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October 26, 2007

“De Cordova literally sold Texas to the world”
First Texas Encyclopedia

46. DE CORDOVA, J[acob Raphael]. Texas: Her Resources and Her Public Men. A Companion for J. De Cordova’s New and Correct Map of the State of Texas.... First Edition. Philadelphia: Printed by E. Crozet, Cor. Thirteenth & Market, 1858. 371 [1, calendar] pp. 8vo (19.2 x 12.3 cm), original olive green cloth, covers blind-embossed, title in gilt on spine. Green cloth faded (especially at spine), light outer staining and shelf wear, interior with light scattered foxing, front free endpaper with small strip clipped at top, generally very good. Signed ink presentation in blue ink on front free endpaper: “With the best wishes of E.W. Moore.” Title page with author’s ink note: “Com E. W. Moore with the respects of The Author.” Naval hero Moore was named commander of the Republic of Texas Navy in 1839 (see Handbook of Texas Online: Edwin Ward Moore). Contemporary ink manuscript note at foot of p. 54 in author’s hand commenting on diseases of sheep.

            First edition, first issue. A persistent bibliographical tradition, dating back at least to Howes, describes this book as 371 pp. but implies it does not have the index, here present on pp. 365-371. Despite that confusion, this would appear to be the genuine first edition. This issue may be readily distinguished by the facts that the page number on p. 67 is battered, p. 351 is misnumbered 251, p. 369 is misnumbered, and signature 8, on pp. 188-190, has a discussion entitled “Slave and Free Labor.” The sheets bulk 2.3 cm.

            Basic Texas Books 38: “The first attempt at an encyclopedia of Texas, this work contains a wealth of still-useful material.... De Cordova, a native of Jamaica [and] one of the earliest Jewish settlers in Texas...did some of the first genuine scholarly research ever done in Texas while compiling the book, interviewing leading men, researching newspaper files, searching county court records.... The volume includes biographies, land laws, climatology, statistics, articles on railroads, the cotton industry, sheep raising, geology, schools, farming, slavery, churches, cattle, the lumber industry, gambling, and other subjects.” Bradford 1262: “A cyclopædia of Texas.” Dykes, Western High Spots (“Western Movement—Its Literature”), pp. 12-13. Eberstadt, Texas 162:245. Howes D201. Rader 1098. Raines, p. 68. Sabin 16775. Natalie Ornish, refers to De Cordova’s sobriquet “Publicist of an Empire” and comments: “De Cordova literally sold Texas to the world” (p. 58 in Natalie Ornish, Pioneer Jewish Texans (Dallas: Texas Heritage Press, 1989); see also Handbook of Texas Online: Jacob Raphael De Cordova.

            This work was meant to accompany the author’s distinguished map of Texas (see under De Cordova in the map section herein). At pp. 29-30 is a discussion of De Cordova’s new edition of his Texas map which the author prefaces by remarking, “Every person visiting Texas ought to be provided with a reliable and convenient map of the State of Texas,” and recommending that every traveller purchase the map. De Cordova remarks that the new edition of his map has been revised based on an exploring trip he made in April-June, 1856, and that the areas around the upper waters of the Brazos and Red Rivers have been revised and corrected. He states that on the trip he discovered a southern tributary of the upper Red River, which he named the Pease River in honor of Governor Pease. Included are the testimonials by Rusk, Houston, et al. that appear on the printed map.

            This work was intended to be of use to the prospective emigrant and to promote the state, as was fitting for the foremost Texas land promoter of the time. The book is full of practical advice about securing lands, financing such, and holding on to them (helpful hints include being sure to pay your taxes on time). Each county is covered, prominent men have their biographies given, and much other useful information is included. The work is also, however, a portable advertisement for many Texas enterprises, including De Cordova’s own land sales, which are listed on pp. 109-126, and amount to tens of thousands of acres. De Cordova’s hard-earned and advanced geographical knowledge is also evident, especially, for example, in the extensive list of river tributaries given on pp. 73-93.

            De Cordova includes numerous references and discussions about the rise in value of livestock in the state, and p. 54 has a general discussion on “Texas Cattle” concluding: “One fact that always attracts the attention of graziers from the older States is the early maturity of our cattle and the immense size and power of our oxen.” Cattle raising and its prospect are covered in most all of the essays on the individual Texas counties. Goliad, Harris, and San Saba counties are especially highly praised as livestock raising areas. Regarding the latter, De Cordova remarks on p. 256: “Texas is emphatically a grazing-country, and it would be invidious in us to designate any one spot as presenting superior advantages over the rest of the State for stock-raising; yet we must acknowledge that the region of country watered by the San Saba and Upper Colorado River and her tributaries is pre-eminently adapted to this business. The cattle appear to grow larger and fatter, and come to maturity at least one year sooner, than they do in the southern counties.” On p. 257 the author sets out the difference between the outlay necessary for stock in Connecticut and Texas. ($500-1,000)

Sold. Hammer: $850.00; Price Realized: $998.75

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