“Milestones in the mapping of the American West”—Wheat

Boots on the Ground & Maps in the Gun Barrels

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491. PIKE, Z[ebulon] M[ontgomery]. An Account of Expeditions to the Sources of the Mississippi, and through the Western Parts of Louisiana, to the Sources of the Arkansaw [sic], Kans, La Platte, and Pierre Jaun, Rivers; performed by Order of the Government of the United States during the Years 1805, 1806, and 1807. And a Tour through the Interior Parts of New Spain, When Conducted through these Provinces, by Order of the Captain-General, in the Year 1807. By Major Z.M. Pike. Illustrated by Maps and Charts. Philadelphia: Published by C. & A. Conrad, & Co. No. 30, Chesnut Street, Somervell & Conrad, Peterburgh. Bonsal, Conrad, & Co. Norfolk, and Fielding Lucas, Jr. Baltimore. John Binns, Printer, 1810. [3] 4-5 [1, blank], [2], [1] 2-105 [1, blank], [9, meteorological observations] [1, blank], [107] 108-277 [3, blank], [2, meteorological observations], [1] 2-65 [1], [1] 2-53 [1, blank], [1] 2-87 [1, blank] pp., frontispiece portrait of Pike (pasted, as issued, to flyleaf to face title page), 6 copper-engraved maps, 3 folded letterpress tables (see lists below). 8vo (22 x 14 cm), original full tree calf, tan morocco label (skillfully recased; original spine, label, and endpapers preserved). Covers neatly reattached, spine cracked, extremities skillfully mended with sympathetic calf. Fine except for usual browning and offsetting to text customary to U.S. books of that era (less than usual in this copy). Maps and portrait very fine. Pencil gift inscription on front free endpaper: “Presented to John Sweeney by the obliged friend of his father, L. Durham” dated 1839. Preserved in a dark brown silk slipcase. This classic book is not particularly rare, but it is difficult to find a complete copy in original binding condition.


Lieut. Z.M. Pike [facsimile signature] [below portrait] Edwin sc. Oval stipple engraved bust portrait in full uniform. Portrait without line border: 9.1 x 7.4 cm; portrait and line border: 9.7 x 7.8 cm; Portrait and title: 12.1 x 7.8 cm; sheet size: 21.3 x 12.4 cm. The portrait is based on the original painting made in 1808 by noted American painter Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827). Dictionary of American Portraits, p. 429. The engraving is by David Edwin (Stauffer, American Engravers I, p. 76-77; II, p. 142 (#846); III, pp. 14-15. Kelsey, Engraved Prints of Texas, p. 17 (fig. 1.9).


All maps bound at end of text.

[1] Falls of St. Anthony. [upper right] References. Border to border: 11.2 x 19.8 cm. St. Anthony Falls, at present-day Minneapolis and the only major falls on the upper Mississippi, are shown in detail; the reference text sets forth the height, width, and length. Rumsey 730001.

[2] The First Part of Captn. Pike’s Chart of the Internal Part of Louisiana See Plate 2d. & References. [above lower neat line] Plate I. | Reduced and laid down on a Scale of 40 miles to the Inch. By Anthony Nau. Neat line to neat line: 44.4 x 45.3 cm. Compass rose. A highly detailed map showing topography, rivers, hot springs, towns, “Pawnee Hunting Ground” (and other Native American places), “Camp of American Troops” (and other military locations), “French Trading Post,” historical information, and personal observations, such as “Dividing Ridges of the Kanses [sic] and Arkansaw [sic] Water,” and “The Alligators go no farther North.” Ferry boat between St. Louis and St. Charles. Light offsetting including compass rose at top right, otherwise fine. Blevins, Mapping Wyoming, Map 7. Hayes, Historical Atlas of the American West, pp. 70-72 & Map 133: “Pike stated that the Great Plains were sandy deserts, ‘tracts of many leagues...on which not a speck of vegetable matter existed.’ The powerful idea of the Great American Desert was born.” Rumsey 730002. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West 297 (see lengthy comments in Wheat’s text, pp. 20-23) and bibliographical citations below). This map and the next are on the same scale and can be joined to be one map of the Southwest. The present map is the east side of the map, and as noted in title above, this is Plate I of 2 plates, together forming one map.

[3] A Chart Of the Internal Part of Louisiana, Including all the hitherto unexplored Countries, lying between the River La Platte of the Missouri on the N: and the Red River on the S: the Mississippi East and the Mountains of Mexico West; with a part of New Mexico & the Province of Texas. by Z.M. Pike Captn. U.S.I. [above lower neat line] Plate II. [lower left] References (shows various routes, symbols for American and Spanish Camps, Indian Villages, etc.) Neat line to neat line: 43.9 x 38.8 cm. Compass rose at middle left. This detailed map delineates the route of the American Exploring Party as well as the route “pursued by the Spaniards going out.” Lower part of map proper locates Santa Fe, “Tous,” Spanish and Indian villages, Spanish and American camps shown as well. Sangre de Christo Range labelled “Moderate White Snow cap’d Mountains very high.” The northwest corner of the map includes “Highest Peak” (eventually known as Pike’s Peak). “Genl Wilkinson’s Camp” located in “Neutral Territory.” Blevins, Mapping Wyoming, Map 6. Cohen, Mapping the West, pp. 97-99. Hayes, Historical Atlas of the American West, pp. 70-72 & Map 133 (see note in preceding entry): “The first mapping of Pikes Peak, then unnamed... Pike’s map, together with that of Lewis and Clark (which had not been published at the time Pike’s appeared in 1810), now displayed the river framework of the Great Plains between the Rockies and the Mississippi with reasonable accuracy.” Rumsey 730003. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West 298 (see lengthy comments in Wheat’s text, pp. 20-23, and bibliographical citations below). This map and the preceding map are on the same scale and can be joined to be one map of the Southwest. The present map is the west side of the map, and as noted in title above, this is Plate II of 2 plates, together forming one map.

[4] A Map of The Internal Provinces Of New Spain. The Outlines are from the Sketches of, but corrected and improved by Captain Zebulon M. Pike, who was conducted through that Country, in the Year 1807, by Order of the Commandant General of those Provinces. [below title upper right] References (capitals, Spanish villages, Indian villages, fortified towns, springs, old towns evacuated, boundaries, routes traveled by Americans, etc.). Neat line to neat line: 45.3 x 46.5 cm. A large map stretching from the Baja peninsula in the west to Natchitoches in the east, and from the Platte River and present-day Salt Lake City in the north, as far south as Saltillo and Durango (border of the Viceroyalty). The site of Philip Nolan’s murder is shown: “Philip Nolan killed and his Party (consisting of 12 Americans and 8 Spaniards and French) made Prisoners by a Party of Spaniards from Sta Antonio, many of whom I saw in the Provinces in 1807.” Shown in west Texas are “Immense Herds of Wild Horses.” South of the Platte River is an area labelled: “Immense Plains used as Pasturage by the Cibolas.” Martin & Martin 24 (p. 111): “The Brazos River was, for the first time on a printed map... The Colorado, Guadalupe, and San Antonio were equally well presented.... Pike’s map was based primarily on firsthand reconnaissance, an element always present in the progress of geographic knowledge of the America West.” Rumsey 730004. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West 299 (see lengthy comments in Wheat’s text, pp. 24-27) and bibliographical citations below).

[5] A Sketch of the Vice Royalty Exhibiting the several Provinces and its Aproximation [sic] to the Internal Provinces of New Spain. [below title] Harrison Sct. [lower left] References (divisions, roads, capital, Spanish towns, Indian towns, towns evacuated, roads, etc.). Neat line to neat line: 32.6 x 39.8 cm. Shows Mexico from the boundary line with the Internal Provinces in the north to the southeast coast of province of Oaxaca and east to Tehuantepec. Rumsey 730005.

[6] Map Of The Mississippi River From Its Source to the Mouth of the Missouri: Laid down from the notes of Lieutt. Z.M. Pike, by Anthony Nau. Reduced, and corrected by the Astronomical Observations of Mr. Thompson at its source; and of Captn. M. Lewis, where it receives the waters of the Missouri. By Nichs. King. Engraved by Francis Shallus, Philadelphia. Two sheets, joined at center, as issued. Neat line to neat line: 23 x 76.4 cm. Above title is a vignette of eagle with olive branch and lightning bolts beneath. Compass rose with ornate fleur-de-lis at top. The Mississippi River and its tributaries are shown, with latitude and longitude markings along the way. Rumsey 730006.

Folded Tables

Table C: Recapitulation of Furs and Peltries, Fond du Lac department, Marks and Numbers as per margin. North West Company, 1804-5.... Detached from text, but facing p. 40 of Appendix, Part I. Foxed, a few splits at folds (no losses).

Table F: Abstract of the number, &c. of the Nations of Indians residing on the Mississippi and its confluent streams, from St. Louis, Louisiana, to its source, including Red Lake and Lower Red River.... Facing p. 65, Appendix, Part 1. Neat repair to blank corner at upper right.

Undesignated Table: A Statistical Abstract of the nations of Indians who inhabit that part of Louisiana visited by Captain Z.M. Pike, in his tour of discovery in that country, in the years 1806 and 1807. Facing p. 53, Appendix, Part II.

     First edition of the first U.S. government exploration of the Southwest, with the first maps of the American West to display knowledge derived from actual exploration (Wheat). American Imprints 21089. Amon Carter Museum Exhibit, Crossroads of Empire (June 12-July 26, 1981). Basic Texas Books 163: “The beginning of serious interest in Texas.” Bennett, American Book Collecting, p. 46. Baughman, Kansas in Maps, pp. 18-19: “Pike’s remarkably detailed maps...explosively extended the world’s knowledge of Kansas and the West.” Bradford 4415. Braislin 1474. Cohen, Mapping the West, pp. 97-99: “In the hierarchy of significant westward expeditions, that of Lieutenant Zebulon Montgomery Pike (1779-1813) ranks right below that of Lewis and Clark... While his was not the first official reconnaissance of the west, he provided ‘the earliest official geographical image of the trans-Mississippi West’... Pike’s map and journal...provided the first authentic information about the Upper Mississippi... His map is the first to accurately delineate the Arkansas and its tributaries.” Day, Maps of Texas, p. 11. Eberstadt, Texas 162:603. Field 1217. Francaviglia, Mapping and Imagination in the Great Basin, fig. 4.4 (illustrating Map 4 above. & pp. 52-56): “Pike’s widely produced work served as an enticement to Anglo-Americans who were anxious to learn more about the wealth of New Spain and its possible inclusion into an expanding young nation.” Graff 3290-3291. Hayes, America Discovered, pp. 146-150: “Pike’s view of the Southwest would shape the popular vision of the lands west of the Mississippi for fifty years.” Hill I, p. 236. Hill II:1357. Howes P373. Jones 743. Luebke, Mapping the North American Plains, pp. 43-44, 195-196. Martin & Martin 24. Palau 225874. Phillips, American Sporting Books 295. Plains & Rockies IV:9:1. Raines, p. 165. Rittenhouse 467. Sabin 62936. Schwartz & Ehrenberg, The Mapping of America, p. 225: “First published maps to depict graphically the geographical knowledge of the entire southwest derived directly from exploring parties, and the earliest to reveal a practical route from St. Louis to Santa Fe.” Streeter, p. 328 (citing the book as especially desirable for a Texas collection): “Its early date and its writer make it a foundation piece.... The account of Texas in the appendix to Pike is the first, in English, for Texas as a whole. Three of its maps show Texas”; 1047: “Pike’s account of the journey and of the week he spent in San Antonio, where he was handsomely entertained by the Spanish officials, makes interesting reading.” Streeter Sale 3125. Tate, The Indians of Texas: An Annotated Bibliography 2183. TCU, Going to Texas: Five Centuries of Texas Maps, p. 26 (citing and illustrating the French edition of Map 2):

     Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West 297-299 & II, pp. 19-27:

[Pike’s maps are] the first maps of this entire region [the American West] to display knowledge derived from actual exploration, and although some authorities seem to have taken delight in belittling Pike’s achievements, these maps of the Plains area west from the Mississippi to the Rocky Mountains and through an important portion of these mountains are maps of outstanding historic interest. They were beautifully drawn by Anthony Nau, and their engraving was outstanding... Viewed together, they offer a remarkable picture of an important stretch of country that had hitherto been known only through the vaguest of rumors, or from the reports of a few unlettered trappers and voyageurs. Of the mountain regions visited by Pike not a thing had been even whispered on the Atlantic coast, and despite the many errors and misconceptions of the young explorer, these documents are milestones in the mapping of the American West....
[Maps 2 & 3 above] in its two parts was the first published map to show a practicable route from the Mississippi settlements to Santa Fe, and with all its faults, it is a map of great historic importance....The three maps of Pike’s account that have been here described [Wheat 297, 298, 299] offered to the American people a new and fascinating picture of the great Southwest across which the Santa Fe Trail would run before many years, as well as of important parts of the central mountain region still dominated by the great peak that bears the young Lieutenant’s name.

     Ralph E. Ehrenberg, “U.S. Army Military Mapping of the American Southwest during the Nineteenth Century” in Mapping and Empire: Soldier-Engineers on the Southwestern Frontier (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005), pp. 81-82:

Pike’s journey in 1806 took him into southeastern Colorado and northeastern New Mexico where his party was apprehended by a Spanish patrol on suspicion of spying. The party was held in Santa Fé and later Chihuahua before finally being released. Pike’s map of his expedition, Chart of the Internal Part of Louisiana [Maps 2 & 3 above] was compiled by Sergeant Antoine Nau, a French draftsman who apparently served as [General James] Wilkinson’s personal clerk and cartographer in New Orleans. It covers a region extending from the Platte River south to the Red River and from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains.... Nau reconstructed the western portion from traverse tables that Pike had smuggled out of Santa Fé in the rifle barrels of his men, the Spanish having confiscated his original sketch maps. [note 1l, p. 115] Pike’s original field maps were found in Mexico City by Western historian Herbert Eugene Bolton and returned to the United States in 1910. They are now housed in the Pike Papers, Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, RG 94, NARA.

     Pike in this work describes his duties as those of “astronomer, surveyor, commanding officer, clerk, spy, guide, and hunter” (p. 4, preface). William H. Goetzmann best sums up Pike’s blue-eyed innocence when captured by the Spanish and his papers and maps confiscated. Pike responded to the Spanish cavalry: “What, is not this the Red River?” Dr. Goetzmann wryly remarks: “No more successful espionage operation has ever been conducted in recorded American history” (Exploration and Empire, pp. 50-51). He goes on to say that Pike’s importance actually lies in this report and the maps (mostly compiled from memory) which contained the most significant work on northern Mexico published up to that time. Dr. Goetzmann also credits Pike with the so-called “Great American Desert” myth and the discovery of the “Southwest Passage” (which eventually would become the route of the transcontinental railway, opening up trade and opportunities for the realization of Manifest Destiny). “So in practical terms, Pike touched upon all the important themes that were to command Americana attention in the Southwest in the early nineteenth century.... As an explorer, he opened up immense vistas to the New American republic” (ibid, pp. 52-53).

     As for the perennial hearsay about the maps of Arrowsmith (see herein), Humboldt (see herein), and Pike (great cartographers all) and who stole from whom, see Jack Jackson, Shooting the Sun II, pp. 372-380 (Plate 84):

Pike, an indifferent mapmaker, evidently intended to credit Humboldt on his map but the credit line was left off during the engraving process.... If this omission was only a slip by the engraver, Pike has taken much undue criticism over the years for failing to acknowledge the map that was probably available to him through the copy taken by his commanding officer, General James Wilkinson.... To sort it all out is a maddening task, considering that so many links in the chain have rusted away. Simply stated then, the maps of Humboldt, Pike, and Arrowsmith vary considerably in their Texas portions, but taken together represent an understanding of the province not seen on maps published before their time. Between the three of them, they influenced most maps of Texas and northern New Spain for the next two decades.

     Pike did not oversee the publication of his book because he was otherwise occupied fulfilling military responsibilities for the Young Republic of the United States. He was killed in action at the storming of York (now Toronto), Canada, on April 27, 1813, when the enemies’ powder magazine exploded.


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