History of the Rise, Progress, and Establishment of the Independence

AMERICAN REVOLUTION   |   William GORDON

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Item#: 127153 price:$17,500.00

History of the Rise, Progress, and Establishment of the Independence
History of the Rise, Progress, and Establishment of the Independence
History of the Rise, Progress, and Establishment of the Independence
History of the Rise, Progress, and Establishment of the Independence
History of the Rise, Progress, and Establishment of the Independence
History of the Rise, Progress, and Establishment of the Independence
History of the Rise, Progress, and Establishment of the Independence
History of the Rise, Progress, and Establishment of the Independence
History of the Rise, Progress, and Establishment of the Independence

“THE FIRST FULL-SCALE HISTORY OF THIS WAR BY AN AMERICAN”: FIRST EDITION OF GORDON’S HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, 1788, WITH NINE ENGRAVED FOLDING MAPS, IN FULL CONTEMPORARY TREE CALF BINDINGS

GORDON, William. The History of the Rise, Progress, and Establishment of the Independence of the United States of America: Including an Account of the Late War; and of the Thirteen Colonies, from their Origin to that Period. London: Printed for the Author, 1788. Four volumes. Octavo, contemporary full brown tree calf, red morocco spine labels. $17,500.

First edition of Gordon’s contemporary 1788 History, a landmark four-volume work by “one of the most impartial and reliable of the numerous historians of the American Revolution” (Sabin), extensively researched with the aid of Jefferson, John Adams and Washington, among others, containing nine engraved folding maps of the United States east of the Mississippi River; Boston; New York Island; the Jerseys; New Hampshire and Vermont; the Carolinas and part of Georgia; Charleston; Virginia, and Yorktown, with scarce "List of Subscribers" including Founding Fathers Washington, Jefferson and John Adams, handsomely bound in contemporary tree calf.

Born in England, William Gordon arrived in Boston in 1770, already an ardent supporter of America's path toward independence. "Gordon is deservedly reckoned as one of the most impartial and reliable of the numerous historians of the American Revolution" (Sabin). In researching this groundbreaking History, "Gordon took copious notes throughout the war, always with the intent of publication. Ambitious and talkative, he placed his networking energies at the service of history: he wrote and spoke incessantly with 'those in the know,' then incorporated what they told him within his narrative" (Raphael, Founding Myths, 252, 330n). "Gordon tirelessly collected his materials. He conducted a vast correspondence, interviewed generals and statesmen, consulted manuscript collections, borrowed letters and memoranda, and in his wide travels became a familiar figure in council and camp" (ANB). Among those he contacted was Jefferson, who was an early subscriber and provided Gordon with personal accounts of the war, including "the destruction of his property by Cornwallis." On publication Jefferson praised Gordon's History as "replete with good matter, new and exact as far as I can judge" (Sowerby).

John Adams similarly wrote Gordon in 1777, saying: "Your design, Sir, of collecting materials for a history of the rise, progress, and issue of the American Revolution, is liberal and generous; and, as you will find it a laborious undertaking, you ought to be encouraged." Adams aided by suggesting Gordon contact the Secretary of State, the War Office and other key sources. "In 1781 George Washington persuaded Robert Morris and the Continental Congress to fund a team of secretaries led by a young officer named Richard Varick and charged with the task of transcribing Washington's entire wartime correspondence… The first historian granted access to the Varick manuscripts was William Gordon, a Boston minster who had cultivated a correspondence with Washington during the war. Gordon visited Mount Vernon in August 1784 and… Washington agreed to amplify Gordon's research with personal reminiscences of fellow officers" (Ellis). "When Gordon finished his work in the mid-1780s, Boston printers vied for the rights to publish the first locally produced chronicle of the War for Independence. But the author chose to publish his magnum opus in England instead of America, and he drew the wrath of both jealous printers and unforgiving ideologues" (Raphael, 330n). This authoritative work is "the first full-scale history of this war by an American" (Howes). First edition: precedes the following year's first American edition. Volume I with "List of Subscribers," including Founding Fathers John Adams, Jefferson, who subscribed to six copies, and Washington, who subscribed to two copies. Sowerby 487. Howes G256. Sabin 28011. ESTC T117050. Owner stamps to title pages.

Text generally clean and bright with only light offsetting or spotting to a few of the maps, expert restoration to joints, spine ends and corners of handsome contemporary tree calf binding.

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