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1794 Wilkinson Map of the United States

A Map of the United States of America, with Part of the Adjoining Provinces from the latest Authorities. - Main View

1794 Wilkinson Map of the United States


Shows the North Carolina land grants that presaged the formation of Tennessee.


A Map of the United States of America, with Part of the Adjoining Provinces from the latest Authorities.
  1794 (dated)     9 x 11 in (22.86 x 27.94 cm)


An unusual and ephemeral 1794 first edition map of the United States by Robert Wilkinson. Wilkinson's map covers the United States from the Mississippi River to the Atlantic seaboard and from the Great Lakes and Canada to Florida, which at the time was a Spanish possession. Beautiful original color work defines political regions.

This map is most interesting for its treatment of western North Carolina and modern day Tennessee. In 1777 North Carolina took control of her largely unsettled western territories, which included all of modern day Tennessee, from the Crown and created a system of Land Grants by which to distribute these properties. The American Revolutionary War left state of North Carolina nearly bankrupt. Legislators in North Carolina looked to its already established land grant system to compensate is soldiers and raise money for the state budget. Virginia, which also claimed some of North Carolina's western lands also began issuing grants for the same territory. Various disputes ensued until, in 1786, two years after Wilkinson drew this map, the state of Tennessee was created. Tennessee's statehood forced both Virginia and North Carolina to give up their claims to the region, effectively turning over the Land Grant process to the Federal Government.

Also of interest is Wilkinson's treatment of the western parts of the United States, including a vast Western Territory extending from western Georgia, around a proto-Tennessee, northwards as far as the Great Lakes, and eastward as far as Pennsylvania and Virginia. At the time this only tentatively explored region was dominated by various powerful and populous American Indian nations including the Choctaws, Muskogee, Chickasaw, Illinois, Miami, Cherokee, and others. Soon these lands would be organized by the Federal government into territories and eventually new states, a process which would eventually lead to the early 19th century displacement of the various indigenous peoples know as the Trail of Tears.

Maine, far to the north, is identified as 'Belonging to the Massachusetts Bay.' Following the Revolutionary War Maine was treated as an enclave of Massachusetts. During the War of 1812 Massachusetts failed to protect Maine from British attempts to establish a colony there called New Ireland. Though the British were ultimately driven out, the failure of the Massachusetts militia led to general bitterness towards Massachusetts and calls for Maine's statehood – which were answered in 1820.

This colorful map was published in 1794 by R. Wilkinson of no. 58 Cornhill, London for issued in the first edition of Wilkinson's General Atlas.


Robert Wilkinson (fl. c. 1758 - 1825) was a London based map and atlas publisher active in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Most of Wilkinson's maps were derived from the earlier work of John Bowles, one of the preeminent English map publishers of the 18th century. Wilkinson's acquired the Bowles map plate library following that cartographer's death in 1779. Wilkinson updated and retooled the Bowles plates over several years until, in 1794, he issued his first fully original atlas, The General Atlas of the World. This popular atlas was profitably reissued in numerous editions until about 1825 when Wilkinson died. In the course of his nearly 45 years in the map and print trade, Wilkinson issued also published numerous independently issued large format wall, case, and folding maps. Wilkinson's core cartographic corpus includes Bowen and Kitchin's Large English Atlas (1785), Speer's West Indies (1796), Atlas Classica (1797), and the General Atlas of the World (1794, 1802, and 1809), as well as independent issue maps of New Holland (1820), and North America ( 1823). Wilkinson's offices were based at no. 58 Cornhill, London form 1792 to 1816, following which he relocated to 125 Frenchurch Street, also in London, where he remained until 1823. Following his 1825 death, Wilkinson's business and map plates were acquired by William Darton, an innovative map publisher who reissued the General Atlas with his own imprint well into the 19th century. More by this mapmaker...

Thomas Conder (1747 - June 1831) was an English map engraver and bookseller active in London during the late 17th and early 18th centuries. From his shop at 30 Bucklersbury, London, Conder produced a large corpus of maps and charts, usually in conjunction with other publishers of his day, including Wilkinson, Moore, Kitchin, and Walpole. Unfortunately few biographical facts regarding Conder's life have survived. Thomas Conder was succeeded by his son Josiah Conder who, despite being severely blinded by smallpox, followed in his father's footsteps as a bookseller and author of some renown. Learn More...


Wilkinson, R., A General Atlas being A Collection of Maps of the World and Quarters the Principal Empires, Kingdoms, and C. with their several Provinces, and other Subdivisions Correctly Delineated., (London) 1794 First Edition.    


Very good. Minor marginal soiling. Original platemark visible. Blank on verso.