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Travels to the Source of the Missouri River and across the American Continent to the Pacific Ocean
London: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown,, 1814. Performed by the Government of the United States, in the years 1804, 1805, and 1806. By Captains Lewis and Clarke. Quarto (270 × 210 mm). Contemporary streaked calf, neatly rebacked, red morocco labels, undulating rolled gilt panel to the boards, marbled endpapers. Large folding engraved map after Clark by S. Lewis bound as the frontispiece, and 5 other detail maps on 3 sheets. A little rubbed at the extremities, light offset on the map, which has a short, clean split at one fold, other map leaves somewhat browned as often, some light pencil parks to the margin, but overall a very good copy. First English edition of the authorized account of the travels of Lewis and Clark, the "definitive account of the most important exploration of the North American continent" (Wagner-Camp). Preceded by the Philadelphia printing of the same year (published under the title History of the Expedition under the Command of Captains Lewis and Clark), the present edition is printed on larger, finer paper, in quarto format, and is considered "typographically superior" (Hill) to its octavo predecessor. Edited by Dr Thomas Rees from the American sheets, this edition omits the American preface and appendix, and Jefferson's Life of Captain Lewis, but Rees's preface includes the text of Jefferson's "Message" and an extract of Lewis's Fort Mandan letter. An account of the first overland expedition to the Pacific coast and back, Lewis and Clark is the most famous of all western travels, and the cornerstone of any collection of Western Americana. The expedition was conceived of by Thomas Jefferson as early as 1792, when Lewis had applied for command, "but the idea had not been taken up. However, when in 1803 Congress was persuaded by a confidential message from Jefferson to finance an expedition to the Pacific, Lewis [who was by then Jefferson's private secretary] successfully lobbied the president for the opportunity to lead it" (Howgego). Primarily intended to establish trading ties with the Indians of the western regions, the expedition covered some 8,000 miles in 28 months, following the Missouri River from its juncture with the Mississippi to its source and, crossing the Continental Divide, explored the Columbia River from its source to the Pacific Ocean. Lewis and Clark always intended to publish their journals immediately upon their return - Lewis issued a prospectus for the work - but publication was delayed, initially by Lewis's new duties as Governor of the Louisiana Territory, and Clark's preoccupation as Superintendent of Indian Affairs, then by Lewis's untimely and mysterious death in 1809, and subsequently by the election of Clark's chosen editor Nicholas Biddle to the Pennsylvania State Senate in 1812. The work was finally being completed by the Philadelphia journalist Paul Allen. An excellent copy of the "first authorized and complete account of the most important western exploration" (Howes).
      [Bookseller: Peter Harrington]
Last Found On: 2013-07-20           Check availability:      Biblio    

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