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Thursday, February 2, 2017

440 Historical Documents Including a Recently Discovered Letter of George Washington Selling Off 90 Slaves to Be Auctioned in New York

George Washington

Yonkers, NY — A long-lost letter of George Washington, reporting on an auction he held of ninety Virginia slaves, will appear in a New York sale on his birthday, February 22, 2017. It is only the letter’s second appearance on the market since it was penned in 1774. Written by Washington on the very day that Thomas Paine arrived in America, the auction lasted ten days, including “two good blacksmiths, two carpenters, and an exceeding trusty and skillful wagoner.”

Selling the slaves for a friend who had served under him in the French & Indian War, Washington’s auction became a tortuous situation, occupying him for decades. The two-page letter shows Washington’s character – and provoked his stark conflict between America’s fight for freedom, and the evils of slavery. The very next day, Congress vowed to discontinue the slave trade.

From Washington’s experience in this letter, through his encounters with free black soldiers, the Revolution just months away, and to his legacy, his views on slavery changed. He ultimately ordered emancipation of all of his slaves. (Preauction estimate $32,000-40,000) Lot 5-1; images and full description at www.cohascodpc.com/cat66/cat66-auction.html

Offered separately: an 1848 reward poster for three black sisters escaped from slavery – in the nation’s capital. Fleeing bondage in Georgetown, D.C., the women, aged 13, 20, and 25, were servants of the owner of a factory making cloth for the U.S. government.

The three sisters, Harriet, Maria, and Susan Johnson, were evidently caught, and again enslaved, despite its abolition by then in Washington. In 1864, their liberty was paid for by Lincoln. (Preauction estimate $6,500-9,000) Lot 1-2; images and full description at www.cohascodpc.com/cat66/cat66-auction.html

Among 440 other historical documents and collectibles in 30 categories:

* Two consecutive 1849 issues of the rare Philadelphia anti-slavery newspaper, The Pennsylvania Freeman: “ The District of Columbia, which is entirely under the control of the U.S. Congress, has upon its statute books some of the most barbarous laws that can be found against the colored people…A law in D.C., made by Congress, grants to any person that may wish for it, for…$400 per annum, the right to trade in human flesh under the very eyes of the Capitol….” ($325-475) …

* Pay document for a recently-identified black soldier in the Revolutionary War, Kay Cambridge, signed with “His X Mark.” Also signing is William Lawrence, involved in America’s first spy ring, his wife once engaged to Nathan Hale. ($1600-2000) …

* Exceptionally rare document paying an American Indian for fighting in the Revolution – under the leader of the fabled Green Mountain Boys. A Mohegan, Simon Georjoy fought at the historic Battle of Trenton, on Christmas Day 1776. ($950-1450) …

* Unusual Revolutinary War bill of sale for a “Negro wench” – captured aboard a British privateer. The young girl’s seller, Capt. Samuel Lockwood, appears in a modern book on the attempted abduction of George Washington. ($450-600) …

* Long 1837 letter of crusader against slavery in Africa, America – and India, Sir Thomas Buxton. The leader of the abolitionist movement in Parliament, despite poor health, he will not resign as long as the slave trade question remains unsettled. ($125-175) …

* Reconstruction-era marriage certificate for Frank and Easter, two free blacks in Georgia – with a twist: it permits any “Jewish Minister” to join them in matrimony. ($160-200) …

* Astonishing 23-page letter of Democrat James Denver, adventurer and founder of the Colorado city, on national politics in 1884: “…The corrupt practices that have been carried into the elections of the country exceed anything of the kind ever heard of before in America.” ($350-425) …

* Very rare broadside of the Declaration of Independence, capturing its appearance before its ink faded from a previous printer’s mishandling. Until this broadside was printed on rice paper in 1843 by Peter Force, the physical appearance of the Declaration had remained a mystery to the American public. Also introducing America to John Hancock’s signature, this never-folded, never-trimmed printing is considered the most faithful form in which our founding document can be beheld. ($18,000-23,000).

Bids will be accepted up to February 22, 2017, 8:00 P.M. E.D.S.T. All items are fully described at www.cohascodpc.com. A 144-page printed catalogue is available by mail.


About Cohasco, Inc.:
Established 71 years, Cohasco is a dealer in and auctioneer of historical documents, manuscripts, books, antiquarian materials and collectibles. Over the years they have handled the sale of numerous prominent collections, in a range of fields, from colonial to Confederate, mediaeval to modern. Past highlights included the lamps that illuminated Lincoln’s wedding, an archive of America’s first “mass-produced” automobile, the Duryea, and the Bible owned by Martin Luther King, Jr.’s mother, setting a world record price for a twentieth-century Bible.


Cohasco, Inc.