An Alexander Hamilton letter written in 1780 has come to light. This handwritten signed letter is from Hamilton to the Marquis de Lafayette.  Lafayette, a general fighting for the American cause during the American Revolution is receiving British trip locations from Hamilton. It is one of many documents written by early American Revolutionaries and originally held at the Massachusetts State Archives.

According to the U.S. Attorney in Boston, this letter is one of many stolen over six decades ago from 1937 – 1945. The items were sold to rare book and manuscript dealers throughout the United States.  During this period documents by  George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Benedict Arnold, and others were also stolen. Most were recovered.  The employee stealing the documents, manuscripts, letters and other items was arrested in 1950. As in so many cases, it can be years before a stolen items comes to light.

It was an auction house that recognized the Alexander Hamilton letter and contacted the Archives and the FBI. Provenance and authentication are always important components in cases of library or archive theft.  For the complete story.