Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Thornton, William (1759-1828) [Document acknowledging William Eaton]

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC06304.01 Author/Creator: Thornton, William (1759-1828) Place Written: Washington, D.C. Type: Manuscript document signed Date: 13 August 1805 Pagination: 1 p. ; 57.1 x 41.3 cm.

Written in a flowerly, religious tone by William Thornton, the architect who designed the U.S. Capitol building who was running the U.S. Patent Office in 1805. Given to William Eaton, former American commander of naval vessels sent to the Barbary states in 1804 and 1805. Presented to Eaton after his adventures with Prince Sidi Hamet, the Sultan of Tripoli who was disposed by his younger brother Yusuf Karamanli in 1804. Eaton had proposed to help Hamet regain power, but after a series of sensational battles a diplomatic payment was made to preserve the peace and Hamet retired to Syracuse on Sicily. Perhaps written as a grateful acknowledgement of Eaton's accomplishments. The document notes differences between Christian and Muslim states, and cites the Koran three times (Suras 3, 39, and 27) to show that book's respect for Jesus' teachings. The document is dated "Written in the Star Chamber of the House of Invention" - the patent office- "of the Palace of the great Sovereigns of America" - Washington D.C. At top of the sheet there are clouds surrounding a bright, multi-color rainbow, painted in water-color. Also three paper seals at top.

Order a CopyCitation Guidelines for Online Resources