Item #7460 The Journal of Major George Washington, : sent by the Hon. Robert Dinwiddie, Esq; His Majesty's Lieutenant-governor, and commander in chief of Virginia, to the commandant of the French forces on Ohio. : To which are added, the governor's letter and a translation of the French officer's answer. With a new map of the country as far as the Mississippi. George Washington.
The Journal of Major George Washington, : sent by the Hon. Robert Dinwiddie, Esq; His Majesty's Lieutenant-governor, and commander in chief of Virginia, to the commandant of the French forces on Ohio. : To which are added, the governor's letter and a translation of the French officer's answer. With a new map of the country as far as the Mississippi.

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The Journal of Major George Washington, : sent by the Hon. Robert Dinwiddie, Esq; His Majesty's Lieutenant-governor, and commander in chief of Virginia, to the commandant of the French forces on Ohio. : To which are added, the governor's letter and a translation of the French officer's answer. With a new map of the country as far as the Mississippi.

[London] : Williamsburgh printed, London, reprinted for T. Jefferys, the corner of St. Martin's Lane, 1754. 8vo, recent three quarters red morocco with marbled paper over boards. 32 pp., circa 1860 facsimile folding map. CONDITION: Very good, expert repairs to losses at edges of title page, shallows chips to fore-edges of a few leaves, lacking original map.

The first English and earliest obtainable edition of the young George Washington’s first published work, recounting his 900-mile excursion from Virginia to the Ohio Country and back to investigate French encroachment on British claims and deliver a letter from Governor Robert Dinwiddie of Virginia to the French Commandant at Fort Le Boeuf. The first American edition of the Journal was published in Williamsburg, Virginia upon Washington’s return and is impossibly rare, with perhaps ten copies known.

The vast, rich, and contested region of the Ohio Valley was critical to both British and French expansion in North America. Lieutenant Governor Dinwiddie, who owned a considerable financial stake in the Ohio Company, was a vigorous advocate for the defense of the region. By 1753, the French had built forts and taken various other measures to establish a firmer foothold in the Ohio Country, prompting the Crown to order Dinwiddie to investigate and attempt to persuade the French to withdraw from the region. Twenty-one year old George Washington, then a major in the Virginia militia, volunteered to act as Dinwiddie’s emissary and assembled a party of frontiersmen to undertake the arduous trek, including the accomplished Christopher Gist, a surveyor associated with the Ohio Company who served as the party’s guide. Washington left Williamsburg on October 31st, 1753, engaged Jacob Vanbraam as French interpreter at Fredericksburg the next day, and arrived at Wills-Creek (in present-day Maryland) on the 14th of November, where Gist and others joined the expedition.

A model of astute observation, Washington’s journal covers such subjects as the suitability of the land in the fork of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers for the construction of a fort; his informative meetings with English allies Chief Shingas of the Delawares, Chief Monacatoocha of the Oneida, and the important Seneca chief known as “the Half King” (Tanacharison) in Loggs-Town (near today’s Economy, Pennsylvania), these exchanges described in considerable and colorful detail; an encounter with French deserters and the intelligence gathered from them regarding French fortifications; a visit with French officer Philippe Joncaire and others, who—tongues loosened with wine—brag of their design and right to control the Ohio; his exchange with Commandant Legardeur de St. Pierre and a description of Fort Le Boeuf; the extravagant attempts of the French to win the allegiance of the native people; the perilous return passage down French Creek, and so on. The volume concludes with Governor Dinwiddie’s letter requesting French withdrawal from the Ohio region and the Commandant’s polite letter of refusal.

Soon after Washington’s return to Williamsburg on January 16, 1754, Governor Dinwiddie requested a report for immediate publication and distribution to officials. Written in a plain style and somewhat in haste, the journal is nevertheless a vivid and important document of frontier diplomacy and reflects the resourcefulness and qualities of leadership that would frame the future general and first president’s subsequent career. Published in the Williamsburg edition, two colonial newspapers, and the edition offered here, the journal brought Washington a certain degree of fame, marked his emergence as a military leader, and announced the opening phase of the French & Indian War.

A colonial narrative of the highest importance.

REFERENCES: Sabin 101710; Church 999; Howes W134; Streeter sale 3:1713; Vail, Old Frontier 472; Schwartz, French and Indian War, chapter 2, “George Washington’s Mission; The Journal of Major George Washington at mountvernon.org.

Item #7460

Price: $45,000.00

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