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Stock# 73386

The Only Edition of this Important Early American Geography to Contain the English Filson Map of Kentucky.

An excellent example of this very important early American geography, with a large suite of maps covering the nascent nation, including Stockdale's edition of Filson's map of Kentucky.

Stockdale's edition of Morse immediately predates the great wave of domestic American mapmaking that was pushed forward by Joseph Scott, John Reid, and Mathew Carey, starting in 1795. It was issued at a time when the new republic was eschewing the previously enforced western borders and expanding into what had previously been the backcountry. This movement is seen in a number of the maps included here, none more important than John Filson's Map of Kentucky, the best map of the area before Elihu Barker's wall map was published.

Filson's map was first published in Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1784, and is generally considered the first important map of Kentucky. The present John Stockdale example is very similar to the extremely rare Wilmington edition but with minor alterations and an added inset, "A Plan of the Rapids in the River Ohio." Kentucky is shown divided into the counties of Lafayette, Lincoln, and Jefferson, and numerous settlements are located and named. The roads between the principal towns are shown by means of dotted lines, plus the following "Path of Cumberland Settlement, The Road from the Old Settlements in Virginia to Kentucky thro' the great Wilderness, Genl. Clark's War Road going, Birds War Road, &c." Kentucky was admitted as a state in 1792. Stockdale was apparently spurred to republish the American Filson by Kentucky statehood; he published the map the following year.

The Stockdale edition of Filson's map is the only full-sized edition of the map other than the original 1784 Wilmington edition and the only other edition published in English. The last example of the Wilmington map to appear at auction was the Thomas W. Streeter Copy (1967). In describing his copy, Streeter noted:

R. C. Ballard Thruston has given what is probably the definitive account of the Filson map in Filson Club History Quarterly, January, 1934, p. [1]--38. Mr. Thruston classifies the then 15 known copies of the map into six states. This map, so far as now known, is an intermediate unique example of state between Thruston's No. V and his No. VI. The main identification of state No. VI is the extension of the Sciota River through the north border of the map and the introduction of an Indian trail running south from the mouth of the Sciota to the Warrior's Path. Here the Sciota River extends through the north border but the Indian trail to the Warrior's Path is not yet shown.


  1. A New Map of North America from the latest and best Authorities 1794.
  2. A New Map of Upper & Lower Canada 1794.
  3. A New Map of Nova Scotia New Brunswick and Cape Breton. 1794.
  4. A Map of Newfoundland
  5. A Map of the Northern and Middle States; Comprehending the Western Territory and the British Dominions in North America. from the best Authorities.
  6. A Map of Vermont.
  7. A Map of New Hampshire
  8. A Map of Massachusetts from the best Authorities.
  9. A Map of Rhode Island.
  10. A Map of Connecticut.
  11. A Map of the State of New York.
  12. A Map of New Jersey from the best Authorities.
  13. A Map of Pennsylvania from the best Authorities.
  14. A Map of the States of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia; Comprehending the Spanish Provinces of East and West Florida: Exhibiting the Boundaries as fixed by the late Treaty of Peace between the United States and Spanish Dominions. Compiled from the late Surveys & Observations by Joseph Purcell.
  15. Plan of the City of Washington (MapForum, Washington D.C., 10a; Verner 10)
  16. Map of Virginia Maryland and Delaware.
  17. A Map of the Back Settlements
  18. A Map of Kentucky Drawn from Actual Observations By John Filson.
  19. A Map of North Carolina from the best Authorities.
  20. A Map of the Tennessee Government. 1794.
  21. A Map of South Carolina from the best Authorities.
  22. A Map of East and West Florida.
  23. A Map of South American and the Adjacent Islands. 1794.
  24. A Map of the West Indies from the best Authorities.
  25. A Map of the World Exhibiting all the New Discoveries 1794

Howes (M840) notes that the book is sometimes found with only 3 maps and sometimes with 25, this is the larger of the two, with all 25 maps.

Condition Description
Quarto. Expertly bound to style in ½ diced russia over marbled boards, spine elaborately gilt, with red morocco title piece lettered in gilt: "MORSES HIST. OF AMERICA". 25 engraved maps, 7 folding. Half-title (likely supplied), [x] (including title) pages, 715, [1] pages. (Endpapers renewed. Final two leaves with minor repairs and extensions to the gutter.)
ESTC T136148; Federal Hundred 47; Howes M840; Sabin 50924; Streeter 75.
John Filson Biography

John Filson was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, in 1747. Filson attended the West Nottingham Academy in Colora, Maryland, and studied with the Reverend Samuel Finley, afterwards president of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton). Heitman's Historical Register of Colonial Officers reports a John Filson served as an Ensign in Montgomery's Pennsylvania Battalion of the Flying Camp and was taken prisoner at Fort Washington during Battle of New York in 1776.

Filson worked as a schoolteacher and surveyor in Pennsylvania until 1782 or 1783, when he acquired over 13,000 acres of western lands and moved to Kentucky. He settled in Lexington, taught school, surveyed land claims, and travelled the region interviewing the settlers and leading citizens. He wrote The Discovery, Settlement and Present State of Kentucke (1784) during this period, and travelled to Wilmington, Delaware, to have it published in the summer of 1784. He also had his Map of Kentucke engraved and printed in Philadelphia. The edition, including both book and map, consisted of 1,500 copies and was priced at $1.50. The map was reprinted several times before 1793. Filson's plan for a second edition, to be endorsed by George Washington, was unsuccessful.

The book was almost immediately translated into French and re-published in Paris (1785) and somewhat later a German edition appeared (Leipzig, 1790). The appendix relating the adventures of Daniel Boone was extremely popular, and was referenced by (among others) Lord Byron in Don Juan.

Filson also wrote an unpublished manuscript entitled A Diary of a Journey from Philadelphia to Vincennes, Indiana, in 1785; An Account of a Trip by Land from Vincennes, hid., to Louisville, Kentucky, in 1785; A Journal of Two Voyages by Water from Vincennes to Louisville, and an account of an attempted voyage in 1786.

After spending several years in Kentucky teaching school, surveying, trying (unsuccessfully) to start a seminary, and becoming embroiled in numerous lawsuits and financial difficulties, he purchased from Mathias Denman a one third interest in an 800 acre tract at the junction of the Ohio and Licking rivers, the future site of Cincinnati, which he called Losantiville.  Filson's survey and plan of the town survives in the layout of modern downtown Cincinnati. General Arthur St. Clair, Governor of the Northwest Territory, later changed the name of Losantiville to Cincinnati in honor of the Society of the Cincinnati, an organization of Revolutionary War officers founded by George Washington.

While on a surveying expedition near the Great Miami River, he disappeared, October 1, 1788, when his party was attacked by Shawnees.