November 12, 2014

Map of Upper & Lower California Showing the Military Stations and Distribution of Troops

During the Mexican-American War of 1846–48, U.S. troops occupied parts of the Mexican territory of Alta (Upper) California in an arc from present-day Sacramento to San Diego. This hand-drawn map of 1847 shows the locations in Alta California where U.S. forces were stationed. The notation on the lower left-hand side gives the distances between sites and the numbers of men deployed. Longitude and latitude are marked but there is no exact scale. The map shows the extent of U.S. control, later to be formalized in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848, which transferred to the United States a vast swath of land that included not only California but the future states of Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and parts of Colorado and Wyoming. California, with its long Pacific coastline and obvious economic potential, was the Mexican territory most coveted by many Americans. The map is by Joseph Goldsborough Bruff (1804–89), a topographical and architectural draftsman who had studied at West Point and worked in the 1840s as a member of the staff of the U.S. Bureau of Topographical Engineers in the Department of War. It shows the coastline of California, mountains, towns and missions, and El Camino Real (The Royal Road), the Spanish-built road that ran from San Diego in the south to Sonoma, just north of San Francisco Bay, connecting the 21 Spanish-built missions. Marked on the map south of Sacramento is “Suter’s,” a reference to Sutter’s Mill, where the discovery that set off the California Gold Rush was made in early 1848.

Map Showing the Lands Assigned to Emigrant Indians West of Arkansas and Missouri

Following passage of the Indian Removal Act in 1830, President Andrew Jackson implemented a policy of land exchanges and forced expulsion of the eastern Native Americans to regions west of the Mississippi River. Epitomized by the “Trail of Tears” followed by the Cherokee in their forced journey from their ancestral homes to lands in what is now Oklahoma, Jackson’s policy set the stage for decades of native resettlement and for the widespread establishment of reservations. This map shows the approximate boundaries of the lands assigned to the relocated tribes in territories west of the Mississippi by 1836. Different shades of color are used to indicate the various tribes. The map also shows the southwestern border of the United States with Mexico, which at that time included the territory that was soon to become the independent Republic of Texas. Forced cession of land by tribes indigenous to the American West, such as the Sioux, is also shown. Approximate geographical boundaries are indicated by rivers, trails, and forts, as territories and states had yet to form in this area. The number of Indians who “emigrated” is listed in the lower right margin, as well as the number of “resident” Indians already living in these regions and the number of Indian tribes remaining east of the Mississippi. Included as well is the total acreage of lands granted by the federal government to the new immigrants according to each tribe.

Topographical Sketch of the Gold & Quicksilver District of California

Published in July 1848 after the first gold strikes at Sutter’s Mill on the American River in northern California, this map shows the location of key gold and quicksilver (mercury, in the form of cinnabar) deposits in the territory of California. Soon after the find, prospectors began streaming into California in enormous numbers, and demand was high for geographic knowledge of the region, especially as it related to previous strikes. The map displays the basic topography of California by showing mountains, rivers, bays, and mountain passes, but its main purpose is to highlight the latest information on mineral deposits and the exact locations where gold and quicksilver had been discovered. As was often the case with mineral discoveries in the United States and elsewhere, most of the riches went to the earliest arrivals, and such maps proved of limited value to later prospectors, who in most cases were unable to secure the best mining claims. Selling mining equipment and supplies, including local guidebooks and maps, to prospectors was often more profitable than prospecting and mining itself in this period. The cartographer was Edward Otho Cresap Ord (1818–83), a Union general in the American Civil War, and the map was printed by Peter S. Duval (circa 1805−86), a leading Philadelphia lithographer.

Map of the Mining District of California

This map, produced in two parts in the early years after the California Gold Rush of 1849, shows the regions where gold was discovered in the territory. Accompanying the map was a 16-page appendix that gave further information on the location and significance of the gold strikes. The discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill on the American River in January 1848 attracted migrants from the east coast of the United States, as well as from Europe, Central and South America, Australia, and Asia. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ending the Mexican–American War, signed within two weeks of the discovery at Sutter’s Mill, made California a U.S. territory after centuries of control by Spain and Mexico. The influx of some 300,000 people accelerated the pace of political change in the territory. Elections, the drafting of a constitution, and the rapid achievement of statehood followed within a few years. The admission of California to the Union as a free state was a part of the Compromise of 1850, which was aimed at heading off a split between North and South over the issue of expanding slavery into the western territories. San Francisco, only a small village before the Gold Rush of 1849, became a boom town and then a significant metropolis. Captain William A. Jackson, the cartographer, was an engineer who had personal experience of the mines. The map and appendix shown here were published in 1851 and are revised from the first edition produced in 1850.

Rand, McNally & Company’s Map of the United States Showing, in Six Degrees, the Density of Population, 1890

This map, published in 1892 by the Chicago-based Rand McNally and Company, shows the population density of the United States in 1890. Six shades of color are used to indicate the different levels of population density by location, ranging from fewer than two inhabitants per square mile (2.59 square kilometers) to more than 90 inhabitants per square mile. The most densely populated parts of the country are in the Northeast and parts of the Midwest. The West is for the most part sparsely populated, although already by this time Denver, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Seattle are emerging as major cities. Red stars are used to indicate the westward movement of the country’s center of population, caused by a century of migration and settlement. In 1790, the center was near Baltimore, Maryland; by 1890 it had moved to a location in southern Indiana, somewhere west of Cincinnati, Ohio. A note at the bottom explains that in 1890 the overall population density of the United States (excluding Alaska) was 20.77 inhabitants per square mile, up from 16.58 inhabitants per square mile a decade earlier. Also shown are major geographic features including national and state borders, mountains, rivers and lakes, major roads, cities and towns, national parks, and Indian reservations. According to the census of 1890, the total population of the United States in that year was 62,979,766, an increase of 25.5 percent from 1880. The ten largest cities were New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Brooklyn (then not yet part of New York City), Saint Louis, Boston, Baltimore, San Francisco, Cincinnati, and Cleveland.

Revelations of Saint Bridget of Sweden

The Revelations of Saint Birgitta (or Bridget) of Sweden (circa 1303–73) is one of the most important and influential works of Swedish medieval literature. According to contemporary sources, Birgitta received her revelations in the form of visions, beginning in the 1340s and continuing until close to her death. Although her revelations related mostly to spiritual matters, they included some messages of a practical and political character, one of which was the command to found a new religious order, which resulted in the establishment of the Order of the Most Holy Savior, or what came to known as the Birgittines. Birgitta first wrote down her revelations in Swedish. One of her two confessors then translated them into Latin. The final redaction of the Revelations was made after her death by her last confessor, the bishop of Jaén (Spain), Alfonso Pecha. In addition to the eight books of the Revelations proper, a few other minor texts usually are included in the Birgittine textual corpus. Birgitta enjoyed a significant international reputation in her own lifetime, and her Revelations were quickly translated into a number of European vernaculars. A Swedish version was required for devotional use by the newly professed nuns of the Birgittine order, and the main part of the Old Swedish text probably was translated from the standard Latin version in the early 1380s. However, there is no extant manuscript containing a full version of this translation. The present manuscript, datable to between 1400 and 1425, is considered to be the source manuscript for the Revelations in Old Swedish. It has small revisions made in about 1400 or shortly thereafter. It contains books one to eight, although some chapters are missing, as well as the legend of Birgitta known as the “Vita abbreviata.” The codex consists of 251 parchment leaves in a contemporary binding, rebacked in modern times. It was written in the Birgittine mother house in Vadstena, under a commission from the nobleman Bengt Jönsson Oxenstierna, to be read by him and others in the aristocratic circles of which he was part. In 1732 the manuscript was sold at auction by the Oxenstierna family to the Swedish Archive of Antiquities. In 1780 it was acquired from the archive by the National Library of Sweden, which also holds other early copies of the Revelations.