First document identifying an African-American soldier coming to auction

YONKERS, N.Y. — A 6 x 8” manuscript dated July 4, 1776, relating to African-American soldier Cuff Dole’s plight on Prospect Hill, Cambridge, Mass., will appear in a New York sale on July 24. It is thought to be the first document of the newly-independent United States which identifies an African-American by name.

Life of African-American Soldier Noted in Documents

Cuff Dole paper

Historic document including mention of African-American solider Cuff Dole. (All photos courtesy of Cohasco, Inc.)

Born free, Dole was sold into slavery by his treacherous nurse. Confessing on her deathbed that he was in fact freeborn, Dole’s patriotic service was also dramatic and heartrending.

This document accuses Dole of taking an 8-dollar bill from a fellow soldier. Later immortalized in a Longfellow poem – the charges were dropped. Serving honorably from the “first flash of war,” Dole likely crossed paths with George Washington. He was known in finer homes of Boston for his sumptuous banquets.

Over two centuries, the legend of Cuff Dole has circulated in Essex County, Mass., leaving an indelible mark on American history. His tombstone reads, “White man, turn not away in Disgust, Thou art my brother.” Dole’s land is today a public park. (Estimate $60,000-100,000) 

Additional Featured Lots

• Significant letter of Albert Einstein, pondering an immigration dilemma as the Holocaust advances. From Princeton, 1940, he offers regrets on predicament of a trapped European scholar, not eligible for a non-quota immigration visa. Einstein’s efforts led to clandestine missions later that year in a race against time to rescue thousands – many on the Nazis’ most-wanted list. (Preauction estimate $3400-4200) …

• Two letters of Teddy Roosevelt urging government neutrality in health care, and freedom to practice and choose. To a Christian Scientist – who had been charged with practicing medicine without a license – Roosevelt writes, “I do not believe that the Federal Government should…dictate therapeutic methods…The Progressive Party will live up to this and every other promise it has made….”
($3250-4500) .

Examining Historical Documents From Various Categories

• Martin Luther King, Jr.’s first book, boldly inscribed by him in green ink to a Baptist leader whose support King sought. Entitled Stride Towards Freedom – The Montgomery Story, King was just 29 years old ($9500-12,000) …

• The earliest obtainable version, in any form, of the first draft of the Bill of Rights. Appearing in the newspaper Gazette of the United States, there were only nine Amendments at that stage, in June 1789. The right to bear arms was then part of the Fourth Amendment; before becoming the Second ($19,000-24,000) …

• 1789 newspaper containing complete draft of the proposed Bill of Rights, now up to seventeen Amendments – and for the first time in its evolution, approving the specific phrase “the freedom of speech” ($5500-8500) …

Historic Inventory Lists

Baroness Marie Vetsera

Baroness Marie Vetsera

• Revolutionary War document ordering sugar, chocolate and rum for the American troops, probably in New York ($250-325) …

• Three long letters of the “Grey Ghost,” Confederate Gen. John Mosby, known for his daring raids, before melting into the Virginia countryside. Wearing his ostrich plume and trademark grey cape lined with scarlet, Mosby was considered a bandit by the North, but hero in the South (offered individually; $2400-3200 and up) …

• A Revolutionary War pay document signed with the “X” of black soldier Cato Quashy. His last name arose from a form of witchcraft practiced among some blacks, here denoting he has born on a Sunday ($1700-2200) …

Antique Journals

• Origin of the expression “people of colour,” in volume one of America’s most important magazine at turn of the 19th century. Published by Oliver Oldschool, the Philadelphia journal began in 1801 ($1800-2500) …

• Scarce signature of Civil War Gen. Francis Fleming, who led at the obscure Battle of Natural Bridge, pitting teenagers and elderly Floridians against Union colored troops. It is the last Confederate victory of the war ($70-100) …

• An archive of Old Bermuda, beginning 1776, with much black content – both free and slave. Weighing over 30 pounds, with mention of rum, privateers, and “cocoa nuts,” the manuscript pages contain previously unseen material: “…Your Negro woman Ammorett arrived safe but looks Shocking Poor…I told her to endeavor to choose her an Owner which she said she endeavored to do but without effect. I then had offered (her) for sale at Public Auction, but no one would bid for her…” ($9000-14,000) …

Military Documentation

• Large document of a Pennsylvania regiment with links to Custer, listing 62 cavalrymen, every single one illiterate – signing with an “X” ($110-140) …

• 1954 letter of the longest-serving Speaker of the House, Sam Rayburn, on Democratic tax philosophy. “…The little man has as much, in truth more, right to have a tax cut and as deeply as a sound economy will justify…” ($100-130) …

• Sultry photograph of the teenager who set the stage for World War I – in 1889. Had Baroness Marie Vetsera not died at age 17 with Austria’s Crown Prince in a murder-suicide, Archduke Ferdinand would probably not have occupied the throne in 1914, attracting his assassin ($110-140)

World War II References

• Very rare World War II American aviators’ “Pointie Talkie” translation book for use if downed in China. The title page bears crossed color flags of the U.S. and China – then our strong ally ($150-200) …

• Three manuscript fragments from the time of Jesus to the Dark Ages, in Aramaic, Coptic, and Greek ($475-650) …

• First edition of the first American atlas, published by Mathew Carey, 1795. Including the very first map printed in America of Virginia as a state, this is only the eighth example of the atlas on the market in 35 years ($27,000-36,000) …

Bids is open now through July 24, 2018, 9:00 P.M. Eastern time.

For more information, visit http://cohascodpc.com.

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