Catalog Archive
Auction 138, Lot 175

Superb Example of Political Propaganda and Thematic Mapping

"How the Public Domain Has Been Squandered…", Rand McNally & Co.

Subject: United States, Railroads

Period: 1884 (dated)


Color: Black & White

15.5 x 20.5 inches
39.4 x 52.1 cm
Download High Resolution Image
(or just click on image to launch the Zoom viewer)

This graphic Democratic Party campaign poster, produced during the contentious elections in 1884, prominently features a map showing the land granted to railroad companies. The presidential election between Grover Cleveland (Democrat) and former Speaker of the House, James G. Blaine (Republican) was marked by the issue of personal character. Blaine was considered to be in the pocket of the railroad companies and Cleveland's campaign used broadsides such as this to further turn public opinion. The map illustrates railroad land grants throughout the United States and distorts the issue by leaving out the fact that only alternate sections of land were granted and the outer limits of the shaded areas included indemnity lands (where the railroads could only substitute land if sections within the primary strip had previously been taken). These omissions exaggerated the extent of the grants roughly fourfold. Iowa is shown approximately 90% shaded, when in reality the total grants amounted to only 13% within the state; Kansas is shown 62% as apposed to the correct 16%; and Michigan is shown with 75% grants instead of 9%. This original map was widely copied in school textbooks for nearly 60 years. Thus this is a great example of both political propaganda and thematic mapping.

References: Ristow pp. 477.

Condition: B

There are three splits at fold intersections, light toning along the folds and very faint foxing primarily in the upper blank areas of sheet.

Estimate: $750 - $900

Sold for: $450

Closed on 12/7/2011