Rutherford B. Hayes photo

Special Message

April 22, 1880

To the Senate and House of Representatives:

I have the honor to inform Congress that Mr. J. Randolph Coolidge, Dr. Algernon Coolidge, Mr. Thomas Jefferson Coolidge, and Mrs. Ellen Dwight, of Massachusetts, the heirs of the late Joseph Coolidge, jr., desire to present to the United States the desk on which the Declaration of Independence was written. It bears the following inscription in the handwriting of Thomas Jefferson:

Thomas Jefferson gives this writing desk to Joseph Coolidge, jr., as a memorial of his affection. It was made from a drawing of his own, by Ben. Randall, cabinetmaker of Philadelphia, with whom he first lodged on his arrival in that city in May, 1776, and is the identical one on which he wrote the Declaration of Independence.

Politics, as well as religion, has its superstitions. These, gaining strength with time, may one day give imaginary value to this relic for its association with the birth of the great charter of our independence.

Monticello, November 18, 1825 .

The desk was placed in my possession by Hon. Robert C. Winthrop, and is herewith transmitted to Congress with the letter of Mr. Winthrop expressing the wish of the donors "to offer it to the United States, so that it may henceforth have a place in the Department of State in connection with the immortal instrument which was written upon it in 1776."

I respectfully recommend that such action be taken by Congress as may be deemed appropriate with reference to a gift to the nation so precious in its history and for the memorable associations which belong to it.


Rutherford B. Hayes, Special Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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