Map of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and part of Montana by Mitchell, 1876.
Shaw Galleries

Map of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and part of Montana by Mitchell, 1876.

Regular price $100.00

Map of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and part of Montana by Samuel Augustus Mitchell, Jr., for Mitchell's New General Atlas, 1876.

This is a lovely hand colored map of the northwestern United States. It shows the states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. However, at the time this map was drawn only Oregon was part of the Union. The other three were still organized as territories of the United States. Another interesting feature about this map it that it is not entirely accurate as drawn; there are a few discrepancies. Idaho's southeastern border extends to the 110th meridian despite having been modified in 1868 to accommodate the creation of Wyoming Territory by pushing the border west to the 111th meridian. In addition to omitting Wyoming it also lacks Nevada, which was created as a territory in 1861. Since mapmakers often used the same plates for subsequent printings of an atlas, it is possible that these details were accidentally overlooked, due to the constantly changing boundaries of US territories as they were granted statehood. Otherwise the boundaries are accurately represented for 1876. Longitude on this map is measured from Greenwich along the top and from Washington along the bottom. Although represented here as the same longitude line, there is a slight difference between the two measurements therefore some states do not line up perfectly with their proposed longitudinal boundaries, because they were measured from Washington and not from Greenwich. The map also includes the location and boundaries of counties.

The United Sates acquired the land that these four states now occupy during the nineteenth century. Land east of the continental divide was part of the Louisiana Purchase and therefore bought from France in 1803. In 1818 the United States and Great Britain agreed to joint occupancy of the area west of the divide to the Pacific Ocean north of the 42nd parallel, in the Anglo-American Treaty. It was in this same treaty that the 49th parallel was determined as the border between the US and British America, from the Great Lakes to the Rocky Mountains. Americans called the shared area Oregon Country while the British referred to it as British Columbia. At first, fur trappers and traders comprised the bulk of white settlement, but soon missionaries began to travel west to "civilize" the native peoples. As forts and trading posts were established to accommodate these ventures more people began to settle in the area. Joint jurisdiction continued until 1846 when growing tension in the area between American and Canadian settlers led to the Oregon Treaty, which continued the 49th parallel as the border between the two nations, until it reached the Gulf of Georgia, at which point a water boundary down the center of the Straight of Juan de Fuca formed the rest of the border. This agreement allowed the British to maintain control of Vancouver Island and the important port of Victoria. In 1849 the US incorporated the area as the Oregon Territory. At it's inception the Oregon Territory included all of what is now Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and the portion of Montana west of the continental divide, as well as a slice of Wyoming.

In 1853 the Oregon territory was divided in half along the Columbia River and the 46th parallel. The upper segmented became the Washington Territory, while the lower half remained the Oregon Territory. This division of land would last until February 14, 1859 when the state of Oregon was admitted into the Union. However, the state did not retain the territory's eastern border, which stretched to the continental divide. Instead Oregon's eastern edge follows the Snake River from its intersection with the 46th parallel until is veered to the east. A straight line was drawn south from that point to form the remainder of the boundary. Oregon's population had been increasing as American settlers migrated to the area by following the Oregon Trail. As white settlement increased the Native American population was adversely affected. Exposure to new diseases and land disputes caused tension between the groups that eventually led to the relocation of native peoples to reservations. Oregon was admitted as a free state and fought for the Union in the Civil War; however, it had a white only settlement bias. Minorities had to pay a special tax and were subject to residency restrictions. This early bias is reflected in the state's present day demographic make-up.

After Oregon was granted statehood, the eastern section of the Oregon territory was added to the Washington Territory. That same year (1859) saw another border dispute between British Columbia and Washington Territory. It revolved around an ambiguity concerning the water boundary between the United States and British America. It was discovered that two different channels could be used as the dividing line leading to the Straight of Juan de Fuca. Lying between these two channels are the San Juan Islands, which were claimed by both countries. Both established forts on the Island of San Juan itself in case it became necessary to defend their claim. It took fifteen years to fully resolve the issue. In 1861, eight years after the creation of Washington Territory the land east of the 110th meridian was granted to the Nebraska territory. The loss of land was minor since the vast majority of the territory was west of that longitude. However, two years later Congress created the Idaho Territory, which limited Washington to land west of the Snake River and 117th meridian. Once the San Juan dispute was resolved in 1874 the territory's borders were permanently established. Washington was granted statehood on November 11, 1889. An early draft of its constitution provided for women's suffrage and prohibition but the ratified draft did not. However, in 1910 an amendment was passed granting women the right to vote, making Washington one of the earliest states to allow women the right to vote.

The creation of the Idaho Territory, in 1863, resulted in more than just a smaller Washington. It also reduced the size of the Dakota Territory, which had been organized as a territory in 1861, from the remaining Louisiana Purchase land, following the admittance of Nebraska and Minnesota to the Union. Therefore when Idaho was created it encompassed all of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming (except for Wyoming's southwest corner, which still belonged to Utah). Since the land was situated on both sides of the continental divide in quickly became apparent that those to the east of the Rockies were cut off from the government at Lewiston. Therefore the Montana territory was established the following year. However, Idaho's eastern border only follows the divide in the south. The northeastern border runs along the crests of the Bitterroot Mountains, until it intersects the 116th meridian. This adjustment was due to the influence of Sidney Edgerton. He lobbied for the creation of Montana placing the western border along the Bitterroot Range to ensure Montana had jurisdiction of the gold fields discovered in the area. The straight-line boundary was to protect Idaho's access to the Kootenai River Valley, which would have been cut off had the border continued along the Bitterroot Range. Idaho also ceded the land south of the 45th parallel and east of the continental back to Dakota, in 1864, when Montana Territory was created. The Idaho Territory seen on this map shows the borders as they were in 1864, despite having been adjusted again, in 1868, to accommodate the creation of the Wyoming Territory. That was the last time the area of Idaho would change. Idaho was granted statehood on July 3, 1890.

Unlike Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, Montana's borders have remained unchanged since its creation as a territory in 1864. Only the western portion of the territory is included on this map. However, all nine of the territory's original counties are present because Big Horn County made up the entire eastern end of Montana and stretched to the 109th meridian at its widest part. Montana has a number of national parks, as well as several Native American reservations. It was admitted to the Union on November 8, 1889.

The presence of counties on this map indicates where most of the settlement was taking place. Each territory and had a criteria which allowed for the creation of new counties from pre-existing ones. For example, Washington's constitution stipulates that a new county must have a population of 2,000 residents in order to be formed. It is particularly evident when looking at Oregon and Washington that the bulk of the population settled west of the Cascade Mountains along the coast, because that is where the greatest concentration of counties is located. The counties located to the east of this range are much larger to incorporated the more spread out population.

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. This map was published in Mitchell's New General Atlas, under the direction of his son, Samuel Augustus Mitchell, Jr. 

- Naomi Bean

Plate Size: 14" x 11.25"

Condition: Excellent condition


More from this collection