FRÉMONT, John C. (1813-1890). Report of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains in the Year 1842, and to Oregon and Northern California in the years 1843-44. Washington, D. C.: Gales and Seaton, 1845.
8o (228 x 143 mm). 21 (of 22) lithographed plates and 5 maps (two folding, the large Preuss map in pocket at back, see below). (Lacks one botanical plate, the Preuss map reinforced along folds and with some splits along folds). Original ribbed cloth (skilfully rebacked preserving original spine); quarter morocco folding case.
[Including:] PREUSS, Charles. Map of an Expedition to the Rocky Mountains in the Year 1842 and to Oregon and North California in the Year 1843-44. Baltimore: E. Weber & Co. . Large folding map (825 x 1346 mm).
Provenance: Francis Parkman (1823-1893, signature dated 1847 on title, signature "Francis Parkman, Jr." on front free endpaper); Harvard College Library (inkstamp on verso of title: "Bequest of Francis Parkman 17 Jan. 1894, blindstamp on title, bookplate of the Parkman Collection, duplicate stamps on pastedown and title verso).
FIRST EDITION, THE SENATE ISSUE OF THIS SEMINAL WORK. AN OUTSTANDING ASSOCIATION COPY, OWNED BY FRANCIS PARKMAN, and dated by him just after his return from the West and during the writing and serial publication of The California and Oregon Trail: "Parkman undertook a trip into the Wyoming Territory from March to October 1846. In this foolhardy but exhilarating adventure, he was accompanied by his cousin Quincy Adams Shaw. The two men explored along the California and Oregon Trail, traveling in the process from St. Louis to the environs of Fort Laramie, where they camped and hunted with the Sioux and studied frontier and Native-American tribal life. Once back in the East, Parkman found that it was most stressful to combine a modicum of law office work in New York City and steady writing of serial installments of The Oregon Trail (published in the Knickerbocker Magazine, Feb. 1847-Feb. 1849)" (ANB).
Frémont's two reports, written with the help of his wife Jessie Benton, "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" (Pamela Herr, ANB). The reports mapped out all California rivers south of the American River and the three Colorado rivers. They became essential guides for gold rush travelers and settlers heading for California and the Oregon Territory. The report and its maps would have been an important reference source for Parkman during the writing of his book.
Frémont stresses the importance of Preuss's large map of the routes traversed in both expeditions: "it fills up the vast geographical chasm" between Missouri and the Columbia River. Historians ever since have warmly agreed, calling it "monumental in its breadth--a classic of exploring literature" (Goetzmann, Exploration and Empire, p.248). Wheat, in Mapping the Transmississippi West, deems it "as important a step forward from the earlier western maps...as...Pike, Long, and Lewis and Clark in their day" (p.495). Cohen Mapping the West pp.130-133; Field 565; Graff 1436; Howes F-370; Sabin 25845; Streeter sale VI:3131; Wagner-Camp-Becker 115:2.