Men and Manners in America Philadelphia Carey, Lea, & Blanchard 1833
8vo. vi, [ii], 410 pp., plus Half calf over marbled boards with marbled endpapers, spine somewhat rubbed at joints; light foxing throughout. A very good copy inscribed by the author to M(?) Livingstone. $300.00
First American edition of the author's amusing and occasionally sarcastic narrative of his travels in New England, Canada, and New Orleans circa 1830-1831. Hamilton often draws a somewhat satirical, yet never entirely critical, depiction of the manners and customs of Americans, which was quite well received and eventually translated into French and German. Traveling through New England and visiting New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, he comments on a multitude of topics stretching from religion, politics, literature and education, to parties, society, penitentiaries, the beauty (or lack thereof) of the women, and slavery. Hamilton's opposition to slavery in the United States is quite strong and he issues this warning: "To suppose that slavery can long continue in this country when other nations shall have freed themselves from the foulest stain which has ever polluted their humanity, is to contemplate a period when the United States will become a nuisance upon earth, and an object of hatred and derision to the whole world." Hamilton also includes several observations on Canada, specifically Montreal and Quebec, and draws many comparisons between Canada and the United States. Also included are small biographical sketches of various individuals and their contributions to American history, including Edward Livingston (Secretary of State in 1831) and President Andrew Jackson.
Hamilton (1789-1842) was a Scottish writer of significant, yet few works. He is most well known for his novel, Cyril Thornton (1827), for which he earned an entry in Blackwood's Standard Novels. Hamilton was also inclined towards military duty, receiving a commission for the 29th regiment after demonstrating his ineptitude for business in Glasgow and Liverpool.