1849 Greenleaf Map of North America

North America. - Main View

1849 Greenleaf Map of North America


Territorial changes in the American West.


North America.
  1849 (undated)     12.75 x 10.75 in (32.385 x 27.305 cm)     1 : 27000000


A beautiful example of Jeremiah Greenleaf's 1849 map of North America that appeared in his New Universal Atlas. Greenleaf has updated earlier editions of the map to reflect changes in the intervening years, including the incorporation of Texas, California, and other lands into the United States and the settling of the borders of the Oregon Territory.
A Closer Look
Coverage includes the entire North American continent from the Arctic Circle to the Isthmus of Panama, embracing all of Central America, Mexico, the United States, modern day Canada, and Alaska. It offers fine detail throughout with elevation rendered by hachure and political regions demarcated with color-coding. Settlements, forts, Native American groups, waterways, and other features are labelled throughout. The map also identifies the Bay of Sir Francis Drake or Drake's Bay, the place where Sir Francis Drake was believed to have landed during his 1579 circumnavigation. Alaska is noted as a Russian Possession, as it was during the time.

This map postdates the addition of Texas to the Union and the Mexican-American War (1846 - 1848), but predates the 1854 Gadsden Purchase. The status of the border was disputed and under negotiation at this time, causing Greenleaf to effectively fudge it. On the other hand, the northern boundary of the United States became settled in the preceding years at the 49th parallel north, though Greenleaf does note the 'Boundary of 1824' at 54-40 parallel north, the earlier maximalist claim of the U.S. Similarly, the northern border of Alto California, recently the border between American and Mexican territory, is retained though unlabeled.

Greenleaf curiously maintains some apocryphal elements in the American West, such as Lake Buenaventura, while the San Francisco Bay is misshapen. Similarly, the borders between Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize are imperfect. At the same time, he follows Burr's early accurate depiction of the Northwest Passage, between Baffin Bay and the Arctic Ocean.
Publication History and Census
This map was published by Jeremiah Greenleaf in the scarce 1849 (last) edition of his New Universal Atlas. It is based on David Burr's 1834 original, which was published in the latter's atlas of the same name, before being inherited and updated by Greenleaf, who published it in several editions in the 1840s.


Jeremiah Greenleaf (1791 - 1864) is a little known but highly admired American cartographer of the early 19th century. He published from roughly 1830 to 1850. His most important work is A New Universal Atlas; Comprising of all the Principal Empires, Kingdoms, and States Throughout the World and Forming a distinct Atlas of the United States, published in several editions in the 1840s. Many of his maps are reformatted versions of his contemporary David Burr's much admired cartographic works. Greenleaf's maps are extremely rare and admired for their stunningly vivid pastel color washes. More by this mapmaker...

David Hugh Burr (August 18, 1803 - December 25, 1875) of one of the first and most important truly American cartographers and map publishers. Burr was born in Bridgeport Connecticut in August of 1803. In 1822 Burr moved to Kingsboro, New York to study law. A year and a half later he was admitted to the New York Bar association. Burr must have questioned his choice of careers because shortly after being admitted to the Bar, he joined the New York State Militia. Though largely untrained in the art of surveying, Burr was assigned to work under Surveyor General of New York, Simeon De Witt, to survey several New York Roadways. Seeing a window of opportunity, Burr was able to negotiate with the governor of New York at the time, De Witt Clinton, to obtain copies of other New York survey work in order to compile a map and Atlas of the state of New York. Recognizing the need for quality survey work of its territory, the government of New York heartily endorsed and financed Burr's efforts. The resulting 1829 Atlas of the State of New York was the second atlas of an individual U.S. state and one of the most important state atlases ever produced. Burr went on to issue other maps both of New York and of the United States in general. In cooperation with publishing firm of Illman & Pillbrow, he produced an important New Universal Atlas and, with J.H. Colton, several very important maps of New York City. In recognition of this work, Burr was appointed both "Topographer to the Post office" and "Geographer to the House of Representatives of the United States". Later, in 1855, Burr was assigned to the newly created position of Surveyor General to the State of Utah. Burr retired from the position and from cartographic work in general in 1857 when light of some of his financial misdeeds and frauds came to light. He was accused of submitting false expense reports and underpaying employees, among other indiscretions. Learn More...


Greenleaf, J., New Universal Atlas, (Brattleboro, Vermont: Greenleaf) 1849.    


Very good. Printer's crease. Light foxing.


Rumsey 15176.033.