Bids on a letter from a Founding Father reach $20k

John Adams was the second President of the United States, from 1797 to 1801, and Vice-President to George Washington from 1789 to 1797.

In 1785, however, he headed out towards Europe to become the United States' first Ambassador to Great Britain, which until 1783 had regarded the American States as colonial satellites.

Before taking on that role, however, he had a less important, though symbolic act to perform. With Thomas Jefferson at his side he was to confirm the first Congressional Gold Medals and presentation swords for George Washington, Horatio Gates, and Nathanael Greene.

These were to be made by artisans in France, and Adams wrote a letter to Parisian bankers Messieurs Van den Yvers asking them to set up a line of credit for the awards. It was sent just a few weeks before he took up service in Britain.

John Adams Second President of the United States George Washington
John Adams's letter regarding payment for Congressional Medals and swords

Adams has the misfortune of being over shadowed by Washington, the first and most universally celebrated of all US Presidents, but Adams was one of the founding fathers, and historians have increasingly emphasised his achievements in recent years.

The letter is to be sold following the live conclusion of Heritage's auction of historical manuscripts on February 10 in California with an estimate of $40,000-50,000. It has already attracted a bid of $20,000.

Collectors of autographs and Americana will be interested to know that a document signed by George Washington is currently available.


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