[EAST COST OF NORTH AMERICA & CUBA] Puteshestvie po Severo-Amerikanskim Shtatam, Kanade i ostrovu Kube [i.e. Travel across the North-American States, Canada and the Cuba Island]

[EAST COST OF NORTH AMERICA & CUBA] Puteshestvie po Severo-Amerikanskim Shtatam, Kanade i ostrovu Kube [i.e. Travel across the North-American States, Canada and the Cuba Island]

St. Petersburg: Typ. of K. Wolf, 1859. Item #308

2 vols. bound together. [4], iv, 374; [4], [iv], 399, vii. 21x14,5 cm. With a large folding lithographed map. Contemporary quarter leather, spine with gilt lettered title. Binding mildly rubbed on extremities, otherwise a very good copy.

First and only edition. Very rare. One of the first Russian books on North America, it describes the travels of a Russian lawyer, statesman and historian Alexander Lakier (1824-1870) to the major cities on the East Coast of the United States, Eastern Canada, and Cuba in autumn-winter 1857. Lakier visited and gave detailed description of Boston, New York, Hudson River, US Military Academy in West Point, Montreal, Quebec City, Bytown or Ottawa, Toronto, Niagara Falls, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, Chicago, and many others, went down the Ohio and Mississippi River to New Orleans, and thence by steamer to Cuba.

The main question he wanted to answer in his book is: ‘‘How did this younger brother in the family of mankind manage to leave his elder brothers so far behind in trade, navigation, and production activity in general? Why already now the North-American States are in many aspects the example for Europe, when it has been only half a century after the beginning of its existence? Where is the core of the democratic equality which is absolutely incomprehensible for a European? What benefit, what edification can we extract from this great experience, presented by this country, the relations with which although hasn’t started due to distance, but in time, as can be predicted, will take humongous scale across the Pacific Ocean?’’ (vol. 1, p. 2).

Lakier leaves interesting notes on peculiarities of Christian churches in America, municipal administration, political and election systems, prisons, native people of Canada and the United States, slavery, passion of the Americans for money and wealth, and many others. His conclusion about the Americans is that ‘‘the people [of America] - young, active, practical, successful in their undertakings… will influence Europe, but use for that not weapon, not sword and fire, not death and ruins, but will spread their influence by the power of inventions, trade, industries; and this influence is stronger than that of every conquest’’ (vol. 2, p.399).

The book is supplemented with a large well executed map of the eastern coast of Canada and the United States illustrating the author’s travels and displaying the railway network in the region.

Lakier served as an associate in the Russian Ministry of Justice (since 1845) and later in the Ministry of Internal Affairs (since 1858). He is considered the first historian of the Russian heraldry and seals; his major work Russian Heraldry (SPb., 1855) received the Demidov award of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The trip to North America, was part of a larger voyage in 1856-1858, which also included Europe, Northern Africa and Palestine. Several short essays describing Lakier’s impressions of European and American cities were published in St. Petersburg newspapers and magazines, but it was only the account of the travels across North America that was published separately.

Worldcat locates only six copies.

Price: $4,500.00

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