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JEFFERSON, Thomas

Notes on the State of Virginia

For John Stockdale, London, 1787
Octavo (210 x 130 mm), modern half calf, marbled paper boards, spine with raised bands , ornate ruled bands and compartments with gilt vase design, blue calf gilt title label. Typographic title, pp. (4), 382, with large folding map of Virginia in early outline colour, woodcut cave plan, folding chart, advertisement leaf reinforced, mild dust soiling and toning to map, small marginal stain to first several pages, otherwise in good condition.
FIRST ENGLISH EDITION. Following the end of the American Revolution and the Treaty of Paris, Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) was named as minister from the new United States of America to the Court of Versailles. Jefferson arrived in 1784 and would spend five years in residence.

This is the only book written by Jefferson. The ‘Notes’ are in fact a series of elaborate answers written in 1781 to questions put to each of the states by Francois Barbe-Marbois, the secretary of the French legation in Philadelphia. These were distributed amongst his friends for comment. During the winter of 1783-84 Jefferson complied the replies into what was to become the ‘Notes on the State of Virginia’. Shortly after his arrival in Paris he passed the manuscript to a printer and had 200 copies printed for private distribution. That edition is exceedingly rare. A French translation entitled ‘Observations sur la Virginie’ was published in 1786. This English edition was published in London the following year. It contains new accounts of events during and since the Revolution. The three appendices consist of two of considerable significance. They were originally issued as supplements with a few examples of the original edition but are integral to this work. The second appendix contains the full text of the proposed Virginia constitution, while the third contains the Virginia Act for establishing religious freedom which passed in 1786.

The translator of the French edition, Abbe Andre Morellet encouraged Jefferson to provide a map. The finished draft was given to Samuel Neele (1758-1824) in London to engrave. Entitled ‘A Map of the country between Albemarle Sound, and Lake Erie’ upper right, it goes on to detail some of the sources drawn upon, not least of which was that of his own father and Joshua Fry, along with William Scull’s map of Pennsylvania, 1770. It also drew upon Thomas Hutchins map of the ‘Western Parts of Virginia’, 1778. He intended to add the county names by drawing on John Henry’s map of 1770, but he was unable to procure a copy. The map identified five new states: Kentuckey, Frankland (Tennessee) and three remaining entitled ‘A New State’.

The reference to Frankland is the earliest obtainable reference to the attempt by settlers in to establish and seek recognition for the State of Franklin or Franklinia It is likely that this map is the source of all other references to Frankland and Franklinia. Examples were printed from the plate in Paris which are found in the French edition. The plate was then returned to London where Stockdale’s imprint was added for inclusion in this work. Provenance: Medical Society of Edinburgh (notation in Latin on title page: ‘Ex Libris Soc[ietaitis]: Med[ica]: Edinen[sis]:’; William S. Reese Collection; sold Christie’s New York 25 May 2022 lot 60. ANB; ESTC T147402; Howes (1962) J78; ODNB; Pritchard & Taliaferro (2002) no. 72; Sabin (1868-1936) 35896; Schwartz & Ehrenberg (1980) p. 209; Stephenson & McKee (2000) p. 92; refer Streeter sale (October 1967) 1722; Vail (1970) 760; Wooldridge (2012) pp. 117-21.
Stock number: 10484

SOLD

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