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Map of Arkansa and Other Territories of the United States, 1822

 Item — map-case: 4, drawer: 7, map: 52
Identifier: 1500.
Map of Arkansa and Other Territories of the United States

Scope and Contents

...Respectfully inscribed to the Hon. J.C. Calhoun, Secretary of War, by S.H. Long, Major T. Engineers. Atlas map includes sidebars featuring geographical, statistical, and historical information.

Published by H.C. Carey & I. Lea, Philadelphia, PA. Drawn by S.H. Long, Major US Engineers. Engraved by Young & Delleker.


  • Creation: 1822



This material is open for research use by any registered reader.

Historical Notes from the 2006 Special Collections exhibit "Maps of the American West"

The most interesting map for students of the trans-Mississippi West contained within the 1822 Carey and Lea Atlas may be the “Geographical, Statistical and Historical Map of Arkansas Territory.” It is essentially the map documenting Major Stephen H. Long’s 1819-1820 expedition. Illustrated is the geography of the western drainage of the Mississippi River from the Mandan villages along the Missouri on the north to the deserted Pawnee villages on the Red River to the south. Although the narrative account of his expedition was not published until 1823, an immense manuscript map seems to have been drawn by Long in 1821 and quickly became available to cartographers. Long’s masterpiece was one of the most important maps of the Great Plains printed prior to the Civil War, according to geographer John Logan Allen.

The Long map became a “master map,” to be built upon and added to by a generation of cartographers, a good example being Henry S. Tanner’s map of North America. Long’s map portrays the country between the Platte and the Red River with the highest degree of accuracy of the day, correcting many of the errors on earlier maps. His expedition located what he believed to be the western end of the Red River (repeating one of Pike’s errors), where Long then turned east for his return journey. Only later, far downstream, did Long realize that the Red River lay further south; he had been traveling down the Canadian Fork of the Arkansas River. The correct positioning of the Red River, even if by accident, was critical since it formed part of the boundary between the United States and the new Republic of Mexico.

Like so many maps of the time, Long’s suggested the future opportunities for trade and commerce just beyond the horizon. Long notes the “Great Spanish Road” leading to Santa Fe as the road of the Pawnees and Konzas. The Santa Fe Trail would soon utilize a significant portion of this route, connecting the Missouri traders of Independence to their fortunes in Mexican Santa Fe. Long’s route up the Platte would also provide the way for the mass migration of settlers, Mormons and gold rushers of the 1840’s as they ventured west to the Oregon Country, Utah and California.

One of the map’s most notable features and a source of its enduring power was the label “GREAT AMERICAN DESERT” Long used in describing the American Great Plains (“GREAT DESERT” in the Carey and Lea Atlas). As Long’s party traveled across what is today the High Plains area of southwest Kansas, the Texas Panhandle and western Oklahoma in the heat of July and August of 1820, what they saw and endured would have certainly seemed a “desert” to men of the East. The delineation of the area as a desert, unsuitable for sustainable agriculture such as was known to Long, a man from New Hampshire, illustrates how the expectations Americans had for the West were turned upside-down when confronted with its realities. The western Plains were not the farmer’s garden or paradise as imagined by Thomas Jefferson; the area was exceedingly arid with unbroken grasslands compared to the wet, green and timbered east. For many in the nation, Long’s notation that “The Great Desert is frequented by roving bands of Indians who have no fixed places of residence but roam from place to place in quest of game” defined the area. This was a home for nomadic Indians and a buffer against rival empires.


1 item : 1 sheet ; 44.2 x 56.5 cm

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Walter Reuben & Co., Austin, TX

Physical Description

Black and white and color engraving, printed on paper. No. 35 map, possilby removed from A Complete Historical, Chronological, and Geographical American Atlas, Being a Guide to the History of North and South America, and the West Indies.... to the Year 1822.


Repository Details

Part of the The University of Tulsa, McFarlin Library, Department of Special Collections & University Archives Repository

McFarlin Library
University of Tulsa
2933 E. 6th St
Tulsa 74104-3123 USA
(918) 631-2496