Plan of Baltimore by Mitchell, 1860.
Shaw Galleries

Plan of Baltimore by Mitchell, 1860.

Regular price $125.00

Plan of Baltimore by Samuel Augustus Mitchell, published in his New General Atlas, 1860.

This city plan is a look at the heart of Baltimore City as it was just before the start of the Civil War. Throughout the 1850s the country became more sectionalized over issues such as slavery, federalism, and economic policies. The newly emerged Republican Party rallied behind Abraham Lincoln, while the Democratic Party remained divided between Stephen Douglas, John Breckenridge, and John Bell. Lincoln's anti-slavery platform led many Southern leaders to threaten secession should he win the election. On November 6, Republican Abraham Lincoln was declared the sixteenth president of the United States, despite not carrying a single southern state. One month later, on December 20, South Carolina became the first of eleven states to secede from the Union. These events would lead to the outbreak of Civil War on April 12, 1861, with the Confederate Attack on Fort Sumter. President Lincoln therefore called for volunteers to end the insurrection. One week later, on April 19, a riot broke out on the streets of Baltimore, as confederate sympathizers harassed the Sixth Massachusetts Militia, as they traveled from the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore Station along Pratt Street to Camden Station. Both rail stations as well as Pratt Street can be seen near the center of this map. Four soldiers were killed in the incident, which resulted in Union occupation of the city for the remainder of the war.

Baltimore like many early European settlements is situated on a navigable river, which had access to the sea and abundant natural resources, such as lumber. The Patapsco River is rather narrow for most of its course, cutting through the Piedmont Plateau. However, for the last ten miles of it's run it widens into a tidal estuary flowing into the Chesapeake Bay. This change occurs because the Patapsco River crosses the Atlantic Seaboard fall line, which is where the resistant metamorphic rocks of the Piedmont meet the sedimentary rocks of the Atlantic coastal plain. The fall line also resulted in the formation of waterfalls and rapids. Several rivers flow into the Patapsco River's Middle and Northwest branches, increasing the area's appeal for early settlers. David Jones was the first to settle in what is now the city of Baltimore in 1661. Several settlements cropped up afterwards as others were drawn to the area.

In 1608, John Smith led the first European expedition of the Patapsco River as he explored the upper reaches of the Chesapeake. After the Province of Maryland was chartered in 1632, people began to move to the new colony. The river provided a natural harbor where it met the bay making it an attractive location. Several land grants were issued though not all of them were immediately settled. In 1706 the Port of Baltimore was established by the Maryland General Assembly to serve as a port of entry in the tobacco trade. Other settlements, such as Jonestown and Fell's Point, were also established along the harbor. In 1729, the Town of Baltimore was established by the General Assembly along the northern branch of the Patapsco River and it rapidly grew through the annexation of neighboring land parcels. The marshy terrain and several rivers had to be modified to accommodate the growing settlements. Baltimore acted as the nations capital, from December 1776 to February 1777, while the Second Continental Congress held sessions there, having been forced to leave Philadelphia. The town's economy boomed throughout the war and afterwards it merged with Jonestown and Fell's Point and was incorporated as the City of Baltimore, in 1796. Two years later the construction of Fort McHenry began to defend the entrance to the harbor. During the war of 1812 it was the location for the Battle of Baltimore, which took place on September 13, 1814. The British bombarded the fort in an attempt to pass into the harbor and attack the city. They were unsuccessful. It was the sight of the American flag flying over the fort after the attack that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the Star Spangled Banner. Afterwards the city experienced rapid population growth and annexed more land from Baltimore County, in 1818. Tensions between the city and the county led to a complete separation, in 1851, when Baltimore was granted independent city status. Baltimore's boundaries would change, however, when in 1888, it annexed more land from Baltimore County. In 1918, another annexation expanded the city's boundaries by taking land from Ann Arundel County as well as from Baltimore County. Baltimore’s current city limits are the result of this final acquisition.

As Baltimore expanded so too did its government. City Council representation needed to be adjusted every time a significant change in population occurred in order to ensure equal representation. Therefore the wards have been altered several times since their inception in 1797. There were eight wards upon the adoption of the system. This map reflects the city's wards as they were just before the 1860 redistricting. All of the city's twenty wards can be seen on this map, although only the inner wards are depicted in their entirety. Since this map does not depict the complete boundaries of the city, the outer areas are not shown. Ward boundaries are represented by a thin, dotted line and further emphasized through the use of color-coding. Important buildings and street names are also shown, along with rail lines. The number of wards in the city peeked at twenty-eight in 1918 with the final annexation of land. However, in 1922, a petition was passed that replaced the ward system with a district oriented one. As of 2003, Baltimore is organized into fourteen council districts with one representative from each on the Council.

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: 11.25" x 9.5"

Sheet Size: 15.25" x 12.5"

Condition: Fine antiquarian condition with minor spotting in the margins.