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Historians of American tourism have agreed that Gideon Davison’s 1822 The Fashionable Tour; or, A Trip to the Springs, Niagara, Quebeck, and Boston, in the Summer of 1821 was the first American tourist guidebook. This article identifies generic precedents for Davison’s guidebook—particularly transatlantic eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century genre of the road book—in order to understand Davison’s influences and to identify the novel and unique features that made his text the first of its kind. By doing so, it makes book historians’ definition of the tourist guidebook genre more precise, and explains why they took this specific form at this specific historical moment. Like all genres, early American tourist guidebooks were created by assembling desirable features from several distinct preexisting genres in new and useful ways, but their particular combination of generic conventions was deeply rooted in the material conditions of early nineteenth century travel, print culture, and national identity.