Dayton, O[hio]. B. F. Ells, 1840. New Edition. Octavo, 240 pages; G+; bound in period brown calf boards, newly rebacked in matching brown calf, ox-blood label with gilt lettering; moderate rubbing to boards; with frontispiece portraits of Lewis and Clarke, illustrated with 14 woodcut illustrations; entire printing somewhat light; mild foxing and age-toning to pages; small ownership stamp on rear endpaper; shelved case 1.
Shelved Dupont Bookstore
Beginning in 1809, editions were published that borrowed heavily from previously published reports and threw in a vast amount of completely irrelevant material. Surprisingly, these publications continued after the 1814 "official" publication of the Biddle and Allen History of the Expedition. Even as late as 1840, a frontier printer in Dayton, Ohio, B.F. Ells published a small volume entitled The journal of Lewis and Clarke to the mouth of the Columbia River beyond the Rocky Mountains in the years 1804-5, & 6: giving a faithful description of the river Missouri and its source - of the various tribes of Indians through which they passed - manners and customs - soil - climate -commerce - gold and silver mines - animal and vegetable productions, &c. In spite of the lengthy title, this is little more than a slightly revised version of an 1813 Baltimore imprint with new errors added. It includes President Jefferson's two messages to Congress, a preface containing a statistical summary of the value of the Missouri fur trade and two lead mines, William Clark's letter to Gov. W. H. Harrison from Fort Mandan, and to his brother on his return to St. Louis, a great deal of (mis)information about Indian culture, an extract from William Dunbar's survey of the Red River, a "dictionaty" of Indian words and phrases, and an appendix with accounts of President Washington's offer to provide college educations to some "Chypewyan" Indians, an French military excursion against the "Sawkees," a story of an Indian nurse, and, even more inappropriately, an account of an African snake killed by the Roman general Regulus. The portraits of Lewis and Clark prepared for the frontispiece were re-engraved and simplified.
Among the falsehoods presented as fact is the statement that the Corps of Discovery threatened the unruly Sioux with a smallpox infection. "We received authentic intelligence, that the Sioux had it in contemplation (if their threats were true) to murder us in the spring; but were prevented from making the attack, by our threatening to spread the small pox with all its horrors among them." Dr. Chuinard, in his authoritative Only One Man Died: The Medical Aspects of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1979) recounts this tale and noted "This appears to be entirely a fabrication." The source of the fabrication has not been determined.[University of Idaho Library] [The Literature of the Lewis and Clark Expedition: a Bibliography and Essays (Portland: Lewis and Clark College, 2003).]