GRAHAM, James Duncan (1799-1865). Report of the Secretary of War, Communicating...the Report of Lieutenant Colonel Graham on the Subject of the Boundary Line between the United States and Mexico

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GRAHAM, James Duncan (1799-1865). Report of the Secretary of War, Communicating...the Report of Lieutenant Colonel Graham on the Subject of the Boundary Line between the United States and Mexico. 32nd Congress, 1st Session, Ex. Doc. No. 121. Washington: War Department, 1852.


8vo., (8 5/8 x 5 4/8 inches).  One lithographed barometric profile from San Antonio to Santa Rita, New Mexico, in 1851, and 2 large folding lithographed maps: "Mexican Boundary. Sketch A. Referred to in Colonel Graham’s Report", "Mexican Boundary B. Extract from the Treaty Map of Disturnell of 1847". Disbound.

As a young man at West Point, Graham studied mathematics under former U.S. astronomer Andrew Ellicott, who George Washington in 1796 had commissioned to undertake the survey of the boundary between the United States and the Spanish territory of Florida in accordance with a treaty with Spain. he also studied natural and experimental philosophy under former surveyor general of the Northwest Territory Jared Mansfield. Between 1819 and 1821 he served as topographical assistant to Major Stephen H. Long on Long's Yellowstone expedition to the Rocky Mountains, the first fully outfitted scientific expedition to explore the Great Plains. 

Following the settlement of the Mexican War, Graham headed the U.S. detachment responsible for surveying the eastern portion of the U.S.-Mexican border. In the course of this duty, Arizona's Mount Graham was named for him. "This assignment, however, sullied Graham's reputation, because he placed the Corps of Topographical Engineers into the political arena of expansionist politics. Dispute over the point at which the eastern New Mexico border would touch the Rio Grande had led to a series of concessions by the civilian U.S. commissioners in charge of the survey. Graham believed the concessions inconsistent with the intent of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the interests of the United States, because they jeopardized the only practicable southern route for a transcontinental railroad. Graham refused to allow his detachment of topographical engineers to survey the border until his interpretation of the border's beginning point was negotiated, he was recognized as second in command of the expedition, and he was included in all commission negotiations. For this, Graham was replaced as chief astronomer and head of the scientific corps. Ultimately, Graham's position was vindicated by the Gadsden Purchase in 1853" (Dennis C. Williams  for ANB).

The map entitled "Mexican Boundary B" (see Plate 40 in Martin & Martin) illustrates Graham's dilema and shows the boundary differences which were a result of the different interpretations of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo based in Disturnell's map of Mexico, which had placed El Paso too far north and west of its actual position.