The History of America, in Two Books. Containing, I. A General History of America. II. A Concise History of the Late Revolution. Extracted from the American Edition of the Encyclopedia. The Second Edition.

Philadelphia: Printed by Thomas Dobson, M.DCC.XCV [1795]. 8vo, viii, 356 pp. Contemporary full calf, gilt-lettered maroon morocco label. Binding well rubbed but sound, endpapers excised, lacking the two maps, signature P starting, occasional light foxing, some marginal childish scribblings in pencil; a fair copy only, but with an important association. Second Edition; the first edition had appeared in 1790, and other editions were issued in 1798, 1808, & 1819. Signed at the top of the title-page by Artemas Ward (1727-1808), soldier, jurist, & politician. Despite his many achievements in these three fields, Ward is best-known for having been commander-in-chief of the Massachusetts militia at the time of the Battle of the Bunker Hill and for serving (briefly) under George Washington as second-in-command of the Continental Army. Ward was in ill health and at his headquarters in Cambridge during the battle, but he took his share of the criticism of American tactical blunders. (Fortunately the British committed comparable blunders of their own).

When the enterprising Scottish-born publisher Thomas Dobson (1751-1823) set out to produce an American edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, he commissioned Jedidiah Morse (1761-1826), already famous for his American geographies, to write articles and biographies of American interest. The two parts of this book were preprinted from the American Encyclopaedia, which did not commence publication until 1798. Morse’s 141-page General History of America is remarkably thorough in its discussion of the cultures of the Indians of North & South America. Morse was greatly interested in the American aborigines and devoted his later career to the study and care of them. In his description of the Battle in the 214-page section on the American Revolution Morse does not mention General Ward, but he does include him (as ‘Artemus’ Ward) in his list of Washington’s chief officers on p. 195. Ward resigned from the army in 1777 but continued in public service until 1795. He made no annotations in this book, but a dog-eared page in the section describing the battle and its aftermath suggests that he at least glanced through it. Unfortunately, the book then fell into the hands of juveniles, who ripped out the maps and scribbled in it.

Sabin 50937. OCLC: 8464076. Relatively uncommon in institutions (c.18) and none at Harvard where Ward was an alum and briefly a teacher. No auction records. Item #107567

Price: $1,950.00

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