S. Augustus Mitchell. “Map of the State of California, The Territories of Oregon & Utah, and the chief part of New Mexico.” From Universal Atlas.
Philadelphia: Thomas, Cowperthwait & Co., -1851. With copyright info H.B. Burroughs, 1845. 15 1/2 x 12 7/8. Lithographic transfer from an engraved plate. Original hand color. Right hand margin trimmed close to neat line. Else, very good condition.
A mid-century map of the western part of the United States, one of the first maps to show the state of California and the territories of Utah and New Mexico. The map is an updated version of a map that appeared in S. Augustus Mitchell’s Universal Atlas of 1849. The southern part of the region shown in that map, “Upper California,” had just been won from Mexico in 1848, and Mitchell’s map was important for presenting the vast new U.S. territories to the American public. In 1850, the rights to Mitchell’s atlas were sold to the firm of Thomas, Cowperthwait & Co., which reissued the atlas with some updating. That year the newly acquired lands were divided by Congress into the state of California and two territories, Utah and New Mexico; Thomas, Cowperthwait & Co. revised the Mitchell map accordingly.
Besides the new political information that appeared on this map, what had appeared on the 1849 map as the “Great Interior Basin” is now somewhat filled in based on Fremont’s map, renamed “Fremont Basin.” Other topographical features included considerable orography, rivers, and lakes. The Great Salt Lake is shown, next to which is “Salt Lake City. Mormon Set.,” which had just been settled in 1847. Early settlements and a coastal road are illustrated in California, and the old Spanish trail between Santa Fe and Los Angeles is also indicated. Of further interest is the prominent depiction of the Oregon Trail, shown snaking from present-day Colorado to the Columbia River. The entire region north of Utah and California appears as the Oregon Territory, which it remained until the Washington Territory was created in 1853. Thomas, Cowperthwait & Co. continued to revise this map, for in 1851 they came out with a further up-dated map retitled “A New Map of the State of California…” and with more information provided on the counties of the territories and state. This is a fascinating and historical important map, one of the first to show the new political situation in the west after the Compromise of 1850.
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