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2009 Catalog > 5. Fremont, “Map of Oregon and Upper California.”



Frémontís Large Map of the West

5. John Charles Frémont / Charles Preuss. “Map of Oregon and Upper California from the Surveys of John Charles Frémont and Other Authorities. Drawn by Charles Preuss under the Order of the Senate of the United States 1848” (Baltimore: E. Weber & Co., Printers, 1848). Published in Geographical Memoir Upon Upper California in Illustration of his Map of Oregon and California, by John Charles Frťmont: Addressed to the Senate of the United States (Washington: Wendell and Van Benthuysen, Printers, 1848). Lithograph with original green outline hand color showing boundaries for Oregon and Upper California. 32 3/4 x 26 3/8" at neat line. Sheet: 35 1/2 x 29 1/2." Issued folding. Printerís wrinkle at top right. A strong impression in fine condition for this increasingly rare map.

Price: SOLD.

The maps that Frémont produced from his pioneering explorations of the American West provided a picture for the nation of vast territories lately acquired, and yet to be fully conquered. His 1848 map is the last of four major cartographic works documenting the recent U.S. western expeditions and covers all territories from the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. Carl Wheat calls this seminal map the “mother map of the West.”

The importance of Frémont’s mother map of the West can hardly be overstated. A product of a colorful adventure involving arduous travels, ground-breaking exploration, international intrigue, military insubordination, and powerful political connections, the map is a compilation of all that was new and known about the western regions. For well over two decades it continued to be the armature of the great unexplored lands of the American West that all subsequent surveys of the territories fleshed out as Americans poured to the Pacificís lucrative new lands in fulfillment of the vision and promise of Manifest Destiny. (Carl Wheat)

As a synthesis of the data from Frémontís third expedition and from earlier explorersí surveys, Frémontís 1848 map includes information on a number of unexplored areas that had remained blank on his 1845 map. The most significant additions appear in the vast region between the Great Salt Lake and the Sierra Nevada mountain range, which he named “The Great Basin.” The name “Golden Gate” makes its first appearance on any map, and the California “Gold Region” is marked for the first time on a general circulation map. Each of Frémont’s exploratory routes is plotted and labeled with the years of his journeys from 1842 to 1846. A graph at the top details the elevations of Frémont’s 1845 route . . . “from the South Pass of the Rocky Mountains to the Bay of San Francisco.

Frémont’s fervor for exploration was fueled by his espousal of the American expansionist philosophy. His father-in-law, the senator Thomas Hart Benton, was influential in securing Congressional appropriations for the western surveys as well as Frémont’s position in the Corps of Topographical Engineers. Frémont’s service in the military also included significant active roles as an officer in the Mexican-American War and the Civil War. Between the wars, Frémont served as one of the first two Senators from California and was also the first presidential candidate of the new Republican Party in 1856. As an explorer, military officer and statesman, Frémont was an important protagonist during a pivotal period in American history. His great map encapsulates a dynamic chapter in the life of a bold and adventurous character. Beautifully drawn by Preuss, this map endures as a significant historic document.

Refs.: Cohen, Mapping the West, pp. 152Ė153 (illus.); Wheat, Books of the Gold Rush, 78; Wheat, Maps of the California Gold Region, no. 40; Wheat; Mapping the Transmississippi West, vol. III, pp. 55Ė62, no. 559.

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