First Printed Map to Depict the Topography of the Louisiana Purchase
"Louisiana", Arrowsmith & Lewis
Subject: Western North America
Period: 1804 (circa)
Publication: A New and Elegant General Atlas…
Color: Black & White
8 x 10 inches
20.3 x 25.4 cm
This is the first printed map to depict the topography of the Louisiana Purchase. It covers the western part of North America from Canada through most of Mexico. The map is a direct offspring of the notable map drawn a decade earlier when the Spanish Governor of Louisiana hired the services of Antoine Soulard, a surveyor from St. Louis, to make an accurate map of the upper Mississippi and Missouri basins. Wheat says it is important to remember that when Arrowsmith first published this map "no one knew the location of the Mississippi's source, much less where the Missouri took its rise, the extent of its major tributaries, the true nature of the Rocky Mountains or the complexities that they encompassed, not to mention the singular character of the Great Basin, or the vast extent of the Columbia and the Colorado river systems." He continues "it is not too much to say that, until Lewis and Clark's own map appeared in print in 1814, the Soulard map, in the version offered to the public by Arrowsmith and Lewis in 1804, constituted the most ambitious … the most informative published attempt to portray the West and Northwest of what is now the United States." Wheat devotes over four pages of text to this ground-breaking map, which also discusses the maps deficiencies and omissions. Below the title cartouche at upper left is "Drawn by S. Lewis" and "Tanner Sc." This is one of Tanner's earliest works and is a forerunner to many other important maps of the Transmississippi West.
References: Wheat (TMW) #259; Day (TX) p. 9.
There is one small stain in the lower left portion of the image and a manuscript page notation in the top right blank margin.