A truly strange map of the Mexican Revolution

Rand McNally & Co., THE MEXICAN SITUATION, Showing Location of American Fleet and Border Forts. Chicago: The Chicago Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway, [1914].
Map printed in colors, 13 ¼”w x 18 7/8”h at neat line plus title, legend and margins. Folded and tipped into handsome card stock folder with the Stars and Stripes printed in colors on front cover and lyrics inside. About excellent, with a minor mended edge tear to map and just a bit of bumping and soiling to folder.

One of the stranger maps I have encountered, this is a Rand McNally map of Mexico, heavily overprinted to reflect the Mexican Revolution in mid-1914, then further adapted as a promotional map by the Chicago Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway.

After more than three decades of authoritarian rule by Porfirio Diaz, from 1910 on Mexico was convulsed by a dizzying succession of rebellions and coups, some perpetrated in the hope of true revolution or at least meaningful reform to improve the lot of urban workers and farmers. The United States, torn between conflicting motives of supporting American business interests in Mexico, promoting political stability, and advancing reform, and ill-served for a time by its ambassador Henry Lane Wilson, played an episodic, occasionally influential, but often incoherent role in the events.

Offered here is an American map of Mexico produced during the revolutionary years. Starting with a garden-variety Rand-McNally map of the country, someone—likely at Rand McNally—has overprinted it heavily to show the “chief centers of rebellion and names of [their] leaders”, the “principal garrisons of Federal-Mexican troops in the North”, major American forts along the border, and the positions of American and Mexican naval vessels. Several columns of text—replacing the inset map of Mexico City and surroundings found on the original—enumerate American and Mexican military forces. The map was likely produced in mid-late 1914, as it seems to show both the Tampico Affair (April 9) and the subsequent occupation of Veracruz (April 21-November 23). The overall impression is that the United States was using its overwhelming force to play a major role in the Revolution, which was in fact largely an internal affair.

But what makes the map truly weird is the placement at lower left of the logo of the Chicago Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway, whose system reached no further south than Kansas City. The Railway has also added card stock wraps featuring the Stars and Stripes and the lyrics to “America” and “The Star Spangled Banner”! The Railway was surely not the first American firm to wield patriotic sentiment for promotional purposes, but the disconnect is striking. I have found other versions of the map promoting the Home Chattel Loan Co. of Chicago and Chicago food producer Libby, McNeill & Libby.

OCLC 262846638 (4 institutional holdings as of August 2021).