Philadelphia: Published by D. Rice & A.N. Hart, 1858. Three volumes. Royal 8vo. 333; [xvii], [[I], -290; [iv], -392 pp. FOURTH OCTAVO EDITION. Complete (despite pagination) with a total of 120 plates of hand-colored lithographs; all tissue guards present. Bound in an exquisite full red gilt-decorated morocco binding, spine in compartments with title, date and decorations in gilt, gilt dentelles, a.e.g.; interiors in absolutely excellent condition. Bookplate of William Burgess Cornell, M.D. in Volume I. Item #17603
Fourth octavo edition. The first folio edition was issued between 1838 and 1844 and the first octavo edition between 1848 and 1850. This popular book is an incredibly important and early work of Native American history, anthropology, and ethnography. The authors and publishers began printing the octavo editions in order to “place the book within the reach of thousands” without sacrificing the quality and accuracy of plates. The detailed and beautifully colored lithographs are based on the oil paintings of Charles Bird King (1785–1862) who painted the portraits of several Native delegates in Washington at the behest of McKenney. The text and images include descriptions of the Sauk, Ojibway, and Chippeway as well as the Seminole, Creek, and Cherokee. Among the biographical sketches are those belonging to chiefs Red Jacket, Black Hawk, and Keokuk. Additionally, new to the octavo edition, McKenney and Hall added a portrait of Winnebago chief Red Bird. Most importantly, the three volumes preserved the biographies and cultures of rapidly disappearing peoples for future generations.
McKenney (1785–1859) served as the Superintendent of Indian Affairs between 1824 and 1830. He was known for his extensive knowledge and compassion for Native Americans, likey due to his Quaker beliefs. Even though he promoted the “civilization” program that removed Native Americans west of the Mississippi River, President Andrew Jackson eventually dismissed McKenney from his position because he held the opinion that Native Americans were equals, morally and intellectually, to the white man. Hall (1793–1868), was a lawyer who wrote extensively about the west, and served as McKenney’s longtime collaborator.