1847 Mitchell / Young Map of the United States

Mitchell's Reference and Distance Map of the United States. - Main View

1847 Mitchell / Young Map of the United States


Texas-New Mexico border conflict after the Mexican-American War.


Mitchell's Reference and Distance Map of the United States.
  1847 (dated)     57.75 x 72 in (146.685 x 182.88 cm)     1 : 1584000


This is the only known example of the 1847 edition of S. A. Mitchell and J. H. Young's important large-scale wall map of the United States. Issued at the end of the Mexican-American War (1846 - 1847), the map reflects new territorial acquisitions from the Treaty of Guadeloupe-Hidalgo, including Texas, New Mexico, California, and what would become Utah, Nevada, and Arizona. Points of interest include ambiguity over the Texas-New Mexico border and the 54°40' dispute over U.S. claims in modern-day British Columbia.
A Closer Look
The primary map's coverage extends from the Sabine River to the Atlantic, and from the Great Lakes to Florida. There are multiple insets, including the northern part of Maine, and the vicinity of Niagara Falls, Washington D.C. and Baltimore, and Charleston. However, two of the insets are particularly worthy of note. The largest is a reduced version of Mitchell's seminal work A New Map of Texas Oregon and California, notable for many reasons, including a prominent depiction of Texas representing the post-1846 borders. To the left of this extraordinary work is a large inset map of southern Florida from Lake George to Key West.
A New Map of Texas Oregon and California
The large inset of the American West is in fact Mitchell's seminal A New Map of Texas Oregon and California with the Regions adjoining, first published separately in 1846. Considered to be 'the quintessential trail map of the American West', its inclusion of this stunning wall map makes the piece even more extraordinary. The importance of this map in the history of the American westward expansion cannot be understated. When Brigham Young and the Mormons set out to settle Utah, he famously ordered 6 copies. In fact, one example in the collections of Brigham Young University bears a manuscript annotation identifying Mormon settlements in Utah, making it the first known map to do so. However, it was not only Mormon emigres who took advantage of Mitchell's work, it was simply the best map of the time for anyone planning the long trek westward and was consequently extremely popular. Mitchell's map offered the best published mapping of many of most important transcontinental routes, including the 'Oregon Trail' (up the Platte, across South Pass, and down the Snake to the Columbia), the Caravan Route to Santa Fe (from Jefferson City, roughly following the Arkansas and Salt Fork Rivers, the across modern day Kansas and Colorado to Santa Fe), and the Spanish Trail (from Santa Fe crossing the Rocky Mountains via Salina Canyon before following the Virgin and Mohave Rivers to Los Angeles). Also noted, though given less attention are several old trade routes extending from Louisiana through Texas and into Mexico.
Texas Borders
The borders of Texas were in dispute from the earliest days of the Texan Revolution. The Republic-claimed borders followed the Treaties of Velasco between the newly created Texas Republic and Mexican leader, Antonio López de Santa Anna. The treaties established an eastern boundary following the 1819 Adams-Onís Treaty between the United States and Spain, which established the Sabine River as the eastern boundary of Spanish Texas and the western boundary of the Missouri Territory. The Republic's southern and western boundary with Mexico was more nuanced. Texas claimed the Rio Grande del Norte as its western and southernmost border, while Mexico argued for a boundary further east at the Nueces River. Still others pushed the border even more aggressively westward to include both the Rio Grande River and the entire Rio Grande Valley, including Santa Fe.

When Texas was annexed into the United States, the agreement followed the most aggressive boundary, thus absorbing Mexican-claimed territory, including Santa Fe. This escalated already existing tensions between the United States, the former Republic of Texas, and Mexico, ultimately triggering the Mexican-American War (1846 - 1848).

After the war, the debate continued. Texas was dominated by American and European immigrants, who based their claims to New Mexico on old Spanish and Mexican land grants. Conversely, New Mexico - now a U.S. Territory - was primarily Hispanic with deep roots in the region and ties to Mexico. New Mexico Territory felt unrepresented by the Texas legislature and opposed all claims. The U.S. federal government was concerned about the dispute, as it raised issues of state versus territorial rights and the balance of power between slave and free states. Between these three groups, tensions were high, and there was the threat of another war. Nonetheless, the issues were worked out by the Compromise of 1850, setting the borders much as they are today.
54-40 or Fight! American Claims to British Columbia
Following the transcontinental crossing of North America by the British Northwest Company sponsored explorer Alexander MacKenzie (1792 - 1793), and the American expedition of Louis and Clark up the Missouri to the mouth of the Columbia River (1804 – 1806), it became apparent that control of the fur and resource-rich Pacific Northwest would bring wealth and power to whoever could assert sovereignty. The American tycoon John Jacob Astor, with the permission of President Thomas Jefferson, was the first to attempt a permanent trading colony in the region, founding Astoria on the Columbia River in 1811. This led to a confrontation with the established British-Canadian Northwest Company. Americans in the 1820s through the 1840s argued that most of the Pacific Northwest should be part of the United States as a legacy of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. England, on the other hand, argued for residual claims derived from the MacKenzie Expedition and its fur trading empires: The Northwest Company and the Hudson Bay Company. The Oregon Dispute, as it came to be known, became an ongoing geopolitical issue between the British Empire and the United States, especially after the War of 1812. Americans adopted the slogan '54-40 or Fight!' until the Oregon Question was finally resolved roughly along the current border by the 1846 Oregon Treaty.
Publication History and Census
Most examples of this map are copyrighted to 1833. It was most likely first released by S. A. Mitchel in 1834. It was subsequently regularly updated with editions in 1841 (Republic of Texas added), 1844 (w/ Republic of Texas), 1845 (with Texas' stovepipe configuration), 1846 (U.S. map replaced by Mitchell's pocket map of Texas, Oregon, and Upper California in which New Mexico is still part of Mexico), 1847 (as here, showing Texas-New Mexico border dispute), and 1849 (post Guadeloupe-Hidalgo borders). The map was engraved by J. H. Young, F. Dankworth, E. Yeager, and E. F. Woodward. The cartouche was engraved and designed by W. Mason. The 1847 edition is exceptionally rare. We do not see any other examples of the 1847 edition either in institutional collections or in market records.


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. More by this mapmaker...

James Hamilton Young (December 18, 1792 - c. 1870) was a Scottish-American draughtsman, engraver, and cartographer active in Philadelphia during the first half of the 19th century. Young was born in Avondale, Lanark, Scotland and emigrated to the United States sometime before 1817. Young was a pioneer in American steel plate engraving, a process superior to copper plate engraving due to the increased durability of steel. His earliest known maps date to about 1817, when Young was 25. At the time he was partnered with William Kneass (1780 - 1840), as Kneass, Young and Company, an imprint that was active from 1817 to 1820. He then partnered with with George Delleker, publishing under the imprint of Young and Delleker, active from 1822 to 1823. Young engraved for numerous cartographic publishers in the Philadelphia area, including Anthony Finley, Charles Varle, and Samuel Augustus Mitchell, among others. His most significant work includes maps engraved for Anthony Finley and later Samuel Augustus Mitchell. Mitchell proved to be Young's most significant collaborator. The pair published numerous maps from about 1831 well into the 1860s. Young retired sometime in the mid to late 1860s. In 1840 he registered a patent for an improved system of setting up typography for printing. ˆˆ Learn More...


Good. Full professional restoration. Some discoloration, cracking, etc. Fully stabilized.


OCLC 650425494 (1845).