1817 Thomson Map of the Southeastern United States: Georgia, Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky

Southern Provinces of the United States.

1817 Thomson Map of the Southeastern United States: Georgia, Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky


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Southern Provinces of the United States.
  1817 (dated)    20 x 23.5 in (50.8 x 59.69 cm)     1 : 3000000


A scarce first edition of John Thomson's 1817 map of the southeastern part of the United States. The map covers from the Mississippi River eastward to the Atlantic, extending north as far as Lake Erie, and south to northern Florida and the Mississippi River Delta. The states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia are illustrated in full while Ohio, Illinois, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi have yet to appear as either states or territories. Florida was not yet part of the United States but would join 3 years after this map was printed in 1819. Thomson prepared this map during a transitional period of expansion shortly following the American Revolutionary War and is among most thorough treatments of this region prior to the U.S. Government Surveys. One oddity worth noting is the peculiar mountain range in northern Ohio - an area that is in reality quite flat. An inset in the upper left corner declares itself typical of the Hudson River and bears some resemblance to the Palisades.

This map is particularly interesting for its detailed treatment of American Indian activity between the Mississippi and the Appalachian Mountains. American Indian nations are noted throughout, including the Creek, Seminole, Apache, Choctaw and Chickasaw, among others. Hunting grounds, villages and fortifications are also identified, sometimes accompanied by the date on which they were destroyed. Thomson additionally identifies the Wabash Company, the Jersey Company and the Illinois Company - joint stock ventures formed during the colonial period to acquire, sell, and colonize American Indian lands. Along these commercial lines, some coal mines are also noted on the Illinois River.

This is the first edition of Thomson's southeastern United States map from the 1817 edition of the General Atlas. Though the first edition of Thomson's General Atlas was published in 1814, it did not contain this map, which was initially issued in the 1817 edition. A subsequent edition appeared in 1826.


John Thomson (fl. 1804 - 1837) was a Scottish cartographer, publisher and bookbinder active in Edinburgh during the early part of the 19th century. Thomson is generally one of the leading masters of the Edinburgh school of cartography which flourished from roughly 1800 to 1830. Thomson & his contemporaries (Pinkerton & Cary) redefined European cartography by abandoning typical 18th century decorative elements such as elaborate title cartouches and fantastic beasts in favor of detail and accuracy. Thomson's principle works include the Thomson's New General Atlas, published from 1814 to 1821 and his Atlas of Scotland. The "Atlas of Scotland, a work of groundbreaking detail and dedication would eventually bankrupt the Thomson firm in 1830. Today Thomson maps are becoming increasingly rare as they are highly admired for their monumental size, vivid hand coloration, and superb detail.


Thomson, J. A New General Atlas, (Edinburgh) 1817.    


Very good. Some offsetting. A couple of minor discolorations.


Rumsey 1007.063. Newberry Library: Ayer 135 T4 1817 no. 57. New York Public Library, Map Division, Map Div. 00-373.