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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, PRICE ON REQUEST

Defending Georgia Against the Spanish in War of Jenkins’ Ear. Scarce Example of the Oldest Regularly Published Newspaper in America

[EUROPEAN AND COLONIAL NEWS], Boston Weekly News-Letter, January 31, 1740. Boston: John Draper. 2 pp., 13½ x 18½ in. Includes handwritten “Revd Mr Samll Cooke (at Bridger’s)” inscription in margin of first page.

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This issue of the Boston Weekly News-Letter features a report of early conflicts between the British and French empires in coastal Georgia in the early stages of the War of Jenkin’s Ear.

Item #27367, $3,250

Acquittal of Printer John Peter Zenger in Colonial New York Establishes Foundation for American Freedom of the Press

[JOHN PETER ZENGER], The Trial of John Peter Zenger, Of New-York, Printer: Who was charged with having printed and published a Libel against the Government; and acquitted. With a Narrative of his Case. To which is now added, being never printed before, The Trial of Mr. William Owen, Bookseller, near Temple-Bar, Who was also Charged with the Publication of a Libel against the Government; of which he was honourably acquitted by a Jury of Free-born Englishmen, Citizens of London, 1st ed. London: John Almon, 1765. Three-quarter olive calf, red morocco spine label, stamped in blind and in gilt, over marbled paper-covered boards; some sunning to leather; all edges trimmed. 60 pp., 5 x 8.25 in.

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It is not the cause of a poor printer...it is the cause of liberty.

This volume, printed in London three decades after John Peter Zenger’s trial, illustrates the continuing relevance of his acquittal to the freedom of the press. The volume also includes the story of William Owen, a London bookseller, who had been prosecuted for libel at the request of the House of Commons in 1752. Like Zenger, Owen was also acquitted by a jury.

John Almon, a publisher and bookseller known for his commitment to the freedom of the press, printed the volume as part of his challenge to governmental censorship of the press. In the same year that Almon published this pamphlet, the attorney general prosecuted him for the publication of a pamphlet entitled Juries and Libels, but the prosecution failed.

Item #27745, $3,500

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

Connecticut Governor’s Proclamation Calling for a Day of Thanksgiving to Commemorate the Defeat of the French in Canada, and the Taking of Quebec

THOMAS FITCH, By the Honourable Thomas Fitch Esq; Governor ... of Connecticut ... A Proclamation for a Public Thanksgiving ... Thursday the sixth day of March next .... New Haven: by James Parker & Company, February 21, 1760. 12 x 14.5 inches.

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Broadside with a woodcut vignette of royal British arms at the top and woodcut initial. Some loss to upper right corner, a few nicks to the left and right margins. Penned inscription on the back.

Reference: Evans 8568; ESTC W34681 (locating only 2 copies)

Item #26605, $6,500

The Stamp That Started a Revolution (SOLD)

STAMP ACT, Tax stamp, two shilling and six pence, 1765. Grey embossed paper, 3 x 3 ½ in., cut from parchment document. On verso, a paper stamp, 1 x 1 in., with George III’s seal.

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Item #463.03, SOLD — please inquire about other items

John Hancock’s Signed Protest Against “Taxes … imposed upon the People, without their Consent”

JOHN HANCOCK, Document Signed as Selectman of Boston, to the Selectmen of Charlestown [right across the bay from Boston]. Cosigned by Boston Selectmen Joseph Jackson, John Ruddock, John Rowe, and Samuel Pemberton. Boston, Mass., September 14, 1768. 1 p. 6-⅜ x 12-⅝ in.

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With its warning call for “the Preservation of our invaluable Rights” punctuated by the instantly recognizable signature of John Hancock, this 1768 letter is an important precursor to American independence. The selectmen of Boston lay out key issues: the “unconstitutional” imposition of taxes, obstruction of petitions for redress, dissolution of representative government, and introduction of a standing army to enforce the oppressive mandates—“one of the greatest Distresses to which a free People can be reduced.” 

The call for a convention was answered immediately. Nine days later, on September 23, representatives from 96 Massachusetts towns met in Boston’s Faneuil Hall. Five days after that, warships arrived in Boston Harbor with the first British reinforcements. The convention hastily composed a list of grievances, passed several resolutions, and adjourned. On September 30, royal transports unloaded two regiments at the Long Wharf, beginning the British military occupation of Boston that lasted until March 17, 1776. 

“No taxation without representation.” is now thought of as the catchphrase for the patriot cause. Though often attributed to James Otis, no proof of his use of the phrase has been found. The February 1768 London Magazine contains the earliest known printing, in a subhead introducing a speech on the declaratory bill. Lord Camden stated that “taxation and representation are inseparably united,” and the editor added “no taxation without representation.” The first known usage relating to America was printed in 1771 for the prior year’s The Political Register and Impartial Review, in “A Dissertation on the original Dispute between Great-Britain and her Colonies,” by Demophoon. 

The substance of the rallying cry is captured here, in the argument of Hancock and his fellow selectmen that the punitive taxes have been imposed on the Colonies “without their Consent,” through “Acts of Parliament in the forming of which the Colonies have not, and cannot have any constitutional Influence. 

The Boston selectmen’s circular letter, with its successful call for a colony-wide convention, represents an important precedent for the creation of ad hoc governing institutions in revolutionary America, from the Committees of Correspondence and Committees of Safety to the Continental Congresses. In bypassing royal prerogative to constitute a political body capable of representing the popular will, Massachusetts patriots sowed the seeds for republican government and independence in America. 

Very rare. Only one other signed copy is presently known in private hands, and just four are recorded in institutional collections. It seems likely that many other copies went out with clerical signatures.

Item #27558, SOLD — please inquire about other items

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

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, SOLD — please inquire about other items

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, ON HOLD

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, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Virginia Planter Friend of Washington Explains American Reaction to the Intolerable Acts, Warns War, Urges Effort to Repeal the Law

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR PRELUDE.] BRYAN FAIRFAX, Autograph Letter Signed but with signature effaced, to Unidentified Recipient, October 24, 1774, [Virginia]. 4 pp., 7¼ x 9 in.

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“It is not yet too late for the King to recover the Affections of his Subjects in America… If more Troops should be sent over, and any Blows shd happen to the Northward, there will be as great a Passion in America for the Relief of Boston as ever there was for Croisades to Jerusalem… They act here from a Persuasion that a determined System is now formed to tax or enslave them…. The People mean well, they should not be forced to give up what they verily believe to be their Rights…”

Bryan Fairfax wrote this fascinating letter from Virginia to an influential Englishman. (His cousin, Lord Thomas Fairfax, is at least a plausible guess as to the recipient). Fairfax describes the American reaction to the Intolerable Acts and the Boston Port Act, urging the recipient to use his power in England to have them repealed. Fairfax originally signed the letter. Perhaps considering the wisdom of having a name attached to such a passionate letter, he or a reader scratched it out. Whether immediately after writing, or within the next couple of years once the Revolutionary War began in earnest, we cannot tell.

Despite major differences as to their approaches, Fairfax notes, “as to the Virginians I can answer for their good Intentions.” Fairfax and Washington’s correspondence in July and August reveal their major difference: Fairfax believed the British could still be persuaded by arguments, while Washington believed that repeated failures to even acknowledge successive colonial petitions and supplications showed that the British had determined to subjugate the colonies.

Item #27209, SOLD — please inquire about other items

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

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, $12,500

“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, SOLD — please inquire about other items

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, $6,500

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, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Eyewitness Account of the Battle of Bunker Hill from a Loyalist Perspective

[BUNKER HILL], Loyalist Account of the Battle of Bunker Hill Broadside. June 26, 1775, Boston. Boston: John Howe, 1775. 1 p., 8¾ x 14 in.

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This Action has shown the Bravery of the King’s Troops, who under every Disadvantage, gained a compleat Victory.... But they fought for their King, their Laws and Constitution.

Nine days after the British drove the Americans from the heights above Boston, Loyalist printer John Howe issued this broadside/handbill. Although the account of the battle is quite accurate, it inflates the number of Patriot troops and distorts the number of casualties. Although it claims the British troops were outnumbered three to one, other estimates suggest that approximately 2,400 Patriots faced 3,000 British troops. The Americans suffered approximately 450 casualties, including 140 dead, while the British lost 1,054 killed and wounded, a casualty rate of about 45 percent. The casualty rate among British officers was particularly high. This broadside’s emphasis on the courage of the British forces makes it an unusual account of the battle and an interesting piece of British propaganda.

Item #26495, $12,500

Continental Congress July 1775 Message Asserting American Sovereignty & Rejecting Parliament’s Appeal for Peace. Drafted by Thomas Jefferson, Printed at Harvard. With Reports from London on Battles of Lexington and Concord

[SECOND CONTINENTAL CONGRESS], Newspaper. The New-England Chronicle, or the Essex Gazette. August 31-September 7, 1775 (Vol. 8, No. 371). Printed at Stoughton Hall, Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Samuel Hall and Ebenezer Hall. Includes front-page printing of Opinion of Congress in Response to Lord North’s Conciliatory Proposal (July 31, 1775), written by Thomas Jefferson, signed in type by John Hancock; and Resolution of Congress Clarifying Non-Importation Agreement (August 1, 1775). The original subscriber to this issue was Dr. John Wingate (1743-1819) of Hallowell, Maine (Massachusetts), who served as an army surgeon in the Revolutionary War. 4 pp., 10 x 15½ in.

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The colonies of America are entitled to the sole and exclusive privilege of giving and granting their own money...It is a high breach of this privilege for any body of men, extraneous to their constitutions...to take to themselves the authority of judging of their conditions.

it is the DESPOTISM of the CROWN and the SLAVERY of the people which the ministry aim at. For refusing those attempts, and for that only the Americans have been inhumanly murdered by the King’s Troops.

Historic background

On the night of April 18, 1775, Paul Revere rode to Lexington to warn that the British were coming. 700 British troops were met on Lexington Green by local minutemen; the skirmish left eight Americans dead. As the British continued to the armory at Concord, hundreds of minutemen and militiamen responded. The British were forced to march back to Boston; on the way, American snipers took a deadly toll. The war had begun in earnest.

Item #30034.05, $6,500

Fourteen Men Receive Coats and Pay (SOLD)

[SIEGE OF BOSTON], Manuscript Document Signed by 14 soldiers. Materiel Receipt from Samuel Leighton. Cambridge, Mass., October 28, 1775, 1 p.

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Item #20632.12, SOLD — please inquire about other items
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