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George Washington
George Washington

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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.


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 Centinal reported the news 11 days later, only four 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

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.


Item #30001.22, $1,450

Washington Cryptically Dreams of Resigning, Feigns Insult and Teases McHenry for Delayed Answer to Queries on Funding the Army

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Autograph Letter Signed, to James McHenry. August 15, 1782. Newburgh, N.Y. 2 pp., including integral address leaf. 7½ x 11½ in.


“I was in pain … resolving (like a man in the last agony) not to follow the trade & occupation of a G---- [General] any more.… Do not my dear Doctor tease your Mistress in this manner – much less your Wife, when you get one.”

In this highly personal letter, Washington offers a glimpse of the man behind the otherwise stolid image. After victory at Yorktown, Americans were awaiting news of a final peace treaty from Paris. Washington remained head of the Continental Army, and warily watched British General Sir Henry Clinton’s army in New York City. For all its friendly tone and nebulous phrases, Washington and McHenry are actually discussing the very serious business of funding and maintaining troop levels to discourage future British actions.

Item #20987.99, $110,000

Quartermaster’s Accounts, 1781

[NICHOLAS QUACKENBUSH], Manuscript Document consisting of four string-bound double folio (36 x 26 in.) sheets folded to folio size, 6 pp. filled in, Albany, March to May 1781 document in great detail “Articles delivered.”


A fascinating set of ledger sheets retained by Nicholas Quackenbush. They note the date, the voucher number, “To Whom Delivered” and “By whose order” and then provide a long set of columns to account for almost every conceivable article, ranging from horses to pikes, a wide variety of tools, all types of lumber, as well as foodstuffs.

Item #21007.09, $3,500

John Marshall’s “Life of George Washington”
and Companion Atlas with Hand-colored Maps

JOHN MARSHALL. [GEORGE WASHINGTON], Books, The Life of George Washington Commander in Chief of the American Forces, During the War which Established the Independence of his Country and First President of the United States, Compiled Under the Inspection of the Honourable Bushrod Washington, From Original Papers Bequeathed to him by his Deceased Relative, 2nd edition, in two volumes. Philadelphia: James Crissy and Thomas Cowperthwait, 1840. 982 pp. plus index, 5½ x 9 in. Both have pencil inscription on blank fly leaf “A. Seeley 1851 Presented by T.C. Gladding.” Rebound; very good, some foxing toward the front. OCLC 183328030. With: Atlas to Marshall’s Life of Washington, Philadelphia: J. Crissy, [1832], 10 hand-colored maps. Ex-Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Massachusetts bookplate on front paste-down. Black cloth spine and corners, original green boards with label. Internally fine. OCLC 191237946.


Chief Justice John Marshall’s magisterial biography of George Washington was originally a five-volume set. This 1840 publication, revised and issued in two volumes, also includes the 1832 companion atlas of maps relating to the Revolutionary War.

Item #22477, $1,250

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.


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

Lovely mid-19th Century Hand-Painted Miniature
of Martha Washington on Ivory

[MARTHA WASHINGTON], Portrait Signed by the artist (“Fabre”). 2¾ x 3¾ in.


Item #20038, $9,500

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

[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.


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, $125,000
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