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Stock# 89694

First Edition of a Notable and Extensive Work on the Early American Republic. With the Russell Map of Washington, D.C., the Fourth Earliest Plan of the City.

Written While the Author was Imprisoned for Sedition.

Impressive 18th-century historical, geographical, and scientific treatise on the United States, replete with maps and plates depicting the young country and its planned capital.

In addition to the quality of the work itself, one of the most impressive features of the piece was that it was written by the author while he was imprisoned in Newgate Prison for sedition. In 1792, he had preached sermons considered too liberal and sympathetic with the French Revolution, for which he was condemned to two years imprisonment and a £200 fine.

The work covers a wide variety of subjects, ranging from the discovery of the American continent to its present-day economy and political history. The plates and maps add to this discussion, depicting various quadrupeds, birds, and reptiles native to the continent, as well as famous politicians and one of the continent's main source of wealth: the tobacco plant.

Russell's Map of Washington, D.C.

Winterbotham's work contains the Russell map of Washington, D.C., in its first volume. Russell's map of Washington is the fourth earliest plan of the City of Washington, preceded only by the two official 1792 plans of the city and the first edition of John Reid's map, upon which the present is based. The plan shows Georgetown, the street layout for Washington proper, the President's House, the Capitol, and other features.

On January 24, 1791, President George Washington announced the permanent location of the national capital, a diamond-shaped ten-mile tract at the confluence of the Potomac and Eastern Branch Rivers. The original survey was performed by Andrew Ellicott and Benjamin Banneker (a freed slave). In March of 1791, Major Pierre Charles L'Enfant was appointed by Washington to prepare a plan for the new city, with Andrew Ellicott serving as L'Enfant's assistant. L'Enfant turned out to be difficult to work with, and Thomas Jefferson and Washington ultimately suspended L'Enfant's participation in the project in 1792.

Andrew Ellicott took over the project using L'Enfant's model as his base for completing the plan of the City. Philadelphia engravers James Thackeray and John Vallance and Boston's Samuel Blodget Jr. were hired to produce engraved versions of Ellicott's manuscript plan. However, prior to the release of the large official plans, both engravers also engraved and printed a smaller version of that official map. A keepsake edition of the map was also printed from Hill's map in red on linen.

The map is preceded only by the two official plans of the city and the Reid map.

The Mapping of Kentucky

The work devotes a total of three maps and plans to Kentucky, more than it does to any other subject. The Russell map of Kentucky is one of the earliest obtainable maps of Kentucky and shows the region only three years after the region became the fifteenth state. The map is centered on the Cumberland River, and shows the Southwestern Territory, Tennessee Government, and the area reserved for the North Carolina Troops. A variant of this map was later issued by Reid for his American Atlas.

The pair of two town plans are also interesting. They show Franklinville and Lystra, both formed on paper in 1794 by a group of London speculators. The towns were supposed to be built beside the North Fork and South Fork of the Kentucky River, respectively. Both followed similar neoclassical plans centered around a large central garden. Neither project was ever realized.


With complete set of 22 plates and 11 maps, per Sabin (although he appears to erroneously suggest that Volume III should have five maps with four folded, whereas it has five maps with three folded).

  • Vol 1: (2), viii, 591. With engraved frontispiece of George Washington, two folded engraved maps, and one plate.
  • Vol 2: (4), 493. With engraved frontispiece of William Penn, two folding engraved maps, and two plates.
  • Vol 3: (4), 525. With engraved frontispiece of Benjamin Franklin and two plates, of which one is colored. With three folding maps, a folding table, and two plans.
  • Vol 4: (20), 415, (1), 54. With engraved frontispiece of Winterbotham and fourteen plates. With two folding maps and two folding tables.


With the armorial bookplate of Sir Jenison William Gordon in each volume. Gordon was born in 1747 and died in 1831, and served as High Sheriff of Lincolnshire, and managed an extensive estate in the region.

Condition Description
Four volumes. Octavo. Original full tree calf. Gilt decoration to spine with morocco label reading "History of America" and a second label denoting the volume. (Hinges just starting on the first and fourth volumes. Limited bumping to corners and spine.) Each volume with the engraved bookplate of Sir Jenison William Gordon. Most tissue interleaves still present, with ensuing very limited foxing to a few plates. Hand-color to tobacco plant, as usual. Small tape repair to Russell map.
Howes W581
Sabin 104832