"WESTWARD THE COURSE OF EMPIRE": EXPLORING AND SETTLING THE AMERICAN WEST.

  • New York: The Grolier Club, 2018.
  • 12 x 9 inches
  • stiff paper covers with French flaps
  • 155 [5] pages
  • ISBN: 9781605830735

Price: $40.00  other currencies

Order Nr. 132041

Catalogue for an exhibition at the Grolier Club, March 22 - May 26, 2018, focussing primarily on maps that illustrate who went west in the 19th century and why. However, the earliest map in the exhibition is Girolamo Ruscelli's "Nueva Hispania Tabula Nova", was printed in Venice in 1574. It and other 16th and 17th century maps depict what people who had never seen the West thought it might look like. Even as late as the 18th century, very little was actually known about the American West.

In the 19th century, the exploration and settlement of the West exploded. In the 58 years between the Louisiana Purchase and the Civil War, the United States expanded from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, and in the far West, from the 32nd Parallel to the 49th Parallel. This expansion encompassed the 828,000 square-mile Louisiana Territory, Texas, the Oregon Territory and the old Spanish Southwest. By the late 1850s, almost all of these areas had been mapped, explored, and many had been surveyed and settled.

One of the most iconic maps in the exhibition is Lewis and Clark's map of the Northwest: "A Map of Lewis and Clark's Track Across the Western Portion of North America, from the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean, by Order of the Executive of the United States in 1804, 5 & 6" created during their expedition to the Pacific. It was not published until 1814, but it remained the standard against which all mapping of that part of North America was measured for decades.

When gold was discovered, everyone wanted to know where it was. One example is William T. Sherman's "Positions of the Upper and Lower Gold Mines on the South Fork of the American River, California, July 20, 1848." Another Western map of note is by Zebulon Pike, who discovered "Pike's Peak." Pike's journal, published in 1810, it is the first to show that landmark.

Curator J. C. McElveen explains, "Some explorers are famous for their explorations, like Lewis and Clark, Zebulon Pike, of Pikes Peak fame, John C. Fremont and Brigham Young. Other explorers are famous as well, but for other reasons - like William Tecumseh Sherman and George McClellan. But the vast number of this hardy group were ordinary folks with a desire or a need to go west into an often harsh and brutal unknown. Why did they do it? The reasons range from a desire to get rich to escaping religious persecution to building a better life."

"WESTWARD THE COURSE OF EMPIRE": EXPLORING AND SETTLING THE AMERICAN WEST. J. C. McElveen.
"WESTWARD THE COURSE OF EMPIRE": EXPLORING AND SETTLING THE AMERICAN WEST.
"WESTWARD THE COURSE OF EMPIRE": EXPLORING AND SETTLING THE AMERICAN WEST.
"WESTWARD THE COURSE OF EMPIRE": EXPLORING AND SETTLING THE AMERICAN WEST.