Travels to the Source of the Missouri River

Meriwether LEWIS   |   William CLARKE

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"REVEALED A STRANGE AND UNKNOWN WORLD, FULL OF EXCITING WONDERS": IMPORTANT 1815 ENGLISH EDITION OF THE LEWIS & CLARK EXPEDITION, WITH SIX MAPS

LEWIS, Meriwether, and CLARKE, William. Travels to the Source of the Missouri River and Across the American Continent to the Pacific Ocean, Performed by Order of the Government of the United States, in the Years 1804, 1805, and 1806. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1815. Three volumes. Octavo, early 20th-century three-quarter dark green straight-grain morocco, elaborately gilt-decorated spines, raised bands, marbled boards and endpapers, top edges gilt.

Second English edition, "a reproduction, in larger type and better paper, of the Philadelphia [first] edition of 1814" (Sabin), published one year after that edition, with large folding map and five additional maps.

"The importance of exploring this area [beyond the Missouri River] had been evident to Thomas Jefferson as early as 1783… but it was not until 20 years later that Jefferson, then President of the United States, saw the realization of his idea… The purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France in December 1803 greatly increased the importance of the expedition, which finally began its long journey [in 1804]… They wintered in the Mandan villages in the Dakotas and in the Spring pushed on west across the Rocky Mountains and then down the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean. Returning by the same route nearly two and a half years after they had set out they arrived back in St. Louis in September 1806 to the amazed delight of the nation which had given them up for lost. Though unsuccessful in their attempt to find a transcontinental water route, they had demonstrated the feasibility of overland travel to the western coast" (PMM 272). "The Lewis and Clark expedition stands as a major event in American history, solidly establishing our title to the vast Louisiana Territory and later to the Oregon country. The explorations revealed a strange and unknown world, full of exciting wonders, and pointed the way to its possibilities for future development" (Downs, Books that Changed America, 40). The first English edition appeared in quarto format in 1814. Bound without publisher's advertisements at rear of Volume III. Sabin 40830. Howes L317. Wagner-Camp 13:3. Field 930. Graff 2481. See PMM 272. Owner signature, owner ink stamp.

Occasional foxing. Minor worming in signature AA of Volume I, including to plate facing page 356. Folding map quite clean, with only a few short closed splits along folds. Light rubbing to extremities and joints, bindings sound, morocco-gilt handsome.

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