• "General Map Of The United States Showing the area and extent of the Free & Slave-Holding States." Courtesy the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection.

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    General Map Of The United States Showing the area and extent of the Free & Slave-Holding States
    • Date
    • 1857
    • Creator
    • Johnston, Alexander Keith, 1804-1871. Rogers, Henry Darwin. Johnston, W. & A.K.
    • Description
    • In four colors with dark green (free settled States), light green (territories), dark red (slave importing States, and light red (slave exporting States). Unusual collaboration between a Scot (Johnston), an American (Rogers), and an Englishman (Stanf... more
      In four colors with dark green (free settled States), light green (territories), dark red (slave importing States, and light red (slave exporting States). Unusual collaboration between a Scot (Johnston), an American (Rogers), and an Englishman (Stanford). The maps are all on a scale of 54.5 miles to one inch, and are very well executed. They are derived from the large Map of The United States, British & Central America, by Rogers and Johnston, 1857. The western U.S. maps show the routes of the proposed Pacific Railroad. Rogers probably wrote the descriptive text. Johnston engraved and drew the maps - these maps are perhaps the best examples of Scottish highly detailed mapmaking applied to the western territories and states, in the pre civil war period. The only other example is Black's Atlas of North America, published in 1856, but not quite as detailed in the western states and territories, although it is just as good and maybe better in the eastern areas (these two atlas had to be competitive, with their issue within one year of each other). In 1873, J. David Williams issued the Jones and Hamilton "People's Pictorial Atlas" which uses most of these maps, updated. Then in 1875 the same maps appear in the Hardesty issue of the Jones and Hamilton "Historical Atlas of the World Illustrated." (see our copies). With full and outline color. Bound in half leather dark red cloth covered boards with "Atlas Of The United States, British & Central America: By Prof. Rogers & A. Keith Johnston". P3670; NMM 486. less
    • Rights
    • Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/
    • Partner
    • David Rumsey

  • "Map of the United States and territories: showing the possessions and aggressions of the slave power." Courtesy the University of Texas at Arlington Library via the Portal to Texas History.

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    Map of the United States and territories: showing the possessions and aggressions of the slave power.
    • Date
    • 1856
    • Creator
    • Bloss, William C.
    • Description
    • Map shows slave holding [dark shaded], non-slave holding [unshaded], and disputed territorries [grayed] parts of the United States during the decade before Civil War. The "Missouri Compromise" is indicated with a parallel line extending from the nort... more
      Map shows slave holding [dark shaded], non-slave holding [unshaded], and disputed territorries [grayed] parts of the United States during the decade before Civil War. The "Missouri Compromise" is indicated with a parallel line extending from the northern Arkansas border to California. No scale indicated. Political representation of slave holding, non-slave holding, and territories is also indicated. This broadside was printed and distributed in support of 1856 Republican Party presidential candidate John C. Fremont and political commentary appears in the lower third of the sheet. 1 map : 50 x 60 cm., on sheet 107 x 71 cm. less
    • Rights
    • The contents of The Portal to Texas History (digital content including images, text, and sound and video recordings) are made publicly available by the collection-holding partners for use in research, teaching, and private study. For the full terms o... more
      The contents of The Portal to Texas History (digital content including images, text, and sound and video recordings) are made publicly available by the collection-holding partners for use in research, teaching, and private study. For the full terms of use, see https://texashistory.unt.edu/terms-of-use/ less
    • Partner
    • The Portal to Texas History
    • Contributing Institution
    • University of Texas at Arlington Library.

  • "Map of South Carolina, showing the proportion of slaves in each county." Courtesy the University of South Carolina South Caroliniana Library via the South Carolina Digital Library.

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    Map of South Carolina, showing the proportion of slaves in each county.
    • Date
    • 1861
    • Description
    • Scale [ca. 1:1,900,800]
    • Rights
    • Digital Copyright 2013, The University of South Carolina. All rights reserved. For more information contact The South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208.
    • Partner
    • South Carolina Digital Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • University of South Carolina. South Caroliniana Library

Prior to and throughout the war, maps were created to illustrate the division between slave-holding and free states. In some cases, maps provided specific population percentages of slaves within southern states. Often maps merely revealed the division as a binary between the North and the South, starkly illustrating the geography of slavery. In some cases, due to the uncertainty of the war’s outcome, this approach to mapmaking showed up in prominent publications, including the 1857 Atlas by Alexander Keith Johnston. In other cases, maps moved beyond the Mason-Dixon Line, polarizing the division of eastern states with those territories to the West. Different levels of granularity and precision allowed mappers to offer insight into to national, regional, state, and county-level demographics, providing information about a variety of communities and a range of political opinions.

In contrast to these published, widely circulated maps, other maps created to guide fleeing slaves to freedom existed long before the Civil War, but continued to be utilized until emancipation. They conveyed sensitive, and potentially dangerous, information and were available only to a select few. Underground Railroad maps, in particular, indicated “secure” routes and “safe” houses that would enable fleeing slaves to find shelter in northern states and Canada.