The Americas from Helen R. Kahn Rare Books
Filippo Mazzei is not that well remembered today, but he was an inspirational figure for many of America's founding fathers. An Italian who had set up shop in London in the 1770s, he was invited by Thomas Jefferson to settle on land near Monticello. He assisted Jefferson in establishing vineyards in Virginia. Mazzei wrote articles supporting America's independence and the liberties that would later be established in the Constitution. His thoughts likely influenced Jefferson and other American leaders he knew. Item 122 is Mazzei's Recherches Historique at Politiques sur les Etats-Unis de l'amerique Septentrionale... It was published in Paris in 1788 and traces America's history with England and the causes of its eventual separation. In an interesting comment about America's Indians, Mazzei says, "these people are called savages, because their customs differ from ours, which we think the perfection of good breeding; they have the same opinion of theirs." $1,850.
As long as we are polishing up our French, how about Le Sens-Commun? That's French for "Common Sense," Thomas Paine's influential book which helped lead to the American Revolution. It also played a similar role in France, and this second French language edition (first Paris) was published in 1791, near the outbreak of the French Revolution. Paine would support that Revolution, serve as an elected official, and be imprisoned during its most radical stage. Eventually Paine would return to America, where his controversial thoughts about organized religion would leave him something of an outcast when he died. Item 128. $1,925.
George Lyon fits in with the long and illustrious group of explorers who failed to find a Northwest Passage. Item 97 is A Brief Narrative of an Unsuccessful Attempt to reach Repulse Bay, published in 1825. It was just as well. There is no outlet to the Pacific from Repulse Bay, just lots of snow and ice. However, Lyon does tell us about Hudson's Bay and the Esquimaux who inhabited the region. $365.
Daniel Harmon wrote Journal of Voyages and Travel in the Interiour of North America, between the 47th and 58th Degrees of North Latitude, extending from Montreal nearly to the Pacific Ocean, which was published in 1820. Harmon spent almost two decades in the backwoods of the Northwest, as an explorer and fur trader for the Northwest Company. He became very familiar with the Indians and this book includes an extensive vocabulary of the Cree language. However, Editor Daniel Haskell attempted to clean up the book and make it more consistent with his religious mores, so some of this narrative has been twisted to be not believable for what was really going on at the frontier. Item 70. $2,500.