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Robert Greenhow, Map from The History of Oregon…,1844, and The Geography of Oregon and California and the Other Territories…, New York: Newman, 1845

This map and volume on Oregon and California represent works Senator Judah P. Benjamin borrowed from the Library of Congress in the mid-1850s, when the possible expansion of slavery into western territories was a burning issue. The Senate commissioned this study by State Department historian Robert Greenhow. His wife Rose Greenhow later became a Confederate spy.

Geography and Map Division; Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress

Robert Greenhow, Map from The History of Oregon Robert Greenhow, Map from The History of Oregon

The Library of Congress

Thomas Jefferson believed “there is…no subject to which a member of Congress may not have occasion to refer.” His broad approach to book collecting shaped the holdings of the Library of Congress, which Congress originally established as a resource for its members. Many senators and representatives—including some who left to join the Confederacy and others who remained loyal to the Union—were voracious readers, with interests encompassing history, poetry, art, and literature as well as law and politics.