1783 De L'Isle Map of the United States and Canada
Description: This is the 1783 Dezauche issue of Phillipe Buache and Guillaume D L'Isle's important map of northern North America. The map covers the United States north of the Chesapeake and Canada or New France. De L'Isle first issued this map in 1703. At the time it was the most sophisticated cartographic representation of this region yet published, referencing various elements from the most recent explorations including the Jesuit Relations, Pierre Le Moyne d'Ibervile, Pierre Le Sour, and Baron de Lahonton.
At the close of the American Revolutionary War, in 1783, Dezauche, Buache and De L'isle's successor, redrew the classic 1703 map to represent the new borders between english, Spanish and United States territories established by Treated of Paris. Here the United States territory begins in the northwest at the sources of the Mississippi. The border then extends eastward through the Lake of the Woods to bisect Lake Superior, Huron, eire, and Ontario (leaving Michigan or, as here, 'Lac des Illinois', fully in U.S. territory). eastward of the Great Lakes the border passes northwest along the St. Laurence before cutting east to divide Lake Champlain. It then follows the headlands to the Riviere Sainte-Croix which exits into the Atlantic. To the west the United States border is set along the Mississippi River.
One of this map's most intriguing elements is De L'Isle's treatment of the speculative explorations of the Baron Louis Armand de Lahonton, which dominate the lower left quadrant. Lahonton (1666-1715) was a French military officer commanding the fort of St. Joseph, near modern day Port Huron, Michigan. Abandoning his post to live and travel with local Chippewa tribes, Lahonton claims to have explored much of the Upper Mississippi Valley and even discovered a heretofore unknown river, which he dubbed the Longue River. This river he claims to have followed a good distance from its convergence with the Mississippi. Beyond the point where he himself traveled, Lahonton wrote of further lands along the river described by his guides. These include a great saline lake or sea (ghosted in here) at the base of a low mountain range. This range, he reported, could be easily crossed and from this point further rivers flowed westward to the mysterious lands of the Mozeemleck, and presumably the Pacific. Lahonton's work has been both dismissed as fancy and defended as erroneous speculation by various scholars. Could Lahonton have been describing indigenous reports of the Great Salt Lake? What river was he on? Perhaps we will never know. What we do know is that on his return to europe, Lahonton published his travels in an enormously popular book. Lahonton's 1703 book inspired many important cartographers of his day, Moll, De L'Isle, Popple, Sanson, and Chatelain to name just a few, to include on their maps both the Longue River and the saline sea beyond. The concept of an inland river passage to the Pacific fired the imagination of the French and english, who were aggressively searching for just such a route. Unlike the Spanish, with easy access to the Pacific through the narrow isthmus of Mexico and the Port of Acapulco, the French and english had no easy route by which to offer their furs and other commodities to the affluent markets of Asia. A passage such as Lahonton suggested was just what was needed and wishful thinking more than any factual exploration fuelled the inclusion of Lahonton's speculations on this and many other maps. De L'Isle, to his credit, expresses he doubt about Lahondon's discoveries noting:
Lahonton n'ait invente toutes ces choses ce qu'il est difficule de resoudre dtant le Seul qui a penetre dans ces vastes contrees.As it may be, this map proved highly influential and was one of the best maps of this region until the explorations late 18th and early 19th century. A decorative title cartouche in the upper let quadrant features stylized New World fauna, including a beaver, and missionaries converting indigenous American Indians. This map was published in J. Dezauche's 1789 reissue of G. De L'Isle and P. Buache's Atlas Geographique et Universel.
Lahonton [may have] invented all of these things, which is difficult to resolve as he was the only one to visit these vast lands. [our own translation]
Date: 1783 (dated)
Source: Delisle, G., and Buache, P., Atlas Geographique et Universel, (Dezauche, Paris), 1789.
References: Tooley, R. V., The Mapping of America, p. 20-1, #42. Kershaw, K. A., Early Printed Maps of Canada, 315. Karpinski, L. C., Bibliography of the Printed Maps of Michigan, 1804-1880, p. 40, 47.
Cartographer: The De L'Isle family (fl. c. 1700 - c. 1760) (also written Delisle) were, in composite, a mapmaking tour de force who redefined early 18th century European cartography. Claude De L'Isle (1644 -1720), the family patriarch, was Paris based a historian and geographer under Nicholas Sanson. De L'Isle and his sons were proponents of the school of "positive geography" and were definitive figures, defining the heights of the Golden Age of French Cartography. Of his twelve sons, four, Guillaume (1675- 1726), Simon Claude (1675 - 1726), Joseph Nicholas (1688 - 1768) and Louis (1720 - 1745), made a significant contributions to cartography. Without a doubt Guillaume was the most remarkable member of the family. It is said that Guillaume's skill as a cartographer was so prodigious that he drew his first map at just nine years of age. He was tutored by J. D. Cassini in astronomy, science, mathematics and cartography. By applying these diverse disciplines to the vast stores of information provided by 18th century navigators, Guillaume created the technique that came to be known as "scientific cartography", essentially an extension of Sanson's "positive geography". This revolutionary approach transformed the field of cartography and created a more accurate picture of the world. Among Guillaume's many firsts are the first naming of Texas, the first correct map of the Mississippi, the final rejection of the insular California fallacy, and the first identification of the correct longitudes of America. Stylistically De L'Isle also initiated important changes to the medium, eschewing the flamboyant Dutch style of the previous century in favor of a highly detailed yet still decorative approach that yielded map both beautiful and informative. Guillaume was elected to the French Academie Royale des Sciences at 27. Later, in 1718, he was also appointed "Premier Geographe du Roi", an office created especially for him. De L'Isle personally financed the publication of most of his maps, hoping to make heavy royalties on their sales. Unfortunately he met an untimely death in 1728, leaving considerable debt and an impoverished child and widow. De L'Isle's publishing firm was taken over by his assistant, Phillipe Buache who became, posthumously, his son in law. The other De L'Isle brothers, Joseph Nicholas and Louis De L'Isle, were employed in the Service of Peter the Great of Russia as astronomers and surveyors. They are responsible for cataloguing and compiling the data obtained from Russian expeditions in the Pacific and along the northwest coast of America, including the seminal explorations of Vitus Bering and Aleksei Chirikov. The De L'Isles, like their rivals the Vaugondys , must be considered speculative geographers. Speculative geography was a genre of mapmaking that evolved in Europe, particularly Paris, in the middle to late 18th century. Cartographers in this genre would fill in unknown areas on their maps with speculations based upon their vast knowledge of cartography, personal geographical theories, and often dubious primary source material gathered by explorers and navigators. This approach, which attempted to use the known to validate the unknown, naturally engendered many rivalries. The era of speculatively cartography effectively ended with the late 18th century explorations of Captain Cook, Jean Francois de Galaup de La Perouse, and George Vancouver. Click here for a list of maps by the De L'Isle (Delisle) family.
Cartographer: Phillipe Buache (1700 - 1773) was a late 18th century French cartographer and map publisher. Buache began his cartographic career as the workshop assistant and apprentice to the important and prolific cartographer Guillaume de L'Isle. Upon De L'Isle's untimely death, Buache took over the publishing firm cementing the relationship by marrying De L'Isle's daughter. Over the years, Bauche republished many of De L'Isle's maps and charts. Buache was eventually appointed Premier Geographe du Roi, a position created-for and previously held by Guillaume de L'Isle. Buache is most respected for his introduction of hachuring as a method from displaying underwater elevation on a two dimensional map surface. Buache compiled maps based upon geographic knowledge, scholarly research, the journals of contemporary explorers and missionaries, and direct astronomical observation. Nevertheless, even in 18th century Paris geographical knowledge was severely limited - especially regarding those unexplored portions of the world, including the poles, the Pacific northwest of America, and the interior of Africa and South America. In these areas the Buache, like his primary rival Robert de Vaugondy, must be considered a speculative geographer or 'positive geographer'. Speculative geography was a genre of mapmaking that evolved in Europe, particularly Paris, in the middle to late 18th century. Cartographers in this genre would fill in unknown areas on their maps with speculations based upon their vast knowledge of cartography, personal geographical theories, and often dubious primary source material gathered by explorers and navigators. This approach, which attempted to use the known to validate the unknown, naturally engendered many rivalries. Buache's feuds with other cartographers, most specifically Didier Robert De Vaugondy, resulted in numerous conflicting papers being presented before the Academie des Sciences, of which both were members. The era of speculatively cartography effectively ended with the late 18th century explorations of Captain Cook, Jean Francois de Galaup de La Perouse, and George Vancouver. Buache was succeeded by his nephew Jean-Nicholas Buache de Neuville. Click here for a list of rare maps from Phillipe Buache.
Cartographer: Jean-Claude Dezauche (fl. c. 1780 - 1838) was a French map publisher active in Paris during the first half of the 19th century. Dezauche's business model focused on editing and republishing the earlier maps of Phillipe Buache and Guillaume de L'Isle, which he acquired from Buache's heir, Jean Nicholas Buache, in 1780. Like Bauche and Dezauche held a position with the Depot de la Marine and his name many of their maps. Jean-Claude Dezuache eventually passed his business to his son, Jean André Dezauche. Click here for a list of maps by Jean-Claude Dezauche.
Size: Printed area measures 26 x 20 inches (66.04 x 50.8 centimeters)
Condition: Very good. Original centerfold. Original pressmark visible. Blank on verso.
Printable Info Sheet
Code: UnitedStatesCanada-delisle-1783 (to order by phone call: 646-320-8650)