Important Thomas Jefferson letter auctions for $250,000

An important letter which sees President Thomas Jefferson presenting his view of the American government has sold as top lot in the Property of a Distinguished American Private Collector auction.

Thomas Jefferson signed letter
Jefferson was a highly intellectual leader, as proved by this eloquent letter

Offered on December 18 in California, the letter sold for $250,000, perfectly within its $200,000-300,000 valuation. It is dated January 15, 1802 and sees the president writing to the president of the senate and speaker of the house of representatives of Georgia.

As described by the auction house, Jefferson "waxes profound on the superior structure of America's government" and clearly lays out his idealistic democratic principles. His emphasis on state rights is eloquent and succinct, reading:

"State rights, and State sovereignties, as recognised by the constitution, are an integral and essential part of our great political fabric. They are bound up by a common ligament with those of the National government, and form with it one system, of which the Constitution is the law and the life. A sacred respect to that instrument therefore becomes the first interest and duty of all."

George Washington Thomas Paine letter
Paine's book advocated revolution against aristocratic government, though Washington may have seen it as an assault on his own authority

Also selling well among the presidential items offered was a letter from President George Washington, which sold for $110,000. In the brief missive, Washington snubs author Thomas Paine and refuses to comment on his now-famous work, Rights of Man.

The expectant Paine had sent Washington 50 copies of his book and not received a response, for which the president "apologises": "To my friends, and those who know my occupations, I am sure no apology is necessary for keeping their letters so much longer unanswered than my inclination would lead me to do.  I shall therefore offer no excuse."

Paul Fraser Collectibles has a superb range of presidential memorabilia for sale, including a magnificent George Washington signed lottery ticket

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