Important Revolutionary War era mapping of the Province of New York and New Jersey, issued shortly after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, marking an epochal moment in history.
The map was a masterful amalgamation of two seminal colonial surveys conducted by Claude Sauthier and Bernard Ratzer. Sauthier, a French-trained surveyor, and Ratzer, a British military engineer, had earned acclaim for their detailed and precise work. Their expertise and knowledge are palpable in the sweeping expanses and intricate details of the geography on display in this map.
The northern part of Faden's map primarily reflects the work of Sauthier and is a reduced-scale version of his "Chorographical Map of the Province of New-York." Sauthier's map was not simply a single piece of work, but rather a composite drawing inspired by previous works, particularly those of Samuel Holland and John Montressor. Unlike the work of his predecessors, which focused heavily on topography and roads due to their military use, Sauthier's map emphasized land ownership and boundaries, suiting its civilian purpose. It detailed not just the landscape but also the human footprint on it, making it an invaluable tool for colonial administrators seeking to organize settlements, collect property taxes and for military officers seeking an overview of the region.
Moreover, Sauthier's maps were prized for their accuracy, far surpassing the work of previous cartographers. His maps offered an unprecedented view of New York, providing an impressive granularity of information about towns, villages, military posts, forts, manors, roads, churches, rivers, and ferries in the region. Dartmouth College and settlements along the Connecticut River are among the locations identified on the map, giving a snapshot of life in the region at the time of the Revolutionary War.
Faden's map extends south to include New Jersey, incorporating the valuable survey work of Bernard Ratzer from 1769. Ratzer's survey was carried out to settle the boundary dispute between New York and New Jersey, and his findings were incorporated into this map even before his own map of New Jersey was published in 1777. The boundary between New York and New Jersey is distinctly marked with the notation "partition line ordered in 1769," demonstrating the map's practical utility for territorial demarcation.
The map also delineates the older boundary between East and West Jersey, further speaking to its meticulous focus on territorial boundaries. Thus, it is not merely a representation of the physical features of the land but also a testament to the complex administrative and political realities of the time.
This masterfully executed 1776 map is a testament to the skill and knowledge of its creators and a reflection of the socio-political landscape during the American Revolution. With every carefully plotted point and precisely drawn line, the map narrates a history rich with territorial disputes and colonial administration. It is a piece of history, delicately preserved in ink and paper, that continues to inform us about the changing faces of New York and New Jersey during a transformative time in American history.
As noted by David Allen, the northern portion of Faden's map is "a reduced-scale (ca. 1:1,050,000) edition of the manuscript version of [Sauthier's] Chorographical Map of the Province of New-York. The extended title of the 1776 edition includes the statement that it is "reduc'd from" a large-scale map by Sauthier." As noted by Allen:
Colonial administrators needed to know who owned what in order to plan settlements and collect property taxes. Governors and other royal officials could profit handsomely from the sale and surveying of land. Property taxes known as "quit rents" could produce revenue for the crown, and potentially make colonial administrators financially independent of the annoying provincial Assembly.
Claude Joseph Sauthier (1736-1802), a French trained surveyor, mapmaker and landscape architect, worked for William Tryon, the last royal Governor of New York under British Rule. From 1771 onward, Sauthier made many regional and local maps of the region, continuing into the early years of the American Revolution. Sauthier created two major maps of New York, his Chorographical Map of the Province of New-York (1779) and A Map of the Province of New York, (1776).