Rutherford B. Hayes photo

Special Message

April 14, 1880


President of the United States.

MY DEAR SIR: I have been privileged to bring with me from Boston, as a present to the United States, a very precious historical relic. It is the little desk on which Mr. Jefferson wrote the original draft of the Declaration of Independence.

This desk was given by Mr. Jefferson himself to my friend, the late Joseph Coolidge, of Boston, at the time of his marriage to Jefferson's granddaughter, Miss Randolph, and it bears an autograph inscription of singular interest, written by the illustrious author of the Declaration in the very last year of his life.

On the recent death of Mr. Coolidge, whose wife had died a year or two previously, the desk became the property of their children, Mr. J. Randolph Coolidge, Dr. Algernon Coolidge, Mr. Thomas Jefferson Coolidge, and Mrs. Ellen Dwight, who now desire 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.

They have done me the honor to make me the medium of this distinguished gift, and I ask permission to place it in the hands of the Chief Magistrate of the nation in their name and at their request.

Believe me, dear Mr. President, with the highest respect, very faithfully, your obedient servant,


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

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