General William Tecumseh Sherman is generally remembered for two things, his March to the Sea near the end of the Civil War that broke the South's will, and his “Shermanesque Statement” leaving no doubt he would not run for President, paraphrased today as “If nominated I will not run; if elected I will not serve.” However, Sherman had several careers before the Civil War began. Ironically, he was serving as head of the predecessor of Louisiana State University, but resigned as the southern states began seceding, refusing to assist in any way those who might attempt to destroy the Union. A dozen years earlier, Sherman was in California at the time of the Gold Rush. He was serving in essentially a desk job during the Mexican War and was one of those who confirmed that it was truly gold that had been discovered. Item 85 is Sherman's handwritten memoirs of that time he has headed General Sherman in California 1846-1850. Written in 1871, it would later be the basis of the first two chapters of the first edition of his autobiography. It is something of a rough draft, with many handwritten corrections. He recounts two men being sent to see the Governor by Captain Sutter. He was later invited in the room while they opened some papers containing a small amount of what appeared to be gold. He wasn't sure whether it was, but told the men it could easily be tested. In another episode, he recalled Kit Carson arriving with the first bag of overland mail. Carson was already quite famous and Sherman was anxious to meet him. “I cannot express my surprise at beholding a small, stoop shouldered man with reddish hair, freckled face, soft blue eyes, and nothing to indicate extraordinary courage or daring. He spoke but little, and answered questions in monosyllables.” $95,000.
Item 52 is a very rare item, a letter from Thomas Jefferson pertaining to the Lewis and Clark Expedition. It is likely the only one you will ever see written by the President while the Expedition was ongoing. It was written to William Jarvis, U.S. Consul in Lisbon, who had met Jefferson and Meriwether Lewis in Washington a few years earlier. Perhaps that is why Jefferson wrote about his mission. Jefferson writes, “Capt. Lewis who has been sent to explore the Missouri to its source, & thence to pursue the nearest water communication to the South Sea, past the last winter among the savages 1600 miles up the Missouri. Lewis finds the Indians every where friendly. He will probably get back in 1806.” The letter was sent in July of 1805, and Jefferson would hear no more from Lewis until he returned the following year. This letter is written in Jefferson's hand though it is not signed. There are two possible explanations: (1) there is not much room in the cramped letter for a signature, or (2) Jefferson may have felt that if the letter somehow was intercepted, he did not want others to know it came from him. $600,000.
Speaking of Capt. Lewis, Reese describes his signature as “one of the rarest signatures in Americana.” Here is one of them. It is on a pay receipt for $200, part of the pay he received for leading the expedition. It was signed shortly thereafter, in February of 1807. Lewis was appointed Governor of Upper Louisiana, but it did not go well. He was not a good administrator, quarreled with many of the people with which he interacted, and took to heavy drinking. On an overland trip to Washington, an apparently agitated Lewis stopped at an inn for the night and died as a result of gunshot wounds. Most believe they were self inflicted, though others maintain that he was murdered. His early death explains the scarcity of his signatures. Item 59. $55,000.