Thaddeus Mason Harris (1768-1842) began his career as the librarian of Harvard College, then from 1793 to just before his death served as the minister of the 1 st Unitarian Church in Dorchester. Recovering from a “wasting sickness” and his mind “sunk under its depressions and yielded to despondency,” his physicians urged him to make an excursion for therapeutic purposes. Taking their advice he undertook a two-month tour on horseback from Boston through Pennsylvania and into the Ohio country as far as Marietta, well over 1000 miles in all.
The first part of this work provides a day-by-day account of their trip. This is followed by a “Geographical and Historical Account of the State of Ohio,” which includes information obtained directly from such early Ohio luminaries as Rufus Putnam (to whom the volume is dedicated) and Manasseh Cutler. The long Appendix reprints a number of documents central to early Ohio history, including among other things the 1785 Land Ordinance, the contract between the Ohio Company and the U.S. Government for the sale of millions of acres in the Ohio Territory (1787), the Northwest Ordinance (1787), the Congressional act enabling the establishment of Ohio (1802) and the Ohio Constitution (1802).
Not least among the charms of this volume is the suite of five maps, plans and views, including:
- Thomas Wightman, A Map of the Alleghany Monongahela and Yohogany Rivers. Shows Harris’ route.
- Rufus Putnam, Map of the State of Ohio (dated January, 1804). Apparently the first separate map of Ohio and very informative, depicting lands ceded by the Indians in 1795, Ohio Company lands, Synnes Grant, &c.
- Rufus Putnam, A Plat of that part of the State of Ohio which is appropriated for Military Services.
- [Anon.], A Plan of part of Marietta with the remains of Antient Works found there.
- [Anon.], A bird’s eye view of the ancient Works on the Muskingum.
Streeter describes this work as “an interesting early account of travel in eastern Ohio and one of the first separate historical accounts of the state. The large map of Ohio by General Rufus Putnam seems to be the first large map of the state. This is, consequently, one of the important Ohio books.”
Howes, U.S.-Iana, #H-233; Sabin, Dictionary, #30515; Shaw-Shoemaker, American Imprints, #8587; Streeter #831.
Title page repaired and backed with tissue, next leaf repaired at gutter, upper right corner of G4 torn with loss. Occasional very light foxing and offset. Plates with light to moderate foxing and some small repairs. Several small ms. corrections to the text. The recent binding is attractive and tight.