Attic Find: 'One-of-a-Kind' 1775 Revolution Letter

A Continental Congress plea to the British people for reconciliation

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 2, 2014 6:44 AM CST

(Newser) – A "one-of-a-kind document" James Madison once raved about has been discovered in the attic of George Washington's headquarters during the Revolutionary War. Emilie Gruchow of Manhattan's Morris-Jumel Mansion stumbled upon the yellowed, 12-page plea from the Continental Congress to the British people for reconciliation last summer in a stack of colonial-era doctor's bills that someone had labeled as worthless. It turns out the 250-year-old find—which mentions the "rigorous acts of oppression which are daily exercised in the Town of Boston ... by an army sent not to protect, but to enslave its inhabitants"—is far from that; it's now headed to the auction block and is expected to fetch between $100,000 and $400,000 to help with museum restorations, the New York Times reports.

The only previously known version was printed in July 1775. "I thought it was a really good handwritten copy from the early 20th century that someone had aged really well," Gruchow said. "Then it dawned on me that this looks like 250-year-old paper." A researcher analyzed the handwriting and found it was written by Robert R. Livingston, a prominent New York jurist who went on to help Thomas Jefferson draft the Declaration of Independence and swear-in Washington as the nation's first president. "I recognize this is so important to the founding of the country that it needs to be in a place where the country can see it," the museum's director says. "It really needs to be seen by the general public and needs to be in a place like the National Archives or the Library of Congress." It goes up for auction Jan. 26 in Manhattan.

Stock photo   (Shutterstock)
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