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Declaration of Independence
Declaration of Independence

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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

Jefferson-Signed Patent Act of 1793

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Printed Document Signed as Secretary of State, An act to promote the progress of useful arts, and to repeal the act heretofore made for that purpose, February 21, 1793. Signed in type by George Washington as President, Jonathan Trumbull as Speaker of the House of Representatives, and John Adams as Vice President and President of the Senate. [Philadelphia: Francis Childs and John Swaine?, 1793], 4 pp. Evans 26309

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Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson signs the second U.S. Patent Act, which played a signal role in the commercial development of the United States. A key difference between this act and the one it replaced was that, in addition to new inventions, patents could be issued for improvements to existing products. The measure helped foster American innovation, successfully ushering the nation into the Industrial Revolution. We locate no other signed copies of this milestone act.

Item #22424.99, $115,000

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

John Hancock Writes His Brother with Seasons Greetings, Inquiring of Family News, and Asking About the Family Slaves

JOHN HANCOCK, Autograph Letter Signed, to Ebenezer Hancock. London, England December 27, 1760. 8½ x 7 in., with remnants of a black wax seal.

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Writing from London while attending his uncle’s business, a young John Hancock asks about his uncle and aunts, congratulates his sister’s marriage, talks about his own ill health and recovery, and inquires about the house slaves at the Hancock Mansion.

Item #23234, $29,000

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

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

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, $25,000

Declaration of Independence Signer Samuel Huntington’s Copy of an Act of Congress Signed by Thomas Jefferson

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Printed Document Signed as Secretary of State. “An Act to alter the Times and Places of holding the Circuit Courts in the Eastern District, and in North-Carolina,...” Philadelphia, Pa., March 2, 1793. 2 pp., 9¾ x 15 in. Signed in Type by George Washington as President. Lengthy docket by Samuel Huntington.

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This act establishes the exact places and dates for the spring Circuit Courts to meet for the eastern districts of New-York, Connecticut, Vermont, New-Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. This copy of the act, duly signed by Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson a day before the official date of the end of the Second Congress, was sent to Governor Samuel Huntington of Connecticut because the act specified that the spring circuit court “shall henceforth be held … for the district of Connecticut, at New-Haven on the twenty-fifth day of April…”

Item #23042.99, $25,000

Jefferson-Signed Act Allowing Maryland
to Collect Customs Duties

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Printed Document Signed as Secretary of State, An Act Declaring the Consent of Congress to a Certain Act of the State of Maryland, February 9, 1791. Signed in print 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. [Philadelphia: Printed by Francis Childs and John Swaine, 1791], 1 p., 10 x 14 ¾ in. Evans #23851.

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Unless granted permission by Congress, the Constitution forbade States from collecting duties on imports, exports, or vessel tonnage. This was consistent with Hamilton’s plan to fund the federal government. However, Congress regularly granted permission for individual states to levy imposts or duties to be used for the improvement of their harbors and waterways. These permissions were regularly renewed, sometimes for decades. Here, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson certifies a copy of the Congressional Act that was constitutionally required for individual states to levy tonnage duties.

Item #22686, $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

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

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

John Quincy Adams Proclaims an Unbroken Union Free of Slavery to be the Legacy of the Declaration of Independence

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, An Oration Delivered Before the Inhabitants of the Town of Newburyport, at Their Request, on the Sixty-First Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, July 4th, 1837. Newburyport: Newburyport Herald Office by Morss and Brewster, 1837. Printed pamphlet, 68 pp., 12° (5.5 x 9.25 in.) First Edition, very fine, presentation copy, bound in later quarter leather but with the original blue wrappers, inscribed by the author to William Ellery Channing on the front wrapper: “Revd William E. Channing D.D from John Quincy Adams.”

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The inconsistency of the institution of domestic slavery with the principles of the Declaration of Independence, was seen and lamented by all the southern patriots of the Revolution; by no one with deeper and more unalterable conviction, than by the author of the Declaration himself.

Item #24283, $5,000

Robert Morris Signed Note - Used as Evidence in His Bankruptcy Trial

ROBERT MORRIS, Autograph Document Signed. Philadelphia, July 17, 1795. 2 pp. 6 ½ x 4”.

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Two documents related to the business failures of Robert Morris and John Nicholson. The first is a partly printed promissory note signed and engrossed by Nicholson to Morris, and endorsed by Morris, later used as evidence in Morris’s bankruptcy trial. The note states, “Three years after date Promise to pay Robert Morris Esqr or order Eight Thousand – Dollars for Value Received.” The second document is Peter Lohra’s protest of Nicholson’s bad promissory note. The document has an embossed seal in the lower left corner and is tipped to a larger sheet. On the document’s verso is a note reading “Exhibited to us under the commission against Robert Morris, Philadelphia, 19th September 1801,” and signed by Joseph Hopkinson and Thomas Cumpston, commissioners appointed to oversee the proceedings after Morris had languished in prison for three years.

Item #21609, $3,500

Early Self-Censored British Printing of the Declaration of Independence

[DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE], Pamphlet. Gentleman's Magazine. London, England, August 1776. Lacking a plate. octavo. Disbound; minimal wear, some pages loose but intact.

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“A ____, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a T____, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people”

(words determined offensive to the monarchy removed)
 
British citizens had the opportunity to read in its entirety the most compelling sentence ever written but in other places, they had to fill in the blanks.

Item #24128, $3,400

Connecticut Governor Samuel Huntington Discusses a Survey of Connecticut’s Claims to the Ohio Valley with Roger Sherman’s Son Isaac

SAMUEL HUNTINGTON, Autograph Letter Signed as Governor, to Isaac Sherman. Norwich, Conn., March 28, 1787. 1 p., 7¼ x 11¾ in.

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Connecticut’s original land grant from 1662 ran theoretically ran coast to coast. Though the state gave up claims to Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Valley after the Revolution, in 1796, the Connecticut Land Company surveyed a tract south of Lake Erie and established Cleveland, Ohio. Connecticut finally relinquished its western lands in 1800—the last state to do so.

Item #23470, $3,250

Documenting Declaration of Independence Signer
Robert Morris’s Financial Troubles

ROBERT MORRIS, Partially-Printed Document Signed. Promissory Note. Philadelphia, Pa., May 12, 1795. 1 p., 4 x 6¾ in. Endorsed on verso by Morris. Ink burn through the “R” and “b” in “Robt.” Left edge irregularly cut.

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Item #23148.01, $2,950

Declaration of Independence Signer
Robert Morris Signs a Promissory Note

ROBERT MORRIS, Partially Printed Document Signed, Promissory Note, John Nicholson to John Greenleaf. Philadelphia, Pa., August 1, 1795.

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Morris signs a note involving his two partners in the doomed North American Land Company. Here, he orders John Nicholson to pay James Greenleaf $5,000 four years hence, in a move that no doubt contributed to Morris’s bankruptcy and imprisonment in 1798.

Item #23013.01, $2,850

Robert Morris Promissory Note,
Used As Evidence In His Bankruptcy Trial

ROBERT MORRIS, Autograph Document Signed, December 12, 1794. 1 p., 7⅛ x 3¾ in.

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Financier of the Revolution forced into bankruptcy court: “Sixty days after date, I promise to pay unto Mr. Mathias Kurlin Junr or Order Thirteen Hundred & forty six Dolls & Sixty Seven Cents for value recd.”

Item #20892, $2,800

The Declaration of Independence - Early British Printing of the “substance” Sanitized to Be Less Offensive to “a great person” (the King)

[DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE], Pamphlet. The London Magazine, Or, Genteman’s Monthly Intelligencer, for August, 1776. London, printed for R. Baldwin. [September, 1776]. Octavo, disbound, without wrappers. Trimmed close on title page, but text entirely intact. Clean & crisp. One old paper repair above the text on final page. With 2 plates showing British antiquities. The last page (448) contains an early British excerpt of the Declaration of Independence taken from the London Gazette. Also of war preparations by General Howe.

Articles include “A Portrait of the present Mode of Female Education,” “Parliamentary History,” “Anecdote of Henry IV of France,” “Reflections on the married State, by a Lady,” “Cautions to young Ladies,” “Happy Effects of Temperance,” “Observations on Soame Jenyn’s View of the internal Evidence of the Christian Religion,” “On Circumspection in licensing public houses” [ie, bars], and more.

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“The Congress next recite a number of proceedings detrimental to the colonies, most of which have been already mentioned, at different times, from the resolutions of their several assemblies, with this difference, that they now attribute the oppressions to a great person, instead of the ministry and parliament, as at their former meetings.”

Item #24366, $2,750
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