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The Declaration of Independence –
Rare July 1776 Boston Printing (SOLD)

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, The New-England Chronicle, July 18, 1776, Vol. VIII No. 413. Newspaper, with the entire text of the Declaration on page 1 of 4. Subscriber’s name “Mr Jacob Willard” written at top of page 1. Boston: Printed by Powars & Willis.

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Item #21074, SOLD — please inquire about other items

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

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], 1789 "Memorable Era" Inaugural Button. 34 mm brass with original shank. Word "Era" weakly struck, as is typical. GW-1789-4, Albert WI-1a.

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Item #25446, $11,000

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, SOLD — please inquire about other items

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

Heaping Praise on the First President, an Address to Congress, and Columbia University’s Commencement (SOLD)

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Newspaper. Gazette of the United States, May 9, 1789. New York, N.Y. 4 pp.

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The first address of Congress to the new president.

Item #30000.76, SOLD — please inquire about other items

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

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

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

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

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

A Jefferson-Signed Act Allowing States to Collect Duties (SOLD)

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Printed Document Signed as Secretary of State, An Act declaring the consent of Congress to a certain Act of the State of Maryland, and to continue for a longer time, an Act declaring the assent of Congress to certain Acts of the States of Maryland, Georgia and Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations… . Philadelphia, Pa., March 19, 1792. Signed in type by George Washington as President, Jonathan Trumbull as Speaker of the House of Representatives, and John Adams as Vice President. Printed by Francis Childs and John Swaine, 1791. 1 p., 10 x 14¾ in. Evans 24881.

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Unless granted permission by Congress, the Constitution forbade States from collecting duties on imports, exports, or vessel tonnage. However, Congress regularly granted permission for individual states to levy imposts or duties to be used for the improvement of their harbors and waterways. These permissions were regularly renewed, sometimes for decades. Here, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson certifies a copy of the Congressional Act that was constitutionally required for individual states to levy tonnage duties.

Item #22687, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Congress Reimburses an Advocate for American Sailors Impressed by the British (SOLD)

[THOMAS JEFFERSON], Printed Document Signed as Secretary of State. An Act concerning the claim of John Brown Cutting against the United States. Signed in type by George Washington as President, Jonathan Trumbull as Speaker of the House, and Richard Henry Lee as President Pro Tem of the Senate. Philadelphia, Pa., May 8, 1792. 1 p., 9¾ x 16 in.

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Item #23361, 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

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, $1,800

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

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

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

George Washington Signed Ship’s Passport (SOLD)

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Partially Printed Document Signed as President, counter-signed by Secretary of State Timothy Pickering and Customs District Collector Francis Cook. New York, N.Y. and Wiscasset, Maine, November 12, 1796. 1 p., folio, with paper Great Seal of the United States. Strong, large Washington and Pickering signatures.

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A three-language ship’s passport, in French, English and Dutch, for Captain Spencer Tinkham of the Astrea, out of Wiscasset, Maine bound for Liverpool. The Astrea was pictured on a Liverpool Jug, likely right after this voyage. It was lost at sea six years later.

Item #23998, SOLD — please inquire about other items
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