Map of New Jersey, 1850, Mitchell and Cowperthwait
A Map of New Jersey, 1850, Mitchell and Cowperthwait
The Compromise of 1850 was created to appease Southern states by tightening the Fugitive Slave Act that gave incentive to Northerners to capture and return escaped slaves. While this act delayed war for another decade, it was largely ignored by those in the north, who continued to aid Harriet Tubman and others in the Underground Railroad. New Jersey, however, was one of the exceptions. In 1850, Jersey City was a well-established point along the escape routes to Canada and New York City. The Hudson River, which passed through the area, was hailed as "The River Jordan." The majority of whites in Jersey City were Southern sympathizers, though, who attempted to discourage abolitionist speech. After the Compromise of 1850, it became increasingly difficult and dangerous to hide fugitive slaves in New Jersey.
Samuel Augustus Mitchell (1792-1868) turned his attention to mapmaking in the 1830s, due to his dissatisfaction with available school maps. He developed a map publishing business that would make him and later his son the most prominent American map publishers of the nineteenth century. By collaborating with prominent mapmakers and engravers of the day, such as James H. Young and Henry S. Tanner, Mitchell ensured that the maps he published were of the highest quality. During the 1850s, he partnered with Thomas, Cowperthwait, & Company to publish his A New Universal Atlas and his General Atlas. In 1860, his son Samuel Augustus, Jr, joined the company and he ensured that the Mitchell name remained an important one well into the 1880s.
Thomas, Cowperthwait, and Company was founded sometime in the early 1800s by Joseph Thomas and Hulings Cowperthwait. It operated under this name until 1853. The following year the company name changed to Cowperthwait, Desilver, and Butler. However, this configuration only lasted for about a year, before it became H. Cowperthwait & Company in 1856. After 1860, it appears the company experienced several more alterations, before ceasing publication at the end of the century.
- Onastasia Youssef
Plate size: 14.5" x 11.5"
Condition: In excellent condition