JEFFERSON, Thomas (1743-1826)
Notes on the State of Virginia ... first hot-pressed edition
Philadelphia: R. T. Rawle, 1801. 8vo. ,436,, 56pp. [with errors in pagination, as issued]. Stipple engraved portrait frontispiece, three maps (one folding), folding plate and folding table.
Early American edition of Jefferson's famous work
This is the only book-length work by Jefferson to be published in his lifetime, and has been called "one of America's first permanent literary and intellectual landmarks." It was largely written in 1781 and first published in Paris, in French, in 1785, then published in English in London in 1787. Written in the form of answers to questions about Virginia, the book supplies a description of the geography, with an abundance of supporting material and unusual information. As J.M. Edelstein notes: "Jefferson wrote about things which interested him deeply and about which he knew a great deal; the Notes , therefore, throws a fascinating light on his tastes, curiosities, and political and social opinions." The story of the creation of this book and its publishing history is an interesting one. It is told fully by Millicent Sowerby in her catalogue of Jefferson's library.
The present 1801 Philadelphia edition printed by Rawle is one of the most handsome American editions of Jefferson, and the first issued after his election to the presidency. The portrait, pictured and described in Cunningham's The Image of Thomas Jefferson in the Public Eye., was engraved by William Harrison, Jr., after a print by Mathew Carey. It is one of the relatively few engraved images of Jefferson. This edition adds Jefferson's famous first inaugural address ("we are all Republicans, we are all Federalists"). Furthermore, an appendix adds his correspondence relating to the Logan massacre, a horrific frontier tale of the murder of a friendly Indian family in southwest Virginia during Lord Dunmore's War in 1774.
Howes J78; Sabin 35898; Clark I:262; Sowerby, Jefferson's Library 4167; Adams, The Eye of Thomas Jefferson p. 51.