Southwest Sheet of the Exceedingly Rare 1812 Abraham Bradley Postal Map of the United States.
Very rare engraved map of Louisiana, Mississippi Territory, Georgia, and Tennessee, constituting the southwest sheet from Abraham Bradley's four-sheet postal map of the United States.
The map clearly articulates the state of the American frontier during the pivotal period following the Louisiana Purchase. Much of the interior of the south is still poorly known and largely unsettled, but the major thoroughfares are dotted with small settlements, towns, forts, and outposts.
This revised state of the map (first published in 1804) still has ghostly signs of what came before it, adding to the viewer's ability to trace the changes in geographic knowledge over this period.
A network of post roads is shown working its way across Kentucky and Tennessee towards the Mississippi River.
The Ohio River and much of the Mississippi have been obviously reworked as better information has become available.
The map provides a clear picture of where communities were coalescing, namely on the lower Mississippi, eastern Georgia, and Kentucky and Tennessee.
"TRIPLICATE" deaccession stamp from the Library of Congress.
Abraham Bradley was born in Litchfield, Connecticut. He is an important figure not only in early American cartography, but in early American history as well. Initially, Bradley trained as a lawyer and moved to the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania to practice. There he met Judge Thomas Pickering, who took Bradley with him to Philadelphia when he was appointed Postmaster General by George Washington in 1791.
As Pickering's clerk, Bradley created postal maps which showed the budding system of post offices and routes. A self-taught mapmaker, Bradley quickly gained considerable skill and became well-known for this carefully drawn maps. His most famous map is the postal route map of 1796, which shows the young United States and includes an innovative table that calculated the time it would take a letter to travel around the country.
In 1799, Bradley was appointed Assistant Postmaster General, a position he would hold until 1829. As part of his duties, Bradley supervised the moving of the General Post Office Department from Philadelphia to Washington DC. In 1804, with the help of British mapmaker Aaron Arrowsmith, Bradley updated his postal map, which featured in practically every post office in the states and territories. Bradley would continue to create route maps, and to update his most famous map, throughout his career, including in 1810 and 1825.
During the burning of Washington DC in the War of 1812, Bradley housed the records and archives of the General Post Office Department in his Maryland farmhouse. His service with the Post Office came to an abrupt end, however, with the election of Andrew Jackson. Although he had served under five Postmasters General, Jackson dismissed Bradley for partisan reasons. Bradley then served as secretary to the Franklin Insurance Company. He died at his farmhouse in 1838, leaving behind eight children. He is remembered for his careful custodianship of the nascent Post Office, and for creating maps that made Americans feel connected to their fellow citizens.