FREMONT, John Charles (1813-1890). Report of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains in the Year 1842, and to Oregon and North California in the Years 1843-’44. 28th Congress, 2d Session, [174]. Washington: Gales and Seaton, 1845.

$ 1,900.00

8vo., (9 ¼ x 6 inches). (Some spotting throughout). Large folding lithographed “Map of an Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains in the year 1842 and to Oregon & North California in the years 1843-1844” by Charles Preuss, hand-colored in outline, in rear pocket (a bit browned, one or two short tears at folds); 2 folding lithographed maps; 2 full-page lithographed maps; 22 lithographed plates (a bit spotted). Original publisher’s brown cloth, decorated in blind to both covers, the smooth spine in five blind-ruled compartments, gilt-lettered in one and the rest stamped in blind; partially unopened (extremities bumped).

First edition. Senate issue, with the astronomical and meteorological observations omitted from the House issue and subsequent editions. Fremont’s report, written with the help of his wife Jessie Benton, and map “changed the entire picture of the West [and] represented as important a step forward from the earlier western maps of the period as did those of Pike, Long, and Lewis and Clark in their day. [Fremont’s map] represented trustworthy direct observation, a new, welcome, and long overdue development in the myth-encrusted cartography of the West. To Fremont and his magnificent map of his Second Expedition all praise. An altogether memorable document in the cartographic history of the West, and for it alone Fremont would deserve to be remembered in history. This map marked not only the end but the beginning of an era” (Wheat). In 1842 Fremont was commissioned to head “a 25-man, four-month expedition to survey and map the region of the emerging Oregon Trail through South Pass on the Continental Divide. A Report of an Exploration . . . between the Missouri River and the Rocky Mountains . . . (1843), the lively, factually detailed government report that Frémont and his wife produced after the journey caught the public imagination: images of Frémont’s guide, the then little-known Christopher ‘Kit’ Carson, riding bareback across the prairie, and Frémont himself, raising a flag on a Rocky Mountain peak, entered the national mythology.

“In 1843 Frémont set out on a far more ambitious journey to the Oregon region. Disregarding government orders to return by the same route, he went south to Nevada and, in a dangerous midwinter journey, over the snow-covered Sierra Nevada into Mexican-held California. By the time the expedition returned east across the southern rim of what Frémont defined as the Great Basin, they had completed a bold fourteen-month circuit of the West, traveling 6,475 miles by their own calculations. The Frémonts’ account of the journey, A Report of the Exploring Expedition to Oregon and California . . . (1845), enthralled the nation. Skillfully combining adventure, scientific data, and detailed practical information for emigrants, supplemented by a valuable map prepared by expedition cartographer Charles Preuss, it was "monumental in its breadth – a classic of exploring literature” (William H. Goetzmann, Exploration and Empire [1966], p. 248). Powerful propaganda, it stirred Americans to head west, guided, as pioneer Sarah Royce stated, “only by the light of Frémont’s Travels” (Pamela Herr for ANB online). Cohen Mapping the West pp.130-133; Field 565; Graff 1436; Howes F-370; Sabin 25845; Streeter sale VI:3131; Wagner-Camp-Becker 115.

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