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Unrecorded 5 sheet map of the United States, published in Boston in 1803.

The present map is the final state of Osgood Carleton and John Norman's The United States of America: laid down from the best authorities agreeable to the peace of 1783, first issued in 1791.

The map is a remarkable amalgam of early American information. The lands of many of the early land companies in the Trans-Appalachian west are shown, including:

  • Illinois Company
  • Wabash Company
  • Jersey Company
  • Ohio Company

The Seven Ranges, as laid out by Thomas Hutchins is illustrated, as is an area of land in Maine which has been platted and numbered for sale. In the south and west, there are numerous references to Indian Tribes and early settlements. The map is also one of the earliest printed maps to locate the operating post roads in the United States.

The map refers to the United States as the "Republic of America" in the table at the top of the map.

The map also identifies and shows a subdivision of land below Lake Erie referenced as "Lands belonging to Mrss. Gorham & Phelps." This is a reference to the so-called Phelps & Gorham Purchase, an acquisition in 1788 of 6,000,000 acres of land from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for $1,000,000. A syndicate formed by Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham agreed to purchase the land in three annual installments, along with the pre-emptive right to the title on the land from the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy for $5,000.

Phelps and Gorham then negotiated with the Seneca nation and other Iroquois tribes to obtain clear title for the entire parcel. They acquired title only to the lands east of the Genesee River. Within a year, monetary values rose and, in combination with poor sales, the syndicate was unable to make the second of three payments for the land west of the Genesse River, forcing them to forfeit the land back to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on March 10, 1791. The Commonwealth in turn sold the land to U.S. Senator and financier Robert Morris of Philadelphia on March 12, 1791 and August 10, 1791. Ultimately, this land would change hands several more times in the next decade.

The map is a previously unknown fourth state of an important early wall map of the United States, first published by Osgood Carleton and John Norman in 1791. In Osgood Carleton, Mathematical Practioner of Boston ( Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Third Series, Vol. 107 (1995), pp. 141-164), David Bosse notes

Carleton and Norman issued their second map on February 28,1791, as noted in the Boston Gazette of that date. Titled The United States of America Laid Down from the Best Authorities, Agreeable to the Peace of 1783, this six-sheet map contains a lengthy note by Carleton explaining his choice of projection. Assuring the public that he had compared the map to the "latest surveys &c best information," Carleton declared it "a correct & true representation." When Carleton revised the map in 1797, John Norman's son, William, reissued it with the title A New Map of the United States of America.

The map is apparently a later variant of John Norman's A new map of the United States of America: Drawn from the latest authorities, published in Boston in 1799, of which only a single example is known (Massachusetts Historical Society). As with each of the 3 later states of the map, there is a new top inset entitled A table exhibiting the Length, Breadth, and Population of each State in the Republic of America . . . and a bottom inset entitled A table of the Post Roads & Distances.

As noted in Wheat & Brun, describing the second state of the map:

The inset at upper center is now replaced by: A TABLE EXHIBITING THE LENGTH BREADTH AND POPULATION OF EACH STATE . . . A TABLE OF THE POST ROADS & DISTANCES is given at the bottom right. Parts of the eastern coastline have been redrawn and some place names and soundings have been removed. Other place names have been related and still others added. Some names have also been added in the west. A few major roads have been indicated. PENSYLVANIA is stil shown thus. FEDERAL CITY / OF WASHINGON is given as is TENNASSEE. CANADA is now lettered north of the RIVER ST. LAURENCE. WESTERN / TERRITORY is noted on the Old Northwest.

A remarkable survival, previously unknown. We are not aware of any examples of the first edition map appearing at auction or in dealer catalogues. A second edition of the map, issued by Carleton in 1806 on a larger scale, entitled A New Map of the United States of America Including Part of Louisiana Drawn from the Latest Authorities. Revised and Corrected by Osgood Carleton Esq. Teacher of Mathematics Boston, was offered by the Philadelphia Print Shop in 1985.

The following are the recorded examples of the earlier states of the map:

  • 1791: Yale; Library of Congress; University of Michigan (Clements); New York Historical Society; American Philosophical Society
  • 1797: Massachusetts Historical Society
  • 1799: Massachusetts Historical Society
Condition Description
Printed on 5 sheets. Recently cleaned and restored. Laid on linen. Some small areas of facsimile within the printed image.
Wheat & Brun# 119 and #138