JAMES, Edwin (1797-1861)
Account of an Expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains, performed in the Years 1819, and '20 &under the Command of Major Stephen H. Long
Philadelphia: H.C. Carey & Lea, 1822-1823. 3 volumes (text: 2 vols., octavo [8 1/2 x 5 1/4 inches]; atlas: 1 vol., quarto [11 3/4 x 9 3/8 inches]). Atlas: 11 engraved plates and maps (2 double-page maps after S.H. Long by Young & Delleker; 1 double-page plate of geological cross-sections; 8 plates [1 hand-coloured] after S. Seymour , T.R. Peale  and one unassigned, engraved by C.G. Childs , Lawson , F. Kearney , W. Hay , Young & Delleker ).
Text: expertly bound to style in full tree calf, covers bordered with a gilt double fillet, flat spine in compartments divided by darker tree calf bands and gilt roll tools, lettered in the second and fourth compartments, the others with a repeat decoration in gilt, marbled endpapers. Atlas: bound to style in half tree calf over period marbled paper covered boards, spine uniform to the text
First edition of one of the most important early western expeditions.
Edwin James was the botanist, geologist, and surgeon for this important government expedition, initially named the Yellowstone Expedition. Led by Major Stephen Long, the expedition added significantly to the earlier discoveries of Lewis and Clark and Zebulon Pike. In addition to his duties on the expedition, James subsequently served as the editor and compiler of this text, relying "upon his own records, the brief geological notes of Major Long, and the early journals of Thomas Say [who served as the expedition's naturalist]" (Wagner-Camp). Appendices to the text comprise astronomical and meteorological tables and Indian vocabularies. In addition to Long, James and Say, the expedition included Titian Peale as draughtsman and assistant naturalist; and Samuel Seymour as landscape artist. The published plates depict Oto Indians, views of the Plains, and buffalo. Major Long was the principal proponent of government-sponsored exploration of the West following the War of 1812. He travelled farther than Pike or Lewis and Clark, and blazed trails that were subsequently followed by Fremont, Powell, and others. The expedition travelled up the Missouri and then followed the River Platte to its source in the Rocky Mountains before moving south to Upper Arkansas. From there the plan was to find the source of the Red River, but when this was missed the Canadian River was explored instead. Cartographically, the atlas contains the first maps to provide detail of the Central Plains. Upon returning to Washington from the expedition, Long drafted a large manuscript map of the West (now in the National Archives) and the printed maps in James's Account closely follows. The "Western Section" map is particularly interesting as it here that the myth of the Great American Desert was founded by Long: a myth which endured for decades. The designation Great American Desert appears east of the single range of the Rocky Mountains, together with a two-line note: "The Great American Desert is frequented by roving bands of Indians who have no fixed places of residence but roam from place to place in quest of game." Long's map, along with that of Lewis and Clark, "were the progenitors of an entire class of maps of the American Transmississippi West" (Wheat).
American Imprints 12942; Graff 2188; Howes J41; Sabin 35682; Streeter sale 3:1783; Wagner-Camp 25:1; Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West 353; see Nicholas and Halley, Stephen Long and American Frontier Exploration (1995).