Part Four of the Forbes Sale of American Documents Completed

- by Michael Stillman

Washington letter is dated July 4, 1776.

Other items among the five highest prices included a letter from George Washington concerning his difficult position in New York after the British landed troops on Staten Island. The date of this letter is July 4, 1776. At the time, Washington was unaware of what was taking place down the road in Philadelphia. The letter sold for $132,000, well over double the high estimate. A letter from Thomas Jefferson to Henry Dearborn, asking the latter to serve as his Secretary of War, took in $108,000, also substantially over the high estimate. It was written the day after Jefferson was elected president in a vote of the House of Representatives, the election having been thrown into the House because of a tie in the Electoral College between Jefferson and Aaron Burr. The fifth highest item was another Washington letter, this one to General Benjamin Tallmadge concerning espionage. It sold for $96,000, just below the anticipated range of $100,000-$150,000.

In all, 253 items were offered, and most, though not all, sold. At the low end of the pricing was a book of war songs inscribed by President Rutherford B. Hayes, and a book of 1932 campaign speeches given by President Herbert Hoover and his predecessor Calvin Coolidge inscribed by Hoover. Each brought in $480. For a complete listing of results from the fourth Forbes American document auction, see