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George Washington
George Washington

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Washington’s First Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation, The Bill of Rights, and Establishment of Treasury Department (SOLD)

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Newspaper. The United States Chronicle. Providence, R.I.: Bennett Wheeler, October 22, 1789. 4 pp., 10 ½ x 17 in. With masthead featuring the seal of the United States and the fouled anchor “Hope” device of the state of Rhode Island.

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“for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness... for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge”

On October 3, 1789, the day after sending engrossed copies of the 12 Constitutional amendments passed by Congress out to the states for ratification, Washington issued America’s first Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation. Both the Thanksgiving Proclamation and the Bill of Rights are printed here on the front page. This exceptional paper also includes a complete printing of “An Act to establish the Treasury Department” [p.1-2], and a September 10 report from North Carolina supporting the ratification of the Constitution now that passage of a bill of rights seemed likely: “The amendments... will undoubtedly satisfy the minds of all its [the Constitution’s] enemies. Not a door is left open for complaint....It is an almost unparalleled instance of a public body possessed of power abridging it, and fully contradicts the grand argument of the opponents of the Constitution, that, ‘if Congress are once possessed of the power vested in the Constitution, they never will relinquish or amend it conformable to our wishes’.”  [p. 2 col. 1]. The Chronicle also reports from New York that President Washington was about to embark on his famous tour of New England [p. 2, col. 3].

Item #23813, SOLD — please inquire about other items

George Washington as a Mason

CURRIER & IVES. [GEORGE WASHINGTON], Print. Washington as a Mason. Small folio lithograph, 12 x 16 in. (sheet), 1868. Black & white.

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Item #23708, $850

George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation (SOLD)

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Manuscript Document Signed as President. Proclaiming “Thursday the 26th day of November” as “a day of thanksgiving and prayer.” New York, N.Y., October 3, 1789. 1 p., 9⅝ x 14⅝. The text of this, and the other known copy (acquired by the Library of Congress in 1921) was penned by William Jackson, a personal secretary to the president and previously the secretary to the Constitutional Convention.

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Washington issues the first Thanksgiving proclamation under the new Federal Constitution, one of only two known copies, and the only one in private hands.

“for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness... for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge”

On September 25, 1789, as the momentous first Federal Congress drew to its close in New York, the new national capital, Representative Elias Boudinot introduced a resolution calling on President Washington to “recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer . . .  acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.” 

A leading opponent of the resolution, Thomas Tudor Tucker, asked, “Why should the President direct the people to do what, perhaps, they have no mind to do?” The skeptical Congressman noted that the people “may not be inclined to return thanks for a Constitution until they have experienced that it promotes their safety and happiness.” He also argued that it was a religious matter and thus proscribed to the new government. Regardless, the House passed the resolution — one of their last pieces of business before completing the proposed Bill of Rights. The Senate concurred three days later, and a delegation was sent to meet the President. George Washington, who had in fact anticipated the question in a letter to James Madison a month earlier, readily agreed. 

On October 3, George Washington signed the document offered here, America’s first Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation. Washington employed the exact language of the resolution to begin his proclamation, though he went further, giving thanks for “tranquility, union, and plenty” and asking the Almighty to guide the new nation’s leaders and government. He used the same approach a year later when he wrote what is now one of his most celebrated letters: “For happily the Government of the United States gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, [and] requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.” Washington willingly echoed Moses Seixas’s stance on tolerance and added to it, just as he did in his Thanksgiving Proclamation when asking the Almighty “To render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and Constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed.”

Item #23201, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Major Washington Serves Notice to the French that They Were Encroaching on Crown Property (SOLD)

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Newspaper. Maryland Gazette. January 23, 1755, Annapolis, Md. Jonas Green. 4 pp. (complete), 9½ x 14½ in.

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The Maryland Gazette took a particular interest in Washington, being the first to publish his Journal describing his expedition to the Ohio.

Item #21557.06, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Miniature Portrait of George Washington (SOLD)

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Painting. George Washington miniature. ca. 19th century. Approx. 2½ x 3¼ in. overall, signed “Beck,” in 4½ x 6⅛ in. hardwood frame.

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Demonstrating the lasting appeal of Washington in the decorative arts, this nineteenth-century miniature on ivory in a later, early 20th century frame, is a fine example of the style. Acquired in Scotland.

Item #22317.01, SOLD — please inquire about other items

The Declaration of Independence:
The First Newspaper Printing, the Second Publication in Any Form and the First to Closely Follow Thomas Jefferson’s Style (SOLD)

[DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE], Newspaper. The Pennsylvania Evening Post, Saturday, July 6, 1776, Philadelphia: Benjamin Towne, 4 pages (8½ x 10 in.)

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Item #DOI - 7-6-1776, SOLD — please inquire about other items

George Washington’s Funeral - Full Page Report of the First President’s Actual Interment a Week before the Nation’s Official Mourning (SOLD)

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Newspaper. The True American Commercial Advertiser, Philadelphia, Pa., Samuel Bradford, December 24, 1799. 4 pp., 12¾ x 20 in. On blue-rag paper.

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Printed within a black mourning border, news headed “Sacred to the Memory of Gen. George Washington” begins a nearly full-page description of Washington’s funeral, including a diagram of the procession, statements of Congress and of President Adams, and a resolution to erect a monument. The nation’s first president had died on December 14, 1799, and was interred at Mount Vernon by his family four days later. This newspaper reports the proceedings of a private funeral that included clergy, Masonic brothers, and local citizens. As the president was laid to rest in the family’s receiving vault, vessels in the Potomac River fired a final salute to the commander in chief.

News reached Philadelphia, then the seat of the federal government, on the day of his burial. Congress and President Adams immediately began planning an official mourning procession for December 26, and this paper of December 24 notes that Richard Henry Lee had been chosen to deliver the official eulogy.

Item #23417, SOLD — please inquire about other items

A New York Newspaper Printing of George Washington’s
First Thanksgiving Proclamation (SOLD)

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Newspaper. Gazette of the United States. New York, N.Y., October 7, 1789. 4 pp., 9½ x 14¾ in. Disbound, with the two leaves separated, but complete and otherwise fine.

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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 Gazette printed it in full in the next edition of the newspaper.

Item #23257, SOLD — please inquire about other items

President Washington Signs a Land Patent
for “The Hero of Saratoga,” Conway Cabal Plotter
Major General Horatio Gates (SOLD)

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Document Signed as President, Philadelphia, Pa., September 17, 1796. Countersigned by Secretary of State Timothy Pickering; with September 15, 1796 Endorsement Signed by Secretary of War James McHenry on verso. Engraved broadside on vellum, being a patent for Virginia Line land awarded to Major General Horatio Gates. With embossed paper seal of the United States. 14¾ in. x 12⅜ in.

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Gates is rewarded for his military service, the highlight of which was his leading America's Northern Army to defeat British general John Burgoyne at the Battle of Saratoga in October, 1777. The victory turned the Revolutionary War in favor of the Americans, and convinced France to enter the war on the side of the United States.

Signed by the president during the last full year of his second term in office, this land patent brings Washington together with one of his most famous Revolutionary War rivals. Washington, who believed Gates had plotted to usurp his command as part of the 1777-1778 Conway Cabal, later characterized the general as having “an air of design, a want of candor…and even of politeness,” complaining that “this Gentleman does not scruple to take the most unfair advantages of me.”[1]

Item #23197, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Rhode Island Printing of George Washington’s Will -
Freeing His Slaves Upon the Death of Martha (SOLD)

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Pair of Newspapers. “Interesting Extracts from the WILL of Gen. George Washington,” United States Chronicle, Providence, R.I., February 20 and 27, 1800. Each 4 pp. Washington’s will begins on p. 2 of the February 20 issue and concludes on p. 1 of the February 27 issue.

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Item #22858, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Washington’s Whiskey Rebellion Proclamation (SOLD)

[GEORGE WASHGINGTON], Newspaper. The New York Journal & Patriotic Register, New York, N.Y., September 29, 1792. Signed in type by both Geo. Washington and Th. Jefferson. 4 pp., disbound.

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Item #22707, SOLD — please inquire about other items

One Day Before Marching to Yorktown,
Washington Adds Troops in Virginia (SOLD)

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Letter Signed, to George Weedon. “Head Quarters” [Williamsburg, Va.], September 27, 1781. 1 p., 11½ x 7½ in. Text in David Humphreys’s hand. Washington’s signature is fine, but the text of the letter is significantly faded and priced accordingly.

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After the Comte de Grasse’s fleet arrives in Virginia, Washington requests troops to aid the combined militia and French force during the Siege of Yorktown. Washington and Virginia militia Brigadier General George Weedon had been corresponding for several weeks regarding the arrival of the Duc de Lauzun’s legion in Virginia, and Washington’s concerns that Weedon pay the Frenchman the respect appropriate to his rank.

Item #22783.01, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Ben Franklin's The Way to Wealth, printed in a Self-help Book Endorsed by George Washington (SOLD)

[BENJAMIN FRANKLIN], Book. The Immortal Mentor, or Man’s Unerring Guide to a Healthy, Wealthy, and Happy Life. With Washington’s printed endorsement. First edition. Philadelphia, Pa., Rev. Mason L. Weems, 1796. Ownerships signature “J.W. Spencer Feb 1847” on free front endpaper, later bookplate on front pastedown. Austin 1011; Evans 30282.

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“Listen to the instructions of Dr. Franklin, and let the words of his mouth sink deep into your heart...”(p. 105)

In the year of his death, the “Father of the Country” heaped praises upon this compilation of advice from early advocates of clean living and ethical behavior Luigi Cornaro, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Scott.

Item #23649, SOLD — please inquire about other items

A Week Before Yorktown, Washington Builds up the Virginia Militia with Recently-Arrived French Troops (SOLD)

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Letter Signed, to George Weedon. Williamsburg, Va., September 23, 1781. 2 pp., 6 3/8 x 8 1/8 in. In John Trumbull’s hand.

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Washington orders Virginia militia Brigadier General George Weedon to monitor the British and despite lacking supplies, prevent them from foraging the countryside when possible. The Commander in Chief then informs Weedon that French reinforcements are due to arrive and to show their commander the respect he deserves.

Item #22782.01, SOLD — please inquire about other items

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.

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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, $120,000

Washington Crossing the Delaware (SOLD)

[EMANUEL GOTTLIEB LEUTZE], Engraving. Washington Crossing the Delaware, by Paul Girardet after Leutze’s painting. New York, N.Y., Goupil & Co., 1853. Mezzotint and line engraving on India paper, mounted as issued to a larger sheet of engraving paper, printed caption, “Subscriber’s copy,” numbered “50.” 38¼ x 22¼ in., framed 51 x 38½ in.

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Item #21086, SOLD — please inquire about other items

George Washington’s Whiskey Rebellion Proclamation
of Sept. 25, 1794: Front-page Connecticut Newspaper Printing (SOLD)

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Newspaper. The Norwich Packet, October 9, 1794. Norwich, Conn., John Trumbull. 4 pp.

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Washington calls on the militias of other states to help put down the uprising in Western Pennsylvania that continued despite conciliatory efforts by the government.  Washington assures the nation that “a small proportion of the United States shall [not] dictate to the whole union, and at the expense of those, who desire peace, indulge a desperate ambition….  I do moreover exhort all individuals, officers, and bodies of men, to contemplate with abhorrence the measures leading directly or indirectly to those crimes, which produce this resort to military coercion : to check, in their respective spheres, the efforts of misguided or designing men to substitute their misrepresentation in the place of truth and their discontents in the place of stable government…”

Item #20650.06, SOLD — please inquire about other items

George Washington Proclamation Granting Pardon to Deserters, Thomas Paine's History of the War Noting His Service in the Army and His Writing of the Crisis, Benedict Arnold's March to Quebec (SOLD)

[THOMAS PAINE], The Pennsylvania Packet, March 20, 1779.

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Item #21556.03, SOLD — please inquire about other items

The Senate Records The Votes Electing Washington President in 1789 (SOLD)

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Newspaper. Gazette of the United States, Philadelphia, Pa., October 17, 1789. 4 pp., 10 x 16 ¼ in.

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Item #22631, SOLD — please inquire about other items

George Washington Signed Acts of Congress,
Including an Act “Respecting the Mint,”
and Discussions of a Third Term for the First President (SOLD)

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Newspaper, Columbian Centinel, June 18, 1796, Boston, Ma., 4 pp., 11 7/8 x 18 ¾ in.

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An opinion piece from Philadelphia on a Third Term for Washington: Washington signs four acts of Congress in cursive type, including one detailing the ways and means of procuring copper for the minting of cents and half cents.

Item #30000.003, SOLD — please inquire about other items
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