Catalog Archive
Auction 182, Lot 782

Hamilton’s Newspaper Makes Early Announcement of the Louisiana Purchase

"[Louisiana Purchase] New-York Evening Post. No. 504 - Thursday, June 30, 1803",

Subject: Document - Louisiana Purchase

Period: 1803 (published)

Publication:

Color: Black & White

Size:
13.4 x 19.2 inches
34 x 48.8 cm
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This is the complete 4-page issue of the New-York Evening Post for June 30, 1803. On page 2, Alexander Hamilton’s newspaper published the news from “a letter just handed us by a friend [possibly Hamilton] who just received it by this morning’s Eastern mail” that the Louisiana Purchase was finalized. Two letters printed go on to explain the details, including, in addition to the ceding of Louisiana, a provision for a payment to Americans holding French debt, a matter of significant interest for the readers of the Post which had a focus on banking issues. Introducing the letters, the editor comments that he had previously predicted that the French war with England would give the U.S. the opportunity to acquire Louisiana. The Treaty transferring Louisiana to the U.S. was signed in Paris on April 30, but the documents did not reach Washington until July 14. Jefferson nonetheless made the official announcement on July 4, five days after the Post announcement.

A long-time adversary of Jefferson, Hamilton founded the New-York Evening Post in 1801. In 1802, Spain secretly transferred Louisiana to France but agreed to administer it until France could assume control. Spain then revoked a treaty provision with the U.S. that allowed Americans to use the warehouses in New Orleans. Control of New Orleans and the Mississippi thus became a major issue for Jefferson and the United States. Jefferson sought a diplomatic solution.

Writing as Pericles in an earlier issue of his newspaper (February 18, 1803), Hamilton dismisses the possibility of France selling Louisiana and instead proposes seizing New Orleans and then negotiating. Subsequently, in the July 5, 1803 issue of the newspaper Hamilton is critical of the purchase and suggests that aside from the benefit of controlling New Orleans and the Mississippi its main value was as an object to barter with Spain for the more valuable Florida. The irony is that as the first Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton had put the nation’s finances in sound enough condition that the U.S. could borrow the funds from European banks and meet Napoleon’s condition for quick payment to fight his impending war with Britain.

Unrelated, the front page (right side) has an interesting detailed ad for Simeon De Witt’s large map of New York and a subscription issue for a “Contraction of De Witt’s Large Map.” No past sales records for this issue have been located in the last 30 years.

References:

Condition: B

Light toning with some dampstains primarily at top and bottom right. There is some roughness along the left edge where the newspaper was previously bound.

Estimate: $300 - $375

Sold for: $210

Closed on 4/28/2021

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