George Washington Early American Gold Frame Spectacles.

"linking America's two most renowned Founding Fathers": George Washington's Gold Frame Spectacles; given by him to Alexander Hamilton; with a letter of provenance signed by and entirely in the hand of Edward Stevens and a note of provenance signed by Hamilton's Granddaughter-in-law

George Washington Early American Gold Frame Spectacles.

[WASHINGTON, George; Alexander Hamilton; Edward Stevens; Ernst Frederik Walterstorff].

Item Number: 134081

President George Washington’s 18th century gold frame spectacles; gifted by him to his protégé Alexander Hamilton. The spectacles are housed in a custom period iron case. Accompanied by an autograph letter of provenance signed and entirely in the hand of one of Hamilton’s closest friends since childhood, American physician and diplomat Edward Stevens, which reads in full, “The Subscriber hereby certifies, that he recollects the circumstances of General Hamilton’s having made a present to General Walterstorff during his Residence in Philadelphia of a Pair of Glasses, or Spectacles, which had been the Property of General Washington the President of the United States of America: and, which he had given to General Hamilton. St. Croix, July 10th 1829 E. Stevens.” Dr. Edward Stevens was born in Antigua on February 21, 1754. His father, Scottish merchant Thomas Stevens, would later become the adoptive father of the orphaned Alexander Hamilton. Contemporaries would often remark that Edward Stevens and Hamilton looked very much alike. Secretary of State Timothy Pickering, who knew both men in adulthood, noted that the men were strikingly similar in appearance and concluded that they must be biological brothers. Hamilton’s biographer Ron Chernow explored the claim, noting that it could explain why Hamilton was adopted into the Stevens family while his older brother, James, apparently was not. It may also have been a factor in Hamilton’s acknowledged father abandoning his family. Stevens notes in the letter that Hamilton later gave the spectacles to General Ernst Frederik Walterstorff during his stay in Philadelphia. Born in Denmark, Walterstorff served as a district judge on Saint Croix from 1780 to 1786. In 1787, he was promoted to vice governor of the Danish West Indies. On leaving office he took up residence in the United States where he remained until 1796. Walterstorff was on several occasions charged with diplomatic missions and was well acquainted with Hamilton during his residence in the United States. Walterstorff and Hamilton carried on correspondence following Walterstorff’s departure from the U.S. regarding the state of affairs in early 19th century England, France, and Russia. In one letter, Walterstorff refers to Dr. Stevens as their mutual friend (“To Alexander Hamilton from Ernst Frederich von Walterstorff, 20 April 1803,” Founders OnlineNational Archives). Also accompanied by a calling card of Mrs. Allan McLane Hamilton inscribed on the verso, “Spectacles once belonging to George Washington and in possession of Alexander Hamilton.” Hamilton’s grandson, Allan McLane Hamilton was a prominent psychiatrist and founded the New York Psychiatric Society. In 1910, he published The Intimate Life of Alexander Hamilton, which was published by Scribner & Sons. The spectacles are in fine condition. A highly desirable piece linking America’s two most renowned Founding Fathers and with exceptional provenance.

Despite their contrasting personalities and differing backgrounds, George Washington and Alexander Hamilton were a highly successful team, first in the fight for American independence and later in establishing the principles of the young country's government. Hamilton first attracted Washington's attention during the decisive Battles of Trenton and Princeton. In 1777, Washington promoted him to lieutenant colonel and invited him to serve as his senior aide-de-camp, a position he would hold for four years. As Washington's chief staff aide, Hamilton handled letters to Congress, state governors, and the most powerful generals of the Continental Army; he drafted many of Washington's orders and letters at the latter's direction and eventually issued orders from Washington signed in his own name. Hamilton was involved in a wide variety of high-level duties, including intelligence, diplomacy, and negotiation with senior army officers as Washington's emissary. When Washington was inaugurated on April 30, 1789, he appointed Hamilton as Secretary of the Treasury. Washington's first term was largely devoted to economic concerns, in which Hamilton had devised various plans to address matters. When Washington declined to run for a third term of office, he sent the draft of his Farewell Address to Hamilton who who did an extensive rewrite, while Washington provided final edits.

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