McKenney was the Superintendent of Indian trade from 1816-1822 and became concerned about the future survival of the western tribes. Not afraid to speak his mind he was eventually made head of the US Bureau of Indian Affairs by President Monroe from 1824-1830. This position took him on several trips to the west to oversee treaties with the Chippewa, Menominee and Winnebago. James Hall 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. The text was written by Hall but drew on the knowledge of McKenney. The work contains a general history of North American Indians and 120 biographies, each accompanied by a fine lithographic plate. It was an immediate success.
Between 1848 and 1850 an octavo edition was published with 120 lithographs drawn by J. T. Bowen. The quality of the plates was such that it is stated that any of the first four editions include high quality images in terms of printing and colouring. This is an example of the second octavo edition published by D. Rice and A. N. Hart. Provenance: with bookplate of Frank Henry Goodyear Library; acquired 1994 for private English collection. Horan ‘The McKenney-Hall Portrait Gallery of American Indians’; Howes M129; Miles & Reese ‘America Pictured to the Life’ no. 53; Sabin 43411; Viola ‘Thomas L. McKenney, Architect of America’s Early Indian Policy: 1816-30’; Viola ‘The Indian Legacy of Charles Bird King’.
History of the Indian Tribes of North America