Fine Manuscript and Printed Americana

Fine Manuscript and Printed Americana

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 9. Gazette of the United States | A remarkable comprehensive run of a foundational periodical, with distinguished provenance .

Gazette of the United States | A remarkable comprehensive run of a foundational periodical, with distinguished provenance

Auction Closed

January 29, 07:18 PM GMT


250,000 - 350,000 USD

Lot Details


The Gazette of the United States. A National Newspaper, Published at the Seat of Government… New York and Philadelphia: Published by the Editor (John Fenno,) at His Office Near the Exchange, 15 April 1789-18 September 1793 

4 volumes bound in 2, folio (404 x 254 mm). Title-pages to volumes one and two, text in three columns; index lacking, title-pages for volumes three and four lacking, second leaf of Number IV (22 April – 25 April 1789) lacking, closed marginal tears, scattered browning and foxing, some staining, old folds, creases, and rubbing sometimes costing a letter or two, a few instances of primarily marginal dampstaining, a few small holes, one or two instances of minor marginal worming, some instances of articles being clipped out at the end of volume four. Contemporary half sheep and marbled paper-covered boards; upper boards detached, rubbed with loss. (A list of missing issues has been provided at the end of the catalogue note.)

(Sold as a periodical — not subject to return.)

He that is not for us, is against us."

A remarkably comprehensive run of The Gazette of The United States, once owned by Jonathan Dayton, one of the Framers of the U.S. Constitution.

Editor John Fenno’s Gazette of the United States was the leading Federalist newspaper during the late 1700s, a period in U.S. history that was rife with partisan politics. The paper, published on Wednesdays and Saturdays, defended the Federalist administration, and condemned anyone who questioned it. Its biggest champion was perhaps Alexander Hamilton, then Secretary of the Treasury. Hamilton organized the funding the Gazette, granted Fenno the Treasury Department’s printing contracts, and was even one of the newspaper’s (anonymous) contributors. The first issue appeared on 15 April 1789, and was published in New York City, the nation's capital at the time. In 1791, the paper relocated to Philadelphia, following the move of the capital, as Gazette became the de facto respaper of record for the federal government.

The Gazette featured foreign affairs, political essays, letters, Hamilton’s Treasury Department papers and reports, and general news. It ran numerous articles and covered many events that would prove foundational in the development of the United States, such as George Washington’s inauguration, Washington’s letter to the Hebrew Congregations, early debates surrounding slavery, the first statute defining federal crimes, and many others. In the autumn of 1789, the Gazette published the earliest printings of the final Senate and full Congressional texts of the Bill of Rights, now regarded as the most profound guarantee of personal liberty ever incorporated into a written constitution (23 September and 1 October [corrected in manuscript to 3]). The House's proposed seventeen amendments were "printed for the consideration of the Senate," which, through debate and reconciliation, combination and elimination, produced a roster of twelve projected amendments, which are printed here on the front page of the 23 September issue, the same day they were proposed by the Senate. After further debate and refinement, the two houses of congress agreed to the final text of the proposed amendments to the Constitution. On 3 October 1789, the Gazette printed the final text of the twelve proposed amendments, incorporating the final revisions agreed to by both the House and the Senate. The most significant of these changes, documented in the texts printed here, involved what are known today as the First Amendment (rephrasing the prohibition of the establishment of religion) and the Sixth Amendment (concerning the right to trial by jury).

Some significant issues present here include:

  • The report of the first inauguration of a president of the United States, including a full printing of Washington’s inaugural address: “New-York, May 2. On the Tuesday last, agreeably to the resolution of both Houses of Congress, the inauguration of THE PRESIDENT of the UNITED STATES was formalized” (29 April 1789, p. 23).
  • The first congressional draft of the Bill of Rights: "Amendments to the Constitution” (1 August 1789, pp. 125-6).
  • George Washington nominates six Supreme Court justices, thirteen federal District Court judges, thirteen US Attorneys, thirteen federal Marshalls, several infantry officers, and four others, 30: “New-York, September 30. The PRESIDENT of the United States has been pleased to nominate, and by with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint…” including "John Jay of New-York, Chief Justice… Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State. Edmund Randolph, Attorney-General. Samuel Osgood, Postmaster-General. William Carmichael, Esq. Charges des Affair from the United States to the Court of Spain" (September 1789, p. 195).
  • Congress submitting the Bill of Rights to the states for ratification—the earliest obtainable printing of the Bill of Rights: “CONGRESS of the UNITED STATES…The conventions of a number of the States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added ... Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives ... that the following articles be proposed to the legislatures of the several states, as amendments to the Constitution…” 1 October [sic: 3 October, with manuscript date emendation in ink] 1789 (p. 199).
  • The First Presidential proclamation of Thanksgiving: “Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor—and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their Joint Committee requested me ‘to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.’ Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States…” (7 October 1789, p. 201).
  • A president gets paid: "An Act for allowing a Compensation to the President and Vice President..." The annual compensation is given as $25,000 and $5,000 respectively (24 October 1789, p. 224).
  • News of North Carolina’s convention ratifying the Constitution: “New-York, December 5. IMPORTANT NEWS! By the Arrival of a Packet, in five days from Wilmington, North-Carolina, we have received the agreeable intelligence that the Convention of that State ADOPTED THE CONSTITUTION…” (5 December 1789, p. 271).
  • One of the earliest discussions surrounding slavery in the United States: “Friday, February 12. Sketch of the Debate on the question for committing the Memorials on the Slave Trade” (17 February 1790, p. 354).
  • An act marking the passage of a Federal budget: “CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES. At the Second Session… An act making Appropriations for the Support of Government…” (3 April 1790, p. 408).
  • An act that enabled the formation of the Southwest Territory, what would become the state of Tennessee: "An Act to accept a Cession of the Claims of the State of North Carolina, to a certain District of Western Territory" (7 April 1790, p. 411).
  • The creation of the Legion of the United States: "An Act for Regulating the Military Establishment of the United States” (8 May 1790, p. 445).
  • The first statute defining Federal crimes: "An Act for the Punishment of Certain Crimes Against the United States" (12 May 1790, p. 449).
  • An act calling upon President Washington to appoint a governor of the newly formed Southwest Territory (see above): “An Act for the Government of the Territory of the United States, South of the Ohio" (2 June 1790, p. 474).
  • Rhode Island is last state to ratify the Constitution: (2 June 1790, p. 475; and 9 June 1790, p. 481).
  • The first Federal copyright law: “An act for the Encouragement of LEARNING, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the Authors and Proprietors of such Copies, during the times therein mentioned” (5 June 1790, pp. 478).
  • The first address by a Jewish community to Washington after the election: "To the Hebrew Congregation of the City of Savannah." Levi Sheftal’s congratulations to President George Washington constitute the earliest address by a Jewish community to President Washington following the election. Both Sheftal’s address, as President of the Hebrew Congregation of Savannah, and Washington’s reply are printed (19 June 1790, p. 494).
  • Establishing the seat of government: "An Act for establishing a temporary and permanent seat of the government of the United States." "Temporary" was a reference to Philadelphia (17 July 1790, p. 527).
  • Assistance for veterans: "The bill for the relief of disabled soldiers and seamen, and other persons lately in the service of the United States, was passed..." (31 July 1790, p. 542).

Such comprehensive runs are extremely scarce at auction, and rarer still with any title-pages present. Additionally, these volumes belonged to subscriber Jonathan Dayton, a framer of the Constitution. By the age of 19, Dayton had risen to the rank of captain in the Continental Army. He served under his father, General Elias Dayton, and the Marquis de Lafayette. He was also held prisoner by the British for a period, and also participated in the Battle of Yorktown (see lot 16). Following his military career, Dayton studied law, ultimately dividing his time between his legal practice and his political pursuits. He was chosen as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, and though he objected to some provisions of the Constitution, at the age of 26 he became the youngest person to sign the landmark charter. Following the Continental Congress, Dayton became one of the foremost Federalist legislators in the newly formed government. From 1791 to 1799, he served as a member of the House of Representatives for New Jersey, as a Senator from 1799 to 1805, and as the third Speaker of the House from 1795 to 1799.

From the earliest printings of the final Senate and full Congressional texts of the Bill of Rights, to articles that addressed the problem of overcrowded schoolrooms, the newspaper encompassed many facets of American life. The Gazette of the United States stands as an invaluable record of the political activity and the debates that shaped a young nation. 

The present volumes are lacking the following issues, though it seems these gaps are organic to the run, rather than being removed after being bound:

·        Number LXXXIII: 27 January 1790 

·        Number LXXXVI: 6 February 1790

·        Number 4/212: 11 May 1791

·        Number 7/215: 21 May 1791

·        Number 9/217: 28 May 1791

·        Number 12/220: 8 June 1791

·        Number 17/225: 25 June 1791

·        Number 28/236: 3 August 1791

·        Number 35/241: 24 August 1791

·        Number 39/247: 10 September 1791

·        Number 48/256: 12 October 1791

·        Number 51/259: 22 October 1791

·        Number 53/261: 29 October 1791

·        Number 55/263: 5 November 1791

·        Number 62/270: 30 November 1791

·        Number 63/271: 3 December 1791

·        Number 71/279: 31 December 1791

·        Number 74/282: 11 January 1792

·        Number 83/291: 11 February 1792

·        Number 103/311: 21 April 1792

·        Number 9/331: 30 June 1792

·        Number 10-332: 4 July 1792

·        Number 23/345: 18 August 1792

·        Number 24/346: 22 August 1792

·        Number 45/367: 3 November 1792

·        Number 56/378: 12 December 1792

·        Number 59/381: 22 December 1792

·        Number 60/382: 26 December 1792

·        Number 98/420: 8 May 1793

·        Number 99/421: 11 May 1793

·        Number 100/422: 15 May 1793

·        Number 103/425: 25 May 1793

·        Number 105/427: 1 June 1793

·        Number 108/430: 12 June 1793

·        Number 122/444: 31 July 1793

·        Number 151/453: 31 August 1793

·        Number 153/455: 7 September 1793


Johnathan Dayton (name accomplished in what is presumably a stationer’s hand throughout first bound volume, and occasionally in second, many trimmed) — W.D. Salter (ownership signature to front free endpaper of each bound volume)

Please note, the description for the 3 October 1789 issue has been edited to reflect the correct date.