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Original 1789 First Inaugural Button: “Memorable Era / March the Fourth 1789

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], 1789 Inaugural button. Brass, original shank (slightly bent over), 34 mm.

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Item #25794, $4,500

AN EXTRAORDINARY RARITY!
Leaves From George Washington’s Own Draft of His First Inaugural Address

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Autograph Manuscript, Pages 27-28, 35-36, and 47-48 of Washington's own draft of his undelivered inaugural address. [written ca. January 1789]. 6 pp. on 3 leaves, 7 x 9 in.

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“This Constitution, is really in its formation a government of the people”

George Washington understood that the new government’s success, as had the Constitutional Convention’s, rested squarely on his shoulders. He also knew that everything he did as the first president would set precedents for future generations. He wrote privately about the promise, ambiguity, and tension of high office, and these same themes are woven throughout his original, undelivered inaugural address. Would the government work as intended, or suffer death from a thousand cuts? Still, the former Commander in Chief recognized the nation’s potential, as well as the honorable men who had come together to build the Constitution.

The three unique leaves—six pages—offered here are written entirely in Washington’s hand. They include assertions that government power is derived from the people, and a highly significant section of the Address explicitly arguing that the Constitution is subject to amendment and, by implication, advocating the adoption of the Bill of Rights. They also include the oratorical climax of the address—arguably the most visionary and impassioned passage of the address.

Item #24818, PRICE ON REQUEST

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

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 #23804, $19,000

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, $30,000

George Washington’s Second Inaugural Address

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Newspaper. Gazette of the United States, March 9, 1793. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: John Fenno. 4 pp., 9½ x 14¾ in.

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Previous to the execution of any official act of the President the Constitution requires an oath of office. This oath I am now about to take, and in your presence—that if it shall be found, during my administration of the Government, I have in any instance violated willingly, or knowingly, the injunctions thereof, I may (besides incurring constitutional punishment) be subject to the upbraidings of all, who are now witnesses of the present solemn ceremony.

Although Washington wanted to retire after a single term, the members of his cabinet, especially rivals Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, were convinced that he was essential to lead the nation through the next four years. After being again unanimously selected by the Electoral College, Washington delivered his second inaugural address in the Senate Chamber of Congress Hall in Philadelphia. At 135 words, it is the shortest inaugural address ever.

Item #30027.12, $1,793

Washington Privately Asks John Jay If He Will Replace Pinckney as Minister to London

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Autograph Letter Signed as President, to John Jay, April 29, 1794, Philadelphia, [Pa.] 2 pp., 9 x 7¼ in.

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President Washington, in a letter marked “Secret & confidential,” asks Chief Justice John Jay to consider becoming the U.S. Minister in London and discusses the difficulty in finding ministers to France. “Secret & confidential…after you shall have finished your business as Envoy, and not before, to become the Resident Minister Plenipotentiary at London....

Item #21635.99, $120,000

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

President Adams in Suspense, Awaits News from France

JOHN ADAMS, Autograph Letter Signed as President, to son, Thomas Boylston Adams, March 1, 1798, Philadelphia, [Pa.] 3 pp., 9¾ x 8 in.

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At the height of the war scare with France, John Adams writes to his son, Thomas, then accompanying Adams’ eldest son, John Quincy, who had just been commissioned Minister to Prussia, a neutral power in the ongoing war between France and Britain. He encourages brevity in his correspondence, given the tense nature of European diplomacy and the seeming imminence of war between France and the United States. “We are all in suspense … without news from Europe. We learn that General Buonaparte has been at Paris and is gone to the Congress. But we know no more…

Item #21464.99, $40,000

President Adams Writes to an Old Friend, Reflecting on the Vicissitudes of High Office

JOHN ADAMS, Autograph Letter Signed, as President, to Tristram Dalton, March 30, 1798, Philadelphia, [Pa.] 2 pp., 8 x 9⅞ in.

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A wistful letter to a boyhood friend in which Adams mentions some guileful political colleagues and laments the “popular Passions of the times” and the general neglect of his political writings. “The Difficulty of leading or guiding Millions, by any means but Power and Establishments can be known only to those who have tried Experiments of it.

Item #20887.99, $40,000

Jefferson’s Tragic Loss Sparks Hope for Reconciliation with Adams

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph Letter Signed as President, to John W. Eppes, June 4, 1804, Washington D.C. 2 pp., 7¾ x 10 in.

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A remarkable, poignant letter from a crucial chapter in Jefferson’s life, his presidency, anticipating his famous reconciliation with his predecessor and longtime compatriot, Adams, but still holding one grudge. “He & myself have gone through so many scenes together…that I have never withdrawn my esteem, and I am happy that this letter gives an opportunity of expressing it to both of them. I shall do it with a frank declaration that one act of his life, & never but one, gave me personal displeasure, his midnight appointments. A respect for him will not permit me to ascribe that altogether to the influence of others, it will leave something for friendship to forgive.

Item #21161.99, $180,000

Jefferson’s Attempted Seduction
of His Friend’s Wife - the Alleged Affair

[THOMAS JEFFERSON], Newspaper. Boston Gazette, July 18, 1805. 4 pp., 13½ x 20 in.

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A piece in the Boston Gazette criticizing a passage in the Richmond Enquirer, “a partisan paper of Mr. Jefferson” that defended his attempt to “seduce the wife of his friend.” They ask “has the spirit of party, then, so far subdued the sense of moral right in our country…to rescue a vile Letcher from the merited reproach.”

Item #30004.014, $1,000

In His State of the Union Address, Thomas Jefferson Commends Lewis and Clark for Their Successful Explorations

THOMAS JEFFERSON. [LEWIS AND CLARK], Newspaper. Connecticut Courant. Hartford, Conn., December 10, 1806. 4 pp, 12½ x 20½ in.

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Item #22459, $2,000

James Madison’s First Inaugural Address, Asserting Neutral Rights in Prelude to the War of 1812

JAMES MADISON, Newspaper. The Repertory, March 14, 1809. Boston, Massachusetts: John & Andrew W. Park. 4 pp., 13¼ x 20¼ in.

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Indulging no passions which trespass on the rights or the repose of other nations, it has been the true glory of the United States to cultivate peace by observing justice, and to entitle themselves to the respect of the nations at war by fulfilling their neutral obligations with the most scrupulous impartiality.

When President Thomas Jefferson followed George Washington’s example and declined to seek a third term, he selected James Madison as his successor. Reflecting challenges within his own party, Madison won the Presidency over fellow Democratic-Republican DeWitt Clinton, who was endorsed by some state Federalist parties, by a narrow margin.

Item #30001.61, $795

James Monroe & Congress Support the Independence Movements of Spain’s American Colonies

[SOUTH AMERICA]. JAMES MONROE, Pamphlet. “Report (in Part) of the Committee on so Much of the President’s Message as Relates to the Spanish American colonies / December 10th, 1811. Read, and referred to the committee of the whole on the state of the Union.” Washington, D.C.: Printed by R. C. Weightman: 1811. 4 pp.

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[We] behold with friendly interest, the establishment of independent sovereignties, by the Spanish provinces in America…”

Item #21298, $950

Shortly After the Beginning of the War of 1812,
Monroe Expresses his Opposition to Mob Violence

JAMES MONROE, Autograph Letter Signed as James Madison’s Secretary of State to an unidentified friend, Albemarle [his home], Virginia, August 5, 1812. 1 p.

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Item #21059.99, $10,000

James Madison’s Second Inaugural Address,
in a Rare New York Irish Newspaper

[JAMES MADISON], Newspaper. The Shamrock, or, Hibernian Chronicle, New York, N.Y., March 13, 1813. Madison’s second inaugural address begins on p. 2 and concludes on p. 3. 4 pp., 12 x 19 in.

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On the issue of the war are staked our national sovereignty.”

Item #30001.01, $1,000

Future President, General William Henry Harrison, Successfully Defends Himself Against Graft Charges

WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON, Autograph Letter Signed as Congressman, to Peter Hagner. Northbend, [Ohio], September 18, 1816. 3 pp, 7½ x 12½ in., On two conjoined sheets.

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During a Congressional inquiry that he requested to clear his name, Harrison answers criticism regarding an incident during his command of the Northwestern Army during the War of 1812. Here, the future president provides lengthy details to the Department of War about “supplying the troops at Detroit under orders given by General Cass & Colo Butler” in order “to supply the neglect of the contractor in furnishing the troops then.”

Item #23213.03, $15,000

James Monroe’s State of the Union Address

[JAMES MONROE], Newspaper. American Mercury, Hartford, Ct., December 9, 1817, 4 pp., 13 x 19½ in. With the State of the Union Address in full on page 2.

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Monroe enters office in a time of peace and prosperity well deserving of its moniker, the Era of Good Feelings. Still, the president outlines a plan for the future in his first message to Congress.

Item #30001.04, $950
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