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Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson

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Jefferson-Signed Act of Congress Funding the Federal Government for 1791

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Document Signed as Secretary of State. An Act making appropriations for the support of government during the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety one, and for other purposes, February 11, 1791. [Philadelphia: Childs and Swaine, 1791]. Signed in type by George Washington as President, Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg as Speaker of the House of Representatives, and John Adams as Vice President and President of the Senate. 2 pp., 9¼ x 15 in. Variant of Evans 23860.

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Also see the Alexander Hamilton Collection: The Story of the Revolution & Founding.

Secretary of State Jefferson signs an Act making appropriations for the federal government in 1791. The figures cited—expenses of the “civil list” and the War Department—were taken directly from Treasury Secretary Hamilton’s Estimates for 1791 Report to the House of Representatives.

This is the only Jefferson-signed copy known in private hands. The only two known institutional copies are at the Library Company of Philadelphia and the New York Public Library.

Item #23982, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Thomas Jefferson Signed Act of Congress Authorizing Copper Coinage (the First Legal Tender Produced by U.S. Government)

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Printed Document Signed, as Secretary of State, “An Act to provide for a copper coinage,” May 8, 1792, Philadelphia. 1 p., 9⅝ x 15 in.

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That the director of the mint…purchase a quantity of copper...and…cause the copper...to be coined at the mint into cents and half cents...thence to issue into circulation….

That after the expiration of six calendar months from the time when there shall have been paid into the treasury by the said director, in cents and half cents, a sum not less than fifty thousand dollars … no copper coins or pieces whatsoever, except the said cents and half cents, shall pass current as money, or shall be paid, or offered to be paid or received in payment for any debt … and all copper coins or pieces, except the said cents and half cents, which shall be paid or offered to be paid or received in payment contrary to the prohibition aforesaid, shall be forfeited, and every person by whom any of them shall have been so paid … shall also forfeit the sum of ten dollars…”

Item #27505, $235,000

Thomas Jefferson Pays Import Duty on Famous Louis Chantrot Obelisk Clock

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Manuscript Document Signed, October 17, 1791, [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]. 1 p., 8 x 13 in.

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This declaration notes that Thomas Jefferson imported a clock, which arrived in Philadelphia on the ship Minerva from La Havre, France, on October 17, 1791. On May 12, 1792, Jefferson paid the import duty of $7.52 according to the provisions of the Tariff of 1790.

Consisting of a pair of black marble obelisks between which a brass clock was suspended, Jefferson commissioned this in the Spring of 1790 to replace a similar piece stolen from his Paris residence. He later had it mounted on a shelf above the foot of his bed. Susan Stein, the Richard Gilder Senior Curator at Monticello, described the obelisk clock as “arguably one of the most important and interesting objects at Monticello.” After Jefferson’s death, his daughter Martha called it the object “I should have prized beyond anything on earth.”[1] The original clock was passed down through the Jefferson family until it was donated to Monticello in 2016.

This is a rare record of payment of the tariffs that funded the nascent federal government, in effect bringing together Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, in the temporary capital of Philadelphia. Jefferson’s correspondence to William Short arranging for the purchase and delivery of the clock also mentioned obtaining two artists proofs for the Congressional Medal of Honor voted for John Paul Jones, which had yet to be completed.



[1] Martha Jefferson Randolph to her daughter, February 13, 1827, quoted in Sarah Butler Wister and Agnes Irwin, eds., Worthy Women of Our First Century (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1877), 59. Randolph wrote, “The marble clock I should have prized beyond anything on earth, and if, in our circumstances, I had felt myself justifiable in retaining a luxury of that value, that clock, in preference to everything else but the immediate furniture of his bedroom, I should have retained. However, in addition to the loss of the clock, which I regret more bitterly since I know how near we were getting it, let us not alienate so near a relation and friend, who, I dare say, is sorry for it now that it is past.”

Item #27514, $14,000

Draft of Thomas Jefferson Circular, Addressing Duties of Consuls & Vice-Consuls

[THOMAS JEFFERSON], Letter, to Consuls and Vice-Consuls, August 26, 1790, New York. Draft or copy in the hand of a clerk. 2 pp., 7¾ x 9¼ in.

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In this letter, Thomas Jefferson provides initial and basic instructions to the consuls and vice-consuls of the United States in European and Caribbean ports. It focuses primarily on the logistics of monitoring and reporting the presence of American vessels in the ports under their authority and on other “political and commercial intelligence as you may think interesting to the United States.” It authorizes consuls and vice-consuls to wear the uniform of the U.S. Navy if they choose to do so and provides details on the features of the uniform. Finally, Jefferson offers advice on maintaining good relationships with the governing authorities. He urges the consuls to avoid minor quarrels and to use the utmost respect in communications with governing officials, “never indulging in any case whatever a single expression which may irritate.”

Item #25721, $3,500

President Jefferson Sends, Rather than Delivers, His First State of the Union

THOMAS JEFFERSON, State of the Union Message. Thomas’s Massachusetts Spy, Extra, December 18, 1801, signed in type twice. Broadside. Worcester, Massachusetts: Isaiah Thomas Jr. 1 p., 12-1/2 x 19-3/4 in.

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Agriculture, manufactures, commerce, and navigation, the four pillars of our prosperity, are then most thriving when left most free to individual enterprise.

This important first message contains his observations on Indian relations in America, the U.S. Navy versus the Barbary Pirates, the maintenance of armed forces, relying on a latent militia in peacetime while establishing the Navy and coastal defenses, the census and predictions of population growth along with “the settlement of the extensive country still remaining vacant within our limits,” decreasing the costs of government by removing unnecessary public offices, a laissez-faire approach to economics, the Judiciary, and taxation, foreseeing the removal of “all the internal taxes,” and stating that “sound principles will not justify our taxing the industry of our fellow citizens to accumulate treasure, for wars to happen we know not when, and which might not, perhaps, happen, but from the temptations offered by that treasure.

Unlike his predecessors, Jefferson did not deliver the message in person, but delivered it in writing through his personal secretary Meriwether Lewis. In doing so, Jefferson began a tradition that persisted until President Woodrow Wilson delivered his first State of the Union message to Congress in 1913.

Item #20822.99, $5,800

Thomas Jefferson Signed Judiciary Act of 1793

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Printed Document Signed, as Secretary of State, “An Act in addition to the act, entitled, ‘An act to establish the judicial Courts of the United States,’” Philadelphia, March 2, 1793. 2 pp., 9⅝ x 15⅛ in.

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That the attendance of only one of the justices of the supreme court, at the several circuit courts of the United States, to be hereafter held, shall be sufficient....

At the request of Congress, Attorney General Edmund Randolph offered his critique of the new federal justice system with suggestions for improvements. Chief among them was his recommendation to remove justices of the Supreme Court from their circuit court duties to allow them to focus on more important appellate decisions.[1] Soon after, all of the Supreme Court Justices together wrote to President Washington complaining of the burden of their duties. Congress took up the issue two days after Washington mentioned it in his November 6, 1792 State of the Union Address, and a day after he forwarded the Justices’ letter to Congress. This Act was passed on February 27, and signed into law by Washington on March 3, 1793.

Jefferson was required by a prior Act to authenticate two copies for each state of every Act of Congress. By this time, there were 15 states, so Jefferson would have signed only 30 copies, of which very few survive. 



[1] Edmund Randolph, Report of the Attorney-General. Read in the House of Representatives, December 31, 1790 (Philadelphia: Francis Childs & John Swaine, 1791), 7-10.

Item #26594.99, $150,000

Large 1801 Folio Engraving of Thomas Jefferson as New President

[THOMAS JEFFERSON], Print. Engraved by David Edwin, published by George Helmbold Jr., 1801. 1 p., 13 x 19¾ in. (image); 14⅞ x 22 ½ in. (sheet). , 1/1/1801.

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This engraving by David Edwin pictures Jefferson standing beside a table, with his hand on a desktop globe. Edwin copied the head from the Rembrandt Peale portrait of 1800. Edwin placed Jefferson in a black suit in a formal setting, comparable to the 1796 portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart (known as the “Lansdowne” portrait because it was commissioned as a gift for William Petty, first Marquis of Lansdowne).

Item #25421, $4,500

Thomas Jefferson Transmits the First Patent Act to Governor of New York George Clinton, Who Later Replaced Aaron Burr as Jefferson’s Vice President

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Letter Signed, as Secretary of State, to Governor George Clinton of New York, April 15, 1790, New York. 1 p., 7¾ x 9½ in

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In his position as Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson conveyed copies of new federal laws to the governors of each of the states. This letter, signed by Jefferson, conveyed the First Patent Act, formally An Act to Promote the Progress of Useful Arts, to New York Governor George Clinton, who would later serve as Jefferson’s second vice president.

Item #26389.99, $28,000

Rare Important Declaration of Independence Linen Handkerchief

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, Printed Cotton Handkerchief, ca. 1821. 31 x 33 in.

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The intricate design of this handkerchief features images of Washington, Adams, and Jefferson, beneath an eagle and flags. In the center appears the text of the Declaration of Independence, together with facsimiles of the signatures. An oak wreath with acorns surrounds the text and features images of the seals of the thirteen original states. An image at lower left depicts the Boston Tea Party with the caption, “The Patriotic Bostonians discharging the British Ships in Boston harbour.” An image at lower right depicts “General Burgoyne’s Surrender to General Gates at Saratoga.” Around the edge runs a stars and rope border with anchors at each corner and at the center of each side. The design was printed with red ink using a copper plate.

The design draws much from prints of the Declaration of Independence by William Woodruff, published in February 1819, and John Binns, published in October 1819.

Item #26474, $38,000

Jefferson’s Excessively Rare Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom

[THOMAS JEFFERSON], Prominent front-page printing of “A Bill for establishing religious Freedom, (Printed for the Consideration of the People),” The Providence Gazette; and Country Journal (Rhode Island), May 13, 1780, 1:1-2.

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One of the three achievements of which Jefferson was most proud, as listed on his epitaph.

Only the second known newspaper printing, and the first front-page printing.

Item #25999.99, $105,000

Providence Gazette, 1800-1801: George Washington’s Death, Contested Election of 1800, John Adams’ Opening of Washington, D.C., Thomas Jefferson’s Inaugural Address, John Marshall, Fries’ Tax Rebellion, Prosser’s Slave Rebellion, Barbary War, Napoleon, etc.

[Newspaper], The Providence Gazette, January 4, 1800 – December 26, 1801. Providence, Rhode Island: John Carter. Bound Newspaper Volumes. 104 issues, 416 pp. (4 pp. per issue), 11½ x 27½ in.

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Item #24902, SOLD — please inquire about other items

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

[DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE], Broadside. [attributed to Robert Luist Fowle, Exeter, New Hampshire], [ca. July 15-19, 1776], two-column format, sheet size approx. 151/8 x 195/8 in. Pin holes in three corners, with the upper-left corner torn in approximately 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 printed only on 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 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, SOLD — please inquire about other items

To Avoid Abuse from “bigots in religion...politics, or...medicine,” Thomas Jefferson Declines to Publish Benjamin Rush’s Private Correspondence

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph Letter Signed, to James Mease. With conjoined franked address leaf in Jefferson’s hand. August 17, 1816. Monticello, [Charlottesville, Va.]. 1 p., 9¾ x 8 in.

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Thomas Jefferson, long since retired to private life, declines the request of Dr. James Mease for copies of Dr. Benjamin Rush’s correspondence with Jefferson. Mease had hoped to include them in a volume of Rush’s letters to be published and specifically requested letters pertaining to Rush’s personal views on religion and politics. After demurring, Jefferson discusses at length the differences between personal and official correspondence, with philosophical thoughts on public versus private expression. He closes with assurances that his decision is nothing personal, and of his great respect for Mease: “I hope, my dear Sir, you will see in my scruples only a sentiment of fidelity to a deceased friend.”

Item #23233, $75,000

One of the Earliest Announcements of Independence

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, The Pennsylvania Magazine; Or American Monthly Museum for January-July, 1776. Philadelphia: Robert Aitken. [5]-344pp.

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A bound volume containing a remarkable issue—one of the most historic magazines ever printed.

July 2.  This day the Hon. Continental Congress declared the UNITED COLONIES FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES.

Item #21422.99, $48,000

Installing Jefferson’s Great Clock at Monticello

Thomas Jefferson, Autograph Letter Signed (“Th: Jefferson”) as President, to James Dinsmore. Washington, January 28, 1804. With integral transmittal leaf addressed in his hand with his franking signature (“free Th: Jefferson Pr. US.”) at top left. 8 x 10 in., 1/28/1804.

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A significant letter concerning Jefferson’s long-planned installation of large cannonball weights that powered the seven-day clock being installed in Monticello’s front entrance hall.

Item #26127, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Jefferson’s Famous Letter on the “Wall of Separation” Between Church and State

THOMAS JEFFERSON, Newspaper. Aurora General Advertiser. [Philadelphia:] Published (Daily) at William Duane, Successor to Benjamin Franklin Bache, in Franklin-Court, Market-Street, February 1, 1802. 4 pp., 13½ x 21½ in. The Danbury letters are on p. 2.

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"Believing with you, that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;’ thus building a wall of separation between church and state." 
 

Item #25964, SOLD — please inquire about other items

A Stone/Force Printing of the Declaration of Independence (SOLD)

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, Copperplate engraving printed on thin wove paper. Imprint at bottom left, “W. J. STONE SC WASHN” [William J. Stone for Peter Force, Washington, D.C. ca. 1833]. Printed for Peter Force’s American Archives, Series 5, Vol I. Approx 26 x 29 in.

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IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776. The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America.

Item #25743, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Jefferson’s Proclamation on the State of Affairs with England (1807)

[THOMAS JEFFERSON], Newspaper. The Balance and Columbian Repository. Hudson, New York: Harry Croswell, July 14, 1807. 8 pp., 9½ x 11¾ in.

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This issue of The Balance and Columbian Repository features Jefferson’s proclamation regarding the British attacks on American vessels, several articles debating the President’s stance on the matter, an article about Aaron Burr’s trial, toasts given in honor of Independence Day, and an address to the Medical Society of Columbia County.

Item #30000.66, $350

Declaration of Independence - Huntington Printing (SOLD)

ELEAZER HUNTINGTON, Engraved Document. Ca. 1820-1825. 20 x 24½ in.

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Scarce early engraving of the Declaration of Independence.

Item #21539, SOLD — please inquire about other items

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
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