Autograph manuscript signed, from an unpublished essay.



Washington Irving.


Autograph manuscript signed, from an unpublished essay.


July 13, 1831.


Provenance: Philip D. Sang.

“One of the most striking characteristics of an American is his self dependence. Born to no fortune he knows, from his earliest years, that he has nothing but his own mental and bodily exertions to rely on in the great struggle of existence. This self dependence produces a remarkable quickness and versatility of talent. He turns his mother wit, as the Indian does his knife, to all purposes, and is seldom at a loss. At his first outset in life the world lies before him, like the wilderness of his own country, a trackless waste, through which he must cut his own path; but what would be a region of doubt and despondency to another mind appears to him a land of promise, a region of glorious enterprise tinted with golden hope.”

My Western Americana collection of letters, diaries, books, maps, prints and paintings is focused on people going west for the freedom to change their lives from the bonds of their birth and upbringing to maximize the opportunity to be who they can be. It is about self-realization—the freedom to make your own destiny.

This manuscript was offered at auction in 1976 and I was willing to pay all that I could afford, and accept all the credit that Parke-Bernet would extend to me, to acquire it. These thoughts by Washington Irving, the author of many books about the West, have defined my collection. I have written two books based on my collection (The Western Pursuit of the American Dream and The Great West: Pursuing the American Dream) and this manuscript was the frontispiece in both books.


Kenneth W. Rendell