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SCHOOLCRAFT, Henry R.

Information Respecting the History, Condition and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States:

Collected And Prepared Under The Direction Of The Bureau Of Indian Affairs, Per Act Of Congress Of March 3d, 1847. Illustrated By S. Eastman, Capt. U.S.A. Published by Authority of Congress.

Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Company, 1853-1857 Stock Code: 137694
£12,500.00
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Presentation copies of Schoolcraft's monumental work on the Native American peoples

Second edition of this impressive, ground-breaking and expansive work, unchallenged as the most comprehensive study of Native American culture, enhanced by "Captain Seth Eastman's exceptional lithographs" (American National Biography); four of the five volumes here (I-II and IV-VI) are contemporary presentation copies, inscribed by a trio of Commissioners for Indian Affairs.

Ethnologist, explorer and writer Henry Rowe Schoolcraft (1793-1864) remains best known as the discoverer of the source of the Mississippi. In 1836 he was appointed superintendent of Indian affairs for Michigan, "negotiating treaties with the Chippewa and other nations He was in 1845 appointed by the New York legislature to take the census of the native Americans in the state and to collect information concerning the Six Nations. In 1847 Congress authorized him to collate and edit information for all the American nations of the country, a task which occupied him for the remainder of his working life" (Howgego). Schoolcraft conducted much of the research himself but also sent out "questionnaires to every Indian agent, missionary, and trader that he could find" (Hyde, p. 284), assembling a vast collection of historical information, covering all aspects of Native American life, including biographies, languages, folk tales, legends, histories and educated ideas concerning the beginnings and development of these many varied and complex societies. In doing so he became the "acknowledged national expert on Native America" (ANB), his monumental work, first issued between 1851 and 1857, "published in almost impenetrable jumble" (ibid.), captures the life of the Native American peoples at a crucial juncture, following the signing of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851, intended to ensure peace on the Plains following increasing white encroachment.

Vol. I: presented by commissioner George W. Moneypenny to Richard C. Puryear, planter and congressman.

Vol. II: presented by commissioner Luke Lea to Hon. John M. Wayne.

Vol. IV: presented by commissioner George W. Moneypenny to Lawrence Brainerd, businessman, abolitionist and senator from Vermont.

Vol. V: presented by commissioner George W. Moneypenny to Charles J. Faulkner, politician, planter, and lawyer.

Vol. VI: presented by commissioner Charles E. Mix to Charles J. Faulkner, politician, planter, and lawyer.

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Description

6 volumes, quarto. Original grey or slate green morocco-grain cloth, gilt-lettered spines with a version of the Great Seal of the United States at foot, sides with border in blind of "native" pictograms, front covers with large central gilt block of a Native American scalping (based on the plate "Death Whoop", vol. VI, p. xxviii), repeated on back covers in blind.

Illustrations

Engraved title pages in vols. I-V, and 331 plates, many of which are coloured or tinted.

Condition

Bindings professionally refurbished, extremities of spines and corners consolidated, vol. II rebacked with the original spine laid down, spines lightly sunned, old ink stain to front cover of vol. I, contents generally a little toned, marginal tidemark at foot toward end of vol. I, some finger-soiling and staining (more noticeable in vols. III and IV), contents of vol. VI foxed. Overall this remains a good set, sound and complete, of a work found more often than not in poor condition.

Bibliography

Howes S183; Howgego II S13; Anne F. Hyde, Empires, Nations, and Families: A History of the North American West, 1800-1860 (2011).

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