Mitchell’s Map of the United States Showing the Principal Travelling, Turnpike, and Common Roads…

The American transportation network in the late 1830s.

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Description

This lovely map of the United States showcases the gradual western expansion enjoyed by the country during the first half of the 19th century. Arkansas (1836) and Michigan (1837) are the newest states to be admitted to the Union, though the Upper Peninsula remains part of the Wisconsin Territory. To the west, a litany of Native American tribes gives the impression of a barrier to the settlement of the remainder of the unorganized Missouri Territory.

As noted by the legend in the center-right, the image shows a variety of transportation routes including roads, canals, and railroads. Distances between points are noted and a table in the upper left provides total mileage from Washington, D.C. to other important cities. Though completed railways are limited to the New England states, proposed lines are shown throughout and reflect the expansive growth enjoyed by the industry over subsequent decades, making many of the canals effectively obsolete.

Below the key are eight different inset plans of major urban and commercial centers; Niagara Falls, Baltimore and Washington, Charleston, Hartford and New Haven, Albany, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. Again, the emphasis on the Atlantic coast and New England emphasizes their importance as hubs for industry and transportation, but waves of emigration to the west would see the resulting rise of cities like Chicago and St. Louis.

The map was created by Samuel Augustus Mitchell and issued in 1838, originally as part of Valley in the Upper Wabash. The promotional volume was written by Henry William Ellsworth and published in New York by Pratt, Robinson, & Co. in 1838. A battered copy of the book is included with the map. Though it’s missing the back cover, the contents are in fair shape and apparently complete (175 pp. with two folding plates). According to Open Library;

“Henry William Ellsworth was a grandson of Oliver Ellsworth, chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, who had purchased 41,000 acres in the Connecticut Western Reserve, including the later site of Cleveland. His father was a mayor of Hartford, Connecticut and then the first Commissioner of the U.S. Patent Office. Henry was a Yale graduate and then a lawyer in Lafayette, IN. He was later appointed Minister to Sweden and Norway.

This book was written during Ellsworth’s Lafayette years, and encourages investment in large-scale farms in the Wabash River Valley. It is filled with information gained from Ellsworth’s own experience and from information gleaned from other farmers about the costs, methods and potential profits of raising a variety of crops and livestock. He also promotes several types of state-of-the-art agricultural equipment.”

Sources: Valley of the Upper Wabash (Open Library); Library of Congress

Map Details

Publication Date: 1838

Author: Samuel Augustus Mitchell

Sheet Width (in): 24.1

Sheet Height (in): 19.5

Condition: A-

Condition Description: Light creasing and wear along originally issued fold lines, including about 6" of separation that has been repaired and reinforced on the verso with archival tape. Two small spots of tape on the recto cover small tears in the center right, where previously bound. A bit of discoloration is visible in the margins from the plate strike and there is light offsetting in a few places within the image. Narrow left margin, as issued. Very good or slightly better overall.

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