Bartlett, John Russell; Personal Narrative of Explorations inTexas, New Mexico, California Sonora and Chihuahua, Connected with the United States and Mexican Boundary Commission. 2 vols. New York: Appleton & Company, 1854. Large octavo, vol. 1, pp. xx, 506, folded frontispiece, 6 lithograph plates, 34 text woodcuts, large folded map in rear pocket. Vol. 2, pp. xvii, 624, folded frontispiece, 8 lithograph plates, 60 text woodcuts.
The set is complete and in a later library buckram with white spine titles. The bindings are tight and clean. Defunct library book plate on front pastedown, old accession number with withdrawal stamp on upper corner of title pages and old rubber stamp on title page.The text is clean, plates with minor foxing, large folded map has old scotch tape marks at some folds. Overall a good set.
John Russell Bartlett; (1805 – 1886,) was an American historian, explorer and linguist. From 1850–1853 he was the United States Boundary Commissioner responsible for surveying the boundary between the United States and Mexico. The results of his exploration was the first scholarly description of the southwest.
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) at the end of the Mexican War called for a joint commission to run the new boundary line between the United States and Mexico. However, between 1848 and 1850 three U.S. chief commissioners had been appointed; the first died, the second was removed, and the third resigned before taking up his work. Bartlett, excited over the prospects of combining ethnological and scientific exploration, accepted the position on 19 June 1850. "The commission, 140 men, assembled at Matagorda Bay in August and proceeded to El Paso, where they met their Mexican counterparts six weeks later. The actual work of the survey did not begin until 24 April 1851. Shortly afterward Bartlett and his counterpart from Mexico; García Conde, determined the initial point and the subsequent westward boundary line at 32° 22'. Their decision would lead to much controversy since this line deprived the United States of the Mesilla Valley, which was particularly desirable, if not essential, for the southern route of a transcontinental railroad. The choice of the initial point bred dissension between Bartlett and Andrew B. Gray, James D. Graham, and, later, William H. Emory, who were the scientists on the expedition. These and other critics contended that he had surrendered a sizable chunk of territory, roughly 50 miles wide by 190 miles long. But Bartlett did what he felt was called for in the treaty, without reference to geopolitical questions. The matter festered until the United States purchased the controversial parcel in the Gadsden Purchase of 1853. The route surveyed went up the Rio Grande to Dona Ana, west and north to the Gila, and down that river to its confluence with the Colorado. The southern boundary of California had already been marked. Throughout the entire survey and on side excursions, Bartlett continued to sketch, to collect specimens of minerals, rocks, plants and animals, and to observe languages and cultures of the native tribes. His specimens and notes were eagerly received in scientific societies such as the Smithsonian Institution.
Upon his return home, Bartlett was replaced by a new commissioner when Franklin Pierce became President. He then published his two volume work "Personal Narrative of Explorations inTexas, New Mexico, California Sonora and Chihuahua..”. The work was praised for its scientific and historical accuracy. In his later years he became the librarian for the John Carter Brown Library located on the grounds of Brown University. In that capacity he collated a catalog of the collections which was published in four volumes. He died in Providence in 1886.