Wednesday, June 18, 2014

John Brown lithograph

John Brown first appeared on the national scene as leader of abolitionist forces during the “Bleeding Kansas” crisis in 1856. Brown became convinced that there was no way to achieve abolition other than by an armed revolution. Referring to the mainstream abolitionist groups, Brown stated, “These men are all talk. What we need is action—action!”


In late 1856, Brown headed East to raise funds, weapons and followers, traveling around New England, New York and into Canada, meeting with many prominent abolitionists and antislavery groups. By late 1859, Brown was convinced that he had the support necessary to start a glorious antislavery uprising among abolitionists and both slave and free blacks. So he went south to Harper’s Ferry, where on October 16-18 he led a raid on the federal armory, a bold act which he thought would spark that uprising. This did not happen, however, and Brown was subsequently captured, tried and hung on December 2, 1859.


The photograph above was taken May or June 1858, when Brown was traveling through New England. It is the first image of Brown with a beard, for hitherto he had been clean shaven. It was the source for a lithograph issued by E.B. & E.C. Kellogg shortly thereafter.


That print is interesting for a number of reasons. First, it is a pre-Harper’s Ferry print of Brown, as evidenced by the lack of mention to that action which so defined Brown’s fame from October 1859 on. It would seem that this print was issued by the Kellogg firm in response to Brown’s travels in New England, for the Kelloggs were located in Hartford, CT, and Brown would have been a figure of considerable interest to the public in the area in 1858-1859.


To the photographic image, the Kelloggs added a map of Kansas hanging on the wall in the background. It is interesting to note that there was no such wall map of Kansas issued that early, so this is simply a made-up image. Also of interest is another map, of indeterminable subject, rolled up and leaning on the table at right. The meaning of this seems clear: the Kelloggs were symbolically representing Brown’s vow to extend the abolitionist movement from Kansas (the wall map) to the rest of the country (the rolled map).


This print was followed by the Kellogg’s competitor, Currier & Ives, after the Harper’s Ferry raid, as the subtitle calls Brown “Leader of the Harper’s Ferry Insurrection.” Brown is sitting, rather than standing, and the map of Kansas still hangs on the wall, while the second map is now rolled on the table. In this print Brown is holding a copy of abolitionist Horace Greely’s New York Tribune, which may explain the unidentifiable paper on the table in the Kellogg print.


Friday, May 23, 2014

Slavery and the American West


“…we tend to treat these two mid-nineteenth-century narratives as geographically distinct: a battle over slavery engulfs the East while mineral rushes and migration transform the West.” (Susan Schulten, “The Civil War and the Origins of the Colorado Territory,” Western Historical Quarterly, 44, p. 21)


As Dr. Schulten points out, contrary to the usual narrative, slavery was one of the major factors in determining the political transformation of the American West in the nineteenth century. I would argue that it was the major factor in the political development of the West, from its earliest days right through to the Civil War.


The issue of slavery was contentious between the northern and southern states from the very beginning of the nation, though many of the founding fathers hoped that slavery would slowly fade away over time. Then Eli Whitney’s 1793 invention of the cotton gin made the slave-based cotton industry profitable, as evidenced by the increase in the number of American slaves rising from 697,897 in 1790 to 1.2 million in 1810.


Louisiana Purchase


The fissure in the nation caused by slavery began to widen with the Louisiana purchase of 1803. In the early days of the republic, there was a rough parity between the slave and free states, so neither side could dominate Congress. New states would eventually be carved out of the Louisiana Purchase and the issue that worried each side was whether the new states would be free or slave.


This question was of great importance to both the North and the South. Those who wanted to abolish slavery hoped that by pinning this institution in the Southeast, it would eventually fade away. Those in the South were concerned both to maintain the vigor of the slave economy through expansion, but also to provide a new market for excess slaves they wished to sell.


The first state created from the new territory was Louisiana, a slave state, in 1812, but this simply balanced Ohio, a free state admitted in 1803. Later in the decade, new settlement and development in the territories to the east of the Mississippi River led to the admittance of four new states, Mississippi, Alabama, Indiana and Illinois, keeping the number of free and slave states equal, now with eleven in each camp.


What concerned both parties was the question of what would happen in the Missouri Territory, that is that part of the Louisiana Purchase outside of the state of Louisiana, as it was carved into new states. Slavery was legal in the Missouri Territory from the beginning, though the climate and soil of much of it was not conducive to a slave economy. The only part of the territory clearly suitable for cotton growing was along the rich bottom lands of the Mississippi River and along the lower Missouri River.


In the first two decades of the nineteenth century, Southern emigrants brought their farming economy, including slaves, up into the region around St. Louis, and west along the Missouri River, in what became known as “Little Dixie.” This was the most developed area of the Missouri Territory, with St. Louis—-a major center for trade and commerce-—growing into a city of over 10,000 citizens by the end of the second decade of the nineteenth century. In 1818, the citizens around St. Louis petitioned Congress for admission as a new, slave state of Missouri.


The Northerners in Congress were unwilling to allow such a new slave state. It was more than simply the fact that this would upset the balance of free and slave states. Louisiana had long had a slave economy, but the idea of opening up the lands further north to slavery threatened the long-held belief that the institution could be limited to the South, eventually to fade away. Northerners were adamant in trying to prevent this.


Missouri Compromise


A compromise, brokered by Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun, was reached in 1820 which was acceptable to both Southerners and Northerners. As part of this “Missouri Compromise,” the District of Maine, a detached part of Massachusetts, would be admitted as a state along with Missouri. Maine had been clamoring to become be admitted to the Union on its own and since it would be a free state, it would off-set Missouri as a slave state, with the balance in Congress maintained.


Still, however, Northerners were adamant against the expansion of slavery into the lands in the northern part of the Missouri Territory, so as part of the compromise it was agreed that no new slave states—-other than the new state of Missouri—-could be carved out of the original Louisiana Purchase north of the 36°30′ parallel—the line which separated Virginia from North Carolina, Kentucky from Tennessee, and Arkansas from Missouri.


In hind-sight, Southerners realized that the Missouri Compromise had placed pro-slavery forces at a great disadvantage. A look at the map of the United States showed that the area open for free states was far larger than that from which slave could be created, consisting only of the Arkansas Territory. A look at the larger map of North America, however, showed a lot of land west of the Mississippi and south of the 36°30′ line, land, though, which inconveniently was part of a foreign country, Mexico.


Compromise of 1850


About this time Americans began to move into Texas, the province of Mexico bordering Louisiana and Arkansas. While slavery was outlawed in Mexico in 1829, the new Texans ignored this prohibition. The American pro-slavery faction could not help but covet Texas-—almost half the size of the Louisiana Purchase—-already inhabited with slave owning American emigrants, especially when it declared itself an independent republic in 1836.


Texans themselves were strongly in favor of being annexed into the United States, and pro-slavery American politicians dreamed of adding Texas to the Union as a single or perhaps even multiple slave states. Their plans took on added urgency when Britain decided it would recognize Texan independence and push for the abolition of slavery there. The desire by Southerners to add Texas to the Union led finally, in 1845, to the annexation of Texas as the 28th state. As U.S. Grant wrote, “The occupation, separation and annexation were…a conspiracy, to acquire territory out of which slave states might be formed for the American Union.”


Prompted in part by a desire for even more land which would be open for slavery, the United States provoked Mexico into the short-lived Mexican War. At the end of the war, by the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Mexico, in return for a payment of just over $18 million, not only recognized Texas as part of the United States, but ceded their provinces of Alta (or Upper) California and New Mexico.


The acquisition of these new lands to the west of the original Louisiana Purchase immediately raised the issue of how they were to be politically organized and, of course, what role slavery would play there. During the war, Congressman David Wilmot had introduced a bill to prohibit slavery in any territory captured from Mexico. Naturally, this bill was fought against by Southerners and though it passed the House, it failed in the Senate.


How the new lands of the Mexican Cession were to be governed was an issued which had to be faced by Congress, but this was quite a complex issue. The old Mexican settlements of California saw themselves as forming a mature political entity ready for admission as a state, and the Mormons were proposing a new state of Desert to be formed from the lands south of the Oregon Territory lying between the Continental Divide and California. Most Congressmen agreed that the Mormons could not have their desired state, but there was disagreement on almost all other questions of what to do with these new American lands.


One sore point for Northerners was that Texas, which allowed slavery, extended above the 36°30′ line—-when it first was annexed, Texas claimed as far north as present-day Wyoming-—which they argued was contrary to the Missouri Compromise. Northerners were thus determined that there would be no slavery allowed in the new territories acquired from Mexico. Southerners felt like the Northerners were running roughshod over the previous balance of power between the two sides by wanting to admit a new free state of California while at the same time excluding slavery from the rest of the Mexican Cession.


The solution to this conundrum was devised by Henry Clay and Stephen Douglas, who pushed through what is known as the Compromise of 1850. This was based on Douglas’ avocation of the use of the principal of “popular sovereignty” to get around the slavery question in the new territories. By that policy, citizens of the new territories would be able to decide for themselves whether their new states would be free or slave, writing this into the state constitutions as determined by democratic vote. Thus, when the territories were admitted as states, they would “be received into the Union, with or without slavery as their constitution may prescribe at the time of their admission.”


By the Missouri Compromise, the North got a new free-soil state, California, and had the northern border of Texas cut off at 36°30′ (in exchange for $10 million of debt relief), while the South got the possibility of slavery being voted in for the two new territories created between Texas and California—Utah and New Mexico—and they also got a stronger Fugitive Slave Act.


Many Northern Congressmen found this an unsatisfactory agreement, both because of the Fugitive Slave Act, but also because the possibility of slavery in the new territories, both of which had lands above 36°30′, seemingly a repudiation of the Missouri Compromise. Douglas, however, argued that the Missouri Compromise applied only to the lands of the original Louisiana Purchase, not to the Mexican Cession, and assuring fellow Northerners that the Missouri Compromise would continue in force there. He further sweetened the deal by including a clause into the new compromise for the abolition of slave trading in the District of Columbia.


The Compromise of 1850 did finally allow for the political organization of the lands gained in the Mexican War, and it was hailed by some as solution to how to keep the South and North from falling out over the issue of slavery. That was a premature and false hope, for the possibility that slavery might be allowed north of the 36°30′ line, together with the strong Slave Fugitive Act, lit a smoldering fuse of passion in the North, a fuse which would burst into flame just a few years later, sparked by another Congressional act shepherded through by Stephen Douglas.


Kansas-Nebraska Act


Within a few decades of the Louisiana Purchase, inspired in part by Stephen Long’s description of much of the lands west of the Mississippi River as the “Great American Desert,” the Federal Government decided that this area would make a perfect place to locate not only the western Indian Tribes, but also those from the East whose land was confiscated. The Indian Intercourse Act of 1834 set aside for Indian territory "…all that part of the United States west of the Mississippi and not within the states of Missouri and Louisiana, or the territory of Arkansas…"


This region comprised most of the Great Plains lying between the Rocky Mountains and those states and territories just to the west of the Mississippi River. As Americans began to move towards the west coast, it soon became evident that there was the need for the extension of U.S. law, especially related to property, to that part of the Indian lands through which emigrants traveled and where a railroad could be built.


For this to happen, at least a band of land crossing the plains had to be organized as a U.S. territory. The designation of this proposed territory was to be "Nebraska," a name first used by Frémont with reference to the Platte River, which was for much of its length the main route for the emigrants heading west. "Nebrathka" was an Otoe word for ‘flat water' and was used by them as the name for the Platte. A bill to create a Nebraska Territory was first introduced in 1844, with another put forth in 1848; both bills failed because this territory would be north of the Missouri Compromise line and Southerners were loath to create such a large, free-soil territory.


With the acquisition of California in 1850, the need to organize such a territory became even more urgent. For both economic and social reasons the country needed to connect the East and West Coasts with a railroad. Thus pressure to organize these lands continued to grow.


Stephen Douglas turned from his “triumph” in the Compromise of 1850 to tackle this problem, which he again “solved” using his principal of popular sovereignty. Douglas proposed that two new territories, Kansas and Nebraska, be created under “popular sovereignty,” each able to determine for itself whether it was slave or free.


This was acceptable to many Northerners, especially those who were keen to have a trans-continental railroad built, for they believed these two proposed territories were situated too far north to prove hospitable to slavery. Ironically, many Southerners accepted this compromise because they thought that at least the Kansas Territory would be favorable to the introduction of slavery, as it lay directly west of the slave state Missouri.


In order to make sure Kansas voted to come in as a slave state, Southerners were encouraged to move into Kansas, while abolitionists in the North did the same thing, promoting antislavery settlements there. Thousands poured into the new Kansas Territory, armed and ready for a fight over slavery. “Bloody Kansas” was the immediate effect, but another more lasting consequence was that many antislavery proponents in the north—both Democrats and Whigs—left those parties to form a new Republican Party, specifically organized to prevent the expansion of slavery into the new territories.


New Territories


In the years leading up to the Civil War, an increasing movement to create new territories ran smack into a Congressional blockage caused by the hardening sectional conflict between the supporters and abhorrers of slavery.


New emigrants were pouring into the large territories of the West, many prompted by gold discoveries, and this generated strong pressure to create smaller territories for these populations. Many of these new settlements were located well away from the centers of power in the old territories and the emigrants wanted to have local control. The New York Times reported on Jan. 11, 1859 that there were six applications for new territories before Congress, five for trans-Mississippi regions.


Despite these, and other petitions for territorial creation, Congress would not act. With a roughly equal balance between the free and slave states, neither side was willing to let in a territory or state which would lead to one side gaining a significant advantage in Congress. No new territory was created between the Kansas-Nebraska Act and 1860.


This all changed in early 1861 when eleven state seceded from the Union, with all their Senators and Representatives leaving Congress. All of a sudden, Congress was heavily weighted towards the north and mostly anti-slavery. Within just the first three months of 1861, three new territories-—Dakota, Nevada and Colorado—-were created, all free-soil.


The final political alteration in the American West that was specifically related to the issue of slavery was the creation of the Territory of Arizona in 1863. About a decade before, in 1854, the Gadsden Purchase added about 30,000 square miles to the southern part of the New Mexico Territory. This area was called either “Gadsdonia” or “Arizona.” The settlers who moved into this area felt alienated and neglected by the territorial government in Santa Fe, located well to the north. These settlers, most of whom were originally from the South, were not particularly keen to be administered by a government which had a large Hispanic element to it and which was anti-slavery.


Thus, in 1856 and then again in 1860, conventions were held to create a Territory of Arizona from the lands south of the 34th parallel. The Arizonians elected a territorial governor and sent a delegation to Congress asking for the establishment of this territory, but as with the other similar requests of the time, Congress did not act.
The Arizonians were not happy, so when the Confederacy was created in 1861, they voted to secede from the United States and join the Confederacy, which accepted Arizona as a territory in early 1862. A year later, Congress—-now free to create free-soil territories-—did decide to create an Arizona Territory, but with a north-south border, rather than east-west, for this both avoided a de facto recognition of the Confederate Territory and it diminished the influence of the southerners in the new territory.


From this brief history, it is clear that slavery played a preeminent role in almost all the changes to borders, territories and states in the trans-Mississippi West from 1803 through the Civil War. Other factors, of course, did play significant roles, but the issue of slavery was always there, greatly determining outcomes. It was certainly in the eastern U.S. that slavery drove the hammer of conflict most strikingly, but the West too was greatly shaped by the chisel of the fight against bondage.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Arbuckles Coffee Cards

Arbuckles Coffee was the most famous coffee company in the United States in the second part of the nineteenth century. Begun just after the Civil War by brothers John and Charles Arbuckle, the company came up with a means by which they could sell pre-roasted "Ariosa" coffee in one pound bags.


Prior to this, coffee beans were sold green, and they had to be roasted before use on a wood stove or over a skillet. John Arbuckle came up with the process where they coasted the roasted beans with an egg white and sugar glaze, which allowed them to retain their freshness. They then packaged them in one pound bags and sent them around the coutry.


Arbuckle’s coffee became a favorite around the country, especially out west where the cowhands were able to get a consistent cup of good tasting coffee. Such was their fame and wide-spread use that “Arbuckles” became a generic name for coffee. Arbuckles became known as “the coffee that won the West.”


The Arbuckle firm was innovative in their marketing, as well as processing, and they came up with a number of schemes to promote their coffee, including packaging a peppermint stick with each bag. In the 1880s they began to issue a number of series of small, colorful “trading cards” of different subjects, done with colorful chromolithography by the printmaking firm of Donaldson Brothers. Each bag contained one of the trading cards, with the idea that customers would try to collect all the cards in a series.


The series included different subjects, including animals, sports, food, historic scenes, and—one of their most popular—maps of states and the nations of the world. The state series were published in 1889 and included a map of the state surrounded by vignette scenes from the state, as well as various statistics. The verso of each card included an advertisement of Arbuckles Ariosa Coffee.


The state map series proved so popular that in 1915 the company came out with an updated series of these cards. The maps sometimes had new vignettes, the statistics were updated, and roads added.


Friday, April 11, 2014

The Sun Never Sets On The British Empire

I always enjoy it when I see an old map or print used in a television program or movie and so it was fun to see a case of this in one of my favorite shows, PBS’s Mr. Selfridge. This program is about American businessman Harry Gordon Selfridge and the department store he founded in London in 1909. The second season of the show has recently started and one of the themes of this season is the beginning of World War I in 1914.


As a promotion, and to show support for Great Britain, Selfridge decided to hold “Empire Week”, where displays throughout the store would evoke all corners of the British Empire. This included the window displays and in the last scene of episode two we see Selfridge looking at a window which has the legend “The Sun Never Sets On The British Empire.” In the window is a large map of the world which, even at the quick glance we have of it, apparently shows the British Empire.


The map shown is, in fact, probably the most famous map to show the British Empire, Walter Crane’s “Imperial Federation, map of the world showing the extent of the British Empire…” I think it is pretty cool, the show using an appropriate map as part of the Empire Week set. However, I do have to note that there are a couple of ‘not quite right’ aspects to this. First off, the map was issued, as the title above goes on to state, “in 1886,” not in 1914 when the show takes place. Secondly, the real map is about 2 x 2 1/2 feet in size, whereas the map in the show is considerably larger than that. Still, I love the use of such an interesting map in this great television series.


Crane’s map was issued as a supplement to a British newspaper, The Graphic, on July 24th, 1886. It is a wonderful example of the pictorial map genre, drawn by one of the most influential book illustrators of the late nineteenth century, Walter Crance, who is known especially for his children’s book illustrations. The map was based on “statistical information” provided by J.C.R. Colomb (to whom the map is sometimes attributed) and it shows the world with the different parts of the British Empire colored in red.


The map also shows Britannia literally sitting on top of the world, surrounded by her subjects. The map uses the Mercator projection, which was common for world maps of the period, and it is interesting that this projection does tend to exaggerate the size of places in the higher latitudes, such as the British Isles and Canada. It is also interesting to note that if this map had been issued in 1914, instead of 1886, more of the world, especially in Africa, would have been colored red.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Splitting Dakota Territory

New research at the Philadelphia Print Shop often results from our acquiring a new print or map which contains an interesting feature about which we do not know much. This happened recently when we were writing up a map of the United States from 1882 by John Bartholomew. Looking over the map, we noticed that the Dakota Territory was divided, even though this map was issued four years before North and South Dakota were created. A closer look showed that the northern section was titled "Lincoln" and not North Dakota.


Vince Szilagyi decided to figure out what this was about and he found that this "Lincoln Territory" was just one of several proposals for the division of the Dakota Territory before 1886. Here is what he found out:



Initially, a huge Dakota Territory was created out of parts of the Nebraska and Minnesota Territories in 1861, extending from Minnesota to the Continental Divide and between the 43rd parallel and the Canadian border. This vast territory was whittled down in the next few years so that by 1868 the territory essentially encompassed the lands lying today within North and South Dakota. Prior to the Civil War, most of the population consisted of Native Americans, primarily Sioux, settled on several Indian reservations.


After the end of the Civil War, the Dakota Territory had become a place of major activity and interest for Euro-Americans in a United States eager to expand and grow after years of destruction. The territory experienced an explosion of development in the 1870s due to its mineral wealth, fertile soil and the expansion of the railroads into the region. As the area boomed and the Indians were displaced by a series of conflicts with the US Federal Government, there began a series of calls to split the huge territory into smaller, more manageable units.


The desire to break the Dakota Territory into smaller units was prompted by a couple of factors. First, the territory had two main population centers, one in the northeast around Bismark and one in the southeast around Yankon. These were separated by hundreds of miles of difficult and untamed terrain. The isolation was so pronounced that Judge J.A. Barnes of the Dakota Territory Supreme Court proclaimed “The people of Northern Dakota want a division of the territory because they are so far remote from Southern Dakota that they do not feel any identity of interest.”


Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, dividing the territory into two parts would double the number of Senators sent to Washington from the Dakotas when they eventually became states. As the territory at the time was solidly Republican and the Senate was tightly contested, the Republican Party supported the split wholeheartedly. Surprisingly enough, the Democrats also believed splitting the territory would be to their advantage, as they had hopes that one of the new territories would swing Republican and the other Democratic.



Despite, or perhaps because of these factors, the actual splitting of the territory was a difficult and slow process. Numerous proposals were put forth and bills submitted to split the Dakota Territory into smaller units during the 1870s and ‘80s. None of these succeeded until 1889, when the division was finally realized, with the admission of two new states, named sensibly, albeit somewhat dully, North and South Dakota.


The earlier proposals were unsuccessful for various reasons and their proposed political entitles, with names such as Pembina, Huron and Lincoln, were never realized in fact. However, they did, get a ghostly, cartographic existence, appearing on a few maps, now of considerable interest to collectors and students of history.


Pembina

An early proposal to split the Dakota Territory involved chopping off essentially the top half and naming it Pembina. Pembina Territory never became a reality, although in the Dec. 22nd, 1874 edition of the Sacramento Daily Union there is a brief one sentence note declaring that "The Pembina Territory Bill was revived on motion of Boreman" in the U.S. Senate, indicating that the idea was at least discussed beyond the wilds of the Dakota Territory. Only one cartographer, John Bartholomew of Philadelphia, seems to have put the proposed territory on his maps, making these particularly rare.

Huron

Another similar proposal to split the territory was made in July of 1876. A convention was held in Yankon (the territorial capital and now in South Dakota) to address the question, where the Dakotans came to the conclusion that they supported “the organization of a new territory out of the northern part of Dakota, and believe such an organization will largely tend to enhance the interests of the people in both sections." The U.S. Senate passed a bill in December of 1876 to create the Territory of Huron out of the Dakota Territory north of the 46th parallel. The bill was never signed into law, but some cartographers took a gamble and included the nonexistent territory their maps. This “jumping the gun” by publishers was not unusual, as fierce competition often spurred the companies to try and be the first to show new developments.

Lincoln


During the 1880’s, several further attempts were made to split off the northern portion of Dakota into a Lincoln Territory. Unlike Huron and Pembina which more or less shared their borders with present day North Dakota, the Lincoln Territory would have encompassed all of present day North Dakota as well as extending into modern day South Dakota. This larger territory was bitterly opposed by Democrats in the territory as well as Democrats in the Senate, who refused to consider a bill creating a territory named after their most bitter political foe. Thus this bill never made it past the Senate.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Curious Case of Currier & Ives’ Buffalo

Currier & Ives has always been a printmaking firm of great interest to me, so when I moved to Denver about three years ago, I naturally began to focus on their western prints. One of my favorites is “The Rocky Mountains,” published in 1872-74, which shows an purported scene of a valley in the Rockies with a lake and a herd of buffalo. From the appearance of the mountains and the animals, it is clear the artist who made this print had never seen either!


It is a well-documented that Nathaniel Currier’s and Currier & Ives’ western prints were not based on first-hand drawings. The firm was issuing these prints for an audience most of the members of which had never seen the American West and it was easier and less expensive to make up views than to try to procure first-hand renderings. The number of such Currier/Currier & Ives western prints, issued over many years, is a strong indication that this lack of genuineness was not an issue with the print buying public.


Now that is not to say that there wasn’t an effort made to make the prints at least somewhat accurate. It is recorded that Nathaniel Currier took A.F. Tait and Louis Maurer, both of whom made western scenes for Currier, to the Astor Library in New York City to look at the prints of Karl Bodmer, prints which were based on first-hand renderings.



Still, it is particularly striking that none of the four main artists who produced Currier/Currier & Ives western prints—A.F. Tait, Louis Maurer, John Cameron, and Fanny Palmer—had travelled west of the Mississippi before making their western prints, and I think of these artists only Maurer ever got there at all.


The Currier/Currier & Ives prints were based either on other images, on western artifacts, or on the accounts of travelers. This did cause some disapproval at the time, with the artists criticized for their “curious mixture of truth and fantasy,” and for trying “to visualize the plains grasslands from the security of their New York studios.” Still, the large folio prints were, on the whole, relatively accurate in terms of landscape and the appearance of the actors in the scenes depicted.


Not so much with the small folio prints, however, as “The Rocky Mountains” nicely illustrates. I always found the buffalo in this print to be particularly wonderful, looking something like a cross between African lions and poodles. It was a lot of fun, then, when I recently realized that a print which we had in our shop was the original source for these buffalo.


The print in question is “The American Bison,” from Sir William Jardine’s The Natural History of the Ruminating Animals, which is volume XII in Jardine’s famous Naturalist’s Library (Edinburgh, 1836.) About his report on the American bison, Jardine wrote “Our information regarding this important animal is, thanks to the intrepid travelers in the artic regions, and particularly to Dr. Richardson, much more authentic than most of that we have been able to collect regarding one or two others.” (p. 252)


The textual information, perhaps, but the image is rather odd looking. The print was drawn by James Hope Stewart (1789-1856), a Scottish farmer who produced the images on at least 545 of Jardine’s Naturalist Library prints. Stewart was an amateur artist from Gillenbie, Scotland, and he obviously never saw a buffalo.


His picture of the buffalo was clearly the source of the images in Currier & Ives “The Rocky Moutains.” The buffalo at the front and center is simply a reversed image of the Jardine print and the other buffalo are variations of that central image. This is not, certainly, an earth-shattering discovery, but it made my day to discover finally the source of the curious Currier & Ives buffalo.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Shaping the Trans-Mississippi West: 1866-69.


As discussed in the last blog, Nevada, created out of western Utah in 1861, had its eastern border moved from the 116th degree longitude to the 115th just two years later, taking that land from the Utah Territory. This was done to put newly found gold sites within the Nevada, which was closely controlled by the federal government, and at the same time take them away from the Mormons, against whom the government was strongly biased.


Just three years later, in 1866, the same thing happened again. Beginning in 1865, a rumor appeared of new mineral riches, including perhaps the legendary silver mountain, located in what became the Pahranagat Mining District. It was not known at the time if this area was located in Nevada or Utah, so to be sure, Congress once again shifted the border one degree further east to the 114th degree line.


Nevada was on a roll in terms of increasing its domain, with the next expansion being towards the south. Brigham Young had seen the Colorado River as affording a possible route by which to bring in supplies and new recruits to Utah, so in 1864 he sent Anson Call to set up a settlement on the Colorado, which was done the following year, the town of Call’s Landing or Callville being located at the head of navigation on the river.



By 1866, the importance of this outlet for shipping was apparent to those in Nevada, so they petitioned Congress to give them the land which lay between their original border on the 37th parallel and the Colorado river. This, of course, was the western part of the Arizona territory, which complained the federal government about this land grab. However, because of its past support of the Confederacy, Congress didn’t like Arizona any better than Utah, and in January 1867 this 18,000 square mile section officially became attached to Nevada, which once again had benefited at the expense of a territory on Congress’s black list.


As I discussed in the last blog, when Montana was created in 1864 from the northeastern part of Idaho Territory, the southeastern part of that once very large territory was attached to the Dakota Territory, giving it an odd, butterfly-like shape. This shape and the huge size of Dakota was not practical, so in 1868, the southwestern rectangle of Dakota was reformed as a new Wyoming Territory.


Wyoming was created so that it was essentially a rectangle of equal size to its southern neighbor, Colorado. Its northern border was the southern border of Montana, and its eastern border drawn south as a continuation of Montana’s eastern border at the 104th meridian, until it met Colorado’s border, which then became its southern line. This border was extended along the 41st parallel for seven degrees to the 111th meridian. This had the effect of taking, once again, territory from Utah, as well as Idaho, as their borders with the Dakota Territory had been the 110th meridian.


This perfect rectangular shape ended up having a rather strange, and unintended effect-—the creation of a “thumb” of the Dakota Territory separated from the rest of that territory by Wyoming. When Montana was created, its southern border ran along the 45th parallel as far as the 111th meridian, then straight south to 44°30’, then west to the Continental Divide. Idaho’s northern border stopped at the continental divide, so there was a small triangle of land north of Idaho’s border, south of the 44°30’ line, and west of the 111th meridian. In 1864 this gore of land had been part of Dakota and when Wyoming was created to the east of the 111th line, this area remained part of Dakota. This small thumb of Dakota was thus over 360 miles from the rest of the territory, as it remained until 1873, when it was finally given to Montana.