With Presidents’ Day coming up, we reflect on those who molded our proud country into what it is today. From George Washington to Dwight Eisenhower, there are so many great names we cherish and treasure to this day. This blog will highlight and feature a few of the most well-known and powerful presidents who have served our country.
George Washington, our Founding Father and 1st President of the United States, served from 1789–1797. This 5 Volume set, The Life of George Washington by Washington Irving, covers Washington’s military career, presidency, and his personal life. Using The Writings of George Washington and George Washington’s personal letters housed at the State Department, Irving was able to tell the story of Washington’s life after two years of extensive research. Unlike other Washington biographers of the time, like Mason Locke Weems and Chief Justice John Marshall, Irving wrote of Washington in a narrative style and painted a picture of a relatable figure to celebrate, rather than a mythical and infallible founding father. His contemporaries, like historians George Bancroft and William Prescott, praised Irving’s work for its detail and natural tone. Originally published in 1855 (Volumes I-III), 1857 (Volume IV) and 1859 (Volume V), this set contains both first and second editions. In order from Volume I to Volume V, these books were printed in 1856, 1855, 1856, 1857, and 1859.
From 1801-1809 Thomas Jefferson, another Founding Father, served our country as the 3rd president. Our beautiful 4 Volume set, Memoirs, Correspondence, and Private Papers of Thomas Jefferson, goes into great detail about Jefferson’s correspondences with other notable figures such as George Washington and Patrick Henry. Generally, the letters range from 1774 and 1786 and cover topics such as the formation of the U.S. government, the Revolutionary War, and the hotly debated political boundaries of the time. Hand-picked by Randolph from over 70,000 papers Jefferson left for his grandson, this four-volume set includes some of the most high-profile topics of Jefferson’s life. This set also features an engraved portrait of Jefferson, after Gilbert Stuart’s portrait, pasted opposite the title page in Volume I. The work includes a four page facsimile of Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration of Independence, showing the late president’s handwriting and edits by the Committee of Five. These books were written by Jefferson, himself, and edited by his grandson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph. All four volumes are presented together in a custom-made archival slipcase.
Andrew Jackson, also known as “The People’s President”, served as the 7th president from 1829–1837. Our 3 Volume set, Life of Andrew Jackson by James Parton, is an excellent source on Jackson's correspondences with other politicians and his delivered speeches to public and private audiences. Parton’s biography appeared in print amid the escalating political crisis of 1860, providing readers and pundits with a historical lens through which to view current events. First published in 1859-60 by Mason Brothers of New York, this is a later printing by Boston-based James R. Osgood and Company. Parton finished the first volume in late 1859 and quickly published the second volume the following year, to much acclaim. The third and final volume appeared in the fall of 1860, during escalating tension in America over secession. The third volume’s content focused on Jackson’s presidency and included three chapters on Nullification and Jackson’s acceptance of the compromise tariff bill which ended the standoff with South Carolina. James Parton's biography of the life of Andrew Jackson is one of the most important and best accounts on the early American president.
In 1861, Abraham Lincoln became the 16th President of the United States. He served until 1865, when he was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre in Washington. This first trade edition of Abraham Lincoln: The War Years by Carl Sandburg is an influential biography that focuses on Lincoln’s life during the Civil War. Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) was one of the leading experts on Abraham Lincoln and always had an enthusiasm for the story of America’s 16th president. His work on Lincoln quickly became one of the preeminent sets of reference books for Lincoln historians, and remains so today. This four volume set details stories of the president, the people he worked with, and the Civil War experience. Sandburg received a Pulitzer Prize for his work. Additionally, Congress also asked him to speak at a joint session on Lincoln’s 150th birthday. This work is still considered one of the most detailed and reliable accounts of Abraham Lincoln’s life and is a testament to decades of dedicated research.
About 100 years later, Dwight D. Eisenhower became our 34th president. He served from 1953–1961. This five-star General was arguably the single most important military figure of World War II. For many historians, his memoirs of this eventful period of U.S. history have become the most important and telling record of the war. Our first edition of Crusade in Europe recounts the complete story of the war as Eisenhower planned and lived it. Through his eyes, the enormous scope and drama of the war―strategy, battles, moments of fateful decision―become fully illuminated in all their fateful glory. Included are numerous battlefield and theater maps (several in color), as well as photographic illustrations selected by Edward Steichen. Both first editions were published in Garden City by Doubleday & Company, 1948 and are signed and inscribed by Dwight D. Eisenhower himself. One is presented in its original dust jacket, while the other has been rebound in beautiful quarter brown leather and cloth.
Read about how inscriptions in books bring great value, and help solve the puzzle of provenance in many cases.