Item #1096 The Natural and Civil History of Vermont. Samuel Williams.
The Natural and Civil History of Vermont.
The Natural and Civil History of Vermont.
“A History that Appears Modern” but Tempered by the Realities of his own Times

The Natural and Civil History of Vermont.

Walpole, New Hampshire: By Isaiah Thomas and David Carlisle, 1794. Item #1096

8vo.  210 x 130 mm.; [8 ¼ x 5 ¼ inches].  xvi, [1], 18-416 pp., including 5 pp. subscriber’s list.  One folding map of Vermont, and a few tables in the text.  Bound in contemporary mottled calf, red spine label; some foxing to the text; with offset and a few ancient repairs with tape inner to edge of the map.  Ex libris of Carroll Alton Means on the front pastedown.  With faults a very good copy in an original American binding. 

Samuel Williams (1743-1817) of Waltham, Massachusetts studied under John Winthrop at Harvard College, and accompanied to St. John’s, Newfoundland Nova Scotia to witness and record information on the Transit of Venus in1761.  He joined the ministry and held position of pastor at the First Church of Bradford for 16 years, and after Winthrop’s death was appointed to his position of Holli Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy in 1779.  He left Harvard in 1788 under a cloud for “allegedly forging receipts from a creditor who had died in order to cover up his debts. Following the financial scandal, Williams moved to Rutland, Vermont.” 

Williams’ History of Vermont is a systematic study in seventeen chapters of the mountains, climate, rivers and lakes, forests, native animals, two revealing chapters on Native American Tribes, the settling of Vermont, its political history during the colonial and Revolutionary; periods, and the state of society at the end of the century.  Given his religious background, Williams provides a vivid look at the conflict between established religion and the revival movement that took place in Vermont.  It is the first scientific study of the state, including statistics and data from local governments.  The Map is drawn by T. Whitelaw and engraved by Callender of Boston. 

In writing about the importance of Williams’ book Ralph N Miller writes,

Its superiority consists in Williams' largely to arrive at an understanding of the circumstances and the historical forces which made Vermont and the other American states the amazingly effective social organisms they were. He thus produced history that appears modern, but its modernity is tempered by Williams' acceptance of the eighteenth-century conception of the significance of Nature to the student of all human affairs.

A very nice copy.

Sabin, Dictionary of Books Relating to America, 104350.  Evans, Charles.  American Bibliography, 28094.  Howes, Wright.  USIANA,  S 478.  Miller, Ralph N.  “Samuel Williams’ History of VermontNew England Quarterly, V. 22, No. 1, March 1949, pp. 73.84.    For biographical information see Harvard University Collection of Historic and Scientific Instruments, Samuel Williams 1743-1817, at

Price: $650.00

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