Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    John Adams 1791 Signed Letter on Importing Arms from Europe Autograph letter signed, "John Adams" as Vice President, two pages, 8" x 9", Philadelphia, May 22, 1791 to Governor Thomas Mifflin of Pennsylvania concerning the importation of arms from Europe for the Pennsylvania militia. Adams writes in full: "Sir I have received the letter you did me the honour to write me on the twelfth of this Month: and have maturely considered the subject of it: The substance of your Excellencies first request is that I would instruct the American Ministers in Europe to use their Influence to obtain Permission from the respective Government for exporting from Great Britain, Holland or Hamburgh, Ten thousand Stands of arms for the use of the Militia of Pensilvania[sic]. At this request appears to me to be reasonable and proper, I shall readily and cheerfully comply with it, whenever you Excellency shall be pleased to indicate to me or to the Secretary of State, the names of the Agents proposed to be employed. Your Excellency's Second request is, that, as the proposed importation is an object of national utility I would submit to the consideration of Congress the expediency of a remission of the duties payable on such importation. On this point, permit me, respectfully to observe that the recommendations of the President to Congress have commonly related the Measures of general Policy and a deviation from this rule may be attended with inconvenience: that an Exemption from Duties on Arms imported for a particular State would operate as a grant to that State and out of course be provided for by a Special Law. Of the Policy of recommending a general Repeal of the Duties on Arms imported in to the United States, doubts are entertained, as a Manufacture would thereby discouraged, which it is the public Interest to support and encourage." A valid question as American manufacturing was still in its infancy and unable to produce goods as cheaply as in Europe and required protection to flourish. The weakness of the United States military at the time was profound and gave many a reason for pause, thus the urge for importation. Minor bleed from verso, otherwise extremely bright and clean. Nicely matted with a second frame affixed with a hinge to allow easy viewing of both sides of the letter. From the collection of Bradley O'Leary. Accompanied by COA from PSA/DNA.

    Shipping, Taxes, Terms and Bidding
    Calculate Standard Domestic Shipping

    Sales Tax information  |  Terms and Conditions

    Bidding Guidelines and Bid Increments

    Glossary of Terms

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2005
    13th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 15
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,150

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    15% of the successful bid (minimum $9) per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2018 October 27 Musical Instruments - Dallas.

    Learn about consigning with us

    We had a wonderful time in New York during the October 2013 Historical Manuscripts auction that featured my mother’s papers collected during her tenure as Martin Luther King, Jr.’s secretary. In fact, the entire experience from beginning to end has been a pleasure.
    Howard Ballou,
    Brandon, MS
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2018 June 10 Arms & Armor, Civil War & Militaria Signature Auction - Dallas
    2018 June 10 Arms & Armor, Civil War & Militaria Signature Auction - Dallas
    REALIZED $615,551