Philadelphia: J. Conrad & Co., 1806. ,480pp. Contemporary sprinkled calf, spine gilt, leather labels. Light scuffing to boards, light wear at edges and spine ends. Light tanning, occasional faint foxing. Very good. Item #1249
The sixth volume of this relatively short-lived Philadelphia periodical, which includes an early printing of William Clark's famous letter to his brother in Louisville, Kentucky, informing him of the return of the Corps of Discovery. Written on September 23, 1806, from St. Louis, the letter begins:
"Dear Brother, We arrived at this place at 12 o'clock today, from the Pacific Ocean, where we remained during the last winter, near the entrance of the Columbia River. This station we left on the 27th of March last, and should have reached St. Louis in early August, had we not been detained by snow, which barred our passage across the Rocky Mountains until the 24th of June. In returning through those mountains, we divided ourselves into several parties, digressing from the route by which we went out, in order more effectually to explore the country, and discover the most practicable route which does exist across the continent by way of the Missouri and Columbia Rivers: in this we were completely successful, and have therefore no hesitation in declaring, that, such as nature has permitted, we have discovered the best route which does exist across the continent of North America in that direction."
The letter goes on to describe the path of their return journey and to provide a brief encapsulation of their expedition as a whole. "This letter was the first substantive account of the Lewis and Clark expedition to reach the American public, and, for many months thereafter, the most complete" - Wagner-Camp.
Clark's missive was first published in the Frankfort Palladium on October 6, 1806, and afterwards in a handful of newspapers across the country that were eager to furnish news of the voyage. It then appeared at the end of 1806 in two Philadelphia periodicals, the Evening Fire-Side and the present December issue of the Literary Magazine. It is likely, therefore, that the periodical printings represent the only feasibly obtainable early copies of this first announcement of Lewis and Clark's successful return. A copy of the Evening Fire-Side volumes that carried the letter sold for $3250 at a Christie's sale in 2007. No copies of the present Literary Magazine printing appear in archived sales records since a 1954 Parke Bernet sale.
Sabin 41490. Shaw & Shoemaker 4531. Wagner-Camp 4 (note).