Tag Archives: Presidents

President’s Day


Regardless of their individual place in history, “President of the United States” is a very exclusive club. In honor of President’s Day, we are featuring inventory related to our greatest presidents as well as some presidents of more modest accomplishment. Be sure to see our signed portrait of Franklin Delano Roosevelt from his 1932 presidential campaign, an extremely rare William Henry Harrison document signed during his 30-day presidency, a Lincoln-signed military commission, a letter from Warren Harding praising America’s post World War I return to a peacetime economy, and a bronze plaque of Theodore Roosevelt featuring his famous “strenuous life” quotation.

All of these, and much more presidential material, can be found on our website,


John Adams Grants Two Tracts of Ohio Land to a Revolutionary War Veteran
Passed on June 1, 1796, An Act regulating the grants of Land appropriated for Military services, and for the society of the United Brethren propagating the gospel among the Heathen made accommodations to survey and sell land in the Northwest Territory. This particular act enabled the President to grant land in the Ohio Valley to former Continental Army soldiers for their service in the Revolutionary War.
#22734   $7,500


John Adams Agrees to Give Benjamin Franklin Guardianship Over a Boston Minister’s Grandson
The relationship between the United States and France takes a personal turn as Adams leaves a friend’s grandson in Franklin’s care.
#22884   $26,000


John Quincy Adams Signs a Patent for Improving Bellows
A handsome vellum patent document, signed by Adams as President, is accompanied by the inventor’s two-page description of his device.
#21830   $3,000

Andrew Jackson and the Fight for Florida
At the height of the U. S. diplomatic crisis with Spain over Florida, Old Hickory makes plans to return to combat in Florida while venting his rage against Treasury Secretary William H. Crawford.
#21944.99   $25,000

Van Buren Handles an Early Falklands Crisis
In this detailed letter, Martin Van Buren instructs the United States Chargé d’ Affairs to Buenos Aires to inquire into the Governor of the Falkland Islands’s warning U.S. fishing vessels to stay clear of valuable whaling and seal fisheries in the area.
#22216   $2,900


William Henry Harrison Signed as President—Extremely Rare
Harrison’s death from pneumonia after 3o days in office makes his tenure the shortest of all the presidents. Our current census finds fewer than 40 Harrison documents (including signed and unsigned letters, free franks, and clipped signatures) as president in any format, many of which are in permanent collections.
#22920   $145,000


Lincoln-Signed Military Commission
President Lincoln appoints Charles S. Stevenson of Indiana “Additional Paymaster” with this signed, vellum commission dated August 7, 1861.
#22382   $6,800

James Garfield Opposes “the Democratic Silver Scheme”
Congressman James Garfield writes to Samuel Ruggles, a New York lawyer, Canal Commissioner, and businessman regarding monetary policy. “We have thus far successfully resisted the Silver Scheme, but the Democrats renew the fight every day determined, if possible, to carry it through.
#22564.01   $1,500


Theodore Roosevelt Commissions a Captain
President Roosevelt  commissions John J. A. Clark as Captain in the Philippine Scouts, a group organized by the U.S. Army to combat the Philippine Revolution.
#22949   $1,500


Theodore Roosevelt’s “Doctrine of the Strenuous Life”: A Scarce Bronze Plaque Featuring One of His Most Famous Quotes
Roosevelt’s personal philosophy of life is cast in bronze under his profile portrait in bas relief, followed by a facsimile of his signature.
#22579   $1,750

Harding’s Return to Normalcy–and Isolationism–after World War I
Key political circular from the first-year Republican President, written to influence off-year elections in New Mexico and other places. Harding justifies, and praises, the rapid postwar dismantling of America’s military by Congress, while backhandedly criticizing the inattention of his predecessor—Woodrow Wilson—to the peacetime transition. “Vast expenditure without proper consideration for results, is the inevitable fruit of war.”
#21124   $2,600

Herbert Hoover Combats Starvation in Europe Before the U.S. Enters World War II
As honorary chairman of the National Committee on Food for the Small Democracies, the former president tries to rally support to aid the women, children, and destitute in those European nations affected by World War II and save them from the inevitable famine and pestilence that confronted them.
#22384   $750


Portrait of FDR, Signed and Inscribed by Roosevelt to Samuel Messer
This image of President Roosevelt was the official portrait for the 1932 campaign. It was drawn by Jacob H. Perskie, the photographer and portrait painter for FDR in the 1932 and 1936 presidential campaigns. It is inscribed to Samuel Messer was one of the largest stockholders of Quaker State Oil Refining Company.
#22467   $1,400

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Posted by on February 18, 2013 in General


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One Day Before Marching to Yorktown, George Washington Adds Troops in Virginia

After the Comte de Grasse’s fleet arrived in Virginia, Washington requested troops to aid the combined militia and French force during the Siege of Yorktown. Washington and Virginia militia Brigadier General George Weedon had been corresponding for several weeks regarding the arrival of the Duc de Lauzun’s legion in Virginia, and Washington was concerned that Weedon pay the Frenchman the respect appropriate to his rank.

The day after he wrote this letter, Washington moved his army out of Williamsburg to begin the Siege of Yorktown. He allowed the Marquis de Choisy, who had arrived with Lauzun’s reinforcements, to command both Lauzun’s and Weedon’s troops. The two men’s personal disdain no doubt complicated matters for Washington, who was attempting to coordinate pieces on a chessboard made up of the Virginia peninsulas and Chesapeake Bay.

Read this letter, written 231 years ago today . . .

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Posted by on September 27, 2012 in General


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Washington invests in Washington, on this day in 1799

Less than a year before the federal government moved to Washington, D.C.—and just three months before his death—Washington was constructing rental lodging for members of Congress. The former president, a longtime land speculator, hoped to profit from investment in the nation’s future capital.

Washington’s signing of the 1790 Congressional act to establish the District of Columbia marked the birth of the nation’s Federal City. It also initiated a decade of land speculation, as investors sought to make their fortunes from the projected new site of the federal government.

On September 11, 1799, Washington sent a check for $1,000 to Dr. William Thornton, the architect of the U.S. Capitol and a commissioner of the Federal City, who was overseeing the construction of Washington’s houses.

Read this letter, written 213 years ago today . . .

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Posted by on September 11, 2012 in General


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Lincoln’s response to Greeley, printed on this day in 1862

The Confederate newspaper Richmond Whig printed Abraham Lincoln’s famous reply to New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley on the front page. Greeley’s August 20, 1862 letter, known as “The Prayer of Twenty Millions,” urged Lincoln to emancipate all the slaves in Union-held territory. Lincoln responded on August 22, declaring that his paramount goal was to save the Union—regardless of its effect on slavery—as well as his personal views that all men should be free.

“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.

I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free.”

This letter is regularly cited as proof that Lincoln did not intend to abolish slavery, but unknown to Greeley and most Americans, Lincoln had already drafted the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation and was only waiting for a Union military victory to deliver it. Moreover, Lincoln makes a “divide and conquer” rhetorical move: he splits the issue, stating his constitutional duty as president is to keep the Union together, but simultaneously expressing his personal view of universal freedom.

The Richmond Whig is one of the less common—but still important—newspapers from the capital of the Confederacy.

In Four Years in Rebel Capitals: An Inside View of Life in the Southern Confederacy from Birth to Death, journalist T. C. DeLeon wrote that the Richmond Whig was among the South’s best wartime newspapers.

The Whig was allegedly involvement in a terror plot against New York City during the Civil War. The paper reputedly worked with the Confederate government to publish advertisements and editorials conveying secret messages to Southern sympathizers in the North. In October 1864, the Whig supposedly ran an editorial that signaled Southern supporters to set coordinated, widespread fires in New York, take over city and federal offices, and capture Major General John Adams Dix, the city’s military commander.

Read Lincoln’s letter, published 150 years ago today.

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Posted by on August 30, 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 1782


On this day in 1782, George Washington humorously lays the guilt on thick while waiting for answers about funding and maintaining troop levels prior to the final peace treaty ending the Revolutionary War. His highly personal letter to Dr. James McHenry shows a glimpse of the man behind the otherwise stolid image.

McHenry served as Washington’s secretary from 1778 to 1780 as a volunteer without rank or pay. Their friendship remained strong even after McHenry left to become aide-de-camp to the Marquis de Lafayette.

Read this letter, written 230 years ago today . . .

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Posted by on August 15, 2012 in General


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