Today we are sharing a new addition to our OPG map inventory, John Reid’s General Map of North America Drawn from the Best Surveys. 1795. This map is from John Reid’s 1796 American Atlas, which was only the second atlas to be published in the United States. At the time, Philadelphia was the hub of most US publishing endeavors, but Reid chose to both engrave and produce the map in New York City. He worked with the engraver John Scoles to create this 21 map atlas. Unlike many of the atlases of the early 19th century, which were produced and updated several times over, there is only one edition of Reid’s American Atlas, making the maps within it rare and collectible examples of early American cartography.
This map, and five others in Reid’s “American Atlas”, is a cartographic copy of the America map in William Winterbotham’s “An Historical, Geographical, Commercial and Philosophical View of the American United States…”, a 1785 London published book containing maps by John Russell. The rest of the maps in Reid’s atlas were completely new, although somewhat inspired and influenced by Mathew Carey’s atlas published the year prior.
Cartographically, this map shows the new north-south boundary lines of the fledgling United States. The northeast border is set to the St. Croix River, as a result of the 1795 Jay Treaty between Great Britain and the United States.
In the south, the 1795 Pinckney’s Treaty between Spain and the United States re-negotiated the border between Georgia and Spanish-controlled East and West Florida. This agreement lowered the line back to the 31st parallel north and increased the United States’ access to the Mississippi River and the extremely important trading port of New Orleans.
There is substantial detail along the northwest coast of America, but only a meager amount of information beyond the coast. Reid fails to identify western settlements, peoples, or topographical features. The lone exceptions are the Rocky Mountains, which Reid labels the “Stony Mountains”, and a large, unnamed lake, which is now called Lake Timpanogos, located in present-day Utah.
With the Louisiana Purchase still 8 years in the future, Reid (not-surprisingly) focuses almost all cartographic detail on New Spain, British Canada, and the new United States. The map includes “References to the United States”- a key to the names of the States. Scale for the map is not given.