Life of John Ledyard


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Item#: 126310 price:$1,850.00

Life of John Ledyard
Life of John Ledyard


SPARKS, Jared. The Life of John Ledyard, the American Traveller; Comprising Selections from His Journals and Correspondence. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Hilliard and Brown, 1828. Octavo, modern full brown polished calf, raised bands, burgundy morocco spine label. $1850.

First edition of the remarkable Life of John Ledyard, who traveled with Cook on his third and final voyage, and became "probably the first American to see what would become the American Northwest and British Columbia."

"A dreamer and a visionary, John Ledyard (1751-89) was probably the first American to see what would become the American Northwest and British Columbia." Born into a Connecticut seafaring family, Ledyard shipped out to England in the early 1770s. "Learning that the famous Captain James Cook was about to leave for the third of his voyages of exploration, Ledyard went to Cook and persuaded the captain to take him on as a corporal of marines aboard Cook's ship the Resolution. Cook's expedition, with Ledyard aboard, sailed from England on 12 July 1776," voyaging through the Pacific and reaching Vancouver Island in 1778. Ledyard's insight into "profits that were to be made in the fur trade was ahead of its time," as were many of his projects. Thomas Jefferson, who met Ledyard in 1786, was especially interested in the explorer's bold dreams, and negotiated with him "a proposed expedition from the Pacific to the Mississippi" (Howgego L101). It was intended as the final route in Ledyard's vision of crossing Siberia on foot, sailing the Pacific, then walking across America. As Sparks observes, Jefferson "perceived at once the advantages, that would flow from such a voyage, not merely in its immediate mercantile results, but in its bearing on the future commerce and political interests of the United States" (153). But Ledyard's voyage proved unsuccessful and "his name had to yield place to the explorers who came almost 20 years after him, men such as Lewis and Clark" (ANB). When Ledyard died suddenly, his family collected "materials for a biography. The project was aborted, but the material was preserved and ultimately turned over to Jared Sparks, who published it in 1828" (Howgego L102). With half title. Howes S818. Sabin 88991. Shaw & Shoemaker 35372.

Infrequent light foxing, calf binding handsome and fine.

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