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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

Senator Burr’s Not-So-Impartial Opinion on the 1792 NY Gubernatorial Election

AARON BURR, Pamphlet. An Impartial Statement of the Controversy, Respecting the Decision of the Late Committee of Canvassers. Containing, the Opinions of Edmund Randolph, Esq. Attorney General of the United States, and Several Other Eminent Law Characters. New York: Thomas Greenleaf, 1792. 46 pp. [2 blank] With the elegant ownership signature of “John McKesson, 1792,” Clerk of the 16th New York State Legislature (1792–1793).

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Item #23406, $2,800

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

Gov. Harry Lee Requests All Virginia Slave Condemnation Cases for Clemency Review

HENRY “LIGHT HORSE” HARRY LEE, Printed Document Signed as Governor of Virginia, Circular Letter Richmond, January 25, 1794. 1 p., 6 ½ x 8 in.

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“Light Horse” Harry Lee was a Revolutionary War hero, governor of Virginia, and father to famous Civil War General Robert E. Lee. Here, he requests that county clerks fill positions of “Escheator,” persons overseeing land reverting to the state if there are no heirs, and adds that he would like the clerks to inform him of any cases of a slave condemned for crimes where the “person be considered as an object of mercy or not…”

Item #25033, $3,900

Robert Morris - Declaration Signer and Financier of the Revolution - is Drowning in Debt and Calls for Help

ROBERT MORRIS, Autograph Letter Signed with Initials, to [John Nicholson], November 21, 1794. 1 p.

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Facing ruin, Robert Morris desperately pleads with his partner John Nicholson to cover a debt resulting from speculating in the North American Land Company. Morris, who previously used his own funds to finance the American Revolutionary War, would suffer the indignity of imprisonment for debt between 1798 and 1801.

Item #23987, $3,750

George Washington’s Second Thanksgiving Proclamation, Sent to American Consuls

EDMUND RANDOLPH, Printed Document Signed, as Secretary of State, this copy sent to Nathaniel Cutting, American Consul at Havre de Grace, France, December 31, 1794, 3 pp and blank on one integral leaf. Randolph’s circular on page one notes that he is attaching a reprint of Thomas Jefferson’s August 26, 1790 letter to our Consuls, and an extract of Jefferson’s May 31, 1792 letter calling attention to a part of the Act of Congress governing the security that consuls have to give to insure they can meet obligations they take on for the United States. He then attaches the full text of Washington’s Second Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation, which was publicly issued a day later, on January 1, 1795. 15½ x 12⅞ in.

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When we review the calamities which afflict so many other nations, the present condition of the United States affords much matter of consolation and satisfaction.

A day before it is publicly issued, Secretary of State Edmund Randolph Sends Washington’s Proclamation to all American Consuls, as “a better comment upon the general prosperity of our affairs than any which I can make.”  According to the President,“the present condition of the United States affords much matter of consolation and satisfaction. Out exemption hitherto from foreign war; and increasing prospect of the continuance of that exemption; the great degree of internal tranquility we have enjoyed…Deeply penetrated with this sentiment, I GEORGE WASHINGTON, President of the United States, do recommend to all Religious Societies and Denominations, and to all Persons whomsoever within the United States, to set apart and observe Thursday the nineteenth day of February next, as a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer… to beseech the Kind Author of these blessings…to impart all the blessings we possess, or ask for ourselves, to the whole family of mankind.

Item #24141, $19,000

George Washington Confirms
“treaty between the United States of America and the Oneida, Tuscorora and Stockbridge Indians…in the country of the Oneidas.”

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Newspaper. Childs’ Daily Advertiser Extraordinary. February 28, 1795. 2 pp.

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Prints the full text of the treaty between the United States and three Indiantribes, including the names of the sachems and war chiefs, from December 1794, confirmed by George Washington on January 21.

Item #21555.25, $700

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

President Washington Addresses Congress and Other Groups on Issues Ranging from Freedom of Religion to Democratic Governance

AMERICAN JUDAICA. GEORGE WASHINGTON, Book. A Collection of the Speeches of the President of the United States to Both Houses of Congress, At the Opening of Every Session, with Their Answers. Also, the Addresses to the President, with His Answers, From the Time of His Election: With An Appendix, Containing the Circular Letter of General Washington to the Governors of the Several States, and His Farewell Orders, to the Armies of America, and the Answer, FIRST EDITION. Boston: Manning and Loring, 1796. 8vo., 4¼ x 7 in. 282 pp. Foxed. Contemporary blind-tooled calf, scuffed, rebacked.

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This remarkable collection of speeches and letters by President George Washington is notable for including all of his annual messages to Congress (the forerunner of modern state-of-the-union addresses), including his first inaugural, and the response of Congress to each. It also includes letters from religious groups, state legislatures, municipal organizations, and a variety of other societies to the President and his response. Finally, it includes Washington’s letter of resignation as commander in chief of the armies of the United States and his farewell orders to the armies, both from late 1783.

Because it includes addresses from the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, and from the Hebrew Congregations of Philadelphia, New York, Charleston, and Richmond, along with Washington’s responses, and was “published according to Act of Congress,” it is the first official publication of the United States government relating to American Jews.

Historic subscriber list at front, with Revolutionary War names of note, including Samuel Adams, General Henry Knox, and a large group of Harvard University tutors and students.

Item #24711, $12,000

Alexander Hamilton’s Autograph Legal Notes Representing a Widow in Mamaroneck, NY Appealing Her Case Against a Conflicted Trustee of Her Husband’s Estate

ALEXANDER HAMILTON, Autograph Manuscript, seven points on one page with Hamilton’s additional citations on verso, n.p., n.d., but early in 1796, relating to Peter Jay Munro et al, appellants v. Peter Allaire. 1 p. plus additional Autograph notes on verso.

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Mary Palmer had lost a case against a trustee of her husband’s estate who sought to buy her interest in the estate. Chancellor Robert R. Livingston ruled against her. Hamilton handled the winning appeal. The decision found that a trustee with power over the estate could never be a purchaser, a principle “founded in indispensable necessity, to prevent that great inlet of fraud, and those dangerous consequences which would ensue” if trustees were allowed to pursue their own interests perhaps at the expense of the estate.

Item #24622, ON HOLD

A Legal Document Signed by Hamilton’s Second in His Fatal Duel

NATHANIEL PENDLETON, Manuscript Document Signed as Federal Judge, District of Georgia. Deposition of Hannah Miller, March 14, 1796, St. Marys, Georgia.

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This affidavit is from a federal court case that federal District Judge Nathaniel Pendleton heard in Georgia.

Item #24398, $2,000

President Washington Unique Signed Appointment of First Surveyor General

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Manuscript Document Signed as President. Appointing Simeon De Witt Surveyor General of the United States. Philadelphia, Pa., May 30, 1796. 1 p., 14 x 10½ in. With wax seal of the United States.

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Simeon De Witt, scion of the famous Dutch New York political family, served as a surveyor in the Continental Army and Surveyor General of the State of New York from 1784 until his death in 1834. In 1796, Washington, himself an experienced surveyor, tapped De Witt to be the first U.S. Surveyor general under the Public Lands Act of 1796. Congress created the position to organize the Northwest Territory of the Ohio Valley and sell the land. Remarkably, though, De Witt declined Washington’s offer, and instead Brigadier General Rufus Putnam took the job.

Item #24241, $28,000

Answering Hamilton’s Question on Naturalization and Immigrant Rights in Maryland

WILLIAM TILGHMAN, Autograph Letter Signed, to Alexander Hamilton, March 19, 1797, 2 pp.

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“I have carefully reexamined the laws of Maryland, since the receipt of your favor of the 15th inst. & cannot find that a single Justice of the Peace, ever had authority since the revolution, to naturalize & grant a certificate of it.”

Item #24645.12, $2,500

A 1798 Modification to the Naturalization Act Considered Part of the Alien and Sedition Acts passed by John Adams

ALIEN AND SEDITION ACTS. [JOHN ADAMS], Broadsheet. Naturalization Law of 1798. An Act Supplementary to, and to amend the act, intitled, “An Act to establish an uniform rule of naturalization; and to repeal the act heretofore passed on the subject.” [Philadelphia], [1798] 2 pp., 8¼ x 13½ in. Docketed on verso. Evans 34700.

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Item #23398, $1,950

Maryland Claims Stock in the Bank of England

TIMOTHY PICKERING, Letter Signed, as Secretary of State, to Rufus King, Minister Plenipotentiary in England; [Philadelphia], February 7, 1798. 1 p., 8 x 10 in.

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Pickering encloses a copy of a letter (included) from Samuel Chase concerning the stock owned by the state of Maryland being held in the Bank of England and vigorously claiming their rights to the entire stock.

Item #20584, $3,750

Reporting the Infamous XYZ Affair

[JOHN ADAMS], Newspaper. Columbian Centinel. Boston, Mass., April 14, 1798. 4 pp., 12¼ x 20 in.

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The XYZ Affair was a political and diplomatic episode in 1797 and 1798, early in the administration of John Adams, involving the United States and Republican France. Its name derives from the substitution of the letters X, Y, and Z for the names of French diplomats in documents released by the Adams administration. The three American diplomats sent to France were approached through informal channels by agents of the French Foreign Minister Talleyrand, who demanded bribes and a loan before formal negotiations could begin. Although such demands were not uncommon in European diplomacy of the time, the Americans were offended by them, and eventually left France without ever engaging in formal negotiations. When John Adams released the documents regarding the affair, it led to strong anti-French sentiment in the United States, and led to the “Quasi-War,” a largely undeclared naval war between the United States and France.

With additional articles describing the passage of an act similar to the infamous Stamp Act, an article on President Adams’ income, and an advertisement for a play in honor of Thomas Paine.

Item #30000.43, $750

Traitor General James Wilkinson re Intercepted Letters, Praises American Reaction to the XYZ Affair

JAMES WILKINSON, Autograph Letter Signed, to Anthony Walton White, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 2, 1798. 1 p., 7¾ x 12½ in.

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I have had many Letters intercepted, in search for my politics, so much the better, yet I think it might be worthy Enquiry, to know the fate of yours & Mr. Bootes…

The french are at length unmasqued, & stand confessed a band of freebooters, unequaled among civilized nations. The Conduct of our Envoys has been noble, that of our President decisive.

Wilkinson was undoubtedly in the pay of the Spanish, but somehow managed to retain the trust of each president from Washington to Madison. He was acquitted by several public inquiries and courts martial despite his involvement in the Burr conspiracy and other intrigues. A month after this letter, Wilkinson left Pittsburgh. Going downriver, he stayed Fort Massac in July and August. In August 1799, Major General Alexander Hamilton ordered Wilkinson to establish a base to seize the lower Mississippi Valley and New Orleans if the Quasi-War turned into open war with France or its ally Spain; luckily it did not.

Item #24489, $1,750
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