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George Washington’s First Thanksgiving Proclamation as President

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Newspaper. Massachusetts Centinel. Boston, Mass. Benjamin Russell, October 14, 1789. 4 pp. (33-36), 9½ x 14¾ in. Disbound, trimmed a little close at top.

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On September 28, 1789, just before the closing of the First Federal Congress, the Senate added its assent to a House resolution requesting that George Washington be asked to call for a day of public thanksgiving and prayer. Later that day, Congress ratified the Bill of Rights to be sent to the states for their ratification, and on the next day the first session of the first Federal Congress was adjourned. On October 3, George Washington issued America’s first presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation and the Centinel reported the news 11 days later, only seven days after the New York newspaper Gazette of the United States, essentially an arm of Washington’s Federalist Party, printed the proclamation.

Item #23459, $11,500

Duel Challenge

CYRENUS FRENCH, Autograph Letter Signed. Grafton, 2 January 1790, to Col. Luke Drury, challenge to a duel for reconciliation of a disagreement between the two. Having been “denyed the Priviledge of Mutual conversation with you,” (and if they can not talk it over at a publick or private house), then “I am ready to meet you upon a Level – & axcept of any Equal Chance for satisfaction that you may propose – for I had rather finish a Quarrel than Live in Continuation…” Small hole in center from wax seal, causing loss of 5 letters.

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Item #20639.27, $300

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

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, $8,500

Jefferson-Signed Act of Congress Enabling Revolutionary War Veterans to Settle the West

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Printed Document Signed as Secretary of State, An Act to enable the Officers and Soldiers of the Virginia line on Continental Establishment, to obtain Titles to certain Lands lying north west of the river Ohio, between the Little Miami and Sciota, August 10, 1790. [New York, N.Y.: Francis Childs and John Swaine]. 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.

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Secretary of State Jefferson signs an act enabling Virginia to issue Northwest Territory land grants promised to veterans for their Revolutionary War service. Jefferson had already played a critical role in the creation of a national domain and the opening of the American West by orchestrating Virginia’s cession of the Northwest Territory to the United States. This act repeals a controversial 1788 Confederation Congress Act that invalidated the state’s right to lay out military bounty lands within a section of the Northwest Territory.

Item #23981, $17,500

Thomas Jefferson Signed Act of Congress Authorizing Alexander Hamilton to Complete the Famous Portland Maine Lighthouse

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Printed Document Signed as Secretary of State, An Act authorizing the Secretary of the Treasury to finish the Light-House, on Portland-Head, in the District of Maine. August 10, 1790, [New York, N.Y.: Francis Childs and John Swaine]. 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. 1p. 9¾ x 15¼ in. Evans #22955.

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Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson signs an act of the First Congress authorizing Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton to complete construction of a lighthouse in Maine’s Portland Harbor. The $1,500 in funds allocated for the work, one of the earliest federal construction projects, was to be appropriated from duties paid on imports and tonnage.

The “Portland Head Light” is the oldest lighthouse in Maine and the first to be constructed under the jurisdiction of the U.S. government. It has been memorialized in countless photographs and paintings, most notably a series of 1920s watercolors by Edward Hopper. It is now a museum, owned and operated by the town of Cape Elizabeth. It is considered to be the most photographed lighthouse in the United States.

Item #23980, $22,500

George Washington to the Jewish Masons
of Newport, Rhode Island

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Newspaper. Gazette of the United States. September 11, 1790. New York, John Fenno. 4pp. The letter of the Masons to Washington, and Washington’s letter of August 18, 1790[1] in response, printed in full on page 4. This issue also includes a piece on the “Character of Dr. Franklin.” (p. 2, col. 1).

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“Being persuaded that a just application of the principles, on which the masonic fraternity is founded, must be promotive of private virtue and public prosperity, I shall always be happy to advance the interests of the Society, and to be considered by them a deserving Brother.”

Item #30022.06, $2,500

A Unique Manuscript Map of Block Island Sound Including Fisher’s and Gardiner’s Islands, the Hamptons, and Montauk Point

[BLOCK ISLAND SOUND], Manuscript Map. “Draft of the Sound.” Parts of Long Island, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Circa 1798-1802. 1 p., 13½ x 13 in. With George Washington signed document described below.

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Based on Osgood Carleton’s 1798 Chart from New York to Timber Island including Nantucket shoals, our map adds local nautical knowledge that would have been critical to the safety of lives and cargoes at the time. Noting uncharted shipwrecks off Fisher’s Island, three unmarked reefs, and two small islands on the course from Newport, Rhode Island, to New London, Connecticut, our map is a purposeful and unique document rather than a simple contemporary copy, which would still be rare.

Item #23759.01-.02, $98,000

1790 Massachusetts Newspaper Discussing Nantucket Whalers

[NANTUCKET], Newspaper, The Columbian Centinel. Boston: Benjamin Russell, December 15, 1790. 4 pp.

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Item #30000.007, $450

A Front Page Printing of Washington’s
Second State-of-the-Union Address

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Newspaper. Columbian Centinel, Boston, Mass., December 22, 1790. 4 pp., disbound.

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Item #30001.22, $1,450

Harvard’s 1791 Graduating Students and Theses, Dedicated to Governor John Hancock and Lieutenant Governor Samuel Adams

HARVARD COLLEGE, Broadside. List of Graduating Students and Theses for Disputation. Boston, Massachusetts: Samuel Hall, 1791. 1 p., 18 x 22 in.

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Interesting broadside in Latin issued for Harvard University’s 1791 commencement lists Latinized names of 27 graduating students. Among the graduates are New Hampshire Justice John Harris (1769-1845); U.S. Representative Thomas Rice (1768-1854); and Henry Dana Ward (1768-1817), youngest son of General Artemas Ward (1727-1800), who initially commanded the patriot army around Boston in 1775.

Item #24462, $1,500

Opposing the African Slave Trade - 1790 New Haven Sermon

JAMES DANA, Pamphlet. The African Slave Trade. A Discourse Delivered in the City of New-Haven, September 9, 1790, before The Connecticut Society for The Promotion of Freedom. Half-title: Doctor Dana’s Sermon on the African Slave Trade. New Haven: Thomas and Samuel Green, 1791. Evans 23308. 33 pp., 4¾ x 8¼ in.

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Our late warfare was expressly founded on such principles as these: ‘All men are created equal: They are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’.... Those who profess to understand and regard the principles of liberty should cheerfully unite to abolish slavery....

In 1784, Connecticut passed a law that all slaves born after March 1, 1784, were to be freed before or when they reached the age of 25. In 1790, a group of clergymen, lawyers, and academics formed the Connecticut Society for the Promotion of Freedom and for the Relief of Persons Unlawfully Holden in Bondage to support the law. Yale University president and Congregationalist minister Ezra Stiles, formerly a slave owner, served as the society’s first president. Here, Rev. Doctor James Dana reviews the history and extent of slavery in the world. Calling it unjust, unchristian, and against the principles of the American Revolution, he urges abolition. Dana’s sermon, and those preached at the Society by Jonathan Edwards Jr., Theodore Dwight, and others, were among the most popular anti-slavery literature from the period. However, the Connecticut Society lapsed and disappeared after the turn of the century.

Item #24464, $2,400

To Alexander Hamilton About Settlement of Land Disputes, Docketed by Eliza

[ALEXANDER HAMILTON], Manuscript note, n.p., n.d. [but ca. 1791], "Communication" sent to Alexander Hamilton, praising attorney Egbert Benson, who was instrumental in negotiating the land claim which New York had made to Vermont. Settling the land dispute was a congressionally mandated prerequisite for Vermont joining the Union as a state of its own, rather than being divided between New York and New Hampshire. Docketed by Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton.

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Item #24620, $2,400

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

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 #23804, $19,000

Timothy Pickering on His Successful Negotiation of 1791 Treaty with the Five Nations, Unrealistically Hoping for Peace with other Western Native Americans

TIMOTHY PICKERING, Autograph Letter Signed, likely to Samuel Hodgdon. August 25, 1791. Philadelphia, PA. 2 pp. 8 x 9¼ in.

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from them no danger is to be apprehended: they are firmly resolved on peace…. I hope and trust the western campaign will succeed without bloodshed. Scott’s expedition was extremely fortunate; and must when combined with the consideration of the power of the main army, impel the hostile Indians if not to make, yet to accept of offers of peace...

Item #24376, $2,500

The Bill of Rights – and Ratification

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

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This issue contains twelve proposed Constitutional amendments that Congress sent to the states for ratification. Following Virginia’s vote in December 1791, the required number of states had passed ten of the twelve amendments. On March 1, 1792, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson sent a circular to the governors of the states including the articles that had been ratified, which became the Bill of Rights, as well as the two proposed amendments that had not been ratified. The fate of the remaining two amendments was still in question, as the action of the Massachusetts legislature in 1790 had not been transmitted to Jefferson.

Item #25046, $6,500

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

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

Genêt Offers a Rather Inadequate Explanation of the Citizen Genêt Affair

EDMOND-CHARLES GENÊT, Autograph Letter Signed in French, to Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, July 9, 1793, Philadelphia. 2 pp., 8 x 13¼ in.

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Item #24762, $3,500

George Washington & Thomas Jefferson Signed Patent for Brick Making Machine

GEORGE WASHINGTON, THOMAS JEFFERSON, EDMUND RANDOLPH, Washington as President, Jefferson as Secretary of State, Randolph as Attorney General. Partially Printed Document Signed, August 17, 1793. Patent for a Brickmaking Machine, to Samuel Brouwer. With inventor’s description, and large drawing signed by J. Mackay, Delineator.

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The federal government issued this patent to Samuel Brouwer of New York City in 1793 for his invention of a brick-making machine. It is signed by George Washington as President, Thomas Jefferson as Secretary of State, and Edmund Randolph as Attorney General.

Only 19 patents signed by George Washington are currently known to survive, of which only 7 are also signed by Thomas Jefferson as Secretary of State. Brouwer’s is:

- the only known patent signed by Washington and Jefferson with its original drawing;

- one of only two patents signed by Washington and Jefferson known in private hands;

- one of only ten patents issued by Washington and Jefferson under the 1793 second patent act which was heavily influenced by Jefferson and one of only two known to survive;

- the only known surviving GW-TJ signed patent for a New York inventor.

Samuel Brouwer, the inventor, was born in New York in 1762. He married Sarah Martin in 1794, and they had at least six children. Various sources list him as a carpenter, a drum-maker (barrels, not musical instruments), and a composition and fanlight (decorative windows over doors) maker, but add few details of his life.[1]

The illustrator of the brick-making machine, “J. Mackay,” is very likely John MacKay, included in New York City directories from 1790 to 1812. He is sometimes listed as a glazier as well as a painter.

The National Gallery of Art holds a 1791 portrait by Mackay of Catherine Brower. Four other portraits, Hannah Bush and John Bush, also from 1791, and John Mix and Ruth Stanley Mix, from 1788, depict prominent New York City residents.

Item #24982, $285,000
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