ONE OF THE GREAT COLONIAL AMERICAN MAPS
A New Map of the Western parts of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and North Carolina; Comprehending the River Ohio, and all the Rivers, which fall into it; Part of the River Mississippi, the Whole of the Illinois, Lake Erie; Part of Lake Huron, Michigan &c. And all the Country bordering on these Lakes and Rivers. By Thos. Hutchins, Captain in the 60 Regiment of Foot. London. Published according to Act of Parliament …1778 by T. Hutchins. “Engraved by T. Cheevers.”
Four sheets joined. 36” x 44”. Bright period outline and wash color. A near fine copy.
Thomas Hutchins A New Map of the Western parts of Virginia &c. is a seminal map in the history of colonial America for several reasons. It was intended to show the western claims of Virginia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania according to their charters. These claims were ceded after the adoption of the Constitution in 1787. The back country of Virginia and North Carolina are shown in excellent detail.
Hutchins map is the first meaningful large-scale depiction of the Tranapalachian country. No previous map had shown the Ohio and its tributaries in such an accurate manner. This great map extends from Western New York in the northeast, Cape Fear in the southeast, the Wisconsin River in the northwest, to the Arkansas River in the southwest.
A seminal figure in the surveying and mapping of the United States, Hutchins began his career as a topographical engineer for the British Army during the French and Indian War. From 1758 to 1777 he served in the in the newly acquired Ohio Valley. He designed the fortifications at Fort Pitt in 1763. In the following year, accompanied Bouquet on his expedition against the western Indians. The result was his Map of the country on the Ohio and Muskingum rivers, published in Philadephia in 1765.
A member of the exploring party sent down the Ohio Valley in 1766 to investigate the territory recently acquired from France, Hutchins conducted “the first accurate map, or more properly, hydrographic survey” of the Ohio River (Brown.) He was stationed at Fort Chartres on the Illinois bank of the Mississippi from 1768 to 1770. Hutchins subsequently went to England, where he compiled this great map from his exhaustive personal surveys, and information gathered from many sources. The depiction of the Ohio immediately below Fort Pitt, for example, seems to be based on a manuscript by John Montresor. Brown notes that its publication in 1778 represented “the culmination of a long career as an engineer and mapmaker in the wilderness of North America.”
Hutchins returned to America in 1781, and was appointed by Congress “Geographer to the United States.” In 1783, he was a member of the commission that re-surveyed the Mason-Dixon Line, and in 1785, was appointed by Congress to the commission that surveyed the New York-Massachusetts boundary. Under the Ordinance of 1785, he was placed in charge of the surveying of the public lands in the Northwest Territory. He died in 1789, shortly after completing the survey of the “Seven Ranges” in Ohio. Hutchins is frequently credited with establishing the excellent system under which all of the public lands of the United States were subsequently surveyed and divided into townships, ranges and sections.
Hutchins’s 1778 map was the foundation document for the mapping of the Ohio Valley in the late eighteenth century. The depiction of the Transapalachian region on Thomas Jefferson’s famous map in his Notes on Virginia (1787), for example, were taken directly from Hutchins. The map shows the western claims of Virginia and North Carolina based upon their 17th century royal charters. It is filled with exhaustive data throughout, with a fascinating series of notes or “legends” interespersed among the geographical details. An “Illinois Country” is shown between the Illinois and Wabash rivers. Among its other important details, Hutchins’s map is one of the only printed maps of the period to show the proposed new colony of Vandalia (here “Indiana”), which was projected to occupy a large portion of the present state of West Virginia.
Pritchard & Taliaferro, Degrees of Latitude, 49: “the first significant depiction of Transapalachia”; Stephenson & McKee, Virginia in Maps, pp. 97-101 “Thomas Hutchins’s remarkable map depicting the backcountry of Virginia and its neighbors … [showed] the western frontier to a degree of accuracy not previously reached by other printed maps”; Streeter Sale, 3, 1300: “by far the best map of the west printed to that time”; Cumming, British Maps of Colonial America, p. 36: “The best [colonial] map of the region south of the Great Lakes”; Lloyd Arnold Brown, Early Maps of the Ohio Valley, plate 51.
Inventory No. 8097