Immense Wall Map of the U.S. after the Dust of Manifest Destiny Settled & Before the Great Split of the Civil War

The Imaginary West, including Arizona as a Panhandle & the Proposed States of Colona & Shoshone

Click thumbnails to open zoomable images.

336. [MAP]. MITCHELL, S[amuel] Augustus & W[ellington] Williams. Mitchell’s New National Map, Exhibiting the United States with the North American British Provinces, Sandwich Islands, Mexico and Central America, together with Cuba and other West India Islands. Philadelphia, Published by S. Augustus Mitchell. 1860. Constructed and Engraved by W. Williams 33 South Fifth St. Philadelphia [population table below lower border] Population of Each County in the United States, According to the Census of 1850; Including, also, the Censuses Taken Recently by Many of the States. With the Name of the County Town. [scenes, tables, and inset maps, clockwise from top right] Landing of the Pilgrims Dec. 22nd. 1620; American Steamship Crossing the Atlantic; Columbus Ship Discovery of America Oct. 12th 1492; Clipper Ship Flying Cloud; Counties and County Towns in Canada... [double hemisphere map, 19.7 x 38.5 cm] Map of the World on the Globular Projection Exhibiting the Eastern and Western Hemispheres. Constructed and Engd. by W. Williams Phila. [larger map, at lower left, 31 x 41.3 cm] Map of the World on the Mercator Projection, Exhibiting the American Continent as Its Centre [distance and statistical tables in 6 columns] Distance Tables Land Routes... Water Routes... Length of Rivers... Height of Mountains... Area in Square Miles and Population [map of the Hawaiian Islands, 13 x 19 cm] Map of the Sandwich Islands Discovered by Captn. Cook in 1778. [numerous vignettes: ships, scenes, etc.] Philadelphia, 1860. Engraved wall map on four joined sheets, original hand coloring (shading and outline), wide ornate botanical border; border to border: 59.25 x 59.75 inches; top border to lower line of population table at bottom: 64 x 62 inches: overall sheet size: 64 x 65 inches. Map mounted on new archival cloth with new selvage, professionally washed, stabilized, and varnish removed. Fine condition with excellent color. This type of map normally shows up in a state of disarray, but the professional restoration has already been done for this copy.

     The map first came out in 1856 (see copy in our Auction 22: The map was very popular and continued to be published until at least as late as 1862. Phillips, America, lists the 1856 edition (p. 906) and the 1862 edition (p. 910). Rumsey 564 (1860 edition but variant copyright notice). Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West #896n, Vol. IV, p. 49n. Each “update” of this map seems to have elements that set it apart from prior and subsequent printings. At this point the territory of the United States had mushroomed so rapidly and extensively that the mapmakers were not entirely sure what the country west of the Mississippi even looked like and were at a loss to accurately depict it in its entirety, even as proposed boundaries and territories were shifting. It took a while to properly map Manifest Destiny, and Manifest Destiny was what Mitchell’s grand map was all about. This map was more about the achievement of Manifest Destiny and westward expansion than detailed cartographical updating. Now the United States is delineated from Atlantic to Pacific and includes the acquisitions due to the annexation of Texas, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (the recently surveyed Boundary between Mexico and the U.S.), and the Gadsden Purchase. Shifting political boundaries and increased westward emigration are reflected in new territories. Everything in the United States is expanding, even the population (which is set out in statistical detail) and transportation (with charts indicating distances by land and water and vignettes of clipper ship and steamships). Other vignettes hark back to the landfall of Columbus in America in 1492 and the Pilgrims’ arrival at Plymouth Rock in 1620.
     As Wheat notes (Mapping the Transmississippi West #896n, Vol. IV, p. 49n):

The immense “New National Map” that S. Augustus Mitchell published in 1856 was an achievement. It, however, suffered in the West from the very thing the Pacific Railroad Surveys had suffered from—the failure to recognize that the ox teams of the emigrants had long since sought out the paths of easiest travel. In the north Governor Stevens’ route is prominent, called “Gov. Stevens’ Pro[posed] Route for Northern Pacific R.R.,” and in the center the “Pro. Central Railroad Route to the Pacific” runs north of Great Salt Lake, due west from there to Noble’s Pass, and down to the valley by the Feather River. In the south is seen the “Pro. Route of [the] Texas Western Railroad” which runs across Texas to El Paso, thence to Fort Yuma and north through Walker’s Pass to San Francisco. In modern Arizona it is termed “Pro. Southern Pacific Railroad Route.” Whipple’s route is also shown from Albuquerque to the Mojave Villages and on to a connection with the Southern Pacific at Walker’s Pass. The only difficulty with these explorers’ routes was that on the map they appeared as completed lines of railroad, a conclusion not denied by the fact that they were called “Pro.,” or proposed routes. Mitchell’s immense map was doubtless popular in many school rooms, but the fact that Fremont’s and other explorers’ routes were shown hardly minimized their lack of finality. To be sure, no one could have shown the West as it was, with all its ramifications.

     Still and all, Mitchell deserves an “A” for effort, because as he altered the map in the next six years, he attempted to keep up with the warp speed of proposals and changes in the West. The present 1860 edition has some of the more interesting changes on the rapidly evolving West. Nothing is tentative or pastel about this 1860 map; for one thing, the states, territories, and national boundaries are far more boldly marked in vivid rose in this later version. Here the Gadsden Purchase really pops out, and Arizona is not anything like the Arizona we now know. Instead, it is a long, skinny panhandle with its northern border extending from Southern California and the mouth of the Colorado River to present-day Kermit, Texas, east of the Pecos River. Just as fascinating are the proposed states or territories of Colona and Shoshone in the West. The territory of Colona appears on this map, predating the appearance of Colorado on a printed map the following year. Similarly, an oddly mis-projected Idaho appears, but is called Shoshone. These are rare place names in the history of toponyms of the West, and in the way of cartographical dissemination, we find these names in other maps, such as those of Andriveau-Goujon’s 1865 Carte Generale Des Etats, Johnson and Browning’s 1860 New Illustrated & Embellished County Map of the Republics of North America, and others. (It would be interesting to collect maps with West of the Imagination place names.) One can only muse about the inset of the Hawaiian Islands (like Texas, Hawaii was an independent nation before becoming part of the United States) as a possible indication of broader territorial ambitions in the wake of swelling Manifest Destiny. The same might be true for areas shown on the map such as Central America and Cuba.

     S. Augustus Mitchell (1792-1868) and his family’s cartographical empire were among the foremost commercial map establishments in the United States during the nineteenth century. See Ristow, American Maps and Mapmakers and Tooley’s Dictionary of Mapmakers, revised edition, Vol. III, pp. 260-261. See Tooley, Vol. IV, pp. 393-394 for more on engraver Wellington Williams.


Sold. Hammer: $2,000.00; Price Realized: $2,450.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts


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