[LEWIS AND CLARK EXPEDITION]. Proposals by C. and A. Conrad & Co. for Publishing the History of the Expedition of Captains Lewis and Clarke, through the Continent of North America. Performed during the years 1804, 1805 and 1806, by order of the Government of the United States. [Philadelphia: C. & A. Conrad, probably May 1810]. 4 pages. Tipped in at front of volume V of: The American Register. Philadelphia: C. & A. Conrad, 1807-1810.
Together 6 volumes, 8o (230 x 148 mm). (Some occasional pale browning and foxing.) Original red roan-backed marbled boards, uncut (some rubbing and wear). Provenance: Leon Kimball (signature on some pastedowns); Salem Athenaeum (bookplate, shelf labels on spine).
THE EXCEEDINGLY RARE PROSPECTUS FOR BIDDLE'S HISTORY OF THE LEWIS AND CLARK EXPEDITION. Nicholas Biddle of Philadelphia had impressed William Clark upon their meeting, and Biddle was asked to compile Clark's notes into a book about the Corps of Discovery. Biddle traveled to Fincastle, Virgina, the estate of Clark's father-in-law, to review with Clark the general plan of the work, sift through materials and learn more about the subject. Biddle spent nearly three weeks with Clark, recording extensive notes. Probably around May, 1810, Biddle retained C. and A. Conrad of Philadelphia to print a new prospectus for the publication. Noting how "the melancholy fate of Captain Lewis" had caused delay of the publication of the official narrative, nearly three years after publication was announced, the prospectus states that publication will finally come to press. "All their original papers and journals, together with the curious and scientific objects procured by them, are now carefully collected; and from these materials, improved by personal communication with Capt. Clarke and others who accompanied him, the detailed and authentic history of the expedition will be offered to the public."
The structure of the work was yet to be decided: "it cannot be ascertained into what compass these abundant materials may be compressed." The sectional division was, however, planned: the first part would contain the narrative of the journey and the second would be devoted to the discoveries of botany, mineralogy and zoology. The first "will be accompanied by a large and elegant map of the whole route and the countries adjacent, from the most accurate information." The price of the first part, which was to consist of two octavo volumes and include the map, was to be ten dollars; the second part was to be sold at eleven dollars. Subscriptions were received by C. & A. Conrad at 30 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia.
QUITE PROBABLY THE ONLY COPY IN PRIVATE HANDS: Jackson notes that the only other copy located is that in the Chicago Historical Society. These volumes of the American Register contain other articles relating to the Lewis and Clark expedition, including Joel Barlow's poem "On the Discoveries of Captain Lewis," in volume 1, pp.198-9. Donald Jackson, Letters of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, 2nd ed., 1978, #327a.