JEFFERSON, Thomas. An Account of Louisiana, Being an Abstract of Documents, in the Offices of the Departments of State, and of the Treasury. - Appendix to an Account of Louisiana... [Washington?, 1803].
2 parts in one, 8o (205 x 122 mm). Collation: [A]1 B-G4 (lacking H1 blank); \Kp\k1 a-l4 [m]1. Folding table in the Appendix. (Some pale browning.) A remboitage binding of contemporary calf.
VERY SCARCE FIRST EDITION OF THE BEST OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS RELATING TO LOUISIANA, ONE YEAR BEFORE LEWIS AND CLARK LEFT ON THEIR EXPEDITION. The compiler describes the area of Louisiana around New Orleans and then provides a tour up the Mississippi, with details on each settlement. Information is given about the geography, laws, native tribes and resources of the region. According to a contemporary note in the copy at Yale, the work was written by Mr. Wagner, chief-clerk in the office of Secretary of State James Madison. The materials were collected by Jefferson, who made further inquries with officials in Lousiana and then communicated the information to Congress on 15 November 1803.
"The circumstances of the preparation and circulation of this important, first official description of the newly acquired territory are obscure. It is ironic that the acquisition of this vast region that was to have so great effect upon the course of empire should have been heralded by this tattered, badly printed, credulous synthesis of hazy fact and ill-founded rumor" (Wagner-Camp-Becker). RARE: numerous printings are recorded of these pamphlets, though according to American Book Prices Current, only one with of this first edition is recorded at auction in the last thirty years: sold Swann Galleries, 14 November 1984, lot 250. Thomas W. Streeter's library included the later Philadelphia printing (sale V:1576, W-C-B 2b7). Although the Philadelphia, 1803 edition has been called the first edition of this work, it is in fact the second, issued after this undated, unimprinted Washington edition. The Philadelphia edition was printed from the Washington edition, and in the next year numerous editions were printed at Baltimore, Providence, Raleigh, N.C., Carlisle, Albany, and Wilmington. Only a very small number of copies of this true first edition are known to have come on the market in the last twenty years. Howes L-493; Sabin 42177; Shaw & Shoemaker 5199; Wagner-Camp-Becker 2b:1 and 1a.