Unrecorded Moses Greenleaf map of Washington County Maine

Moses Greenleaf, Map of the Representative Districts in the South part of the COUNTY OF WASHINGTON As apportioned in the year 1831. With the number of Inhabitants in each Town & Plantation. Note. ___ Districts composed of Towns not contiguous are connected by Double dotted lines. Townships with this mark x have no Inhabitants but are by the Act of Apportionment entitled to vote. Engraved for Greenleaf's Survey of Maine Vol. 2. [with] Map of the Principal part of the Representative District in the North part of the County of Washington as formed in the year 1831. [Portland, ca.1832.]

Previously unrecorded map by Moses Greenleaf of Washington County Maine, intended for a never-realized second volume of his Survey of the State of Maine.

The map is stripped to its essentials, showing Washington County and its state-representative districts in outline, presumably based on reapportionment following the Census of 1830. The voting population for each town and unincorporated “plantation” is given, though only in the northern part of the county (at left) are their boundaries delineated. Given the map’s purely political purpose, Greenleaf has entirely eschewed the topographical detail of his earlier maps of the state. The map’s unfinished appearance give it the appearance of an unfinished proof, particularly when compared with a companion map of York County also produced by Greenleaf at the time and now known, in a single example, discussed below.

Moses Greenleaf
Moses Greenleaf was a towering figure in the mapping of the state of Maine, devoting his life to ever-improved mapping of the region. The pinnacle of his career came in 1829, when he published his new, and substantially updated, wall map of Maine. This was complemented by a text volume, A Survey of the State of Maine and accompanying atlas, the first atlas of the state and the third of any state of the Union.

The map is a remarkable achievement, widely heralded, but the Survey of the State of Maine is also of the first importance, a wide-ranging summation of the present state of Maine, particularly valuable for commercial and economic data. Greenleaf, however, ever the perfectionist, acknowledged the deficiencies of the work and announced his intention of issuing a second volume:

“.., it was intended to devote some portion of the work to a distinct consideration of the absolute and relative wealth of the State, and its different component parts – value and importance of its lands – facilities for – kinds, extent, and expediency of, internal improvements and its general resources; but the time when the publication must be completed was limited, and an important part of the materials for these subjects could not be obtained until after this time. It was thought better therefore to omit their introduction altogether for the present; in the hope that circumstances will permit, at a future time, a more extended notice of them, and under greater advantages for useful results, than was possible at present.” (Preface to A Survey of the State of Maine)

The largest single handicap to Greenleaf’s career was simply that the market for high-quality maps of Maine was too small for his projects to be commercially viable. Consider for example the 1829 wall map, text volume and atlas, which had cost him six years of his time and more than $12,000 out of pocket for surveys, engraving, printing &c. He had 565 sets printed and offered by advance subscription at $16 a set, but by early 1830 barely 100 of these had been sold. At this point, though only after much debate, the State rescued him by stepping in and purchased 400 sets at the full subscription price.

Seemingly undeterred by the parlous financial prospects of the project, and by the number of sets still in circulation, Greenleaf continued to work on improving his materials. In 1832, he republished the wall-map of Maine, but very few examples of that printing can be traced. In parallel, our map, and the companion map of York County mentioned earlier, are the only known evidence that Greenleaf started work on his projected second volume of the Survey of the State of Maine (Although there might be reference amongst the papers in the Moses Greenleaf archive in the Maine State Archives.) Unfortunately, the volume was never completed – and it may not even have advanced very far – possibly due to Greenleaf’s financial struggles but certainly ending with Greenleaf’s death on March 20, 1834, aged fifty-six.

Rarity and references
We are aware of an example recently acquired by the Osher Map Library, but the map is absolutely unrecorded in the general bibliographic literature, the specialized biographical and bibliographical literature on Greenleaf and the mapping of Maine, and the standard databases for the antiquarian market. It must be noted, however, that we at present hold five examples, all obtained in a large lot of Greenleaf material purchased by a third party at a Vermont auction in 2020.

Not in OCLC; Phillips, Maps of America; Walter Macdougall, Settling the Maine Wilderness Wilderness – Moses Greenleaf, His Maps, and His Household of Faith, 1777-1834 (2006); Edgar Crosby Smith, Moses Greenleaf Maine’s first map-maker a biography … also a bibliography of the maps of Maine (1903); Edward Thompson, Important Maine Maps, Books, Prints and Ephemera (2003); or Thompson, Printed Maps of the District and State of Maine 1793-1860 (2010). Neither Antique Map Price Record nor Rare Book Hub show any record of the map having appeared on the antiquarian market. Macdougall, Smith and Thompson all provided useful background on Greenleaf and his work.

It is also worth noting that Greenleaf’s companion map of the representative districts of York County (see Thompson, Printed Maps of the District and State of Maine, p.96) is recorded in but a single example in the Benton L. Hatch Collection in the University of Maine’s Fogler Library, Special Collections (See Thompson, Printed Maps of the District and State of Maine, pp. 96-97.) Hatch was Associate Librarian for Special Collections at the University of Massachusetts, who built a substantial collection of material on the history of Maine and Massachusetts. In view of his lifetime interest, it seems likely that given the opportunity he would have acquired any others of the series he encountered.

Appendix: An accounting of Greenleaf’s 1829 project
A rough balance sheet for the 1829 publications can be reconstructed from contemporary documents. The wall-map and text volume with atlas were offered by advance subscription at $16 a set. A report of proceedings in the state legislature recorded that

“It appears that Mr. G. was induced by encouragement from the Legislature to extend his original plan, and incur great additional expense, in order to present a work more valuable to the state. The engraving, printing, &c., cost $8351 81, surveys &c. about 4000, and Mr. G, has devoted more than 6 years of his time to the work. The Legislature of 1828 granted $1000 to aid him in his labors. 565 copies were printed, of which 458 remain unsold.” (Hallowell American Advocate, February 27, 1830).

A second report estimated that Greenleaf’s personal contribution be valued at $9,000 (Portland Christian Monitor, February 25, 1830). This gives, as a rough guide, income of $2,700 against an actual cost of $12,350 or a notional cost of $21,350. In view of the scale of the loss, Greenleaf made an appeal for relief, submitting a lengthy memorial in January 1830 (Maine State Archives). After much debate in the legislature, it was agreed that the state would purchase 400 sets at the subscription price of $16, and the state would give Greenleaf a “a notice for $2000, redeemable in no longer time than 15 years, and to be paid out of the proceeds of the Public Lands” (Portland Eastern Argus, February 26, 1830).

While the Maine government acted partly out of realization of a debt of honor to Greenleaf, there was also a general feeling that the success of Greenleaf’s mapping project would bring all manner of benefits, not least in driving land sales by the state. However, the state also ended up with more copies than it could use, so there was a heavy drive to sell sets to the school districts (in particular) and offices and officers of state at Washington (Hallowell American Advocate, January 21 1832), but also to gift sets to to Maine’s representatives in Congress, to all the other states, and so on.