Recherches philosophiques sur les Américains, ou Mémoires intéressants pour servir à l’Histoire de l’Espèce Humaine. Avec une Dissertation sur l’Amérique & les Américains, par Don Pernety.

[Volumes I and II:] Londres: 1771; [Volumes III and IV:] Berlin: 1770-1. Mixed set of the expanded edition. The work was originally published in two volumes in Berlin, 1768-1769. The first three-volume edition (with Parts III and IV , containing the original work plus Pernety’s critique and De Pauw’s defense, was published in Berlin in 1770, and Volume III is from that edition, with the Défense des recherches… properly dated 1771. Volumes I and II are a later edition of the three-volume edition, with the false imprint, “Londres;” they were undoubtedly printed on the continent. Some wear to spine and corners. Generally a very good, clean set. Contemporary paste-paper wrappers, backed in old calf. Gilt-decorated spines, edges stained red. Four parts, bound in three volumes, twelvemo. [xx], 276, [26, table de matières]; [iv], 304, [32, table des matières]; 116; iv, 232 pp. The final set of pagination is for the Défense des recherches philosophiques sur les Américains. Item #13158

An anti-colonial polemic in which de Pauw (1739-99), the Dutch philologist, tried to show the inferior character of everything American. He claimed that anthropological and climatic factors on the American continent would contribute to gradual racial degeneration of the American colonies and predicted that the new European inhabitants would not be able to adapt to the climate of the American continent, that their health and fecundity would be weakened (Volume I, pp. 105-7). He regarded the indigenous population as feeble and morally weak. This work caused considerable controversy, and the Benedictine, Don Antoine-Joseph Pernety (1716-1770) responded with his Dissertation sur l’Amérique & les Américains, which defended the reputation of the American Indians. This was in turn answered by de Pauw and then published in the third volume. Though de Pauw’s argument seems outdated, not to say reprehensible, his book constitutes an interesting early study of the effects of colonialism and on the nature of Indians and African-Americans. It is also interesting as a study of beginning anthropology and demography in the French enlightenment. De Pauw was one of the philosophes, and contributed to the supplement of the Encyclopédie.

Price: $600.00

See all items by