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Description

Scarce early map of North America, published shortly after the Louisiana Purchase by Charles Smith.

The map illustrates the west prior to the improvements resulting from the maps of Lewis & Clark, Zebulon Pike and Alexander van Humbolt.  Texas and Taejas are both named, although the region is still controlled by Spain.

Of note is the treatment of the Upper Missouri River, above the Mandan Villages.  The map incorporates for the reports of Peter Fidler for the Hudson's Bay Company, by including a series of possible river courses to the west, leading to (and prospectively through) the Rocky Mountains. It was this section of the map that provided the best depiction of the prospect of a water route or portage through the Rocky Mountains and to the Pacific. It was this information, along with reports from local Indians encountered on the expedition, which Lewis & Clark relied in choosing their path to the Rocky Mountains.  The information was the result of Fidler's extensive contacts with the indigenous tribes on the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains and contributed greatly to the geographical knowledge of the region prior to the return of Lewis & Clark in 1806. 

On the far side of the Rocky Mountains, a section of river called the Great Lake River includes a speculative water course which flowed to the Columbia River.  The river is fed by a speculative Tacoutche Tesse River.  This is an early name for the Fraser River, which had been discovered by Alexander Mackenzie in 1793, but had only first been fully explored by Simon Fraser in 1808 and therefore retains its earlier name.

“New Albion" covers the Great Basin and the Pacific Coast north of "New California.  "Pearl Shell Lake" appears and the "Indian Villages" west of the Rocky Mountains, based upon the spurious reports of Lahontan, but is now beginning to fade from relevance and significantly removed from its original location.

The large blank areas in the west show how little was known about the lands up the Missouri River Valley and across the Rocky Mountains and reflect the blank canvas upon which the mapping of the west would be drawn over the next 4 decades. Explorers had probed the edges of the region, but Europeans had not yet penetrated the interior.