Philadelphia [PA]: Printed and sold by Prichard and Hall, in Market Street, between Front and Second Streets, 1788. First American edition. 21.5 cm. (4), 244 pp. Eye-draught map of Madison's cave, tables, including a folding plate listing Indian tribes. Bound in 3/4 red morocco and marbled boards, gilt stamping and raised bands on spine. Some wear to joints, some overall toning to text, scattered foxing, else a tight copy. Laid down opposite the title page is a newspaper review of the book from the April 4, 1845 Baltimore American. Contemporary ink inscription at the head of p. 50: "Jacob I. Cohen's Book, 1788." His signature also appears on p. 200. Laid down on a front flyleaf is a paper cut-out of an American eagle, a stylized version of the Great Seal of the United States, printed in red ink. Tipped in at the gutter is a small broadside, folded vertically with a bit of separation along the fold, some toning and a number of small pinholes in the sheet, 19.5 x 17 cm., a Virginia Argus Extra from 1801, announcing the results of the Presidential election. In full: "Virginia Argus Extra. / Richmond, Friday 1 o'clock p.m. Feb. 20, 1801. / Thomas Jefferson / Elected President of the United States. / The Express just arrived brings the following Important News from Alexandria: / Express from the City of Washington to the Editors of the (Alexandria) Times. / This moment the election is decided -- Morris from Vermont, absented himself, so / that Vermont was for Jefferson. The four members from Maryland, who had voted for / Burr, put in blank Tickets. The result was then ten for Jefferson. / I hope you will have the cannon out to annouce the news. / Your's / N.B. This was the second ballot to-day -- Bayard is appointed Ambassador to / France. Tuesday, 2 o'clock."
Howes J-78. Sabin 35897. Sowerby 4167 (for the first edition, a 30-page entry). Verner 1788. Larned: "A comprehensive and very valuable description of the natural history, economic resources, and social condition of Virginia, drawn up in the form of answers to queries presented by Barbé de Marbois." Clark, "Old South" I, 262: "The value of Jefferson's 'Notes' as a survey of Virginia at the close of the Revolution and for his comments on certain conditions of political and social importance has long been recognized by historical scholars."
Thomas Jefferson's only book-length work, with the contemporary ownership signature of a major figure in Richmond, Virginia, and an apparently unrecorded broadside from a major election which reshaped the political terrain and the way in which future Presidents and Vice Presidents would be elected. Item #65867
The Presidential election of 1800 was a contentious one. Two parties had begun to emerge in the years following independence from Great Britain and this election saw the rise of the Federalists under John Adams and Alexander Hamilton and the Democratic Republicans under Thomas Jefferson. Another source of trouble was that the newly written Constitution did not make a distinction between votes cast by state electors for President and Vice President. When the count showed Adams trailing, but Jefferson and his designated running mate Aaron Burr tied, the election was thrown into the House of Representatives to decide. Many factors were at work there as Federalists in the lame duck Congress tried to prevent Jefferson's election, while Alexander Hamilton, whose dislike of Burr was well known, tried to scuttle Burr's chances. Dumas Malone, in his multi-volume biography of Thomas Jefferson [Boston: 1948-81], notes that the House balloted 35 times before the contest was decided: "The breaking of the deadlock was directly attributable to the actions of Bayard of Delaware...." This broadside seems to point in that direction as well. We have not been able to find any record of this broadside.
The Virginia Argus was owned by Samuel Pleasants, who had established the paper under its original name, the Virginia Gazette and Richmond and Manchester Advertiser, with his mentor Augustine Davis in April 1793. The two men split within a couple of years, divided over the increasingly partisan politics of the Federalists and Democratic Republicans. Pleasants became sole proprietory in October 1794, and changed the name to the Virginia Argus by November 1796. [see: Brigham] Samuel Pleasants (d.1814) was a Quaker who served in the American Revolution. Thomas Jefferson was a subscriber to his paper, and Pleasants became the official state printer in 1804, responsible for printing the acts, journals and codes produced by the Virginia General Assembly. [see: National Archives, Founders Online website for correspondence between Jefferson and Pleasants].
This copy belonged to Jacob I. Cohen (1744[7?]-1823), who arrived in America from Bavaria in 1773. According to an article by Jonathan Sarna, published in the Beth Ahaba Museum & Archives publication "Generations," in May 2005 (Vol. 11, No. 1), Cohen was "one of Richmond's first and most distinguished Jewish citizens." Before moving to Richmond, Cohen lived first in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, then in Charleston, South Carolina. He served as a member of the Charleston Regiment of Militia under Capt. Richard Lushington, during the American Revolution. "By 1781, Jacob I. Cohen had formed a partnership with his fellow military veteran, Isaiah Isaacs. Together the two men, Richmond's earliest known Jewish residents, engaged in a wide range of commercial activities, sometimes taking land warrants in lieu of currency. Daniel Boone surveyed some 10,000 acres on their behalf." Their partnership continued until 1792, during which time they operated a successful store in Richmond, helped found the city's first synagogue, as well as it's first inn and tavern, 'Bird in Hand,' and contributed funds for the construction of several public buildings on Shockoe Hill. After the partnership dissolved, Cohen continued in business as a banker and merchant, served as a grand juryman, was elected to the city's common council in 1795, and was an inspector of the penitentiary in Richmond. He died in Richmond in 1823, a wealthy man. Cohen's rise in political life in Richmond likely benefited from one of Thomas Jefferson's early legislative initiatives in Virginia, his 1786 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom.