8vo. 3 vols. xxxi (i) pp., including half-title and title, 427 pp., 5 consecutively numbered plates, the last a large folding map of the United States; xiv, 434 pp., 4 consecutively numbered folding maps (numbered vi-ix); xii, 409 (1) pp., with 4 folding letter-press tables and two plates numbered x-xi. Uniformly bound in contemporary pebbled boards and pebbled calf spine, title gilt. Note: prior to the paginated leaves in vol. II, the present copy contains a cancel signed *H and paginated 121/22: this is a misbound cancel for the leaf which appears in vol. 1. There is a single correction: ‘serons’ for ‘levons’ Patterned endpapers. Minor abrasion to covers. Light even toning, otherwise an internally impeccable copy, with the plates and maps in excellent impression.
First edition of this celebrated account of the Northeast following the Revolutionary War. Crevecoeur remains one of the best-known authors on 18th century American life, but here rather unusually devotes a great deal of space to accounts of the surviving Indian tribes in the region – principally the Mohawk, Oneida, and Onondaga.
Crevecoeur’s personal relationships with Washington (to whom the present work is dedicated), Franklin, and other significant contemporary figures endeared him wholeheartedly to the American way of life. In contrast to his disdain for the Old World, Crevecoeur’s American travels paint a vibrant picture of the newly-independent country, including much ethnographic detail on Indian tribes and their gradual disappearance. “No other writer has so well described the Indian great councils, or assemblies, where they deliberate on their public interests." (Sabin).
The work is composed of a series of narratives in dialogue form, as told by characters whom Crevecoeur encounters on his journeys. As French Consul in New York, Crevecoeur must have had a vast number of acquantances in ‘Pennsylvania’ (here taken to include, for example, Ohio and Alaska); these range in the present work from a letter on the Cherokee Indians by a certain Adrien O’Harrah to a report by a Captain J. Hart on the remains of an ancient city discovered on the banks of the Muskinghum river. The beautifully engraved plates depict views of Niagara Falls, an Oneida warrior, a ‘sachem’ of the Onondaga tribe, and indeed a frontispiece of George Washington. Crevecoeur also includes two well-executed maps (50.5 x 36 cm to platemark) of the Northeast and the southern states of the Union.
J. Hector St John de Crevecoeur (or John Hector St John, as he anglicised himself) rose to fame as the author of the Letters from an American Farmer (1782).
* Howes C884; Sabin 17501 (V. 77-78)