Genl. Austin’s Map of Texas with Parts of the Adjoining States, 1840
Widely considered to be the most important and definitive map of early Texas, Genl Austin’s Map of Texas with Parts of the Adjoining States is a masterpiece of map-making and served as the cartographical foundation of Texas for almost two decades. First published in 1830 by Henry S. Tanner in Philadelphia as Map of Texas with Parts of the Adjoining States, Austin’s map was the first commercially produced map of the region that emphasized such accurate detail and reflected the mass of Anglo-American settlement in Mexican Texas.
Known for his attention to detail and meticulous record-keeping, Austin took it upon himself to produce a map of Texas almost as soon as he arrived in Mexico. He recognized that accurate maps were essential to both promoting Texas as a place for American colonists to come and to keep track of settlements and colonies after they had been established. At the time, not many people knew about the geography of Texas and Austin’s objective with his map was to help educate both potential colonists and the Mexican government itself.
The 1840 edition of this map features the same geographic detail as the previous editions. The map describes the “Level Prairie” of what we today call the Llano Estacado in the westernmost part of the sheet. Looking eastward from there, one could encounter “Immense Herds of Buffalo” and “Comanche Indians.” The “Cross Timbers” region of North Texas extends through prairie land and across the Red River. The major river systems and creeks are drawn with accuracy, and in the southern portion of Texas, “Immense Droves of Wild Horses” are noted. The general topography shown on the map is rudimentary, but does correctly show the major escarpments and peaks throughout the region.
Man-made features such as settlements and roads were added and modified as new editions of the map were published. The 1840 edition shows the empresario grants of Mexican Texas and the Republic of Texas counties. It accurately reflects the growth of Texas as an independent nation, evidenced by the appearance of numerous cities and roads on the 1840 map that did not yet exist in previous editions. Perhaps the most prominent addition is the city of Austin, which appears on the 1840 edition of Austin’s map for the first time, having been established as the capital of the Republic in 1839. An excellent showcase of the famous El Camino Real network of roads is a hallmark of the various editions of this map.
Austin’s map went through several design evolutions over the course of its revisions, reflective of the changing political environment of the time. The most noticeable difference can be seen in the title block of the map. Early editions featured the Mexican seal above the title Map of Texas with Parts of the Adjoining States. The 1840 edition, for the first time, removed the Mexican seal, and the map was retitled Genl. Austin’s Map of Texas with Parts of Adjoining States.
The southern boundary of Texas on the 1840 map is prominently delineated as the Rio Bravo (Rio Grande), whereas earlier editions showed the boundary as the Rio Nueces. This border dispute became one of the major contentions that led to the Mexican-American War after Texas was annexed by the United States. Notably, the phrase “Republic of Texas” does not appear anywhere on the 1840 edition of the map; however, this edition is the first to truly reflect Texas as independent despite previous editions of this map having been issued in 1836, 1837, and 1839.
This map is part of the Frank and Carol Holcomb Digital Collection.
 Austin began working on the first edition of this map as early as 1822, when he submitted a sketch of interior Texas to the Mexican government while in Mexico City. He added to his initial sketch over the years as he traveled around Texas and as new colonies and empresario grants were established. By 1829, Austin had a manuscript that he felt was complete and began shopping his new map to publishers in the United States. Eventually, Henry Schenk Tanner, one of the most well-known and successful map publishers of the era, accepted Austin’s map for commercial publication and the first edition of Austin’s map was copyrighted on March 17, 1830, and sold to eager buyers. Paul E. Cohen, Mapping the West, (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 2002), 112–113
 Seymour I. Schwartz and Ralph E. Ehrenberg, The Mapping of America, (Edison: Wellfleet Press, 2001), 253.
 Staked Plains, or more accurately, palisaded plains. Handbook of Texas Online, Art Leatherwood, “Llano Estacado,” accessed July 07, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ryl02.
 The King’s Highway or Old San Antonio Road. Handbook of Texas Online, “Old San Antonio Road,” accessed July 07, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/exo04.
 Cohen, 112–113