MELISH, John (1771-1822). Military and Topographical Atlas of the United States; Including the British Possessions & Florida. Philadelphia: John Melish, 1815.
8vo., (8 7/8 x 5 1/2 inches). 9 folding large folding engraved maps with original hand-coloring (maps with early repairs to verso, text leaves browned and spotted). Original half red roan on marbled paper boards (covers worn, loss of leather on corners, two of four linen ties remaining).
Second and enlarged edition, a distinctive copy, for use in the field. This work was to provide a comprehensive survey of the main theatres of the conflict of the War of 1812, but inherent in this edition is the notion that there will be another conflict to follow. The inclusion of the Plan of Quebec showing the troop movements in 1759 preceding the Battle of the Plains of Abraham could be seen as a possible blueprint for imagined future American action. An important work in the history of early America defending her borders.
First published in 1813, and including four large folding maps not present in the first edition: "Chart of East End of Lake Ontario, and River St. Lawrence from Kingston to St. Lawrence", "Map of the River St. Lawrence from Williamsburg to Montreal", "Map of the Seat of War among the Creek Indians", and the "Map of New Orleans". The other maps include: "Map of the Seat of War in North America", "View round the Falls of Niagara", "East End of Lake Ontario", "Montreal", "Map of the Southern Section of the United States", "Plan of Quebec", "Map of the American Coast", "Map of Detroit River".
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 by Ristow). In his Preface Melish writes of this new edition: "The tumult of war having now happily subsided, the publisher presents 'The Military and Topographical atlas" in a new dress, calculated to illustrate the important operations in times that are past. As the materials of which this work is composes, were brought forward at different periods, and under various circumstances. Previous to the declaration of war, the author had travelled extensively in the northern and western parts of the United States, collecting information regarding the present state of the country; and from the materials procured during that journey, with others that were furnished him in Philadelphia, he compiled the "Map of the Seat of War", which had a most rapid and extensive sale". Martin/Ristow 24. Location note: AMERICANA 14C. For inquiries please contact Greg McMurray, MLS, Director, Rare Books.