How We Achieved “From Sea to Shining Sea”

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288. [MAP]. ENSIGN & THAYER (publishers). Map with pictorial broadside, all enclosed within a green geometric border with stars and U.S. shields: [Title of broadside at top]: Seat of War & Battles; [below broadside title, portraits of Generals Scott and Taylor at left and right (biographical text on each below), elaborate illustration of American eagle with U.S. flag on wings at sea, below which is a battle scene and text block beneath]: Gen. Scott... Gen. Taylor... Battle of Monterey... Outline History of the Mexican War; [title of map]: Map of the Seat of War; [table at lower left of map] Distances in Mexico...; [below lower border of broadside]: Entered according to Act of Congress in the Year 1847, by Ensigns & Thayer, in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York—Published by Ensigns and Thayer 50 Ann Street, New York. Sowle & Ward, 43 Cornhill, Boston. And 12 Exchange St., Buffalo; [2 scenes below map at left]: City of Vera Cruz and Castle of San Juan de Ulloa, Taken by the Americans, March 13, 1847; Battle of Churubusco, near the City of Mexico, August 20, 1847, Lossing Barrett Sc.; [scenes and text at left] Capture of Gen. La Vega; Battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma...; Gen. Santa Anna; Battles of Vera Cruz and Cerro Gordo...; Battles of Contreras and Churubusco [with female figure of Justice] Rufus Blanchard. Cincinnati; [scenes and text at right]: Battle of Buena Vesta [sic]; Battle of Buena Vista, February 22d and 23d, 1847...; Gen. Ampudia; Battle of Monterey September 21, 22, and 23, 1846...; [continuation of text at lower left with female figure of Liberty]. New York, 1847. Wood-engraved pictorial broadside and map of Mexico and most of Texas, with original color, mounted on contemporary cloth; map: neat line to neat line: 16.5 x 20.5 cm; text, map, and vignettes: 73.5 x 54.2 cm. Uniform mild toning and a few spots and stains, a few short tears not affecting image, otherwise fine. The ephemeral nature of this series of popular prints has resulted in their being fairly scarce, especially in acceptable condition.

     This map is one of six maps used in teaching American history on the theme of visualizing U.S. imperial expansion into Mexico during and after the Mexican-American War. Garrett & Goodwin, Mexican-American War, p. 563. Rumsey 4080: “This is derived from the Ornamental Map of the United States & Mexico, published by Phelps and by Ensigns & Thayer, in several editions starting in 1846. The map is of Mexico only, taken from the larger map that appears on the Ornamental Map... The text follows war developments up to September 15, 1847.” The keen interest evoked by dramatically unfolding events in the Mexican-American war led to an outpouring of images and imprints, attempting to sate the public’s deep need to know. For ten years, people in the United States had been following events in the Texas-Mexico conflict—the Alamo, Goliad, the Santa Fe Expedition and prisoners, the decimation after Mier, Texas annexation, and, finally, the opening battles of the Mexican-American War fought on Texas soil. News of the conflict created great excitement, and publishers, printers, and mapmakers were quick to supply images and imprints to document a truly international event with resounding consequences. The present print is an amazing example of the iconography of that period, which seemingly captures the three genres—images, maps, and text embodying the propagandistic history associated with Manifest Destiny. A set of principles exactly defining Manifest Destiny never was exactly formulated, but it was keenly felt, consisting of a deeply felt belief in the divine destiny of expansionism by the U.S., and its agenda to disseminate “the great experiment of liberty” (John L. O’Sullivan), along with other popular ideas of the era, such as American exceptionalism and Romantic nationalism. This imprint captures it all in word and image.

     The map apparently was a hastily contrived affair, using an earlier block which was cut to show the area of interest, resulting in loss of some names, such as “Huachuca” for “Chihuahua.” This illustrated broadside was the collaborative effort of several publishers, artists, publishers, and map sellers, including Ensign & Thayer, Rufus Blanchard, D. Needham, Joseph Ward, and Losing-Barrett. One of the text insets gives statistics on the Texas battles: “Battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de Palma, May 8th & 9th, 1846.”


Sold. Hammer: $850.00; Price Realized: $1,041.25.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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