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[JEFFERSON, Thomas (1743-1826), President]. Notes on the State of Virginia: written in the year 1781, somewhat corrected and enlarged in the winter of 1782, for the use of a Foreigner of distinction, in answer to certain queries proposed by him.... [Paris: Philippe-Denis Pierres for the author], 1782 [i.e., 1785].
[JEFFERSON, Thomas (1743-1826), President]. Notes on the State of Virginia: written in the year 1781, somewhat corrected and enlarged in the winter of 1782, for the use of a Foreigner of distinction, in answer to certain queries proposed by him.... [Paris: Philippe-Denis Pierres for the author], 1782 [i.e., 1785].
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PROPERTY FROM A DIRECT DESCENDENT OF THOMAS JEFFERSON
[JEFFERSON, Thomas (1743-1826), President]. Notes on the State of Virginia: written in the year 1781, somewhat corrected and enlarged in the winter of 1782, for the use of a Foreigner of distinction, in answer to certain queries proposed by him.... [Paris: Philippe-Denis Pierres for the author], 1782 [i.e., 1785].

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[JEFFERSON, Thomas (1743-1826), President]. Notes on the State of Virginia: written in the year 1781, somewhat corrected and enlarged in the winter of 1782, for the use of a Foreigner of distinction, in answer to certain queries proposed by him.... [Paris: Philippe-Denis Pierres for the author], 1782 [i.e., 1785].

8o (7 x 4 7/8 in.). Folding table bound between pp.168 and 169, full-page woodcut of Madison's Cave on page [35]. On page 5, five words regarding the Appomattox River are crossed out (by Jefferson, presumably). With the appendix (pp.367-391) containing additions by Charles Thomson (1729-1824). Contemporary mottled French calf, flat spine gilt, black morocco spine label gilt-lettered NOTES ON VIRGINIA, speckled edges, marbled endpapers (front joint cracked; joints, corners and board edges rubbed).

FIRST EDITION, ONE OF ONLY 200 COPIES PRINTED for private circulation among Jefferson's friends and acquaintances. FIRST ISSUE, with leaves D2-3 uncancelled (containing a theory to account for the presence of fossils at high elevations, deleted in later issues).

Jefferson's descriptive essays on his home state of Virginia are "a classic statement about the promise and the perils of the American experiment" (Frank Shuffleton, Introduction to Notes). Jefferson's notes range widely, embracing topography, natural history, botany, mineral and agricultural productions, manufactures, ethnography, religion, commerce and government, plus a pioneering bibliography of state papers. It was begun in the spring of 1781 as a response to questions from the Marquis de Barbé Marbois, Secretary of the French Legation in Philadelphia, on behalf of the French government. Marbois's queries were forwarded by a Virginia delegate in Congress, Joseph Jones, to the outgoing governor, Jefferson. He promised Marbois on 4 May 1781 that he intended, as soon as he had adequate leisure as his disposal, to give "as full information as I shall be able to do" (Papers, 5:58). For some years, Malone reports, he had been "making memoranda about Virginia on loose sheets of paper"; after leaving the governorship, he returned to Monticello and took up the project in earnest (ibid., p.374). By December, he forwarded Marbois a draft, but cautioned that it was "very imperfect" (Papers, 6:142). Over the next two years, Jefferson continued expanded the notes and sent manuscript copies to various friends for comments. Many in his circle requested copies, so Jefferson eventually decided to produce a private edition; before he could do so he embarked to Paris to take up his post as U.S. Minister to France. "Perhaps I may have a few copies struck off in Paris," he concluded (Papers, 7:282). From Paris, in May 1785, he announced to James Madison that the printers "yesterday finished printing my notes. I had 200 copies printed, but do not put them out of my own hands, except two or three copies here, and two which I shall send to America, to yourself and Colo. Monroe..." (Papers, 8:147).

Bernstein, Are We to be a Nation?, pp.133-136; Church 1189; Howes J-78; Sabin 35894; Streeter Sale 3:1722.

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