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Letters from Illinois

Morris Birkbeck

Published by Morris Birkbeck, Philadelphia, 1818
Condition: Good Plus Hardcover
From Hirschfeld Galleries (Saint Louis, MO, U.S.A.)

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Morris Birkbeck. Born in 1764. In Settle England. Died 1825. In the Fox River west of what is now Chicago. near Geneva Illinois. Original boards and paper spine title label. An advance review copy of 1st state with a review slip from the publisher laid in, indicating his earlier book, Journey in America and indicating the map to this volume will be sold separately. for a price of One shilling and one Pence That is why most copies lack the map, it was not intended to be part of the book as first issued. Note on the title page a reference to the Dublin Edition, a later issue of the same book for book seller. Thomas Larkin. A totally original unsophisticated copy well margined and tall. of his first key title in Illinois history. Note in Howes Usiana. B 467 and in Buck 105. in Sabin 5567. wear to joints, normal soil to original boards, but the text is crisp and the uncut edges lovely. Birkbeck is a fine writer and is in also the Dictionary of National Biography from which I quote: Birkbeck had other ideas, and announced that he intended to settle north of the Ohio River because of his profound hatred of slavery. "After arriving in Boltonhouse Prairie in Edwards county, Illinois Territory, in the summer of 1817, and immediately purchasing about 1500 acres, Birkbeck published in 1818 both an account of the journey in 'Notes of a Journey from the Coast of Virginia to the Territory of Illinois' and an enthusiastic invitation to others to emigrate to his projected colony in 'Letters from Illinois.' Written in plain but lively prose that masked the underlying Romanticism of his message, the second book in particular praised the natural beauty of the prairies and the ease with which they might be cultivated. The two books received an astonishing reception not only in Britain but also on the continent of Europe. The fierce controversy they aroused in the press, journals, and pamphlets on both sides of the Atlantic magnified their impact. During the next few years, the 'English Prairie' became a required stop for British travellers in the west, who in turn published differing assessments. The fame of Birkbeck's pioneering venture undoubtedly contributed to the rise in emigration during the hard times and political repression of the post-war period. "At one time scholars gave Birkbeck credit for recognizing the agricultural potential of prairie land, but there is no evidence that he cultivated the grassland. Although he presented ideas on ditching and fencing in his presidential address in 1823 to the first agricultural society in Illinois, his methods were not adopted. Above all, the projected colony failed to prosper. His hopes of founding a morally upright community were shattered when he learned of George Flower's adultery. He severed completely all communication with his wealthier partners. Even his most severe critics conceded his integrity and the persuasiveness of his pen. Because of his sanguine temperament, he misled himself as he misled others. He did none the less secure an honoured place in the history of Illinois. His newspaper articles and a pamphlet under the pseudonym Jonathan Freeman helped turn the vote against calling a special convention to amend its constitution of 1818 to legalize slavery" His sudden death at the age of 61 in the Fox River, is still a mystery to this day, was it foul play or old age in an act of over exertion attempting to swim across a great river in Northern Illinois. His abhorrence to Slavery forced him to abandon Virginia and he helped to keep slavery forever out of Illinois. Size: Royal 8vo. Bookseller Inventory # 1001373

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Letters from Illinois

Publisher: Morris Birkbeck, Philadelphia

Publication Date: 1818

Binding: Original Boards

Book Condition: Good Plus

Edition: 1st Edition 1st Issue.

Book Type: Private Press

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Hirschfeld Galleries, Established in 1930, is a full-line used, collectible, rare, and antiquarian book dealer located in Saint Louis, Missouri. Our collection comprises over 100,000 items, collected over 5 generations. We specialize in fine bindings, first editions, private press, early printed, and incunabula. We are happy to consult to institutions, private collectors, and the trade. We can offer appraisals, rare book searches, and collection advice.

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