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Lot 154: First Edition of Burgoyne's Expedition from Canada
November 5, 2016
New York, NY, USALive Auction
Description: A State of the Expedition from Canada, as laid before the House of Commons. General John Burgoyne (1722-1792). London: J. Almon, 1780. 4to (10 4/8 x 8 4/8 inches). 6 engraved folding maps by William Faden, partially hand-colored (some offsetting, occasional short tears). Contemporary diced calf (rebacked in the 19th-century for Lansdowne, extremities scuffed). Provenance: Armorial bookplate of the Marquis of Lansdowne on the front paste-down; leather librarylabel of Frank C. Deering (1866-1936), American businessman and bibliophile, on the recto of the front free endpaper; bookplate of Frank Sherwin Streeter (1918-2006) (Collection of Important Navigation, Pacific Voyages, Cartography and Science). "I am still convinced that [nothing] could have justified me to my country, have saved me from the condemnation of my profession, or produced pardon within my own breast, had I not advanced, and tried a battle with the enemy" -Burgoyne First edition. Burgoyne was given command of British troops in Canada in 1777. After successes at Fort Ticonderoga and Fort Edward Burgoyne was overwhelmed by Horatio Gates's forces at Saratoga. His troops suffered a crippling defeat at Bemis Heights at the Battle of Freeman's Farm, surrendering in October 1777. Burgoyne had been so convinced of the success of his venture that he had bet ten pounds that he would be victorious even before leaving Britain. In the event the defeat proved a vital turning point in favor of the Continental army in the War of Independence, giving France the encouragement it needed to join the American effort. Believing his defeat to be the result of lack of support from Generals Howe and Clinton, Burgoyne begged first an audience with the King, and then a court martial in order to clear his name. Eventually Burgoyne's case was heard in the House of Commons, and this is the account of those proceedings: "I read again my orders (I believe for an hundredth time) and I was decided. And I am still convinced that... [nothing]... could have justified me to my country, have saved me from the condemnation of my profession, or produced pardon within my own breast, had I not advanced, and tried a battle with the enemy" (page 15). From the distinguished libraries of two of America's greatest bibliophiles Frank C. Deering and Frank S. Streeter. Howes B-968; Lande 69 (second edition); Sabin 9255; Staton & Tremaine/TPL 503; Streeter sale II:794.
Artist or Maker: General John Burgoyne
Literature: Rare book