“One of the seminal maps in the history of California exploration and settlement”—Ralph Ehrenberg
146. UNITED STATES. PRESIDENT (Zachary Taylor). California and New Mexico. Message from the President of the United States, Transmitting Information in Answer to a Resolution of the House of the 31st of December, 1849, on the Subject of California and New Mexico. [Washington, 1850]. 31st Congress, 1st Session, House Ex. Doc. No. 17. 832, 849-864, 849-966, 969-972, 967-968, 973-976 pp. (text complete), 976 pp., 7 lithographic maps (6 folding). 8vo, contemporary half leather over marbled boards, spine lettered in gilt. Binding rubbed at extremities, faint remains of old number on spine. Light uniform browning. A very good copy, the maps very fine. Printed bookplate of Western Reserve Historical Society on front pastedown and their blindstamp on p. 1 and a few other pages. Also with ink accession notes and purple stamps dated March 18, 1851, on front pastedown.
 Map of Fort Hill Monterey California Reduced by Scale from Lieut. Warner’s Field Map made in 1847. By P. M. McGill, C. E. Lithr. Ackerman.... (32 x 22.5 cm; 12-1/2 x 8-7/8 inches).
 [Untitled sketch of San Francisco Bay] (30 x 32.5 cm; 11-7/8 x 12-3/4 inches).
 [Untitled map of Lower California] Ackerman Lithr..... (30 x 32.5 cm; 11-7/8 x 12-3/4 inches).
 Plan No 2 Sketch of Port Escondido Lower California Ackerman Lithr..... (31 x 22 cm; 12-1/4 x 8-1/2 inches).
 Map of Oregon and Upper California from the Surveys of John Charles Frémont and Other Authorities Drawn by Charles Preuss under the order of the Senate of the United States Washington City, 1848 Lithy. by E. Weber & Co., Balto. (47.5 x 40 cm; 18-3/4 x 15-3/4 inches). Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West 613; Wheat, Maps of the California Gold Region 41.
 Sketch of General Riley’s Route through the Mining Districts July and Aug. 1849. Copied from the Original Sketch by Lt. Derby...Ackermann’s Lithogr.... (51.5 x 48.5 cm; 19-7/8 x 19-1/8 inches). Wheat, Maps of the California Gold Region 79 & pp. xxvii-xxviii (reproduced as an inserted facsimile following p. 46).
 Plan of the Route of the Expedition of Major Beall, 1st Drag’s for the Relief of the Wagons of Mr. F. X. Aubrey against the Apache Indians...H. R. Wirtz...Ackerman Lithr..... (23 x 14 cm; 9 x 5-1/2 inches).
First edition, first issue of the House issue, with mispaginations as above and signature 53 mis-signed 54 and signature 54 signed 54*; those errors were all corrected in the subsequent printing listed by Plains & Rockies IV and Kurutz, who do not note this issue. Zamorano 80 gives the House version of this massive report priority; however, there is good argument that the Senate version may have appeared first. Becker outlines the differences between the House and Senate reports and explains how the House and Senate publications actually complement one another (Plains & Rockies IV:179b:1). The maps are the same in both reports. Barrett, Baja California 2462. California 49: Forty-Nine Maps of California from the Sixteenth Century to the Present (Ralph E. Ehrenberg) 27. Cowan I, p. 40. Cowan II, p. 875 (#419). Flake 9213. Garrett, The Mexican-American War, pp. 323-324, 420, 422. Holliday 152. Howell, California 50:230. Howes C53 & P447. Huntington Library, Zamorano 80...Exhibition of Famous and Notorious California Classics 14. Kurutz, The California Gold Rush 106a. Plains & Rockies IV:179b:2. Rittenhouse 558. Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 31. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West 571 & 613. Wheat, Maps of the California Gold Region 41 & 79. Wheat, “Twenty-Five California Maps” 3n. Zamorano 80 #14.
Two of the maps in this report are key maps for the California gold region. The Map of Oregon and Upper California (Map 5 above) is the first separate printing of the southwest corner of the larger Frémont-Preuss map (Wheat, Maps of the California Gold Region 40). California 49: Forty-Nine Maps of California from the Sixteenth Century to the Present 27n (Ehrenberg discusses the 1848 precursor for Map 5 listed above; see Frémont’s 1848 Geographical Memoir in this catalogue): “One of the seminal maps in the history of California exploration and settlement.... It provides the first depiction of the California region based on scientific topographic surveys, notably expanding contemporary geographic knowledge of the Sierra Nevada and the Coast Ranges, and the drainage pattern of the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys. Published on the eve of the California Gold Rush and statehood, this map also served as a powerful political document that promoted the prevailing American concept of Manifest Destiny. It was one of the first maps to depict the creation of the Territory of Oregon and the establishment of the Mexico–U.S. boundary, which was ratified on 4 July 1848; the first widely circulated map to announce the location of the discovery of gold deposits along the American and Feather Rivers; and it introduced or perpetuated numerous California place names including Kern River,Walker Pass,Owens Lake, and the ‘inspired’ term, Golden Gate, designating the entrance to San Francisco Bay.” The map apparently was published to satisfy the eager demand for maps of California following the riveting announcement of the gold discovery.
Wheat (Maps of the California Gold Region 40) comments on the prototype Frémont-Preuss map: “This important and beautifully drawn map became the model for many of the later gold region maps. The California portion is based on Frémont’s map of 1845, but the legend ‘El Dorado or Gold Regions’ has been added along the ‘Rio d. l. Plumas’ (Feather River), and the ‘R. d. l. Americanos’ (American River)....” Consult Wheat’s lengthy discussion of the large Frémont-Preuss map in Mapping the Transmississippi West (III, pp. 55-62): “It seems almost certain that the Frémont-Preuss map was the first map of large general circulation to announce to the world the epochal finds in the West which would now transform the life and society of that once-distant country” [emphasis added]. For more on this map sequence, see Cohen, Mapping the West, pp. 152-153 and Schwartz & Ehrenberg, The Mapping of America, p. 278: “Frémont’s epochal map of Oregon and Upper California [was] one of the earliest graphic announcements of the discovery of gold in California”; and Plate 171n: “Most accurate general map of the Far West for its time.”
Regarding Derby’s Sketch of General Riley’s Route through the Mining Districts (Map 6 above), Wheat comments: “Of the maps which were actually produced in 1850, those of Lieutenant George H. Derby are of particular interest. Derby, though better known today as a brilliant humorist (he was the author of ‘Phoenixiana’ and ‘The Squibob Papers’ [q.v.]), was a trained and competent topographer, and while the engravers seem to have garbled many of his legends (such as ‘Mormont’ for Mormon I[sland] and ‘Sororan Camp’ for Sonoranian Camp [Sonora]), nevertheless his ‘Map of General Riley’s Route through the Diggings’ (made in August 1849...but not published until 1850), his ‘Sacramento Valley from the American River to Butte Creek’...and his ‘Reconnaissance of the Tulares Valley’...are all maps of major importance. The first of these shows ‘Colluma,’ ‘Angel’s,’ ‘Jamestown,’ ‘Sullivan’s,’ ‘Woods’ and several other newly-settled camps. This map is the result of Derby’s cartographical work when he accompanied Brigadier General Bennet Riley on a tour of the California Gold Regions in the summer of 1849.” For more on Derby, refer to The Topographical Reports of Lieutenant George H. Derby. With Introduction and Notes by Francis P. Farquhar (San Francisco: California Historical Society, 1933).
Gary Kurutz in Volkmann Zamorano 80 Catalogue:
This thick government compendium contains a wealth of information on the annexation of Alta California by the United States, the changeover from Mexican to American rule, the transition from military to civilian government, and the earliest days of the Gold Rush. It systematically documents the work of the federal government in the newly won territory from 1847 to 1849. Arguably, these were the most important years in California history and no single publication provides as much raw data as does House Executive Document No. 17. It opens with a brief statement by Mexican-American War hero President Zachary Taylor, which touches on California’s desire to be admitted to the Union as a state. The federal publication then proceeds with a plethora of official proclamations, reports, circulars, and letters from virtually every important American official in California including Washington Bartlett, Walter Colton, R. B. Mason, Bennet Riley, Jonathan Drake Stevenson, Joseph Folsom, Stephen Watts Kearny, William Tecumseh Sherman, John C. Frémont, Henry W. Halleck, and E. R. S. Canby. Because of its importance to national affairs, the government ordered the printing of 10,000 copies.
The first part of this official publication details the establishment of a provisional military government following the cessation of hostilities with Mexico. It traces the fascinating but temporary amalgamation of Mexican and American law and grapples with such complex issues as land ownership and local governance. To provide background and context, this publication added in an invaluable series of appendices giving the English translation of several Spanish and Mexican laws and regulations concerning governance of the province beginning in 1773; provisional regulations for the secularization of the missions promulgated by Governor José Figueroa on August 9, 1834; and Governor Juan Bautista Alvarado’s regulations respecting the missions dated January 17, 1839. In short, it encapsulates the legal history of Hispanic California. This is supported by Brevet Captain H. W. Halleck’s detailed analysis of “laws and regulations governing grants or sales of public lands in California.” Such information would later prove essential when the U.S. government challenged the validity of Spanish and Mexican land grants in the early 1850s.
When rumors of a great gold discovery reached military headquarters in Monterey, the government dispatched officers to investigate the commotion. Because their reports and maps are included in this federal publication, it necessarily becomes one of the essential works on the Gold Rush. The most important and influential of these is Colonel Richard B. Mason’s famous report on his tour of the gold fields dated August 17, 1848. Vividly written, it is one of the earliest accounts to describe the effects of gold fever on the local population and one of the first to mention the use of that great symbol of the Argonauts, the cradle or “rocker.” Upon visiting Mormon Island, he writes: “The hill sides were thickly strewn with canvass tents and bush arbors. The day was intensely hot; yet about two hundred men were at work in the full glare of the sun, washing for gold, some with tin pans, some with close-woven Indian baskets, but the greater part had a rude machine known as the cradle. The discovery of these vast deposits of gold has entirely changed the character of Upper California.” At Coloma, he received a tour of the diggings by the discoverer himself, James Marshall. Mason’s report was read around the world, republished dozens of times, and appended to several Gold Rush books. Seeing the immediate future, he recommended establishing a mint in San Francisco.
Mason’s electrifying narrative was followed up by two other significant reports by Brevet Major Persifor F. Smith and Brevet General and Military Governor Bennet Riley. Smith’s letters from the Isthmus of Panama written in January 1849, concern the intense excitement of the California news and the hundreds of anxious gold seekers waiting to catch a steamer to San Francisco. Smith further expressed the need to stop Mexicans and other “foreigners” from taking the gold out of California. His alarm over non-Americans working the placers eventually led to the infamous Foreign Miner’s Tax. Major Smith, upon arriving in San Francisco, noted the number of enlisted men who had deserted their posts for the diggings. On August 30, 1849, a year after Mason’s golden sojourn, General Riley summarized his tour of the mines. He saw firsthand the harsh reality of hunting for gold and warned of exaggerated accounts. Riley touched on the tension between American and Hispanic miners and criticized “any class of men” who attempted to monopolize the gold fields. In a later report, he, like Smith, told of the difficulty of retaining his low-paid troops when the placers beckoned. Included in this publication is the excellent Gold Rush map Sketch of General Riley’s Route through the Mining Districts, July and August 1849.
General Riley, acting as military governor, quickly discerned the extraordinary transformation in California brought about by the gold mines and the rushing in of thousands of Argonauts. California, he realized, swirled in chaos and needed a stabilizing civilian government. Miners and their suppliers were clamoring for civilian rule and some even threatened to form a Pacific republic. This House document includes many of his letters and proclamations calling for the formation of a civilian government and election of a civilian governor. He reported on the progress of the Constitutional Convention held in Monterey and presented the text of the new state constitution. This government document concluded with reports on the establishment of postal service in California.
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