Clive A. Burden LTD. Rare Maps, Antique Atlases, Books and Decorative Prints

The Mapping of North America

Mr. Philip D. Burden​
P.O. Box 863,
Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks HP6 9HD,
Tel: +44 (0) 1494 76 33 13

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FIRST EDITION. MIXED ISSUE. The ‘Indian Tribes of North America’ by Thomas McKenney and James Hall, first published in parts between 1836-44, is one of the great North American Indian colour plate books and the grandest published in America to date. It ‘was the most ambitious work produced in America prior to those of the Audubons’ (Reese).

Thomas Loraine McKenney (1785-1859) was the Superintendent of Indian trade from 1816-1822 and became concerned about the future survival of the western tribes. He began to save Indian artefacts and retain an archive of information. Not afraid to speak his mind, he was eventually made head of the US Bureau of Indian Affairs by President Monroe from 1824-1830. In 1822 the artist Charles Bird King (1785-1862) arrived in town and the idea grew of recording the images of them. This position took him on several trips to the west to oversee treaties with the Chippewa, Menominee and Winnebago.

The 117 portraits it contained were largely drawn from the paintings of the artist Charles Bird King of visiting Indian delegates to Washington D.C. They were commissioned by McKenney on behalf of the War Department. It appeared that when taken around the gallery of other portraits of Indians they were impressed, many requesting that their own be done for the collection. This appears to have helped in many a treaty negotiation. Some even requesting one to take back with them. Herman J. Viola recorded in 1995 ‘Information about the copies is meagre. Only one is known to be extant … this is a portrait of the Creek delegate Coosa Tustennuggee and was painted by George Cooke, a Washington artist who may have been studying under King at the time’. We were lucky enough to acquire it in the 1984.

Ironically, when he was four years old, King’s father, a Revolutionary War veteran, was killed by Indians whilst tilling his farm in Ohio, awarded to him for his military service. Unfortunately, this wonderful collection was largely destroyed in a fire at the Smithsonian on 24 January 1865 caused by an incorrectly fitted stove in the Picture Gallery. Two hundred and ninety-five paintings were lost and only five survived. McKenney & Hall’s work is therefore the only accurate record of many of the great Indian figures of the nineteenth century.

Fortunately for posterity, McKenney had the idea of publishing many of these images but shortly after in 1830, he was removed from office by President Andrew Jackson who in in the same year passed the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The enforced re-settlement, now more commonly known as the ‘Trail of Tears’, led to the removal of upwards of sixty thousand American Indians. An estimated 4,000 of whom perished on the journey. The Seminole Indians of Florida were one of the major holdouts ultimately leading to the Second Seminole War of 1835-42 which the Government never won.

The work has a complicated bibliography. His first chosen publisher was Samuel F. Bradford who promptly declared bankruptcy in 1832. Edward C. Biddle joins the project which languishes until 1836. In that same year James Hall (1793-1868) agrees to be a half partner. He was a banker from Cincinnati who had been a journalist in Illinois, lawyer and State treasurer. The two of them collaborated to produce this book. He had written extensively about the west and contributed the introductory text. The biographies drew on the knowledge of McKenney. Issued in parts from late 1836, the first volume was made available in 1837. This was followed by the economic depression of 1837 which delayed the project.

Biddle backs out due to lack of finance and is replaced by Frederick W. Greenough. He reissues the first volume and publishes the second in 1838. He also fell foul of the economic crisis and by 1842 is also bankrupt. Interest in the project passes to Daniel Rice and James G. Clark who reissue the first two volumes in 1842 and published the third and final volume in 1844.

Two images are of interest in my opinion. One is ‘Asseola’, better known as Osceola, the famed Seminole Indian warrior. He was such a famous individual at the time that seventeen pages were devoted to his biography. It refers to his devious capture and that various artists visited him before his death. My own research revealed that he was only fit enough for a sitting for one week before he was bed ridden. I even proved that the first and only artist to visit him was from nearby Charleston, Robert John Curtis (c.1816-77). The famous Catlin portrait of him was copied from Curtis as he arrived at Fort Moultrie just five days before Osceola died. We were fortunate to be able to acquire one of only three known Curtis portraits of Osceola in 1986. The second of interest is one of Pocohontas for which a leaf of corroborative text was inserted at the end of the third volume.

Little known is the fact that the third volume of the work contains this lithographic sheet with two maps and a table. The main map across the top displays the whole of the present-day United States from coast to coast just before it was achieved. It displays the location of all the main Indian tribes. Of note in bold letters is ‘Hostile Ground’ in the western plains. Lower right is a further map of the territory west immediately west of the Mississippi River and in greater details the tribes found. The table lower left breaks down their population.

Provenance: Acquired from Sam Murray, Wilbraham, MA, c.1982; Burden Collection. American National Biography; Bennett (1949) p. 79; Field (1873) 992; Horan, James D. (1972) ‘The McKenney-Hall Portrait Gallery of American Indians’; Howes (1962) M129; Lipperheide (1965) Mc4; Reese (1999) ‘Stamped With A National Character’ p. 24; Sabin (1868-1936) 43410a; Tyler (1994) Prints of the West’ pp. 38-46; Viola (1974) ‘Thomas L. McKenney, Architect of America’s Early Indian Policy: 1816-1830’; Viola (1976) ‘The Indian Legacy of Charles Bird King’; Viola (1995) ‘Diplomats in Buckskins: A History of Indian Delegations in Washington City’ p. 216 note 14.

McKENNEY, Thomas Loraine and HALL, James

History of the Indian Tribes of North America, with Biographical Sketches and Anecdotes of the Principal Chiefs. Embellished with one hundred and twenty portraits, from the Indian Gallery in the Department of War, at Washington

Frederick W. Greenough, 23 Minor Street [vol. 1]; Daniel Rice and James G. Clark, 132 Arch Street [vols. 2 & 3], Philadelphia, 1838-42-44
FIRST EDITION. MIXED ISSUE. Folio, three volumes (490 x 355 mm. each), bound to style in half red morocco over red moire cloth covered boards, gilt ruled, spines with gilt ruled raised bands in six compartments, each gilt panelled, gilt lettered in the second and fourth, gilt volume dates to base of each spine, marbled endpapers. With typographic title page to each volume, pp. [2], 4, 206; [2], 237; [4], 196, [2], with 120 hand-coloured lithographic plates after Karl Bodmer, Charles Bird King, James Otto Lewis, P. Rhindesbacher and R. M. Sully, drawn on stone by A. Newsam, A. Hoffy, Ralph Trembley, Henry Dacre and others, printed and coloured by J. T. Bowen and others, comprising 117 portraits and 3 scenic frontispieces after Rindisbacher, 1 leaf containing 2 lithographic maps and a table and 17 pages of facsimile signatures of subscribers. Light foxing to volume 1 as usual, offsetting to plates as usual, with some water staining to beginning of volume 2 affecting the first plate and volume 3 affecting first 5 plates, otherwise in good condition.
Stock number: 9761


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