CARVER, Jonathan (1710-1780)
Travels through the interior parts of North America, in the years 1766, 1767, and 1768
London: printed for the Author, sold by J. Walter and S. Crowder, 1778. Octavo. (8 1/4 x 5 inches). ,xvi,543,pp. 2 folding engraved maps, 4 engraved plates. Uncut.
Later half morocco and marbled paper covered boards, spine gilt with raised bands
First edition of this landmark work on the exploration of the American West.
Jonathan Carver, who was born in Massachusetts, served in the colonial militia during the French and Indian War rising to the rank of Captain and mastering the techniques of surveying and map making. He left the army in 1763 with the intention of exploring the new territories acquired by the British as a result of the war. In 1766 Robert Rogers appointed Carver to lead a semi-official expedition to find a route via lakes and rivers to the Pacific Ocean and the East Indies.
Carver left Fort Michilimackinac at Mackinack Island in the spring of 1766, travelling along the northern coast of Lake Michigan, before cutting across to what is now the Door County peninsula in Wisconsin and continuing along the western edge of the bay until reaching what is now Green Bay, Wisconsin. From here he traveled up the Fox River to the Winnebago Indian village at the north end of Lake Winnebago. He continued up the Fox River until he arrived at the "Grand Portage" (a well used portage between the Fox River and the Wisconsin River). Carver then crossed to the Wisconsin River and traveled down to the Mississippi emerging at the great trade encampment at Prairie du Chien. He then turned north into what is now Minnesota. By the late summer he had reached the Saint Anthony Falls (Minneapolis). He spent some time near the falls but turned south, down the Mississippi to find a more suitable place to spend the winter, setting camp in a tribal village in what is now eastern Iowa. The next spring he continued exploring and mapping the Mississippi River through what is now Minnesota and Wisconsin before eventually returning in 1768 to the British fort at Mackinack.
In pursuit of a claim for compensation from the British Government for the work he had put into the expedition, Carver travelled to London and it was here that the present work was published. Carver's book was an immediate success when first published in 1778, and a second London edition followed the next year; with over thirty editions published since in several languages. A very important book in the history of the exploration of the American West as Carver was the first English-speaking explorer to venture west of the upper Mississippi River, he anticipated the idea of a continental divide and was the first to mention a large mountain range to the west (presumably the Rocky Mountains). Furthermore, the name 'Oregon' appears in print here for the first time, both in the text, and on one of the maps. Carver penetrated farther into the West than any other English explorer before the Revolution and stimulated curiosity concerning routes to the Pacific, later satisfied by Mackenzie and Lewis and Clark.
Arents 890; Bell C84; Cox II,151; Field 251; Gagnon II 325; Graff 622; Howes C215; JCB II 2538; Jones 563; Lande 108; Pilling Algonquian p. 68, & Siouan p. 12. Sabin 11184; Streeter III,1772; cf.Jones 563.