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HAWKINS, Joseph.

A History of a Voyage to the Coast of Africa,

and Travels into the Interior of that Country; containing Particular descriptions of the Climate and Inhabitants, and interesting particulars concerning the Slave Trade. By ... Who has since become Blind; and for whose benefit it is now published by his Friends.

Published: Troy: Printed for the Author by Luther Pratt, 1797

Stock code: 68972

Price: £1,650

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Second edition, same year as the first. Complete with the frontispiece showing “the Author relating the History of his Travels,” which is often lacking. Recommendations from Benjamin Rush (“I feel myself indebted to you …”) and Dr. Felix Pascalis[-Ouvrière], vice-president of the Chemical Society of Philadelphia, and president of the Philadelphia College of Physicians (“I have read with pleasure your History of your voyage to the coast of Africa”) on page iii-iv. “Is this the first account of an African voyage by an American? Hawkins set sail from Charleston late in 1793. He travelled extensively and perilously in the country of the Ibos, who then were engaged in warfare with their neighbours. Much of the author’s narrative describes a Galla invasion into Ibo territory. He was well treated by the Africans, and learned much about their customs and laws. His description of the Ibo capital is worth noting: ‘Their streets were laid out with a considerable regard to order, so as even to be observed at a distance; there was not anything of grandeur, it is true, but certainly a degree of elegant simplicity and neatness which I did not expect to find.’ He was impressed by these Africans but not by the white factors on the coast who lived a debauched and lazy life” (Wolf). Some questions have been raised as to the complete veracity of Hawkins’s account (cf. Fage, Hawkins’ Hoax? A Sequel to Drake’s Fake, History in Africa, vol. 18), but it is referred to frequently on the Smithsonian’s website in relation to the details of the American maritime trade in the eighteenth century.

Duodecimo (157 98 mm). Contemporary sheep, black label to spine. Frontispiece. Contemporary ownership inscription, dated 1806, of William Coon to the front endpapers. A little rubbed, contents browned as often, short splits at the head of frontispiece and title page, now repaired with archival tissue, a very good copy.

Bibliography: Evans 32240; Sabin 30956; Wolf, Negro History, 12

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