The Map as History

2016 Sunset Report

OLG & DCRT Strategic Plan
2020-21 through 2024-25


Did you know?
Introduction Section 1:
Cultural Assumption
Section 2:
Ethnographic Record
Section 3:
Section 4:
Political Instrument
Section 5:
Section 6:
Art & Craft
Section 7:
Biographies of Mapmakers & Artists Bibliography

Many believe the greatest single accomplishment of Thomas Jefferson's presidency was the purchase of 830,000 square miles of land from France in 1803. The Louisiana Purchase more than doubled the territory of the United States. By a treaty negotiated by Robert Livingston, James Monroe, and France's Ministry of the Treasury François Barbé-Marbois, the United States purchased Louisiana for $15,000,000. Eventually, fifteen states were wholly or partially carved from land included in the Louisiana Purchase.

drawing of Napoleon signing the Louisiana Purchase
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Traité avec les Etats Unis
[Treaty with the United States]

F. Adam, delineator
[Metts?] lithographer
Late nineteenth century
This is a highly romanticized depiction of Napoleon signing the Louisiana Purchase. Experts agree that on May 18, 1803, the day Napoleon signed the documents, he was much more concerned with an impending war with Britain, a slave uprising in Haiti, the large sum of money about to be added to the French treasury, and other pressing matters of state. The French held no elaborate ceremony, and it is very unlikely that more than three or four people were in attendance. Napoleon's Minister of Foreign Relations Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, one of Bonaparte's brothers, and perhaps Marquis François de Barbé-Marbois, the minister of the French treasury who negotiated the deal with Robert Livingston and James Monroe, might have been in the room. The most likely scenario is that the Louisiana Purchase was one among many official papers signed by Napoleon during a routine day's work and that the pomp and circumstance portrayed here were a figment of the artist's imagination.

Loaned by Dr. and Mrs. E. Ralph Lupin


Map of North America, 1821
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A New Map of North America, from the Latest Authorities
John Cary, engraver
London, January 1, 1821
This map depicts the Louisiana Purchase boundaries before the northern boundary was fixed at 49 north latitude.

Loaned by Dr. and Mrs. E. Ralph Lupin


an Untitled manuscript map of North America, 1850
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Untitled manuscript map of North America
Unidentified mapmaker
c. 1850
This map delineates the Louisiana Purchase boundaries after all treaties were negotiated as well an 1846 treaty which settled the boundary between the United States and Canada at the 49th parallel from the Rocky mountains west to the Pacific Ocean.

Loaned by Dr. and Mrs. E. Ralph Lupin


a map of Louisiana after it was admitted to the Union in 1812
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M[athew] Carey, publisher
Philadelphia, c. 1814
This is one of the first maps published after Louisiana was admitted to the Union in 1812. It shows little detail of the prairies of southwestern Louisiana since they were sparsely populated. Two Indian tribes, the Opelousa (Oppaloussas) and the Attakapa inhabited this area during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Loaned by Dr. and Mrs. E. Ralph Lupin


an 1836 map of Louisiana labeling parishes
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G[eorge] W. Boynton, engraver
T[homas] G[amaliel] Bradford, publisher
Boston, 1838
The names of Louisiana parishes (counties) tell much of the history of the Pelican State. For example, several parishes are named for the Native American tribes living in the vicinity at the time of the European encounter: Natchitoches, Ouachita, and Avoyelles. Other parishes retained names assigned to the area by Indian inhabitants: Catahoula from the Tensas word "cataoola," meaning big, clear lake (Catahoula Lake, now located in La Salle Parish); and Plaquemines from a Mobile Indian and French dialect word for persimmons. Other parish names appearing on this map are French in origin: West and East Baton Rouge (red stick), Lafourche (fork in the Mississippi River), Terre Bonne (good earth), and Pointe Coupee (cut point). The Feliciana (happy land) parishes derive their name from the Spanish language as does Concordia (harmony, unity).

At the time this map was published, Louisiana was divided into thirty-two parishes. During the remainder of the nineteenth and into the first decades of the twentieth century additional parishes were sculpted from the large parishes west of the Mississippi River.

Loaned by Dr. and Mrs. E. Ralph Lupin