Suzanne DeChillo / The New York Times

Historic Revolutionary War Letter Found In Museum's Attic

A letter written to the people of Great Britain pleading for reconciliation during the Revolutionary War was found in the attic of a New York museum.

January 2, 2014

Here’s one time when neglecting to take out the trash was actually a good thing.

Workers at a New York City museum discovered a 250-year-old letter from the Continental Congress addressed to the people of Great Britain, pleading for reconciliation. And it’s about to make the museum some serious cash. (Via ArtfixDaily)

Emilie Gruchow, who works at Manhattan’s Morris-Jumel Mansion Museum, was the one who found the 12-page original manuscript in the museum’s attic. George Washington had his headquarters in that mansion during the Revolutionary War. (Via The New York Times)

The letter was reportedly in a stack of old doctor’s bills that were supposed to be thrown out. A final version, and the only previously known version, of the letter was published in the summer of 1775.

Gruchow said, "I thought it was a really good handwritten copy from the early 20th century that someone had aged really well. Then it dawned on me that this looks like 250-year-old paper." (Via Newser)


The author had been completely unknown till now. An expert analyzed the writing and determined it was written by Robert R. Livingston, who was appointed by Congress to write a letter to the people of Great Britain in hopes of creating popular support to convince King George III and his government to reconcile with the Continental Congress. (Via Wikimedia Commons / The Athenaeum)

KRMG reports It pleads with the British people for a re-uniting of the two nations citing ‘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.’”

The New York Times points out the following year Livingston, along with Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Roger Sherman drafted the Declaration of Independence. (Via Wikimedia Commons, Wikimedia Commons / US Capitol)

It was also Livingston who swore Washington into his presidency. (Via The White House Historical Association)

Historians now say this document helps explain why Livingston was chosen to be part of the Declaration committee and why he was the one to swear in the country’s first president. (Via Wikimedia Commons / National Archives and Records Administration)

A former assistant editor at the Massachusetts Historical Society said, "Edited drafts of congressional documents from this time, after the revolution had begun but still a year away from independence, lend fascinating insight into the minds of its authors." (Via ArtfixDaily)

The manuscript will hit the auction block in Manhattan on Jan 26th. It’s already estimated to sell for anywhere between $100,000 and $400,000, which will help with museum restorations.

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