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.
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:
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.
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.