FIRST EDITION OF AN INQUIRY INTO THE ORIGIN OF THE ANTIQUITIES OF AMERICA, 1839, THE COPY OF SENECA NATION LEADER MARIS BRYANT PIERCE, ACCOMPANIED BY AN 1864 CIVIL WAR TRAVEL PASS FROM THE WASHINGTON D.C. MILITARY DISTRICT TO ALEXANDRIA BEARING AN OATH OF ALLEGIANCE SIGNED BY PIERCE
(BRYANT-PIERCE, Maris) DELAFIELD Jr., John. An Inquiry into the Origin of the Antiquities of America. An Appendix, Containing Notes, and "A View of the Causes of the Superiority of the Men of the Northern Over Those of the Southern Hemisphere." New York: Colt, Burgess, 1839. Quarto, original gilt-stamped brown cloth rebacked in brown calf gilt, all edges gilt. $3100.
First edition of this 19th-century quasi-anthropological study of the origin of the American peoples, with 10 lithographic plates (five hand-colored) and 19-foot folding facsimile of the Codex Boturini, the copy of Native American activist and Seneca Nation leader Maris Bryant Pierce. Accompanied by an 1864 Civil War round-trip travel pass from the Washington D.C. military district to Alexandria bearing an oath of allegiance signed by Pierce.
This work focuses on the origin of the American peoples—specifically an explanation of the different American races—and takes something of an anthropological approach. Delafield attempts a comparative analysis of different American and Asiatic dialects. He also analyzes the anatomical features of the people he chooses to study. Perhaps his most compelling work, from a modern perspective, is his attention to creation and deluge myths, an area of enduring interest. One of the most important features of this work is the 19-foot folding facsimile of the Codex Boturini, an illustrated depiction of the migration legend of the Aztec people (here present in a tipped-in pocket; originally attached as a frontispiece and "often lacking" (Howes D229)). According to the Codex, the Aztecs left their homeland Atzlán ("land or place of wings" or "land of herons") in the present-day southwestern United States in 1 Tecpatl (1064 C.E.) and headed south to settle in Tenochtitlán in the Valley of Mexico in 1325 C.E. The illustrations show the Aztecs interacting with the goddess Chimalma in Aztlán, leaving by boat, and eventually meeting the god Huitzilopochtli in a cave. Footprints and scrolls show the intersection of man's journey and the instructions of the gods. In addition to the folding facsimile, this book also has 10 exceptional lithographic plates, five of which are hand-colored, depicting artifacts, skulls, traditional artwork, plans, and more. Howes D229. Sabin 19333. Field 509. This copy belonged to Seneca Nation leader Maris Bryant Pierce and bears his name (secretarial hand) on a front blank. Born and raised on reservations, Pierce converted to Christianity and was educated at Dartmouth through the Presbyterian Church. It was during his time at Dartmouth that he first became involved in activism, opposing Treaty of Buffalo Creek of 1838. The treaty, which some members were effectively coerced or manipulated into signing, sold remaining Seneca lands to the Ogden Land Company and relocated the tribe to Kansas. Pierce fiercely disagreed with the treaty and the methods used to secure it. He made speeches, wrote to Van Buren on behalf of the tribe, and hired legal counsel. In 1842, the treaty was negotiated. Ultimately, some lands were lost (including the reservation where Pierce spent much of his childhood and where he and his wife lived), but the tribe held onto three other reservations. Pierce went on to become secretary of the Seneca Nation and brought a system of elected government to the tribe. Additionally, this work has Pierce's 1864 Civil War Washington D.C. to Alexandria signed travel pass laid-in. It is partially printed and partially filled out in manuscript and reads: "No. 738. Head Quarters Military District, Washington, D.C. May 2nd 1964. Pass the Bearer M.B. Pierce within the lines of the Fortifications to Alexandria and return, Reason: Business. This Pass will expire On Return Trip. By order of John H. Martindale, Brig. Gen. and Military Governor. J——. E. Montgomery. [Verso] To be signed before used. Age 48 Height 5-8 Complexion Dark Hair " Eyes " Oath of Allegiance… Signed M.B. Pierce."
Expert paper repairs to front blanks, preliminary leaves with expert cleaning, light foxing to interior including facsimile, a bit of soiling to cloth. A very good copy. Rare.