An early, important English map of the Georgia colony, chartered in 1732, here depicted with its borders extending to the Mississippi River and presumably on to the Pacific, although actual physical settlement was then limited to a narrow band along the Atlantic coast.
The original charters of the English colonies in North America established boundaries that ran in parallel bands from the Atlantic to the Pacific coasts although, at the time these grants were made, there was no certain knowledge of the distances involved (Some early estimates had the Pacific as little as ten days march to the West.) At the time this map was drawn however, British territorial claims conflicted with the reality of French settlement and activities in the interior, the French claiming the Great Lakes region and the Ohio and Mississippi valleys. Thus, the first ‘G’ of the ‘GEORGIA’ label in the map is engraved west of the Mississippi, in what was de facto French territory.
Bowen’s map is particularly important for its detailed delineation of the interior, a region little known to the colonial settlers, reflecting Britain’s overlapping preoccupations with geo-political control and capitalizing on the trading opportunities it presented. In particular Bowen provides a relatively detailed treatment of the territories and principal settlements of native American peoples, notably the “Cheerekees” in the Carolina interior and the Upper, Middle and Lower Creeks along the Flint and Alabama Rivers. Occasional notes indicate whether these were in “amity” with the British or French, as exemplified by the annotation “The Cherekees, Creeks, and Chikasaws, assisted General Oglethorpe in the Wars against ye Spaniards”. Bowen also indicates major French forts and settlements, including “Albamous Fort” on the Alabama River, Fort St. Louis on Mobile Bay, and Rosalie and of course New Orleans on the Mississippi.
The map highlights the roads of the coastal region from Frederica, via Savannah to Charleston, but also those roads and rivers that served as highways into the interior, linking the coast with the Cherokees, Creeks and native American peoples further west. These were of course essential for trade and as avenues for extending settlement inland, but would be equally significant when conflict broke out in the coming years.
John Harris’ Navigantium atque itinerantium bibliotheca: or, a compleat collection of voyages and travels was first published in 1705. It is one of the most important English collections of travel accounts, in the tradition of Richard Hakluyt, Theodore de Bry and Samuel Purchas. A new and expanded expedition was published in two volumes, 1744-1748, for which Bowen prepared a new set of plates, including this fine map of Georgia, illustrating a new chapter relating to Georgia (Harris’s treatment of Georgia may be viewed here, beginning on p. 323.) A new edition, with this map unchanged, appeared in 1764.