First Edition of Lahontan's Influential Map Depicting "Riviere Longue"
"Carte que les Gnacsitares ont Dessine sur ... Carte de la Riviere Longue et de Quelques Autres qui se Dechargent dans le Grand Fleuve Missisipi …", Lahontan, Louis Armand, Baron de
Subject: Colonial Upper Midwestern United States, River Longue
Period: 1703 (circa)
Publication: Nouveaux Voyages de M. le Baron de Lahontan dans l'Amerique Septentrionale
Color: Black & White
26.3 x 11 inches
66.8 x 27.9 cm
This is one of the most influential, and fanciful, maps in American cartographic history. It purports to show the Riviere Longue flowing from the western mountains, home to the Gnacsitares Indians, and connecting to the Mississippi River. On the western side of the mountains is another river, presumably flowing into the Pacific. Lahontan's concept was copied by virtually all 18th century cartographers including Moll, Senex, Popple, and Delisle, thus perpetuating the myth. The map also includes balloon-shaped Lakes Superior and Michigan. This is the scarce first state without a longitudinal scale at the top. Printed on two sheets, joined as issued.
Louis Armand, Baron de Lahontan served ten years in the French military in Canada, was involved in the Indian Wars, and commanded several posts in the west. He traveled extensively in the Wisconsin and Minnesota region and the upper Mississippi Valley. Upon his return to Europe he wrote his enormously popular travelogue, Nouveaux Voyages de M. le Baron de Lahontan dans l'Amerique Septentrionale. In it he embellished his knowledge of the geography of the Great Lakes region, invented Indian tribes, and created several fictions, particularly the River Longue, which he claimed extended from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains. Over twenty editions of his book were published between 1703 and 1741, including editions in French, English, Dutch and German. The immense popularity of the book resulted in his distorted cartography being accepted by several eminent cartographers who incorporated the "Lahontan" concepts into most 18th century maps.
References: Kershaw #298; Verner & Stuart Stubbs #20; Lemmon, Magil & Wiese (LA) #14.
A dark impression, issued folding on bright sheets with light offsetting and a narrow margin at right due to a binding trim.