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The Great Oregon Railroad and Missouri Territory  

A decorative map of the United States, published during the Mexican-American War designed to stir patriotic sentiments and celebrate the newly conquered territory.

The map is the unusual depiction of Missouri Territory, less than 2 years before the creation of Minnesota Territory on March 3, 1849 and shortly before the first appearance of Nebraska Territory on the 1848 edition of this map.

The map also includes a large Oregon Territory, which is sparse in details, but includes the "Great Oregon Rail Road," which runs from Chicago to Oregon City.

The map also pre-dates the appearance of Utah Territory and New Mexico Territory, such that only Upper California is shown, pre-dating the official annexation Upper California the following year by the US Government.

The map is ornamented with many interesting drawings and portraits, as advertised in the title. Portraits of George Washington, Cortez and Montezuma the top. Below are the seals of Mexico and the United States, portraits of Zachary Taylor and Santa Anna, and a view of the Great Temple of the Sun, destroyed by Cortez in 1521, along with text regarding the United States, Oregon Territory, New Mexico and the Californias, and Mexico. 

This is the earliest state of the map we have offered. Beginning in 1848, the top and bottom images and text would be completely changed, other than the Washington portrait.

The Mexican-American War and its Aftermath

The road to conflict for the United States and Mexico started a decade before the formal outbreak of war. In 1836, Texas won its independence from Mexico. Although they appealed to the United States for annexation, some in the US government balked at Texas’ inclusion as it would tip the balance between slave and free states. In addition, Mexico threatened war if the US moved to annex the Republic. 

This changed when James K. Polk, a dedicated expansionist, was elected President in the election of 1844. Polk annexed Texas and offered to buy the territory that is now the Southwestern United States. Mexico refused. In response, Polk ordered troops south of the Nueces River, which was recognized as part of the Mexican state of Coahuila. On April 25, 1846, the Mexican cavalry attacked the US soldiers, who were under the command of Zachary Taylor. Several skirmishes followed. On May 13, Congress declared war; the United States was involved in its first war fought mainly on foreign soil.

Although Mexico valued the lands north of the Rio Grande River, they were sparsely populated. The US Army easily overran the area while Taylor and his men pushed into the Mexican heartland. Desperate, the Mexican government recalled the disgraced General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna from exile in Cuba. Santa Anna had been in touch with Polk and promised the President to end the war on favorable terms to the US. Somewhat predictably, Santa Anna went back on his word as soon as he was on Mexican soil.

Installed as head of the Mexican Army, Santa Anna also assumed the Mexican presidency in March 1847. However, the Mexican forces were being pushed back. General Winfield Scott took Veracruz, the most important port city in Mexico, and advanced toward Mexico City. Following the path of Hernan Cortes three centuries before, Scott marched from the sea to the capital city. It fell in September 1847.

With the US Army on the streets of the capital, the war was over. Santa Anna resigned, forcing a new government to form and to negotiate the terms of a peace treaty. On February 2, 1848, the parties signed the Treaty of Peace, Friendship, Limits, and Settlement, better known as the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The Rio Grande, not the Nueces River, marked the new boundary between the countries and it was decided based on scrutiny of the Disturnell map. Mexico finally had to recognize the loss of Texas and agreed to sell a huge swath of territory—the modern states of California, New Mexico, Arizona, and parts of Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado—for a paltry 15 million dollars.

Condition Description
Some soiling and chipping and cracking along the top and bottom. Section of the title in the word "ornamental" restored.
Wheat, #551