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Presidents and Elections

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Unique Printing of William Henry Harrison’s Deadly Inaugural Address on Silk

WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON, Inaugural Address. Printed on silk, ca. March 1841. Baltimore: John Murphy. 1 p., 18 x 24 in.

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On a cold, wet day, March 4, 1841, President Harrison delivered the longest inaugural address in history. Harrison wrote the entire speech himself, though it was edited by his soon-to-be Secretary of State, Daniel Webster. Webster said afterwards that in the process of editing the text, he had “killed seventeen Roman proconsuls.” Contracting pneumonia, Harrison became the first president to die in office 31 days after delivering this address. His vice president John Tyler became the new president and served out Harrison’s term.

In an 8,460-word address, Harrison presents a detailed statement of the Whig agenda and a repudiation of the populism and policies of Democratic Presidents Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren. Harrison promises to reestablish the Bank of the United States, to issue paper currency, to use his veto power sparingly, and to appoint qualified officers of government in contrast to the spoils system that Jackson heralded. He favors term limits, limits on the powers of the presidency, and devotion to the nation rather than party. Harrison avoids specifics on the divisive issue of slavery, which in theory he might have opposed, but of which he was in practice a staunch defender.

Item #25607.02, $7,500

Broadside Printing of William Henry Harrison’s Deadly Inaugural Address

WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON, Broadside. ca. March 1841. 1 p., 11⅝ x 19 in.

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If there is one measure better calculated than another to produce that state of things so much deprecated by all true republicans, by which the rich are daily adding to their hoards and the poor sinking deeper into penury, it is an exclusive metallic currency....

Always the friend of my countrymen, never their flatterer, it becomes my duty to say to them… that there exists in the land a spirit hostile to their best interests—hostile to liberty itself.... It is union that we want, not of a party for the sake of that party, but a union of the whole country for the sake of the whole country, for the defense of its interests and its honor against foreign aggression, for the defense of those principles for which our ancestors so gloriously contended....

Item #25607.01, $5,000

Front-Page Printing of William Henry Harrison’s Deadly Inaugural Address

WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON, Newspaper. National Intelligencer, March 6, 1841. Washington, D.C.: Gales & Seaton. 4 pp., 18 x 23¼ in.

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If there is one measure better calculated than another to produce that state of things so much deprecated by all true republicans, by which the rich are daily adding to their hoards and the poor sinking deeper into penury, it is an exclusive metallic currency....

On a cold, wet day, March 4, 1841, President Harrison delivered the longest inaugural address in history. Harrison wrote the entire speech himself, though it was edited by his soon-to-be Secretary of State, Daniel Webster. Webster said afterwards that in the process of editing the text, he had “killed seventeen Roman proconsuls.” Contracting pneumonia, Harrison became the first president to die in office 31 days after delivering this address. His vice president John Tyler became the new president and served out Harrison’s term.

In an 8,460-word address, printed here on the front page of the National Intelligencer, Harrison presents a detailed statement of the Whig agenda and a repudiation of the populism and policies of Democratic Presidents Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren. Harrison promises to reestablish the Bank of the United States, to issue paper currency, to use his veto power sparingly, and to appoint qualified officers of government in contrast to the spoils system that Jackson heralded. He favors term limits, limits on the powers of the presidency, and devotion to the nation rather than party. Harrison avoids specifics on the divisive issue of slavery, which in theory he might have opposed, but of which he was in practice a staunch defender.

Item #30001.35, $1,500

Very Rare William Henry Harrison Four-Language Sea Letter Signed as President

WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON, Partially Printed Document Signed as President, counter-signed by Daniel Webster as Secretary of State. [signed in Washington, D.C. between March 4 and April 4, 1841]. Four-language Sea Letter for Hydaspe, accomplished (filled out) in New Bedford, Massachusetts, dated April 20, 1841 and signed by Deputy Collector of Customs William H. Taylor. Includes two blind embossed paper seals. 1 p., 21½ x 16¼ in.

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Partially-printed sea letter in French, Spanish, English, and Dutch authorizing the Hydaspe, under the command of Francis Post, to leave New Bedford, Massachusetts, for a whaling voyage to the Pacific Ocean. Signed by William Henry Harrison during his one-month long presidency. Only approximately a dozen William Henry Harrison presidential signed documents are known in private hands. An incredible rarity.

On March 4, 1841, a cold, wet day, Harrison, without hat or overcoat, rode on horseback to his inauguration, and delivered the longest inaugural speech of any American president. He became ill three weeks later and died of pneumonia on April 4, having been president for 31 days. He was the last United States president born as a British subject and the first to die in office. Our census counts fewer than 40 known Harrison presidential signed items of all types, ranging from letters and free franks to fragments of documents and clipped signatures. Of those, ours is one of only 22 intact presidential signed documents. 

Sea letters were signed in blank, and sent to the ports to be filled out. This one was used in New Bedford on April 20, sixteen days after Harrison’s death. The Hydaspe left New Bedford four days later with a crew of more than twenty. It returned just shy of four years later, on April 14, 1845, with 1,016 barrels of sperm oil, 821 barrels of whale oil, and 8,000 pounds of baleen (whalebone). The ship circumnavigated the earth, sailing throughout the Pacific and along the southern coasts of Australia and Africa, taking on six additional crew members in Tahiti in 1843 and eleven more in Maui, Hawaii (then called the Sandwich Islands), in 1844. A whaleboat crew deserted near Australia; at least three of the deserters were captured.

Item #27118.99, $225,000

John Tyler Addresses Special Session of Congress soon after William Henry Harrison’s Death

JOHN TYLER, Broadside. State of the Union Message. National Intelligencer—Extra, June 1, 1841. Washington, DC: Gales and Seaton. 1 p., 18 x 23 in.

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The States are emphatically the constituents of this Government....

Item #25676, $1,900

Free Soil Rally Broadside, Dorchester Massachusetts, 1848. 23 x 29 Inches

[ELECTION OF 1848], Printed Document. Broadside, July 21, 1848, Dorchester, Massachusetts. 1 p. 23 x 29 in., 7/21/1848.

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“FREE SOIL! FREE LABOR! FREE SPEECH! RALLY OF THE PEOPLE!
All persons opposed to the Election of Taylor or Cass to the Presidency, and to the Extension of Slavery and the Slave Power, are invited to meet at the Lyceum Hall,” July 24, 1848. …”

Inviting “All persons opposed to the Election of TAYLOR or CASS to the Presidency, and to the Extension of Slavery and the Slave Power.” The meeting would choose delegates for a state convention on July 28. Speakers included Stephen C. Phillips (1801-1857), an 1819 graduate of Harvard University and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1834 to 1838. The bottom of the broadside contains the names of 178 local voters. It is curious that the Free Soil nominee, former Democrat Martin Van Buren, is not named here. Ultimately, with the support of the convention arranged after this broadside, he received 28.6% of the state’s votes. 

Item #27251, $11,000

Former President and Future Confederate Supporter John Tyler Forcefully Defends the Fugitive Slave Act and the “Southern Cause,” Attacks the NY Press, and Plays up His Own Service in the War of 1812

JOHN TYLER, Autograph Letter Signed and Autograph Manuscript Signed several times in the third person. Sent to S. Cunningham, from Sherwood Forest, October 12, 1850, 1 p., 9⅜ x 7¼ in. on blue paper marked “Private,” being the cover letter for the manuscript, written for anonymous publication: “The fugitive slave bill and Commissioner Gardiner,” [ca. October 12, 1850], 2 pp., 9⅜ x 7⅞ in. on blue paper.

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In the first fugitive slave law case, which came before his cousin Commissioner Gardiner: “The fugitive was promptly dealt by and restored to his owner in Baltimore. Mr. Gardiner has proven himself to be a faithful public servant, an honest man, and a Patriot. And yet, by a certain class of Editors in New York he is sneered at…

Tyler criticizes two NY editors in particular: “Now what jackasses are Mssrs Herricks and Ropes… These would-be somethingarians [a colloquialism, usually used as an insult] in the first place, deem it a matter of censure in a judge, to execute the law—and, in the next they show their ignorance … by ascribing to Mr. Tyler under their witty soubriquet of Captain (a title he is well content to wear since he enjoyed it during the war of 1812 with Great Britain)…

Item #24043, $24,000

Buchanan Supporters Attack Presidential Candidate Frémont as a “Black Republican” Abolitionist

[ELECTION OF 1856], Printed Document. The Fearful Issue to Be Decided in November Next! Shall the Constitution and the Union Stand or Fall? Fremont, The Sectional Candidate of the Advocates of Dissolution! Buchanan, The Candidate of Those Who Advocate One Country! One Union! One Constitution! and One Destiny! 1856. 24 pp., 5 x 8½ in.

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What a Combination! Seward, Greeley, Bennet, Watson Webb, H. Ward Beecher, &c. There can be no doubt that this goodly company will speedily be increased by the addition of Fred. Douglass and his black republicans… The only candidate to arrest this tide of demoralization and sectionalism, is James Buchanan.

This pro-Buchanan election of 1856 pamphlet attacks the first Republican presidential candidate, John C. Frémont. Quoting from the speeches and writings of William Lloyd Garrison, Horace Greeley, Wendell Phillips, Salmon P. Chase, Henry Ward Beecher, William H. Seward, Joshua R. Giddings, this pamphlet ignores distinctions between abolitionists, racial egalitarians, more limited opponents just of the expansion of slavery into the territories, or those who fought the kidnapping of free African Americans under the Fugitive Slave Law. It paints all with the same broad brush as “Black Republican” extreme abolitionists who were willing to destroy the Union rather than remain in it with slaveholders.

Item #24482, $750

The Border Ruffian Code in Kansas

[BLEEDING KANSAS], Pamphlet. The Border Ruffian Code in Kansas. [New York: Tribune Office. 1856.] 15, [1] pp. Concludes with full page (8.75 x 5.75 in.) map, “Freedom and Slavery, and the Coveted Territories.”

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This tract provides an example of the laws “notoriously forced upon the people of that Territory, at the hands of invading ruffians from Missouri, using the persuasive arguments of the Bowie-Knife and Revolver....” Included are the three Presidential platforms for the 1856 election, and a special map: “Freedom and Slavery, and the Coveted Territories,” printed on the last page.

Item #23739.03, $150

Claims that First Republican Presidential Candidate is Foreign Born & Ineligible

[STEPHEN H. BRANCH], Broadside. Important! to the Public ... The Republican Candidate for the Presidency, John C. Fremont, of Foreign Birth. Ogdensburgh, N.Y. October 31, 1856. 1 p. 10½ x 7½ in. Foxing, some paper remnants on verso.

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Item #23425, $3,500

Same-Day Broadside Extra Printing of Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Inaugural Address. Chicago Tribune Extra, March 4, 1861. Chicago: Joseph Medill, Charles H. Ray, Alfred Cowles. 1 p., 8½ x 24 in.

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I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.

In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressor.

Item #26966, $37,500

Abraham Lincoln Introduces Ulysses S. Grant’s Superintendent of Freed Slaves to the American Freedmen’s Inquiry Commission

Abraham Lincoln, Autograph Letter Signed as President, to Robert Dale Owen, July 22, 1863, Washington, D.C. On Executive Mansion stationery. 1 p., 5 x 8 in.

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“Mr John Eaton Jr. … having had charge of the freed-men … comes to me highly recommended by Gen. Grant, as you know, & also by Judge Swayne[1]of the U. S. Supreme Court.

On July 22, 1862, exactly a year before he wrote this letter, Lincoln read a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet, agreeing to Stanton’s advice to hold it back until the Union could claim a military victory. On September 22, after the Battle of Antietam, he issued a Preliminary Proclamation, stating that enslaved people in any areas still in rebellion would be freed, and that freed men would be welcomed into the armed forces of the United States. Once Lincoln issued the final Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, Secretary of War Edward Stanton worked to create a federal system to support freed slaves, and allow them to most effectively support the Union.

Item #26470, $85,000

“The Excursion of the Bought Nominations”
Showing Balloon “Union League”

[CIVIL WAR], Broadside, “The Excursion of the Bought Nominations, The Large Balloon ‘Union League,’ Will Start Immediately. The Balloon is managed by the Old Hunkers in the Ring.” [1864]. 4 ¾ x 8 ½ in.

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Item #21986.04, $750

Union League of Philadelphia Supports Re-Election of Lincoln as “the man for the time”

[ABRAHAM LINCOLN]. [HENRY CHARLES LEA], Printed Pamphlet. No. 17: Abraham Lincoln, [March 1864]. 12 pp., 5¾ x 8¾ in.

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As a MAN OF THE PEOPLE, understanding them and trusted by them, he has proved himself the man for the time.

Item #24898, $750

Abraham Lincoln Asks Charles Dana for Meeting During Brief Return to the Capital from Grant’s Army of the Potomac

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Autograph Note Signed, to Edwin M. Stanton, May 20, 1864, Washington, D.C. 1 p., 3¼ x 2 in.

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Lincoln directs Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton to have Assistant Secretary of War Charles A. Dana, who was in Washington just for the day before returning to Grant’s Headquarters, to “call and see me.” Dana had been managing editor of the New-York Tribune until conflict with Horace Greeley forced his resignation in 1862. Stanton immediately made Dana a special investigating agent. Regularly reporting from the front, occasionally shuttling back and forth, Dana became a trusted friend of Ulysses S. Grant. On January 28, 1864, Lincoln appointed Dana as Second Assistant Secretary of War. Dana shuttled between Washington D.C. and the army during the Vicksburg campaign, the Battle of Chickamauga, and most recently to this note, the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, which started on May 8th, with the last major Union movement occurring on May 19th.

Item #27219, $16,500

Frederick A. Aiken Urging Frémont to Run Against Lincoln

FREDERICK A. AIKEN, Autograph Letter Signed, to John C. Frémont, Washington, D.C., June 12, 1864. 2 pp. 7¾ x 9¾ in.

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With the war going badly, the 1864 election is no shoo-in for the incumbent.

Frederick A. Aiken, former Secretary of the Democratic National Convention, applauds General John C. Frémont’s nomination by the Radical Republicans. He suggests that Frémont will have the blessing of the Democrats if he goes up against Lincoln for the Republican nomination. Aiken went on to serve (unsuccessfully) as defense attorney for Lincoln assassination conspirator Mary Surratt.

Item #20715, $3,200

“How the War Commenced, and How Near It Is Ended”: Broadside Supporting Reelection of Abraham Lincoln

[CIVIL WAR; ABRAHAM LINCOLN], How the War Commenced, and How Near It Is Ended. Printed Broadside. New York, NY: National Union Executive Committee, [ca. October] 1864. 1 p., 12¼ x 18¾ in., framed to 19¼ x 25¼ in.

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The National Union Executive Committee in New York issued a series of broadsides including this one to answer objections from the Democratic Party as to the progress of the Civil War. The Committee supported the reelection of Abraham Lincoln for president by the National Union Party, a temporary union of Republicans and War Democrats. This broadside features a map of the southern and border states with areas shaded to indicate Union control and areas remaining under Confederate control. Two columns of text below the graphic answer the questions, “Who Commenced the War?” and “Have we made any Progress in Crushing the Rebellion?

Item #27486, $2,400

A New York Soldier’s Affidavit Allowing
a Proxy to Vote in the 1864 Election

[CIVIL WAR], Partially Printed Document Signed by James M. Smith, countersigned by Jerome B. Parmenter, and Captain Joseph H. Allen. Richmond, Virginia, October 18, 1864. 1 p., 8 x 12½ in. With printed envelope restating affidavit’s claim on the outside.

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Item #21264.05, ON HOLD

1865 General Orders,
Including Many Regarding Lincoln’s Assassination

[CIVIL WAR - WAR DEPARTMENT], Book. Bound collection of separately printed General Orders from the Adjutant General’s office for 1865. Containing 168 of 175 consecutive orders, and a 94-page index at front. Bound for Major General William Scott Ketchum, with his name in gilt on the spine and his markings or wartime notes on numerous pages. 4¾ x 7 in.

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Item #22265, $4,800

Lincoln Assassin John Wilkes Booth & Conspirator John H. Surratt Contemporary Cartes-de-Visite

[ABRAHAM LINCOLN], Carte-de-visite of John Wilkes Booth, ca. 1862 (Gutman 21). “J. Wilkes Booth” added below photograph in the negative. 1 p., 2.5 x 4 in. With Carte-de-visite of John H. Surratt, ca. 1868, with copyright statement. 1 p., 2.5 x 4 in. #26050.02

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The first carte-de-visite shows the young actor as he appeared a few years before he assassinated President Abraham Lincoln to avenge the South for the failure of the Confederacy. The original photograph was taken by Silsbee & Case of Boston in 1862. The photograph was widely reproduced in the aftermath of the assassination and given to search parties looking for Booth.

The second is a profile photograph of John H. Surratt after his return to the United States and trial, with the notice that it was “Entered according to Act of Congress by John H. Surratt, in the year 1868, in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the District of Columbia.” With “Brady & Co’s” mark on the verso.

Item #26050.01, $2,000
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