- Title: Carte de la Louisiane et du Cours du Mississipi
- Author: Guillaume De L'Isle
- Date: 1718
- Medium: Hand-colored copperplate engraving
- Condition: Very Good Plus - age toning, light wear along issued center fold, modern color
Inches: 26 1/2 x 20 [Image]
- Centimeters: 67.31 x 50.8 [Image]
- Product ID: 316056
This foundational first-state map of Louisiana encompassing much of the present-day United States was published in 1718 by Guillaume De L’Isle (1675-1726), Royal Geographer to the King of France. De L’Isle’s map extends from eastern New Mexico in the west to New York and Montreal in the east, and shows the Gulf Coast stretching from the entrance to the Rio Grande to the west coast of Florida. An inset map in the lower right corner bearing the title Carte Particuliere des Embouchures de la Rivie. S. Louis et de la Mobile [“Special Map of the Mouths of the St. Louis and Mobile Rivers”] shows the coastline spanning from the mouth of the Mississippi to Pensacola, Florida. The map indicates the locations of major settlements, forts, and topographical features, and includes the land routes of major explorers such as de Soto, Moscoso, La Salle, de Leon, and St. Denis, along with the dates of their expeditions.
Controversially, De L’Isle blatantly included Florida within the boundaries of French-controlled Louisiana and showed decreased British territorial holdings along the Atlantic coast. Additionally, the map labels Carolina after its “namesake” King Charles IX of France (1550-1574): ainsi nommez en l’honneur de Charles 9. Par les François qui la decouvirent en prirent possession et si etablirent [“so named in honor of Charles the 9th. By the French who discovered it, took possession of it, and so established”]. In reality, the British were the first Europeans to arrive in the Carolinas, naming the region after their King Charles II (1630-1685). These slights sparked political outrage, prompting the British and Spanish governments to issue their own maps in order to correct such egregious territorial claims.
De L’Isle also alludes to considerable conflict involving Native peoples. A legend beneath the map explains various symbols used to indicate Habitations des Indiens [Indian Dwellings], Nations derangées [disturbed (displaced) Nations], and Nations detruites [destroyed Nations]. Additionally, a broad swath of text along the Texas coast reads Indiens errands et Antropophages: “Wandering Indians and Cannibals.” No doubt the European explorers who had crossed these lands would have seemed incredibly brave to those who saw this map. It is unclear how much of this destruction and displacement can be credited to Europeans, and how much to other Native tribes; south of Lake Erie, De L’Isle notes the destruction of the Nation du Chat (the Erie People) at the hands of the Iroquois.
Significantly, De L’Isle’s Carte de la Louisiane marks the first appearance of any variant of the name “Texas'' on a printed map: a small string of text reading Mission de los Teijas etablie en 1716 appears along the banks of the Trinity River. The map’s immense accuracy in regards to the Mississippi and its tributary rivers cemented it as the region’s prototypical map, a status which it held through the end of the eighteenth century. This resulted in countless derivative maps and plagiarisms which continued to be published years after De L’Isle’s death in 1726.