[MAP]. MITCHELL, Samuel Augustus (publisher). Map of Mexico, Including Yucatan & Upper California, Exhibiting the Chief Cities and Towns, the Principal Travelling Routes &c. Philadelphia: Published by S. Augustus Mitchell N.E. Corner of Market and Seventh Sts. 1847. Entered According to the Act of Congress in the Year 1846 by S. Augustus Mitchell, in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Lithographed map, original full coloring of Mexico and vivid rose outline coloring of Texas. Border to border: 44.1 x 64.1 cm; overall sheet size: 45.2 x 65.3 cm. Inset street map and environs of Monterrey at top right on tinted pink ground: The Late Battlefield. 12mo (13.6 x 8.2 cm) original embossed purple roan covers, stamped in gilt on upper cover Mexico, front pastedown with printed statistical broadside: Extent and Population of Mexico affixed to verso of front board, with reading “New Santander” as capital of Tamaulipas. Other than very light browning at folds, light adhesive stain at left border, foxing to printed pastedown, a few neat archival reinforcements to verso of map at folds, and light wear to covers, a fine copy, as issued, with very strong coloring.
This is a very early issue of this oft-reworked Mexican-American War map. The earliest issue is thought to have the inset battle plan at the top uncolored, the inset at top identified only as The Late Battlefield (as in the present copy), fewer battlefields marked (Alamo, San Jacinto, Palo Alto, Resaca de Palma). This map was probably issued early in 1847 before late February, when news of the United States victory at Buena Vista would have been known. This map was part of the series of popular maps published by Mitchell to provide constantly evolving news to satisfy the public’s riveted focus on the course of the Mexican-American War and “Manifest Destiny.” What began as a rather modest affair changed over the course of the war, with Mitchell revising his original map until it had grown far larger than this early issue. By 1847, Mitchell had added a large inset Map of the Principal Roads, but with the same title to the upper inset. In yet another version of the larger map, the inset at upper right is renamed The Battle Field of Monterey. See also Streeter Sale 3868. Taliaferro 284; and Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West 548; Maps of the California Gold Region 35. Here Texas is outlined in bright rose in the Emory configuration, with its overweening Panhandle extending north into Wyoming.
This jingoistic map is an example of Manifest Destiny expressed cartographically. As the Mexican-American War progressed, Mitchell reissued this map, each time slightly altering the plate to reflect American progress towards Mexico City and marking battlegrounds with a flag. Older battles shown include the Alamo and San Jacinto. Battles in the present war include Resaca de la Palma, Palo Alto, and the crucial victory at Monterrey, which is shown in the inset. Texas is shown as an independent entity with its border at the Rio Grande River and its Panhandle extending all the way to the 42nd parallel. If the map itself is not blunt enough, the text of the “Extent And Population Of Mexico” makes the point of view quite clear: “In the above statement Mexico is represented as entire, with the exception of Texas; but at the present time (1846) New California, New Mexico, and Yucatan, comprising about two-fifths of her territory, can hardly be considered as belonging to her. New California was taken possession of by Commodore Sloat, July 7th, 1846, and New Mexico by General Kearney, August, 1846. Yucatan has declared her independence, yet it is not positively hostile to the Mexican government: and but a little reliance can be placed on the permanency of her present position.”
As a map advancing cartographic knowledge, it is a distinctive failure because many of the areas shown are curiously devoid of any features or locations; such details were probably not included since showing such geographical matters was hardly Mitchell’s purpose in the first place and the “failure” is probably intended. So successful was this map in satisfying the avid curiosity of the United States public for details on the War that the same year Mitchell produced an even more grandiose version with the same title.
Samuel Augustus Mitchell (1792-1868), teacher, geographer, and publisher, has been called the first great America cartographer. While teaching geography, Mitchell became frustrated with the apathetic treatment of geography in textbooks. In the early 1830s he established what became a large publishing house in Philadelphia where he and his staff of more than 250 employees created maps, geographies, textbooks, and atlases based on the latest geographic discoveries. Mitchell’s embarkation into the field of cartographic publishing came at a serendipitous moment in United States history, when national expansion and increased travel due to extended stage, canal, steamboat, and railroad routes stimulated interest in newer parts of the country, Texas, and the West. Mitchell generally strove for accuracy in his cartographic work and met the rising commercial demand for maps for almost four decades, creating meritorious maps for travelers and outstanding, historic maps of Texas, the Mexican-American War, California, the West, and the Civil War. Mitchell did for cartography what Noah Webster did for grammar and spelling.