John Mitchell. A Map of the British and French Dominions in North America with Roads, Distances, Limits and Extend of the Settlements. 1755.
Hand colored. [1st edition, 3rd state]

     This is a large detailed map of North America from Newfoundland to the Gulf of Mexico, and west to the Missouri River. It is the earliest and best large scale survey of American and British colonies, and described by the authority, Colonel Martin of the library of Congress, as “Without serious doubt… the most important map in American history.” Mitchell’s map was present in the House of Commons during the debates regarding the Quebec Act of 1774. It was the only comprehensive map of the theater of War during the American Revolution and was the authoritative cartographical document referred to during the negotiations of peace in Paris in 1782 and 1783. Benjamin Franklin recalled just before his death, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, “ I now can assure that I am perfectly clear in the remembrance that the map we used in tracing the Boundary was brought to the Treaty by the Commissioners from England, and that it was the same that was published by Mitchell 20 years before.” In 1796 John Adams wrote to James Sullivan that “Mitchell’s map was the only one, which the ministers plenipotentiary of the United States and the ministers plenipotentiary of Great Britain made use of in their conferences and discussions relative the boundaries of the United States, in their negotiations of peace in 1783, and of the provisional articles of the 30th November, 1782. Upon that map, and that only, were those boundaries delineated.” Mitchell’s map was hung in the Halls of Congress in 1802. It was used for the purpose of determining land grants in the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys; received official status in the September 29, 1782, Convention between the United States and Great Britain; served as an authoritative document during the Webster-Asburton Treaty of 1842. It was used in 1927 concerning the Canada-Labrador boundary case; the 1926 Wisconsin-Michigan boundary case; the 1926-27 Great Lakes Level case; and the 1932 New Jersey-Delaware boundary case.
     Mitchell, a doctor and botanist of some repute, published his map in 1755 in order to stimulate interest among the British authorities regarding the protection and expansion of British interest in North America. Mitchell saw the expansion of French claims throughout the Mississippi and Ohio River Valley as a direct threat to the welfare of the British Empire. With his map, he published an unsigned pamphlet entitled, The Contest in America between Great Britain and France by an Impartial Hand.
     The compilation of the map began in 1750, greatly aided by Mitchell’s close association with George Dunk, Earl of Halifax. The Earl, to whom the map is dedicated, provided Mitchell with access to voluminous manuscript and printed material collected by the British Board of Trade and the British Admiralty. The astonishing result was an overwhelming improvement in the depiction of natural and human geography of the American continent. Numerous and interesting printed legends add further to historical value of the printed map.

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