The first printed map to focus on New Hampshire, and one of the great maps of the American Colonial era. Remarkable for its depiction of northern New England when much of it remained untracked wilderness, for its interpretation of disputed intercolonial boundaries, and for its relevance to the French and Indian War.
Blanchard and Langdon’s map “of New Hampshire” in fact covers much of northern New England as well as southern Quebec and eastern New York. Provincial boundaries are shown, the most notable feature in this regard being New Hampshire’s extension to include all of present-day Vermont (more on which later). Township lines are laid out in southern New Hampshire, major bodies of water and waterways are delineated, and the region’s mountainous topography is suggested by scattered “molehills.” There is a striking contrast between the relative density of information in the southern part of the province and the almost entirely uninhabited and unknown region north of the White Mountains.
The whole is adorned by a large ornamental cartouche bearing a dedication to Charles Townshend in a foliate border and flanked by instruments of war, conveniently hiding the lack of information for the north country. A second decorative cartouche at lower right encloses long notes about the province’s boundaries and the iconography employed on the map.
Offered here is the very rare first issue of the map as a separate publication. It later appeared, apparently without alteration, in Thomas Jefferys’ General Topography of North America (1768).
The map was a joint effort of Joseph Blanchard (1704-58), a New Hampshire surveyor and senior militia officer, and Samuel Langdon (1723-97), minister of Portsmouth’s North Church and later President of Harvard College during the Revolution. Though dated October 1761, it is follows in most respects a 1756 manuscript signed by Langdon, dedicated to then-Governor Benning Wentworth, and now held at the Library of Congress (Click here to see an image of the Langdon manuscript.)
The map reflects Wentworth’s expansive view of New Hampshire’s boundaries as extending not merely to the Connecticut River but as far west as Lake Champlain. To make his claim a reality, Wentworth had for years issued grants of townships across the Connecticut in present-day Vermont, thereby creating “facts on the ground” while enriching himself mightily (More than a dozen of these “Wentworth Grants” are shown on the map.) This not surprisingly brought him and the new settlers into conflict with the Province of New York, which viewed the Connecticut as its western boundary. Further complicating matters was the outbreak of the French & Indian War, with hostilities around Lakes Champlain and George in 1755. Against this backdrop of conflicts Wentworth would have had ample reason to commission Langdon to compile a provincial map, which somehow found its way to the London firm of Thomas Jefferys for engraving and publication in 1761.
The subtitle claims that the map was “taken from ACTUAL SURVEYS of all the inhabited Part, and from the best information of what is uninhabited.” Blanchard presumably supplied much original information for the effort, as he is known to have been involved in numerous township surveys east and west of the Connecticut River, while Langdon most likely contributed as a compiler. Much of their information must have been obtained second hand, however. One obvious source would have been maps from the Richard Hazen-George Mitchell survey of the Massachusetts-New Hampshire boundary, completed in the 1740s. For the “uninhabited” areas to the west and particularly to the north, they likely had to “combine the reports of soldiers, hunters and Indian captives with their own best estimates to fill in the very large gaps facing them.” (Graffagnino, Vermont, p. 7) For example, a river linking the Connecticut to Lake Memphrimagog was “drawn agreeable” to the account of one “Lieut. Starks,” who “was led captive by the Indians from Connecticut River to Canada 1752.”
Apt, White Mountains, p. 2. Cobb, New Hampshire Maps, #28. Graffagnino, Shaping of Vermont, pp. 6-9. McCorkle, New England, #N761.1. Phillips, Maps of America, p. 478. Ristow, American Maps and Mapmakers, p. 49 (ill. p. 51).
Mends to edge tears, occasionally entering image. Some soiling noticeable at right but mostly confined to margins. Withal a good example of a very rare map.