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George Washington
George Washington

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The Birth of Washington, the District of Columbia

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Newspaper. Gazette of the United States. New York, N.Y., July 17, 1790. Including complete early printing of The Residence Act passed on July 16, 1790. 4 pp., 10¼ x 16¼ in.


“a district of territory, not exceeding ten miles square, to be located as hereafter directed on the river Potomac, at some place between the mouths of the Eastern Branch and Connogochegue, be, and the same is hereby accepted for the permanent seat of the government of the United States…”

Item #30022.31, $1,500

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.


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

Washington’s First Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation, The Bill of Rights, and Establishment of Treasury Department

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Newspaper. The United States Chronicle. Providence, R.I.: Bennett Wheeler, October 22, 1789. 4 pp., 10 ½ x 17 in. With masthead featuring the seal of the United States and the fouled anchor “Hope” device of the state of Rhode Island.


“for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness... for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge”

On October 3, 1789, the day after sending engrossed copies of the 12 Constitutional amendments passed by Congress out to the states for ratification, Washington issued America’s first Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation. Both the Thanksgiving Proclamation and the Bill of Rights are printed here on the front page. This exceptional paper also includes a complete printing of “An Act to establish the Treasury Department” [p.1-2], and a September 10 report from North Carolina supporting the ratification of the Constitution now that passage of a bill of rights seemed likely: “The amendments... will undoubtedly satisfy the minds of all its [the Constitution’s] enemies. Not a door is left open for complaint....It is an almost unparalleled instance of a public body possessed of power abridging it, and fully contradicts the grand argument of the opponents of the Constitution, that, ‘if Congress are once possessed of the power vested in the Constitution, they never will relinquish or amend it conformable to our wishes’.”  [p. 2 col. 1]. The Chronicle also reports from New York that President Washington was about to embark on his famous tour of New England [p. 2, col. 3].

Item #23813, $25,000

A Foundational Act of the America’s Financial System:
Incorporating the Bank of the United States

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Newspaper. Gazette of the United States, Philadelphia, Pa., March 2, 1791. 4 pp. (765-768), 10½ x 17 in.


“Whereas it is conceived that the establishment of a bank for the United States, upon a foundation sufficiently extensive ...  and at the same time upon the principals which afford adequate security for an upright and prudent administration…”

Item #23392, $2,500

George Washington Directs Philadelphia Merchants Who Lost Ship to French Privateers to Talk to Jefferson

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Letter Signed as President, To Joseph Harper, et al., Mt Vernon, Virginia. Sept 27, 1793. 1 p., octavo.


A group of owners of and investors in the ship Andrew petitioned George Washington’s administration for relief after their vessel and its cargo of rice were confiscated by French privateers. The French, believing that America’s neutrality in the wars of the French Revolution violated the 1778 Treaty of Amity and Commerce, began preying on American merchant shipping. The owners believed the U.S. government should reimburse them out of monies owed by the U.S. to France after the American Revolution. The President believed that the merchants should have directed their request to Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson in turn believed it proper that the merchants make their claim to the French government first. Based on the results, the French believed they didn’t owe anyone anything. Despite its brevity, this letter exposes a real diplomatic and commercial hash—one that was not settled for a decade!

Item #23814, $25,000

George Washington as a Mason

CURRIER & IVES. [GEORGE WASHINGTON], George Washington as a Mason. Small folio lithograph, 1868. Black & white.


Item #23708, $850

George Washington on Possible Congressional Treason and the XYZ Affair

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Autograph Letter Signed, to James McHenry. Mount Vernon, Va., March 27, 1798. 2 pp., 7½ x 8¾ in.


“letters have been intercepted…  of a treasonable nature…. if founded, what punishment can be too great for the Actors in so diabolical a Drama…. It has always been my belief that Providence has not led us so far in the path of Independence of one Nation, to throw us into the Arms of another.”

During the Revolution, Dr. James McHenry and Washington developed a close friendship, which they maintained throughout and after Washington’s presidency. McHenry, acting now as Secretary of War under John Adams, continued to brief the former president. Details of the XYZ Affair – the French refusal to accept American emissaries and the demand for a bribe to start negotiations – had only been released to Congress by President Adams on March 20. A week later, in this extraordinary letter, Washington informs McHenry that he has heard of a report identifying American participants. A treasonable correspondence had supposedly been intercepted from some members of Congress who advised the Directory government of France to maintain a “hostile appearance” to force the U.S. to pay the bribe.

Less than four months later, the ex-president agreed to accept a new commission as lieutenant general and commander-in-chief of the Armies of the United States, though with the understanding that he would only join the army if it had to take the field against a French invasion.

Item #23791, $62,500

George Washington “Buys” an Indentured Servant from Ireland for Construction at Mount Vernon

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Autograph Letter Signed, to [Tench Tilghman], Mount Vernon, July 29, 1784. 1 page. Arranging for an indentured servant carpenter from Ireland.


Shortly after the American Revolution, punitive British trade laws led to a mass exodus of skilled Irish artisans to the United States. On July 27, Tilghman wrote Washington from Baltimore that he had come across “a House Joiner, in a ship just arrived in from Ireland. He says much for himself, and the Captain says he is a well-behaved man…” On August 4th, Washington told Tilghman that, “The carpenter you bought for me has arrived safe. I like the age he is of, his appearance & profession…& I am obliged to you for procuring him.”

Item #23812, $27,500

George Washington’s Rare Anti-Catholic Test Oath, Taken before being Appointed Colonel and Commander in Chief of all Virginia Forces

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Document Signed. A list of subscribers to the declaration denying Catholic doctrines. Washington’s signature is the 9th in the second column below the declaration. May 22, 1754 – July 17, 1755.


“there is no Transubstantiation in the sacrament of the Lords supper or in the elements of Bread and wine...”


First Printing of the Mint Act: “An Act establishing a Mint, and Regulating the Coins of the United States”

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Newspaper. Gazette of the United States, Philadelphia, Pa., April 14, 1792. 4 pp. (401-4) 9 ½ x 16 in.


The FIRST PRINTING of the MINT ACT of the United States, in full on the front page and signed in type by President GEORGE WASHINGTON. This newspaper has a front page woodcut engraving display of a heraldic Federal eagle.This foundational act of the new is signed in type by George Washington as President, Jonathan Trumbull as Speaker of the House, and John Adams as Vice-President and President of the Senate. (p.1, col. 1-3).

Item #23689, $6,000

An Address to the Inhabitants of Great Britain – July 1775 Print of Message that went with the Olive Branch Petition

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR], Newspaper. Rivington’s New York Gazetteer...and Weekly Advertiser, New York, N.Y., July 21, 1775. 4 pp., 11½ x 18 in.


While 1776 will remain the most memorable year in American history, 1775 actually marks the moment when the colonists became Americans. Hostilities had already begun, yet the delegates of the Continental Congress still sought to avoid war. On July 8, the Continental Congress approved and sent the Olive Branch Petition to King George III. At the same time, they sent an appeal stating the case directly to the British people. Both attempts failed, and we have found no evidence that the address was even published in England. Here, in Rivington’s New York paper, it is published in the first two columns of page one, and the first column of page two.

Item #23544, $12,500

George Washington’s First Thanksgiving Proclamation as President

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Newspaper. Massachusetts Centinel. Boston, Mass. Benjamin Russell, October 14, 1789. 4 pp. (33-36), 9½ x 14¾ in. Disbound, trimmed a little close at top.


On September 28, 1789, just before the closing of the First Federal Congress, the Senate added its assent to a House resolution requesting that George Washington be asked to call for a day of public thanksgiving and prayer. Later that day, Congress ratified the Bill of Rights to be sent to the states for their ratification, and on the next day the first session of the first Federal Congress was adjourned. On October 3, George Washington issued America’s first presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation and the Centinal reported the news 11 days later, only four days after the New York newspaper Gazette of the United States, essentially an arm of Washington’s Federalist Party, printed the proclamation.

Item #23459, $11,500

A Synopsis of the Early Actions of George Washington Against the French

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Newspaper. Maryland Gazette. January 9, 1755, Annapolis, Md. Jonas Green. 2 pp. (complete), 9½ x 14½ in.


The Maryland Gazette took a particular interest in Washington, being the first to publish his Journal describing his expedition to the Ohio.

Item #21557.05, $2,000

Virginia’s Concerns about the Depredations of the French in the Ohio Valley

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Newspaper. Maryland Gazette. November 7, 1754, Annapolis, Md. Jonas Green. 2 pp. (complete), 9½ x 14½ in.


Item #21557.04, $2,000

Colonel Washington Refuses to Accept French Deserters Just Before His Defeat at the Battle of Great Meadows

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Newspaper. Maryland Gazette. October 17, 1754. Annapolis, Md. Jonas Green, 4 pp., 9½ x 14½ in.


The Maryland Gazette took a particular interest in Washington, being the first to publish his Journal describing his expedition to the Ohio.

Item #21557.02, $2,400

Virginia Governor Dinwiddie and the Council Respond to French Incursions by Sending a Young George Washington to Ohio

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Newspaper. Maryland Gazette. March 14, 1754, Annapolis, Md. Jonas Green 4 pp., 9½ x 14½ in.


The Maryland Gazette took a particular interest in Washington, being the first to publish his Journal describing his expedition to the Ohio.

Item #21557.01, $4,000

Miniature Portrait of George Washington

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Painting. George Washington miniature. ca. 19th century. Approx. 2½ x 3¼ in. overall, signed “Beck,” in 4½ x 6⅛ in. hardwood frame.


Demonstrating the lasting appeal of Washington in the decorative arts, this nineteenth-century miniature on ivory in a later, early 20th century frame, is a fine example of the style. Acquired in Scotland.

Item #22317.01, $995

George Washington’s Funeral - Full Page Report of the First President’s Actual Interment a Week before the Nation’s Official Mourning

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Newspaper. The True American Commercial Advertiser, Philadelphia, Pa., Samuel Bradford, December 24, 1799. 4 pp., 12¾ x 20 in. On blue-rag paper.


Printed within a black mourning border, news headed “Sacred to the Memory of Gen. George Washington” begins a nearly full-page description of Washington’s funeral, including a diagram of the procession, statements of Congress and of President Adams, and a resolution to erect a monument. The nation’s first president had died on December 14, 1799, and was interred at Mount Vernon by his family four days later. This newspaper reports the proceedings of a private funeral that included clergy, Masonic brothers, and local citizens. As the president was laid to rest in the family’s receiving vault, vessels in the Potomac River fired a final salute to the commander in chief.

News reached Philadelphia, then the seat of the federal government, on the day of his burial. Congress and President Adams immediately began planning an official mourning procession for December 26, and this paper of December 24 notes that Richard Henry Lee had been chosen to deliver the official eulogy.

Item #23417, $2,950

Lady Washington’s Reception Engraving

[MARTHA WASHINGTON], “Lady Washington’s Reception./ From the original Picture in the possession of A. T. Stewart, Esq.” Engraving by Alexander Hay Ritchie, after a painting by Daniel Huntington. New York, Emil Seitz, 1865. 37 x 25 in.


Item #23068, $4,500

A Front Page Printing of Washington’s
Second State-of-the-Union Address

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], Newspaper. Columbian Centinel, Boston, Mass., December 22, 1790. 4 pp., disbound.


Item #30001.22, $1,450
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