Clive A. Burden LTD. Rare Maps, Antique Atlases, Books and Decorative Prints

The Mapping of North America

Mr. Philip D. Burden​
P.O. Box 863,
Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks HP6 9HD,
Tel: +44 (0) 1494 76 33 13

Previous Page Next Page

Lewis Evans’ ‘General Map of the Middle British Colonies in America’ was one of the most significant and influential maps published in Colonial America. On it, Evans described the land beyond the British frontier into the Ohio territory with great amounts of new information, so offering potential settlers, speculators, and military officials the most detailed and accurate look at the lands to the west. One of the foundation maps of colonial America, and one of the landmarks of American engraving and printing.

Evans map was first published 23 June 1755, the very same year as Dr. John Mitchell published his famous map of North America … in London. Both maps intended to describe the opportunities for western expansion in the trans-Alleghany region, the Ohio Valley and beyond, and to draw attention to what the authors saw as the urgent concern of ‘French encroachments’. Aside from the political importance of these maps, each contributed enormously to the present state of cartographic knowledge of the middle colonies and the Ohio Valley. Few other maps improved on the Evans cartography until well after the Revolutionary War. The map was extremely influential, passing through many pirated editions in London, and providing the cartographic model for countless other publications.

Pre publication
Gipson records the pre-publication of this map well. Evans ‘was obliged to work under great pressure to meet the pressing need for a map of the upper Ohio Valley at the critical juncture of affairs there’. He notes that on 28 February 1755 Governor Robert Hunter Morris ‘sent a preliminary draft of it to Sir John St. Clair so that it might be of service in the impending Braddock campaign. Morris writes ‘I have since with some Difficulty prevailed on a man in this Town, one Evans, to furnish me with a map of the back Country from the materials he has in his hands, and you will receive it with this; and from the best information I can get and in the Judgement of those most acquainted with the Country it is more to be depended on that any other’. This map is described by Klinefelter as being ‘a sectional abstract in manuscript from materials then in hand’.

Gipson goes on to record ‘That Evans was anxious that the map would render some aid in the campaign is also indicated by the fact that he sent a draft of it to William Shirley, Jr., secretary of General Braddock and son of Governor Shirley, in a packet forward by Richard Peters on May 12’.

Early conflict in the Ohio Valley
With the foundation of the Ohio Company in 1748 and the Loyal Company of Virginia the following year, there was an increase in English colonial activity in the Ohio region. Responding, the French under Charles Michel de Langlade drove five British traders from Pickawillany [marked on the map near ‘Piques’] in 1752. The new Governor Duquesne of New France had forts built at Presque Isle and Le Boeuf by Lake Erie enabling a 15-mile portage to the headwaters of the Allegheny River and thence the Ohio River. Further downstream they also took the English trading post of John Frazier at Venango [Wenango].

Governor Dinwiddie of Virginia sent a 21-year old George Washington to Fort le Boeuf via latter-day Pittsburgh and Venango to warn the French to withdraw from territory claimed by Virginia. He was told politely but firmly that the French would not be moving. In January 1754 Governor Dinwiddie instructed a fort be built at the junction of the Forks of the Ohio (present day Pittsburgh). On the 17 April, before it was completed, the French captured it and sent the Virginians home. They then built Fort Duquesne on the site; this is not yet placed on our proof map.

Lieutenant Colonel Washington, second in command to Colonel Joshua Fry, had been sent out to protect the builders of the English fort and met them on their return. A small French force nearby was attacked on 27 May killing their commander. Returning to camp, Washington built Fort Necessity and waited for the remainder of the expedition to join him. During his advance Colonel Joshua Fry fell from his horse and died from his injuries on 31 May 1754. Washington assumed command. An attack by the French on the Fort forced Washington to surrender and he retreated to the Ohio Company base at Wills Creek, later Fort Cumberland. Neither yet present on this proof.

Proof map
It is important to remember in the historical context that this map is dated in manuscript by Lewis Evan’s hand ‘May 8 1755’. Four days before a map is forwarded to General Braddock.

The Braddock Campaign
General Edward Braddock was sent to Virginia to command all British troops. He landed at Hampton on 20 February 1755 and amongst his most important goals was to take control of Fort Duquesne. On 17 April Braddock leaves Alexandria for Fort Cumberland. Braddock takes half of the forces via the route to the north of the Potomac River; the remainder take one to the south of it.

On the 19 April Braddock writes Lord Cumberland saying that what he thought was just 15 miles from Fort Cumberland to Fort Duquesne is more like 60-70. When he this Evans proof map he would find it to be 113 miles!

On 30 April Braddock reaches the Conococheaque River, shown in manuscript on the map. On 1 May he crosses the Potomac River at Watkin’s Ferry, again shown in manuscript on the map.

On the 5 May Washington writes to William Fairfax stating that both he and Braddock have reached Winchester, again recorded in manuscript on the map with a note recording it is 30 miles from Watkins Ferry. The following day Braddock and possibly Washington are recorded at Lord Fairfax’s house, again in manuscript on the map.

On 10 May Braddock arrives at Fort Cumberland and names Washington as his aide-de-camp.

On the 12 May Richard Peters, a Pennsylvania official, sends a packet including a map [this map] to Braddock along with the wagons of supplies that Benjamin Franklin has helped organise.

The supply wagons with this map arrive at Fort Cumberland on the 21 May. William Shirley writes to Governor Morris of Pennsylvania that he has received the Evans map and that ‘It is owing to my Hurry of Business that there are not many more Names to it. I may very probably send some before we move from hence’. It is possible those names added may well be those in manuscript on this map. On 29 May the army departs for Fort Duquesne.

Battle of Monongahela or Braddock’s Defeat
On 9 July, the two forces met at a point about 10 miles east of Fort Duquesne. The terrain favoured frontier fighting and the British adhered to military discipline. The battle epitomised the closed British Military minds who thought they knew better than the colonials how to fight in the frontier. Despite being outnumbered the French and Indian forces inflicted severe losses on the British. Hours into the battle Braddock suffered a gunshot to the lung and the British began their withdrawal. He died as did William Shirley who was scalped. Washington took charge off the withdrawal organising a rear guard. They buried Braddock in the road with their retreating wagons riding over it to disguise his location. His remains were found in 1913 and moved to a monument nearby.

Lewis Evans’ map
Evans drew on both original source material and recently published surveys to compile his map (notably the Fry & Jefferson … ‘VIRGINIA’, 1753, which Evans acknowledges in an engraved note at the bottom of his map). From the ‘Analysis’ published later, we learn that the colonies of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, and Delaware are taken from his own map of 1749, improved. He further notes that the expansion of coverage to include the Ohio Valley, Lake Ontario, and part of New France was necessary for a better understanding of the region in order that the French be more easily dispossessed. Much of the ‘Analysis’ is given to a detailed description of the countryside and its topography, the history of discovery and travel within the region, the nature of the Indian Confederacy, and a warning regarding Indian and French cooperation. Credit is consistently given to the various other travellers and mapmakers who contributed to the production of this remarkable map.

Evans was among the most active and competent of early American map-makers – an experienced surveyor who produced many important surveys in Pennsylvania. His first published works are found in ‘A Bill in Chancery …’, 1747, the record of an early New Jersey land dispute, and were also the earliest examples of his cooperation with James Turner. Turner is one of America’s leading early engravers, being responsible for several large and elaborately engraved maps & charts, notably Nicolas Scull’s map of Pennsylvania, 1759, Joshua Fisher’s chart of Delaware Bay, 1756, and two large and important charts of maritime Canada.

Rarely, if ever, has a piece of an important eighteenth-century map’s publication story been preserved or offered for sale. This is a unique opportunity to be a part of Lewis Evans’ decision-making process and the cultivation of his map towards its final version. The present map was struck from the plate as a working proof-state, the general cartography is laid down, but the finishing details are all lacking, most notably Evans’ own engraved name, the engraver James Turner’s name, cartouches and insets, tables, anecdotes and the publishing imprint. Virtually all the major place names and toponyms seen on the finished map do not appear. Several of these names are filled in manuscript, the distance tables lower right and below is an ink signature: ‘Lewis Evans … May 8, 1755’.

Here we have the maker of an eighteenth-century American map literally signing off on the work-in-progress printing of his map, which would go on to have historic implications. It is printed a month and a half before final publication on 23 June 1755. It is an ARTIFACT as much as it is a map, the sort of item generally deemed impossible, or at least improbable to survive to modern times.

Provenance: Ex Philadelphia c.1990; private American collection; Swann Galleries, New York, 6 June 2019 lot 63. Gipson, Lawrence Henry (1939) ‘Lewis Evans’ pp. 67-68; Henderson, Archibald (1931) ‘Dr. Thomas Walker and the Loyal Company of Virginia’; Klinefelter, Walter (1971) ‘Lewis Evans and His Maps’; Schwartz & Ehrenberg (1980) p. 162; Smith, Thomas H. (1977) ‘The Mapping of the Ohio’; Stevens, Henry. (1924). ‘Lewis Evans his map of the Middle British Colonies in America: a comparative account of eighteen different editions published between 1755 and 1814’; Wheat & Brun (1978) no. 298.
EVANS, Lewis

A General Map of the Middle British Colonies, in America; viz Virginia, Mariland, Delaware Pensilvania, New-Jersey New-York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island of Aquanishuonigy, the Country of the Confederate Indians Comprehending Aquanishuonigy Proper, their Place of Residence, Ohio and Tiiuxsoxruntie Their Deer-Hunting Countries, Couxsaxrage and Skanidarade, Their Beaver-Hunting Countries; Of the Lakes Erie, Ontario and Champlain, and Part of New-France Wherein is Also Shewn the Antient and Present Seats of the Indian Nations

Philadelphia, 8 May 1755
A PREVIOUSLY UNDISCOVERED PROOF OF THE LEWIS EVANS MAP, BELIEVED TO BE THE EXAMPLE ACCOMPANYING GENERAL BRADDOCK’S CAMPAIGN. A CARTOGRAPHIC ARTIFACT FROM THE FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR. 495 x 645 mm. (sheet size 520 x 680 mm.), engraved map with contemporary manuscript additions, early outline colour, with old folds, backed on later linen, age toned, small losses the fold intersections, with good margins, with the initials ‘RBA’ in early ink visible through linen on verso and signed ‘Lewis Evans … … May 8, 1755’ in manuscript lower right.
Stock number: 9740


Send us your name and email address.
We'll add you to our subscriber list and alert you to new catalogues and similar news