Travels in North-America, in the Years 1780, 1781, and 1782

From Wythepedia: The George Wythe Encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

by François Jean, marquis de Chastellux

Travels in North-America

Title page from Travels in North-America, in the years 1780, 1781, and 1782, volume one, George Wythe Collection, Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary.

Author François Jean, marquis de Chastellux
Editor {{{editor}}}
Translator George Grieve or J. Kent
Published London: Printed for G. G. J. and J. Robinson
Date 1787
Language English
Volumes 2 volume set
Pages {{{pages}}}
Desc. 8vo (22 cm.)
Location Shelf C-1
  [[Shelf {{{shelf2}}}]]

Francois Jean de Beauvoir, Marquis de Chastellux (c.1734 – 1788), served as one of the three major French generals sent with General Rochambeau to assist the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. Chastellux served during the war as the chief liaison between Rochambeau and George Washington.[1]

Travels in North America is a compilation of Chastellux's journal entries and reflections on his time in America. Although he spent these years officially as a military officer, the work primarily focuses on the political and social condition of the colonies and their prospective future as a nation. The travelogue was translated into English and printed in London in 1787.[2]

Bookplate from front pastedown, volume I.

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

The Brown Bibliography[3] includes the first English edition (1787) of Chastellux's Travels in North-America based on a few pieces of circumstantial evidence. Chastellux met Wythe, and described the College of William & Mary in his work:

I shall therefore state that the College of William and Mary—the name alone denotes its founders—is a magnificent establishment which adorns Williamsburg and does honor to Virginia. The beauty of the building is surpassed by the richness of the library, and the worth of this library by several of the distinguished professors, such as Doctors Madison, Wythe, Bellini, etc. etc., who may be looked upon as living books, in which both precepts and examples are to be found.[4]

Brown also cites a March 21, 1787 letter from Richard Cary to Thomas Jefferson[5] and a second letter from the Rev. James Madison to Thomas Jefferson the same month.[6] Both mention Chastellux's gift of copies of Travels in North-America to Reverend Madison and Professor Bellini. Brown suggests that Chastellux would have also sent a copy to Professor Wythe. The Wolf Law Library agreed with Brown's reasoning and purchased a copy of the 1787 edition of Chastellux's work.

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Bound in contemporary half calf, ruled in gilt, over marbled boards. Spines ruled in gilt and blind in compartments, with burgundy and green morocco gilt lettering labels and with the previous owner's name in gilt at the foot. Edges sprinkled. Contains small ink stamp on title page and small armorial bookplate of H. Cood on front pastedown of each volume. Purchased from J. Remington Books.

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. "Marquis de Chastellux," National Parks Service website, accessed September 30, 2013,‎.
  2. Caroline Robbins, review of Travels in North America, in the years 1780, 1781, and 1782, by Francois Jean, Marquis de Chastellux, The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 88, no. 2 (April 1964): 231-233.
  3. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at:
  4. François Jean, marquis de Chastellux, Travels in North-America in the Years 1780, 1781, and 1782 (London: Printed for G. G. J. and J. Robinson, 1787), 2:443.
  5. Richard Cary to Thomas Jefferson, March 21, 1787, The Thomas Jefferson Papers Series 1. General Correspondence. 1651-1827 (Washington DC: Library of Congress, 1974), images 51-52.
  6. To Thomas Jefferson from the Rev. James Madison, [ca. 28 March 1787], Founders Online (Washington DC: The National Archives), accessed March 11, 2014.

External Links