1856 A New Map of the Union with the Adjacent Islands and Countries Published by D.G. and A.J. Johnson with Original Hardware

This is a very rare hanging wall map of the North, Central, and part of South America. The map is fully titled A New Map of the Union with the Adjacent Islands & Countries, from Authentic Sources and was published by D. G. & A. J. Johnson, New York, in the year 1856. The map was issued as a lithographic wall map, and is displayed on its original black wooden rollers. In “Mapping the Transmississippi West, Vol. IV” Wheat comments that Johnson and Johnson’s maps were frequently used as wall hangings in schools, which accounts for their rarity on the current market.

Extremely detailed and decorative, with full hand color, the map has a pictorial border with alternating vignettes of famous people and allegorical figures. Depicted are “Patent Office Washington, DC,” “Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC” at top border, and a nice view of the Capitol Building in the title cartouche. Dotting the oceans and seas are different ships, including a series of steamships that track the route from Panama to San Francisco. The map is engraved with historical and contemporary notes, on early exploration, travel distances, and proposed railroad routes, all of which serve to project an entrepreneurial and humming Union.

This map, with its vignettes of a gold rocker and Sutter’s Mill, reflects the enduring influence of the California Gold Rush. D. G. Johnson, as the legend on the Sutter’s Saw-Mill image states, was apparently in California during that exciting time, as the caption here reads: “Drawn on the spot by D. G. Johnson in 1849 & engraved by him in 1853 exclusively for his Map of the New World.” The image seems to be an eyewitness contemporary view of Sutter’s famous mill, the site of California’s first gold discovery.

At lower left is an untitled inset map of portions of Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska. During the 1840s, the push to organize the Kansas and Nebraska Territories was inspired by the prospects of a Transcontinental Railroad and Western settlement. Many farmers coveted the land along the Kansas and Platte Rivers, believing that it would make profitable farms, and favored a rail route passing through Kansas. The problem of determining the railway’s route—whether it would pass through northern (free) or southern (slave) territory—was hotly debated and prevented construction for many months. Stephen Douglas stepped in and argued that the rule of popular sovereignty that had effectively been implemented in the Compromise of 1850 in the Utah and New Mexico Territories should also apply to Kansas and Nebraska.

The passing of the oft-debated Kansas-Nebraska Act ultimately repealed the long standing Missouri Compromise, and opened the area of the Louisiana Purchase Territory yet to become states to slavery. It gave Southerners two opportunities to create two slave states out of Kansas and Nebraska. This led to "Bleeding Kansas," a mini civil war that erupted in Kansas in 1856. Many Northerners and Southerners went to Kansas in 1854 and 1855, determined to convert the future state to their view on slavery. To ensure that their respective side would win, both Southerners and Northerners advocated the use of violence.

This map is a historically significant depiction of our Union during the crucial eras of the Gold Rush and the Civil War, and embodies the results of American western explorations.

Framed dimensions: 62" H x 70 3/8" W x 4 7/8" D




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