Dated July 4, 1776: Earliest Known Document Naming an African-American Soldier in the New United States Dated July 4, 1776: Earliest Known Document Naming an African-American Soldier in the New United States

A 6×8″ manuscript dated July 4, 1776, relating to black soldier Cuffee Dole’s plight near George Washington’s Cambridge headquarters, will appear in a New York auction on July 24.

It is the earliest located document of the newly-independent United States which identifies an African-American by name.

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.

Accused in this document of taking an 8-dollar bill from a fellow soldier – in the house later immortalized in a Longfellow poem – the charges were dropped. Serving honorably, Dole likely crossed paths with Washington. A sought-after cook, he became known in the finer homes of Boston for his sumptuous banquets.

Over two centuries, the life of Cuff Dole has become a legend in his corner of Massachusetts, encompassing freedom to slavery, freedom restored, patriotism, and forgiveness. His tombstone reads, “White man, turn not away in Disgust, Thou art my brother.” Dole’s land is today a park. (Opening bid $30,000; estimated market value $100,000-up) Lot 5-1; image and full description at http://cohascodpc.com/cat67/cat67-auction.html

Offered separately:

  • 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)

Among 430 other historical documents and collectibles in 31 categories: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 June 1789 newspaper Gazette of the United States, there were only nine Amendments at that stage. The right to bear arms was lifted from the Fourth Amendment, and made the Second. ($19,000-24,000)
  • Origin of the expression “people of colour,” in volume one of America’s then-most important magazine, 1801. ($1800-2500)
  • An archive of Old Bermuda, beginning 1776, weighing 33 pounds. Its manuscript pages overflow with mentions of rum, privateers, and blacks – both free and enslaved: “…Your Negro woman Ammoret…looks
  • Shocking Poor…I told her 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)
  • 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)
  • Iconic 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)
  • A bound volume of Locomotive Firemen & Enginemen’s Magazine, 1927, including brief article, “Not Interested in Russian Investigating Commission….” ($90-130)

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