LEWIS, Meriwether (1774-1809) and CLARK, William (1770-1838). History of the Expedition under the Command of Captains Lewis and Clark, to the Sources of the Missouri...

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History of the Expedition under the Command of Captains Lewis and Clark, to the Sources of the Missouri, thence across the Rocky Mountains and down the River Columbia to the Pacific Ocean. Performed during the years 1804-5-6.

LEWIS, Meriwether (1774-1809) and CLARK, William (1770-1838).

Published by Philadelphia: Bradford & Inskeep; and Abm. H. Inskeep, New York, 1814, 1814

2 volumes, 8vo (5 1/2 x 9 in.; 14 x 22.9 cm). Large folding engraved "Map of Lewis and Clark's Track Across the Western Portion of North America by Samuel Harrison after Clark, 5 engraved maps and plans; folding map silked on verso, title-page in volume 1 stained, usual browning and foxing to text and plates, vol. 1, pp. 231-232 loose, marginal tear vol. 1, pp. 445-446 touching 3 text lines. Original printed tan boards, UNCUT; hinges strengthened in vol. 1, vol. 2 boards detached, spines of both volumes partly perished, wear and rubbing to boards with some loss of text (particularly to vol. 1). (65V5C) FIRST EDITION, COMPLETE AND UNCUT IN THE RARE ORIGINAL BOARDS, OF THE "DEFINITIVE ACCOUNT OF THE MOST IMPORTANT EXPLORATION OF THE NORTH AMERICAN CONTINENT" (Wagner-Camp-Becker). Since the Streeter sale in 1967, only 11 copies in boards have appeared at auction, among them the Streeter, H. Bradley Martin, Siebert, Coyne, and Newberry Library copies. Also, a copy with the boards bound in morocco extra-gilt was sold in 1975 and possibly resold in 2007 at Christie's New York. Cappon's 1970 census located 9 copies in institutions (one being the Streeter copy which was deposited by Frederick W. Beinecke at Yale) and 13 copies in private hands (including the Siebert and H. Bradley Martin copies which subsequently sold at auction). Shortly after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, President Jefferson commissioned the expedition to explore and map the newly acquired territory and to find a practical route across the western region, establishing an American presence there before a foreign power could claim it. Funded by Congress for all of $2,500, it was the first exploration officially sponsored by the Federal government. The secondary objectives of the expedition were scientific and economic: to study and record the area's flora and fauna and to establish trade with Indian tribes. The expedition set out from St. Louis for the Pacific in May 1804 and returned from its 8,000-mile trek in the fall of 1806. The extremely accurate and detailed map, based on Clark's manuscript, was termed by Wheat the "master map of the American West." This remarkable cartographic achievement-perhaps even more than the written account of the journey- greatly broadened geographical knowledge of the West and served to impel and motivate the nation's inexorable westward expansion. The publication of this keynote narrative was fraught with misfortune and delays. Captain Lewis was to have edited the journals for publication but met with a mysterious death. The journals, edited by Nicholas Biddle and Paul Allen, were ready for printing in July, 1812, but the printer Solomon Conrad shuttered his business. Bradford and Inskeep subsequently undertook publication, but while the work was in press, they too became insolvent. After deduction of defective and missing copies, 1,417 remained out of an intended edition of 2,000, when the book went on sale 20 February 1814. According to Coues, in the bibliographical introduction to his edition of 1893, many of those copies were still defective, having been issued without the large map tracing the explorers' route. REFERENCES: Cappon, Census (New York, 1970); Church 1309; Cohen, Mapping the West 7; Field, Indian Bibliography 928; Graff/Storm 2477; Grolier, American 30; Howes L217; PMM 272; Sabin 20828; Streeter Sale 3:1777; Wagner-Camp-Becker 13:1; Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West, 316