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Pocket Map of Bleeding Kansas by Abolitionists

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372.     [MAP]. WHITMAN, E[dmund] B[urke] & A.D. Searl. Map of Eastern Kansas By E.B. Whitman & A.D. Searl, General Land Agents Lawrence, Kansas 1856. Boston, Published by J.P Jewett and Co. Entered according to act of Congress in the year 1856 by E.B. Whitman & A.D. Searl, in the Clerks office of the district court of Mass. L.H. Bradford & Co.’s Lith, Boston [scale at top right, 13 miles to an inch] Scale of Miles [key at upper right with symbols for towns, trading posts, post offices, missions, forts, Indian villages, roads & trails, Indian boundaries, and state lines] Explanations…. [inset map of Fort Riley and environs at lower left] Government Reservation The Geographical Centre of U.S. Possessions [three small views of historic buildings centered above neat line] [1] Ruins of Eldridge House, Lawrence, Kansas. Destroyed May 21st., 1856 [2] Constitution Hall, Topeka, Kansas [3] Eldridge House, Lawrence, Kansas. Boston, 1856. Lithograph map on bank note paper, reservations and Fort Riley with original hand coloring in pink, green, yellow, and blue, neat line to neat line 67.5 x 53 cm; overall sheet size: 69 x 54 cm, folded into original dark brown ribbed cloth pocket covers (16 x 10 cm) with panel blind stamping on covers, title gilt-lettered on upper cover: Township Map of Eastern Kansas; inside front cover is Whitman & Searl’s printed broadside on bright yellow paper used as pastedown, printed text: The undersigned, with a view to meet the urgent demand by emigrants, for accurate and reliable information with regard to the different sections of the Territory, propose to open an “Emigrant’s Intelligence Office,” in Lawrence, Kansas, and to devote a portion of our attention to this business…. Whitman & Searl. Lawrence, Kansas, June 15, 1856. Pocket cover neatly and sympathetically re-backed, corners renewed, lower cover spotted. Some folds with mild browning and a few splits (no losses). Very good.

     First edition. Baughman, Kansas in Maps, pp. 52:3. Eberstadt 137:24. Graff 4640. Heaston, “Kansas Pocket Maps” 4. Jones, Adventures in Americana 1354. Phillips, Maps of America, p. 346. Rumsey 3069: “This was an early map for settlers and speculators. Inset map shows in detail the area around Ft. Riley, ‘The Geographical Centre of U.S. Possessions.’ The roads to California, Oregon, and Santa Fe are shown, with thirteen Indian reservations taking up about a fifth of the area of the map…. All the township and range lines completed to date are shown, making this a useful map for locating land claims.” Siebert Sale 7315:717. Streeter Sale 3903: “The map extends as far west as the 6th Principal Meridian. Very little is shown south of the 5th Standard Parallel.” The primary colored features on the map are tribal lands: Kansas or Kaws, Miamis, Sac & Foxes, Chippewas, Piankashaws & Weas, Ottaways, Peorias & Kaskaskias, Shawnees, Kickapoos, Pottawatamies, Delawares, Iowas, Wyandottes, and “Half Breed Land.” Forts include Fort Riley (both on the larger map and as an unbordered inset at lower left), Fort Leavenworth, and Fort Scott (abandoned). Also shown are “Fort Laramie Road,” “California Road,” “Oregon Road,” and “Santa Fe Road.”

     This map of the eastern part of Kansas Territory is heavily influenced by Free-Soil interests and reflects the tense situation in the area at the time, when it was known as “Bleeding Kansas.” It seems clearly directed at soliciting more abolitionist settlers from the East, although it hints at the troubles being caused by pro-slavery forces. The area is generally depicted as prosperous and growing. Native Americans are confined to their reservations, large and small, and an abundant, well-watered landscape stretches out on the face of the map. Numerous towns, the most important of which is Lawrence, are also depicted. Finally, Whitman and Searl, in their small June 15, 1856, broadside, which is used as the pocket folder pastedown, offer their services as complete emigration agents, offering to find plots, supply information to interested parties, and complete surveys.

     On the other hand, darker events are also hinted at. In the vicinity of Lawrence, shown without comment on their significance, are three December, 1855, encampments of Shannon’s posse, a pro-slavery force meant to intimidate the opposition. One of the vignettes shows a destroyed Eldridge House, burned by Sheriff Samuel J. Jones on May 21, 1856, at which time Jones and his cohorts did a great deal more damage to Lawrence. The hotel, also known as the Free State Hotel, catered specifically to Free-Soil emigrants. Another vignette, however, shows the resurrected building, although it was not rebuilt until 1857. These ominous facts, though depicted, are hardly explained, the only hint of the Lawrence calamity being the fact that the town is circled in red and has a tiny U.S. flag flying above it. Certainly no mention is made of how Eldridge House came to be “destroyed.”

     Most of the men behind this publication were ardent Free-Soilers. Whitman was an agent of the National Kansas Committee, formed on July 9, 1856, and intended to actively support abolitionist settlers. He was also active after the Civil War in discovering the remains of Union soldiers and having them properly interred. Publisher John P. Jewett, who published Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1852, was also an abolitionist. Both gentlemen, despite subtle efforts to be honest about events, glossed over the true situation in eastern Kansas somewhat in an effort to attract more like-minded emigrants.

     In many ways this map is a classic example of the dozens of emigration maps that were published as soon the first European settlers arrived on the Atlantic seaboard in the seventeenth century. Such maps tended to gloss over reality while putting forth a picture of ease and prosperity, similar to the situation cartographically depicted here. Clearly, potential prosperity abounded in Kansas; however, so did potential trouble and even death.


Sold. Hammer: $1,500.00; Price Realized: $1,800.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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