Recherches Historiques Et Politiques Sur Les États-Unis De l'Amérique Septentrionale

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by Filippo Mazzei

Recherches Historiques Et Politiques Sur Les États-Unis De l'Amérique Septentrionale

Title page from Recherches Historiques Et Politiques Sur Les États-Unis De l'Amérique Septentrionale, George Wythe Collection, Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary.

Author Filippo Mazzei
Editor {{{editor}}}
Translator {{{trans}}}
Published A Colle et se trouve a Paris: Chez Froullé, libraire
Date 1788
Edition First
Language French
Volumes 4 volume set
Pages {{{pages}}}
Desc. 8vo (21 cm.)
Location Shelf C-2
  [[Shelf {{{shelf2}}}]]
Headpiece, first page of text, volume one.
Filippo Mazzei (1730-1816) was born in Tuscany to a tradesman. He studied medicine in Florence and took his first trip to England in 1756 as a ship’s doctor. He remained in London for the next sixteen years and then moved to America to pursue a viticulture enterprise. Mazzei arrived in Virginia in 1773 and purchased property near Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. He cultivated relationships with Jefferson and other prominent Virginians, and was appointed in 1779 as Virginia’s agent in Europe by Governor Patrick Henry. Upon his return to Virginia, Mazzei moved his estate to Richmond where he organized the Constitutional Society, a group of pamphleteers meant to promote liberty by publishing papers on public policy.[1]

Mazzei sought a position in the American government but was denied because he was not a citizen. He permanently returned to Europe in 1785 and assisted Jefferson with his post as minister in Paris. Mazzei published various works throughout his lifetime in Virginian newspapers and Italian journals, signing them, "Philip Mazzei, Citizen of the United States of America."[2] Thomas Jefferson was especially influenced by Mazzei’s works and is known to have used an excerpt from one of Mazzei’s articles in his own writing.[3] Mazzei reviewed a rough draft of the Declaration of Independence[4] and is credited with the phrase, “all men are created equal.”[5] Mazzei’s contributions to the American cause were first officially recognized in 1980 when the U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp entitled, "Philip Mazzei, Patriot Remembered.”[6]

Bookplate of Augustus Thorndike, front pastedown, volume two.

In 1788, while in Paris, Mazzei published the four-volume work Recherches Historiques et Politiques sur les États-Unis to promote the American cause. In it, Mazzei outlines the history of the American colonies, the causes of the revolution, and the economy and government of the United States. Also discussed are Indians, slavery, emigration, and the Society of the Cincinnati. Dumas Malone characterized the set as "probably the most reliable of all the works of the period on the United States.[7]

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Listed in the Jefferson Inventory of Wythe's Library as Etats Unis de Mazzei. 4.v. in 3. 8vo. and given by Thomas Jefferson to his son-in-law Thomas Mann Randolph. Both the Brown Bibliography[8] and George Wythe's Library[9] on LibraryThing list the first edition of this title as the one intended by Jefferson's entry. The Wolf Law Library acquired a copy of the first edition for the George Wythe Collection.

Inscription, front free endpaper, volume four.

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Bound in original plum boards and neatly rebacked in calf. Each volume inscribed "Gist Blair from the Library of Charles Levi Woodbury, 1900" on the front free endpaper. All volumes also include the bookplate of Augustus Thorndike on the front pastedown. Purchased from G.S. MacManus Co.

Images of the library's copy of this book are available on Flickr. View the record for this book in William & Mary's online catalog.

See also


  1. Stanley J. Idzerda, "Mazzei, Philip" in American National Biography Online, accessed November 2, 2013.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia, s.v. "Mazzei, Philip," accessed November 2, 2013.
  5. H.R.J. Res. 175, 103d Cong. (1994), 2.
  6. U.S. Stamp Gallery, s.v. "Philip Mazzei," accessed November 2, 2013.
  7. Dumas Malone, Jefferson and His Time, vol. 2, Jefferson and the Rights of Man (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1951), 109.
  8. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at:
  9. LibraryThing, s.v. "Member: George Wythe," accessed on April 21, 2013.

External Links

Read volume three of this title in Google Books.