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

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Captain Luke Drury’s Company Guards Supplies in Grafton, Massachusetts

[LUKE DRURY], Manuscript Document Signed by 20 men of Grafton, Mass. May 19, 1777 1 p.

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Two years after the Lexington alarm of April 19, 1775, some of Drury’s original company of militiamen remained under his command to guard the town of Grafton, Massachusetts.

Item #20993.13, $4,500

The Declaration of Independence, Printed in 1776 Journals of Congress - Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson’s Chief Clerk’s Copy

[DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE], Book. Journals of Congress. Containing the Proceedings from January 1, 1776, to January 1, 1777. Volume II. York-Town [Penn.]: John Dunlap, 1778. Second issue (i.e. Dunlap’s imprint but incorporating Aitken’s sheets). 520 pp., 8 x 4 ¾ in. Title page with New York City Bar Association stamp, discreet accession number on verso. Lacking the index (xxvii pp.).

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This rare volume of the Journals of Congress, covering the pivotal year of 1776, has an unusual printing history. The first 424 pages were printed in Philadelphia in 1777 by Robert Aitken. The project was interrupted when the British marched into Philadelphia on September 26, 1777. Congress fled, and after a day in Lancaster established itself in York, Pennsylvania. Aitken escaped with some of his finished sheets but had to abandon his press. On the other hand, John Dunlap, the original printer of the Declaration of Independence, managed to remove his press. In May 1778, Congress hired Dunlap to complete the reprint of their 1776 journals.

This copy bears the signature of Henry Remsen Jr., (1762-1843), the Chief Clerk of the State Department when Jefferson was Secretary of State. At that time, the Patent Office was part of the State Department, so among his accomplishments Remsen recorded the first rules for the examination of patents, a subject dear to Jefferson the inventor. Remsen later became a noteworthy New York financier.

Item #23757, $25,000

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 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

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

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, Outraged over Continued Native American and Loyalist Attacks on the New York Frontier, Wishes “to chastise the insolence of the enemy in any future incursion,” But Cannot Provide Much Direct Aid

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Letter Signed as Commander in Chief, to Governor George Clinton. Newburgh, N.Y., July 30, 1782. 4 pp., 7 x 11¾ in.

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“I have learnt with great concern the repeated depredations that have been committed on your Western frontier … notwithstanding the order … for the buildings necessary at the posts on the Mohawk, I fear he will not have it in his power to do it for want of money.”

Between victory at Yorktown and recognition of American independence, British forces, Loyalists, and native tribes all continued raids on American outposts and settlers, especially on the New York frontier. Washington had to maintain the army’s strength in order to force favorable negotiations, but here defers to the local governor. Fortunately for both General and Governor, Colonel Marinus Willett was one of the Revolution’s most capable leaders with decades of familiarity with Western New York’s peoples, places, and potential problems.

Item #24418, $35,000

Quartermaster’s Account Book, ca. 1783

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR], A very fine content ledger kept by Nicholas Quackenbush. 19 pp. folio, [Albany, ca. 1783].

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Item #21007.17, $5,500

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

Hamilton Aids a Revolutionary War Loyalist:
Important N.Y. Confiscation Act Case Verdict

ALEXANDER HAMILTON, Autograph Document, 4 ½ pages (8 x 13 in.) hinged together, Supreme Court [New York], n.d. [ca. December 1784], being a special verdict of the case of James Leonard/James Jackson v. Anthony Post

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Item #24628, $24,000

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, $550

Governor George Clinton Grants New York Land
To Revolutionary War Veteran

GEORGE CLINTON, Partially Printed Document Signed as Governor of New York, July 8, 1790. With original large wax pendant seal affixed at the bottom edge. 1 p., 18¼ x 11½ in., framed with archival materials to 27 x 24 in.

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Granting Zacheus Kilbourn a parcel of land in Lysander Township, New York.

Item #21140, $1,475
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