Map 240 - Strange Maps
Eagle Map of the United States, Engraved for Rudiments of National Knowledge
I chose this map because I was fascinated by the dovelike appearance of the eagle and by the ownership symbolised within the outline of its shape. It is also a clear indication of the territorial extent of the United States in the year 1833. Interesting that the bird looks more like a dove (which symbolises peace) whereas the later image of a golden eagle says more about majesty and power.
American possessions did not extend to the West Coast. Although the Louisiana Transfer from the French had created a very large amount of land around the Mississippi basin, lands claimed by the British and Spanish on the south west and north west prevented the ambition of the United States to stretch 'from sea to shining sea'. This line from a song by Katharine Bates was written in 1893 when all the land from the Mississippi to the Pacific had been won for the Union.
The bird's head covers New England (except Maine) and its neckline follows Lakes Ontario and Erie. The wings outline Lakes Huron and Superior and on west. The eagle's breast traces the East Coast and its tallons are over Florida.
As the map shows the bird's tail following a border that was no longer in existance by 1848, the map lost popularity. The western border of Texas, independent by that date, is seen on the 1833 map as a dividing line between the United States and Mexico. The bird's outline moves north and disappears at the area disputed with Great Britain.
Page 3 of Strange Maps
This map illustrates the economic and cultural signposts of the United States. Regions vary depending on the uses they are put to and their natural resources.
For many years the area coloured green on the map (mid-Atlantic) has been its industrial power house although in post industrial times, those industries have changed to high-tech and service ones.
The Bread Basket
Coloured brown, the bread basket marks the vast plains where crops are grown and exported to the wider world.
This grey area identifies the Mexican border. There is controversy associated with immigration. Does this enrich American society or corrupt it?
The Empty Quarter
There are areas in the United States which do not support large populations because of the terrain and the climate and they are those in the northern part of the mid-west and the far west, east of the rockies.
Traditionally this was the name used to describe the eleven states of the south that formed the Confederacy in the Civil war
This area on the map is the coastal area of California where there are ecological concerns for the the use of resources now and in the future.
David Mauk and John Oakland American Civilisation An Introduction (London and New York: Routledge, 2009)
Ch. 1 p. 24-47