The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, occurred on both the location and the sesquicentennial of the Circassian genocide in 1864.
Between 1755 and 1775, over the course of just twenty years, three seminal maps of North America were published in London, even though those responsible for the maps never left England! These three maps, discussed in more detail below, were prepared for a British audience in an attempt to reinforce opinions regarding British control of North America. A fourth map, also published in London, depicts the extent of the United States in 1802.Arguably the most important of the first three pre-1800 maps addressed in this blog is John Mitchell’s iconic 1755 Map of the British and French Dominions in North America pictured above. At the request of the English Board of Trade and Plantations, the equivalent of the State Department, Mitchell was tasked with preparing a large map of North America based upon maps provided by each of the thirteen colonial governors. The intriguing story behind the map lies with its illustrated claim of English sovereignty extending from the Atlantic Ocean westward past the Mississippi and, eventually, to the Pacific Ocean. These claims are evidenced by the horizontal colonial boundaries extending into French territory.
Our second map, pictured below, was originally published in London by Emanuel Bowen in 1763. Unlike Mitchell’s map, which incorporated the territorial aspirations of the British colonies, the 1763 map by Bowen illustrated the political realities dictated by the 1763 Treaty of Paris ending the Seven Year’s War in North America.
The third revolutionary map in our saga was published in London by Carington Bowles in 1771. Like the Bowen map illustrated above, it, too, includes colonial territory lost in 1763, but also emphasizes unsettled colonial boundaries. Of those, the most notable are the western boundary of Pennsylvania, the northeastern boundary of Virginia, and the western boundary of New York, as establishment of each defined those colonies’ access to Lake Erie.The final map of North America in our brief exploration of revolutionary maps was published in London in 1802. Aaron Arrowsmith (1750-1823) produced the most current and accurate cartographic representation of the American West up to that date. Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark carefully studied the map in 1803 and even carried a copy on the first leg of their landmark expedition. Arrowsmith’s map immediately pre-dates the 1803 Louisiana Purchase and subsequent 1804-06 expedition by Lewis & Clark. Rather than fill in the American West with conjectural or inaccurate data, he has deliberately left large areas blank, allowing viewers to envision for themselves the nature of the vast territory recently acquired before the landscape could be recorded by scientific surveys. So why are these maps significant? And how do they illustrate cartographic perception and geographic reality? First, British control of North America is implied in Mitchell’s 1755 map which depicts British colonies extending from “sea to sea”. Secondly, the geographic reality of British control of North America are all shown on the commercially produced 1763 Bowen map, the 1774 Bowles’ map, and Arrowsmith’s 1802 map which all relied on factual data. It all comes down to the intentions of each cartographer and those who employed the cartographers!
Creating the United States. A Library of Congress exhibit drawing heavily on items related to American Revolution from various parts of the Library. (April 2008 – May 2012).
Rivers, Edens, and Empires: Lewis and Clark and the Revealing of America. A Library of Congress exhibit showcasing items from various collections the related to Lewis and Clark expedition. (July 2003 – November 2003).
Hy-Brasil never existed, however, it was often shown on maps as a very small island west of Ireland. The name Hy-Brasil originated from Celtic mythology. According to Irish folklore an island named Hy-Brasil was visible from the west coast of Ireland for only one day every seven years, the rest of the time it was […]
This is a guest post by Rachel Trent, Digital Collections and Automation Coordinator in the Geography and Map Division. Interested in bulk downloading maps from the Library of Congress’s online collections? Need a corpus of historical map images to build a training dataset for your machine learning model? Looking to learn more about Python or APIs? Curious […]
The Croatian seaport of Rijeka commands a stunning view of Kvarner Bay (Golfo del Carnaro), nestled in an arm of the northern Adriatic between the Istrian Peninsula and the Croatian littoral. Over the centuries its outstanding deep water port has attracted Celts, Greeks, Romans, Franks, Goths, Venetians, Byzantines, Hapsburgs, and Italians, most of whom have contested […]
This is a guest post by Kathy Hart, Head of the Research Access and Collection Development Section in the Geography and Map Division. Libraries and museums often feature maps and related geographic content in digital and analog, large or small exhibits, displays and workshops. When considering the variety of materials available, how does one select […]
One of my favorite computer games as a child was called The Yukon Trail. Made in 1994, the player became a prospector in the late 19th century Klondike gold rush, navigating the treacherous trail in an attempt to stay alive and strike it rich. What I recently discovered while browsing our map collections is that games related […]
Many years ago I visited an antique show held at the Washington D.C. Stadium Armory. Dealers from all over the United States displayed almost every kind of antique on tables throughout the market. One of the dealers owned an antique map store in St. Louis. I looked at many maps, dated from the 19th century […]
Washington, D.C., was established as the “permanent seat of the Federal Government” by the passage of the Residence Act in 1790. This act allowed President George Washington to select the site for the new city anywhere along the banks of the Potomac River between its junction with the Shenandoah River, near present day Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and its junction with the Eastern Branch or Anacostia River, just below the current location of Washington, DC.
The area demarcated for the new city was a blank slate and President Washington selected Major Pierre Charles L’Enfant (1754-1825) to create a design for it. The map below, published in 1794, reflects L’Enfant’s vision for the new city with a few improvements attributed to Andrew Ellicott (1754-1820).The detail below shows the Potomac River, the mouth of Tiber Creek, and the United States Mall as laid out by L’Enfant and Ellicott. Running along the Mall, as we know it today, was a creek that led westward from roughly the current site of Union Station to the Tidal Basin and, ultimately, to the Potomac River. What many Washingtonians may not realize is that both L’Enfant’s original design, and Ellicott’s improvement incorporated canals to facilitate the shipment of goods and construction materials to build the new city. In addition to the canal running past the White House, there were grand plans for a university on the west end of the Mall and a turning basin for the canal at the base of Capitol Hill. The proposed University resembles the original campus of the University of Virginia!
So why the canal? It was simply a time saving measure. The sandstone blocks that were used in Read more »
The small sun baked village of Kodok receives little attention these days. Lying on the west bank of the Upper Nile River in the world’s newest state, South Sudan, its population has swelled within the last few years due to an increase in refugees fleeing genocide and poverty in Sudan. Save for a few dusty […]