George Washington letter to sell for $2.5m

Christie's is holding a sale of Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts including an extraordinary document written by George Washington which has never been exhibited, yet is expected to sell for $1.5m-2.5m.

The letter sent in November 1787 to his trusted nephew Bushrod Washington is a candid four pages of close written script expressing wholehearted support for the draft Constitution of the United States which was under consideration. Washington was more cautious about giving full-throated support in public.

Washington emphasises that whilst the powers of the government must ultimately be in the hands of the people, there must be governmental powers, and thinks objections to this are absurd.

"No man is a warmer advocate for proper restraints, and wholesome checks in every department of government than I am; but neither my reasoning, nor my experience, has yet been able to discover the propriety of preventing men from doing good, because there is a possibility of their doing evil."

George Washington Bushrod Constitution
Washington's letter to his nephew about the Constitution

He also emphasised his approval of the provisions for amendments to be made in future as they:

"...allow the people (for it is with them to judge) [to decide upon amendments when warranted] for I do not conceive that we are more inspired, have more wisdom, or possess more virtue than those who will come after us…"

Washington's belief in the need for a strong united America came from the bitter experience of fighting against the British without cohesion. Conversely, a proposed solution to the weakness through division being aired was to create a monarchy, to which Washington was emphatically opposed.

The Constitution was eventually endorsed by the states unanimously, albeit by slim votes in some. Washington was then made the first President, and continues to be ranked as one of the best by both popular vote and political scientists.

Collectors interested in material autographed by the great man may wish to take a look at a document we have available: a land survey doubly signed by Washington when he was just 18. It is thought to be the earliest Washington signature in private hands.

Christie's sale takes place on December 4 - an extremely rare opportunity to obtain a document of such great significance.

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