The Public Domain Squandered!

Rand McNally & Co., Engr[aver]'s , How the public domain has been squandered, Chicago, 1884 .
Lithograph, 23.5"h x 16.5"w at sheet edge, with several lines of headline type surmounting an 11.75"h x 15.5"w map, uncolored.

Rare political broadside, setting forth the Democratic Party Platform of 1884 and arguing that the “Public Domain Has Been Squandered” by Federal land grants to the railroads.

The broadside was published by the Democratic Party during the 1884 presidential race between Grover Cleveland and James Blaine. The map shows vast swaths of territory from the public domain, which had been granted by Republican Congresses to railroad companies. Blaine’s susceptibility to influence by business interests became a major theme of the Democratic campaign against him, and the Democrats leveled the same accusations against the Republican Party as a whole. The charges stuck, and Cleveland squeaked out a victory by less than 100,000 popular votes, becoming the first Democrat elected

The text of the broadside explains the central map, a masterpiece of persuasive cartography depicting the continental United States with supposed railroad grants shaded. The map was in fact very misleading, as only a “checkboard” pattern of land was granted to the Railroads. Further the lands shown on the map included both the actual grants and so-called indemnity lands, which would have been available in the event that lands granted had been previously claimed by other owners. These fudges served to nearly quadruple the amount of land alleged to by the map to have been granted to the railroads.

Persuasive Maps: PJ Mode Collection, #1088. Ristow, American Maps and Mapmakers, p. 477. OCLC #23263741 and 69980510 (4 locations in all).


Pinholes and other minor damage in corners from mounting, all well away from image.