Milestone Map & Guide of the American West
340. [MAP]. MITCHELL, S[amuel] Augustus. A New Map of Texas Oregon and California with the Regions Adjoining. Compiled from the Most Recent Authorities. Philadelphia Published by S. Augustus Mitchell N.E. Corner of Market & Seventh Streets. [lower left above border] Entered According to Act of Congress in the Year 1845 by H.N. Burroughs in the Clerks Office of the District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania [texts at lower left] Explanation [and] Emigrant Route From Missouri To Oregon. Lithograph map on bank note paper, original full hand coloring, ornamental vine border in pink. Folded, as issued, in original cover. Border to border: 56.5 x 52 cm. Bound with text (as issued): Accompaniment to Mitchell’s New Map of Texas, Oregon, and California, With the Regions Adjoining Philadelphia: S. Augustus Mitchell, N.E. Cor. Market And Seventh Sts. 1846. [1-2] 3-46 [2 blank] pp. (second signature signed both 2 and B). 12mo, original plain lower wrapper (as issued). Map and pamphlet bound into original pocket covers (13.5 x 8.2 cm), original brown roan, original leather label on upper cover lettered in gilt: Texas, Oregon And California, both covers elaborately embossed in blind. Contemporary and 1880 pencil signatures of Jacob C. Shepley and Jacob L. Shepley (seemingly father and son) on pastedowns, rear flyleaf, and lower wrapper of text and folder (dated 1880). Map verso has numerous pencil notes, apparently in Jacob L. Shepley’s hand, one of which is dated 1880. Some of the notes concern finances, receipts, and accounts. One is a presentation from Shepley to Miss Ana Payden “in love”; subsequently signed by Payden. Pocket folder lightly rubbed, corners renewed, tail of spine neatly mended. Interior with foxing to end leaves, title and first few leaves with moderate waterstaining, rest of text with light staining at upper right corner. Map with some folds stained by old tape repairs, a few minor losses at folds, professionally washed with folds archivally reinforced on verso, a few small tears at edges consolidated.
First edition. Baughman, Kansas in Maps, p. 35. Braislin Sale 1268. Cohen, Mapping the West, pp. 134-135. Cowan II, p. 433. Day, Maps of Texas, 387. Graff 2841. Holliday Sale 787. Howes M685. Martin & Martin, pp. 134-135, Color Plate XI (p. 56). Phillips, America, p. 844. Plains & Rockies IV: 122b. Rumsey 534: “One of Mitchell’s most popular and important pocket maps.” Sabin 49714. Schwartz & Ehrenberg, The Mapping of America, p. 276. Smith 2529. Streeter Sale 2511. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West #520, Vol. III, pp. 34-35 (commenting on the esteem in which Brigham Young and Lt. Emory held the map), illustrated before p. 29. Wheat, Maps of the Gold Region #29, pp. xv-xvi.
This map and its accompanying emigrant guide have been widely and frequently praised as the most accurate and current information then available in separate cartographic form for the regions shown. According to the accompanying pamphlet on p. 3: “The chief authorities from which the map is compiled, are the Congressional Map of Texas, 1844, Kennedy’s Map of Texas by Arrowsmith, Mitchell’s Map of Texas, Ward’s Map of Mexico, Frémont’s Map of his explorations in Oregon, California, &c., 1842, 1843, 1844, Map of Lewis and Clarke’s tour, Major Long’s tour to the Rocky Mountains, Nicollet and Frémont’s exploration of the country between the Mississippi and Missouri, the Congressional Map of the Indian territory, and Mitchell’s Map of the United States.”
For those contemplating the journey west, the Oregon Road, and the Santa Fe trails from Independence, Missouri, are shown, and a table of distances between Westport and Oregon City is printed. Yet even with these advances, the map also makes clear the vast stretches of Old Mexico and the West that remain unknown and unexplored. Much of California and the rest of the West is portrayed as basically featureless; “California” occupies the entire area of modern-day California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado. The map also shows an early depiction of Texas as a state of the Union, complete with all its extravagant territorial claims, including a Panhandle that stretches aggressively north to the 42nd parallel and a border on the Rio Grande River. This map has been updated, however, to show Texas divided into counties instead of empresario grants.
Much of the information the map lacks is supplied by the pamphlet, which discusses Texas, Oregon Territory, California, Iowa, Indian Territory, and Missouri Territory, with the majority of the text devoted to the first three. Some of the remarks about Californians are astounding in several respects, even for the time: “Descended from the old Spaniards, they are unfortunately found to have all their vices, without a proper share of their virtues…. Their amusements are cock-fighting, bull and bear-baiting, and dancing…always accompanied with excessive drinking…. The female portion of the community are ignorant, degraded, and the slaves of their husbands…. The Indians of Upper California are indolent and pusillanimous…they are all extremely filthy in their habits” (pp. 28-29). On the other hand, Texas, the success of which Mitchell clearly wishes to promote, is made to sound like an earthly paradise. Oregon, which Mitchell wants the United States to incorporate, is also described favorably at great length. By contrast, the Missouri Territory is only briefly touched upon, in an almost dismissive manner.
The map was deservedly popular and is found in several formats for both travelers and arm-chair travelers: pocket map with guide (as here), separate map in pocket folder (no guide), separate sheet map, map included with printed reference or general guides to the U.S., wall map, and inset on a larger wall map of the U.S. Another edition appeared in Mitchell’s 1849 Description of Oregon and California. Obviously, this was a map in demand. The map is often touted as rare, which is a stretch, but there is no undermining its tremendous importance and impact.
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