Map of Louisiana and the Course of the Mississippi (Eastern America) (First naming of New Orleans on a map of America) [Carte de la Louisiane et du cours du Mississipi]


Product No. delisle-second-state

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Guillaume de l'Isle (Delisle)

This early map of America was done by Guillaume de l’Isle (Delisle) and entitled “Carte de la Louisiane et du cours du Mississipi.” This was published by Guillaume De L’Isle in Paris in 1718.

“Geographically, politically, and historically this is one of the most important maps of the Mississippi Valley. Quickly copied, widely referred to, it was the chief authority for the Mississippi River for over fifty years…” (Cumming et al, p. 156)

This is the second state of Delisle’s map of Louisiana. It is the first map of America to name New Orleans after it was founded in 1718 (absent to the first state of the map). The map is essential to the history of cartography in the United States and one of the most important of North America. It influenced many later maps made by Homann, Moll, Senex, Seutter, and more. “This map is the mother and main source of all the later maps of the Mississippi.” (J. G. Kohl) “One of the most important mother maps of the North American continent.” (William P. Cumming)

It was the first detailed map of the Louisiana Territory and Mississippi River region. The first state of the map was the first map to indicate Texas (Mission de los Teijas established in 1716). “This marked the first appearance of a form of the name Texas on a printed map, so Delisle is credited with establishing Texas as a geographic place name.” (Martin & Martin) The map also marks the land routes of explorers including De Soto in 1539 and 1540, Moscoso in 1542, Cavelier in 1687, Tony in 1702, and Denis in 1713. It also also marked two newer settlements founded in 1705 in New Mexico, S. Maria de Grado and S. Phelipe d’Albuquerque, as well as the Natchitoches on the Red River, founded in 1717. The map marked several French and English settlements, locations of mines, ethnographic information, and more. It also alludes to conflict amongst the Native Americans with a stretch along the Texas coast reading “Indiens errands et Antropophages” or “Wandering Indians and Cannibals.”

The map had political implications as well in offense of the English as the map claimed Carolina was “so named in honor of Charles by the French who discovered it, took possession of it and settled it in the year 15 …” Delisle may have only intended this as a historical note, but New York Governor William Burnet wrote in a letter that “all Carolina is in this New Mapp taken into the French Country and in words there said to belong to them.” (Cumming 21) His earlier maps from 1700-1703 emphasized the holdings of Spain in vast territories of “Floride” and “Nouveau Mexique”. This map both were replaced to credit René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle’s 1682 French claim of the Mississippi watershed. He titles “La Louisiane” across the map with a line at the Appalachians in the east and Red River in the west. He leaves the British Colonies and Spain with the Rio Grande Valley but no claim to Florida.

Guillaume de l’Isle (1675-1726) was son of a cartographer and a pupil of Jean Dominique Cassini, who among other important contributions, aligned the study of astronomy to the study of geography. Under Cassini’s direction, observations were made from locations all over the world that enabled longitudinal calculations to be made with much greater accuracy. De l’Isle carried on this exacting work with remarkable dedication and integrity, constantly revising and improving his maps. While precision was his primary goal, his maps are invariably elegant and attractive. He also served as the Royal Geographer to the King of France.

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