Clive A. Burden LTD. Rare Maps, Antique Atlases, Books and Decorative Prints

The Mapping of North America

Mr. Philip D. Burden​
P.O. Box 863,
Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks HP6 9HD,
Tel: +44 (0) 1494 76 33 13

THE FIRST AVAILABLE PRINTED MAP OF TEXAS, IN THE FIRST STATE, BY THE FATHER OF TEXAS, STEPHEN F. AUSTIN. A fine example of the most desirable map in any Texan map collection. The respect and awe this map commands when it is in a room is truly palpable.

The land we know of today as Texas was slow to be developed, situated as it was in the eighteenth century some distance between Spanish Mexico and the English colonies on the east coast of North America. The French had control of the Mississippi Valley but their physical presence was minor. The change came about firstly when the English gained the territory to the Mississippi in 1763 and when the United States of America gained its independence. Gradually people moved west as the major threats of the French and the native Indians diminished. Those living on the east coast had always felt threatened by someone in the west, who and how much of a threat is not for us to discuss here. But it led to a constant desire to contain those forces and ultimately to take control of the area. This inevitably led to the ‘Manifest Destiny’ policy where America began to believe that ultimately, they would control the territory all the way to the Pacific Ocean. A classic example was Spain ceding Louisiana to France in 1800. This brought the old enemy back and forced the United States to act. resulting in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.

By 1820 a small number of Missionaries, traders and settlers had arrived from both Mexico and the east. It has been estimated that only 2000 Mexicans lived in the whole of Texas in 1820. In 1821 Mexico won its independence from Spain and began to encourage emigration into Texas from the United States. The new country joined Texas and Coahuila into a state in 1824 with the promise that Texas could form its own when it felt capable. As a poor newly formed nation it did not have the resources to protect its frontiers from near constant Comanche attacks, so realising it need to encourage immigration it liberalised its laws and allowed the citizens of the United States to settle. A system of Empresario grants had been put in place by Spain and was encouraged by Mexico. An Empresario was an entrepreneur who in exchange for land would encourage and take responsibility for new settlers. The very first Empresario granted was in 1820 to Moses Austin, who left immediately for Missouri to bring 300 colonists back to Texas. On his way in January 1821, he was attacked by highwaymen and badly beaten, soon after arriving in Missouri he died leaving the grant to his son Stephen F. Austin.

Implementing his father’s plan, he headed for Texas in 1821 and settled in the unoccupied territory between the Brazos River and the Colorado River. After some initial trouble getting it ratified by the new Mexican Government, Austin began selling land and recruiting settlers. Land was offered at 12.5 cents an acre, a tenth of the price in the United States, and promised no tax for ten years and a seven-year exemption from Duties. Austin wrote 297 contracts with settlers and he was particular in his choice. Each was a man of property and industry which proved crucial in the unity and success of the colony. Austin gained a further contract to bring in a further 900 families between 1825 and 1829. Despite this apparent success the costs of managing and protecting his colonies left him with little personal financial gain.

To gain the permission of the Mexican Government for his settlements, Austin made a concession. A key aspect of managing any territory was accurate mapping and of Texas this did not exist. Austin promised at his own expense to furnish such a map. He also recognised that it would serve his own interests in that it would help to promote the land and its opportunities to a wider public. As Martin and Martin put it ‘Austin viewed his map not only as an appropriate activity for a civic-minded citizen, and a political expedient gift to the Mexican government, but also as an effective instrument for subtly advertising Texas in a way that would not alarm the Mexicans’. He began his surveys as early as 1821. Some of his manuscript material survives amongst the Austin papers but it differs from the final printed map. Eugene C. Barker stated that apart from notes furnished by General Manuel de Mier y Teran, the map was ‘entirely original, made without earlier map or sketch to guide him.’

Austin’s map was ready in 1829 and to print it he employed the services of one of the great American map publishers of the day, Henry Schenck Tanner (1786-1858) of Philadelphia. Although he was born and died in New York his entire publishing career was in Philadelphia. In 1823 Tanner had published one of the greatest American atlases to date, the ‘New American Atlas’. Austin’s map of Texas was published by Tanner in March 1830. It was issued just one month before the Mexican Government attempted to repeal the Colonisation Law allowing American immigration. Austin ultimately prevailed and the two together, map and law provided the greatest stimuli to American immigration into Texas, by 1832 the colonists numbered over 11,000.

The finished map dramatically improved all earlier works. It was the first available printed map devoted to Texas and defined all future depictions of the region. It is only predated by the Fiorenzo Galli lithographic map printed in Mexico City in 1826, which survives in just one known example. The Austin map detailed the coastline with much greater accuracy and even more so the river system which was an enormous improvement. This and the road network depicted all the routes of communication available. It identifies the locations of native Indian tribes, ‘immense herds of buffalo’ and ‘immense droves of wild horses’. All of which was very useful and commercial information. It is also the first to record American immigration to Texas. Austin chose to depict the western boundary just beyond the 102nd meridian which enabled him to focus on the settled parts of Texas and display them at a useful scale. Martin wrote that ‘Tanner’s publication was apparently an immediate commercial success, and Austin was importuned by would-be colonists to furnish them with copies … The first map to achieve wide circulation and credibility, and it appeared on the scene in the U.S. at a time of growing public demand for information about the region … By widely disseminating an accurate depiction of Texas at a pivotal time in the history of the region, Austin initiated the modern period of Texas cartography. He deserves recognition for his contributions to the cartography of Texas commensurate with that he has long received for his efforts in its colonisation.’ Streeter also lauds over the map ‘THIS IS ONE OF THE GREAT TEXAS MAPS … THE MAP OF TEXAS I MOST PRIZE IS [THAT OF] STEPHEN F. AUSTIN, PHILADELPHIA, 1830. THIS, BY THE FOUNDER OF PRESENT-DAY TEXAS, SHOWS ON A LARGE SCALE, AND FOR THE FIRST TIME, THE RESULT OF AMERICAN EMIGRATION INTO TEXAS.’

There is no doubt in my opinion that Austin’s map of Texas was a contributory factor in the ultimate fight for Texan independence five years later. How much of an influence is open to conjecture. It undoubtedly opened American eyes to the opportunities lying in wait in the vast expanse that was Texas. It drew men like Sam Houston and caught the attention of Andrew Jackson. Austin himself fought with a semblance of loyalty to the Mexican Government but eventually resisted them. He lived to see Texan Independence and died in the new capital of Columbia (now West Columbia) of Pneumonia on 27 December 1836. His last words were ‘The independence of Texas is recognised! Don’t you see it in the papers?’ Upon hearing of Austin’s death, Houston ordered an official statement proclaiming: ‘The Father of Texas is no more’.

The map appeared in eight editions to 1845. There were many improvements to the map over the years all to keep pace with a rapidly changing landscape, both physical and political. After all, the map traverses the period of colonisation, Independence and the threshold of Statehood. The map is so highly sought after, that any edition of the map is rare. Here we offer an example of the very first edition.

Stephen F. Austin’s map is undoubtedly the ultimate dream of any Texan collector. Its high esteem is held on numerous grounds, many related to Texas. But let’s not forget that it also had wider significance. It was the first, and in many eyes is still the greatest map produced of anywhere in the American West. References: Castañeda & Martin, Three Manuscript Maps of Texas by Stephen F. Austin (Austin: Privately printed, 1930); Cohen, P. Mapping the West (pp. 110-113, colour illustration on p. 111); Graff 117; Howes, W. A404; Martin, “Maps of an Empresario” (SWHQ 85:4, pp. 371-400): Martin & Martin, p. 52 (colour plate), Plate 29, p. 32; Schwartz & Ehrenberg pl. 154 (1830 ed.); Streeter, T. W. Bibliography 1115; Taliaferro, H. no. 236.
AUSTIN, Stephen F.

Map of Texas with parts of the Adjoining States Compiled by Stephen F. Austin Published by H.S. Tanner Philadelphia Note. The Latitude and Longitude of Saltillo Monterey Laredo Bexar Nacogdoches and the Point where the boundary line leaves the Sabine are from the observations of General Teran of the Mexican Army.

Engraved by John & Wm. W. Warr Philada. [lower left below neat line] Entered according to Act of Congress the 17th day of March 1830 by H. S. Tanner of the State of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 1830-[40]
725 x 605 mm., in full early outline colour, with folds as issued, lacking folder for the pocket, tight margin on the left where originally bound as expected, a couple of small holes at folds as expected, otherwise in good condition.
Stock number: 10494


Send us your name and email address.
We'll add you to our subscriber list and alert you to new catalogues and similar news