Monk’s 1856 North America wall map


“Monk’s New American Map Exhibiting the Larger Portion of North America; Embracing the United States and Territories, Mexico and Central America, including the West India Islands, Canadas, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.” Baltimore: Jacob Monk, 1856.  Separately issued wall map. 57 1/2 x 60 1/2.  Drawn, lithographed and printed by A. Hoen & Co.  Full original hand color.  Map professionally conserved and lined.  A few minor blemishes, cracks and light marginal stains; overall, very good condition. Framed to museum standards.

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An updated 1856 version of Monk’s impressive map of North America, from a series of wall maps published between 1851 and 1863.  The map contains much on the transportation routes crisscrossing the country, including railroads built and proposed, and tables are included at the right listing distances along water and inland routes between cities.  Also of focus are the trails and exploration routes in the West.  For instance, the Oregon Trail is shown with stopping places marked and miles between noted and the Santa Fe Trail is also indicated.  Monk also shows water routes to California, with a number of ship vignettes gracing the seas.  An inset map of the world, in the lower left, shows explorer routes around the globe.  In the eastern part of the United States copious information is given, providing a terrific contemporary image of the developed part of the country at mid-century.

However, it is for the western part of the country that this map is of most interest.  The map shows the results of the Kansas-Nebraska Act from two years before.  The vast Indian lands east of the Rocky Mountains, which previously stretched from Texas to the Canadian border are now limited to essentially the area of today’s Oklahoma, the region to the north broken into the two new territories of Kansas and Nebraska.  The rest of the West also includes the large territories of Oregon, Washington, Utah and New Mexico.  Monk was very concerned to keep his maps up-to-date, so the territory of New Mexico is expanded to reflect lands recently acquired by the United States in late 1853 with the Gadsden Purchase. Another salient feature of Monk’s map is his careful location of Indian tribes and his indications of proposed railroad routes, forts and exploration routes across the West.