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Colton's Map of the Pacific States California and Oregon, etc.

Colton's Map of the Pacific States California and Oregon, etc.

Publisher: J.H. Colton, New York

Medium: Image

Date: 1862

Shelfmark: 71495 (60)

Scale: Millimetres

Genre: Map

Colton's Map of the Pacific States California and Oregon, etc.

Although the majority of the American Civil War took place east of the Mississippi River, the West played its own part in the conflict. Territorial expansion westwards and the issue of whether slavery would be established in new regions was one of the main causes for fierce debate in the decades leading up to the Civil War. The map, Colton’s Map of the Pacific States of California and Oregon, published by Colton in 1862, not only details the Pacific Coast, but the territories of Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado and Washington, as well as a portion of British Columbia. California, which gained statehood in 1850, contains many settlements and detail that is striking by comparison to the near empty territories eastwards. Union troops were positioned on this side of the country, mostly to defend communication routes and railway lines from Confederate sabotage, as well as occasional skirmishes with indigenous Native American tribes.

There are several little notes on the map that highlight this was intended not just for general interest but for potential settlers. For example, in Utah Territory, already settled in parts by Mormons, ‘low rolling hills and fine pastorage for cattle’ is described, one of several comments about how fertile the land would be for agricultural development. An ‘emigrant road’ is marked, along with the names of Native American tribes across the map, and in Arizona, the map mentions that ‘silver is found in this region’. This map demonstrates that America’s expansion was not going to be stopped by events in the eastern half of the country.

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