GASS, Patrick (1771-1870)
A Journal of the Voyages and Travels of a Corps of Discovery under the command of Capt. Lewis and Capt. Clarke of the army of the United States from the mouth of the river Missouri through the interior parts of North America to the Pacific ocean, during the years 1804, 1805 & 1806
Pittsburgh: Printed by Zadok Cramer, for David M'Keehan, Publisher and Proprietor, 1807. 12mo. (6 1/2 x 4 inches). 262pp.
Contemporary sheep-backed marbled paper covered boards. Housed in a dark blue morocco box.
The first edition of the earliest published firsthand account of the Lewis and Clark expedition: "one of the essential books for an Americana collection" (Streeter).
The origins of Gass's journal is explained in a 7 April 1805 letter from Meriwether Lewis to President Thomas Jefferson: "We have encouraged our men to keep journals, and seven of them do so, to whom in this respect we give every assistance in our power." Because of the delay in the publication of the official account, Gass' journal became the first to appear in print, and as such was eagerly taken up by readers starved for information about the discoveries. "Patrick Gass was a rough reliable frontier soldier when he joined the Lewis and Clark expedition. He was made a sergeant when Sergeant Floyd died. He writes a terse soldier's narrative with rugged honesty... For seven years his story offered the only real information the nation had of the Oregon country and of the Louisiana Purchase. It is a work of primary importance" (Webster A. Jones). First editions of Gass's journal have become scarce, particularly in good condition.
Graff 1516; Hill (2004) 685; Howes G77 'b'; Literature of the Lewis & Clark Expedition 3.1; Sabin 26741; Shaw & Shoemaker 12646; Smith 3465; Streeter Sale 3120; Wagner-Camp 6:1.