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Map showing the distribution of the slave population of the southern states of the United States

Author: Hergesheimer, Edwin
Publisher: Graham, Henry S.
Date: 1861
Location: Southern States

Dimensions: 66 x 84 cm.
Scale: Scale not given
Call Number: G3861.E9 1861 .M3

 
DESCRIPTION

Based on 1860 census data, this visually
striking map plots the percentage of slaves by county for the southern states.
Rather than showing a uniform distribution throughout the entire region, it is
readily apparent that there were several major slave concentrations,
particularly where commercial plantation agriculture was most profitable --
tobacco in coastal and piedmont Virginia and Maryland; sugar in Louisiana along
the lower Mississippi River; and cotton extending in a broad swath from coastal
South Carolina, through the piedmont regions of Georgia, Alabama, and the
Mississippi River Valley to coastal Texas.

Attesting to this map"s importance during
the Civil War, it was intentionally depicted in Francis Bicknell Carpenter"s oil
painting, First Reading of the Emancipation
Proclamation of President Lincoln
, which hangs in the U.S. Capitol
Senate wing. The artist"s memoir records Abraham Lincoln"s fascination with the
map, not just for its symbolic power and visual appeal, but because it allowed
him to trace military movements, and to relate those actions to his emancipation
policies.

This map was also one the first statistical
or thematic maps published in the United States. Although not
explicitly acknowledged on the map, it was produced by the U.S. Coast Survey.
Specifically, it was drawn by Edwin Hergesheimer, a recent German immigrant who
was employed as the Survey"s Chief Draftsman. In addition, a statement boldly
positioned at the map"s top center, stating that it was sold for the benefit of
the U.S. Army"s sick and wounded soldiers, suggests that it reflected the
interests of Alexander Dallas Bache, the Survey"s Superintendent. Bache was an
ardent abolitionist and had just become vice president of the U.S. Sanitary
Commission.

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