JAMES, Edwin. Account of an Expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains, performed in the years 1819, and '20, by order of The Hon. J. C. Calhoun, Sec'y of War: under the Command of Major Stephen H. Long. Philadelphia: H. C. Carey & Lea, -1823.
Three volumes: two octavo text volumes (8.75 x 5.375 inches), plus one large quarto atlas volume (11.25 x 9.125 inches). Three volumes individually chemised and housed together in a quarter red morocco over maroon cloth slipcase. Slipcase spine ruled in blind and lettered in gilt with five raised bands. Text volumes: (heavy foxing throughout both text volumes, part of lower right title page missing, and foxing on engraving list, some pages loose, A few pencil markings and annotations; two words ("clitoris" and "labia") crossed out on page 187 of Volume II). Spine in 6 compartments, elaborately gilt, with black calf lettering pieces “LONG’S EXPEDITION” in one and each volume numbered in another (top cover hinge loose on both text volumes, some residue present from previous repair on volume 1, loose chip on spine of volume 2, shelf wear). Atlas volume: fold out maps with (some light foxing, short tears throughout, slight vertical crease to title leaf and "List of Engravings" leaf due to the outermost fold of the first map). Quarter calf on marbled boards (spine cracked and chipped, hinges loose, rear board loosely held).
Provenance: Inscription on title page reads “John Weeks Moore Author of Moore’s Encyclopedia of Music” John Weeks Moore (1807-1889) was an editor of musical publications. His Complete Encyclopædia of Music, Elementary, Technical, Historical, Biographical, Vocal, and Instrumental was published in 1854.
Detailed elevation profiles on each map with very stylized depictions of mountain ranges nearly a la Tolkien. Highly annotated maps, each accompanied by keys or “Explanations” in upper right corners. All the maps and plates themselves are largely untouched by discoloration, some short superficial tears not affecting the images.
First edition. One of the great expeditions to chart the vast Western United States in the tradition of Lewis and Clark. This work is key to United States history and its Westward Expansion for a number of reasons, including producing the very first image of the Rocky Mountains, and preserving in written description and stunning images, the lives and cultures of the Native American people before the advent of the white man.
"The account of Long's expedition ranks alongside those of Lewis and Clark and Zebulon Pike as one of the three great classics of Western exploration. This official account was compiled by Edwin James [1797-1861], a naturalist and physician to the expedition. Major Stephen Harriman Long (1784-1864), a Dartmouth graduate and U.S. Army engineer, was sent to explore the western portions of the Louisiana Purchase and the Rocky Mountains. The expedition discovered and climbed several peaks, including Long's Peak, and explored the regions of the Platte and Arkansas River Valleys. This work, with its fine atlas, is a most valuable contribution to geographical and ethnographical literature" (Hill).
"The expedition consisted of Major Long, the commander; Captain J. R. Bell, official recorder; Thomas Say, zoologist; Edwin James, botanist, geologist, and surgeon; Titian R. Peale, assistant naturalist; Samuel Seymour, landscape painter; a corporal with six army privates, and assorted interpreters, hunters, and baggage men. Edwin James subsequently based his compilation upon his own records, the brief geological notes of Major Long, and the early journals of Thomas Say (his later journals and other manuscripts were lost before the end of the journey). Captain Bell's journal was not available to James, but it is heavily quoted in the published report by the Reverend Jedidiah Morse, our number 21b. The Bell journal disappeared for more than a century but is now in the library at Stanford University" (Wagner-Camp-Becker, pages 96-97).
"In all of Major Long's explorations, the natives of the territories through which he passed received the largest share of his attention. This will be evident from an examination of the table of contents of each volume. Chapters vi. to xii. of Vol. I. are entitled: 'Account of the Konza nation-Councils with the Otois, Missouries, Ioways, Pawnees,' &c.-Sioux & Omahaw Indians. Account of the Omahaws, Manners, Customs & Religious Rites. History of Blackbird their principal chief. Of their Marriage, Infancy & Old Age, Diseases, Medical Knowledge, Vices, Ideas of God, Superstition and expiatory Tortures. Vol. II.: The subject of Mourning for the deceased. War, Legend, and Language is pursued in chapters i. to iv. Chapter xii. An account of the Kaskasias. A great part of Volume III. is devoted to observations upon the Shienne, Arapaho, Pawnee, and other tribes of the Plains. Of the eight plates seven are illustrative of Indian life and manners" (Field 948, describing the 1823 London edition).
The maps are titled:
"Country drained by the Mississippi, Eastern Section"
"Country drained by the Mississippi, Western Section."
They are reproduced in Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West, Volume II, with the concluding comment: "Long's map...represented a distinct step forward...Its use of 'Great American Desert' for the high plains country made for public apprehension over a generation...But the map cleared up a number of geographical errors...And the mid-mountain country of the easterly front wall of the Rockies was now correctly mapped from Long's Peak to the Spanish Peaks, with the country to the east correctly shown."
The plates are titled:
"War Dance in the Interior of a Konza Lodge;"
"View of the Rocky Mountains on the Platte 50 miles from their Base;"
Distinctive for ‘Great American Desert’
"View of the Castle Rock on a Branch of the Arkansa at the Base of the Rocky Mountains;"
"Indian Record of a Battle between the Pawnees and Konzas, as delineated on a Bison Robe"
"Moveable Skin Lodges of the Kaskaias;"
"View of the insulated table lands at the base of the Rocky Mountains."
The final folding plate of geological sections has titles: "Vertical Section on the Parallel of Latitude 41 degrees North" and Vertical Section on the Parallel of Latitude 35 degrees North." References: Bradford 2637; Graff 2188; Hill 877; Howes J41; Pilling, Proof-sheets, 1958; Sabin 35682; Streeter 1783; Wagner-Camp-Becker 25:1; Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West, 353, and II, page 80. For all inquiries please contact Greg McMurray, MLS, Director, Rare Books.