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.
The first printed map to show the Mississippi River based on European exploration, second edition.
In 1663, the French government in Quebec began a policy to search for furs, minerals, and a shorter route to China. The initial objective was 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 the Jesuit Father 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 River. Continuing south, they discovered the mouths of the Missouri, Ohio, and Arkansas rivers, before turning back out of fear of encountering a 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 the Jolliet and Marquette expedition (see, for example, Schwartz, This Land is Your Land, 76; Fite & Freeman, A Book of Old Maps, 42). This printed version was first adapted for inclusion in Melchisedech 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 upon 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 (“Mitchigami”).
This second edition of the map appeared in the rare 1689 German edition of Hennepin’s Description de la Louisiane, to which Thevenot’s account of Jolliet and Marquette’s expedition was appended. Both editions of the map are rare. The cartography in the second edition is identical to the first, but in the second state the title and one or two legends have been translated from French into Latin.
Burden, The Mapping of North America II, 540; see Heidenreich and Dahl, The French Mapping of North America in the Seventeenth Century, p. 8.
Inventory No. 7638