The Pennsylvania Magazine, with a rare map of the “Great Warpath”

R[obert] Aitken (printer, publisher and engraver) / [Thomas Paine (editor)], THE Pennsylvania Magazine: OR, AMERICAN MONTHLY MUSEUM. FOR OCTOBER 1775. , Opposite the London Coffee-House, Front-Street, Philadelphia, October 1775 (but probably published mid-late November) .
8vo. [443-447], 448-490. Folding engraved map (removed), 6 1/8"h x 15 ¼"w plus margins. Recent wraps.

The Pennsylvania Magazine was the sole periodical published in the America during the Revolution, appearing monthly between January 1775 and July 1776. Edited for much of its run by Thomas Paine, it had a truly American character, including literary and philosophical essays, book reviews, scientific and technical articles, and of course the latest news of military and political events from the early months of the Revolution.

Several numbers of the Magazine included engraved maps illustrating early Revolutionary battles and theatres of conflict. The October 1775 issue of the Magazine is noteworthy for containing one of the rarest and most appealing of these, a wonderful little map of “the Great Warpath” linking Lake George, Lake Champlain, the Sorel River and the St. Lawrence. This corridor was the only water-based-and therefore the fastest-link between Quebec and the interior of the thirteen American colonies and had long been recognized for its strategic import. In May 1775 a tiny force under Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold had captured the British forts Crown Point and Ticonderoga, from which were taken the cannon that ultimately enabled the Americans to drive the British from Boston. In the Fall of that year the Americans invaded Canada with an eye toward detaching its mostly French inhabitants from their allegiance to the British Empire, and the corridor became for a time the most important theatre of conflict. The invasion ultimately failed at the siege of Quebec, but only after the Americans had captured both St. Johns and Montreal.

The “Map of the Present Seat of War on the Borders of Canada” depicts the region between the southern end of Lake George and the juncture of the Sorel and St. Lawrence Rivers, with some coverage west to Montreal. Likely adapted from Thomas Jefferys’ “Provinces of New York, and New Jersey; with part of Pensilvania, and the governments of Trois Rivieres, and Montreal,” it is nonetheless the first map published in America to depict this region in detail. In addition to the basic topography and network of lakes and waterways, it locates five major forts (Ticonderoga, Crown Point, St. John, Chambly and Montreal) and identifies several major land owners of French extraction. The map is surmounted by a very large and appealing cartouche featuring a native warrior, a frontier soldier, and implements of war.

The map was originally bound opposite page 463, which featured a long article, “A geographical and historical Account of Lake Champlain, and the Country and Forts in its Environs.” Much of the article is in fact given over to descriptions of the region’s fortifications, including the following observation:

“It seems that St. John was not of any considerable note during the last war; and since the peace it served only as an entrepost [sic] and landing place between Montreal and lake Champlain until last summer it has been made a place of defence; but as in all probability, it is now in possession of Gen. Schuyler’s division of the Continental army, we may hope that in a short time we shall be well informed of its present state.” (p. 465)

The writer’s prediction was probably correct: St. Johns fell to Schuyler’s second-in-command Montgomery on November 3, while this issue of the Magazine likely did not appear until late November. The very end of the article also mentions “Col. Allen’s late successful expedition, in securing [Ticonderoga] and Crown-point for the United Colonies;–an important event, still so fresh in our memories.”

Evans #14380; and Mott, American Magazines, pp. 87-91. The map is described in Jolly, Maps of America in Periodicals before 1800, #269; Phillips, List of Maps of America, p. 193 and 586; and Wheat & Brun, Maps and Charts Published in America before 1800, #89. Not in Cobb, Maps of Vermont or Nebenzahl, A Bibliography of Printed Battle Plans of the American Revolution.


Text with light toning and minor foxing, soiling and dog-earing, as usual. Map flattened, with narrow right margin, but as fine an example as one could hope for.