Fascinating sea chart of Florida, the Gulf Coast and the Caribbean. The Gulf Coast shows Enriquez Barrot's discoveries and names for bays and rivers, with the region having been little explored over the last century.
Southern Florida is shown in an archipelago configuration, composed of many islands stretching southwards towards Cuba. The St. Johns River has both northern and southern outlets to the sea.
Fine detail is shown in the Bahamas region, with reefs and cays shown. The treatment of the Caribbean is very up-to-date for the time and quite attractive.
The map has nice decorative elements, including an ornamental cartouche and numerous rhumb lines.
The Florida Archipelago Myth
Historians trace the mapping of Florida as an archipelago to Thomas Nairne's Map of South Carolina Shewing the Settlements of the English, French, and Indian Nations from Charles Town to the River Missisipi. Nairne was part of an effort started in the British Carolina Province in the early 1700s to raid Florida for slaves and generally wipe out the indigenous Indian population. As noted by Michelle Currie Navakas, professor of early American literature and of the colonialization of the Americas:
Nairne, an Indian slave trader and the first Indian agent of South Carolina, based this map on his journey to Florida during 1702, when he and thirty-three Yamasee raided the interior and captured thirty-five Indians, whom they took to Charleston and sold as slaves. Even though Nairne's raiding party
went only as far south as the northern border of the Everglades, his time in Florida convinced him that the southern portion of it consisted of islands.
We know this not only because he produced a map of Florida as islands upon his return, but also because, in a document accompanying the map, he suggests that southern Florida is unstable, broken ground when he advises those seeking Indian captives that they can go only "as farr on the point of Florida as the firm land will permit."
This configuration gained popularity, as illustrated by Guillaume de l'Isle's Carte de la Louisiane et du Cours du Mississipi. By the 1760s, the mapping included a number of mythical islands, as included in the maps of important French cartographers including De L'Isle.