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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

Thomas Jefferson Transmits the First Patent Act to Governor of New York George Clinton, Who Later Replaced Aaron Burr as Jefferson’s Vice President

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Letter Signed, as Secretary of State, to Governor George Clinton of New York, April 15, 1790, New York. 1 p., 7¾ x 9½ in

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In his position as Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson conveyed copies of new federal laws to the governors of each of the states. This letter, signed by Jefferson, conveyed the First Patent Act, formally An Act to Promote the Progress of Useful Arts, to New York Governor George Clinton, who would later serve as Jefferson’s second vice president.

Item #26389.99, $28,000

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, $3,500

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

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

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, SOLD — please inquire about other items

New York City Commissions a Portrait of George Washington by John Trumbull

RICHARD VARICK, Autograph Letter Signed, to Tobias Lear, July 19, 1790, New York, NY. 1 p., 7⅞ x 12⅛ in.

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In this letter, New York City Mayor Richard Varick requests an opportunity to convey a request from the city to President George Washington to have artist John Trumbull prepare a portrait of him for display at City Hall.

Item #26584, $12,500

Thomas Jefferson Signed Act of Congress Extending Temporary Post Office

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Printed Document Signed, as Secretary of State, “An Act to continue in force for a limited time, an Act, intituled ‘An Act for the temporary Establishment of the Post Office,’” New York, August 4, 1790. 1 p., 9½ x 15⅛ in. , 8/4/1790.

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the act passed the last session of Congress, intituled ‘An act for the temporary establishment of the post-office,’ be, and the same hereby is continued in force until the end of the next session of Congress, and no longer.

Item #26264.99, $27,500

Jefferson Signs the Funding Act,
a Key Part of Hamilton’s Assumption Plan (SOLD)

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Printed Document Signed as Secretary of State. “An Act making Provision for the Debt of the United States,” New York, N.Y., August 4, 1790. Certified a True Copy by Jefferson with his signature and signed in type by George Washington as President, John Adams as Vice President, and Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg as Speaker of the House. 8 pp., 9 x 13¼ in.

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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.”

Item #23219, SOLD — please inquire about other items

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, SOLD — please inquire about other items

The earliest obtainable printing of George Washington’s Clearest Statement on Religious Freedom: “the Government of the United States...gives to bigotry no sanction...” (SOLD)

[GEORGE WASHINGTON. AMERICAN JUDAICA], Newspaper. Newport Mercury, September 13, 1790. Newport, Rhode Island: Henry Barber. Moses Seixas’ letter to Washington, and his response, the “Touro Synagogue letter,” both printed in full on page 1. 4 pp., 8⅛ x 13 in. This printing, while sold, is available for appropriate museum loans.

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From fifteen Sephardic families who arrived in 1658, Newport’s Jewish community grew to be the largest in the colonies by the Revolutionary War. Many Jews left during the British occupation, but a significant number returned. By the time of Washington’s visit, there were approximately 300 Jews in the thriving Newport community.

On August 17, 1790, on behalf of the Congregation Kahal Kadosh Yeshuat Israel, Newport merchant and banker Moses Seixas wrote an address to welcome George Washington. Seixas’ letter (see below) welcomed Washington to Newport, and congratulated his ascendancy to the Presidency. Seixas also expressed his hopes for the new government’s success and its commitment to religious freedom, that a “government erected by the majesty of the people, a government which to bigotry gives no sanction, persecution no alliance, but generously affording to all Liberty of conscience,” would be created under the new Constitution. Seixas most likely gave Washington the letter on the morning of August 18, when other Clergy and townspeople met with Washington to express their regard for him.

Washington replied later on August 18. He thanked the community for its warm welcome, and assured the congregation that in his administration, “All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship....” He then echoed and built on Seixas’ words, “For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

The original letter is owned by the Morris Morgenstern Foundation, and is on long-term loan to the National Museum of American Jewish History. We were honored to have appraised the original prior to its exhibit, and to have arranged several loans to the museum. Each year, members of the Touro Synagogue in Newport read the letter in a public ceremony.

The Boston Herald of Freedom first published both Seixas’ letter and Washington’s reply on September 7, 1790, followed by a Newport printing on September 9.

Washington echoed Seixas’ words, and built on them, to make his most celebrated statement on religious freedom.

Item #25029, SOLD — please inquire about other items

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

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 #26175.99, $16,500

Congress Authorizes a Mint, and President Washington Proclaims the Location of the Permanent Seat of Government

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Columbian Centinel, April 23, 1791. Newspaper. Boston: Benjamin Russell. 4 pp. (pp. 45-48), 10¼ x 16¼ in

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Including two March 3, 1791 Acts of Congress: Resolution to Establish U.S. Mint, and Act that President be requested to report to Congress on “the quantity and situation of lands not claimed by the Indians, nor granted to, nor claimed by any of the citizens of the Unties States within the territory ceded to the United States by the State of North-Carolina, and within the territory of the United States north-west of the river Ohio.” Also the March 30, 1791 Proclamation of Permanent Seat of Government, signed in type by Washington and Jefferson.

Item #30027.45, $3,250

Prospectus of 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
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