Herman Moll was a German who established a map-publishing house in London about the year 1700. He was a proponent of the exploration and development of foreign lands for British investment and created maps to advance these goals. A picture on the left side of this map shows a codfish factory prospering in the north country. Above it, a lovely baroque cartouche is flanked by images of noble natives, with sugarcane, gold, textiles, tobacco, and furs, all under a prominent British coat of arms. The map refutes French claims to North America by showing the British boundaries west of the Appalachian Mountains.1Schwartz and Ehrenberg, 140.
The geography is based primarily on the best French sources of the time. The sinusoidal projection is taken from Nicolas Sanson’s earlier experiments at showing the midregions of continents to best advantage. Information on the Mississippi River system is obviously derived from Guillaume Delisle’s famous maps of New France, which first placed that river on its proper meridian in 1703. The map is one of the more prominent works to show California as an island, a misconception that persisted for more than a hundred years.2Ronald Vere Tooley, “California as an Island,” in The Mapping of America (London: Holland Press, 1980), 130. In the Gulf of Mexico a dotted line traces the route of the Spanish galleons from Vera Cruz to Havana and from Havana to Spain. The ten inset plans of harbors in the lower left corner attest to the many fine and thriving harbors in North America and the West Indies in the early eighteenth century.
Donald H. Cresswell
Excerpted from Jonathan L. Fairbanks. Becoming a Nation: Americana from the Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State. New York: Rizzoli, 2003.