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Early Tour and Account of the Louisiana Purchase

10. BRACKENRIDGE, H[enri] M[arie].Views of Louisiana; Together with a Journal of a Voyage up the Missouri River, in 1811. Pittsburgh:  Printed and Published by Cramer, Spear and Eichbaum, 1814.  304 pp. 8vo, original full tree sheep (later sympathetic red gilt-lettered morocco spine label). Exceptionally fine.

     First edition of a basic narrative of early exploration of the trans-Mississippi West. American Imprints (1814)30979. Bauer 32. Bradford 496. Brinley Sale 4396.  Clark, Old South II:136. Graff 379. Holliday 115. Howes B688. Hubach, p. 43. Jones 767. Littell 93. Plains & Rockies IV:12:1:  “Describes the expedition to the Yellowstone in 1807." Rader 443. Cf. Raines, p. 30 (1817 edition): “Much light on Texas, then claimed as a part of the Louisiana purchase.” Sabin 7176.  Streeter Sale 1776:

“The ‘Views of Louisiana,’ p. [9]-195, are a series of essays on the country included in the Louisiana Purchase, many of which were published in the Louisiana Gazette (later the Missouri Gazette), (St. Louis), in the winter of 1810-1811. These essays are of interest but the book is especially desirable for its ‘Journal of a Voyage up the Missouri River,’ in 1811, p. [198]-268. This is followed by appendices which include a reprinting (p. 297-302) from the Gazette of 13 May 1813, of the account of Hunt’s overland journey to Astoria and back. The ‘Journal’ gives Brackenridge’s account of his accompanying Manuel Lisa, the moving spirit of the Missouri Fur Company, on the latter’s 1811 expedition up the Missouri to the fort of the company located just above the Mandan villages. The party left St. Charles on 2 April, overtook Hunt’s Astorian party, with which Bradbury and Nuttall were traveling, on June 2d near ‘the large Cedar Island, 1200 miles from the mouth of the Missouri,’ (Bradbury in his Travels, Liverpool, 1817, at p. 97, says this was on 3 June), and reached the fort above the Mandan Villages ‘1640 miles from the mouth of the Missouri’ on 26 June. The Hunt party was staying at the Aricara Villages, 200 miles or so down the Missouri. On 17 July, Brackenridge, in charge for Lisa of a consignment of furs, left the Aricara Villages with Bradbury as a traveling companion and after a remarkably quick journey ‘we arrived at St. Louis early in August, having made 1440 miles in little better than fourteen days.’ The ‘Views’ preceding the ‘Journal,’ though mostly descriptive, do give a first-hand account of Manuel Lisa’s operations in the fur trade on the Upper Missouri from 1807 through 1810 (p. 89-93). This includes some account of Colter’s activities for Manuel Lisa, but not an account of his famous escape from the Blackfeet near the Three Forks of the Missouri in 1808, which is told in print for the first-time, at least in a printed book, in Bradbury’s Travels (1817). In 1816, the Journal was reprinted separately with the notation on the title page, ‘Revised and Enlarged by the Author.’ I have indicated most of these additions in pencil on my copy. Though the additions are often merely philosophical observations by Brackenridge, the anecdotes told here for the first time on Manuel Lisa give one an idea of his strength of character and innate ability, and there is considerable new material on the relations between Manuel Lisa and Hunt, and on Lisa’s eagerness to catch up with Hunt before they reached the Aricara Villages. There are revealing side-lights on Bradbury, whose account of the expedition in his Travels in the Interior of America (1817) is even more interesting than Brackenridge’s, and on Thomas Nuttall, whose Journal of Travels into the Arkansa Territory (1821) is also a minor classic.-TWS.”

In addition to many of the noted features of this book, one apparently overlooked description concerns Moses Austin’s lead mine at Mine au Breton, which Brackenridge deems unusual because it is a shaft mine instead of a pit.  Brackenridge describes the mine in some detail on pp. 151-152. Brackenridge briefly touches on the boundary question between Mexico and Texas, ironically noting that it could be settled amicably. Brackenridge’s account was a source for Washington Irving’s Astoria. ($1,000-2,000)

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