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The First American Survey West of the Mississippi River

Extremely rare map of a portion of Missouri Territory, at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, illustrating the military bounty lands being offered to veterans of the War of 1812.

Gardiner's map is almost certainly the earliest may showing American Surveys in Missouri Territory and, as such, the first American Surveys West of the Mississippi River.  As noted by Streeter:

"The surveyed townships at the most northern point are only about 80 miles north of the parallel of St. Louis and the only settlements shown on the Missouri River are St. Charles, near its mouth, Franklin, and Boon's Lick Settlement. On the west side of the Mississippi the towns, from north to south, are St. Louis, Carondeleto, Rogers-town, Herculaneum, St. Genevieve, Potosi, Old Shawnee Village, Mine a la Motte, Little Delaware Village, Jackson, and Cape Giradeau." (Streeter III:1841). 

Historical Overview

The War of 1812 legislation was enacted to reward military service by entitling veterans to claim land in the western and northwest territories. This land, known as "bounty land," was acquired by veterans through a multi-step process beginning with the issuance of Bounty Land Warrants. The veterans applied for warrants and if it granted, used the warrants to apply for land patents.

Based upon Congressional debates which occurred in December 1818, it is probable that the Map of the Northern Part of Missouri Territory was prepared under the direction of John Gardiner, the chief clerk of the General Land Office in 1818. Streeter notes that the map is likely the earliest printed map of a portion of Missouri Territory and perhaps the first map to show the progress of township surveys west of the Mississippi River.

John Gardiner

John Gardiner was the chief clerk of the General Land Office during the War of 1812. Among the more noteworthy events attributed to Gardiner was his removal of the General Land Office records from Washington by carriage, during the siege by the British. His name appears on several early maps, including a Map of the Bounty Lands in Illinois Territory, a map of the military boundary lands in Arkansas Territory, a similar map of Alabama Territory and the present map.

Printing History of Gardiner's Maps

While Gardiner's map of the bounty lands in Illinois Territory appears occasionally on the market, the remaining maps are extremely rare. This is perhaps due to Congress's refusal to publish the map and provide copies to military veterans. As noted below, Gardiner's suggestion that copies of the map of Missouri Territory be provided to veterans was considered and rejected by Congress.

The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States at page 39 notes that on Monday, December 7, 1818, "The President communicated a letter from John Gardiner, presenting to the Senate maps of the Alabama Territory and of the military bounty lands in the Missouri Territory. . . " Similarly at page 346, it is noted that "The Speaker laid before the House a letter from John Gardiner, enclosing a map of Alabama and of military bounty lands in Missouri, and stating that if Congress thinks proper to give to each soldier a map with his bounty land, he is willing to relinquish his impression on reasonable terms. . . " On December 9, 1818, Mr. Poindexter of the Committee of Public Lands "made a report unfavorable to the proposition of John Gardiner to supply soldiers with maps of their bounty lands at a reasonable price. . . "

The map notes that it was Entered according to act of Congress by John Gardiner, Distt. Columa. It is possible that Gardiner himself printed the map. We are not aware of any publishers or engravers operating in Washington DC who were capable of printing the map and none of Gardiner's maps indicate a place of publication or engraver name.

In October 2011, we handled several other Gardiner maps from the same "series." Based upon information discovered in 2011, it is possible that Gardiner's maps were published in Philadelphia by Tanner, Vallence, Kearny & Co., which printed maps of the Northern and Southern Districts of Alabama Territory for Gardiner at approximately the same time as this map and the Bounty Lands in Illinois Territory map) and this map.  

Provenance:  Eric Newman Sale, Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, November 2018.  


The map is extremely rare, As of 2011, OCLC noted 2 examples (Newberry Library (Streeter Copy) and University of Kentucky). We note also that the Dr. Kenneth J. LaBudde Department of Special Collections, University of Missouri Kansas City Miller Nichols Library, lists an example of the map in its on line holdings.

In 2011, we acquired several examples of the map from the deaccession of an institutional collection.

Condition Description
Minor dampstaining.