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1854 Mitchell Map of Minnesota and Dakota

Map of Minnesota Territory. - Main View

1854 Mitchell Map of Minnesota and Dakota


Issued shortly after the Black Hawk War which opened southern Minnesota to settlement.


Map of Minnesota Territory.
  1854 (dated 1850)     13.5 x 16 in (34.29 x 40.64 cm)


A fine example of S. A. Mitchell and J. H. Young's important 1854 map of Minnesota Territory. Mitchell's map covers the Minnesota Territory as it existed in 1854, extending from the Missouri River to Lake Superior and the Mississippi River, inclusive of much of modern day Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. The whole is engraved and colored in Mitchell's distinctive style with green border work and vivid pastels. Political and topographical features are noted and color coded with elevation rendered by hachure.

In 1854 most of Minnesota Territory was dominated by various First Indian nations including the Dakota, Yantonan, Chippewa, Winnebago, Menomonee, and others. White settlements were few and concentrated in the narrow strip of land between the Mississippi and St. Croix Rivers. In 1851, just before this map was drawn and following the Black Hawk War, two major treaties, the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux and the Treaty of Mendota, forced the Sioux and Chippewa northwards, effectively opening southern Minnesota to white settlement. These treaties and the land exchanged are noted by annotation in lower right quadrant as well as on the map proper.

This map was drawn by J. H. Young and prepared by S. A. Mitchell for publication by the Philadelphia firm of Thomas Cowperthwait & Co. as plate no. 36 in the 1854 edition of Mitchell's New General Atlas. Dated and copyrighted, 'Entered according to act of Congress in the year 1850 by Thomas Cowperthwait & Co. in the Clerk's office of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.'

Samuel Augustus Mitchell (March 20, 1792 - December 20, 1868) began his map publishing career in the early 1830s. Mitchell was born in Bristol, Connecticut. He relocated to Philadelphia in 1821. Having worked as a school teacher and a geographical writer, Mitchell was frustrated with the low quality and inaccuracy of school texts of the period. His first maps were an attempt to rectify this problem. In the next 20 years Mitchell would become the most prominent American map publisher of the mid-19th century. Mitchell worked with prominent engravers J. H. Young, H. S. Tanner, and H. N. Burroughs before attaining the full copyright on his maps in 1847. In 1849 Mitchell either partnered with or sold his plates to Thomas, Cowperthwait and Company who continued to publish the Mitchell's Universal Atlas. By about 1856 most of the Mitchell plates and copyrights were acquired by Charles Desilver who continued to publish the maps, many with modified borders and color schemes, until Mitchell's son, Samuel Augustus Mitchell Junior, entered the picture. In 1859, S.A. Mitchell Jr. purchased most of the plates back from Desilver and introduced his own floral motif border. From 1860 on, he published his own editions of the New General Atlas. The younger Mitchell became as prominent as his father, publishing maps and atlases until 1887, when most of the copyrights were again sold and the Mitchell firm closed its doors for the final time. Learn More...


Mitchell, S. A., A New Universal Atlas Containing Maps of the various Empires, Kingdoms, States and Republics Of The World, (Thomas Cowperthwait & Co., Philadelphia) 1854.    


Very good condition. Blank on verso. Even overall toning.


Minnesota Historical Society Map 2F G 4130 1852 .Y66. Phillips (Atlases) 814.