and acorns, twining with large letters proclaiming “Freedom” and “Forever”; the oak leaves hand-colored in green; at the top and bottom are engraved vignettes (symbols of industry and the arts, a village scene, an American eagle, and a harbor scene); the central portion with a field of pale blue with a ground of stars and a sunburst design at top.

Item #24989, $3,750

Gov. Harry Lee Requests All Virginia Slave Condemnation Cases for Clemency Review

HENRY “LIGHT HORSE” HARRY LEE, Printed Document Signed as Governor of Virginia, Circular Letter Richmond, January 25, 1794. 1 p., 6 ½ x 8 in.


“Light Horse” Harry Lee was a Revolutionary War hero, governor of Virginia, and father to famous Civil War General Robert E. Lee. Here, he requests that county clerks fill positions of “Escheator,” persons overseeing land reverting to the state if there are no heirs, and adds that he would like the clerks to inform him of any cases of a slave condemned for crimes where the “person be considered as an object of mercy or not…”

Item #25033, $3,900

Ulysses S. Grant Follows Up on African American Troops’ First Battle at Milliken’s Bend: “Drive the enemy from Richmond. Reinforce Mower all you can and send him to do it.”

ULYSSES S. GRANT, Autograph Note Signed, to Elias S. Dennis, June 13, 1863, 1 p. 7¾ x 2½ in.


Grant was determined to take Vicksburg, and retaking the surrounding countryside in Mississippi and across the river in Louisiana were critical parts of his plan. Here, he moves around troops to further his design after an important showing by the USCT a few days earlier. In his Memoirs, Grant observed that “This was the first important engagement of the war in which colored troops were under fire,” and he praised their actions.

Item #24508, $4,000

The First War Department Printing of the Emancipation Proclamation, Bound with 400-plus 1862-1863 General Orders, including the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Printed Document. Emancipation Proclamation. Signed in type by Lincoln, Secretary of State William H. Seward, and Adjutant General Lorenzo Thomas. General Order No. 1, War Department, Adjutant General’s Office, Washington January 2, 1863 (but based on usual practice, more likely printed ca. January 7th.). 3pp.


This book of official War Department orders was bound together for Army paymaster Major N.S. Brinton.

Item #23692, $4,500

James Madison Signed Membership Form
as President of American Colonization Society

JAMES MADISON, Document Signed. “Office of the Colonization Society.” Washington, [ca. 1833-1836]. With Society’s seal engraved at bottom center (a ship sailing towards Liberia, with Latin motto “Lex in Tenebris” – light amid darkness). 1 p., 8¼ x 11⅛ in.


A rare blank membership certificate, signed in advance by the Society’s President. It would have conferred a life membership in the controversial American Colonization Society, which advocated gradual manumission of slaves and colonization of freed blacks to Liberia.

Signed membership certificates from the Society are relatively rare. Only four have appeared in major auction records in the last 30 years. According to the Library of Congress, “Selling life memberships was a standard fund-raising practice of benevolent societies such as the American Colonization Society. At thirty dollars each, the memberships were a popular gift for ministers. In 1825, one of the agents who sold the certificates in New England estimated that ‘not less than $50,000 have in this way been poured into the treasury of the Lord.’”

This is a superb artifact of antebellum America. It marks the commitment of the “Father of the Constitution” to a solution to the race dilemma that would be castigated today, but which was moderate for its time.

Item #21876, $4,500

While Running for the Democratic Presidential Nomination, Senator Barack Obama on Transparency and Limiting the Power of Special Interests

BARACK OBAMA, Typed Manuscript with autograph corrections. [Chicago, Ill., ca. May 21, 2007]. 2 pp, 8 ½ x 11 in. With 112 handwritten words in Obama’s red ink and pencil and 3 holes punched at left edge of each sheet. Published on the “Commentary” page of the Chicago Tribune, May 21, 2007.


“When it comes to reforming Washington … Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis had the right idea. Sixty years ago he said, ‘Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.’ Brandeis was a progressive responding to the excesses of the Gilded Age. Nearly a century later, we find Washington in need of a lot of sunlight and disinfectant….

I’m not perfect. In my current pres. campaign, I shall have to raise money, and still have relationships w/lobbyists. But at least people will know who those relationships are...”

Over a year before he became the Democratic candidate for President, Senator Barack Obama addressed the issue of lobbyists, special interest groups, and campaign financing.  Obama’s message was published in the Chicago Tribune on May 21, 2007.  Obama’s careful edits, with over 100 words and many strike-outs in his hand, likely came too late for the editorial page deadline of this major metropolitan newspaper. Most of the text Obama wished to be struck remained, and several phrases he did not strike through (noted below in parentheses) were removed, possibly by the editorial page editor.

Item #22930, $7,500

His Grandmother-in-Law Can’t Spare a “Stacker” for John Augustine Washington III – Letter Delivered by Freed Washington Family Slave West Ford Includes List of Mount Vernon Slaves

[SLAVERY. MOUNT VERNON. WEST FORD]. MARY BOWLES [ARMISTEAD] SELDEN, Autograph Letter Signed, to John Augustine Washington III, hand delivered by West Ford; JOHN AUGUSTINE WASHINGTON III. Autograph List of Slaves. Single folio leaf with autograph address on verso. [Alexandria, Virginia], [1845].


Mary B. Selden was the grandmother of Eleanor Love Selden, who married John Augustine Washington III in 1843. She regrets not being able to furnish Washington with the services of one of her slaves as a stacker for the upcoming wheat harvest.

Still a faithful employee, West Ford worked for the Washington family well into the nineteenth century, including delivering this letter.

The letter includes a list of two dozen slaves written in pencil by John Augustine Washington III.

Item #24737, $8,500

Frederick Douglass Encourages Writing on John Brown

FREDERICK DOUGLASS, Autograph Letter Signed to unknown correspondent. Washington, D.C., November 28, [no year]. 1 p.


Douglass suggests to the author of a work on John Brown, the abolitionist crusader who attempted to incite a slave rebellion in Virginia in 1859, that she attempt to have her lines published in a popular magazine. “I know of no better way to have the value of your lines on John Brown tested and made available than by offering them for publication …”

Item #21439.03, $10,500

John Brown Accepts Money, and a Pair of Pants, for the Anti-Slavery Cause – A Year to the Day Before His Execution for Leading the Failed Harper’s Ferry Slave Insurrection

JOHN BROWN, Autograph Document Signed Twice. Receipt to Samuel L. Adair, Osawatomie, Kansas, December 2, 1858, 1 p. 3½ x 7½ in.


Item #23687.01, $12,000

Eleanor Roosevelt on the Meaning of Civil Rights

ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, Typed Letter Signed, to “Harry,” Washington, D.C., February 19, 1944. 2 pp., 6¼ x 9¼ in. On White House stationery.


“Something has to happen to people’s souls before they are going to give the rights of citizenship to all the people of our country, regardless of color or creed. That does not mean you have to ask them to dinner. It only means giving them the rights that go with citizenship.”

Item #23592, $15,000

The Amistad: an Arresting Engraving of the Revolt

[AMISTAD], Broadside Print, Death of Capt. Ferrer, the Captain of the Amistad, July, 1839. Original hand coloring. Originally appeared with an 1840 New Haven Pamphlet, A History of the Amistad Captives...Also An Account of the Trials.


Item #21957, $15,000

Martin Luther King, Jr. Autograph Manuscript Page for His First Book, Stride Towards Freedom

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR, Autograph Manuscript, a page from a late draft of Chapter 11 of his book, Stride Toward Freedom. Montgomery, n.d. [circa 1957]. The entire text, including corrections, is King’s hand. 1p., 8½ x 11 in.


“Virtually every national or international union has clear policies of nondiscrimination ... But in spite of this some unions, governed by the racist ethos, have contributed to the degraded economic status of the Negroes…”

Item #23300.03, $17,500

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.


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

Item #20632.16-.21, $18,000

The Emancipation Proclamation:
A Miniature Edition of the Document that Saved America

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Pamphlet. Proclamation of Emancipation, by the President of the United States, January 1st, 1863. [Boston, Mass., John Murray Forbes, ca. Jan. 20, 1863]. 8 pp., plus printed wraps, 2¼ x 3¼ in.


“All persons held as slaves within said designated States

and parts of States are and henceforward shall be free.”

Item #24310, $22,000

Former President and Future Confederate Supporter John Tyler Forcefully Defends the Fugitive Slave Act and the “Southern Cause,” Attacks the NY Press, and Plays up His Own Service in the War of 1812

JOHN TYLER, Autograph Letter Signed and Autograph Manuscript Signed several times in the third person. Sent to S. Cunningham, from Sherwood Forest, October 12, 1850, 1 page, 9⅜ x 7¼ in. on blue paper marked “Private,” being the cover letter for the manuscript, written for anonymous publication: “The fugitive slave bill and Commissioner Gardiner,” [ca. October 12, 1850], 2 pages, 9⅜ x 7⅞ in. on blue paper.


In the first fugitive slave law case, which came before his cousin Commissioner Gardiner: “The fugitive was promptly dealt by and restored to his owner in Baltimore. Mr. Gardiner has proven himself to be a faithful public servant, an honest man, and a Patriot. And yet, by a certain class of Editors in New York he is sneered at…”

Tyler criticizes two NY editors in particular: Now what jackasses are Mssrs Herricks and Ropes… These would-be somethingarians [a colloquialism, usually used as an insult] in the first place, deem it a matter of censure in a judge, to execute the law—and, in the next they show their ignorance… by ascribing to Mr. Tyler under their witty soubriquet of Captain (a title he is well content to wear since he enjoyed it during the war of 1812 with Great Britain)…”

Item #24043, $24,000

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.


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

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


Cinque, Leader of the Amistad Revolt Autograph at an Abolitionist Fundraiser in Philadelphia

CINQUE, Autograph as Leader of the Amistad Captives. Philadelphia, Pa., May 27, 1841. 1 p. Also signed by F-foole [Fuli]. With two endorsements in unknown hand, the later one possibly written by Charles Evans in pencil.


Cinque was an almost mythic figure during the controversies and legal cases surrounding the slave ship Amistad in 1839-1841. He freed himself and the other Africans in the hold of the Amistad, initiated the revolt that captured the ship, and led the ships’ voyage from waters near Cuba to the United States. After being captured off the coast of Long Island, while imprisoned in Connecticut as the Africans’ status was debated by the U.S. Supreme Court, Cinque learned to speak and write English. (That they spoke Mende was discovered by a linguistics professor at Yale, who then found translators—two escaped slaves who spoke both languages).

After winning their freedom, Cinque and some others embarked on a lecture tour to New York and Philadelphia in May 1841 to raise funds for their return home. Their enthusiastic reception by the abolitionist movement made for a busy schedule.  Among the stops, Cinque visited the Lombard Street School for black children in Philadelphia. 

This autograph, signed at the Lombard school on May 27, 1841, is one of only two or three known original signatures of Cinque.

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