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

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Request for Return of Drury’s Men to the General Court Committee Probably Signed by a Lexington-Concord Minuteman

AARON CHAMBERLAIN, Autograph Letter Signed (Aaron Chamberlin), Boston, 29 June 1782, 1 p., to Col. Drury (in Grafton). For “the Three Months that were raisd by Virtue of a Resolve of the 16 of June 1781”.

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Item #20639.15, $400

George Washington on the Impending Execution of Charles Asgill: “The Enemy ought to have learnt before this, that my Resolutions are not to be trifled with.”

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Letter Signed, as Commander-in-Chief, Continental Army, to Elias Dayton, Headquarters, [Newburgh, N.Y.], June 11, 1782. 3 pp., with free frank signed on address panel on verso of 3rd page. 9 x 14 in. Offered with discount issue of The Columbian Magazine, January, 1787, printing an excerpt of this letter relating to the Asgill Affair, and supporting documents.

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In the summer of 1782, following America’s victory at Yorktown the previous September, peace negotiations were just getting underway in Paris between the United States and Britain. With their outcome uncertain, desperate Loyalists here sought to strengthen the British hold on New York, undermine America’s vulnerable financial system, and exact revenge for their own losses. Spies were everywhere.

In this powerful letter about two major cases, Washington supports civilian authority, shows frustration over his troops’ handling of captured spies – especially a delay in following a habeas corpus ruling – and expresses steely anger over the British response to the pending execution of young Charles Asgill in retaliation for the murder of American captain Joshua Huddy.

Item #23811, $52,500

The Laws of Pennsylvania for 1781-1785, Signed by
Clement Biddle, George Washington’s Commissary General at Valley Forge

CLEMENT BIDDLE, Signed Book. Laws Enacted in the Sixth [-Ninth] General Assembly of the Representatives of the Freemen of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania... Vol. II. Philadelphia: Hall and Sellers [and Thomas Bradford], 1782-1785. Folio. 254, [3] 256-270, [3], 272 362, 362-365, 362-368, [6], 372-399, [1], II, [1], 402-857, [1], iv, [1], 590-704, iii p Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1782-1785. First six sections printed by Hall & Sellers, remainder by Thomas Bradford. Approximately 706 pp.

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Item #22236, $9,500

Washington’s End-Game: Pushing Southern States to Keep Pressure Up for Honorable Peace

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Circular Letter Signed, to Benjamin Harrison, December 19, 1781, Philadelphia. Text in the hand of Tench Tilghman, with two edits by Washington. 4 pp., 8 x 13 in.

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Available as part of The Alexander Hamilton Collection

Two months after the British surrender at Yorktown, Washington urged the governor of Virginia to ensure that his state meets the quota of troops mandated by Congress. Similar letters were sent to the Governors of Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. We locate only two other signed copies of this circular letter, one of which is in an institution.

the critical and dangerous situation to which all the southern States were reduced, was owing to the want of a sufficient regular force to oppose to that of the Enemy…. Happily the Scene is changed, and a moment is allowed us to rectify our past errors… But the greatest encouragement to a vigorous preparation is, that it will be the most likely method of gaining new Allies and forcing Great Britain into a negociation, which we have every reason to suppose would end in a peace honorable to the interests and views of America.

Item #24417, ON HOLD

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

A Month After Yorktown, Colonel Drury’s Weekly Return for His Regiment at West Point Notes “Chain Fatigue”

[LUKE DRURY], Manuscript Document Signed as Lieutenant Colonel and Commandant. West Point, N.Y., November 15, 1781. 1 p., 12¼ x 15¾ in.

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Item #20639.08, $5,000

1781 West Point Materiel Issue by Elnathan Haskell

ELNATHAN HASKELL, Autograph Document Signed (E. Haskell DAG) on a slip of paper, [West Point, N.Y.], 9 November 1781, order to issue “one of the best Hor.sm [Horseman’s] Tents” to Col. Luke Drury.

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Item #20639.06, $350

After Yorktown Victory, Samuel Huntington Congratulates French Foreign Minister

SAMUEL HUNTINGTON, Draft Autograph Letter, to Charles Gravier, Comte de Vergennes, Minister of France, November 7, 1781, Norwich, Connecticut. On laid paper watermarked “I Taylor.” 2 pp., 8 x 13¼ in.

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Available as part of The Alexander Hamilton Collection

The conduct of Count de Grasse so far as it hath come to my knowledge charms me; his drupping the British fleet sufficient to Convince teach them they might not & could to keep at due distance & not enter the Cheasapeake or again attempt to Interrupt the siege, & at the same time not suffering himself to be too far diverted from his first & main object…

Item #24776, ON HOLD

Congress Demands Pennsylvania Soldiers for a Final Assault on the British Army

[ARTHUR ST. CLAIR]. CHARLES THOMSON, Printed Document, Manuscript Order of the Continental Congress, to Arthur St. Clair, on levying troops in Pennsylvania to organize at Philadelphia, signed by Thomson as Secretary of Congress, September 19, 1781. 1 p., 5¼ x 7¼ in.

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As Washington’s gathered the Continental Army around Yorktown, Virginia, for a final, decisive battle against British forces, tactical planning continued for major cities and strategic points throughout America. The importance of victory and adequate defense weighed heavily on the Revolution’s military leaders. Alexander Hamilton, writing to his wife, Eliza, from his post in Annapolis on September 18, was concise: “I am going to do my duty. Our operations will be so conducted, as to economize the lives of men. Exert your fortitude and rely upon heaven.”[1]

Item #24011, $6,250

West Point Muster Roll

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR; WEST POINT]. LT. SAMUEL JONES, Manuscript Document Signed, [ca. August thru October 1781], [West Point, N.Y.].

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Item #20639.03, $3,000

Quartermaster’s Account Book, 1781

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR], Manuscript Account Book, 14 pp. filled in, 4to. Schenectady, July 20 to August 29, 1781, entitled an “Account of Boards & Plank Recd from sundry Persons &c & Different Mills at Schenectady 1781.”

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A testament to the broad importance of the Hudson River during the American Revolution and worthy of further research.

Item #21007.40, $1,000

Declaration Signer’s Son Puts Off Love and Business as He Leaves to Join Nathanael Greene’s Southern Army

LEWIS V. MORRIS, Autograph Letter Signed, to S. [Samuel?] White, November 1, 1780, Philadelphia. 2 pp., 6½ x 8¼ in.

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Item #24193, $2,950

John Adams Repeats Good Battle News Including Capture of 55 British Ships, but Warns Not to Expect Peace: “The Heads of a King and Ministers is at Stake...”

JOHN ADAMS, Autograph Letter Signed, to William Churchill Houston. Amsterdam, Netherlands, September 17, 1780. 2 pp., with integral blank with recipient’s docket, 7½ x 9 in.

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“You will not mistake this for a Promise or an Hope of Peace. This cannot be. The Heads of a King and Ministers is at Stake ... the Capture of 55 ships at once by the combined Fleets of France and Spain … have cast down the English Cause to such a degree, as to put them upon the compassionate List, even with some who detest their Tyranny.” 

On the same day that John Adams received news that his fundraising mission to the Netherlands had been approved by Congress, he received more qualified news from William Churchill Houston, a member of Congress from New Jersey. Houston’s letter, sent from Philadelphia on July 11, 1780, informed Adams of Charleston’s occupation by the British, but also of a reawakening of patriotic spirit “that is fast pervading the whole Comunity, a Spirit which enlivens and encreases every Day.”[1] On September 17, Adams responded to Houston in the letter offered here, and presented him with the more immediate news of military victory.

Item #23797, $46,500

One of Hamilton’s Most Revealing Love Letters to Eliza:
“You are certainly a little sorceress and have bewitched me”

ALEXANDER HAMILTON, Autograph Letter Signed “A. Hamilton,” to Elizabeth Schuyler, August 8, 1780. [Dobbs Ferry, New York]. 4 pp. including partial integral leaf; lacking portion of page below signature; perhaps his signature on address relief was removed. 6½ x 8½ in.

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Available as part of The Alexander Hamilton Collection

“you have made me disrelish every thing that used to please me, and have rendered me as restless and unsatisfied with all about me, as if I was the inhabitant of another world. ... I would go on, but the General summons me to ride....”

In the middle of their whirlwind courtship, Hamilton emphasizes his profound fascination with Eliza Schuyler. Hamilton both complains that she is distracting him from important military duties, while pleading with her for more distraction. Few of Hamilton’s letters to Eliza survive from this period.

As Hamilton was writing, tactical intelligence was being communicated at a frantic pace up and down the Hudson. On July 21, Washington had received intelligence from the Culper spy ring on British General Clinton’s planned attack on Rochambeau’s French squadron at Newport, and the massing of British troops on Long Island for an intensified invasion of New York. Hamilton now was in the middle of authoring a detailed “Plan for an Attack on New York” to recapture Manhattan and Brooklyn from the British. He mentions at the end of this letter his position at Dobbs Ferry, New York, a small town on the Hudson where the army was encamped. Hamilton ends when he is summoned by General Washington.

Item #24329, ON HOLD

A Lazy Revolutionary War Doctor, Departing From His Life of Leisure, Reports on “Lord” Stirling’s Failed Attempt On Staten Island

SAMUEL VICKERS, Autograph Letter Signed “S. Vickers,” to Andrew Craigie. Cranburry, N.J., January 17, 1780. 2 pp., 8½ x 12¼ in. We believe the docketing to incorrectly identify the sender as John Vicker.

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Available as part of The Alexander Hamilton Collection

Fellow physician John Vickers gives Dr. Craigie a nearly instantaneous account of Lord Stirling’s ill-fated attack on Staten Island of Jan 15-16, 1780. Stirling’s campaign was designed to surprise the British troops in their winter camp; the British were alerted, however, and were well fortified by the time the Americans arrived. Vickers also decries plundering of the island by Continental troops.

Item #23414, ON HOLD

“Report of the work on Constitution Island”

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR; WEST POINT], Manuscript Document, n.d. [ca. 1780-1781], report on the works across from West Point, critiquing vulnerabilities in the banquettes, parapets, magazines, artillery positions, and a sallyport. From the papers of Col. Luke Drury. 2 pp., 6¾ x 6⅞ in.

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Item #20639.04, $3,850

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

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

Washington’s Instructions Regarding Deserters
and Hospital Cases at Valley Forge

JOSEPH WARD, Autograph Letter Signed to Richard Varick, [Valley Forge, Pennsylvania], March 13, 1778, 7⅝ x 11¾ in., 3 pp.

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Available as part of The Alexander Hamilton Collection

Written from Valley Forge at the close of the terrible winter of 1777-1778. Commissary General of Musters Joseph Ward relays Washington’s directions for determining the status of missing men. Officers are to be given more leeway than the rank and file before labeling them as deserters (a delicacy which Officers ought to deserve”), and hospital surgeons are to be consulted as to whether a patient is “dead or alive” or “likely ever to join the Corps.” Ward also discusses an aborted “Secret Expedition” and a recent naval victory by Commodore John Barry.

Letters written from Valley Forge are rare, particularly if they relate to the condition of the troops.

Item #22299, ON HOLD
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