(Pittsburgh: Printed by Zadok Cramer, for David M'Keehan, 1807). 170 x 105 mm. (6 1/8 x 4 1/8"). 262 pp. FIRST EDITION.
Contemporary half calf over marbled boards, flat spine divided into panels by double gilt rules, gilt titling. With ink inscriptions of several 19th century owners on title page. Graff 1516; Howes G-77; Sabin 26741; Wagner-Camp 6:1. Front joint cracked but not at all wobbly, extremities a bit rubbed, text rather browned and foxed due to poor paper quality, otherwise a very good copy with no significant defects.
This is the first appearance of the first published account of the Lewis and Clark expedition, described by Streeter as "one of the essential books for an Americana collection." A carpenter by training, Gass was in charge of constructing winter accommodations for the party, and his knowledge of building informs his observations here about forts and native architecture. This account was based on journals the sergeant kept during the explorations, and it was an immediate success with a public hungry for information about the western frontier. By the time the official account of Captains Lewis and Clark appeared in 1814, Gass's journal had appeared in multiple editions published as far away as London, Paris, and Weimar. Wagner-Camp observes that Gass "became one of the best-known members of the expedition for several reasons: his key role as sergeant brought his name up frequently in the journals of Lewis and Clark; his account was the first to be published; he was the first to have a biography written about him; and finally, he outlived the other members of the Corps of Discovery by decades," dying in 1870, at the age of 99. (CFB1712)
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PJP Catalog: ELIST2.019