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Revolution and Founding Fathers (1765 - 1784)
Revolution and Founding Fathers (1765 - 1784)

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John Hancock’s Letter Proclaiming Independence, and Sending the Declaration to Georgia

JOHN HANCOCK, Letter Signed, text in a secretarial hand (likely Jacob Rust), to the Convention of Georgia [Council of Safety], Philadelphia, July 8, 1776, 2 pages, 8 x 12⅝ in. on the first leaf of a bifolium.

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Congress have judged it necessary to dissolve all Connection between Great Britain & the American Colonies, and to declare them free and independent States....

The important Consequences to the American States from this Declaration of Independence, considered as the Ground & Foundation of a future Government, will naturally suggest the Propriety of proclaiming it in such a Manner, that the People may be universally informed of it.

Hancock sent similar letters to each of the thirteen original states. All five that can be located today (Georgia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and New Hampshire) have previously sold. The present example was first recorded at auction in 1899, in the estate auction of the preeminent collector of his day. It last changed hands privately more than 50 years ago.

The Declaration copies that Hancock sent with these letters are known as Dunlap Broadsides, after John Dunlap, who spent the night of July 4-5 printing them. The broadsides – single pages with all the information printed on one side – were all unsigned. Even so, the last Dunlap broadside to change hands sold for more than $20 million.

The original manuscript document that Hancock and Charles Thomson signed on July 4th has not been seen since.

Even the “National Treasure” document in the National Archives came later; it was penned after New York changed its instructions to allow the vote for Independence to be retroactively unanimous, and the signers’ “John Hancocks” were affixed on or after August 2.

Note that we will offer a generous discount to any buyer willing to bring the letter back to Georgia, or to place it in an appropriate museum or library.

Item #26034, PRICE ON REQUEST

The Declaration of Independence
Rare Broadside Printed and Posted in July, 1776

[DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE], Broadside. [Exeter, New Hampshire: attributed Robert Luist Fowle], [ca. July 16-19, 1776], two-column format, sheet size approx. 15⅛ x 19⅝ in. Pin holes in three corners, with the upper-left corner torn in approx the same position, indicates that this was posted publicly to spread the momentous news.

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Broadsides such as this fanned the flames of independence. Passed from hand to hand, read aloud at town gatherings, or posted in public places, broadsides (single pages with print only one side) were meant to quickly convey news. Including the present copy, there are fewer than a dozen examples of this Exeter, N.H. printing known. Pin holes in three corners and the torn upper-left corner suggest this example was posted publicly.

In a way, this Declaration broadside is even more “original” than the signed manuscript pictured by most Americans. This is not yet “The Unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States,” but rather “A Declaration, by the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress assembled.” On July 4,  New York’s delegation abstained from voting for independence. After replacing their delegates, New York joined the other 12 colonies.

Moreover, as here on the broadside, the July 4 Declaration was signed by only two men: Continental Congress President John Hancock and Secretary Charles Thomson (here with the common variant “Thompson”). After New York came on board, Congress resolved on July 19 to have the Declaration engrossed with a new title: “The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America.” Most of the 56 signers affixed their names on the engrossed document on August 2, 1776, with some added even later.

Thus, broadsides such as this one preserve the text of the Declaration of Independence as it actually was issued in July of 1776.

Item #21991.99, PRICE ON REQUEST

John Hancock Addresses Massachusetts Legislature

[JOHN HANCOCK], Newspaper. Massachusetts Centinel, Boston, Mass., June 4, 1788. 4 pp., 9½ x 14½ in. Trimmed close at bottom edge, with minor text loss to pp. 3-4 but not affecting Hancock’s speech. “X”s mark certain columns for reading or copying.

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Item #20650.31, $450

Celebrating LaFayette’s Visit in Music

[MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE]. CHRISTOPHER MEINEKE, Printed Sheet Music. “General Lafayette’s Grand March and Quickstep,” Baltimore: John Cole, ca. 1824. 3 pp.

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When General Lafayette made a grand tour of the United States in 1824 and 1825, near the fiftieth anniversary of American independence, he visited Baltimore seven times. On one of those visits, he likely heard this march written by a local composer and church organist.

Item #23905.02, $475

An Annapolis Report of the Continental Congress Deciding Legislative Terms Under the Articles of Confederation

[ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION], Newspaper. Thomas’s Massachusetts Spy, Or, The Worcester Gazette, Worcester, Mass., May 13, 1784. 4 pp., 11 x 18½ in.

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Item #21556.06, $650

Opposition to and Support of the Townshend Acts, and an Ad for a Tooth-Ache Cure

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR] [WILLIAM GODDARD], Newspaper. Pennsylvania Chronicle, and Universal Advertiser, May, 29 1769, Philadelphia, Pa., 8 pp., 9⅜ x 11¾ in.

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Item #30000.72, $750

Depreciation, Inflation and Taxation

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR], Newspaper. The Pennsylvania Packet or the General Advertiser, John Dunlap: Philadelphia, Pa., July 15, 1779. 4 pp., 10½ x 16½ in., untrimmed.

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Item #21556.04, $750

A Revolutionary War Doctor Defends His Reputation, Pennsylvania War News, and Congress Takes a Huge Loan

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR], Newspaper. Pennsylvania Packet or General Advertiser. John Dunlap, Philadelphia, Pa., July 1, 1779. 4 pp., 10½ x 17, untrimmed.

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Item #21556.07, $850

Franklin Proclaims,
“Britain has no Right to tax the Colonies…”

[BENJAMIN FRANKLIN], Newspaper, The Pennsylvania Chronicle. Philadelphia: William Goddard, February 6, 1769. 8 pp. (pp. 9-16), 10 x 12.5 in.

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Item #30000.71, $950

Presidential Secretary Tobias Lear’s Copy of Erasmus of Rotterdam’s English-Latin Humanistic Philosophies

TOBIAS LEAR, Signed Book, Erasmus’s Select Colloquies. London, 1766. In Latin and English. Signed “Tobias Lear ejus Liber ex dono Patris iri anno domini noster 1773” on the rear free fly. A rough copy, rubbed, boards separating but present. Also signed by Tobias Sherburne and Benjamin Lincoln Lear at front.

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Item #22021.04, ON HOLD

Congress Responds to King George III’s Proclamation that the Colonies are in Rebellion

[SECOND CONTINENTAL CONGRESS], Newspaper. The Pennsylvania Gazette, December 13, 1775 (No. 2451). Philadelphia: David Hall and William Sellers. With the Response of the Continental Congress to King George III’s Proclamation of Rebellion. (December 6, 1775). 4 pp. 10 x 15½ in. [Significant damage: Half of column on p1 excised.]

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We are accused of ‘forgetting the allegiance which we owe to the power that has protected and sustained us.’… What allegiance is it that we forget? Allegiance to Parliament? We never owed—we never owned it. Allegiance to our King? Our words have ever avowed it...we oppose the claim and exercise of unconstitutional powers, to which neither the Crown nor Parliament were ever entitled.

Item #30035.30, $1,250

John Marshall’s “Life of George Washington”
and Companion Atlas with Hand-colored Maps

JOHN MARSHALL. [GEORGE WASHINGTON], Books, The Life of George Washington Commander in Chief of the American Forces, During the War which Established the Independence of his Country and First President of the United States, Compiled Under the Inspection of the Honourable Bushrod Washington, From Original Papers Bequeathed to him by his Deceased Relative, 2nd edition, in two volumes. Philadelphia: James Crissy and Thomas Cowperthwait, 1840. 982 pp. plus index, 5½ x 9 in. Both have pencil inscription on blank fly leaf “A. Seeley 1851 Presented by T.C. Gladding.” Rebound; very good, some foxing toward the front. OCLC 183328030. With: Atlas to Marshall’s Life of Washington, Philadelphia: J. Crissy, [1832], 10 hand-colored maps. Ex-Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Massachusetts bookplate on front paste-down. Black cloth spine and corners, original green boards with label. Internally fine. OCLC 191237946.

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Chief Justice John Marshall’s magisterial biography of George Washington was originally a five-volume set. This 1840 publication, revised and issued in two volumes, also includes the 1832 companion atlas of maps relating to the Revolutionary War.

Item #22477, $1,250

Masonic Constitution Dedicated to George Washington, with frontispiece Masonic Coats of Arms by Future Chief Engraver of the US Mint

[GEORGE WASHINGTON]. LAURENCE DERMOTT, Book. Ahiman Rezon [Help to a Brother] abridged and digested: as a Help to all that are, or would be Free and Accepted Masons. To which is added, A Sermon, Preached in Christ-Church, Philadelphia, At A General Communication, Celebrated, agreeable to the Constitutions, on Monday, December 28, 1778, as the Anniversary of St. John the Evangelist. Published by order of The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, by William Smith, D.D. Philadelphia: Hall and Sellers, 1783. 4¾ x 7⅝ in.; engraved frontispiece, xvi, 166 pp. First edition.

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In Testimony, as well as of his exalted Services to his Country as of that noble

Philanthropy which distinguishes Him among Masons

This is the scarce first American edition of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania’s Masonic Constitution, dedicated to Washington as “General and Commander in Chief of the Armies of the United States of America.

The 1778 sermon included in this volume carries a similar dedication, as well as a detailed description of the procession in which “our illustrious Brother George Washington” marched as guest of honor. The sermon itself contains a remarkably prescient characterization of Washington as an American Cincinnatus. The volume’s fine frontispiece engraving of two Masonic coats-of-arms is by Robert Scot (Scott), future chief engraver of the United States Mint.

Item #25745, $1,450

“Cato” (William Smith, first Provost of College of Philadelphia) Opposes Common Sense, and “Cassandra” (Penn’s Professor of Mathematics) Answers

[THOMAS PAINE], Newspaper. The Pennsylvania Ledger: Or the Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, & New-Jersey Weekly Advertiser, April 13, 1776. Including Cato’s Letter VI, “To the People of Pennsylvania,” attacking Common Sense on political and religious grounds. This issue also prints the first part of Letter II by “Cassandra” [James Cannon]. Philadelphia: James Humphreys Jr. 4 pp., 10 x 16 in.

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you have only entertained us with some loose declamations upon abuses in the English government; and shocked us, for want of better arguments, by a perversion of things sacred; filling the papers with personal invectives, and calumnies against all who cannot swallow, at a venture, every crude notion, you may cook up as the politics of the day. This will as little agree with the stomachs of others as with mine; although I have declared that, when the last necessity comes, I have no expedient in view but to take my chance with you, for better and for worse.

Liberty or Slavery is now the question. Let us but fairly discover to the inhabitants of these Colonies on which side Liberty has erected her banner and we will leave it to them to determine whether they would choose Liberty tho’ accompanied with war, or Slavery attended by peace.

Item #25382, $1,600

Harvard’s 1770 Graduating Class and Their Theses, Dedicated to Governor Hutchinson

HARVARD COLLEGE, Broadside. List of Graduating Students and Theses for Disputation. Boston, Massachusetts: Richard Draper, 1770. 1 p., 18 x 22 in.

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Interesting broadside in Latin issued for Harvard University’s 1770 commencement lists Latinized names of 34 graduating students. Among the graduates are Samuel Adams (1751-1788), son of the patriot, Harvard graduate, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and later governor of Massachusetts Samuel Adams (1722-1803); loyalist and New Brunswick Supreme Judicial Court Justice Ward Chipman (1754-1824); Gilbert Saltonstall (1752-1833), grandson of Connecticut Governor Gurdon Saltonstall, son of General Gurdon Saltonstall, close friend of Nathan Hale, and Captain of Marines in the Revolutionary War; and Samuel Osgood (1747-1813), delegate to the Continental Congress and first Postmaster General of the United States.

Item #24460, $1,750

An Intrastate Merchant Dispute on the Eve of the American Revolutionary War

UNKNOWN, Handwritten Letter, to Hugh Gaine. November 1, 1774. New York State. 1 p., 8¼ x 8⅜ in.

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Shame, Shame, to take the Advantage of your country in such an oppressive degree…we are sensible of the Mortal Wounds we Received and do receive from you.

Item #24246, $2,400

Return for Lt. John Hicks’s Company at West Point

[WEST POINT], Manuscript Document Signed (John Hicks Lt), West Point, N.Y, December 3, 1781, 1 p. “A Return of Lt. Hicks Comp” listing the names of 38 men; missing lower right corner professionally restored. Verso: notation “Rye Brooks,” possibly the day’s password.

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Item #20639.12, $2,600

The Declaration of Independence - Early British Printing of the “substance” Sanitized to Be Less Offensive to “a great person” (the King)

[DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE], Pamphlet. The London Magazine, Or, Gentleman’s Monthly Intelligencer, for August, 1776. London, printed for R. Baldwin. [September, 1776]. Octavo, disbound, without wrappers. Trimmed close on title page, but text entirely intact. Clean & crisp. One old paper repair above the text on final page. With 2 plates showing British antiquities. The last page (448) contains an early British excerpt of the Declaration of Independence taken from the London Gazette. Also of war preparations by General Howe.

Articles include “A Portrait of the present Mode of Female Education,” “Parliamentary History,” “Anecdote of Henry IV of France,” “Reflections on the married State, by a Lady,” “Cautions to young Ladies,” “Happy Effects of Temperance,” “Observations on Soame Jenyn’s View of the internal Evidence of the Christian Religion,” “On Circumspection in licensing public houses” [ie, bars], and more.

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“The Congress next recite a number of proceedings detrimental to the colonies, most of which have been already mentioned, at different times, from the resolutions of their several assemblies, with this difference, that they now attribute the oppressions to a great person, instead of the ministry and parliament, as at their former meetings.”

Item #24366, $2,750

British Major General Henry Clinton Pays the Fraser Highlanders

HENRY CLINTON, Partially Printed Document Signed, July 13, 1778, Pay warrant for Simon Fraser’s regiment. Warrant to Captain Angus Macintosh, who also signs it to acknowledge payment. Bound by a cord, partially disbound and separated, 7¾ x 12½ in. The first leaf is slightly smaller at 7¼ x 12 in. 8 pp.

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Item #24755, $2,750

Financing the New Nation at the End of the American Revolution

ROBERT MORRIS, Manuscript Letter Signed, to William Moore, President of Pennsylvania, January 3, 1782, Philadelphia. 1 p., 7⅜ x 7⅜ in.

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On October 19, 1781, the date of the British surrender at Yorktown, Robert Morris, as Superintendent of Finance of the United States, sent a circular to the governors of each of the states. In it, he asserted that “It is high time to relieve ourselves from the ignominy we have already sustained, and to rescue and restore the national credit. This can only be done by solid revenue.”

On January 3, 1782, Morris sent this letter to William Moore, the President of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania. He also sent copies to President of New Hampshire John Langdon, Governor of Connecticut Jonathan Trumbull, and Governor of Virginia Benjamin Harrison V.

Item #25778, $2,800
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