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

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The Alexander Hamilton Collection: The Story of the Revolution and Founding

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR AND FOUNDING], The Collection features Highly Important Original Letters, Documents, & Imprints representing not just Hamilton, but also Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Paine, Burr, the Schuyler Sisters and Brothers, & Many More. Telling political and personal tales of the brilliant and sometimes tragic Founders, this Collection of more than 1,100 original documents is offered as a whole, but can be reconstituted to make it most appropriate for Federal Hall.

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Can you imagine a nation with no uniting banking system or currency? With insufficient revenue for even the most necessary expenses? With no ability to act as one nation on the world stage?

Clearly, Washington needed a right-hand man for the incredibly detailed work of building a government, formulating plans, and bringing them from conception to completion. His choice was obvious. Alexander Hamilton had revealed his unique energy and capability throughout the Revolutionary War, at the Constitutional Convention, and in the ratification battles. 

On September 11, 1789, the same day Washington signed his letters transmitting the Act of Congress Establishing the Treasury Department, he made his first cabinet nomination: Alexander Hamilton as Secretary of the Treasury. Within hours, the Senate confirmed the appointment.

The financial system Hamilton designed created the possibility of a real United States of America, whose founding purpose was to advance the rights of the people to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Item #24685, $2,600,000

Benjamin Franklin’s Newspaper Reports on the Proposed Union of the Colonies

[BENJAMIN FRANKLIN], Pennsylvania Gazette, September 12, 1754. Newspaper. Philadelphia: Benjamin Franklin and David Hall. 4 pp., lacking the advertising half-sheet, 9¼ x 14½ in.

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New York’s legislative bodies and governor volley for position on a defensive pact that suggested that the colonies join together for the first time. With the usual shipping news, advertisements, and news from other colonial cities, including New York and Williamsburg.

Item #22426.06, $2,800

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

William Ellery to His Daughter on Her Future Role in the Household

WILLIAM ELLERY, Autograph Letter Signed, to his daughter, Lucy, June 9, 1766, Newport, R. I. 3 pp., 6⅜ x 7¾ in.

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Future signer of the Declaration of Independence, to his 14-year old daughter on the progress of her education and his desire for her to help manage his household in the wake of her mother’s death. “I want to see you put on the Woman, and begin to do that which you may be obliged to attempt sometime or other – The nice, prudent conduct of a Family is the greatest female Accomplishment, & to obtain this attention & Steadiness are the principal necessary Qualifications, & these are to be acquired by Practice

Item #21187.99, $4,800

The King’s Attorney Bills Connecticut – including cost of putting down a church riot (over tithing and ecclesiastical conflict between MA. & CT.) – and Suing Stamp Tax Collectors

JEDEDIAH ELDERKIN, Autograph Document Signed (“Jeda Elderkin”), Hartford, November 9, 1768, being an accounting of monies owed to and collected by Elderkin in Connecticut for services rendered as King’s attorney from December 1754 to 1766. 2 pp., recto and verso, double-folio.

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To Trouble & Expence against Rioters at Woodstock £1… To my Trouble & Expence to bring Actions agst the Collectors of Excise pr order of Assembly, £3.10

Item #23409, $3,500

Unique Patriotic Toasts from Boston’s Sons of Liberty

[SONS OF LIBERTY]. WILLIAM RUSSELL, Autograph Document, August 14, 1769, Boston, Massachusetts. 1 p., with additional writing on verso.

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These patriotic toasts—written on the fourth anniversary of Boston’s Stamp Act Riot—defiantly salute American liberty. The writer may have numbered among the 350 Sons of Liberty who celebrated the event at a dinner in Dorchester, Massachusetts. He would have been in good company: John Hancock, Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and John Adams were among the guests.

Item #23891, $19,000

Paul Revere’s Iconic Boston Massacre Print

PAUL REVERE, Engraving. “The Bloody Massacre perpetrated in King-Street Boston on March 5th 1770 by a party of the 29th Reg.” Printed by Edes & Gill, Boston, Mass., 1770. First edition, second state (clock showing 10:20), original hand coloring. 1 p., LVG watermark, 9⅝ x 12 in.

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Revere’s print quickly became one of the most successful examples of political propaganda of all time. The depiction of the event, and a poem printed below, vilify the British Army and list the first casualties of the American Revolution: “Unhappy Boston! see thy Sons deplore, Thy hallow’d Walks besmear’d with guiltless Gore...The unhappy Sufferers were Mess[ieur]s Saml Gray, Saml Maverick, Jams Caldwell, Crispus Attucks & Pat[ric]K Carr Killed. Six wounded; two of them (Christr Monk & John Clark) Mortally...” Rushed into print less than a month after the event, Revere’s print helped unite the colonists and, in American minds, cast the British as aggressive oppressors— making rebellion easier to justify.

Item #25697, $280,000

The Psalms of David, Carried in a Rhode Island Revolutionary War Unit in 1776

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR; RHODE ISLAND]. ISAAC WATTS, Book. The Psalms of David, Imitated in the Language of the New Testament: and Applied to the Christian State and Worship (title supplied). Norwich, [Connecticut]: Alexander Robertson, James Robertson, and Trumbull, 1774. Approx. 300 pp., 3 x 5 x 1¼ in.

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Bibles, psalm books, or other printed works carried during the Revolution are rare on the market. This edition appears to be scarce: the last offering we find was by Goodspeed’s in 1934.

Item #24693, $7,500

A Unique Pairing: Timothy Green’s Scarce 1774 Proceedings of the American Continental Congress…, with Connecticut Treasury Order Paying Printer to Distribute It

CONTINENTAL CONGRESS, Book. Extracts from the Votes and proceedings of the American Continental Congress, held at Philadelphia on the 5th of September 1774 Containing the Bill of rights, a List of grievances, Occasional resolves, the Association, an Address to the People of Great-Britain, a Memorial to the Inhabitants of the British American Colonies, and an Address to the Inhabitants of the Province of Quebec. New-London: Timothy Green, 1774. Quarto, 16 pp. Sewn as issued.

With related document signed a day before Paul Revere’s famous ride, and the beginning of the Battles of Lexington and Concord:
CONNECTICUT REVOLUTIONARY WAR TREASURY. Manuscript Document Signed. Order to pay Timothy Green “To Transporting to the Several Counties, the Doings of the Continental Congress…,” April 17, 1775, New London, Conn. 1 p., 6 x 9 in. Signed twice by Nathan Baxter, countersigned by Richard Law, Thomas Mumford, and Caleb Knight.

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Item #23976/24244.01, $8,500

Boston suffers under “Intolerable Act” closing its port, Harvard cancels commencement, and New York calls for what became the first Continental Congress

[BOSTON PORT ACT], Newspaper. The Boston Evening-Post, June 6, 1774, No. 2019. Boston: Thomas and John Fleet. 4 pp., 9¾ x 15⅜ in.

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Early report in the local Boston newspaper on implementation of Parliament’s Boston Port Act, the first of the Intolerable Acts, and the reaction to it in Massachusetts and beyond. Taking effect on June 1, 1774, rather than punishing individuals, the Act besieged the entire city until the colonists paid for the tea destroyed in the Tea Party (December 16, 1773).

the Act of Parliament for blocking up the Port of Boston, is now in all its Parts carrying into Execution with the greatest Severity, many Vessels being already prevented from coming in, and Fishing boats and other small Craft strictly search’d; so that we have reason to expect, that in a little time this Town will be in a truly distressed and melancholy Situation.” (p3/c1)

Item #24806, $4,800

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

Congress Forms First Continental Association & Addresses People of Great Britain

[CONTINENTAL CONGRESS], Newspaper. Postscript to The Pennsylvania Gazette, [November 2, 1774] (No. 2393). Philadelphia: David Hall and William Sellers. Front-page printing of “The Association” (October 20, 1774, but misdated in this issue as October 24), signed in type by Peyton Randolph and delegates from twelve colonies, including George Washington and John Adams. With a printing beginning on the front-page of Address “To the People of Great-Britain” (October 21, 1774), written by John Jay. 2 pp., 10 x 15½ in.

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To obtain redress of these grievances, which threaten destruction to the lives, liberty and property of his Majesty’s subjects in North-America, we are of opinion, that a non-importation, non-consumption, and non-exportation agreement, faithfully adhered to, will prove the most speedy, effectual, and peaceable measure… We will neither import, nor purchase any slave imported, after the first day of December next; after which time, we will wholly discontinue the slave trade… we will not purchase or use any tea, imported on account of the East-India Company, or any on which a duty bath been or shall be paid…

Item #30035.19, $28,000

Continental Congress Address to Inhabitants of the Colonies Urging Unity Against British Tyranny, also prints Letter to Inhabitants of Quebec

[CONTINENTAL CONGRESS], Newspaper. Pennsylvania Gazette, November 9, 1774 (No. 2394). Philadelphia: David Hall and William Sellers. Front-page printing of Memorial “To the Inhabitants of the Colonies of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode-Island, and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, the Counties of New-Castle, Kent, and Sussex, on Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina” (October 21, 1774); and Letter “To the Inhabitants of the Province of Quebec” (October 26, 1774). Copy sent to Thomas and John Fleet, Boston printers. 4 pp. 10 x 16¼ in.

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Friends and Countrymen:... we find ourselves reduced to the disagreeable alternative, of being silent and betraying the innocent, or of speaking out and censuring those we wish to revere. In making our choice of these distressing difficulties, we prefer the course dictated by honesty, and a regard for the welfare of our country....

it is clear beyond a doubt, that a resolution is formed, and now is carrying into execution, to extinguish the freedom of these colonies, by subjecting them to a despotic government…

Item #30035.20, $15,000

“Unite or Die” Masthead Paper with Great Revolutionary War Content

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR], Newspaper. The Pennsylvania Journal; and the Weekly Advertiser, January 11, 1775 (No. 1675). Philadelphia: William and Thomas Bradford. 4 pp., 10⅛ x 16⅛ in.

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the greatest duty you can discharge to your country, will be to follow the directions of that respectable body, which you chose to be the guardian of your liberty....

The excellent Revolutionary War content starts with the masthead. Benjamin Franklin first created the image of a snake dissected into separate segments to illustrate the disunity of the thirteen colonies during the French and Indian War, and published it in his Pennsylvania Gazette on May 9, 1754. Twenty years later, Philadelphia printers William Bradford and his son Thomas Bradford resurrected the image for the cause of Independence and featured it in the masthead of The Pennsylvania Journal from July 12, 1774, through October 18, 1775. The Bradfords added a ninth segment to the tail of the snake to represent Georgia, which Franklin had not done. In both iterations, the New England states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut were represented by a single segment. At the time of this issue and for five more months, Delaware was a part of Pennsylvania.

Item #26144, $7,500

An Early Olive Branch Petition - Continental Congress Implores King George III for Relief

[CONTINENTAL CONGRESS], Newspaper. The Pennsylvania Gazette, January 18, 1775 (No. 2404). Philadelphia: David Hall and William Sellers. “Petition of the Continental Congress To the King’s Most Excellent Majesty” (October 25, 1774). 4 pp., 10 x 16¼ in.

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“We your Majesty’s faithful subjects...beg leave to lay our grievances before the throne… an act was passed for blocking up the harbour of Boston, another impowering the Governor of the Massachusetts-Bay to send persons indicted for murder in that province to another colony, or even to Great-Britain, for trial… a third for altering the chartered constitution of government in that province; and a fourth, for extending the limits of Quebec, abolishing the English, and restoring the French laws… To a sovereign, who ‘glories in the name of Briton,’ the bare recital of these acts must, we presume, justify the loyal subjects who fly to the foot of his throne and implore his clemency for protection against them.… We ask but for Peace, Liberty, and Safety.”

Item #30035.24, $10,000

1775 Printing at Harvard College: Accounts of Battles of Lexington and Concord; Report of British “Black List” of Patriot “Rebels to Execute”; PA. & N.Y. Associations Support Mass.

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR], Newspaper. The New-England Chronicle, or the Essex Gazette, May 2-12, 1775 (Vol. 8, No. 354). Cambridge, Harvard College: Samuel Hall and Ebenezer Hall. 4 pp., 10 x 15½ in.

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Just weeks after “the shot heard ’round the world,” this American newspaper from Cambridge published excerpts from several intercepted British soldiers’ letters about their experiences in the Battles of Lexington and Concord, as well as much other revolutionary content.

some of the Peasants fired on us…. they did not fight us like a regular Army, only like Savages, behind Trees and Stone Walls, and out of the Woods and Houses…. this extensive Continent is all in Arms against us: These people are very numerous, and full as bad as the Indians for scalping and cutting the dead Men’s Ears and Noses off, and those they get alive....

Item #26145, $6,800

Continental Congress Rejects Britain’s 1775 Conciliatory Proposal - Thomas Jefferson Drafted Message in a Prelude to Declaration of Independence

CONTINENTAL CONGRESS. [THOMAS JEFFERSON], Newspaper. Rivington’s New York Gazetteer, August 10, 1775, printing of the Congressional Resolution of July 31, 1775, rejecting Lord North’s Conciliatory Proposal that attempted to divide the colonies and weaken the move towards independence. Signed in type by John Hancock. The Resolution was drafted by Thomas Jefferson, for a committee including Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Richard Henry Lee. 4 pp.

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A proposition to give our money, accompanied with large fleets and armies, seems addressed to our fears, rather than to our freedom.... can the world be deceived into an opinion that we are unreasonable, or can it hesitate to believe with us, that nothing but our own exertions may defeat the ministerial sentence of death or abject submission.

Item #23545, $6,800

Siege of Boston: George Washington & Thomas Gage Exchange Strong Words on Prisoner’s Treatment

[Siege of Boston], The Pennsylvania Ledger. Newspaper. September 30, 1775, Philadelphia: James Humphreys Jr. 4 pp., 10 x 15⅞ in.

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You affect, Sir, to despise all rank, not derived from the same source with your own. I cannot conceive one more honorable than that which flows from the uncorrupted choice of a brave and free people, the purest source, and original fountain of all power.

Item #30007.053, $1,500

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 Hancock Signed 1776 Privateering Act

JOHN HANCOCK, Printed Document Signed as President of the Continental Congress. Instructions to the commanders of Private Ships of Vessels of War, which shall have Commissions or Letters of Marque and Reprisals, authorizing them to make Captures of British Vessels and Cargoes. [Philadelphia: printed by John Dunlap], dated in text April 3, 1776 [signed between April 3, 1776 and October, 1777]. 1 p., 8¾ x 13½ in. Framed to 24½ x 22½ in.

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The March 23, 1776 resolve of the Continental Congress to empower privateers, was a momentous step in the run-up to the Declaration of Independence. Congress had founded a Navy the previous fall, but had few funds to build it, and thus relied heavily on privateers to harass British shipping. “You may, by Force of Arms, attack, subdue, and take all Ships and other Vessels belonging to the Inhabitants of Great-Britain, on the High Seas.”

Item #23701.99, $30,000
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