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The American Museum Magazine Considers Race and Slavery, Bound Together with Congressional Proceedings
on the Bill of Rights

MATHEW CAREY, Magazine. The American Museum, or Repository of Ancient and Modern Fugitive Pieces, &c. Volume VI, July to December, 1789. 492 pp., plus 46 pp. bound in, Proceedings of Congress, from the First Session of the First Congress, including the process of amending the U.S. Constitution by adding a Bill of Rights. With ownership signature of Connecticut Revolutionary War General Jedediah Huntington on free front endpaper. Dedicated in type to George Washington. Bound in contemporary calf, binding worn, small library label on spine, some staining on title page, several pages trimmed near end, with minor loss of text, primitive drawings of soldiers on back endpaper.

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Item #22660, $2,400

Jefferson’s Religious Stance against Slavery

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

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

Contains an extract from Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia.

Item #30027.30, $4,250

Declaration Signer Robert Treat Paine Prosecutes Theft in Boston

ROBERT TREAT PAINE, Autograph Document Signed, Boston, September 7, 1789. 1 p., 6 x 7 in.

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“since the dismission of the Grand Jury… James Ferrel resident at said Boston Mariner… with force and arms feloniously did break up and enter a certain vessel viz a ship called the Elizabeth in the Possession and under the Care of Francis Wenham Master of the same and one Sattin figured Wastcoat of the value of three pounds…”

Item #24332.02, $1,250

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

59 Western Pennsylvania Settlers Petition the Governor to Supplement Frontier Defense

[PENNSYLVANIA], “To his Excellency Thomas Mifflin Governor of the State of Pennsylvania. The petition of a Number of the Inhabitants on the Fronteers of Westmoreland County Humbly Sheweth…” Folio manuscript broadside, docketed on verso, entirely handwritten in ink, signed by 58 petitioners (mostly individually, though it appears that a few small groups may have one signer writing his own name and then that of a couple additional people who perhaps could not sign on their own), seeking the commission of three officers, Archibald McGuire, George Shrum and Matthew Dill, of an additional company for the protection of the Westmoreland County frontier. Ca. 1790-91.

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This petition, signed by 58 Scotch-Irish settlers of the western frontier of Pennsylvania, must have been appreciated by Governor Mifflin, as it showed the settlers’ lack of confidence in the ability of the federal government to protect the frontier. Following the defeat of Harmar’s expedition in 1790, President Washington appointed Arthur St. Clair, Mifflin’s political rival and immediate predecessor, to build a string of forts along the western frontier. According to the petitioners, the positioning of these forts left much to be desired.

Item #25609, $5,500

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

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

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

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

The Prospectus of the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures

[ALEXANDER HAMILTON], Newspaper. Gazette of the United States, September 10, 1791. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: John Fenno. 4 pp., 10 x 16 in. The prospectus is printed on the front page in three columns.

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Contrasting with the agrarian view of many Virginia founding fathers, New Yorker Alexander Hamilton saw an industrial future for the United States. After nearly two years of study and with the aid of Assistant Secretary Tench Coxe, Secretary of the Treasury Hamilton compiled his famed Report on Manufactures at the request of Congress. With the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures, Coxe and Hamilton advocate creating the nation’s first public-private partnership to develop the area around the Great Falls of the Passaic River, using the cataract for power.

Item #30014.06, $2,500

Thomas Jefferson signed Act of Congress approving four new Brigadier Generals to defend the frontier; the new Legion became America’s first standing army

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Printed Document Signed, as Secretary of State, “An Act supplemental to the act for making farther and more effectual provision for the protection of the frontiers of the United States,” Philadelphia, March 28, 1792. 1 p., 9½ x 15¼ in.

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it shall be lawful for the President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint such number of brigadier generals as may be conducive to the good of the public service. Provided the whole number appointed or to be appointed, shall not exceed four.

Congress passed this bill after General Arthur St. Clair’s disastrous defeat at the Wabash River.

Item #24811, $18,000

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

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

Future Harvard President Writes Fellow Alumnus about Harvard and Preaching

[HARVARD UNIVERSITY]. JOHN T. KIRKLAND, Autograph Letter Signed, to Abiel Abbot, September 29, 1793, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 3 pp., 6 x 7¼ in.

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John T. Kirkland writes from Harvard College to fellow Harvard graduate Abiel Abbot, who is serving as a missionary and pastor in the remote District of Maine, then a part of Massachusetts. Although Kirkland thought Abbot would remain there, a year later, Abbot was at Harvard as a tutor, perhaps even replacing Kirkland, who became pastor of the New South Church in Boston.

Item #25141, $1,950
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