Mitchell United States 1863


“Map of the United States, and Territories.  Together with Canada &c.”  From Mitchell’s New General Atlas.  Philadelphia: S.A. Mitchell, Jr., 1863.  13 1/2 x 21 3/4.  Lithograph.  Original hand color.  Very good condition.

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A map of the United States during the Civil War, a most fascinating time for the political shape of the country’s states and territories.  The map was issued by S.A. Mitchell, Jr., who took over from his father in 1860 and began to issue his New General Atlas.  As the trans-Mississippi region developed in the 1850s, there was a call the breaking up of the very large territories from the beginning of the decade into smaller units.  However, every newly created territory had an impact on the power struggle in Congress over the issue of slavery, so between 1854, with its Kansas-Nebraska Act, and 1860, no new territories were created.  When the southerners succeeded in 1860 and 1861, northerners in Congress were able to act and within months, three new territories were created: Dakota, Colorado and Nevada.  Then in 1863, the year of this map, two new territories were created: Idaho and Arizona.

Congress had realized that the very large territory of New Mexico needed to be broken up, but the local citizens had tried to split it with an East-West border, so that there would be a southern Arizona Territory.  Congress could not agree on adding what would become a slave state, so the locals actually created an extra-legal Arizona Territory in the south and then proceeded to secede from Union.  Once the Southerners left Congress, those left did create Arizona, but with the current North-South border, as shown here.

Further to the North, gold had been discovered in what was eastern Washington Territory.  Those miners in that area wanted to have their own government, so in 1863, Idaho Territory was created out of eastern Washington, along with the western part of the Dakota Territory.  This created a huge Idaho Territory—which lasted in this shape for only a year—as is shown on this map.

Besides these two new territories, the map shows an amazing amount of interesting information in the West, including forts, trails, and the Pony Express route.