This 1852 map of the state of Texas was engraved by James Hamilton Young and accompanied Mitchell’s School Geography, the most popular geographic textbook of the mid-nineteenth century, written by Samuel A. Mitchell (1790-1868). First published in 1839 and then revised and republished in successive editions until 1866, the Geography contained geographic descriptions, exercises, and definitions, as well as copperplate engravings such as this map. The text had a wide scope: it included descriptions of the world and its (then) five continents as well as of the various “races” of humans. The Geography taught students to locate themselves within this world by including exercises about the “Learner’s own state” that required students to identify key geographic features, the capital, and counties (Mitchell 106).
The Geography continued the post-Revolutionary emphasis on geographic education as a means of promoting “national education and good citizenship” (Brückner 146). By including exercises in both geography and writing, textbooks placed geographic knowledge hand in hand with the acquisition of literacy. Moreover, many textbooks represented the United States as a geographic unit, rather than as separate colonies or states, in this way facilitating students’ conceptualization of themselves as Americans rather than as British citizens. Mitchell’s Geography also sometimes emphasized Americans’ European ancestry over their separate status as U.S. Americans, as shown by an illustration of the five races that defined the “American” race by depicting a Native American person (thus suggesting that U.S. Americans were of the “European” race and emphasizing their Old World origins).
This map represents Texas as part of the United States by illustrating its geographic relationship to other U.S. states, such as Arkansas and Louisiana and to Indian Territory and Mexico. In this way, the map depicts what had less than a decade earlier been the Texas Republic as a part of a national entity. Yet the map also illustrates the ways in which Texas was a space in which land, its ownership, and its identification were still contested. The northern and eastern part of the state are divided into neatly defined counties with major cities marked, while the western and southern parts of the state are identified by geographic features—salt plains, rolling table lands, the staked plain—and by the names of Native American tribes—the Comanche and Lipan Indians, the Apaches Indians, and the Kiowa Indians. Moreover, the map shows how, as the presence of Native people was erased from the eastern part of the state and replaced by the names of counties and cities, Natives were memorialized in the landscape through names for geographic features, such as Comanche Peak.