Friday, February 4, 2011

1772 hand-colored map of West Florida

1772 map by John Lodge is part of the Lighthouse Books, ABAA collection. Please click to enlarge.

We’re at the Miami Map Fair this weekend at the Historical Museum of Southern Florida, so it’s a perfect time to talk maps. The one you see here is particularly interesting. It shows West Florida in 1772. Of course, any student of Florida history knows that most of what the British called West Florida wasn’t Florida at all. Rather it was the coastal parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, with a little sliver by Pensacola thrown in.

Be that as it may, here’s the story of this map. John Lodge was a prolific London mapmaker and highly regarded engraver who produced maps for several publishers who needed them for their books and periodicals. In February 1772, one of Lodge’s clients published his magnificent map titled A Map of Part of West Florida. That is the hand-colored map you see on this page.

The periodical Lodge created this map for was The Gentleman’s Magazine or Monthly Intelligencer (yes, that was the full name), a monthly collection of tidbits and longer articles that the publisher thought might interest the educated classes in London.

An enterprising fellow named Edward Cave started the publication in 1731 and became very wealthy as a result. He was the first to use the term magazine (meaning a storehouse) for a periodical. By the time Cave died in 1754, The Gentleman’s Magazine was quite successful. Cave was succeeded first by his son, Richard and then by David Henry, who was running it in 1772.

When this map appeared it would be four years before the beginning of the American Revolution. The British had high hopes for this new land called Florida that they had acquired from Spain in 1763. They encouraged settlers with incentives of free land and support for growing export crops like indigo, sugar cane and hemp.

New Orleans came under Spanish rule in 1763. It was a thriving city, having been established by the French a half century earlier. But the area that would become Baton Rouge was sparsely populated. Clearly there were plans for development, though. The full name on the map: A Map of Part of West Florida, from Pensacola to the Mouth of the Iberville River, with a View to show the proper Spot for a Settlement on the Mississippi. Comprehensive title.

The Miami Map Fair runs through Sunday. Hope to see you there.

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