Rare First State
Striking example of Hennepin's map of the eastern and midwestern portions of North America, from his Nouvelle Decouverte d'un Tres Grand Pays.
This extraordinary map was one the earliest and most important depictions of the Great Lakes, Mississippi Valley and Ohio Valley, a marked improvement over earlier maps. However, the Great Lakes are still considerably oversized, Hudson Bay too far to the east and the Mississippi River too far to the west, with its mouth in what is present-day Texas, based upon La Salle's report.
Fr. Louis Hennepin, a member of the Recollect Order of Franciscans, accompanied Rene-Robert de LaSalle on part of his journey down the Mississippi in 1682. LaSalle was hoping to reach the Pacific Ocean, but instead ended up in the Gulf of Mexico, thereby adding a large slice of North America to French claims west of the Appalachians, well away from the threat of British colonists.
An excellent summary of the state of knowledge of North America, at the beginning of the 18th century. Among other things, this beautiful map attempts to place into perspective Hennepin's mapping of the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. Karpinski noted that Hennepin's delineations of Lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron are remarkable improvements upon the Sanson maps.
Hennepin was one of the most popular chroniclers of the exploration of the American interior. Several books in numerous editions appeared under his name, although he was also given to sensational and unsupportable claims, such as his claim to have been first to the mouth of the Mississippi, ahead of LaSalle.
The present example was published in Utrecht in 1697. A second edition was published in 1698 in Amsterdam, with third edition in Leiden in 1704.