Minnesota Historical Society

Map of the Territory of Minnesota, 1849

$ 15.00

A reprint of the map that accompanied Captain John Pope's report of his expedition to the Red River of the North in 1849. Rolled map, 25" x 28", brown ink on ivory heavyweight paper. 

In the summer of 1849, Captain John Pyle (1822-92) served as a topographical engineer on a United States Army expedition that gathered information on the valley of the Red River of the North for prospective settlers and selected a site for a future fort in the area. That winter Pope prepared his Map of the Territory of Minnesota showing Minnesota as it appeared soon after becoming a territory in the spring of 1849. Besides using his own surveying notes, Pope drew on Joseph N. Nicollet's map, Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River, the result of the scientist's observations during his exploration of the previous decade.

The new territory stretched from Lake Superior and the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers in the east to the Missouri and White Earth rivers in the west, including much of what later became the states of North and South Dakota. (Pope stopped his map, as did Nicollet, about 140 miles from the farthest point of this western border.) From Canada in the north to Iowa in the south, the Minnesota Territory encompassed a huge area that the federal government wanted to fill with people, towns, and railroads. The Minnesota depicted in the Pope map and its accompanying Report of the Secretary of War Communicating the Report of an Exploration of the Territory of Minnesota, by Brevet Captain Pope (both published in 1850) promised an abundant natural resources and opportunities for enterprising settlers.

Pope's subsequent career included duty during the Civil War. Following his defeat as the Union leader at the second battle of Bull Run in the fall of 1862, he was relieved of command and sent west to deal with the warfare that had begun that August in Minnesota with the outbreak of the Dakota Conflict. Here, back in the region familiar from his old surveying days, he served for several years as the head of troops fighting Indians on the northern prairies and plains. Pope retired as a major general in 1886.


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