This attractively illustrated work was published in connection with the Columbian Exposition and features a collection of Washington Irving's Columbus, Robertson's Conquest of Mexico and Peru and a "Perfect History" of the U.S., complete with hundreds of black and white engraving illustrations as well as full color chromolithographs.

According to the authors this work features "nearly six hundred illustrations from the greatest artists, portraying every scene of the world's grandest drama, an absolutely complete Columbian Memorial, A.D. 1492 A.D. 1892."

In the early 19th century there was a resurgence of interest in history and many old materials from the early colonial period that lay in manuscript or in archives were published. During this period many of the works of Columbus also emerged and despite being invited to Madrid to view the Spanish source material instead Irving opted to write his own version of the story.

Irving, a fiction writer, spun the narrative into a hero tale that helped formed the foundational national myths of the United States. He collaborated with Alexander von Humboldt on the matter who praised the work when it was complete. Irving's work on Columbus went on to be the most popular biographical account of Columbus in the English-speaking world until the publication of Admiral of the Ocean Sea in 1942 by Samuel Eliot Morison.

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