Manifestering Destiny

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138. FARNHAM, Thomas J[efferson]. Mexico: Its Geography-Its People-and Its Institutions: With a Map, Containing the Results of the Latest Explorations of Fremont, Wilkes, and Others. By Thomas J. Farnham, Author of “Travels across the Great Western Plains,” “Travels in California,” &c. &c. New York: H. Long & Brother, 32 Ann-Street, [ca. 1846]. [1-5] 6-64 pp., folded map (see below). 8vo (21.5 x 13.5 cm), original tan pictorial wrappers with portrait of Santa Anna, bound in modern brown leather over brown cloth, spine lettered in gilt. Upper wrapper soiled and torn (verso reinforced with tissue), lower wrap soiled and repaired. Map moderately foxed, but overall very good. Occasional mild toning to text. Ex-library, with typical markings on upper wrap and second leaf, title with perforated library stamp, circulation card affixed to inside upper board. This first issue is very scarce.


Mexico, Texas & California by Thos. J. Farnham Author of Travels in Oregon, California &c. &c. [below title] Lith. of Lewis & Brown, 272 Pearl St. N.Y. [above neat line lower center] Entered according to the act of Congress in the year 1846 by T.J. Farnham in the Clerk’s Office of the District of the Southern District of N. York. Lithograph map with states of Mexico, Texas, and territories in original color; Santa Fe Trail clearly delineated; neat line to neat line: 27.2 x 25.8 cm; overall sheet size; 32 x 30 cm.

     First edition, first issue, with copyright of Theodore Foster. Day, Maps of Texas, p. 42 (photostat): “The map shows states, territories, roads, mountains, rivers, towns, forts, location of Indians, Santa Fe Trail, route from California to the United States through the Great South Pass, lakes.” Garrett & Goodwin, The Mexican-American War, p. 21. Plains & Rockies IV 120b:1: “Most of the text is devoted to a superficial description of Mexico, with only paragraphs about California, Texas, New Mexico, and the Santa Fe Trail.” Sabin 23870. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West #508: “This, so far as the American West is concerned, is a sad performance. The map purports to reach the Oregon border and the ‘Great South Pass,’ Little is shown until the Mexican Border is reached”, III, p. 508.

     Farnham (1804-1848) travelled to the West Coast from Illinois with a group of green adventurers, almost none of whom, except Farnham and two others, actually made it to Oregon. Upon arrival at Fort Vancouver on the Columbia River he sponsored a petition calling on the federal government to annex the territory. From Oregon, Farnham went to Hawaii, returned to California, crossed Mexico, and went back to Illinois by way of the Mississippi River. His arrival in California in April of 1840 coincided with the arrest, and subsequent deportation to San Blas, of Isaac Graham and a group of American and British men on charges of attempting to overthrow the Mexican government. This incident became known as the Graham Affair and Farnham, self-appointed legal counsel for the deported men, championed Graham as a pretext for the United States’ seizure of California. He subsequently returned to San Francisco, where he died. In his writings, he actively promoted U.S. expansion to the western parts of North America, and Rittenhouse (Santa Fe Trail 201) conjectured that he might even have been a secret agent for the U.S. government. His Travels in the Californias, and Scenes in the Pacific Ocean (1844) is a Zamorano 80 selection.

     In his preface, Farnham is shockingly frank in expressing his bigoted perception of and prejudices toward Mexico and Mexicans:

No parts of the earth are so pregnant with great events as these. Inhabited by a race incapable of self-government; whose vices are so numerous and deleterious as to prevent any considerable increase of their numbers; whose union with the Indian and Negro debase the morals and decrease, from generation to generation, their physical and mental powers—Mexico must eventually be peopled and governed by another race. As the Indian and other inferior orders of the human family have ever given place to the Caucasian branch; so must, as a general law, all mixtures of that branch with these, fade before the greater intelligence of its pure blood—so certainly as the stars do before the sun. How interesting then does the fate of Mexicans become; and their country—the theatre of coming acts and scenes of untold influence over man—how important for Americans to know it well. The following pages describe it. AUTHOR.


Auction 23 Abstracts

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