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New Voyages to North-America…
Louis Armand de Lom d’Arce (1666-1715)
London: Printed for H. Bonwicke, T. Goodwin, M. Wotton, B. Took; and S. Manship, 1703
First English edition

One hundred years before President Thomas Jefferson acquired the Louisiana Purchase, and seventy-three years before the United States came into existence, this was one of the most widely read travel narratives of early eighteenth-century America, detailing Indian life with maps and engraved plates. First published in French in the Netherlands, it was published in English in London the same year.

Baron Lahontan explored the Great Lakes and upper Mississippi Valley regions in the 1680’s. Lahonton’s narrative is significant for its imaginary trip west of the Mississippi River. To validate this claim, he drew a map on which he outlined the Rocky Mountains and a river that flowed indefinitely west. A century and a half later Capt. Howard Stansbury included this map as a facsimile in his 1852 report on the expedition to what is now Utah. European cartographers of the time copied from this work frequently, attempting to show, among other geographical features, “the big salty lake farther to the west.”

President Jefferson had a copy of this book in his personal library.