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Frémont & Preuss mapping the West - Presentation copy by Senator T.H. Benton

Place/Date: Washington, D.C. / 1848
$3,400.
Title: Map of Oregon and Upper California from the Surveys of John Charles Fremont and Other Authorities [with] Geographical Memoir upon Upper California…
Technique
Lithograph
Dimensions
67.9 x 84.1 cm (26.7 x 33 in)
Identifier
NL-00458
Coloring
Original color
Condition Rating
VG+

Description

John C. Frémont and Charles Preuss’s landmark map of 1848, this one with a hand-written note stating that it was presented by Frémont’s father-in-law, Senator Thomas Hart Benton, to a friend on July 15th, 1849. Benton was a major proponent of westward expansion, including the annexation of Texas, which ultimately led to the Mexican-American War and the surrender of much of the lands depicted on this map. As such this presentation copy is a symbol of the idea of Manifest Destiny that so shaped the mid-19th century history of the United States.

This map has been accorded two-fold importance in the development of the westward expansion: first, as a major contribution to geographical and cartographical knowledge, and secondly, as historic documentation of Frémont’s third expedition. The map is a remarkable graphic depiction of this expedition and is considered one of the most important 19th century American maps. It covers all of the western territories from the 105th Meridian. Among the most interesting features are the appearance of the term Golden Gate at the entrance to the Bay of San Francisco, the markings of the El Dorado or Gold Region in the California Gold Fields, a hypothetical east-west mountain range near the 42nd parallel, and a notation identifying the location of Mormon settlements for the first time. Wheat illustrates the map and devotes eight pages to its description.

Having been court-marshaled and dismissed from the Army in 1847, Frémont was not asked to publish the details of this last expedition by the Corps of Topographical Engineers as would normally be required. Instead, the Geographical Memoir comprised his report. It was published nonetheless by Congress at the behest of the powerful Senator Benton. The memoir is also known as Misc. Doc. No. 148, 30th Congress, 1st Session. This is the large, and increasingly rare, map from that report.

Cartographer(s)

Charles Preuss

George Karl Ludwig Preuss (1803–1854), anglicized as Charles Preuss, was a surveyor and cartographer who accompanied John C. Fremont on three of his five exploratory expeditions of the American west, including the expedition where he and Fremont were the first to record seeing Lake Tahoe from a mountaintop vantage point as they traversed what is now Carson Pass in February 1844.

John C. Frémont

John Charles Frémont or Fremont (January 21, 1813 – July 13, 1890) was an American explorer, politician, and soldier who, in 1856, became the first candidate of the Republican Party for the office of President of the United States. During the 1840s, when he led five expeditions into the American West, that era’s penny press and admiring historians accorded Frémont the sobriquet The Pathfinder.

During the Mexican–American War, Frémont, a major in the U.S. Army, took control of California from the California Republic in 1846.

Condition Description

Issued folding with some light toning, a few light stains, some show-through of manuscript notations on verso, and a few tiny tears at fold intersections. Report is disbound with toning, some soiling, and a few tiny chips and tears.

References

Wheat (TMW) #559; Wheat (Gold) #40; Goss (NA) #77; Schwartz & Ehrenberg plt. 171.

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