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Anti-Catholic “Test Oath” Signed by George Washington – as Required to Validate his Military Commission as Lieutenant Colonel at the Outset of the French and Indian War

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Manuscript Document Signed, [March 19, 1754]. With signatures of more than a dozen others, dating from Feb. 3, 1754 to Aug. 19, 1755. John West, Jr. and James Towers, whose signatures immediately follow Washington’s, subscribed on the same day, and, along with several other signers, served with Washington in the 1754 campaign. The subscribers, all Fairfax County, Va. public officials and militiamen, signed starting on the right side of the paper; a second column was then added to the left.

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“there is no Transubstantiation in the sacrament of the Lords supper or in the elements of Bread and wine...”

On March 15, 1754, Governor Robert Dinwiddie enclosed Washington’s commission as lieutenant colonel of the Virginia regiment in a letter directing the young officer and his men to the Ohio Valley to help defend against approaching French forces. Four days later, Washington signed this “test oath” – required of all Virginia civil and military officers – validating his commission. He would soon find himself at the center of a battle that ignited war between Britain and France, and a defeat that led him to sign the only surrender of his entire career.

Ironically, Washington’s signature on this document launched the military and political career that eventually proved instrumental in expanding the religious freedoms that this oath sought to restrict.

Note that we have agreed to steer this to a philanthropic individual, foundation or company willing to acquire and donate this to George Washington’s Mount Vernon or the Fairfax County Circuit Court Archives. Details on request.

Item #23200, PRICE ON REQUEST

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

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

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 #26175.99, $16,500

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, $125,000

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

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, $140,000

[George Washington] Rare Broadside Instructing Ships’ Captains re Impressment of American Seamen

GEORGE WASHINGTON, An extract of the Act, entitled, ‘An Act, for the relief and Protection of American Seamen;’ passed in the fourth Congress of the United States, at the first Session, begun and held at the City of Philadelphia, on Monday the seventh of December, One thousand seven hundred and ninety-five. May 28, 1796. Broadside. Baltimore, MD: John Hayes. Signed in type by George Washington as President, Jonathan Dayton as Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Samuel Livermore as President pro tempore of the Senate, printing the fifth and sixth sections of the act. 4 pp., 8½ x 13 in.

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it shall...be the duty of the master of every ship or vessel of the United States, any of the crew whereof shall have been impressed or detained by any foreign power, at the first port, at which such ship or vessel shall arrive...immediately to make a protest.

This rare historical broadside addresses the pressing issue of the impressment of American, a major factor leading the young United States into the Quasi-War with France (1798-1800) and later to the War of 1812 with Great Britain.

Item #24393, $3,750

George Washington’s Farewell Address (Alexander Hamilton’s Genius at Work)

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Thomas’s Massachusetts Spy or Worcester Gazette. Newspaper, September 28, 1796. Worcester, MA: Isaiah Thomas. 4 pp., 11⅜ x 18 in. Washington’s September 17th Farewell Address is printed in full on pages two to three, signed in type.

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Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that, after forty five years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion....

At the end of his second term, Washington sent an open letter emphasizing the importance of unity and warning Americans against entanglements with foreign powers. Though he had initially solicited James Madison’s assistance in crafting his remarks, Alexander Hamilton’s second draft is the basis of the final address. Delivered to Congress in writing, Washington’s Farewell Address warns against the dangers of sectionalism, and criticizes “the insidious wiles of foreign influence,” referring to the pro-French sentiments of Jefferson and the Republicans. Washington’s policy during the wars between Great Britain and France in the early 1790s had been one of strict neutrality, and in the closing paragraphs of his Address he argues for continued American isolationism. America heeded his advice against joining a permanent alliance for more than a century and a half.

Item #26439, SOLD — please inquire about other items

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, $3,000

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

Large 1801 Folio Engraving of Thomas Jefferson as New President

[THOMAS JEFFERSON], Print. Engraved by David Edwin, published by George Helmbold Jr., 1801. 1 p., 13 x 19¾ in. (image); 14⅞ x 22 ½ in. (sheet). , 1/1/1801.

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This engraving by David Edwin pictures Jefferson standing beside a table, with his hand on a desktop globe. Edwin copied the head from the Rembrandt Peale portrait of 1800. Edwin placed Jefferson in a black suit in a formal setting, comparable to the 1796 portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart (known as the “Lansdowne” portrait because it was commissioned as a gift for William Petty, first Marquis of Lansdowne).

Item #25421, $4,500

Installing Jefferson’s Great Clock at Monticello

Thomas Jefferson, Autograph Letter Signed (“Th: Jefferson”) as President, to James Dinsmore. Washington, January 28, 1804. With integral transmittal leaf addressed in his hand with his franking signature (“free Th: Jefferson Pr. US.”) at top left. 8 x 10 in., 1/28/1804.

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A significant letter concerning Jefferson’s long-planned installation of large cannonball weights that powered the seven-day clock being installed in Monticello’s front entrance hall.

Item #26127, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Thomas Jefferson’s Tragic Loss Sparks Famous Reconciliation with John 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 [John Adams] & 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
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