Tag Archives: Constitution

Our Declaration Auction Sets a Record

The rare first newspaper printing of the Declaration of Independence we auctioned yesterday brought $632,500—a record price for any historic newspaper. The sale was held with Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries in New York City. The newspaper was purchased by David Rubenstein.

The July 6, 1776, edition of the Pennsylvania Evening Post was only the second printing of the Declaration in any form. The copy sold yesterday is one of just four issues of the Post’s Declaration printing that have appeared at auction in the past 50 years. We have handled three of those four copies.

George Washington at Christie’s
Another noteworthy sale took place June 21st at Christie’s, where George Washington’s 1788 letter to John Armstrong endorsing ratification of the Constitution sold for $1,443,750 net. To see our selection of great Washington documents—which includes several important letters—click here.

We have a number of other scare Declaration printings at a variety of price points—just in time for the Fourth of July.

Rare July 1776 Declaration of Independence Broadside
All July 1776 broadside printings of the Declaration are rare and valuable, but this example is exceptionally so. It is the earliest known publication of the Declaration in Massachusetts—the birthplace of the American Revolution—and its unique, four-column format makes it one of the rarest and most interesting of the printings. Including this example, only six copies of this broadside are known, four of which are already in institutional collections.
#21747.99     Price on Request


A Stone/Force Printing of the Declaration
This second edition printing of the first exact facsimile remains one of the best representations of the Declaration as the manuscript looked when it was signed and prior to its nearly complete deterioration. Very little of the original is legible today. Originally bound into Peter Force’s American Archives.
#22929      $28,000

Scarce, Never Folded Stone/Force Declaration
Another Stone/Force print. Copies that were never folded are far more rare on the market than folded ones.
#20728      $45,000

Unfolded Force 450px

America’s Three Founding Documents
A 1791 printing of the Complete Acts of the First Congress, including the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights (which had just been ratified).
#22592      $1,400

1808 Commemorative Printing of the Declaration and Patriotic Songs
This 1808 commemorative printing from the Philadelphia Aurora also contains “Freedom and Peace…Or, The Voice of America. A National Song,” along with other patriotic songs for the occasion.
#23035.01     $700

Declaration of Independence Centennial Printing
The July 8, 1876, issue of Harper’s Weekly, containing a supplement celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, complete with a centerspread facsimile of one of Jefferson’s draft manuscripts and the signatures of the signers, along with related engravings.
#30011.001    $145


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Posted by on June 27, 2013 in General


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Alexander Hamilton’s Letter to Restructure the Treasury and Customs Houses

As Secretary of the newly-established Treasury Department, Hamilton sought to reorganize and standardize the procedures of U.S. Customs Houses. A year earlier, the First Congress had passed an act that brought the collection of tariffs and duties under the control of the federal government as outlined in the new U.S. Constitution.

For the efficient collection of customs duties, Hamilton sought to create a uniform system out of the 13 state agencies the federal government took over. Administration under the new U.S. Constitution was markedly different from that under the Articles of Confederation, and this was most apparent in financial matters. Where the old government was notoriously powerless to raise money, Treasury Secretary Hamilton proposed and pushed through a plan that would solidify the credit rating of the Unites States.

Read this letter, written 222 years ago today . . .

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Posted by on September 30, 2012 in General


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One of the last drafts of the Bill of Rights, published on this day in 1789

This very rare printing of twelve proposed amendments to the Constitution, approved by the Senate on September 9, 1789, but not yet reconciled with the House, was published in the New-York Daily Gazette on September 18, 1789.

Article 3, guaranteeing freedom of religion, underwent the most substantial changes between this and the final version ten days later. This draft reads:

Art. 3d. Congress shall make no law establishing articles of faith, or a mode of worship, or prohibiting the free exercise of religion, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition to the government for a redress of grievances.

Read this draft, published 223 years ago today . . .

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Posted by on September 18, 2012 in General


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The first draft of the Bill of Rights, published today in 1789

This rare newspaper has a full printing of seventeen amendments to the Constitution approved by the House of Representatives on August 24.

On May 4, 1789, two months into the first session of the First Congress, James Madison announced that he intended to propose amendments to guarantee basic civil rights. The absence of such language almost sunk the Constitution’s ratification. In the end, New York, Virginia, and several other states agreed to ratify only with the understanding that a Bill of Rights would be added by the First Congress.

This issue includes the full text of the August 24 House resolution, which was then sent to the Senate for approval. The Senate began deliberating the next day, approving some articles and rejecting or altering others. Ultimately, ten of these amendments would be ratified by the states as the Bill of Rights.

Read this remarkable draft, published 223 years ago today . . .

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Posted by on September 4, 2012 in General


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Theodore Roosevelt gives rare praise to Woodrow Wilson on this day in 1908

On August 29, 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt wrote to the Reverend Lyman Abbott, a Congregationalist minister and longstanding proponent of Roosevelt’s Progressivism. Referring to Constitutional Government in the United States, written by Woodrow Wilson when he was president of Princeton University, Roosevelt tells Abbott,

That is a great quotation from Woodrow Wilson. I had not seen read the book, because I have felt rather impatient with his recent attitude on certain matters, notably the effort to control corporations; but this is a really first class paragraph.

In Wilson’s book, the future President observed that the present system of American government was gridlocked and lacked accountability, arguing that the Constitution allowed adaptation and reform when needed. One adaptation he advocated was the continued development of a stronger executive, something more akin to the British system where the prime minister was the leader of the party and could initiate policies—as well as being held responsible for them.

Perhaps Roosevelt thought Wilson, the academic, was too soft on corporations and trust-busting (areas of focus during Roosevelt’s two terms), but he no doubt found the call for reform and expanded executive power directly in line with his own presidential style and “bully pulpit” leadership.

Read the letter, written 104 years ago today . . .

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Posted by on August 29, 2012 in General


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FDR praises the Constitution on this day in 1934

On this day in 1934, Franklin Roosevelt expounds on the significance of America’s venerated frame of government.

Writing to the commander of American Legion Post No. 10, in Newark, New Jersey, President Roosevelt says,

“The Constitution of the United States, framed nearly a century and a half ago by as high intelligence as our nation has ever produced, has been during all these years and still is our Magna Charta.”

Read this letter, written 78 years ago today . . .

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Posted by on August 21, 2012 in General


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On this day in 1788


On this day in 1788, the Massachusetts Centinel published a circular letter by New York Governor George Clinton laying out the state’s conditions for ratifying the Constitution.

“Several articles . . . appear so exceptionable to a majority of us, that nothing but the fullest confidence of obtaining a revision of them by a General Convention . . . could have prevailed upon a sufficient number to ratify it . . .”

New York was the third-to-last state to ratify the U.S. Constitution, doing so only after New Hampshire’s ratification, as the ninth state, made the document law on June 21, 1788. However, without Virginia or New York, the success of the fledgling government was in jeopardy. Virginia finally ratified on June 25, and knowing the Old Dominion was on board, the Empire State followed the next day.

Nevertheless, New York ratified with significant conditions and declarations enumerating what it was not giving up by joining the federal union. While approving ratification, the state convention listed two dozen conditions and Governor Clinton sent this circular letter to the other states calling for a second convention to discuss amendments and a bill of rights. Less than a year later, James Madison would rise in the House of Representatives to propose the amendments that would eventually become the federal Bill of Rights.

Read this letter, published 224 years ago today . . .

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Posted by on August 16, 2012 in General