Bonnycastle | R.H. [Perry | Oliver Hazard]

Spanish America

First American Edition



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The first American edition of Spanish America, from the personal library of Oliver Hazard Perry, inscribed by him enroute to South American abord the U.S.S. John Adams.

Octavo, xx, [21] – 482pp. Half red morocco over marbled boards, title in gilt on spine, decorative gilt over 5 raised bands. Marbled endpapers, bookplate from “Geo. S. Perry, Cadiz, Ohio” affixed to front endpaper. Bumped corners, worn edges, marbled boards with shelf wear and rubbing. Includes two foldout maps, one of the American continent and the second a hand-colored illustration of the topography of South America, with some splitting at seams of the first map. Marginal tear to front free endpaper [Aa] and dampstaining to lower margin, not affecting text. (Sabin 6333)

Signed by Oliver Hazard Perry on front free endpaper, with the following inscription: “Com’o. O.H. Perry / US Ship John Adams.”

Additional signature by his wife (Elizabeth Champlin Mason Perry) below the signature: “Mrs. E.C. Perry / Feb’y 1845 / Brooklyn.” Provenance: Book was passed down through the Perry family. Sold at Sotheby’s, 2018.

In 1818, the Perry-Elliott affair came to a head when Perry wrote to Navy Secretary Benjamin Crowninshield, preferring court-martial charges against his former subordinate.  Not wishing to expose the nation to the controversial aspect of Perry’s splendid victory on Lake Erie, President James Monroe offered the title of “Commodore” to Oliver if he’d drop the charges against Elliott. Upon accepting that offer in early 1819 Perry set sail for the Orinoco River, Venezuela, aboard the frigate John Adams (carrying this very book with him) accompanied by the schooner Nonsuch, there to discourage piracy, while maintaining friendly diplomatic relations with the Republic of Venezuela and the Republic of Buenos Aires.

Shifting his flag to the shallow-draft Nonsuch Perry sailed upriver to Angostura to negotiate an anti-piracy agreement with President Simon Bolivar. A favorable treaty was signed on August 11 with Vice-President Francisco Antonio Zea in the absence of Bolivar (who was engaged in the liberation of New Granada), but when the schooner started downriver, many of her crew, including Perry, had been stricken with yellow fever.

Despite the crew’s efforts to reach Trinidad for medical assistance, Commodore Perry died on board Nonsuch on August 23, 1819, his 34th birthday, as the ship was nearing Port of Spain, his flagship John Adams in sight. He was buried in Port of Spain with great honors while the Nonsuch’s crew acted as honor guard.

Perry’s remains were taken back to the United States in 1826 and interred in Newport, Rhode Island. Originally interred in the Old Common Burial Ground, his body was eventually moved to Newport’s Island Cemetery.

Full title: Spanish America; Or A Descriptive, Historical, And Geographical Account of The Dominions of Spain In The Western Hemisphere. Continental & Insular. Illustrated by A Map of North and South America, And the West India Island; and Engraving, Representing the comparative, altitudes of The Mountains in those Regions.

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Printed and Published by Abraham Small


First American Edition

Date Published





Very Good


Bonnycastle | R.H. [Perry | Oliver Hazard]