"IT WOULD AFFORD ME GREAT PLEASURE… TO SUGGEST ANY IDEAS WHICH MIGHT PROVE USEFUL IN CARRYING INTO EFFECT… THE SURVEY OF THE COAST OF THE UNITED STATES"
MADISON, James. Message from the President of the U. States, Transmitting a Report of the Secretary of the Treasury, on the Execution of the Act Providing for the Survey of the Coast of the U. States. Washington: R.C. Weightman, 1811. Octavo, period-style marbled wraps. $650.
First edition of this report containing early correspondence related to the United States Coast Survey, transmitted under the cover of President James Madison.
This report comprises a brief transmittal letter from James Madison and the early correspondence of the Treasury Department regarding plans to survey the coasts of the United States. The project was commenced pursuant to an act authorizing the surveying of the coasts and appropriating $50,000 for the cause. The original planning started in 1807 under President Thomas Jefferson, but was suspended due to international relations issues. The letters included—mainly from 1807—discuss the survey and solicit advice on how to proceed. For example, James Madison—then a member of the surveying committee—offered his opinion that triangulation might not work and that an alternative method could be employed. At the center of the plans was F.R. Hassler, an expert surveyor and a professor of mathematics in Schenectady, who was tasked with undertaking the physical survey. After much correspondence and the receipt of a supply list, Hassler left for Europe in August, 1811 to purchase the appropriate instruments to conduct the survey. However, while he was abroad, the War of 1812 broke out. Hassler ended up stranded abroad. Hassler was unable to start the survey until 1816, when he was appointed superintendent of the United States Coastal Survey. Just two years later, Congress decided to hand the project over to the military. Hassler was moved to head the Bureau of Weights & Measures, where he dutifully served for well over a decade, doing a great deal to establish uniformity in the United States. Work on the survey was stymied until 1833, when Hassler was against made superintendent of the survey, a position he served in until his death. Shaw & Shoemaker 24220.
A few spots to title page, only mild embrowning, extremely good.