FIRST PRINTED MAP OF THE MISSISSIPPI BASED ON EUROPEAN EXPLORATION
Tabula exhibens Regiones quasdam recens detectas in America Septentrionali, Anno 1673
7” x 15”. Uncolored copperplate engraving. Matted and laid into a cloth box with morocco label.
In 1663, the French government in Quebec embarked on a westward expansionist policy, initially focused on locating the Mississippi River, whose existence was known through Indian reports. An expedition was sent out under the command of Louis Jolliet, a fur trader and explorer, and a Jesuit father named Jacques Marquette. Jolliet and Marquette left Green Bay in May 1673, and by following the courses of the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers, reached the upper Mississippi. Continuing south, they discovered the mouths of the Missouri, Ohio, and Arkansas Rivers, before turning back out of fear of encountering a superior Spanish force. On the return trip, they found a short cut to Lake Michigan by following the Illinois and Des Plaines Rivers to a portage at Chicago. Several manuscript maps survive based on the discoveries of Jolliet and Marquette, with this first printed version being adapted for inclusion in Thevenot’s Recueil des Voyages (Paris, 1681). It shows for the first time on a printed map the Mississippi and its tributaries north of the Arkansas based on first-hand observation. The depiction of the river between the Arkansas and the gulf is based on speculation. It is also the first map to include the place name Michigan or Mitchigami. This second edition of the map appeared in a rare 1689 German edition of Hennepin’s Description de la Louisiane. Both editions of the map are quite rare. The second edition is virtually identical to the first, except that the title and one or two legends have been translated from French into Latin. The cartography remains unchanged.
see Heidenreich and Dahl, The French Mapping of North America in the Seventeenth Century, p. 8.
Inventory No. 7638