Root’s Facial War Map of the World


Root’s Facial War Map of the World

Root's Facial War Map of the World
Author: M.A. Root
Date: 1898

This map is a bit of a mystery. At first glance, it seems to be a standard map of the world. Upon closer inspection, odd cartoon faces worked into the outlines of countries and landforms start to jump out. These faces seem to be political figures or rulers of each place.

USA and Pres McKinley

The President of the United States in 1898 was William McKinley. 

The text at the bottom details various battleships, armored and unarmored cruisers, turrets and navy fleets. There is no text describing or explaining the various illustrations for each country, either who they are or what they mean. The only bit of text that is not part of battleship description is a large title at the top reading ‘THE WORLD IS WATCHING’, a slightly creepy sentence that seems to be straight out of George Orwell’s 1984.

This map serves as an interesting historical and geopolitical map. Many of the current boundaries and states weren’t established in 1898. 


In Europe, faces can be seen for almost every country. A bear (Russia) looms over Europe.

The most interesting parts of the map are the slightly solemn and serious way the faces are looking out to their neighbors around the world. The serious tone and feeling that the faces set, along with the text describing military tools and weapons, leaves the viewer of this map with the sense of discomfort and intrigue.

What are they watching for? Why is the world watching?

Russia and Tsar Nicholas II

A grim-faced and armed Russia faces the bald eagle that is Alaska.  At the time, the Tsar of Russia was Nicholas II.

By Madeline Vostrejs, Map and Geospatial Hub student employee