The first official map of the State of New Hampshire, and for its time the largest-scale map of the state. David Cobb calls it “the most detailed and accurate map of the state produced in the early nineteenth century.”
Based largely on new surveys, the map depicts the state with the surveyed boundaries of counties and towns; the courses of roads and waterways; and the locations of cultural, economic and political landmarks including schools, court houses, factories, mills and meeting houses.
A long note to the side as well as numerous briefer notes throughout the map provide important information about the States’ topography, geography, history and boundaries. Among the more interesting of these is the line showing “The Ancient Masonian Curve Line” demarcating the huge tract of land held by the original proprietor John Mason (1586-1635) after his split with Ferdinando Gorges in 1629.
Five insets include maps of the Northern states and of the middle, Southern and Western states; as well as three attractive topographical views. The unusually large and lovely cartouche depicts maritime commerce, farming and inland settlement against a backdrop of forests, soaring mountain peaks and a rushing torrent.
After the Revolution, the individual states needed to produce accurate and useful maps of their territories. Such maps were necessary for monitoring and stimulating settlement, commerce, and the development of transportation networks; as well as for delineating public lands available for sale. Excellent maps of New Hampshire were in fact produced late in the century (notably Holland et al in 1784 and Sotzmann in 1796). However, much of the North Country had yet to be surveyed, and this region remained a tantalizing blank on even the best maps. Further, the pace of development around the state was rendering these efforts out of date.
With a weak Federal government unable to provide support and themselves short on cash, states had to come up with creative models for funding these labor-intensive projects. One approach, followed by Massachusetts (ca. 1794) and then New Hampshire entailed state-local and public-private collaboration, in the following manner: By order of the state legislature, each town was required to conduct a survey at its own cost and submit a town plan to the Secretary of State. The plans were to meet certain quality requirements such as using a specific scale; indicating the length and coordinates of town boundaries; and depicting meeting houses, schools, mills and other significant establishments. Under official auspices, the plans were then compiled and where necessary reconciled to produce the State map.
The New Hampshire project commended in 1803 with an act of the state legislature, and the map was compiled by Carrigain during his tenure as Secretary of State (1805-1808). It is unclear why the work was not published until 1816, though it may have to do with rework due to the apparently poor quality of the surveys received from the towns. In this regard Ristow writes, “As in most projects of this type, many of the town surveys were made by unskilled persons, and considerable ingenuity was required to reconcile the several town surveys into a coordinated map.” (Ristow, p. 96)
Cobb, New Hampshire Maps to 1900, #91; Ristow, American Maps and Mapmakers, pp. 96-97. For an excellent background on the map see Frank C. Mevers and Mica B. Stark, “The Making of the Carrigain Map of New Hampshire, 1803-1816.” Historical New Hampshire, vol. 52 nos. 3-4 (Fall/Winter 1997), p. 79-95.
Restored, with typical staining, toning and repairs, including a few areas of margin and the upper right corner reinstated in facsimile