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President John Quincy Adams’ Remarks & Toast Commemorating William Penn’s Landing

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, Autograph Manuscript, Remarks and Toast to Penn Society, October 25, 1825, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 1 pp., 8 x 9¼ in.

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The Land of William Penn, and his ‘Great Town,’ the City of brotherly Love.”

In these brief remarks at Masonic Hall in Philadelphia in October 1825, President Adams proposed the above toast at the second annual meeting of the Penn Society and the 143rd anniversary of William Penn’s landing in America.

Item #27469, $6,800

George Washington Signed Military Commission, Preparing for a Decisive Victory Against Native Americans and the British in the Midwest

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Document Signed, Philadelphia, Pa., March 19, 1793, appointing William Winston as Captain of Light Dragoons. Co-signed by Henry Knox, Secretary of War, and John Stagg, Chief Clerk of the War Department. Imprint at bottom, “Drawn and Engrav’d by Thackara and Vallance, Philada.” With paper seal of the United States. 1 p., 16 x 20 in., on vellum. Framed with rag mats and UV-filtered plexiglass to 29 x 34¼ in.

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Two weeks after his second inauguration, President George Washington appoints William Winston as Captain of Light Dragoons. By the time Winston joined the army in the Northwest Territory, he had been promoted to command the entire cavalry of the new Legion of the United States. In that position, he fought at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, the decisive U.S. victory against the Native American confederation and their British allies in that area.

George Washington-signed military commissions are rare on the market, and we don’t recall ever seeing a more attractive example.

Item #20626.99, $55,000

President Washington Approves Establishment of Mint and Issues First Veto

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Columbian Centinel, April 21, 1792. Boston, MA. 4 pp, 10.5 x 16.75 in.

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This newspaper includes the full text of “An Act establishing a Mint and regulating the Coins of the United States” of April 2, 1792, signed in print by Speaker of the House Jonathan Trumbull, Vice President John Adams, President George Washington, and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson. The bill established a mint, specified its officers, and reaffirmed the Congress of the Confederation’s adoption of decimal currency in 1785 (p1/c1-p2/c1). President Washington appointed David Rittenhouse of Pennsylvania as the first director of the mint on April 13, 1792.

It also includes President George Washington’s first veto message, in which he vetoed “An Act for an Apportionment of Representatives among the Several States, according to the First Enumeration” on April 5, 1792 (p3/c1). The bill introduced a new plan for dividing seats in the House of Representatives that would have increased the number of seats held by northern states. After consulting with his divided cabinet, Washington decided that the plan was unconstitutional because the Constitution provided “that the number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every 30,000; which restriction is, by the context, and by fair and obvious construction, to be applied to the separate and respective numbers of the States; and the bill has allotted to eight of the States more than one for 30,000” (p3/c1). Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson had suggested that apportionment be derived from arithmetical calculations.

When Washington’s veto arrived, Congress considered overriding the veto by a two-thirds vote, but only 28 representatives still favored the bill, while 33 opposed it (p3/c1). Ultimately, they threw out the bill and passed a new one that apportioned representatives at “the ratio of one for every thirty-three thousand persons in the respective States.”

Item #26258.01, $3,250

John Quincy Adams Campaign Song Handbill, to the Tune of Yankee Doodle

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, Printed Document, “John Quincy Adams,” Songsheet. Providence, RI: [Henry Trumbull], ca. 1828. 1 p., 8 x 10 in.

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“John Quincy Adams is the man,/ Round whom the people flock, Sir, / And none the worse for Uncle Sam, / Because of Yankee stock, Sir.”

This songsheet provides the lyrics for “John Quincy Adams” to be sung to the tune Yankee Doodle. It compares incumbent “commander” John Quincy Adams to challenger Andrew Jackson, who “shoots a score or two, When e’er he wants a frolic,” a reference to Jackson’s controversial decision to execute deserters among his militia forces. The lyrics seem to have first appeared in print in the Newburyport Herald on July 11, 1828, under the title “’Tother Yankee Doodle” and with the preface, “The following song, composed for the late celebration at Portsmouth, contains the yankee properties of broad humour and truth.” The song later appeared in several newspapers in New England and as far away as Frankfort, Kentucky, and New Orleans, Louisiana.[1]

Supporters of JQA’s administration held a celebration of the Fourth of July at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. William Plumer Jr. gave the primary oration, and in the afternoon, a large number dined in Jefferson Hall, drinking toasts to the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence Charles Carroll of Carrollton, President John Quincy Adams, the memory of George Washington, Henry Clay, and many others.[2]

Item #27393.02, $4,000

Justice William Paterson Hold State Law Unconstitutional in Charge to Jury

WILLIAM PATERSON, The Charge of Judge Paterson to the Jury in the Case of Vanhorne’s Lessee against Dorrance: Tried at a Circuit Court for the United States held at Philadelphia, April Term 1795: Wherein the Controverted Title to the Wyoming Lands, Between the Claimants under Pennsylvania and Connecticut, Received a Decision. Philadelphia: Samuel H. Smith, 1796. 42 pp., 3.5 x 5.75 in.

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The case of Van Horne’s Lessee v. Dorrance (1795) was one of the earliest cases in which a federal court asserted the right to disregard a state law that conflicted with the state constitution. Justice William Paterson insisted that a Pennsylvania law that divested one person of property and vested it in another was inconsistent with the “inherent and unalienable rights of man” and a violation of the sanctity of contracts as guaranteed by both the Pennsylvania constitution and the Constitution of the United States.

Item #26251.10, $3,500

The Second Naturalization Act - Establishing Laws for Citizenship

EDMUND RANDOLPH, Document Signed as Secretary of State. An act to establish an uniform rule of naturalization; and to repeal the act heretofore passed. January 29, 1795. Philadelphia: Francis Childs. Signed in type by George Washington as President, John Adams as Vice President, and Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg as Speaker of the House of Representatives. 2 pp., 8¼ x 13½ in.

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

The Constitution gave Congress the right to determine the process by which foreign-born residents could obtain citizenship, and a 1790 Act of the First Congress laid out the process. This 1795 revision required all persons who wished to become naturalized citizens to go to a court to declare their intention at least three years prior to formal application. They would have to take an oath of allegiance, be a person of good moral character, agree to support the Constitution, and renounce any former sovereign and hereditary titles.

any alien, being a free white person, may be admitted to become a citizen of the United States, or any of them, on the following conditions, and not otherwise....

By limiting naturalization to “free white” persons, the early acts effectively prevented any people of color or indentured servants from gaining citizenship. Over the next century and a half, these restrictions were at first reinforced (for instance in the notorious Naturalization Act of 1798, part of the Alien and Sedition Acts, which extended the required residency period to fourteen years), but then eventually eliminated by subsequent revisions.

Item #24428.26, $7,500

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

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

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

Item #23392, $2,500

President Adams Writes to His Son Thomas While Anxiously Awaiting News from Europe as America Prepares for War with France

JOHN ADAMS, Autograph Letter Signed as President, to son, Thomas Boylston Adams. Philadelphia, [Pa.], March 1, 1798. 2 ½ pp. on a bifolium (watermarked Curteis & Sons), 8 x 9¾ in.

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At the height of the Quasi-War with France, John Adams writes to his son, Thomas, then accompanying Adams’s eldest son, John Quincy, who had just been commissioned Minister to Prussia, a neutral power in the ongoing war between France and Britain. He encourages brevity in his correspondence, given the tense nature of European diplomacy and the seeming imminence of war between France and the United States. “We are all in suspense … without news from Europe. We learn that General Buonaparte has been at Paris and is gone to the Congress. But we know no more …”

Item #27562, $35,000

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

George Washington’s “Justice and Public Good” Letter, Written Just Before Becoming the First President of the United States

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Autograph Letter Signed, to Frederick Phile, March 15, 1789, Mount Vernon, Virginia. Washington’s retained copy, written on blank leaf of Phile’s letter to him as evidenced by partial address on verso: “[George] Washington / [Moun]t Vernon.” 1 p., 8 x 6¼ in.

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“I will go into Office totally free from pre-engagements of every nature whatsoever, and in recommendations to appointments will make justice & the public good, my sole objects.”

The still unofficial President-elect George Washington writes in March 1789 about his determination to go into the presidency with no pre-existing commitments, ready to purely judge the“justice & the public good” of every appointment. He would extend that sentiment to every aspect of his presidency.

Washington referred to the standard of “justice & the public good” only a few times, and the present letter is the only example we know of that has ever reached the market.

Item #27734, $550,000

Early Printing of the Original Twelve Articles of the Bill of Rights

[BILL OF RIGHTS], Acts Passed at the First [-Third] Session of the Congress of the United States of America, Begun and Held at the City of New-York, on Wednesday the Fourth of March, in the Year M,DCC,LXXXIX. Philadelphia: Printed by Francis Childs and John Swaine, 1791. 3 volumes bound in one, 8vo (368 x 305 mm, uncut). Library stamp on B1 of the first session, repair to lower right corner of Yy4 in the third session. Modern quarter morocco over marbled boards.

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Early reprint of Childs and Swaine’s first official printing, which was issued in New York in 1789. This issue appeared in Philadelphia after the nation’s capital was moved there, and the printers had set up shop. All early printings are scarce, especially those of the first three sessions.

Item #26629.99, $20,000

“Black Sam” Fraunces as Steward of George Washington’s Presidential Household

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Samuel Fraunces. Manuscript Document Signed, with the text likely penned by presidential secretary Bartholomew Dandridge Jr., March 10, 1794, Philadelphia, PA. 1 p., 6 x 3¼ in.

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“10th March 1794 recd of Bw Dandridge one hundred & forty six dollars and thirty two cents to purchase sundries for the President’s Household.  146 32/100      Saml Fraunces”

Documents signed by Samuel Fraunces, the famous tavern keeper and steward of George Washington’s presidential households in New York and Philadelphia, are exceptionally rare. During the British occupation of New York, Fraunces had been captured and impressed into the service of British officers. While doing so, he was able to help feed American captives, and was credited with providing information to American troops and preventing an assassination plot against Washington. 

Item #27320, $25,000

Charles Thomson (One of Only Two Men to Sign the Declaration of Independence on July 4) Sends Treaty of Paris Proclamation Officially Ending the Revolutionary War

CHARLES THOMSON, Manuscript Letter Signed, to Georgia Governor John Houstoun, January 16, 1784, Annapolis, Maryland. 1 p., 6¼ x 7¾ in.

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Charles Thomson of Pennsylvania served as Secretary of the Continental and Confederation Congresses throughout their entire fifteen-year existence, from 1774 to 1789. In that position, he signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th. With a very small executive department, the role was much more than clerical; especially when Congress was not in session, he essentially acted as the prime minister of the pre-Constitutional United States.

This letter to the governor of Georgia transmitted printed copies of the Proclamation of the Treaty of Paris and Congressional Resolution (both no longer present), written by Thomas Jefferson, recommending that the states restore the confiscated property of all British subjects who had “not borne arms against the...United States” in a “spirit of conciliation.” The recipient, John Houstoun, had taken office as governor of Georgia one week earlier.

Item #27680, $37,500

Henry Clay ALS, Responding to St. Nicholas Society Speech, Takes a Jab at Martin Van Buren

HENRY CLAY, Autograph Letter Signed, to Gulian Crommelin Verplanck, December 30, 1837, Washington, DC. 1 p., 8¼ x 10¼ in.

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This letter is addressed to the president of the St. Nicholas Society of the City of New York, Gulian Crommelin Verplanck, and signed twice within the text as “H. Clay” and “H. C.” Clay thanks Verplanck for sending a copy of his recent speech to the Society’s annual meeting, praises it for its substance and cleverness, and wishes Verplanck could change places with President Martin Van Buren.

Item #27308, $950

George Washington’s Famous Letter to American Roman Catholics: A Message of Thankfulness, Patriotism, and Inclusiveness

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], “Letter to the Roman Catholics in America,” ca. March 15, 1790, New York. Printed on the first page of The Providence Gazette and Country Journal, April 10, 1790. Providence, Rhode Island: John Carter. 4 pp., 10⅛ x 15⅜ in.

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The prospect of national prosperity now before us is truly animating, and ought to excite the exertions of all good men to establish and secure the happiness of their country, in the permanent duration of its freedom and independence. America, under the smiles of a Divine Providence—the protection of a good government, and the cultivation of manners, morals and piety, cannot fail of attaining an uncommon degree of eminence, in literature, commerce, agriculture, improvements at home, and respectability abroad.

As mankind become more liberal, they will be more apt to allow, that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community, are equally entitled to the protection of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations in examples of justice and liberality.

Item #24985.99, $14,500

Hamilton Seeks Information from Pennsylvania Loan Officer for Report to Senate

ALEXANDER HAMILTON, Manuscript Letter Signed, to Thomas Smith, September 10, 1792, [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]. 1 p., 7¾ x 9⅛ in.

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With this circular letter, Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton requests financial information to respond to an order from the U.S. Senate. This copy went to Commissioner of Loans for Pennsylvania Thomas Smith. Hamilton submitted the report titled “List of Civil Officers of the United States, Except Judges, with Their Emoluments, for the Year Ending October 1, 1792” to the Senate on February 27, 1793.

Item #27441, 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 LS to Bank of New York Advising That Collectors Will No Longer Receive Its Notes

ALEXANDER HAMILTON, Manuscript Letter Signed, to President Gulian Verplanck and Directors of the Bank of New York, April 15, 1793, [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]. 1 p., 7¼ x 8⅞ in.

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Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton informs President Gulian Verplanck (1751-1799) and the directors of the Bank of New York, an institution he helped to found in 1784, that collectors of three New York and New Jersey ports would no longer receive their bank’s notes in exchange for specie. Those port collectors were John Lamb (1735-1800) of New York City; Henry Packer Dering (1763-1822) of Sag Harbor, on Long Island, New York; and John Halstead (1729-1813) of Perth Amboy, New Jersey.

Item #27438, $19,000

Hamilton LS on Declaration-Signer Philip Livingston's Estate, Ten Years After His Death

ALEXANDER HAMILTON, Autograph Letter Signed, to [William Livingston], December 15, 1788, New York, New York. 3 pp., 6¼ x 7¾ in. Together with an engraving of Hamilton, 6 x 8½ in.

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Item #27212, $11,000
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