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Organizing the Expanded Republic

California Gold Rush

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[CALIFORNIA AND NEW MEXICO]. UNITED STATES. PRESIDENT (Taylor). California and New Mexico. Message from the President of the United States, Transmitting Information in Answer to a Resolution of the House of the 31st of December, 1849, on the Subject of California and New Mexico. [Washington, 1850]. [1] 2-864, 849-972, 967-968, 973-976, pp. (text complete), 7 maps (6 folded). 8vo (23.7 x 15 cm), modern brown cloth, spine gilt lettered and decorated. Interior browned (sometimes heavily), lightly waterstained, two leaves are holed with minor loss, two large maps repaired and backed (no losses), map 6 partially adhered to map 5. With printed bookplate of Anne & Ross Beard on front pastedown.


[1] Map of Fort Hill Monterey California Reduced by Scale from Lieut Warner’s Field Map made in 1847 by P.M. McGill, C.E. Lithr Ackerman.... (32 x 22.5 cm).

[2] [Untitled sketch of San Francisco Bay] (30 x 32.5 cm).

[3] [Untitled map of Lower California]. Ackerman Lithr.... (30 x 32.5 cm)

[4] Plan No 2 Sketch of Port Escondido Lower California. Ackerman Lithr .... (31 x 22 cm)

[5] Sketch of General Riley’s Route through the Mining Districts July and Aug. 1849. Copied from the Original Sketch by Lt Derby…. Ackerman’s Lithogr.... (51.5 x 48.5 cm). Wheat, Maps of the California Gold Region 79 & pp. xxvii-xxviii (reproduced as an inserted facsimile following p. 46).

[6] Plan of the Route of the Expedition of Major Beall, 1st Drag’s for the Relief of the Wagons of Mr. F. X. Aubrey Against the Apache Indians...H. R. Wirtz.... Ackerman Lithr.... (23 x 14 cm).

[7] Map of Oregon and Upper California from the Surveys of John Charles Frémont and other Authorities. Drawn by Charles Preuss under the Order of Senate of the United States Washington City 1848. Lithy. by E. Weber & Co. Balto. (60 x 45 cm). Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West 613; Maps of the California Gold Region 41.

First edition. (31st Congress, 1st Session, House Ex. Doc 17). Zamorano 80 gives the House version of this massive report priority; however, there is a good argument that the Senate version may have appeared first. More importantly, Becker outlines the difference between the House and Senate reports and explains how the House and Senate publications actually complement one another (Plains & Rockies IV:179b:2). California 49: Forty-Nine Maps of California from the Sixteenth Century to the Present (Ralph E. Ehrenberg) 27n. Cowan I, p. 40; II, p. 875. Garrett & Goodwin, pp. 323-24, 420, 422. Holliday Sale 152. Howell 50:230. Howes C53. Huntington Library, Zamorano 80...Exhibition of Famous and Notorious California Classics 14. Kurutz 106b. Schwartz & Ehrenberg, The Mapping of America, p. 278: “Frémont’s epochal map of Oregon and Upper California [was] one of the earliest graphic announcements of the discovery of gold in California”; and the Plate 171n: “Most accurate general map of the Far West for its time.” Rittenhouse 558. Wheat, Books of the California Gold Rush 31; Mapping the Transmississippi West 571 & 613; Maps of the California Gold Region 41 & 79. Zamorano 80 14.

This thick government compendium contains a wealth of information on the annexation of Alta California by the United States, the changeover from Mexican to American rule, the transition from military to civilian government, and the earliest days of the Gold Rush.

Two of the maps in this report are key maps for the California gold region. The Map of Oregon and Upper California (Map 7 above) is the first separate printing of the southwest corner of the larger Frémont-Preuss map Wheat (Maps of the California Gold Region 40). California 49: Forty-nine Maps of California from the Sixteenth Century to the Present 27n (Ehrenberg discusses the 1848 precursor for Map 7 listed above): “One of the seminal maps in the history of California exploration and settlement.... It provides the first depiction of the California region based on scientific topographic surveys, notably expanding contemporary geographic knowledge of the Sierra Nevada and the Coast Ranges, and the drainage pattern of the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys. Published on the eve of the California Gold Rush and statehood, this map also served as a powerful political document that promoted the prevailing American concept of the manifest destiny. It was one of the first maps to depict the creation of the Territory of Oregon and the establishment of the Mexico-U.S. boundary, which was ratified on 4, July, 1848; the first widely circulated map to announce the location of the discovery of gold deposits along the American and Feather Rivers; and it introduced or perpetuated numerous California place names including Kern River, Walker Pass, Owens Lake, and the ‘inspired’ term, Golden Gate, designating the entrance to San Francisco Bay.” The map apparently was published to satisfy the eager demand for maps of California following the riveting announcement of the gold discovery. Wheat (Maps of the California Gold Region 40) comments on the prototype Frémont-Preuss map: “This important and beautifully drawn map became the model for many of the later gold region maps. The California portion is based on Frémont’s map of 1845, but the legend ‘El Dorado or Gold Regions’ has been added along the ‘Rio d. 1. Plumas’ (Feather River), and the ‘R. d. 1. Americanos’ (American River)....” Consult Wheat’s lengthy discussion of the large Frémont-Preuss map in Mapping the Transmississippi West (III, pp. 55-62): “It seems almost certain that the Frémont-Preuss map was the first map of large general circulation to announce to the world the epochal finds in the West which would now transform the life and society of that once-distant country.”

Regarding Derby’s Sketch of General Riley’s Route through the Mining Districts (Map 6 above), Wheat comments: “Of the maps which were actually produced in 1850, those of Lieutenant George H. Derby are of particular interest. Derby, though better known today as a brilliant humorist (he was the author of ‘Phoenixiana’ and ‘The Squibob Papers’), was a trained and competent topographer, and while the engravers seem to have garbled many of his legends (such as ‘Mormont’ for Mormon I[sland] and ‘Sonoran Camp’ for Sonorianian Camp [Sonora]), nevertheless his ‘Map of General Riley’s Route through the Diggins’ (made in August 1849...but not published until 1850), his ‘Sacramento Valley from the American River to Butte Creek’...and his ‘Reconnaissance of the Tulares Valley’...are all maps of major importance. The first of these shows ‘Colluma,’ ‘Angel’s,’ ‘Jamestown,’ ’Sullivan’s,’ ‘Woods’ and several other newly-settled camps. This map is the result of Derby’s cartographical work when he accompanied Brigadier General Bennet Riley on a tour of the California Gold Regions in the summer of 1849.” For more on Derby, refer to The Topographical Reports of Lieutenant George H. Derby. With Introduction and Notes by Francis P. Farquhar (San Francisco: California Historical Society, 1933).


Sold. Hammer: $400.00; Price Realized: $490.00.

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