hen Nicholas P. Trist
composed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, he did
so almost entirely in ignorance of the geography of the country through which
the boundary line between the two nations would run.
His researches had been large-
ned to the erroneous commercial
maps of Mitchell, Tanner, and Disturnell and
a report compiled by Captain Robert E. Lee based on the works of Moscaro, Antonio
Barreiro, and José Agustín Escudero. These works were likewise for the most part
inaccurate, as Trist himself realized...
Nevertheless, with time pressing hard upon
him...he managed to create a version of the boundary line which satis
ed the Mexican
negotiators... The southern and western limits of
New Mexico were to be those
ed on J. Disturnell’s ‘
Map of the United States...1847,’ a map known at the time
to be inaccurate, as were all others available, but nonetheless pressed into service as an
nition of the limits of New Mexico. The use of this map and the di
of deciding on the true boundary of New Mexico caused the most trouble in the
negotiations between the United States and Mexico. Because of this, the explorer as
boundary surveyor was called upon to exercise maximum in
uence on the course of
—From William H.
Goetzmann’s monumental classic,
Exploration and Empire: The
Explorer and the Scientist in the Winning of the American West,
New York: Knopf, 1967,
he unbridled spirit
of free enterprise in the nineteenth century had a de
ect on the commercial
map makers. They worked tirelessly to satisfy the demand
for new information describing lands west of the Mississippi River, and in the com-
petition to bring out material.
New York City joined Philadelphia as a leading center
of publishing. The career of John Disturnell (1801-1877) illustrates the tremendous
demand for guide books, directories, surveys, and indeed maps, which at once stimu-
lated interest in the lands newly discovered as well as satis
ed a readership eager to
In 1822, perhaps the most prestigious map publisher in the United States,
Tanner, issued a new map of North America based upon the leading authorities of the
day. In 1825 he reissued the southwestern portion of this map on a larger scale entitled
Map of the United States of
In 1828, following the considerable popularity of
Tanner’s map, the
Gallaher, and White, located in New York, issued a
copyrighted, but plagiarized, Spanish translation of Tanner’s map (Plate 37).
The same plates were used in 1846 by John Disturnell to issue his own copy of the
map, on which he
merely substituted his name as the publisher (Plate 38).
Outbreak of the United States’s war with Mexico in that year resulted in Disturnell’s
map becoming a highly successful enterprise. It received widespread acceptance as an
authority for the geography of the greater Texas region, and Disturnell issued it in twen-
ty-three separate editions between 1846 and 1858.
Because it was the most available map of
Mexico, it assumed a lasting place in his-
tory when Nicholas P. Trist, the American plenipotentiary, used Disturnell’s map in
negotiating the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the U.S.-Mexican War and
extended the Western boundary of the United States to the Paci
c Ocean. Di
soon arose over the wording of the treaty vis-à-vis the actual depiction on Disturnell’s
map of the Rio Grande and the position of the city of El Paso. The lands in question
were particularly important to the prospective railroad route to California and its
newly discovered gold mines, a controversy which resulted in the United States pur-
chase in 1854 of the Gadsden Territory, which rounded out the new U.S. boundaries.
Although the inaccuracies on
map were well known by such leading
explorers as Randolph B.
Marcy, who called the map ‘one of the most inaccurate of all
those I have seen...,’ its permanent place in history was already well established. The map’s
DOROTHY SLOAN—RARE BOOKS
A Few Good Maps
&Manuscripts Touching upon
the History of Texas, California, the Southwest,
Mexico & The Borderlands
Auction to be Conducted
Wednesday, February 5, 2003, at 3:30 p.m.,
in San Francisco at the Joseph & Mildred Rolph Moore Gallery
at The Society of California Pioneers
300 Fourth Street (corner Folsom Street).
Tuesday, February 4, 2003, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Wednesday, February 5, 2003, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Dorothy Sloan–Rare Books, Inc.
Austin, Texas 78765-9670
Dorothy Sloan, Texas Auctioneers License #10210
Reservations required, seating confined to registered bidders.
Outstanding Sequence of
Documenting the Genesis
& Evolution of Disturnell’s Treaty Map