Travels in America by a sympathetic Brit

Captain Basil Hall, Travels in North America, in the Years 1827 and 1828. Edinburgh, 1829.
3 vol., 8vo. [4] [map] [2] [ii] iv, 421, [3]; [8], 432, [8]; [10], 436, [chart], [4 ads], [2]. Original cloth over boards with paper labels.

Basil Hall (1788-1844) was a British naval officer, traveler and writer. After retiring from the Navy and marrying, he traveled in the United States from 1827-8. His objective “was to see things with my own eyes, in order to ascertain, by personal inspection, how far the sentiments prevalent in England with respect to that country were correct or otherwise.” (vol.1, p.i) Writing at a time when relations between the two countries were still badly frayed, he elaborates on this goal:

“I could not help believing, that, in spite of the great differences in the geographical and political situation of the two countries, there must still be so many circumstances in which they agreed, that if the merits of both were respectively explained, there would spring up more cordiality between them; a state of things which I took it for granted must be advantageous to both countries.” (vol.1, p.3)

To this end, Hall covered an astonishing amount of territory. In 1827 he completed a round trip from New York City through New York State, up the St. Lawrence to Quebec, then back to New York via the Hudson Valley and southern New England. In 1828, he traveled through the southern states, returning via the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.

In this work Hall offers a far-ranging and entertaining account of his observations. Addressed, among other things, are the Shakers of Lebanon, the Erie Canal, the “intemperate use of ardent spirits,” a slave market in Charleston, and manufacturing in Lowell, MA-not to mention the workings of the Federal government, the influence of women in society, and the relationship between Church and State. He remains sympathetic to the end, though not without misgivings about the republican culture of the young nation.

Volume 1 includes the attractive Map of the United States and Canada Shewing [sic] Captn. Hall’s Route. (engraving, 14 x 11 inches plus margins, full color) This map shows the United States and territories as far west as Minnesota, with Hall’s two journeys indicated traced in ink.

Howes, U.S.-Iana, H-47. Howes describes a 2nd edition indistinguishable from the 1st.


About very good overall . Spines sunned, corners bumped and boards lightly soiled. Interior hinges weak. Some staining to endpapers and light overall toning and occasional staining to the text. Folding map very good.