MORSE, Jedidiah (1761-1826). Geography Made Easy: Being an Abridgement of the American Geography. Boston: Isaiah Thomas & Ebenezer T. Andrews, 1790.

$ 3,600.00

8vo., (6 7/8 x 4 ¼ inches). Fine folding engraved “Map of the United States of America” (a bit spotted); frontispiece double-hemisphere map of the world; 6 full-page engraved maps. 19th-century half tan calf, marbled boards, the spine in six compartments with five raised bands, red morocco gilt lettering piece in one (front cover detached).

Second edition, first published in 1784. This is the PREFERRED second edition of the first American school geography, and the first American book to describe the West by the “FATHER OF AMERICAN GEOGRAPHY.” Complete with all maps, including the very important folding map of the United States, by Amos Doolittle, which was one of the first national maps published in the United States immediately following the Treaty of Paris. “Morse was born in Woodstock, Connecticut on August 23, 1761. He attended Yale College and on his graduation in 1783, he decided to enter the ministry. He remained in New Haven for two more years studying theology, and to support himself he wrote a school textbook on geography. It was entitled ‘Geography Made Easy.’ It was first published in 1784 with the subtitle ‘Being a short but comprehensive system of that very useful and agreeable science.’ It proved immensely popular. It was aimed at an American audience; it was decidedly patriotic both in its praise of the United States and persuasive in its argument that a distinctly American geography should be written and read. There were few competitors; it was one of the first national textbooks produced in the new Republic written by a native-born which sought to both describe and praise the new country. It was the first geography book written and printed in the United States…

“The bulk of the entry on the United States is taken up with separate sections devoted to each state. Each state is given detailed description including situation and extent, boundaries, population of counties according to 1810 census, the face (physical geography) of the country, bays, lakes and rivers, soil and productions, minerals and fossils, manufactures and commerce, education, cities and towns. Some mention is also made of Indians” (Short, pp. 30-31, 33). Howes M-842. John Rennie Short, “A New Mode of Thinking: Creating a National Geography in the Early Republic” in “Surveying the Record: North American Scientific Exploration to 1930, Volume 231.”

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