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George Washington’s Celebrated Trip from Mount Vernon to Inauguration in New York City

GEORGE WASHINGTON, First Inauguration. The Pennsylvania Packet, and Daily Advertiser, May 2, 1789. Newspaper. Philadelphia, Pa.: John Dunlap and David C. Claypoole. 4 pp., 11½ x 18¼ in.

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His reception was warm, and joy sparkled in every countenance: the crowd was amazing.

Item #30027.11, $850

The New U.S. Senate Considers Bill to Organize the Federal Judiciary: Full Text of the Senate Bill to Establish the Supreme Court, Federal Judicial Districts and Circuit Courts, as Well as the Position of Attorney General

JUDICIARY ACT, U.S. SENATE DRAFT, The Pennsylvania Packet, and Daily Advertiser. Newspaper, June 29, 1789 (No. 3248). Philadelphia: John Dunlap and David C. Claypoole. 4 pp., 11⅜ x 18¼ in.

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the supreme court of the United States shall consist of a chief justice and five associate justices...and shall hold annually at the seat of the federal government two sessions....

The U.S. Constitution provided that the “judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and such inferior Courts,” leaving to Congress to establish the details. The Judiciary Act erected a three-tiered federal court system—the Supreme Court, the Courts of Appeals, and the District Courts—essentially the system in place today. The foremost issue was the relative power and authority to be respectively accorded the federal and state courts. The Judiciary Act’s most controversial provision empowered the Supreme Court to hear, at its discretion, appeals of verdicts reached in the state courts whenever those decisions were deemed to raise questions of constitutionality of state or federal laws. 

Item #24830, $1,650

Bill of Rights: First House of Representatives Draft, Rare July 31, 1789 Newspaper Printing

[BILL OF RIGHTS], The Pennsylvania Packet, and Daily Advertiser, July 31, 1789 (No. 3276). Philadelphia: John Dunlap and David C. Claypoole. 4 pp., 11 x 18¼ in.

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On June 8, 1789, Congressman James Madison introduced his summary of proposed amendments to the Constitution. On July 21, John Vining of Delaware was appointed to chair a Committee of 11, with one member representing each state, as Rhode Island and North Carolina had yet to ratify the Constitution, to consider the subject.  This is the Report of Mr. Vining and the Committee “to whom it was referred to take the subject of Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, generally into their consideration...,” in essence the first Congressional draft of the Bill of Rights. The twenty words this report proposed to be added before the introductory phrase “We the people,” were not accepted by Congress. Revisions were made by both the House and the Senate, but within two months, this draft was edited down to twelve proposed amendments that Congress submitted to the states for ratification.

Item #26013, ON HOLD

Debating the Bill of Rights Amendments in 1789

[BILL OF RIGHTS], The Pennsylvania Packet, and Daily Advertiser. Newspaper, August 22, 1789 (No. 3295). Philadelphia: John Dunlap and David C. Claypoole. 4 pp., 11⅜ x 18¼ in.

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Mr. [Egbert] Benson [of New York] moved that the words ‘but no person religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to bear arms,’ be struck out. He wished that this humane provision should be left to the wisdom and benevolence of government. It was improper to make it a fundamental in the constitution.”

This issue of the Pennsylvania Packet includes key debates in the House of Representatives on the developing set of amendments that were later ratified as the Bill of Rights. It also prints the Act establishing the War Department.

Item #24831, ON HOLD

Jefferson’s Religious Stance Against Slavery

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

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

Also with the story of a captured African Prince’s bow and quiver being used by his master’s wife to defend her home from the British, is related with news of the bow being presented to Charles Willson Peale’s Museum.

Item #30027.30, $3,500

September 1789 Printing of the Act Establishing the Treasury Department, Along With Important Congressional Debates on Organizing the Federal Judiciary

TREASURY DEPARTMENT; JUDICIARY, The Pennsylvania Packet, and Daily Advertiser, September 21, 1789 (No. 3320). Philadelphia: John Dunlap and David C. Claypoole. 4 pp., approx. 11½ x 18½ in.

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This issue of the Pennsylvania Packet includes key debates in the House of Representatives on the bill establishing the federal judiciary, as well as the text of the act establishing the Treasury Department and dramatic news of the French Revolution.

Item #24832, $1,750

Rare Broadside of Dying Confession of Rachel Wall, First American Woman Pirate

[PIRACY, CAPITAL PUNISHMENT], Printed Document, Broadside, “Life, Last Words and Dying Confession of Rachel Wall,” October 7, 1789, Boston. 1 p., 13½ x 18 in.

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This printed broadside features a woodcut illustration of the execution on Boston Common and the text of the dying confession of Rachel Wall, the first American-born woman to become a pirate and the last woman executed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Wall and two others were publicly hanged on October 8, 1789, for the crime of highway robbery. The execution order was signed by Massachusetts Governor John Hancock (1736-1793), who thirteen years earlier as president of the Second Continental Congress had boldly signed the Declaration of Independence.

By early November 1789, “The Lives and Confessions of Rachel Wall, William Smith, and William Denoffe” were for sale throughout New England. One advertisement noted, “Neither of the above had arrived to the age of 30 years, but have been old offenders—the woman in particular. The above are not unworthy the perusal of any person—and if attended to by our rising youth, will doubtless tend to preserve their morals.”[1] Later that month, Boston printer Elijah Russell published The Prisoners Magazine, Or Malefactors Bloody Register, which contained perhaps a different version of “the life and confession of Rachel Wall, William Dunogan and William Smith.”[2]



[1]New-Hampshire Recorder and the Weekly Advertiser (Keene), November 5, 1789, 3:3.

[2]The Herald of Freedom, and the Federal Advertiser (Boston, MA), November 27, 1789, 4:1.

Item #26299, $8,500

Benjamin Franklin Calls For Abolition of Slavery, Washington Addresses the Dutch Reformed Church on Religious Freedom, Thanksgiving Thoughts, Hamilton’s Plans, and More

[BENJAMIN FRANKLIN], Newspaper. Gazette of the United States. November 25, 1789, New York, N.Y., 4 pp., (pp. 257-60), 10 x 16 in.

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Also offered as part of the Alexander Hamilton Collection: The Story of the Revolution & Founding.

This important newspaper includes an October 9, 1789 letter to George Washington, with his Address responding To the Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church in North America discussing his gratitude for their support, thanks for the nation weathering the revolution and peacefully establishing constitutional government, and ensuring religious freedom. (p. 1, col. 3).

As well as a printing of Benjamin Franklin’s “Address to the Public from the Pennsylvania Society for promoting the Abolition of Slavery and the Relief of free Negroes unlawfully held in bondage.”

Item #23116, $8,500

U.S. Constitution – Contemporary List of States with Ratification Dates and Votes

[CONSTITUTION], Manuscript Document, ca. July 1788-1790. List of the first thirteen states and dates of ratification with votes. 1 p., 4 x 7 in.

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Item #24876, $3,500

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

John Adams Elevates the “Independent Executive” – With Exclusive Access to State Secrets – Over Public Opinion

JOHN ADAMS, Autograph Letter Signed as Vice President, to Dr. Benjamin Rush, February 1790, Richmond Hill, Mass. 3 pp., 7⅜ x 9 in.

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A revealing letter to fellow Declaration of Independence signer Benjamin Rush, arguing for a strong executive power in a discussion about the Constitution of Pennsylvania. “‘I love my friend as well as you / ‘But why should he obstruct my view?’ contains a Truth, which has laid the foundation for every Despotism and every Absolute Monarchy on Earth… Emulation almost the only Principle of Activity, (except Hunger and Lust) is the cause of all the wars Seditions and Parties in the world …

Item #21178.99, $100,000

General Edward Hand on Framing a New Constitution in Pennsylvania

EDWARD HAND, Autograph Letter Signed, to Jasper Yeates, February 4, 1790, Philadelphia, Pa. 2 pp., 6¾ x 8 in.

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Edward Hand apprises a Pennsylvania political ally of recent developments at the state convention for framing a new constitution. “Some time ago I forwarded you the plan of the Legislative Branch, & now send those for the Executive & Judicial, as agreed on by the Committee of the whole.

Item #20731.99, $3,000

George Washington’s Address to the Roman Catholics in America

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Newspaper. The Gazette of the United States, March 17, 1790. Pages 3-4 only (of 4 pages).

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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.

Item #30050.08, $2,800

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

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

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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, $9,500

Franklin on Revealed Religion, and South Carolina on Freedom of Religion

[BENJAMIN FRANKLIN], Newspaper. Gazette of the United States, July 10, 1790, New York, N.Y., 4 pp. (pp. 517-20), 10½ x 17 in.

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Item #30022.11, $750

George Washington to the Convention of the Universal Church

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Newspaper. Letter to the Convention of the Universal Church, August 9, 1790, in Gazette of the United States, August 11, 1790. New York, New York: John Fenno. 4 pp., 9½ x 14¾ in.

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It gives me the most sensible pleasure to find, that, in our nation, however different are the sentiments of citizens on religious doctrines, they generally concur in one thing: For their political professions and practices are almost universally friendly to the order and happiness of our civil institutions.

Item #30022.19, $2,500

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

Very Early 1790s Naturalization Certificate for Famous French Physician – One the First Persons to Become an American Citizen Under the First Naturalization Act

[IMMIGRATION], Manuscript Document Signed. Taunton, Bristol County, Massachusetts, Court of Common Pleas, begun and held September 14, 1790. Naturalization Certificate for Dr. Lewis Leprilete. A true copy, penned and signed by Samuel Fales, [between September 14, 1790 and March 19, 1795]. With certification on verso signed by notary public Samuel Cooper, Boston, March 19, 1795, and bearing Cooper’s official embossed paper wafer seal. 2 pp., 7⅝ x 12½ in.

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Dr. Lewis Leprilete was one of the few French persons admitted to United States citizenship under the provisions of the first Naturalization Act of 1790. He became the first to advertise cataract extraction in the United States, and the first American author to publicize Benjamin Franklin’s bifocals. Leprilete returned to France, and was forced to serve in the French army in Guadaloupe. He was able to come back to the United States in 1801.

Item #25787, $9,500

1790 Massachusetts Newspaper Discussing Nantucket Whalers

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

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Item #30051.015, $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
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