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Maps of the American West


Augustus Mitchell's 1846 A New Map of the Texas, Oregon and California With the Regions Adjoining 


 

A New Map of the Texas, Oregon and California
With the Regions Adjoining
by S. Augustus Mitchell, 1846


Augustus Mitchell of Philadelphia was one of the most successful and prolific commercial map makers of the middle part of the 19th century.  The high regard his maps held was evidenced by Brigham Young’s desire to obtain a Mitchell map before he led his Mormon followers west to Utah in April, 1847.   Seeking the best available maps of the Rocky Mountain area, he wrote to Joseph A. Stratton of St. Louis: “I want you to bring me one half dozen of Mitchell’s new map of Texas, Oregon, and California and the regions adjoining, or his accompaniment to the same for 1846, or rather the latest edition and best map of all the Indian countries in North America; the pocket maps are the best for our use.”  Young’s party did secure their Mitchell maps.  Mormon emigrant Albert Carrington’s diary makes note of his arrival at a Great Plains stream, concluding it was “supposed to be the Wood River of Mitchell’s map.”

Brigham Young’s request for Mitchell’s map underscores its importance, popularity and why it was published in a large edition; it is a fine example of the pocket maps of the day.  It was combined with a forty-six page booklet bound within a small leather folder labeled Texas, Oregon and California which described the area mapped in detail.  Within the folder were an additional eight pages advertising the many maps available through Mitchell’s “Map Establishment.” 

The lower left hand corner of the map notes the “Emigrant Route from Missouri to Oregon” and was certainly of great interest and use to Americans who dreamed of going west.  A table notes the “reputed distances of the chief points of interest on the route” between Westport, Missouri and Oregon City.  The flood of American emigrants to the Pacific Northwest, encouraged by what they must have seen and read into Mitchell’s map, assured the United States victory in the demographic contest for the area. 

Printed on the very eve of the Mexican War, Mitchell’s map by title alone promotes the idea that the republic’s ambition was to become a transcontinental nation stretching west to the Pacific.  Texas, annexed as the 28th state in 1845, is shown with its Texas sized land claims extending as far north as the 42nd parallel into present day Wyoming and west to the Rio Grande.  In addition to Texas and the Oregon Country, Mitchell’s map also suggests what the spoils of the coming war might add to the nation; Upper or New California for settlement and colonization.  The far west is shown as “almost” a part of the nation.  This was the promise James K. Polk had made to the nation in his 1844 presidential campaign. The Mexican War would make Polk’s promise and the idea of Manifest Destiny a reality by 1848, adding nearly half of Mexico’s territory to the United States.


Front Cover

On the TU Catalogue

Special Collection's Maps of the American West

Thomas Jefferys' 1776 American Atlas

 

Alexander von Humboldt's 1803 Map of Kingdom of New Spain Zebulon M.Pike's 1810 A Chart of the Internal Part of Louisiana Stephen H. Long's 1822 Geographical, Statistical and Historical Map of Arkansas Territory (from the Carey  and Lea Atlas of 1822) Henry S. Tanner's 1822 Map of North America Josiah Gregg's 1844 A Map of the Indian Territory, Northern Texas and New Mexico Showing the Great Western Prairies Augustus Mitchell's 1846 A New Map of the Texas, Oregon and California With the Regions Adjoining 

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