[BOUNDARY LINE]. BARTLETT, John Russell. Personal Narrative of Explorations and Incidents in Texas, New Mexico, California, Sonora, and Chihuahua, Connected with the United States and Mexican Boundary Commission, during the Years 1850, ’51, ’52, and ’53. New York: D. Appleton & Company, 346 & 348 Broadway; and 16 Little Britain, London, 1854. 2 vols. Vol. I: [i-iii] iv-xxii,  2-506, [6, ads] pp., folded tinted lithograph frontispiece, folded map, 9 plates (6 tinted lithographs); Vol. II: [i-iii] iv-xvii [1, blank],  2-624 pp., folded tinted lithograph frontispiece, 34 plates (8 tinted lithographs). Total: 45 plates (including frontispieces). Original green cloth, spine gilt lettered and decorated. Minor expert repairs to spine ends; Vol II lower hinge split; mild to moderate offsetting from frontispieces and some plates; map with closed 11 cm tear; scattered staining to some leaves, mostly confined to top margins; index moderately stained; Vol II has pp. 297-304 and the accompanying plate in duplicate. Overall, a very good set.
General Map Showing the Countries Explored & Surveyed by the United States & Mexican Boundary Commission, in the Years 1850, 51, 52, & 53. Under the Direction of John R. Bartlett, U.S. Commissioner. [lower left] J.H. Colton & Co. No. 172 William St. New York. Neat line to neat line: 48.5 x 39 cm; overall sheet size: 51 x 40.5 cm.
First edition. Abbey 658. Basic Texas Books 12. Clark, Old South III:272. Cowan I, p. 13; II, p. 36. Flake 325. Graff 198: “An essential book for the Southwest.” Hill 74. Howes B201. Plains & Rockies IV:234:1. Rader 287. Raines, p. 22. Sabin 3746. Saunders 2721. Streeter Sale 173: “Bartlett’s was the first thoroughly scholarly description of the Southwest.” Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West 798: “Among the most important Western maps...excellent early map showing Gadsden Purchase Boundary.” Wheat, Maps of the California Gold Region 252.
“As a piece of narrative writing about the American West, Bartlett’s book ranks alongside those of Frémont, Parkman, and Gregg as a classic. Within its pages is contained a panoramic view of the way of life of an entire region previously known only to a few.... For many a hammock reader...it opened up an exciting America and helped create an image of the exotic West” (Goetzmann, Army Exploration, pp. 205-206).
Although a competent reporter and scholar, Bartlett was not a sterling boundary commissioner and is remembered for a blunder that cost the U.S. the price of the Gadsden Purchase. “The history of the Mexican Boundary survey was, perhaps more than any other episode in the American West, colored by ineptitude, personal animosity, ambition, and political interference. It was to have significant effect on the final shape of the region” (Martin & Martin 40). The crux of the problem lay in errors in the Disturnell map, used to determine the boundary in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which distorted the area along the Rio Grande and near El Paso. The Mexicans claimed that lines of latitude and longitude should be adhered to, while it was to the advantage of the U.S. to establish the boundary according to geographical locations. Bartlett compromised, unknowingly giving up an area not only rich in copper mines, but also containing a portion of the only practical route for a southern railroad to California. This created a great deal of the conflict between the party members, as well as “a political issue of the greatest importance in Washington.... The issue was defused in 1853 with the Gadsden Purchase, a treaty in which the United States obtained the disputed territory, as well as additional lands and other Mexican concessions, in return for cash payment” (Martin & Martin 40). Bartlett had greater success later as John Carter Brown’s librarian.
The lithographs and engravings depict scenes along the border and along the route of the author’s journey, including Sonora, Chihuahua, Acapulco, Manzanillo, New Mexico, Saltillo, California, and Texas (one litho shows a snow storm near present-day Burnet, Texas, Camp in Snow Storm on Delaware Creek, Texas; the plate will be included in Ron Tyler’s work-in-progress on nineteenth-century lithographs of Texas). As described in Howes, one Geyser plate, although listed in Volume II, was not issued, although an additional view of Tucson not listed in the table of contents is included. This copy contains one geyser plate (Vol. II, p. 40) and the view of Tucson (Vol. II, p. 292).
Sold. Hammer: $1,000.00; Price Realized: $1,225.00.