London: Printed for Richard Phillips, 1804. Item #04036
The “Best Edition” of Marshall’s Classic Biography
Near Fine in Contemporary Mottled Sheep
[WASHINGTON, George]. [MARSHALL, John]. The Life of George Washington, Commander in Chief of the American forces during the war which established the independence of his country, and first President of the United States. Compiled under the inspection of the Hon. Bushrod Washington, from original papers bequeathed to him by his deceased relative. To which is prefixed, an introduction, containing a compendious view of the colonies planted by the English on the continent of North America. By John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States, &c. &c. London: Printed for Richard Phillips, 1804-1807.
First (and best) London Edition (in octavo) and, according to Howes, the best edition of all. Five octavo volumes (8 3/16 x 5 1/8 inches; 208 x 131 mm.). xxxvi, 579, , 2 folding maps; folding engraved frontispiece; viii, 245, 254-633, ; folding engraved frontispiece; viii, 570, folding engraved frontispiece and engraving on last page; viii, 684; viii, 843, , 10 folding maps, pp. Complete with three folding plates, one vignette and twelve folding maps. Volume two with paper flaw tear (no loss of text) on O2 (pp. 195-196), volume three title-page with small paper flaw crease on blank fore margin, volume four with small paper flaws to lower corner of O2 (pp. 195-196) and upper blank margin of SS7 & SS8 (pp. 637-640). A few minor marginal stains throughout and some very light and occasional browning of the text to volume five.
Overall a near fine and much cleaner set than is usually found with the folding plates and maps in excellent and undamaged state.
Contemporary mottled sheep, spine ruled in gilt, red morocco spine labels lettered in gilt, three faded, one missing. The hinges and spine extremities have been expertly restored. A near fine, sound and very attractive set - rarely found in its original binding. With the uniform, early ink signature of Peter Trezevant on each front flyleaf.
The first London edition has five plates that were omitted in the Philadelphia edition and is the only complete edition of this monumental and indispensable work.
John Marshall (1755-1835), served in the House of Representatives (1799-1800), was Secretary of State (1800-1801) under President John Adams, and was the fourth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. During his thirty-five year tenure as Chief Justice, Marshall served under six presidents. He established the Judiciary as independent from, and equal with, the Legislative and Executive branches of the U.S. government, and affirmed that the Court was entitled to exercise judicial review - the power to strike down laws deemed by the Court to be unconstitutional. He made key legal decisions regarding the balance of power between the federal government and the states, and in McCulloch v. Maryland supported an elastic interpretation of the enumerated powers of the legislature in Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution.
During the American Revolution he participated in many battles, including Brandywine, Germantown, Monmouth, Stony Point and Paulus Hook. He was at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, during the winter of 1777-1778 with General George Washington's troops, and it was during his military service that he became personally acquainted with Washington.
Present at the creation of the republic, a personal friend of many of the founding fathers, and close friend of Washington, in 1800 Marshall was approached by Washington’s nephew, Bushrod, to whom the first president has bequeathed his papers. Marshall agreed to Bushrod’s request to write a biography of Washington and, beginning in 1801, Marshall continued to write for five years, ultimately penning over 3,200 pages. More than 7,000 copies of the biography were sold at one dollar per volume.
The resulting five volume work, which includes a history of the American colonies omitted from subsequent editions, is considered to be the definitive biography of George Washington. Accurate and comprehensive, it is the primary source to which all subsequent biographers and historians reference. Not just a biography of Washington, it is a detailed, panoramic history of the colonies and early United States.
Howes M317. Sabin 44788.