Marvellous counties and lands
Who Discovered Florida?
Historical Data Concerning Florida
The Gulf Stream
Collecting Old Maps
Map Printing Methods
Latitude and Longitude
Exhibition Checklist


"Marvellous countries and lands"
Notable Maps of Florida, 1507-1846

Ralph E. Ehrenberg

First Images | Spanish Florida | French Florida
English Carolina-Spanish Florida Borderland Disputes
East and West Florida

Floridae america provinciae; recens & exactissima descriptio, 1591.

Floridae america provinciae; recens & exactissima descriptio, 1591.

On October 31, 1998 Senator John Glen and the crew of Space Shuttle 'Discovery' photographed the peninsula of Florida from a point high above Cuba. 'Discovery's' dramatic space-age map-like photograph, "Florida from Space," vividly captures the beauty and potential of the Florida peninsula that inspired generations of explorers and mapmakers.1 While such a view is familiar to most persons throughout the world today, the map of Florida was not always so easily defined or known. Historically, it has varied significantly in size and shape. Emerging in sixteenth-century European consciousness as an unidentified landmass on maps of the Western Atlantic, the map of Florida eventually encompassed the southern quarter of the North American continent, extending from the Atlantic Coast to the border of Mexico before receding to its current configuration.

First Images

The earliest cartographic images of Florida are shrouded in mystery. While the first documented map of the Florida peninsula did not appear until 1519, tantalizing earlier images of an unidentified triangular-shaped promontory are suggestive. This feature appeared on the first maps documenting the discoveries of the New World by Christopher Columbus, boldly jutting from an unknown landmass toward the island of Cuba. Does it really represent the Florida peninsula? Some scholars believe that it meets the test of authenticity. The triangular-shaped outline adheres to the actual coastal geography of the Florida peninsula. Shoreline toponomy also suggests a Florida connection, including such descriptive place names as Rio de las palmas, c[abo] de martires [the earliest reference to the Florida Keys], Rio de las almalias [a Spanish-Arabic word for dugout boat or canoe], and Rio de largartos [alligator]. Other scholars' vehemently disagree. They argue convincingly that it really depicts the Chinese peninsula of Mangi, mirroring Columbus' own conviction that he reached the Asian mainland. Or that it shows the Yucatan Peninsula! Or the southern coastline of Cuba! It remains one of the great puzzles of the Age of Discovery since the southeastern coast of the United States was not formally sighted for another decade. Knowledge of the Florida coastline, however, could have been acquired through undocumented Portuguese expeditions, Spanish slave raids, or Indian reports.2

The map that carried this image to the farthest corners of Europe was Martin Waldseemüller's great wall map (see exhibit #4) entitled Universalis Cosmographia Secundum Ptholomaei Traditionem Et Americi Vespucii Alioruque Lustrationes. (A Drawing of the Whole Earth According to the Tradition of Ptolemy and the Voyages of Amerigo Vespucci and Others) It is known as the map that named "America," a name given by Waldseemüller in honor of the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci whom he believed discovered the Southern Hemisphere. Waldseemüller, and a small group of German clerics and humanists, prepared this map in the present French city of Saint Dié under the patronage of Duke René of Lorraine. The Saint Dié center of cartography produced a series of geographical publications and maps illustrating Spanish and Portuguese overseas discoveries. Waldseemüller's information about the New World was obtained from a Portuguese planisphere or world map and from the writings of Vespucci who had explored the South American coast on several occasions. Measuring nearly four by seven feet, Waldseemüller's map was published in Strassburg in 1507 from twelve separate wood blocks. It was the first world wall map to be printed. Copies were mounted on library and counting house walls throughout Northern Europe, providing countless Europeans with their first images of a new continent named America and a Florida-type peninsula located north of Cuba. Only one copy survives today out of the one thousand that were printed. The Library of Congress has recently acquired it.

Waldseemüller and his Saint Dié colleagues published two more maps that display this Florida-like peninsula, a map of the New World (Strassburg, 1513) and a sea chart of the world, (Strassburg, 1516). Responding to new information about Spanish discoveries, Waldseemüller made two major changes to his depiction of the New World. The name "America" was replaced by the terms Terra Incognita and Terra Nova, and a map note credits Columbus rather than Vespucci with being the original discoverer of the Southern Continent. Waldseemüller also provided for the first time a name for the Florida-like peninsula. The name, which appears on his sea chart, is Terra De Cuba Asiae Partis, reflecting the continuing confusion associated with this feature.

Northern European map publishers continued to use this Portuguese-German image until the mid-1530s. Of course, Waldseemüller's effort to rename America for Columbus was a failure. The power of maps to perpetuate names proved too strong. Some four hundred years after Waldseemüller and his colleagues christened "America," another attempt was made to eradicate the memory of this effort. In 1945 the Nazi military governor of the present French town of Saint Dié had the building on the site where the naming took place blown up before advancing GI's could liberate it.3

Karte des Mexikanischen Golfes (nach Pineda?),

Karte des Mexikanischen Golfes (nach Pineda?),
ca. 1519 (1991).

Legendary places and mythical kingdoms were powerful stimulants during the sixteenth century as conquistadors and missionaries pushed northward from Mexico City and the Caribbean Islands, the twin jumping-off points of Spanish discovery and exploration in North America. In the American southwest it was the imaginary Seven Cities of Cibola and Gran Quivira that propelled them northward, in the southeast the fabled island of Bimini. Bimini was the Lucayan name for an island that local Indians reported had miraculous spring waters with restorative powers. In the European mind these waters became associated with a venerable and widespread legend of the fountain of youth. Legend and fact merged in 1511. In that year Bimini and Florida were linked in an untitled woodcut map of the West Indies published in Seville by a member of the Spanish royal staff, the Italian Peter Martyr (Pietro Martire d'Anghiera), an important chronicler of early New World voyages. Near the top of his map and located north of Cuba, Martyr's cartographer, Andrés Morales, drew a short, wavy line to represent a coastline that he labeled isla de beimeni parte. Some scholars believe that this line represents the southern coast of Florida, derived perhaps from undocumented maps prepared by one of Columbus' Indian guides or by illegal slave traders and adventurers. Martyr supported this notion with a note engraved on the verso of the map. "At the north [of Cuba] there have been discovered marvellous [sic] countries and lands, of which, on the recto see the engraved representation." The map also depicts two unnamed features closely associated with Florida. Douglas Peck, an experienced local maritime navigator, has identified these features as the Dry Tortugas and the Great Bahama Bank. Although Morales was the chief cartographer of the Spanish royal master map, Spanish officials suppressed this work because it included geographical features they considered state secrets.4

Whatever coastline Morales meant to portray, it quickly became associated with the island of Bimini. Between 1516 and 1526 at least five maps depict a large island with a similar southern coastline in the approximate location of Florida, labeled with various forms of the name Tera Bimini. One is particularly noteworthy. It is a manuscript chart of the Atlantic Ocean drawn about 1519 by Pedro Reinel and his son Jorge, leading Portuguese chart makers during the first decades of the sixteenth century. Generally known as the Miller atlas after the name of its last owner, it is now in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. Apparently commissioned by King Manuel of Portugal as a gift for the French monarch Francis I, Reinel's map illustrates in vivid watercolor the newly discovered island as envisioned by a European artist steeped in the Renaissance tradition. It is enhanced with an elaborate painting by Gregorio Lopes. The focus of the painting is the fabled Fountain of Youth surrounded by towering mountains and tall trees, circling flocks of birds, and a variety of North American animals. According to Wilma George, a zoologist who has studied this map, the animals portrayed include the American brown or black bear, red deer, and "a pale coloured carnivore" she believed represented a coyote.5

In March 1513 Juan Ponce de León set out from Puerto Rico with three ships and a royal license "to proceed to discover and settle the island of Bimini." Instead, the explorer discovered Florida! The expedition sighted the Florida coast during Easter week, near the present Ponce de León Inlet south of Daytona Beach. "Believing that land to be an island," the official Spanish historian Antonío de Herrera later observed, "they nam'd it Florida, because it appeared very delightful, having many pleasant groves, and it was all level; as also because they discovered it at Easter, which . . . the Spaniards called Pasqua de Flores, or Florida [the Feast of Flower at Easter Time].6 During the voyage Ponce de León and his chief pilot Antón de Alaminos also recorded the first observations of the Bahama Channel and the Gulf Stream, the lifeline of the Spanish Empire.

While no cartographic record of the expedition has survived, Ponce de León's concept of Florida as an island found expression on a number of subsequent maps. The most intriguing is a manuscript set of unconventional globe gores discovered among an assortment of drawings by Leonardo da Vinci in the Queen's Collection in Windsor Castle in 1865. One of the gores (see exhibit #5) shows an island named Terra Florida floating in a vast ocean between Cuba and Cathay. If the tentative date of 1515 attributed to this map is correct, it may be considered the first map to include the name Florida.7

The first recorded map depicting Florida as a peninsula (see exhibit #6) was Alonso Alvarez de Pineda's 1519 manuscript sketch of the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Sent to find the mythical route to China, Alvarez and his maritime expedition discovered in its place a contiguous coastline stretching some one thousand miles from the southern tip of Florida to Mexico. In the process, he confirmed the peninsular character of Florida. A note placed within the outline of the peninsula reads in translation, "La Florida said to be bimjnj which was discovered by Juan Ponce." Alverez's geographical concept of the Gulf Coast and Florida reached European readers through a small woodcut map issued with the Nuremberg edition of Hernando Cortés's second letter in 1524. Cortés's map is similar in appearance to the Alvarez manuscript except that only the west coast of the peninsula is depicted. According to Cortés his map was based in part on a map of the Gulf Coast given to him by the great Aztec leader Montezuma.

Top of Page

Spanish Florida

Although Spanish Florida encompassed much of the map of the American South for almost two hundred and fifty years, the Spanish cartographic record is surprisingly meager. A number of factors contributed to this lack of original cartographic production.8 The Spanish Empire in America was territorial in concept but not in practice; it was more concerned with building scattered missions and forts rather than establishing a network of permanent settlements. Spain's chart-making establishment, the Casa de la Contratación, restricted the distribution of its maps to government officials. Finally, no independent map publishing houses emerged in Spain although the few primary maps that found their way to the mass European market were generally published in the Low Countries, then controlled by the Spanish Hapsburgs. While the number of primary maps printed was small, they were widely imitated and broadly distributed. European exploration of Spanish Florida coincided with the emergence of a flourishing European map trade, first in the port cities of Amsterdam, Antwerp, and Leiden, and then Paris and Frankfurt.

The earliest primary map relating to Spanish Florida was the padrón real, the Spanish royal "pattern" or standard chart of world, which was maintained in manuscript form in Seville by the Casa de la Contratación from 1507 onward. The padrón real went through several revisions during the sixteenth century as new information of Spanish discoveries reached Seville. Portuguese cartographer Diego Ribeiro, who had entered Spanish service in 1518, prepared several versions of this chart from 1525 to 1532 in the wake of Ferdinand Magellan's circumnavigation of the globe and Spanish explorations in North America. Additional revisions to the royal standard were made by royal chartmakers Alonzo de Chaves in 1536 and by Alonzo de Santa Cruz in 1542. These maps were the first to show coastal place names on the Florida peninsula. Cape Canaveral, for example, is labeled C. Roxo, on Ribeiro's chart of 1529.

Access was severely restricted but unauthorized copies occasionally found their way into the general map trade. A section pertaining to Florida and the New World, for example, was printed in Italy by Giovanni Battista Ramusio to accompany his book on the Indies (Venice, 1534). Ramusio apparently gained access to a copy of Ribeiro's 1529 planisphere through the Venetian ambassador to Spain.9 The rare Ribeiro-Martyr woodcut, only three examples are known, provides a remarkably accurate portrayal of Florida's coastal outline although it lacks the place names found on Ribeiro's original chart.

Other early printed maps of Spanish Florida based on the padrón real include works by royal chart makers Sebastian Cabot and Diego Gutierrez, and the two leading Dutch map publishers of the sixteenth century, Gerard Mercator and Abraham Ortelius. Mercator's world map (Duisburg, 1569) includes perhaps the first printed references to Cape Canaveral (pt. de cañaveral) and Cape Florida (C. de la Florida). Diego Gutierrez's map of the New World (Antwerp, 1562) is one of the first to designate the continental interior as Florida (Tierra Florida), a departure from the Ribeiro 1529 planisphere. On Ribeiro's map the same region is named Tiera de Garay, after Francisco de Garay, the Jamaican governor who sponsored the Alvarez de Pineda expedition. Engraved by Flemish artisan Hieronymus Lock, Gutierrez's map represents one of the finest examples of the art of metal plate map engraving. It was the largest and most detailed map of the New World to be engraved and published up to that time. While there is little change in the configuration of the Gulf Coast and Florida, major advances are found in the Far West. The Baja Peninsula is delineated and labeled C[ape] California, the first reference to this region and name on a printed map. Gutierrez served as the Pilot-Major of the Spanish hydrographic office from about 1547 to 1554, the time of his death.

A totally different perspective of the Spanish image of Florida is found on world and regional charts associated with the Dieppe school of cartography, a center of Normandy maritime activities noted for its beautifully embellished manuscript charts. Prepared for royal patrons and wealthy merchants, these charts were painted by local artists with colorful landscapes, imaginary animals, and native peoples. In the tradition of portolan charts, they were drawn as viewed looking toward the equator so that the south is at the top of the map of North America when read. The earliest known cartographer working in this tradition was Jean Rotz, the son of a Scottish nobleman working in Dieppe. Following study in Paris, Rotz compiled his manuscript atlas, the Boke of Idrography, for Francis I but then dedicated it to the English King, Henry VIII, for whom he worked from 1542 to 1546. Two Indian wigwams are depicted on the North American continent, their first appearance on a map.10

Hernando de Soto's ill-fated four year overland expedition from Tampa Bay to the Mississippi River Valley from 1539 to 1543 contributed to several notable maps of Spanish Florida. The first to appear was a small regional map, entitled La Florida (see exhibit #10). It was drawn by Spanish royal chartmaker Jerónimo de Chaves and published by Abraham Ortelius (Antwerp, 1584). Scholars believe that Chaves drew primarily from the report of the "Gentleman of Elvas," a de Soto expedition survivor from the province of Elvas, Portugal.11 The Chaves-Ortelius map is an historical document of major significance. It provided Europeans with their first detailed but distorted image of the present southeastern interior of the United States. The lower course of the Mississippi and the Mobile-Tombigbee Rivers are clearly discernable for the first time on a printed map, although they are portrayed in a pattern of interlocking streams that appear greatly distorted and unnatural. According to geographer Louis De Vorsey, this unconventional configuration actually reflects the Native American concept of their transportation system. Indians did not differentiate between waterways and pathways. "To the Indian the overall pathway or route system was the important thing and whether a segment was traveled on foot or in a dugout canoe was incidental."12 In the southeast the Appalachian Mountain chain makes an early appearance although it too is incorrectly depicted, aligned in a northwestern rather than a northeastern orientation. The representation of these major features and the rectangular configuration of the Florida peninsula serve as unique identification markers for this map type. Chaves's map first appeared in the third edition of Ortelius's popular world atlas, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, which went through numerous editions from 1570 to 1724 in Latin, Dutch, French, German, English, and Italian. Many other European map publishers also copied it.

Top of Page

French Florida

A competing model of the map of Florida appeared following efforts by French Huguenots to colonize Spanish Florida in the mid-sixteenth century. Though short-lived, the colonists were virtually annihilated in 1565 by a Spanish armada commanded by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, their cartographic contributions were significant. Two of the leaders, Jean Ribaut and René Laudonnière, explored the St. Johns River and the coast as far north as the mouth of the Savannah River. Ribaut recorded his first impressions of Florida in his book, The Whole & True Discouerye of Terra Florida, which was printed in London in 1563: "It is a thinge inspeakable, the comodities that be sene there and shalbe founde more and more in this incomperable lande, never as yet broken with plowe irons, bringing fourthe thinges according to his first nature, whereof the eternall God endued yt."

Ribaut's pilot, Nicolas Barré, recorded on a manuscript map the names of inlets, rivers, and harbors discovered by the French explorer, many of which found their way onto maps published in Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt.13 Even more significant was a map prepared by Jacque Le Moyne, the artist of the Laudonnière expedition. One of the few survivors of the Spanish massacre, Le Moyne's drawings of Florida Indians and Indian scenes are world famous, but his map is equally valuable to students of history. Entitled, Floridae Americae Provinciae Recens & exactissima descriptio (see exhibit #11), it was engraved by Theodore De Bry for his multi-volume publication Grand Voyages. Although the map was published in 1591, it portrayed the peninsula during its brief existence as a French Colony from 1562 to 1565.

The Florida peninsula was depicted by Le Moyne as a broad triangle with its southern point cut off, a distinctive shape easily recognized on subsequent maps. The most significant addition to the map of Florida is the delineation of the present St. Johns River, named R. de May on the map because it was discovered on May 1. Several prominent interior lakes are also depicted, two of which probably represent present Lake George (Lacus aquae dulcis), indicated as the source of the River May, and Lake Okeechobee (Lacus Insula Sarrope). Le Moyne's map also includes one of the earliest references to the Appalachian mountains (Montes Apalatci), named for a Florida Indian tribe first mentioned in Cabeza de Vaca's narrative of the Pánfilo de Narváez expedition to Florida in 1528. A waterfall drawn near Montes Apalatci may have its origin in Indian legends relating to Niagara Falls.14

Dutch cartographer Cornelis de Jode used the Le Moyne model for his map of North America (Antwerp, 1593), adding the place name St. Augustine (S. Augustino), which was established by Menéndez in 1565. The first map of St. Augustine depicts its destruction by Sir Francis Drake on May 28, 1586 (Leiden, 1588). It was drawn by Baptista Boazio, an Italian mapmaker and artist who had accompanied Drake on his celebrated raid and sacking of Spanish ports in the West Indies. A reduced version of this map which was published to illustrate Walter Bigges' account of Drake's expedition, (Leiden, 1588). Off the coast, the draftsman or engraver depicts a dolphin, copied from a drawing by John White.15

Le Moyne's map was widely imitated and amended as new information about the peninsula reached Europe. The location of Le Moyne's Lacus aquae dulcis was inexplicably relocated by another Dutch mapmaker, Cornelis Claesz. Claesz moved the lake on his large wall map of America (Amsterdam, c. 1602) from its generally correct location in central Florida northward some three hundred and fifty miles to the Southern Appalachians in present Georgia. A corresponding shift was also made for the River May and French coastal place names. The River May is now shown on the Claesz map as flowing in a southeastern rather than northeastern direction. Claesz's depiction of French Florida was copied by Jodocus Hondius on his map of Virginia and Florida that was included in Gerard Mercators' great Atlas sive Cosmographicae (Amsterdam, 1606), an influential and popular work that was printed in twenty editions and four languages from 1606 to 1638.16

Dutch cartographers Johannes de Laet and Hessel Gerritzoon produced a new image of Florida in 1630, one that combined the Spanish and French models. As director and chief cartographer, respectively, of the Dutch West Indies Company, de Laet and Gerritzoon had access to the most recent information concerning the New World. Their map, entitled Florida, et Regiones Vicinae (Leiden, 1630), reflected the latest European concept of Florida. In the interior region of the South, the complex but more accurate river system of the Chaves-Ortelius model has been replaced by two major fan-shaped river systems radiating from the Gulf of Mexico. One is centered on the Bahía del Spíritu Santo, the other on an unnamed bay located at present Apalachee Bay. Five to six rivers flow into each bay. For this information, the cartographers drew upon Garcilaso de la Vega's account of the de Soto expedition, which was not published until 1605.17 The Le Moyne-Claesz model was used for the northern coast region of Florida. The name Tegesta makes its first appearance on this map, replacing the name "Florida" for the Florida peninsula. For the next two hundred Tegesta was the name of choice for the peninsula, although later it came to represent South Florida as the name Cape Florida became associated with Key Biscayne.

This new geography had a long life. Nicolas Sanson , who initiated the French school of cartography, adopted much of it in a futile attempt to reestablish French claims to the region a century after the failure of the Huguenot settlements. Sanson published a series of regional maps of New France and Florida from 1656 to 1700 that designated the present Georgia-South Carolina region as Floride Francois. The practice of naming places and countries to show ownership, "Establishing a Right by Maps" to use a sixteenth century expression, was an accepted custom recognized by all European countries.18 The problem in this instance was that by the mid-sixteenth century English traders and settlers already occupied parts of Carolina. Sanson's map, Nouveau Mexique, et La Floride (see exhibit #16.5)(Paris, 1656), summarizes the French concept of Florida at this critical time in its rivalry with England. Sanson's nephew, Pierre Duval, produced similar maps in 1660 and 1665. These maps show three distinct Floridas: French Florida, Spanish Florida (Floride Espagno), encompassing the region from Texas to Florida, and Tegesta, the present Florida peninsula.

By the turn of the eighteenth century continental Florida was well established in the European mind. The British lord proprietor of Carolina, Governor Archdale, wrote in 1707, "Florida, which begins at Cape Florida, in the Latitude of about 25 . . . runs North East to 361/2, and is indeed the very Center of the habitable part of the Northern Hemisphere."19 The best cartographic representation of Spanish Florida as a continental empire is found on Claude and Guillaume Delisle's Carte du Mexique et de la Floride (Paris, 1703). Based primarily on the maps and reports of Pierre le Moyne, Sieur d'Iberville, governor of Louisiana, who explored the lower Mississippi in 1699 and 1700, it was the first map to accurately portray the Mississippi River and the Gulf Coast from Apalachee Bay to the Mississippi delta.20 The Delisle's, geographers to Louis IV and members of the French Royal Academy of Sciences, revitalized French cartography with their critical analysis of first-hand contemporary source material and their use of the latest scientific techniques.

Over the next thirty years the continental emblem Louisiana gradually replaced the name La Floride on the map of North America as mapmakers came to accept French territorial claims to the region. La Salle's successful journey down the Mississippi River in 1682 and the founding of the city of New Orleans in 1718 split Spanish control of the south. By 1718, Guillaume Delisle's influential Carte de la Louisiane et du Cours du Mississipi (Paris, 1718) shows little trace of Spanish sovereignty or influence in the interior southeast except for the sixteenth century route of de Soto, which Delisle carefully reconstructed from survivor's reports.21 On Delisle's map the geographical entity La Louisiane now encompasses the North American heartland from the Atlantic coast to the Rockies and from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes.

Top of Page

English Carolina-Spanish Florida Borderland Disputes

In 1663, Charles II of England created the colony of Carolina, ending French cartographic efforts to establish French efforts to obtain control of the present Georgia-South Carolina region by the "Right of Maps." Delisle's map of 1718 portrays the English colony of Carolina bounded by the Savannah River, but to the great distress of the British, Delisle credited the naming and initial settling of "Carolina" to the French. A similar battle of maps now emerged with Spain. Constant border warfare along the Florida-Carolina frontier from 1663 onward, and after 1732 the Florida-Georgia frontier, reversed Spanish advances northward. A manuscript map forwarded to Madrid in 1683 by Juan Márquez Cabrera, governor of Florida, Mapa De la Isla de la Florida, shows the location of numerous frontier missions along the coast and across present northern Florida that were being threatened by English incursions into the area.22

By 1739-42, the Spanish frontier had been pushed back to the Altamaha River near the thirty-first degree of latitude, the boundary line established in 1663. For some South Carolinians, however, this line of demarcation was not satisfactory. Cartographers beginning with Captain Thomas Nairne moved the border farther south. A Carolinian Indian trader, Nairne participated in a number of military expeditions against Spanish Florida. "We have these two . . . past years," he wrote in 1702, "been intirely kniving all the Indian Towns in Florida which were subject to the Spaniards and have even accomplished it." Nairne's work is entitled A Map of South Carolina Shewing the Settlements of the English, French, & Indian Nations from Charles Town to the River Missisipi. Apparently prepared while he was being held in a Charles Town, South Carolina prison on trumped up charges of treason, Nairne sent his map to the Secretary of State in London. Eventually Edward Crisp published it as an inset in his large map of the Province of Carolina (London, c. 1711). The most dramatic aspect of Nairne's map is a shift of the Carolina-Florida boundary two degrees (almost one hundred and fifty miles) southward to twenty-nine degrees north latitude. The northern third of Spanish Florida, including St. Augustine, now fell within the boundaries of South Carolina. Nairne appeared to justify this drastic action by noting on the map that there are "no Inhabitants" between the existing boundary "to the Point of Florida." A map note also shows the place near the headwaters of the St. Johns where "the Carolina Indians leave their Canoes when they go to War against the Florideans." Four years after Nairne's map was published the Yamasees burned the Carolinian cartographer at the stake during one of their frontier wars.23

Nairne's southern extension of the Carolina boundary line was given new life in the boundary map dispute with Spain in 1729 with the publication of Herman Moll's map, Carolina (London, 1729). Unlike Nairne's work, however, Moll's map depicts both the twenty-nine and thirty-one degree latitude boundaries. In a map note, Moll states the basis for the British claim of twenty-nine degrees is that it was based on John Cabot's Discoveries of 1498, a voyage that subsequent scholarship does not support. This map was reissued in 1732 and 1736 followed by a German edition by Johann Baptist Homann appearing in 1737 (Nürnburg, 1737). England's most prolific map publisher, the German born Moll advocated British interests with a series of maps of North America from 1715 until his death in 1732.24

The Spanish response to British claims was a large manuscript map prepared by Spanish army royal engineer Antonio de Arredondo, a participant in a Spanish attack against Georgia in 1742, the year the map was prepared. It is entitled Descriptio Geographica, de la parte que los Españoles poseen Actualmente en el Continente de la Florida.25 While Arredondo's map appears to have been copied from Delisle's 1718 map its value lies in the extensive descriptions of Spanish discoveries and settlements. According to Arredondo, Spanish Florida encompassed all of British Carolina.

Top of Page

Special chart of Cape Florida belonging to the 13th Section, 1765.

Special chart of Cape Florida belonging to the 13th Section, 1765.

East and West Florida

At the conclusion of the French and Indian War in1763, Spain ceded Spanish Florida to England in exchange for Cuba. Greatly reduced in size, Spanish Florida was divided into two British provinces, East and West Florida, also known as the Floridas. The division was along the Apalachicola River, the boundary line for the Royal Proclamation of October 7, 1763, a line that extended from the Ohio River to Florida along the watershed of the Appalachian and Allegheny Mountains. Designed to reduce confrontation among Indians and British subjects, the Proclamation line barred English settlement west of the line. East Florida encompassed primarily the Florida peninsula; West Florida the Gulf Coast from the Apalachicola River to the Mississippi River south of the thirty-first degree of latitude, a dividing line also selected, according to the minutes of the Board of Trade, "to allay the suspicions of the western and southern Indians."26 The first information about these new provinces reached the public through popular British magazines such as Gentleman's Magazine and London Magazine. Just weeks after the division of East and West Florida was decided, two maps by John Gibson appeared in Gentleman's Magazine. One, displaying the new provinces, was entitled A Map of the New Governments, of East & West Florida, the other was a map of the British Colonies and the Proclamation Line.27

While Spain primarily viewed the Florida peninsula in strategic terms as a base for the protection and maintenance of its fleet carrying Mexican and Peruvian gold and silver to Seville, the British Crown viewed the two Floridas in economic terms. The British saw them as a safety valve for population and land pressures in the original colonies and for potential markets for business. Settlement, commerce and trade, however, require adequate maps but none existed for East and West Florida in the detail necessary for colonizing. At the suggestion of the London Board of Trade, the British colonies were divided into a northern and southern district with a Surveyor General of Lands appointed to map each district. William Gerard De Brahm was appointed to the dual position of surveyor general of the Southern District and surveyor general of East Florida in 1765 (see exhibit #21)

. De Brahm had served as an engineer to Emperor Charles VII before immigrating to Georgia where he was engaged as a surveyor and cartographer.28 Within the Southern District, the Board of Trade placed the highest priority on mapping Florida, particularly "that part of East Florida which lyes to the South of St. Augustine, as far as the Cape of Florida."29 During the following six years, De Brahm and his associates Bernard Romans, Joseph Purcell and Ferdinand De Brahm surveyed and mapped much of the Florida coast from St. Mary's Inlet toTampa Bay. Many of the maps were published in his book of sailing directions, The Atlantic Pilot (London, 1772). An overview of his work from 1765 to 1770 is found in his Map of the General Surveys of East Florida, encompassing the region between the St. Johns River and the coast from St. Mary's Inlet to Cape Canaveral. More detailed is the Plan of Dartmouth Inlet & Stream, Cape Florida . . . and Sandwich Gulf, which shows present Miami Beach and "Biskaino Island."30

The first attempt to map West Florida in some detail was undertaken by Bernard Romans, De Brahm's assistant and later his severest critic. Following De Brahm's return to England in 1770 after conflicts with Florida Governor James Glen, the governor engaged Romans to survey and map West Florida. A native of Holland, Romans had worked as a surveyor in England's southern colonies for seventeen years, first as De Brahm's deputy and then independently. His major contribution, Chart of the Coast of East and West Florida, was compiled in 1774 but not published until 1781. Engraved in two sections by Paul Revere and Abel Buell, it is the first map of Florida published in the United States. It is a massive work! One section, depicting West Florida and the north half of East Florida, measures two by eight feet; the other, portraying the southern half of East Florida, measures nearly five feet square. Soundings, names of coastal features, explanatory text, and views of two headlands enhance the work. One of two cartouches acknowledges the Marine Society of New York City, a charitable and education association of sea captains that provided financial assistance for engraving the map. Only two copies of this rare map are known, one in the Library of Congress and one at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.31

In 1776 Romans incorporated his surveys as well as those of De Brahms in a more accessible smaller scale work, entitled: A General Map of the Southern British Colonies in America, comprehending North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida . . . (London, 1776). Published by Robert Sayer and John Bennett, this popular map provided the best general view of East and West Florida for two generations, and was widely circulated and copied. The coastline is accurately depicted but the peninsula's interior remains virtually a terrae incognitae. Extending down the center of the peninsula is a spine of mountains, "[T]he Great Sandy Ridge," dividing the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico drainage. The tip of Florida carries two labels: "Old Tegesta" and "The Promontory of Florida."

A number of maps and plans of St. Augustine and Pensacola were also published during this period. Thomas Jefferys' plan of the town and harbor of St. Augustine proved so popular that it was reissued in French by Jacques Nicolas Bellin (Paris, 1768), in Spanish by López de Vargas Machuca (Madrid, 1783), and in Italian (1763). Detailed surveys of the West Florida coast, conducted during the 1770s by Joseph Frederick Wallet Des Barres, were not superceded until the surveys of the United States Coast Survey on the eve of the Civil War.32

Map of the seat of war
Map of the seat of war
in Florida, 1839.

From 1783 to 1819 no new maps of East and West Florida appeared as the two Floridas once again came under Spanish control following the conclusion of the American Revolution. Spanish surveyors such as Vicente Sebastián Pintado compiled regional maps and cadastral plans for large land grants but these remained in manuscript form and did not reach the American or European map trade.33 The Spanish provinces of East and West Florida continued to be shown on new maps of the United States, but their configuration was generally derived from earlier works, particularly Romans map of the Southern British Colonies. In 1794, Laurie & Whittle, for example, issued Romans' map under a new title: A New and General Map of the Southern Dominions Belonging to the United States of America, . . . with the Bordering Indian Countries, and the Spanish Possession of Louisiana and Florida (London, 1794). Similar delineations of the two Spanish provinces are found on maps into the 1820s.

The most historically significant map of the second Spanish period is Abel Buell's New and Correct Map of the United States of North America (New Haven, 1784), which was "Layd down from the latest Observations and best Authority agreeable to the Peace of 1783."34 It is the first map printed in the newly formed United States to show its international boundary with Spanish Florida. The thirty-first degree latitude line was not formally accepted as the boundary line, however, until a decade later with the Treaty of San Lorenzo. Two leading American surveyors, Andrew Ellicott and Thomas Freeman, surveyed and mapped the boundary line from 1798-1800, losing one-fourth of their survey team during the process to disease and accidents. The maps were published with Ellicott's official journal (Philadelphia, 1803).35

John Melish's 1813 map of the southeast is one of the first to show the present boundaries of Florida following the annexation by Louisiana and Mississippi in 1812 of that part of West Florida lying west of the Perdido River. Its full title is A Map of the Southern Section of the United States Including The Floridas & Bahamas Shewing the Seat of War in that Department (Philadelphia, 1813). It was drawn by Melish and engraved by Henry S. Tanner. While the depiction of many of the original States was based on actual surveys, the configuration of Spanish Florida was derived basically from Romans' general map. A major addition, however, was the depiction of the "Gulph Stream" with its "Supposed Limits" sketched by dotted lines. The "velocity" of the stream is shown in "Miles Per hour." Melish incorporated this work into his great map of the United States, an enormous map encompassing the present United States from the Atlantic to the Pacific (Philadelphia, 1816). Melish's large map was revised numerous times. The January 1, 1818 edition was used by United States diplomats to determine the boundary between the United States and Spain west of the Mississippi River during the Adams-Onís Treaty of February 22, 1819.36 Melish, the leading map publisher of his day, laid the foundation for the commercial map trade in the United States.

The Adams-Onís Treaty also ceded the two Spanish Floridas to the United States. The first maps of the new territory, rushed into print using out-of-date copper plates, continued to show both West and East Florida. An example is William Darby's Map of Florida, published jointly by Darby and Benjamin Tanner in Philadelphia. The map is copyrighted March 21, 1821, less than a month following ratification. Although Darby's Map of the State of Louisiana With Part Of The Mississippi Territory, from Actual Survey (Philadelphia, 1816) was a major contribution to geographical knowledge, his map of Florida offered little that was knew. A similar map was drawn by Fielding Lucas, Jr., with the addition of county boundaries. Called the "two county map," it includes the names of the original two counties that were created when Territorial Florida was established, "Escambia" and "St. Johns." Lucas's map was published in Henry C. Carey and Isaac Lea's American Atlas (Philadelphia, 1822), accompanied by extensive geographical and historical notes and observations relating to the new territory. "The country," Lucas observed with respect to its geography, "has been but imperfectly explored."

During the next twenty years private individuals, government officials and Army topographical engineers attempted to rectify this situation. Charles Vignoles produced the first map of Florida based on new field surveys since Romans and De Brahm. Entitled Map of Florida, Compiled and Drawn from various Actual Surveys and Observations (see exhibit #29), it was engraved by Henry S. Tanner and privately published in Philadelphia in 1823. Vignoles was a former British army topographical engineer with aspirations as a real estate speculator. Appointed surveyor and civil engineer for the city of St. Augustine in 1821, he conducted field surveys by rowboat and horseback, particularly along the northeastern coast. He also traveled by sea to the southern tip of the Florida peninsula and up the West Coast to Tampa Bay during a military inspection with General Winfield Scott. In addition to depicting two new counties, Jackson and Duval, and an extensive road network, the map includes descriptive assessments about the quality of the land. Vignoles was one of the first to label the vast marshland covering the tip of the peninsula The Everglades. With a map note he described this unique landscape as an "Extensive inundated Region covered with Pine and Hummock Islands of all sizes." This information, according to Vignoles, was obtained "from the accounts of the Chief Indians [and] confirmed by the pilots and fisherman resident."37

Vignoles' map was a financial failure and received limited distribution, but a reproduction under Henry S. Tanner's name was included in Tanner's successful atlas, New American Atlas Containing Maps of the Several States of the North American Union (Philadelphia, 1823).38 The atlas maps, which were also sold individually, were revised in 1825 and 1836. Major changes included the additions of new counties and the depiction of township and range lines. As the United States acquired new territories, one of its first tasks was to organize the land townships and sections. This system of land division, known as the rectangular survey, produced a settlement landscape pattern unique to the United States and Canada. The surveys were conducted by teams of land surveyors systematically marking and mapping townships range by range. The Florida rectangular survey system was begun in 1824 with the appointment of Robert A. Butler as Surveyor General and the establishment of the Tallahassee Meridian and base line. The region's hot climate, accidents and disease hampered the survey. A yellow fever epidemic halted it entirely in Escambia County in 1827. Its progress can be followed through a series of Federal government maps issued by the General Land Office, and through commercial maps, many of which were based in part on the data collected by the GLO.39

Another arm of the Federal Government, the U. S. Army, also contributed significantly to the basic mapping of Florida. Captain John Le Conte explored portions of the St. Johns River in 1822. Colonel James Gadsden surveyed five military roads connecting Pensacola, St. Augustine, Tampa Bay, and New Smyrna, beginning in 1824. Major Paul H. Perrault, a refugee French military engineer working for the Army, surveyed numerous bays, sounds and rivers during a feasibility study for the building of a ship canal across the isthmus of Florida. Perrault's map with numerous insets was published by Congress in 1829 under the title Map of the Territory of Florida From its Northern Boundary to Lat[itude]: 27 30 ' N[orth]. This information was used by the commercial map publishers of the period. Vignoles cites Le Conte's "valuable survey" of the St. Johns Rivers, and Tanner noted that he added to his 1829 map of the United States "a considerable mass of information extracted from the map . . . to illustrate the projected route of the Florida Canal."40

By the late 1830s, the Florida coastline and the northern tier of counties had been fairly well surveyed and mapped but the southern interior, the homeland of the Seminole Nation, remained virtually unknown. When the Army of the South under General Zachary Taylor was ordered to remove the Seminoles for transfer to the West, mapmakers of the Corps of Topographical Engineers accompanied it.The Corps of Topographical Engineers was a small, elite Army unit of West Point graduates formed during the War of 1812 to survey and map the American frontier. In 1837 Captain Washington Hood prepared a map of the "Seat of War in Florida" from existing data in the Bureau's Washington Office. Hood's map included a directive from the Army's commanding officer, "that officers who shall receive copies of it, may make such additions there to as they may . . . obtain as to the Topography of the Country and send the map, thus added to, to the Adjutant General, that, from the general information thus obtained, a correct map of the Seat of War in Florida, may be drawn for the use of the War Department." Based on additional information submitted from field commanders, Hood's map was revised in 1839 (see exhibit #32) by Captain John Mackay and Lieutenant Joseph E. Blake, and finally in 1843 by Captain John McClellan and Lieutenant Andrew A. Humprheys.41

The War Department continued to revise its war map of Florida as Army topographical engineers completed new surveys. J. Goldsborough Bruff's map, entitled The State of Florida. Compiled in the Bureau of Topographical Engineers From the best authorities (see exhibit #34), was one of the first maps of the new State following its admission to the Union on March 3, 1845 as the twenty-seventh state. The map was published by the War Department in 1846 and issued as a congressional document by the 30th Congress (1847-1848). It measures nearly twelve square feet. Bruff was a civilian draftsman and artist with the Bureau of Topographical Engineers in Washington, D. C. After participating in the California Gold Rush, he worked on the U. S. Capitol as an ornamental designer and draftsman in the Office of the Supervising Architect.

Bruff's map represents the end of one era and the beginning of another in the mapping of Florida. In his exquisite work of art and science, Bruff's map brought to the mid-nineteenth century map-reader the "Marvellous countries and lands" that Peter Martyr's sixteenth century readers could only imagine. If Martyr's wavy coastline could only hint at great unexplored regions, Bruff's precise, detailed map portrayed with great clarity the physical and cultural geography of the newly created State. During the nearly three and one-half centuries between the publication of these two great maps, numerous mapmakers, engravers, and publishers from many countries and traditions contributed to the map of Florida, augmenting and improving upon the work of their predecessors.

Top of Page_

1 National Aeronautics and Space Administration 1998, October 31, (STS095-743-033).

2 Peck 1995, 3-5; Sauer 1971, 71; Nunn and Edwards 1992, 91-141, 181 - 188.

3 Arciniegas 1978, 301.

4 Peck 1995, 11-13; True 1976, 78-79; Cumming 1998, 66; quote from Harrisse 1961, 78.

5 Cumming, 38, n. 8; Mollat du Jourdin and La Roncière 1984, 219 -222; Lowery 1959, 16-17; George 1969, 90-91

6 Shea 1886, II: 232; Morris 1974, 58.

7 Lowery 1959, 10-11; Harrisse, 1961, 504-5; Oberhummer 1909, 542 - 544.

8 Biblioteca Nacional de España 2001, 286-288.

9 Holzheimer and Buisseret 1992, 1-27.

10 Mollat du Jourdin and La Roncière 1984, 227-227.

11 Boston 1941, 240-245.

12 De Vorsey, Jr. 1992, 716-17; Cumming 1998, 109.

13 Cumming 1963, 27-40; Cumming 1998, 112, pl. 2A.

14 Cumming 1998, 41 n. 39, 126-127; Burton 1996, 101-102.

15 Cumming, Skelton, Quinn 1971, 187; Nebenzahl 1990, 140, 145.

16 Cumming 1998, 133-135; Burton 1996, 180 -181, 184-185; Lowery 1959, 412.

17 Cumming 1998, 140-141; Boston 1941, 279-280.

18 Delanglez 1944, 229.

19 Cumming 1998, 3.

20 Cumming 1998, 193-194; Delanglez 1943, 275-298.

21 Boston 1939, 277-297.

22 Cumming 1998, 20-21, 176, pl. 40A.

23 Cumming 1998, 21-22, 202-203.

24 Reinhartz 1997, 27-57.

25 Cumming 1998, 254-155, pl. 56; Hébert and Mullan 1999, p. 227, item 831.

26 Carter 1917, 320.

27 Cumming 1968, 292-293, pl. 336A; Fitzgerald 1984 , 76-77.

28 De Vorsey, Jr. 1975, 87- 102.

29 De Vorsey, Jr. 1975, 93.

30 De Vorsey, Jr. 1971, plates following pp. 198 and 208.

31 Schwartz and Ehrenberg 1980, 178; Lowery 1959, 370-372; 352; Harley 1930-31: 47-57.

32 Seller and Van Ee, 355-356.

33 Hébert 1987, 68-72.

34 Schwartz and Ehrenberg, 205, pl. 127.

35 Bedini 1975, 319-331.

36 Ristow 1962, 159-178; Ristow 1985, 179-190.

37 Vignoles 1977, xiii-lxvi; Baxter, 1941, 113.

38 Tanner 1823, 15.

39 Merkel 1974, 331-336; Martin, 1944, 177; Claussen and Friis 1941.

40 Carter, 1958, 855, n. 17, map facing page; Tanner 1829, 61; Nelson 1955, 8-9.

41 Schwartz and Ehrenberg 1980, 258; Claussen and Friis 1941, 23, 57.

Top of Page