One of the best, early maps of the American Midwest
COLLOT, GEORGES HENRI VICTOR
Map of the Country of the Illinois. From Voyage dans L’Amerique Septentrionale
14-1/2” x 23-1/2”. Black and white copper-engraving. Fine condition.
This is the best early map for what was known in the 18th century as the Illinois Country. It was one of a number of landmark maps that appeared in Collot’s Voyage dans L’Amerique Septentrionale.
Collot served in the American Revolution under Rochambeau and in 1793 was appointed Governor of Guadeloupe. In 1796, at the request of the French government, he led a secret reconnaissance down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to scout the borderlands between the United States and Spanish Louisiana. In the following year, he returned to France, and wrote his account of the expedition. The maps and text sheets were printed in 1804, but the recent sale of Louisiana to the United States and the death of the author caused publication to be shelved until 1826, when 300 copies of an edition in French and 100 in English appeared.
The Illinois Country was the first extensively settled area in the American Midwest. At the end of the French regime (1763), the region boasted the largest concentration of French subjects outside of the St. Lawrence Valley to the north and the environs of New Orleans to the south. Settlement began in 1703 with the founding of the town of Kaskaskia, which was followed by Fort Chartres in 1718.
The map shows the banks of the Mississippi from its confluence with the Illinois River south to the Kaskaskia in great detail. At the time that Collot’s original manuscript was completed in 1796, the east bank was in the hands of the United States while the east bank was a part of Spanish Louisiana. Many of the settlements and other features shown on the map have long since disappeared beneath urban sprawl or the waters of the Mississippi.
Prominent on the west bank is the settlement of “St. Lewis” (St. Louis), with nearby Carondelet, Florissant and St. Charles. Futher south are St. Genevieve and Bourbon. On the east bank, the map locates Kaskaskia, the “Ruins of the Town and Fort of Chartres,” Bull’s Town, and Cahokia. Scattered across the landscape are other features, such as salt works, a “windmill in ruins,” and “Ancient Indian Tombs”.
See Holland, The Mississippi River in Maps and Views, pp. 58, 65, 70-71.
Inventory No. 8153