MELISH, John (1771-1822). A Military and Topographical Atlas of the United States; Including the British Possessions & Florida. Philadelphia: G. Palmer, 1813

$ 22,500.00

8vo., (8 4/8 x 5 inches). 5 folding large folding engraved maps by H.S. Tanner with original hand-colour in outline (some with separations at folds, and two detached) and 3 full-page maps (text browned). Original half red roan, marbled paper boards, gilt (a bit worn at extremities).

First edition. The five large maps are:

"Map of the Seat of War in North America", extending "from Washington city south, to James's Bay north, and from the entrances to the gulph of St. Lawrence east, to the middle of Lake Superior west; presenting a general and comprehensive view of the seat of war, not only in the interior, but on the sea-board" (Preface).

"Map of the Southern Section of the United States, including the Floridas & Bahama Islands shewing the Seat of War, in that department", "A short time after the production of the Seat of War, the southern section of the United States assumed a very important aspect, and it was judged expedient to publish a sheet map of it, including Florida... [it] extends from Washington north, to the extreme point of East Florida south, and from the Atlantic ocean east, to the interior of Louisiana west; presenting a comprehensive view of that country, and of the contiguous islands" (Preface).

"Map of the American Coast", "In the course of the spring and summer, part of the sea-coast became very interesting, in consequence of the blockades, and of the operations of the British squadrons in the large waters. More minute information was required than the general maps would admit of, and this induced the publisher to produce the 'Map of the Coast'... it extends from beyond Norfolk south, top Newport north, and from beyond the east end of Long Island east, to the interior of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia west. It is on a scale sufficiently large to admit of general and correct charts of the Chesapeak bay, and its waters; of Delaware bay; of the bay and harbour of New York; of Long Island sound; and of the entrance to Narraganset bay. In the interior, the most important towns are laid down, with the roads and distances between them; and this being the only seciton of the union where the military districts cut through the interior of states, the map is painted to represent them" (Preface).

"Map of Detroit River", "... No sooner had [Britain] obtained possession of the Mighigan territory, than they made an accurate map of Detroit river and adjacent country, ... presenting a view of parts of Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair, with the roads, rivers, and settlements between them, correctly delineated; including a view of the postiions of the landing of the American and British Armies; of the ships of war in the river, &c.The original is dated the 18th of August, two days after they landed on the American territory" (Preface).

"Plan of Quebec and adjacent country shewing the principal encampments & works of the British & French Armies during the Siege by General Wolfe in 1759", "...affords a most comprehensive and minute view of the operations of the two great contending armies during the siege and reduction of Quebec, by the British army, under the celerated general Wolfe, in 1759,... a view of the city from Point Levi has been added, and the whole beautifully engraved" (Preface).

The three full-page maps are: "View round the Falls of Niagara", "East End of Lake Ontario", and "Montreal".

The War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain stemmed from the United States' desire "to defend its presumed right as a neutral state to trade freely with other nations even in wartime. Great Britain's determination to prevent America from trading with France during the wars of the French Revolution (1792-1815) eventually resulted in open warfare... Militarily the war did not go well. Invasions of Canada in 1812 and 1813 (whose conquest Jefferson predicted would be "a mere matter of marching") resulted in humiliating defeats. In August 1814, British forces captured and briefly occupied Washington, D.C., burning the Capitol, the White House, and other government buildings. These setbacks were somewhat offset by victories at sea, including the destruction of the British frigate Guerrière by the U.S. frigate Constitution ("Old Ironsides," now preserved in Boston Harbor) off Nova Scotia in August 1812 and Oliver Hazard Perry's triumph at the Battle of Lake Erie (September 1813). In September 1814, British expeditions were repulsed at Lake Champlain and at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland, whose survival amid an all-night bombardment prompted Francis Scott Key to write The Star-Spangled Banner...Only Great Britain's precarious situation in Europe in late 1814, combined with the defeat of its invasion forces in the United States, prompted the government of Lord Liverpool to compromise. On 24 December 1814, American and British negotiators meeting at Ghent, Belgium, signed a treaty reestablishing the prewar status quo. Although the pact left unsettled the maritime issues that had caused the conflict, the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815 rendered them moot. The war enhanced American power vis-à-vis Indian tribes in the West and South and thus set the stage for westward expansion after 1815. The war also boosted American nationalism, especially Andrew Jackson's smashing victory at the Battle of New Orleans on 8 January 1815. Even though better political leadership and more astute diplomacy could probably have avoided it, the War of 1812 was long seen by Americans as a vindication of their courage and patriotism" (William Earl Weeks for ANB).

"Previous to the declaration of war, the author had travelled extensively in the north and west parts of the United States, collecting authentic information regarding the present state of the country... the great aim of the publisher, upon the whole, has been to present a popular and interesting view of the United States ion her present belligerent attitude; to show her relative situation to the powers against which she has to contend; and, in general, to endeavour to make the inhabitants of the United States better acquainted wiht their extensive and most delightful country" (Preface).

Melish published the first American-produced wall map depicting the country from coast to coast in 1816, distinguishing him as "the leading American map publisher of the second decade and placed American maps on equal footing with those produced by the prestigious firms in London and Paris" (Schwartz and Ehrenberg). Melish was inspired to create his celebrated wall map of America by a "very respectable friend" who noticed the "Map of the Seat of War" published here. He wrote to him "during the progress of war..., when talking of the Map of the Seat of War, said 'I wish friend John, thee would make a Map of the Seat of Peace.' The hint was not lost. The author had seen the good effects of maps, particularly when accompanied by descriptions" (reported in Martin/Ristow 24). Howes M492; Sabin 47432 ("curious and scarce"); Streeter sale 81. Catalogued by Kate Hunter