Progenitor of the Disturnell Map of Mexico

“All versions of Disturnell’s map were based on a plagiarism in 1828 by White, Gallaher & White of Tanner’s 1825 map of Mexico”—Goetzmann

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399. [MAP: TREATY OF GUADALUPE HIDALGO SEQUENCE]. WHITE, [Elihu], [William] Gallaher & [Norman] White. Mapa de los Estados Unidos de Méjico, segun lo organizado y definido por las varias actas del Congreso de dicha República: y construido por las mejores autoridades. Lo publican White, Gallaher y White Nueva York. 1828. Grabado por Balch y Stiles, Nueva York; [copyright notice at lower right below margin, closely trimmed]; Entered according to Act of Congress, May 31st, 1828, by White, Gallaher & White;[Three insets at lower left] [1] Tabla de Distancias; [2] Tabla de Estadistica (with “Cohahuila [sic] y Tejas”); [3] Carta de los caminos &c. desde Vera Cruz y Alvarado a Méjico; [upper right] [Large engraving of Mexican eagle with snake in its beak, perched on cactus with names of Mexican states]. New York, 1828. Copper-engraved map on two sheets of bank note paper joined vertically, original outline hand coloring; neat line to neat line: 72.5 x 103 cm; overall sheet size: 72.9 x 103.4 cm. Splits at folds consolidated by archival tissue backing (a few instances of slight overlapping, affecting a river or name), mild foxing and offsetting. Margins trimmed close, affecting copyright notice at lower right below neat line (this is not unusual—the copy in the U.S. State Department is trimmed the same way, and the two copies of the map we have sold before were trimmed so close that the entire copyright notice was lost). Overall a very good copy of a notoriously rare map, difficult to find in fine condition.

     First edition. Colonel Lawrence Martin, “Disturnell’s Map” in Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America, Edited by Hunter Miller), p. 344: “It seems best to say that there were twenty-four editions of the ‘Mapa de los Estados Unidos de Méjico,’ one published by White, Gallaher & White [in 1828] and twenty-three published by Disturnell.” When the negotiators for the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo attached two different editions of Disturnell’s map [see herein] to the two official copies of the Treaty itself, they cemented the reputation and importance of White, Gallaher & White’s map. Although not one of the maps attached to the Treaty, the present map was the progenitor, descended directly from Tanner’s map [see herein]. Having taken over White, Gallaher & White’s map, Disturnell elaborated issues and editions over the course of the Mexican-American War and beyond. In fact, it was not until nearly the advent of the Civil War that this map faded from the cartographic scene. A map begun in English, once translated into Spanish, eventually became pivotal to American expansion into the West.

    Amon Carter Museum Exhibit, Crossroads of Empire (June 12-July 26, 1981) 39. Day, Maps of Texas, p. 16. Goetzmann, Army Exploration in the American West, p. 155. Martin & Martin, Contours of Discovery, p. 55. Martin & Martin, Maps of Texas and the Southwest, 1513-1900, Plate 37 & p. 137. Raines, p. 250. Rittenhouse, Disturnell’s Treaty Map, pp. 13-16 (#1). Schwartz & Ehrenberg, The Mapping of America, p. 276. Streeter Sale 222: “This map is included as it is such a direct source for Disturnell’s Map of Mexico with the same title, published in New York in 1846, that Col. Martin in his elaborate survey, Disturnell’s Map, calls it the first of the 24 editions of that map, and the map published by Disturnell in 1846 the second. This White, Gallaher & White map in turn follows closely, even to errors, the Tanner Map of Mexico of 1825.—TWS.” Taliaferro, in Cohen, Mapping the West, p. 144. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West #384, Vol. II, pp. 95-96 & Vol. III, p. 36. Wheat, Maps of the Gold Region 33n.

     Lawrence Martin (edited and abridged by Walter W. Ristow), “John Disturnell’s Map of the United Mexican States” in Ristow’s A la Carte: Selected Papers on Maps and Atlases, (illustrations pp. 206 & 211), pp. 207-209 (discussion); first bibliographical entry in “Table for Identifying Variant Editions of John Disturnell’s Mapa de los Estados de Méjico), p. 212.

In 1828 a plagiarism of Tanner’s of Mexico was published under a Spanish title by White, Gallaher & White, of New York. Eventually some 24 different editions of this map were published at New York, all but the first by Disturnell, and the map has become widely known as Disturnell’s map. That the White, Gallaher & White map was plagiarized from Tanner’s is suggested not merely by the similarity in titles. The two maps share common errors, for courses of the rivers, and they have the same insets: a large-scale map of the area between Vera Cruz and Mexico, a highly individual table of statistics, and a long table of distances. The latter map used all of Tanner’s explanatory remarks, which were translated word for word....

It is curious that, although White, Gallaher & White’s map was an obvious plagiarism of Tanner’s copyrighted map and both were published in the United States the later map was also copyrighted. Outside its lower neat line, near the right border, appear the words ‘Entered according to Act of Congress, May 31st, 1828, by White, Gallaher & White.’ This suggests that Tanner’s map may have been used by friendly agreement to compile the slightly enlarged Spanish language map, but it seems odd that White, Gallaher & White made no public acknowledgment to Tanner.

The earliest identified edition of Disturnell’s reprint was published in 1846, doubtless because of the outbreak of the Mexican War. Its title information is identical with the White, Gallaher & White map except for date and publisher. The two maps were printed from the same plates, as is indicated by the faint copyright notice, which was incompletely eradicated and shows on the borders of all but two of Disturnell’s editions printed between 1846 and 1858.

     During the late 1820s and early 1830s, the publishing firm of White, Gallaher & White plastered the country with a surfeit of popular, educational, religious, classical, and practical works, such as the history and geography books of Emma Willard. In 1828 their firm was located at 7 Wall Street, New York City. Some of their wide-ranging publications included: Edward Bulwer Lytton (of “dark and stormy night fame”), The Siamese Twins: A Satirical Tale of the Times (1831); Samuel Maverick, Emma Willard, A Series of Maps to Willard’s History of the United States (1828); George Bush, et al, The Life of Mohammed (1830); William Kitchiner, Directions for Invigorating and Prolonging Life; or The Invalid’s Oracle (1831); Benjamin Disraeli, et al, The Young Duke: A Moral Tale, Though Gay (1831); The Pestalozzian System of Arithmetic (1829); Cortés, Historia de Méjico (1828; The Cook’s Oracle; and Housekeeping Manual (1830); Peter Parley’s Method of Telling about Geography to Children (1832); etc., etc.

     The main driver of the firm of White, Gallaher & White was Elihu White (1773-1836), who eventually found much fame as a type founder rather than as a publisher. He is credited with initiating typefoundries in the West. For more on Elihu White, see Inland Printer, Vol. 26, (1900-1901), p. 456; Vol. 38, (190), p. 36. The Printing Art, Vol. 32 (1918-1919), p. 29. Elihu White’s two publishing partners, Norman White and William Gallaher (sometimes spelled Gallagher), eventually withdrew from the firm, after which it apparently dissolved into N. & J. White.


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