877G Louis Armand, Baron de Lahontan (9 June 1666 – prior to 1716)

New voyages to North-America. Containing An Account of the several Nations of that vast Continent; their Customs, Commerce, and Way of Navigation upon the Lakes and Rivers; the several Attempts of the English and French to disposses one another; with the Reasons of the Miscarriage of the former; and the various Adventures between the French, and the Iroquese Confederates of England, from 1683 to 1694. A Geographical Description of Canada, and a Natural History of the Country, with Remarks upon their Government, and the Interest of the English and French in their Commerce. Also a Dialogue between the Author and a General of the Savages, giving a full View of the Religion and strange Opinions of those People: With an Account of the Authors Retreat to Portugal and Denmark and his Remarks on those Courts. To which is added, A Dictionary of the Algonkine Language, which is generally spoke in North-America. Illustrated with Twenty Three Mapps and Cutts. Written in French By the Baron Lahontan, Lord Lievtenant of the French Colony at Placentia in Newfoundland, now in England. Done into English. In Two volumes. A great part of which never Printed in the Original.


London, Printed for H. Bonwicke in St. Paul’s Church-Yard ; T. Goodwin, M. Wotton, B. Tooke, in Fleetstreet ; and S. Manship in Cornhi 1703.                         $SOLD

This copy is bound in contemporary speckled calf, spines gilt with ldsc_0107eather label. Light wear to extremities. Some light scattered foxing. This is an extrodinary copy . Two Volumes

First edition in English of Lahontan‘s famous narrative, a curious blending of fact and fantasy, to be honored in regard to his account of his travels in the Great Lakes region, but as to his claims to have journeyed west of the Mississippi, Howes states they have the veracity of “the legends of the sea serpent.” The maps and plates are quite interesting, though the former evidence some confused geography, most notably that of the “Long River” west of the Great Lakes. Despite Lahontan’s lapses, this remains one of the most important midwestern travel narratives. The views of Indians and villages, as well as the maps, were engraved by H. Moll under the supervision of the author, and a new map of Newfoundland appears in this edition, as well as material relating to Lahontan’s non-American travels. Rare with all twenty-four plates and maps, as well as the advertisement leaf.

Clark, I:111; European Americana, 703/86; Greenly Michigan, 9 (note); Howes, L25 “b”; Sabin, 38644; Wheat Transmississippi, 86, 87.



Louis Armand, Baron de Lahontan served in the French military in Canada where he traveled extensively in the Wisconsin and Minnesota region and the upper Mississippi Valley. Upon his return to Europe he wrote this enormously popular travelogue.


De Lahontan joined the troupes de la marine and was sent to New France in 1683 at age 17 along with two other officers and three companies of troops.  After arriving at Quebec in November and settling in Beaupré, he would lead his company in 1684 on an unsuccessful offense against the Iroquois from Fort Frontenac. Having already faced the reality of settler life in Beaupré, de Lahontan again led his men to Boucherville to live with local habitants between 1685 and 1687 – himself dividing his time between hunting and classical literature. Just prior to a decision to return to France, Lahontan was ordered –at least in part because of his knowledge of the Algonkian language- to head a detachment of French and native troops towards Fort St. Joseph where he would launch another attack on the Iroquois.  He was a restless commander and spent much of his time exploring the region. In 1688 following news of the abandonment of the post at Niagara and renewed attacks of the Iroquois, he burned his fort and led his men to Michillimackinac in search of supplies and possibly entertainment for his men. De Lahontan felt that without supplies from Niagara his dwindling stores would not be enough to last the winter. During the winter and spring months he explored the upper Mississippi valley where he ascended the “Rivière Longue”; some scholars consider this a fanciful tale, others argue that he had discovered the Missouri River.


Upon return to Amsterdam in 1703 he published his three most famous works: Nouveaux Voyages dans l’Amerique Septentrionale,(this work)  Memoires de l’Amerique Septentrionale, and Supplement aux Voyages ou Dialogues avec le sauvage Adario. Nouveaux Voyages dans l’Amerique Septentrionale provides a thorough and detailed account of de Lahontan’s life and stay in New France, while Memoires de l’Amerique Septentrionale describes his observations of geography, institutions, commerce as well as information about native tribes. Finally, Supplement aux Voyages ou Dialogues avec le sauvage Adario lambasts institutional Christianity by means of a dialogue between de Lahontan and a Huron Chief named Adario (The Rat).  The author attempts to contrast the injustice of Christianity with the freedom and justice of native people. His idealized view of “natural humanity” as a vehicle for criticizing European civilization was a forceful early expression of the “noble savage” trope associated with the Enlightenment. (Wikipedia)dsc_0117

Lahontan journeyed west in 1687 with Duluth and was given command of Fort St. Joseph on the St. Clair River. In 1688 he travelled further west by the Fox-Wisconsin portage and reached the upper Mississippi. In all Lahontan spent twenty years in the colony fighting the Iroquois and his work is considered “one of the best early works on the subject” dsc_0111

During the decade he had spent in North America, Lahontan “had not lacked opportunities to distinguish himself. He had taken part in two campaigns against the Iroquois, had twice been besieged by the English, had visited almost all parts of New France and may well have reached the Mississippi at a time when few Frenchmen had seen it. But he appears to have made little mark; except during his final months at Placentia, the official correspondence of the time scarcely mentions him But while serving and travelling in New France he had done something few of his fellow officers thought to do: ‘In the course of my Voyages and Travels, I took care to keep particular Journals of every thing…’, sometimes even making notes on birch-bark. From these diaries he was able later to compose the three books which were to make him, next to Louis Hennepin, the most widely read author on North America in the first half of the 18th century. “Lahontan’s works appeared at a time when travel narratives were enjoying an extraordinary vogue in Europe and when interest in North America, aroused by the ‘Jesuit Relations’ and whetted by the voyages of Hennepin and Henri Tonty, was greater than ever before. His ‘Nouveaux voyages dans l’Amérique septentrionale’ and their sequel, ‘Mémoires de septentrionale, ‘ were published in January 1703 dsc_0104dsc_0105-2dsc_0121dsc_0116-2unknown