The Life of George Washington by John Marshall, Second Edition 6-Volume Set Including Atlas

Marshall, John. The Life of George Washington, Commander in Chief of American Forces, During the War Which Established the Independence of His Country, and First President of the United States. Philadelphia: C. P. Wayne, 1805-1807.  Second edition. Five volumes and Atlas. Octavo, original period leather and cloth boards.

This is America's fourth Chief Justice John Marshall’s seminal biography of General and President George Washington, with engraved frontispiece portrait and the companion atlas depicting Washington’s major Revolutionary War campaigns.  This is a beautiful, desirable set in period leather backed boards, with scarce atlas volume also in period leather and cloth-backed boards.

Published from 1804-1807 in Philadelphia by C.P. Wayne, this second edition set is the "the only complete edition of this indispensable work, the 'Colonial History' being omitted in the later American editions" (Sabin).

Shortly after Marshall became Chief Justice (1801-1835), Washington's nephew Bushrod approached him to write the first President's official biography.  No man was better suited to the task.  As a personal friend of Washington, Marshall had announced the President's death in 1799, offered the eulogy, chaired the committee that arranged the funeral rites, and led the commission to plan a monument in the capital city. 

When Marshall's Life of George Washington appeared, it gained such authoritative status that Washington scholar Jared Sparks suggested any new biographical undertaking would be "presumptuous" (Sparks, Washington I: 12). The work "is political history as well as biography… the only comprehensive account by a great statesman of the full founding of the United States— of the founding of an independent people as well as of its government… There is no other concentrated history of the essentials by such an authority on American institutions" (Robert K. Faulkner). "If George Washington founded the country, John Marshall defined it" (Jean Edward Smith).  

Gilbert Stuart's famous portrait of Washington, engraved on this frontispiece, was produced by Philadelphia stipple-engraver David Edwin. Edwin was, "for upwards of 30 years, the most prolific workman in America" (Fielding, 109).  

The maps in the atlas relate to military operations in the Revolutionary War, and include the Boston area, New York Island, northern New Jersey, New Hampshire, Yorktown, and more. The atlas is composed of ten strategic maps, eight of which are double-page maps.


This second edition, six-volume set is in period leather backed boards. The volumes are housed in a custom handcrafted cloth slipcase. All are in good condition; with wear consistent with age and past use.

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