A RARE AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED BY GEORGE WASHINGTON AS PRESIDENT, WITH COMMENTARY ON IMMIGRATION IN THE EARLY YEARS OF THE UNITED STATES.
The recipient, Charles Morgan, served in the Revolutionary War and was a large land owner in Kentucky at the time Washington wrote this letter. The two had been corresponding about land rents and sales Morgan was assisting Washington with in 1794 and 1795.
The immigration discussion by Washington in this letter is fascinating and came at a time of great debate about the relative virtues or evils of immigration. His statement that immigrants are "pouring into this country from all quarters" and that this will cause land values to rise was prescient commentary. The first immigration act of the United States under the Constitution was the Naturalization Act of 1790. This act provided the first rules for the U.S. Government in the granting of citizenship. It limited naturalization to immigrants who were free white persons of "good character." The 1790 act was repealed twelve days after this letter was written by the Naturalization Act of 1795, which increased the required period of residence from two to five years. The 1795 Act was then superseded by the even more stringent 1798 Act (part of the Alien and Sedition Acts), which was passed under the guise of national security, but is regarded by many historians as an effort to decrease opposition to the Federalist Party, as the majority of immigrants supported Thomas Jefferson and his Democratic-Republican Party. Once the Federalists were permanently swept out of power with the Election of 1800, the 1798 Act was repealed by the Act of 1802, which relaxed some of the 1798 requirements. The citizenship provisions of the 1802 Act remained relatively unchanged until the 14th Amendment was adopted in 1868 (source: Wikipedia).
Accompanied by an article from the Historical Quarterly transcribing the letter and providing background on Charles Morgan. Also accompanied by Library of Congress transcripts of other letters from this correspondence
FINE APPEARANCE. A WONDERFULLY BOLD FRANKING SIGNATURE BY GEORGE WASHINGTON AS COMMANDING GENERAL OF THE CONTINENTAL ARMY TO BRIGADIER-GENERAL FORMAN IN MONMOUTH.
While this cover shows no specific date, we deduce it was sent in 1777 as David Forman was promoted to the title of Brigadier General in March 1777, only to resign his duties in November 1777 due to political troubles. Forman was known for his participation in the Battles of Germantown in October 1777 and Monmouth in June 1778.
VERY FINE. A REMARKABLE AND DESIRABLE EXAMPLE OF GEORGE WASHINGTON'S "PRESIDENT U.S." FREE FRANK WITH ORIGINAL ENCLOSURE WRITTEN BY TOBIAS LEAR.
Archibald Robertson (1765-1835) was a Scottish-born painter who was known for his watercolor landscape paintings and engravings. He was commissioned by George and Martha Washington for a painting shortly after arriving to the United States from Scotland.
VERY FINE APPEARANCE. A BEAUTIFUL EXAMPLE OF THOMAS JEFFERSON'S PRESIDENTAL FREE FRANK.
James Dinsmore (c. 1771-1830) was an Irish carpenter known for his elegant work done at Jefferson's home, Monticello. He later went on to work with James Madison on his Montpelier plantation and on several buildings for the University of Virginia.
A BEAUTIFULLY PRESERVED PRESIDENTIAL DOCUMENT SIGNED BY JAMES K. POLK, AUTHORIZING USE OF THE PRESIDENTIAL SEAL ON AN ENVELOPE TO THE EMPEROR OF RUSSIA, NICHOLAS I.
The condolence letter referred to in this document was addressed to Russian Emperor Nicholas I, whose daughter, the Grand Duchess Alexandra Nikolaevna, died tragically on August 10, 1844. The Duchess suffered from tuberculosis while she carried her unborn child. The baby died on the day he was born prematurely, and she died later on the same day, leaving her parents agonizing in bereavement.
VERY FINE APPEARANCE. A REMARKABLE USE OF THE 15-CENT LINCOLN MEMORIAL ISSUE ON A PRESIDENTIAL IMPRINT COVER TO GERMANY, WITH THE ADDRESS PENNED BY PRESIDENT ULYSSES S. GRANT AND SIGNED BY HIS PERSONAL SECRETARY, ORVILLE E. BABCOCK.
This cover was mailed in April 1869, just six weeks after Ulysses S. Grant took the oath of office and Orville E. Babcock was appointed to be his personal secretary. It is a remarkable combination of the Lincoln mourning stamp with the handwriting of his most important general and successor in office (after Andrew Johnson).
Free franking privileges were not abolished until 1873 (also during Grant's administration). Official correspondence to foreign consuls was frequently sent without postage in diplomatic pouches handled through the State Department. Some letters were mailed through normal postal channels, as in this case. The treaty rate to France was 15c until the end of 1869. As far as we are aware, this is the only example of the 15c Lincoln sent from the White House, with or without Grant's handwriting. It seems to be more than coincidence that President Grant's secretary, upon receiving the letter from his boss, used a stamp picturing the martyred President Lincoln's image.
Orville E. Babcock, a Union officer who served as aide-de-camp to General Grant during the war, became President Grant's personal secretary in 1869. In 1875 Babcock was cleared of charges in the Whiskey Ring scandal, thanks in large part to Grant's personal testimony, but Babcock's connection to various nefarious activities caused Grant to distance himself from his former secretary after the Whiskey Ring trial.
VERY FINE. A HANDSOME FREE FRANK OF ALEXANDER HAMILTON AS SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.
Otho Williams (1749-1794) was an active participant in the Revolutionary War, participating in numerous battles and even captured as a prisoner of war by the British. He was eventually released and ended his career as a Brigadier General. This letter was written to Williams as Commissioner of the Port in Baltimore.