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HISTORY OF THE INDIAN TRIBES OF NORTH AMERICA - McKenney, Thomas L., and James H - 1850. 
Philadelphia: J.T. Bowen, 1848/1849/1850. - Three volumes. 120 handcolored lithographed plates, many heightened with gum arabic, by J.T. Bowen chiefly after Charles Bird King, one handcolored lithographed dedication leaf "To the memory of Washington." Contemporary half dark brown smooth calf and purple cloth, spine with raised bands, black morocco label, marbled endpapers and edges. Very good. The rare first octavo edition of McKenney and Hall's classic work. Reprinted many times, this first is by far the best for quality of printing and coloring of the plates After six years as superintendent of Indian Trade, Thomas McKenney had become concerned for the survival of the western tribes. He had observed unscrupulous individuals taking advantage of the American Indians for profit, and his vocal warnings about their future prompted his appointment by President Monroe to the Office of Indian Affairs. As first director, McKenney was to improve the administration of Indian programs in various government offices. His first trip was during the summer of 1826 to the Lake Superior area for a treaty with the Chippewa, opening mineral rights on their land. In 1827 he journeyed west again for a treaty with the Chippewa, Menominee, and Winnebago in the present state of Michigan. His journeys provided an unparalleled opportunity to become acquainted with American Indian tribes. When President Jackson dismissed him from his government post in 1839, McKenney was able to turn more of his attention to his publishing project. Within a few years he was joined by James Hall, the Illinois journalist, lawyer, state treasurer, and from 1833 Cincinnati banker, who had written extensively about the West. Both authors, not unlike George Catlin, whom they tried to enlist in their publishing enterprise, saw their book as a way of preserving an accurate visual record of a rapidly disappearing culture. The text, which was written by Hall based on information supplied by McKenney, takes the form of a series of biographies of leading figures amongst the Indian nations, followed by a general history of the North American Indians. The work is now famous for its color plate portraits of the chiefs, warriors, and squaws of the various tribes, faithful copies of original oils by Charles Bird King painted from life in his studio in Washington (McKenney commissioned him to record the visiting Indian delegates) or worked up by King from the watercolors of the young frontier artist, James Otto Lewis. All but four of the original paintings were destroyed in the disastrous Smithsonian fire of 1865, so their appearance in this work preserves what is probably the best likeness of many of the most prominent Indian leaders of the early 19th century. Numbered among King's sitters were Sequoyah, Red Jacket, Major Ridge, Cornplanter, and Osceola. HOWES M129. BENNETT, p.79. SABIN 43411.
[Bookseller: William Reese Company - Americana]
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