Map of Virginia, 1850, Mitchell and Cowperthwait
This hand-colored atlas map is a steel plate engraving created circa 1850 by American mapmaker Samuel Augustus Mitchell. This remarkable map celebrates the Industrial Age in Virginia. Steam boats chug along the winding rivers and railroads plough through the state. Virginia's ideal location between the North and South made it a prosperous state that also found success in producing iron. Despite this wealth, African-Americans continued to suffer under the oppressive slavery that existed in Virginia despite one third of the state's black population being free. This map was created in 1850 - the very same year that the Fugitive Slave At became law, making it increasingly difficult for slaves to escape to the North. The fiery conflict between slaves and slaveholders were stoked by the growing abolitionist movement, which included the publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin a year later. This would eventually lead to Virginia's secession from the Union.
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.
This original antique map is single paged, as issued, with a plate size of 11.6" x 14". Published by Thomas, Cowperthwait & Co.
Plate size: 11.6" x 14"
Condition: Some minor foxing, but otherwise in excellent condition