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Washington, George (1732-1799) Circular Letter Signed as President, Philadelphia, 1 March 1797.

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Books & Manuscripts - 2950B
Date / Time :
October 30, 2016 11:00AM


Washington, George (1732-1799) Circular Letter Signed as President, Philadelphia, 1 March 1797. Laid paper bifolium inscribed on one page in a secretarial hand, inviting New York Senator John Laurance to the Presidential and Vice-Presidential swearing in ceremony of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in the Senate Chamber, with Washington's signature beneath; conjugate self-envelope with address, repaired, rare with full-size sheet and address sheet intact, one of eight known of the thirty-two originally sent, 8 x 10 in.
"It appearing to me proper that the Senate of the United States should be convened on Saturday the fourth day of March instant; you are desired to attend in the Chamber of the Senate on that day, at eleven o'Clock in the forenoon, to receive any communications which the President of the United States may then have to lay before you, touching their interests."
The dry language of the invitation belies the momentous nature of the moment. After careful preparation, with the publication of his Farewell Address, and much private political negotiation, Washington finally achieves his desire to retire from the office of the President. None of this was lost on Adams, naturally, who wrote to his wife about this "trying" and "solemn" ceremony. "[Washington's] Countenance was as serene and unclouded as the day. [...] He Seemed to me to enjoy a Tryumph over me. Methought I heard him think Ay! I am fairly out and you fairly in! See which of Us will be happiest" (Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society.
John Laurance (1750-1810) "had been the faithful adjutant-general of Washington, [and] a steady, fearless supporter of Hamilton. Laurance, an Englishman by birth, had settled in New York at an early period in life, and by his marriage to the daughter of Alexander McDougall, quickly came into conspicuous sympathy with the radical wing of the patriotic party. He will always be remembered in history as the judge-advocate of the court that tried Major Andre. He held office almost continuously from 1775 until his death in 1810, serving eight years in the army, one in the State Senate, six in Congress, four as judge of the United States District Court, and four as a United States senator, closing his honourable career as president pro tem. of that body." (Quoted from DeAlva Stanwood Alexander's A Political History of the State of New York, New York: Holt, 1906, vol. I, page 64).
[Together with] a copy of the Connecticut Journal, Wednesday 15 March 1797, with the printed speeches of the inaugurees, toned, chipping, 16 1/2 x 9 3/4 in. The newspaper account includes Washington's speech, a description of the scene in and around the inauguration itself, and a detailed story on the banquet held in Washington's honor at O'Eller's Hotel in Philadelphia.
Provenance: The Estate of David Spinney.
Estimate $30,000-40,000

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John Laurance, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander McDougall, David Spinney, Andre, Philadelphia, Adams family, Conservatism in the United States, George Washington, John Adams, Military personnel, United States