(Washington: Printed by order of the United States' Senate, 1843). 228 x 145 mm. (9 x 5 3/4"). 207, 78 pp. FIRST EDITION, ONE OF 1,000 COPIES.
Modern brown buckram backed with matching morocco, gilt titling on spine. Original brown cloth backstrip laid in. With six plates and a large folding map. First work: Graff 1437; Howes F-371; Wagner-Camp 95; Wheat, Transmississippi West 464; Streeter Sale 3130; Grolier American 49. Second work: Howes P-199; Graff 3243, Wagner-Camp 100. One leaf with a one-inch ink stain affecting a couple of words in a table (and a couple of trivial ink spots elsewhere), minor foxing throughout (due to paper quality), otherwise an excellent copy in an unworn binding, the folding map especially clean and fresh.
This is the first issue of John Frémont's report to the Senate on his exploration along the route that became known as the Oregon Trail. With Kit Carson as guide and German cartographer Carl Preuss along to create maps, Frémont set out to survey the territory and to recommend the best route for settlers heading west. Frémont (1813-90) joined the US Army Corps of Topographical Engineers in 1838, and took part in two wilderness expeditions with explorer Joseph Nicollet, before being appointed to lead the present expedition. His appointment came about in part through the influence of his father-in-law, Missouri senator Thomas Hart Benton, a fervent advocate of Western Expansion. According to Streeter, "The expedition was designed by Senator Benton and the expansionist group in Congress to publicize the first main division of the route to Oregon, for though this was well known to the fur traders, the region west of the Missouri was still terra incognita to the general public." The Grolier American 100 notes that this report "made clear the first half of the route to Oregon through the South Pass and cast doubts on the prevailing myth of a great American desert between the Missouri and the Rockies." Frémont's account of the journey is followed here by a Catalogue of Plants he collected and records of astronomical and meteorological observations. The success of this journey made Frémont's reputation, and he went on to lead three more Western expeditions before settling in California, where he became one of the state's first US senators. In 1856, he was the newly-formed Republican Party's first nominee for the presidency. ANB concludes that "he was at his best as the daring and resourceful leader of his early expeditions. The knowledge of the West and impetus to the westward movement that these journeys inspired remain a remarkable and enduring achievement." The second work in the volume here is a report by the U.S. Representative from Ohio, Mr. Pendleton, on the establishment of a chain of military posts between Council Bluffs in Iowa and the Pacific Coast in Oregon. (CFB1751)
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PJP Catalog: 72.119