A New Map of North America with the West India Islands Divided According to the Preliminary Articles of Peace, Signed at Versailles 20 Jan. 1783, publ. 1786

A New Map of North America with the West India Islands Divided According to the Preliminary Articles of Peace, Signed at Versailles 20 Jan. 1783 printed for Robert Sayres, London, 1786 wherein are particularly Distinguished THE UNITED STATES, and the Several Provinces, Governments etc. that Compose The British Dominions; Laid Down according to the Latest Surveys and Corrected from The Original Materials of Gover. Pownall, Mem. of Parlia. 1783. Printed for Robert Sayer, London, 1786.
Thomas Pownall, Surveyor
London, 1786
Unrestored original condition
Engraving with hand colored outlines. Printed on two unjoined sheets. Original, unrestored condition and color, two original vertical folds in each sheet. Several small tears in margin and at fold that are mended with Japanese tissue. dimensions: plate impression: 20 7/8" x 46 ½" each sheet sheet size: 21 3/8" x 48" approx. each sheet
20.84 × 46.5 inches
Sale Status: 
For Sale

Publisher Robert Sayer's 1786  "A New Map of North America" by Thomas Pownall is "New" because it illustrates the newly established United States of America according to the terms of the Preliminary Articles of Peace of January 20, 1783, that six months later are finalized by the final Peace Treaty of 1783 that concluded America's Revolutionary War with Great Britain./1  This scarce map presents on two 48" engraved map sheets the political paradigm shift of the American Revolution and the newly agreed upon territorial relationships in North America between the governments of the United States and Great Britain, and indirectly among those of France and Spain and Holland.  Equally striking visually is the elaborate, pictorial and figurative cartouche measuring 16" high and 10" that portrays two North American Indians and a child, shown enjoying the wealth and natural bounty of the North American continent, beneath their feet a large wild cat and bear (or bison) brought down by arrows, the woman wearing jewelry made from precious metals and stones and holding a bow. The male figure is seated with a quiver of arrows. Both wear elaborate feather caps. Atop the scalloped frame of the engraved cartouche is a small monkey. These figures all are symbolic of the yet wild and barely tamed North America. But the Peace Treaty of 1783 itself makes no mention of native people – or their lands, rights, property, war reparations rights, or future standing – as it does of British and American citizens, rendering it ironic and perhaps mendacious that the two figures representing North American Indians are richly dressed to symbolize their rule of the still unexplored North American continent.

The 1786 "New Map of North America" uses many elements to represent the unfolding 18th century history of North America: the text of the Treaty of 1783 itself; Thomas Pownall's (1722-1805) extensive survey materials, first begun in 1753, and updated from his later work for Bowen & Gibson's Map of 1877 that showed the continent at the close of the French and Indian War Treaty of 1763; the map's own color scheme keyed to nations; and artistry annotated with text that narrates the unfolding history of North America exploration and settlement.  This map is exceptional in its comprehensive mapping of territories identified with native peoples and those of new settlers, sometimes overlapping and otherwise mutually exclusive. Regarding native tribes and nations, the map affords a graphic directory of names and of certain 17th to 18th c. conflicts among native people throughout North America. /2

An explanatory note on the face of the map explains that colored borders are drawn according to the terms of the Peace Treaty: Red outlines indicate British possessions; Green indicates those of the United States; Blue what belongs to the French and Yellow what belongs to the Spaniards.  The map has international distance scales. A decoratively framed vignette presents many scales: British statute miles, French Common Land Leagues, Spanish Leagues, British and French Marine Leagues, Dutch Miles and Leagues for measuring a Voyage on the Map. Longitude is expressed as West from London and West from Ferro (the Canary Islands), a prime meridian used prior to and outside of the British Empire.

There are two small inset maps on each large map sheet.  The first titled "A Particular Map of Baffins and Hudson's Bay" reflects ongoing explorations in Hudson's Bay to locate a northwest passage from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific coast for trade: "If there is a North West Passage it appears to be through one of these inlets" in a note at Welcome Bay off of Hudson's Bay.  At Lake de Fonte is a note "All these discoveries are imaginary." The second inset map titled "The Passage by Land to California Discovered by Father Eusebius a Jesuit" debunks the old view expressed on maps that California was an island. This mapping also reflected the desire to map a trade route to the Pacific Ocean through this lower region.

Reading this map is an immersive experience. The Apalachean Mountains and Blue Ridge are hand drawn with peaks. Major river courses are shown with old and new names or qualified "The course of Alkansas R. according to some geographers." Some notes relate history among Native American tribes. One note of history with the Crown lands explains "Bounds of the Territories of the Six Nations by deed of sale surrendered to the Crown of Great Britain in 1701..." a curious wording for a true deed of sale, and in this area identifies Rock Crystal, Copper Mines, and other resources. The Hunting country of the Six Nations at the southern end of Lake Erie is noted. Towns are marked "T." Certain roads are labeled such as "The Road to St. Felipe and there to Mexico". State names remind us that this is an English map: "New England" is labeled, within which is "Massachusetts Bay", Vermont is labeled but borders not drawn. Within Indian lands the term "English Factory" is used in many places, especially in Georgia sometimes naming an Indian Chief as head of the Factory. Financial scandals are also recorded: "The Mines of Mina Mississippi Scheme of 1719". The historically rich fishing grounds are delineated and labeled off of the East Coast of North America, including St. George's Bank or Malabar out of Boston Harbor. In fact, Article 3 of the Peace Treaty of 1783 exclusively addresses the fishing rights of the British, of Americans and of those with prior rights in the Atlantic Ocean based on historic fishing in this area and the large fishing banks shown.

I have located only two published examples of Robert Sayer's 1786 edition of this scarce map. See Library of Congress and David Rumsey Map Collection for an annotated description. Otherwise, there are more commonly 1796 editions of a later Laurie & Whittle 1794 edition by the same title.



1. Excerpts from the Definitive Peace Treaty of 1783, all of which may be viewed at the Yale Law School Avalon Project of Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy.


"         In the name of the most holy and undivided Trinity.

It having pleased the Divine Providence to dispose the hearts of the most serene and most potent Prince George the Third, by the grace of God, king of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, defender of the faith, duke of Brunswick and Lunebourg, arch-treasurer and prince elector of the Holy Roman Empire etc., and of the United States of America, to forget all past misunderstandings and differences that have unhappily interrupted the good correspondence and friendship which they mutually wish to restore, and to establish such a beneficial and satisfactory intercourse , between the two countries upon the ground of reciprocal advantages and mutual convenience as may promote and secure to both perpetual peace and harmony; and having for this desirable end already laid the foundation of peace and reconciliation by the Provisional Articles signed at Paris on the 30th of November 1782, by the commissioners empowered on each part, which articles were agreed to be inserted in and constitute the Treaty of Peace proposed to be concluded between the Crown of Great Britain and the said United States, but which treaty was not to be concluded until terms of peace should be agreed upon between Great Britain and France and his Britannic Majesty should be ready to conclude such treaty accordingly; and the treaty between Great Britain and France having since been concluded, his Britannic Majesty and the United States of America, in order to carry into full effect the Provisional Articles above mentioned, according to the tenor thereof, have constituted and appointed, that is to say his Britannic Majesty on his part, David Hartley, Esqr., member of the Parliament of Great Britain, and the said United States on their part, John Adams, Esqr., late a commissioner of the United States of America at the court of Versailles, late delegate in Congress from the state of Massachusetts, and chief justice of the said state, and minister plenipotentiary of the said United States to their high mightinesses the States General of the United Netherlands; Benjamin Franklin, Esqr., late delegate in Congress from the state of Pennsylvania, president of the convention of the said state, and minister plenipotentiary from the United States of America at the court of Versailles; John Jay, Esqr., late president of Congress and chief justice of the state of New York, and minister plenipotentiary from the said United States at the court of Madrid; to be plenipotentiaries for the concluding and signing the present definitive treaty; who after having reciprocally communicated their respective full powers have agreed upon and confirmed the following articles.

Article 1:

His Brittanic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz., New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free sovereign and independent states, that he treats with them as such, and for himself, his heirs, and successors, relinquishes all claims to the government, propriety, and territorial rights of the same and every part thereof.

Article 2:

And that all disputes which might arise in future on the subject of the boundaries of the said United States may be prevented, it is hereby agreed and declared, that the following are and shall be their boundaries, viz.; from the northwest angle of Nova Scotia, viz., that angle which is formed by a line drawn due north from the source of St. Croix River to the highlands; along the said highlands which divide those rivers that empty themselves into the river St. Lawrence, from those which fall into the Atlantic Ocean, to the northwesternmost head of Connecticut River; thence down along the middle of that river to the forty-fifth degree of north latitude; from thence by a line due west on said latitude until it strikes the river Iroquois or Cataraquy; thence along the middle of said river into Lake Ontario; through the middle of said lake until it strikes the communication by water between that lake and Lake Erie; thence along the middle of said communication into Lake Erie, through the middle of said lake until it arrives at the water communication between that lake and Lake Huron; thence along the middle of said water communication into Lake Huron, thence through the middle of said lake to the water communication between that lake and Lake Superior; thence through Lake Superior northward of the Isles Royal and Phelipeaux to the Long Lake; thence through the middle of said Long Lake and the water communication between it and the Lake of the Woods, to the said Lake of the Woods; thence through the said lake to the most northwesternmost point thereof, and from thence on a due west course to the river Mississippi; thence by a line to be drawn along the middle of the said river Mississippi until it shall intersect the northernmost part of the thirty-first degree of north latitude, South, by a line to be drawn due east from the determination of the line last mentioned in the latitude of thirty-one degrees of the equator, to the middle of the river Apalachicola or Catahouche; thence along the middle thereof to its junction with the Flint River, thence straight to the head of Saint Mary's River; and thence down along the middle of Saint Mary's River to the Atlantic Ocean; east, by a line to be drawn along the middle of the river Saint Croix, from its mouth in the Bay of Fundy to its source, and from its source directly north to the aforesaid highlands which divide the rivers that fall into the Atlantic Ocean from those which fall into the river Saint Lawrence; comprehending all islands within twenty leagues of any part of the shores of the United States, and lying between lines to be drawn due east from the points where the aforesaid boundaries between Nova Scotia on the one part and East Florida on the other shall, respectively, touch the Bay of Fundy and the Atlantic Ocean, excepting such islands as now are or heretofore have been within the limits of the said province of Nova Scotia.

Article 5:

It is agreed that Congress shall earnestly recommend it to the legislatures of the respective states to provide for the restitution of all estates, rights, and properties, which have been confiscated belonging to real British subjects; and also of the estates, rights, and properties of persons resident in districts in the possession on his Majesty's arms and who have not borne arms against the said United States. And that persons of any other decription shall have free liberty to go to any part or parts of any of the thirteen United States and therein to remain twelve months unmolested in their endeavors to obtain the restitution of such of their estates, rights, and properties as may have been confiscated; and that Congress shall also earnestly recommend to the several states a reconsideration and revision of all acts or laws regarding the premises, so as to render the said laws or acts perfectly consistent not only with justice and equity but with that spirit of conciliation which on the return of the blessings of peace should universally prevail. And that Congress shall also earnestly recommend to the several states that the estates, rights, and properties, of such last mentioned persons shall be restored to them, they refunding to any persons who may be now in possession the bona fide price (where any has been given) which such persons may have paid on purchasing any of the said lands, rights, or properties since the confiscation.

And it is agreed that all persons who have any interest in confiscated lands, either by debts, marriage settlements, or otherwise, shall meet with no lawful impediment in the prosecution of their just rights.

Article 7:

There shall be a firm and perpetual peace between his Brittanic Majesty and the said states, and between the subjects of the one and the citizens of the other, wherefore all hostilities both by sea and land shall from henceforth cease. All prisoners on both sides shall be set at liberty, and his Brittanic Majesty shall with all convenient speed, and without causing any destruction, or carrying away any Negroes or other property of the American inhabitants, withdraw all his armies, garrisons, and fleets from the said United States, and from every post, place, and harbor within the same; leaving in all fortifications, the American artilery that may be therein; and shall also order and cause all archives, records, deeds, and papers belonging to any of the said states, or their citizens, which in the course of the war may have fallen into the hands of his officers, to be forthwith restored and delivered to the proper states and persons to whom they belong.... "

Note 2.

                  The lands of the numerous Native American tribes and nations of native peoples are identified from the East Coast to the West Coast of North America, including the Abenaki, Mikmak, Sagadah and Little Nation, in the Northeast, the Seneka's, the Chiktaghooks, Twigh Twees, White Paducas Nation in the central regions, Algonquin and Iroquois, Catqbas, Creeks and Chactaws up into Canada, Sioux, Outaowas, Maha and Tintons to the North and thorughout Mexico the Apaches Nation, Pimas Nation,Teguayo Grande, Kansez Nation, and Kelamouches & Atacapaw Wandering Indians and many others.  Esquimaux are noted in the north.

                  Indian Tribal names and American place names sometimes overlap on the map in regions outside of New England. By contrast, the British place names and political boundaries of the original 13 American colonies displace geographic labels of Indian lands.

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