Storia della guerra dell’indipendenza degli Stati Uniti d’America

Autore: BOTTA, Carlo (1766-1837)

Tipografo: D. Colas, stampatore, e librajo, Contrada del Vieux-Colombier, N° 26

Dati tipografici: Paris, 1820

Formato: in ottavo

Association copy

Four volumes, 8vo (195x122 mm). [4], XI, [1], 363, [1]; [2], 543, [1]; [4], 553, [1]; [4], 477, [1] pp. Preserved half title at the beginning of every volume. Contemporary half calf, gilt spine with double lettering piece, sprinkled edges (joints worn). Slightly uniformly browned, some foxing and staining. A good, genuine copy. On the half title of volume one the author's autograph dedication (“L'auteur à Mr. Metralle”) to the French novelist and journalist Antoine Marie Thérèse Métral (1778-1839), a contributor of “Le Moniteur”, “Le Magasin encyclopédique”, “La Revue encyclopédique”, and “Le Bulletin universel”, and the author of l'Histoire de l'Expedition des Français à Saint-Domingue, sous le Consultat de N. Bonaparte.

RARE FIRST EDITION of this history of the American Revolutionary War written by the Italian patriot Carlo Botta during his stay in Paris, where he was a member of the Legislative Assembly. This is the author's first extensive historical work. In it, Botta emphasizes his love of freedom, embodied by American society and in particular by George Washington, as opposed to the values promoted by the French Revolution and embodied by Napoleon Bonaparte. The work ends with Washington's speech to Congress in 1783 and his subsequent retreat to Mount Vernon.

“Carlo Botta was the best-known historian of his generation, a household name even among intellectuals outside Italy. His weighty History of American War of Independence is divided into four volumes and fourteen chapters. The original Italian edition was printed in France in 1809, followed by editions published in Parma between 1817 and 1819, and a Milanese edition in 1819. There are four more Italian editions printed before 1856. The first French translation appeared in 1812, the first American translation in 1820-21 […] Within the Risorgimento's political debates, after his early republicanism, Botta emerged as a moderate Liberal, who was disillusioned with the French experiences in Northern Italy and perceived Napoleonic rule as a form of despotism […] Botta's interest in American history served as a contrast to these European experiences […]” (A. Körner, America in Italy. The United States in the Political Thought and Imagination of the Risorgimento, 1763-1865, Princeton, 2017, pp. 47-48).

The work, however, was not very successful and remained largely unsold. Apparently Botta ultimately sold the remaining copies as waste paper to his grocer.

Carlo Giuseppe Guglielmo Botta studied medicine at the University of Turin, graduating when he was just twenty years old. Considered a subversive by the Piedmontese government, he was arrested in 1794. Upon his release the following year, he decided to emigrate to France. He returned to Italy in 1796 as a surgeon of the French army led by Napoleon. In 1799 he took part in the works of the Provisional Government of the Piedmontese Nation established after the escape of King Carlo Emanuele IV and, in 1801, he was appointed as one of the triumvirs together with Carlo Giulio and Carlo Bossi. A supporter of a pro-French policy, he was in favour of the annexation of Piedmont to France. He was subsequently a Bonapartist, but, disappointed by Napoleon he became a fervent advocate of Italian independence and unification. With the return of the Savoy family in Piedmont in 1814, he retired to private life and was subsequently forced to take refuge in France. In 1817 he became rector of the University of Rouen, a position he held until 1822. He died, in poverty, in 1837.

Parenti, Rarità Bibliografiche, IV, p. 208.