Narrative of Explorations and Incidents in Texas, New Mexico, California, Sonora, and Chihuahua

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Author: Bartlett, John Russell (1805-1886)

Year: 1854

Publisher: D Appleton and Company

Place: New York


2 volumes. xxii+506+[6 ad] with folding frontispiece, 20 woodcuts in text, folding map 34 illustrations in text and 6 lithographs; xvii+[3]-624 pages with folding frontispiece, 21 woodcuts in text, 60 illustrations in text, 9 lithographs, appendix, index and the "extra" unlisted view of Tucson in Volume II facing page 292. Royal octavo (9" x 5 1/2") bound in early half calf over marbled boards five raised spine bands with black label in gilt lettering to spines and marbled page ends. (Graff 198. Cowan 1933, page 36; Howes B201; Jenkins, Best Texas Books 12; Sabin 3746; Wagner-Camp 234:1) First edition.

John Russell Bartlett was the United States Boundary Commissioner responsible for surveying the boundary between the United States and Mexico. During this time he traveled with Henry Cheever Pratt throughout the Southwest. The autoethnonym of the Seri people of northwestern Mexico, Comcaac (which he wrote as "komkak"), was first recorded by Bartlett during a short visit to the area in early 1852. The word was included in the list of approximately 180 words that Bartlett archived in the Bureau of American Ethnology (now part of the National Anthropological Archives, housed at the Smithsonian). Bartlett left New York with a large party on August 3, 1850, and landed at Indianola, Texas, twenty-seven days later. After traveling overland, he arrived at El Paso del Norte (Juárez) to begin work with the Mexican boundary commissioner, Pedro García Conde. The point where the southern boundary of New Mexico was to begin on the Rio Grande proved difficult to determine because of inaccuracies in Disturnell's 1847 "Map of the United Mexican States," and Bartlett allowed the boundary to be set forty-two miles north of El Paso. When American boundary surveyor Andrew B. Gray refused to agree to this, Bartlett departed for a tour of northwestern Mexico. He arrived in California, he then traveled east through Arizona and New Mexico to Texas, where he learned that Congress had rejected the Bartlett-García Conde line. Because of Bartlett's error, the United States in 1853 had to negotiate the Gadsden Purchase, which set the boundary of New Mexico at 31°47' north latitude. The Gadsden Purchase, which transferred mainly desert lands to the United States, was viewed as essential for establishing a southern route for the transcontinental railroad. After being superseded by another commissioner upon the accession of President Franklin Pierce, he published A Personal Narrative of Explorations and Incidents in Texas, New Mexico, California, Sonora and Chihuahua.


Rebacked with original backstrip laid down and new spine labels in period style; lacking half-titles, moderate foxing to frontispieces and offsetting to title pages, corners bumped and rubbed otherwise quite clean internally, very good.

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