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First State -- Extensively Annotated By An Early Owner (Front & Back)

Reid's map of the Tennessee Government is one of the earliest obtainable maps of Tennessee.

The present example is extensively annotated by an early owner.  The words "Cherokee Nation" is written across the center, with n long road shown, extending north from the Georgia are to the Cumberland River, then west along the Cumberland toward Nashville, then west in a serpentine fashion to the mouth of the Tennessee and Duok (Duck) River.

Extends from the Mississippi in the West to the Appalachians. Includes notes on the S. Boundary of the Military Reservation, the Kentucky Road, and various public roads, Indian Boundaries, Indian towns, and other details. Nashville, Chickasaw Bluff, Clarksville, Creeks Crossing Place, Crow T., Nickajack Town, Knoxville, Talasse, Ross's Ironworks, Chilhwee, Chota, Coyeta and a handful of other towns and settlements noted. This is the true first state of the map, bearing the J.Reid, L. Wayland and C. Smith imprint. The first state of the map rarely appears on the market.

The earliest 6 Tennessee Counties (Washington, Sullivan, and Greene in East Tennessee; and Davidson, Sumner, and Tennessee in Middle Tennessee) began as western counties of North Carolina, established between 1777 and 1788. After the American Revolution, North Carolina struggled to maintain any governance over the distant western settlements. The early settlers looked to North Carolina's government for protection from the Indians and the right to navigate the Mississippi River, however neither was forthcoming. As a result, in 1784, the East Tennesseans sought to establish the State of Franklin.

The Franklinians named John Sevier governor and began operating as an independent government. At the same time, leaders of the Cumberland settlements tried for form an alliance with Spain, which controlled the lower Mississippi River and was held responsible for inciting the Indian raids. In drawing up the Watauga and Cumberland Compacts, early Tennesseans had already exercised some of the rights of self-government and were prepared to take political matters into their own hands. Despite its best efforts, the independent state movement was suppressed by the North Carolina by 1788.

After North Carolina ratified the U.S. Constitution in 1789, it ceded its western lands, then known as the Tennessee country, to the Federal government. North Carolina had used these lands as a means of rewarding its Revolutionary soldiers. In the Cession Act of 1789, it reserved the right to satisfy further land claims in Tennessee. Congress designated the area as the "Territory of the United States, South of the River Ohio", more commonly known as the Southwest Territory. The territory was divided into three districts, two for East Tennessee and one for the Mero District on the Cumberland. William Blount, a prominent North Carolina politician with extensive holdings in western lands, was appointed Tennessee's first Territorial governor.

By 1795, there was sufficient population to move for statehood. Governor Blount called for a constitutional convention to meet in Knoxville, where delegates from all the counties drew up a model state constitution and democratic bill of rights. The voters chose Sevier as governor. The newly elected legislature voted for Blount and William Cocke as Senators, and Andrew Jackson as Representative. On June 1, 1796, Congress approved the admission of Tennessee as the sixteenth state of the Union.

States of the Map

The map is known in two states:

  • State 1 (1795):  Imprint of John Reid, Levi Wayland and Charles Smith.
  • State 2 (1796):  Imprint of John Reid.
Wheat & Brun 655.
John Reid Biography

Following Mathew Carey’s publication of the American Atlas in 1795, the second large format atlas published in America was produced by John Reid of New York in 1796. The project began as an atlas to accompany William Winterbotham’s An Historical, Geographical, Commercial and Philosophical View of the United States, but was also sold separately under the title The American Atlas.

Reid’s atlas included 20 maps. In addition, John Russell’s plan of Washington, D.C. is also bound into some copies of the Atlas. Reid’s atlas was a collaborative work, with 9 of the maps engraved by Benjamin Tanner, 5 by David Martin, two by D. Anderson and one each by John Scoles and John Roberts. Two of the maps do not include engraving credits. Each of the engravers was probably working in New York (including Tanner, who had not yet relocated to Philadelphia). According to the various entries for the maps in Wheat & Brun, the cartographic content of the maps is drawn largely from Carey’s first atlas of 1795.