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First Map Published by the United States Government to Recognize the Boundaries of the Republic of Texas

Texas at the Beginning of the End


[MAP]. [TEXAS]. EMORY, William Hemsley. Map of Texas and the Countries Adjacent: Compiled in the Bureau of the Corps of Topographical Engineers; From the Best Authorities. For the State Department, under the Direction of Colonel J J Abert, Chief of the Corps, By W H Emory, 1st. Lieut. T.E. War Department 1844. Published by Order of the U.S. Senate [inset table at left at middle] “The Present Boundaries of Texas Are Defined by an Act of the Texian Congress, Approved Dec: 19th: 1836...Statistics...Population....” [below preceding] “References....” [below preceding] “Authorities” [Humboldt, Pike, Arrowsmith, Stephen F. Austin, et al.] [below preceding] “Note” [relative position of the Presidio of Rio Grande and San Antonio de Bexar] [upper right] “Area” [table giving limits of Texas as defined by Republic of Texas Congress and U.S. Senate resolution]. [Washington, 1844]. Lithographic map delineating the area from the Mississippi to the Pacific between 22° and 42° north, relief shown by hachures, on two joined sheets, printed on thin paper, original pale sienna outline color of Texas borders; neat line to neat line: 53.5 x 82.5 cm; overall sheet size: 61 x 89 cm. Lightly creased where formerly folded, very light browning at center fold, small void at top center (slight loss of neat line, not affecting map proper), slightly wrinkled. Overall fine. Modern wooden gilt frame, map hinged to mat, under Plexiglas with explanatory text. Not examined outside of frame.

First edition, large format edition, issue unknown (present copy does not include “W.J. Stone Sc. Washn.” after the title, but does include below scale: Published by order of the U.S. Senate; “Engineers” in title correctly spelled; printed on thinner paper; definitive boundaries of Texas in pink; other minute differences in punctuation, etc. in title). Streeter 1543A: “The order of priority of the two issues of the large scale map (entry Nos. 1543, 1543A) and of the two editions, one large scale (entry No. 1543) and the other in smaller scale (entry No. 1543B), cannot now be determined, but it is probable that the large scale map was issued before the edition on smaller scale. A resolution passed June 11, 1844, by the Senate called for the publication of 1000 copies of the map ‘provided it can be done for the sum of $400,’ and on December 19, 1844, the Senate voted that 5000 more copies be furnished ‘provided the cost...does not exceed 12 cents per copy, including paper, printing, pasting and coloring.’”

Eberstadt, Texas 162:279: “Emory’s ample boundaries place Santa Fe in Texas, and El Paso some 30 miles too far north. This error was repeated in Disturnell’s ‘Treaty Map’ of 1847, and occasioned the Gadsden Purchase.” Contours of Discovery: “Emory was the first to depict this entire area correctly.... Emory’s map is typical of the many maps which have not only reflected the events of history but also actually helped shape them. In compiling the best information that was known about Texas and its surrounding territories, Emory gives us a clear insight into the perceptions of American decision-makers on the eve of annexation and the Mexican War which followed.”

Goetzmann, Exploration and Empire, p. 77: “Master map of the Southwest in 1844.” Martin & Martin, #33 & p. 37: “As the Republic period drew to a close, the United States Army saw the likelihood of a future war in the Texas region, and, planning for that contingency, produced a landmark map. Compiled by William H. Emory of the Corps of Topographical Engineers, for whom this was merely the beginning of a long association with Texas and the Southwest, the map represented the best available topographical description of the region at the time of its publication in 1844.” Reinhartz & Saxon (eds.), Mapping and Empire: Soldier-Engineers on the Southwestern Frontier, p. 95. Rumsey 0262.001: “First separate government map of Texas.” Streeter 1543. Taliaferro, Cartographic Sources in the Rosenberg Library, p. 15 (designating Emory’s map as important for its contribution to Texas geography as a whole and noting that it provided “a valuable record of the social and political evolution of the state during the crucial years when much of its territory was first settled by a population of European origin”). Virga, Texas: Mapping the Lone Star State through History, pp. 32-33. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West 478 (describing the small format issue).

This is a fundamental map in the historical cartography of Texas and the Southwest—the first map published by the United States government officially recognizing the boundaries of the Republic of Texas, thus identifying Texas as a separate political entity. Emory’s map was part of the annexation treaty between the U.S. and Texas in 1844. The map is a political-legal document of great historical significance.

H. Bailey Carroll in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Vol. 50, No. 2, comments on this map:

This map is important even from the antiquarian viewpoint. It was made by men having excellent technical standards for 1844. It reveals in a striking manner the extent of geographical information about Texas and the Southwest....

The map is further important with reference to two boundary disputes having to do with Texas: (1) the Nueces-Rio Grande and (2) the western boundary of Texas. The map shows clearly that the original assumption on the part of the government of the United States was that Texas was to be annexed with boundaries as defined by the Texan Congress on December 19, 1836. Twelve years before the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Texas claimed the area between the Nueces and the Rio Grande. The Old Alcalde, Chief Justice O.M. Roberts, made the classic statement of the case in State vs. Bustamente (47 Tex. 320): “Texas claimed the territory [between the Nueces and the Rio Grande], in defining its boundaries on the 19th day of December, 1836. In 1846, the claim was perfected by possession, and by actual exercise of exclusive jurisdiction, and from that time it was lost by the State of Tamaulipas, in Mexico, for all purposes whatever, whether of judicial action or the exercise of powers relating to eminent domain. And it never afterwards recovered such lost powers.”

Contentions that the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo dealt with the area between the Nueces and Rio Grande and conferred certain rights on Mexican citizens therein have recently been dealt with in Amaya vs. Stanolind Oil and Gas Co. (62 P. Supp. 181) wherein Judge Allen B. Hannay ruled that the treaty did not at all relate to or apply to lands north of the Rio Grande.

The disputed western boundary of Texas was substantially, but not entirely, fixed in the Compromise of 1850. This Abert-Emory map is important in showing the Texan claim before the 1850 settlement and in demonstrating that the Texan claim had been accepted as valid by the United States. The original printed map shows a water-color line outlining the area of Texas. According to W.L.G. Joerg, chief of the division of maps and charts of the National Archives, this line is now light brown but may well have been red originally and have changed in the interval. Also Joerg points out: “This narrow band of water color attempts only to follow in general, or to ‘pick out,’ the rivers, parallels of latitude, and meridians of longitude that constitute the boundary, and too much importance should, therefore, not be attached to slight deviations of the color band from the actual features constituting segments of the boundary. In other words, however much the color band may waver, the author intended to show the boundary as defined by the Rio Grande, the 42nd parallel, the meridian of the source of the Arkansas River, the Arkansas itself, the 100th meridian, the Red River, the lower Sabine River, etc.”

Physical features are not always precise, since Emory relied in part on other sources, as noted in his list of Authorities printed on the map. For instance, the Big Bend area of Texas is compressed, a common error on maps of that period due to the paucity of actual surveys in that wild country. Emory’s struggle with conflicting cartographical sources may be seen in his placing Presidio de Rio Grande (San Juan Bautista) on the map twice, with “See note,” which refers to the “Note” at the lower left of the map, where Emory explains that it was impossible to ascertain which location was correct from the information he had at hand. Cultural content includes the depiction of various Native American tribes that had been removed by the United States north of the Red River, including Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Creek. A large note in the Texas Panhandle reads: “Summer Range of the Camanches.” Town names reveal clues about migration patterns, such as “Kentucky Settlement” on the Red River west of the Cross Timbers, referring to the 1841 Peters Colony grant with many colonists from Kentucky. The most striking feature of this pivotal map will always be its ambitious—if not audacious—Panhandle, grabbing most of New Mexico and other western regions almost as far north as South Pass. 

By far the most important pre-war map that shows the great stakes involved when Taylor crossed into Texas and encountered Mexican troops.


Sold. Hammer: $7,500.00; Price Realized: $9,187.50.

Auction 24 Abstracts

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