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4 new Maf of the United States of -America, including fart of Louisisiania. Drawn from the latest authorities, Boston, published and sold by John Sullivan, jun. 1806.
The science of geography owes its progress to the assistance of maps, as in a less degree history is indebted to painting ; for of the senses the eye is the most important, and the objects it embraces in the acquisition of knowledge are most extensive. The ideas received through this medium are generally clear and distinct ; the impressions they make are strong and lasting, and seldom require an after operation of the mind to connect or arrange them. It comprehends at once all the proportions, numbers, and divisions of a painting, or piece of architecture ; the beauties are equally stamped upon the mind, and time, although it may weaken, can never obliterate the images.
These reflections were suggested by inspecting the new map, lately presented to the American publick, by Mr. John Sullivan, jun. It comprehends, on a sheet of 4 by 4+ feet, the whole of the United States, with part of Louisiana, the Floridas, and part of the British provinces of Canada, and furnishes a very distinct and valuable exposition of the political divisions and boundaries of the states.
To give an exact and comprehensive map of the United States was certainly a great and laudable undertaking, and such as the publick, if well executed, ought to encourage by something more than an affectation of patronage. The small maps in Morse's Gazetteer, the scarcity of Bradley’s and the dearness of Arrowsmith's, and the
progress of civilization and improvement towards our Western frontiers, rendered the publication of the new map peculiarly interesting. Gazetteers are serviceable to show with facility the qualities of soil, institutions, population, climates, productions, arts, manners, and customs of different countries; but we must look to maps for their relative situations, and the connexion, that one district or territory has with another, the extent, situation,and direction of rivers, mountains, &c. In the compilation of a map, made up of different surveys and descriptions of small sections of the country, difficuities and embarrassments occur, which are not obvious to a cursory observer. By diminishing large, and protracting small maps of the several states and territories, and comparing the variable surveys and correcting the anomalies, which are found in them, the publisher is liable to commit many errours, and becomes, in a great measure, answerable for the inaccuracies of his predecessors, whose works he is obliged to join and associate to form an aggregate of the whole. Nor are the materials easily obtained. If he trusts to the numerous small maps in circulation, most of which are extremely defective, his imprudence is inexcusable ; and if he looks for assistance to original surveys, he will generally find them incomplete. Nor can an accurate map of the United States be expected, without efficient aid from government. Maps of some of the states have been published by authority ; but instead of surveyors being employed to fix the exact position of prominent objects, the bearings of which would correct other surveys, the compiler has been obliged to collect plans of towns and small districts, and to make a patch-work whole of these discordant materials. Sometimes it would be necessary to bend or straighten a river, to protract or shorten its course ; but this was not considered of much importance, and, to give the whole a pretty appearance, a range of mountains might be easily added for a boundary line. Nor can we blame the compiler for not going to an expense, that our economical governments will not incur. A society in this town was offered the privilege of making and publishing the maps of Massachusetts and Maine, and they would have had the volunteer assistance of many scientifick gentlemen; but government, by striving to drive too hard a bargain, lost the opportunity of obtaining accurate maps. But we must not expect the encouragement of government to maps, when every seaman complains, that there is not a chart of the extensive shores of New-England, upon which he can rest the safety of his ship. To give a plain delineation of the several states, as a kind of chart, by which we may study the political ties and interests that unite, or ought to unite us, under a general government, must be the greatest advantage resulting from this map. Accuracy in this respect is required, and not a particular location of small and inconsiderable towns. This, as it is not expected, only endangers the credit of the work; and here Mr. SulJivan has hazarded much. In Virginia, for instance, and in Massachusetts and other New-England states, the map appears crowded, and the centres of towns are not noted definitively by small circles, as is usually done in good maps. Had he, therefore, paid less atten
tion to this part, and more explicitly marked the post-roads and towns, which are certainly of great consequence, and perhaps coloured them, he would have turned some of his industry to better account. The meridians and parallels might have been more accurately and truly drawn, and the graver guided by a more skilful hand. The execution should have been under the superintendance of an experienced engraver, rather than, as would seem from its aspect, have been put into the stiff and unpractised hands of an apprentice. It is a pity the valuable labour of two years, spent by the compiler in collecting and arranging so much useful information, should be dressed out with so little taste and skill. The work would have found a more welcome reception, if, in addition to the science of the proprietor, the map had presented a better specimen of the ingenuity and proficiency of Amerlcan engravers. The colouring is neat and judicious, and affords at one glance a better knowledge of the boundaries of the several states, than could be gained by months devoted to study. In some parts omissions and inaccuracies occur, which are not, however, unpardonable. Mountains are laid down in different places, with precision and a good relief; but Monadnock, in New-Hampshire, and Wachusett, in Massachusetts, two great landmarks in New-England, are quite forgotten ; they are not noticed on the map. As longitude is sometimes reckoned from London or Greenwich, and sometimes from Paris, notice ought always to be given, from what meridian we are to count ; but, as the degrees are marked on this map without a reference to the first meridian, we hope a new edition will be supplied, at top or bottom, with “Longitude West from London.” When many sheets are to be joined to form a large map, much care and practice are requisite to make the various lines meet,& unite them correctly. The “New Map of the United States” furnishes evidence, either of the difficulty of this part of the work, or the carelessness of the workmen. We have examined the longitude and latitude of many places, and, from the inquiries we have made, the map is as accurate as can be expected. It would be ungrateful to demand a minute attention to towns and small districts, when the whole Union on so small a sheet is pendent on the walls of our countingrooms and studies. The postroads are laid out with exactness, though indistinctly, and the great rivers of North-America pursue their sinuous courses and empty their mighty waters, where nature has commanded. The Mississippi, Mobile, Missouri, Illinois, and Ohio, all have their proper range, and, with Mr. Sullivan's efforts,
proclaim the value and richness of countries yet untrodden beyond the Appalachian mountains, countries unequalled for agricultural and inland commercial advantages. That section, comprizing Louisiana, is almost a blank ; and such for many years will probably be every accurate representation of that country. Two very valuable tables are placed upon the map. The first shews the number and names of ports of entry in the United States; those being particularly designated, which are such for vessels from and beyond the Cape of Good Hope. The second contains the length and breadth of all the States, with their chief towns, their distance from the city of Washington, and an estimate of the population of the Union. Notwithstanding its imperfections, the new map claims the attention of the publick. It furnishes all the knowledge, which a work of the kind is intended to convey, and perhaps is as accurate as any map of the United States yet published, and may be procured at comparatively small expense.