“FIRST BOOK ON THE SUBJECT WRITTEN IN THIS COUNTRY”
EARLE, Thomas. A Treatise on Rail-Roads and Internal Communications Compiled from the Best and Latest Authorities. Philadelphia: John Grigg, 1830. Octavo, contemporary half tan cloth, paper label, original paper boards, uncut.
First edition of the first book on railroad travel in the United States. With four full-page illustrations, two folding plates and two folding maps. In original boards.
Lawyer, abolitionist and one-time vice-presidential candidate, Thomas Earle was a lifelong reformer who became intrigued with new means of transportation in the 1820s and decided to investigate the prospects for an American railroad system. He considered issues of convenience, reliability, expense and speed, along with possible effects on trade and population growth. Comparing railroads to other modes of long-distance transportation, Earle's "pioneering effort… favored railroads over canals and proposed the construction of a railroad from the middle west to the east coast, and from Georgia to Maine" (ANB). His was the "first book on the subject written in this country" and includes full-page engravings of the famous Stephenson steam locomotive, the Rocket, and Braithwaite and Erricksson's Novelty, the first locomotive engine to cover a mile in under a minute (Howes E11). Sabin 21629.
Minor abrading to title page, slight offsetting from folding maps to text, faint dampstain to last few leaves of text, a bit of scattered foxing to text and boards, joints and inner hinges expertly repaired. An extremely good copy. Highly desirable.