KALM, Peter (1717-1779). Travels into North America; containing its Natural History, and a circumstantial Account of its Plantations and Agriculture in general.

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KALM, Peter (1717-1779). Travels into North America; containing its Natural History, and a circumstantial Account of its Plantations and Agriculture in general... Warrington: By William Eyres, 1770; London: By T. Lowndes, 1771.


3 volumes. 8vo., (8 1/8 x 5 ¼ inches). One-page Advertisement from John Reinhold Forster apologizing for the non-appearance of the large folding map in the first volume. Fine folding engraved frontispiece “New and Accurate Map of a Part of North-America” in volume III (nearly detached); 6 engraved plates (lightly tanned). Contemporary full tan calf, the spine in six compartments separated by five raised bands, morocco gilt lettering pieces in two (rebacked, preserving the original spine).

Provenance: Early bookplate of Nicholas Garry (c. 1782-1856) to front pastedowns.

First English edition. First published in Sweden in three volumes in 1753, 1756, and 1761. “These volumes contain the most trustworthy description of Swedish settlements in.Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The voyage was undertaken at the instigation of Linnaeus, for the purpose of discovering whether any North American plants could be successfully introduced into Sweden” (Lande 482). “A work of high character, especially for its natural history, for which the author was immortalized by Linnaeus” (Sabin) who named the “Mountain-Laurel” Kalmia latifolia, the state flower of both Pennsylvania and Connecticut, for him. Before journeying to North America Kalm had travelled extensively not only in Sweden, but also in Russia and the Ukraine. In 1740 he entered Uppsala University to study with the celebrated Carolus Linnaeus. In 1747 he was appointed the first professor of natural history and economy at the Âbo Academy, a position that he would retain until his death. “Almost immediately, however, Kalm was given leave to undertake a scientific expedition to North America sponsored by the Swedish Academy of Sciences. He was specifically charged with finding a species of mulberry that could survive in Sweden and provide a basis for an independent silk industry. In addition, he was expected to collect other plants and seeds of plants that could perhaps be grown in Sweden. Having spent several months in England en route to North America, Kalm, accompanied by a gardener, Lars Jungström, landed in Philadelphia in September 1748. There he associated himself with Benjamin Franklin and two botanical correspondents of Linnaeus, John Bartram and Cadwallader Colden, both of whom were significant naturalists in their own right. In May 1749 Kalm embarked on a trip to New York, Albany, Lake Champlain, and Canada, seeking plants and seeds. After returning to Philadelphia in October, he again traveled to Canada in 1750. He provided one of the first descriptions of Niagara Falls in a letter to Franklin dated 2 September 1750, which was reprinted in Bartram’s ‘Travels in Pensilvania and Canada.’ Kalm resided for some time among the Swedish residents in Raccoon (now Swedesboro), New Jersey, and reported on the community's history and customs. In 1750 he married one of the residents, Anna Margaretha Sjöman, the widow of a pastor. “Kalm went back to Sweden in 1751, arriving in June. While he resumed his academic responsibilities, he tended to his American plants in his own garden in Âbo and prepared his American diary for publication. ‘En Resa til Norra America’ (1753-1761), published in English as ‘Travels into North America’ (1770-1771), is a wide-ranging account of the natural history, social conditions, politics, and history of colonial Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and southern Canada. It was also translated into Dutch, German, and French. Although Kalm was not the first to publish a descriptive account of travels in eastern North America, he was the first professional scientist to gather data in the field in a systematic manner and the first to publish an extensive, genuinely scientific report of his observations. As he said in his letter to Franklin concerning Niagara Falls, ‘You must excuse me if you find in my account no extravagant wonders. I cannot make nature otherwise than I find it. I would rather it should be said of me in time to come, that I related things as they were’” (Ralph L. Langenheim for ANB).

“Nicholas Garry was probably the illegitimate son of Nicholas Langley, a London merchant, who in 1783 was paying for his upbringing. Langley also left £1,000 in trust for the child by the terms of the last codicil to his will, drafted only a couple of weeks before his death in October 1783. Raised by Langley’s brother and sister-in-law, Thomas and Sarah Langley, Garry was well educated and learned to speak German, French, and Russian fluently. It would appear that for some time prior to 1811 he conducted a mercantile business in the Baltic timber port of Riga (U.S.S.R.) and in 1815 the London directory lists him as a member of the firm Garry and Curtis, trading between Russia and Great Britain. Thomas Langley had been appointed a director of the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1807, and ten years later Garry joined him on the London committee as a director. He does not seem to have taken a major role in the company’s affairs, which at this time included the preliminary discussions that led to the merger of the HBC and the North West Company. When an agreement was arrived at in early 1821, it became apparent that a representative from each company would have to meet with the wintering partners at Fort William (Thunder Bay, Ont.), explain the new trade arrangements, obtain the partners’ concurrence, and visit the united company’s posts from Fort William through to the Red River colony (Man.), Norway House, and York Factory. In February, Garry, the only unmarried member of the committee, volunteered for this “mission of adjustment and conciliation.” By the terms of the merger agreement signed on 26 March, the trading activity of the new HBC was divided into two jurisdictions, each to be directed by a governor and council. The Northern Department was to include the territory to the west of Rainy Lake (Ont.) and Fort Albany, and the Southern Department that to the east including Fort William. On 28 March the London committee appointed Garry president of the Council of the Northern Department, granting him the authority to do what was necessary to implement the merger agreement…

“In 1822 Garry became deputy governor of the HBC. His role in the company from this date is obscure, although he does seem to have been interested in trade with Russia and China and in religious affairs. He was still deputy governor in July 1835 when, declared of unsound mind, he was relieved of his functions. He died 21 years later, never having recovered his sanity. During his mission to North America in 1821 Nicholas Garry had proven himself a tactful and humane diplomat. In his handling of the HBC–NWC merger, he had seized upon the company’s need for efficiency in the unified trade and realized that success lay in accommodating to a certain degree the former NWC men who would be counted upon to conduct much of the inland business. Pleased with Garry’s shrewdness and influence in handling these matters, in 1821 Williams reported ‘universal satisfaction, confidence, and unanimity.’ In September Simpson noted that ‘our old opponents no longer received us as enemies but met us as aquaintances which I think will soon assume the character of Friendship. . . . Mr. Garry’s handsome and impartial conduct acted like Majick in removing all sort of jealousy, he was open and easy of access with the nicest observance of strict honor integrity and impartiality and so different in all these respects from his travelling companion Mr. Simon McGillivray.’ The new HBC fort built at the Red River settlement in 1822 was named Fort Garry (Winnipeg) to commemorate Garry’s visit of 1821” (John McFarland for DCB).