First edition of J. Leopold Imbert's map of the Theatre of War in North America, showing the British Colonies in North America and extending to Mississippi River Valley.
Imbert's map is best known among collectors for its second edition, which credits J.B. Eliot as the map maker. J.B. Eliot's map of the United States is among the rarest extant maps of the United States and one of the very few to address the boundaries of the United States based upon Article II of the Provisional Treaty between the Americans and the British, negotiated and signed in Paris by Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, John Jay, and Henry Laurens for the Americans on November 30, 1782. A link to the Eliot edition is below:
Eliot's map is of great historical importance, being one of the first maps to explicitly name the United States as an independent country, as recognized by the Provisional Treaty and one of the only maps to specifically reference and set forth the boundaries established by Article II of the Provisional Treaty in the months following its execution, a year before the ratification of the Treaty by the British (September 3, 1783) and the Americans (January 14, 1784). Translated, the title reads General Map of the United States of North America, Showing The Boundaries of Each of the So Called States, as Confirmed by the Provisional Treaty of the Month of November 1782. Eliot's map is one of only a few maps to reference and record the Provisional Treaty boundaries.
Jean-Baptiste Eliot was one of the French military engineers sent to join the staff of George Washington shortly after France's alliance with the Americans was officially recognized in May, 1778. Later that same year, Eliot prepared what Schwartz & Ehrenberg refer to as "the earliest known map to include the name United States." Eliot's 1783 Carte Generale . . was his second printed map of the region and is based on a 1777 map prepared by J. Leopold Imbert, Cartes possessions angloises dans l'Amerique SeptentrionaleCarte des possessions angloises dans l'Amerique Septentrionale . . ., printed by Mondhare in Paris. Eliot's unique role as one of the "Ingenuers des Etats Unis" may have allowed him early access to the details of the Provisional Treaty before it left Paris, enabling him to construct this rare early depiction of the boundaries laid down by the Provisional Treaty.
In preparing his Provisional Treaty map, Eliot utilized the Imbert map as a basic template. Eliot has added a geographical description of the boundaries set forth in Article II, utilizing a series of Xs as noted below.
The red lines on the present map are of great interest, reflecting the borders of the settled area of the former Thirteen Colonies, plus Nova Scotia ("Acadie") and Newfoundland, the latter two being Loyalist strongholds that remained British colonies. The first edition however does not include the two sets of lines marked by "Xs" that denote the United States' provisional northern boundary with British Canada and its western boundary along the Mississippi River with Spanish-controlled Louisiana, as well as Spanish Florida to the south, which would be added in the Eliot edition of the map.
The large inset in the lower right of the map features the Floridian peninsula, the Bahamas and the Greater Antilles, lands still controlled by various European powers. Each of these features was added by Eliot and reflect the intense French interest in not just the Provisional Treaty Boundaries but also in the delineation of the concentration of Anglo-American populous in the region. While the Treaty would convey title of the region from the Alleghany Mountains to the Mississippi River from the British to the Americans, the French clearly viewed the region East of the Mississippi River as distinct from the region East of the Alleghany Mountains.
Geographically, the Imbert-Eliot map draws upon French cartographic sources, such as Jacques-Nicolas Bellin's portrayal of Canada and the Great Lakes; Guillaume De L'Isle's depiction of the Mississippi-Ohio Basin and the Greater Antilles; and the eastern seaboard as conceived by Jean-Baptiste Brion de La Tour. In addition, this map features a wealth of information regarding native settlements in the interior of the southeast, a region that would become a dominant focus of concern for the next generation of Americans.