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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-

ly con


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

arbitrary de


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

American history.

—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,

pp. 258-59).


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

know more.

In 1822, perhaps the most prestigious map publisher in the United States,

Henry S.

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


rm of


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





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.

Box 49670

Austin, Texas 78765-9670

Phone 512-477-8442

Fax 512-477-8602



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