Complete with a special essay by noted author and teacher, Dr. Charles A Weeks
“Plano de una parte de la Provincia de la Luisiana y de otra de la Florida Occidental y de la Provincia de Texas,” (“Map of a part of the Province of Louisiana and the other of West Florida and the Province of Texas,”) ca. 1803-1806. Ink and watercolor wash on paper: 21½" X 41¼".
Through maps people create visual representations of how they imagine, record, and define space. Beginning in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in
Europe, such documents assumed particular significance as symbols of authority and possession as Europeans competed with one another for control of territory, people, and resources toward the end of creating nation-states and empires. In a substantive way, maps have proved useful to argue in visual fashion what people express in words – both spoken and written – regarding ownership of territory and its definition by borders. This particular map constitutes an especially good example. (Buisseret, Koot, Schmidt, Padrón)
Although the countermark “Whatman 1794” identifies the paper as English, handwriting, orthography, cartographic style, and ink tones clearly reveals this map to be Spanish. It shows portions of the Spanish provinces of Louisiana, West Florida and Texas and their respective boundaries during a time of challenge for Spain in the early nineteenth century. As reflected in the map and related documents, the issue of international borders became especially acute between 1803 and 1806 in the context of the formal Spanish retrocession of Louisiana to France, the French sale of Louisiana to the United States, and a near military clash between American and Spanish forces in an area highlighted by the map, the northeastern corner of Texas. Following the wave of Spanish engineers-cartographers of the 1760s through the 1780s, with their rich, exuberant water colors and detail, Spanish mapmakers continued to engage such issues but became more sparing and also less visible in their authorship, as evidenced by this one map. No signature or author identification appears. (Balston, Mas, Inglis)
The sparse detail and the focus and coloring of the map highlight two borders to help argue and illustrate a Spanish view of what should be accepted as their territory and its political divisions. The first, on the right-hand hand side, emphasizes the straight line of the thirty-first parallel or line of latitude beginning at the
Mississippi River and running due east to the edge of the map above Lake Pontchartrain and . The second highlighted border takes the form of a ninety-degree corner to follow what writers and other maps identified as an Arroyo Hondo (not shown on the map) separating Los Adais (Los Adaes) in the New Orleans from province of Texas in the Natchitoches . The line then runs south and connects with the province of Louisiana Sabine River. Another less well- highlighted border continues south from the thirty-first parallel following the Mississippi River to the mouth of the Bayou Manchac (Iberville River), and then east to Lake Maurepas along that lake’s north shore to its connection with Lake Pontchartrain, and finally along that lake’s north, a line agreed upon in the treaty between Britain and France at the end of the Seven Years’ War in 1763. The territory encompassed is prominently identified as “Territorio del Dominio de S.M pertenece a la ” (“Territory of the Dominion of His Majesty belonging to Florida ”) and corresponds to what the Spanish administered as a district of Baton Rouge within their Florida . (Inglis, McMichael) province of West Florida
The emphasis on borders reveals local Spanish officials and the mapmaker’s attempt to provide by way of a vivid illustration their ongoing effort to clarify and establish borders in a region where
, Spain , and France had competed with one another in Great Britain North America over empire for more than a hundred years. After achieving independence from in 1783, the Britain entered the game. It began aggressively to claim territory the Spanish continued to regard as theirs, and in 1795 achieved some success by persuading United States by means of the Treaty of San Lorenzo, or Pinkney’s Treaty, to agree to the thirty-first parallel as the southern border of the Spain . The mapmaker acknowledges that change but makes no additional concessions to Americans. Suggesting strongly that he did the map in the context of the illegal - from the Spanish point of view - sale of United States by Louisiana in 1803 to the France , he does not acknowledge that sale or the subsequent claim by the United States that its purchase included west United States and even Florida . The only territory identified as American is that east of the Texas Mississippi River and north of the thirty-first parallel, accepted by in the 1795 treaty. Final diplomatic resolution of all those issues did not occur until 1819 and another treaty, the Adams-Onís, or Transcontinental, Treaty, between Spain and the Spain , and its ratification in 1821. (Cox, Mapp, Lyon, DeConde, Houck, Bemis, Brooks) United States
Of the two multi-colored borders or boundaries, the somewhat less important—given the abrupt cut-off of the map—seems to be the eastern one, the thirty-first parallel. Establishing that border and securing navigation and port access for rivers flowing into the
Gulf of Mexico—particularly the —became after 1783 a major diplomatic goal of the Mississippi . The Treaty of Paris, 1783, between the United States and Great Britain, which brought to a formal conclusion the American Revolution, acknowledged the western border for the new country as the Mississippi River and the southern border as the thirty-first degree of latitude extending from the Mississippi River east to the Apalachicola and Flint rivers and then east along the St. Mary’s River to the United States Atlantic. , which had aided Americans in their revolt, was not a party to that treaty. Perhaps quite intentionally, Spain did not clarify the boundaries of the Britain in its separate treaty with Floridas . The Spanish, who had seized major British posts in Spain West Florida including north of the thirty-first parallel, challenged the American claim for the next twelve years. (Ellicott, Linklater, Weeks, Bemis, Cox) Natchez
Americans began moving in substantial numbers across the
Appalachians to settle in areas north and south of the Ohio River. The southern incursion posed a challenge to both , which had claimed the region during the American Revolution, and its most numerous inhabitants, Native-Americans. Local Spanish officials argued for a continued Spanish presence in the area as essential to provide a barrera (barrier) to any who might threaten Spain ’s interior provinces, one of which was Spain , and the heartland of her empire in Texas North America to the south. At the same time, American incursions alarmed many Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks, Cherokees, and other native groups. Both the Spanish and many Native Americans easily found common ground for cooperation. As a consequence, the Spanish and representatives of numerous native groups formed in 1793 – on paper at least – a confederation; and the Spanish were allowed to establish new posts as far north as present-day Memphis, none of which except Natchez appears on the map. (Din, Weeks)
That absence can be explained by the major reversal of fortune for
in the form of the 1795 Spain San Lorenzo treaty. As indicated above, agreed to the thirty-first parallel extending east to the Spain Apalachicola and rivers and then breaking to follow the course of the St. Mary’s River to the Flint Atlantic Ocean as the southern border of the . United States also agreed to open the Spain Mississippi River to free navigation for Americans with right of deposit in . In agreeing to that boundary, it gave up New Orleans and other posts it had established along the east bank of the Natchez Mississippi River and along the above Tombigbee River . And, in effect, it agreed to abandon its commitment to help native groups in their effort to check increased pressure to cede land. The map reflects those changes. Along with the absence of Spanish posts, the names of no Indian groups appear in a space labeled simply as Territorio Americano (American territory). (Bemis, Weeks) Mobile
Actual survey of the border did not begin until the summer of 1798 and took two years to complete. As required in the
San Lorenzo treaty, a joint Spanish and American commission undertook the work. From the start, it met challenges from Native-American opponents of the treaty. Shortly after the survey began, Americans began construction of the fort prominently identified on the map as Fuerte Americano (American fort) just above the line on the east bank of the river. The fort took the name Adams after the then American president, John Adams. It became the scene in 1802 of an important meeting of Americans and Choctaws that produced an agreement by Choctaws attending to cede some land and allow Americans to build a road through their land to help connect and Natchez , a road now commemorated as the Nashville Natchez Trace Parkway. (Ellicott, Linklater, Weeks)
Four years later, in 1806,
became the starting point for a successor to the much better-known Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804-1806. A surveyor, Thomas Freeman, who had served as the other American commissioner with Ellicott to survey the thirty-first parallel, led a group, which included the naturalist, Peter Custis, to follow an earlier 1804 exploring expedition headed by William Dunbar – naturalist, astronomer, plantation owner in the Natchez region, and another participant on the Spanish side in the survey of the southern boundary of the United States – to explore more of the Red River in Louisiana and beyond. A Spanish military force from Fort Adams in the sensitive Texas-Louisiana border area forced the Freeman – Custis group to turn back. (De Rosier, Flores, West) Nacogdoches
Well before and during the two years of the survey of the thirty-first parallel boundary, much happened in
Europe to set the stage for continued border disputes between the and United States . European national and imperial politics continued to be fluid and provide important context for understanding the title of the map and its particular emphasis on a Texas-Louisiana boundary. Spain withdrew from an alliance with Spain – an alliance brought about by the French Revolution and what it portended in the early 1790s – and allied itself with republican Britain when the France and United States seemed to be joining forces in the Treaty of London, or Jay’s Treaty, of 1794, an event that Spanish officials perceived with apprehension. Shortly after completion of the survey, Spain agreed in the secret treaty San Ildefonso of 1800 with France to retrocede what had been called Louisiana, in honor of the French king, Louis XIV, by René-Robert, sieur de La Salle, for France during his exploration of the lower Mississippi valley in the early 1680s. At the conclusion of the Seven Years’ War, or French and Indian War, Britain agreed in 1762 by means of the Treaty of Fontainebleau to accept Spain as a way to avoid its falling into the hands of Louisiana . It might be noted here that it was Great Britain La Salle’s trip and claim and what followed from it that prompted ultimately to create a Spain and, in 1722, establish a presidio and mission and locate its capital in Los Adais. Los Adais remained the capital of province of Texas until 1773 when it moved to San Antonio de Béxar. ( Texas Bolton, Din, Galloway, Hackett, Flores)
Yet much of what
feared in 1762 in the way of a disruption to a balance of power in Spain North America and a challenge to its position in New Spain came to pass during the formal retrocession to in 1803. In that context the French government, headed by Napoleon Bonaparte, agreed to sell the still vaguely understood and defined France to the Louisiana . Spain vigorously objected to the sale arguing that it violated a pledge by France in the San Ildefonso retrocession agreement that Louisiana would not be allowed to pass into the hands of a another power, The position taken by Pierre Clément Laussat, Napoleon’s prefect for Louisiana and later adopted by the American president, Thomas Jefferson, that Louisiana included the province of West Florida to the Perdido River in the east and stretched all the way west to the mouth of the Río Bravo (Rio Grande) and thereby included the Spanish province of Texas strengthened that objection. (Jefferson, Robertson) United States
An American military force under the command of James Wilkinson occupied
in 1804, and in 1806 both Natchitoches and the Spain increased their military presence in the area. In 1806 Spanish and American forces confronted each other in the area of Los Adais and United States , but hostilities were averted when the Spanish general, Simón de Herrera, and Wilkinson agreed to establish a neutral zone between Los Adais and Nacogdoches . That de facto neutral zone extended farther south. People continued to live there, however; and it became a convenient haven for fugitive slaves and bandits. It might be noted that two talented mapmakers working for the Spanish were in the area at this time: Juan Pedro Walker, who at the age of seventeen had assisted in the survey of the thirty-first parallel, and Father José María de Jesús Puelles, a Franciscan missionary from Zacatecas and since 1803 associated with a mission in Nacagdoches. Both produced maps useful to the Spanish to argue their case. (Onís, Haggard, Robertson, Cox, Houck, Holmes, Jackson, John) Natchitoches
The events of 1803 and what followed underscored a particular need for
to establish a clear border between Spain and Texas and win acceptance of it. In 1805 a royal order directed Viceroy of New Spain in Mexico City, José de Iturrigaray, to undertake a project to assemble all pertinent documents to verify the true limits of Louisiana and Texas. The viceroy forwarded the order to Nemesio Salcedo, the commandant of the northern interior provinces of Louisiana New Spain in . In Chihuahua , the viceroy of Mexico City New Spain secured in 1807 the services of Fray Melchor de Talamantes, who began work that was disrupted by Napoleon’s invasion of in 1808 and the constitutional issue it raised in Spain New Spain and elsewhere in the Spanish empire. Another ecclesiastic, José Antonio Pinchardo, replaced Talamantes and completed the project in 1811, a massive work that used some of the maps created by Puelles. (Hackett, Jackson)
Also continuing to motivate Spanish officials was the view that
extended as far north as the mouth of the Louisiana Missouri River and included such posts and towns as San Luis (present-day ) and needed to be vigorously held as part of an effective shield for all of the Spanish empire to the south. Despite this ample view of Spanish Louisiana, St. Louis became shortly after the Louisiana purchase the starting point for two well-known American exploring expeditions - those of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark (1804-1806) and Zebulon Pike (1806-07) - to know more about what Americans wanted to regard now as their own. Before those trips began, however, the Spanish launched one of their own. In April, 1803, the lieutenant governor of Alta Luisiana ( St. Louis Upper Louisiana), Carlos de Hault de Lassus, ordered Regis Loisel to explore the Missouri River. It turned out to be primarily a diplomatic mission to win the support of Native-Americans before the Americans could get to them. (Din, Wood, Finiels, Flores)
Clearly, once again, this map was done mainly to delineate a Texas-Louisiana boundary to divide Los Adais from
and then follow southward the course of the Natchitoches Sabine River and even to keep open the question of the legitimacy of the sale of by Louisiana to the France . The square corner multi-colored border divides Los Adais from United States . Los Adais had remained the capital of Natchitoches until 1773 when a new governor located his residence in San Antonio de Béxar, identified clearly on the west side of the map and connected to Los Adais and Texas by a slightly hatched trail or road. By then the French had given Nacogdoches to the Spanish as part of a decision to abandon their North-American imperial enterprise at the conclusion of the Seven Years’ War. That border remained, however, to divide Louisiana from the now Spanish Texas within the captaincy-general of province of Louisiana . Cuba
A former Spanish military governor of
and a commissioner appointed to assist in the retrocession to France, the Marqués de Casa Calvo, shared the view that the events of 1803-06 demanded clarification and re-affirmation of a border. The map expresses visually the words he used in arguing this border, as well as the line enclosing the Spanish district of Baton Rouge. Between 1804 and 1806, even after the establishment of an American regime in Louisiana, he led a major Spanish expedition that included among its almost seventy members the talented French engineer Nicolas de Finiels, to explore, research, and ultimately define a western border of Louisiana and eastern border of Texas. Finiels’ report of that expedition, submitted in 1810 to Luis de Onís, the Spanish minister to the Louisiana , included discussions of the area highlighted by the square corner of the map as well as the United States Red River region earlier traversed by Dunbar and then Freeman and Custis. (Holmes, Flores, Robertson)
The Casa Calvo-Finiels expedition generated a number of charts and maps. This map may have been one. José Martínez, a sergeant in the Royal Corps of Engineers and Casa Calvo’s principal associate on this expedition, informed Dunbar of possession of a sketch based upon a Spanish chart showing a boundary line running in an east-northeast direction from the Sabine River to a point about two leagues from the Red River where it made the right angle to include the post of Los Adais in the province of Texas, and then trended northwest. Martínez went on to suggest that the boundary continued an indefinite length to the “
Northern Andes” where both the Red and rivers had their sources. (Cox) Missouri
Despite – or possibly even because of – that expedition, Spanish claim to the area remained fragile. The majority of this map spatially consists of the lightly hatched trail connecting San Antonio de Béxar to the Nacogdoches-Adais area. That area contrasts with the much more detailed eastern, or
portion, and exposes a dearth of Spanish settlement in Louisiana , and along with that, mapmaking and maps. The only Native-American group identified on the whole map, “Yndios Apaches” to the southeast of San Antonio, is that of a group that remained hostile to the Spanish despite some success by them in enlisting Comanches to the north to aid them in reducing that threat. To the east, the greater richness of detail attests to more settlements and the fact that the mapmaker had access to many more maps and what they could tell him. The many place names identify settlements made by French, French-Canadians, Germans, Spaniards, and Anglo-Americans during the time of French and Spanish colonization in areas that could be settled, as opposed to the coastline stretching from the mouth of the Rio Grande to Balize at the mouth of the Mississippi River, a coast on which the Spanish expended much effort and resources to survey and map. The names of Indian groups prominently displayed there, “Atakapas” and “Opelusas,” identify a region that became one of Spanish puestos or settlements. (Inglis, John, Weddle) Texas
Final resolution for
of a border with the Spain had to await the Adams-Onís treaty of 1819, a document that takes its name from the then American secretary of state, John Quincy Adams, and Luis de Onís, still United States ’s minister to the Spain . However, by the time of its ratification in 1821, United States ’s days as an imperial power in both North and Spain South America were ending. Napoleon’s invasion of and the placement of his brother, Joseph, on the throne created a constitutional crisis in the empire and set in motion in Spain Spanish America a movement that led to independence for much of it. What had been the Viceroyalty of New Spain became in 1821 the independent Empire of Mexico and then, in 1824, the . The government of the empire revived the question of a Republic of Mexico - Texas border; and its successor government, that of the republic, when it learned in 1827 of Father José Puelles’ presence in the Los Adais region between 1803 and 1807. It asked him to submit to it his report on that issue. (Sherman and Meyer, Puelles, Jackson, Leutenegger and Habig) Louisiana
Charles A. Weeks
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“Sobre si es conveniente establecerse comunicación y comercio entre las provincias de la
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discussions of lands ceded by
to France in 1762, and such specific posts as Spain
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Weber, David J. The Spanish Frontier in
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“Spanish Mapping of Texas,” The Handbook of Texas, consulted
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Letter to Graham Arader from Professor Charles Weeks
I am not familiar with the way Historic New Orleans acquires material. What I do know of the place is that it has a wealth of information and good people working there, and apparently a very generous endowment that goes back to the 1960s when a couple, William and Leila Kemper created, I think, a foundation to make possible the organization. Since then, many have contributed generously to what it does, both in terms of monetary donations, manuscript collections, and objects. It is a marvelous institution that has done much for the city and region.
Shortly after I received the photos of the map from you and agreed to write up something, I did call to ask if someone there could or would take a look at the photos and react to what I had at that point concluded (it was the day after Christmas, I think, last year). Interestingly, the person who answered the telephone was a person I knew, namely, the head of the research collection, Alfred Lemmon, who happened to be passing the desk downstairs that receives calls. Since he was the only one there, he answered, said his map people were busy but that they would find some time to look at it. They did, and he provided a short summary of what they had to offer, which wasn't too much.
I did see him briefly on Tuesday when he had just left a meeting and was headed somewhere else. I told him I was still sleuthing the map and told him I was in particular interested in seeing anything they had of Nicolas de Finiels and he said the only thing of consequence they had was the big map of the Mississippi valley that was published in "Charting Louisiana" in the context of the Louisiana Purchase bicentennial almost ten years ago. He got the book and told me that the original map had come from Spain for an exhibition in a huge box that got held up at the airport, I think in Atlanta or maybe New Orleans, because the crane needed to unload it was broken. In the context of telling me all that he did bring to my attention that a revised version of the book is due out with a full color reproduction of the map. We did a year ago February compare your map with a Finiels map and concluded that Finiels was most probably not the creator of your map, even though it does very much connect with what is discussed in the essay and that is the expedition headed by Casa Calvo and including Finiels to get if possible conclusive evidence that the Spanish province of Texas in no way should be considered as part of the Spanish province of Louisiana.
He knows you, and I have had good exchanges with him before, going way back when I did some articles for a revised edition of a Dictionary of American History. We also shared one of the programs of a Southern Archivists Association meeting some time ago.
I don't know as I can do any more than what I have already. As I told David Narrett at UT Arlington, my hope would be that someone would buy the map and donate it either to UT Arlington, which has the main cartographic collection of the university, or UT Austin. I guess I would say the same for the Historic New Orleans Collection. Of course, the ideal time would have been at the beginning of the last decade as people began thinking about the upcoming bicentennial of the Lousiana Purchase and ways to commemorate it. Above all, my hope is that it gets in the public domain, hence interest in at least writing up something a bit more detailed that might be published along with good reproductions of the map. The amount of literature on what the map focuses on is immense, and the map portrays vividly key elements of a Spanish view of the sale of Louisiana by the French to the United States, namely that it violated a term of the retrocession agreement between Spain and France.