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Friday, June 10, 2011

Map of the Day: Province of New York in North America- Claude Joseph Sauthier (1736-1802)

A chorographical map of the province of New York in North America, divided into counties, manors, patents, and townships; exhibiting likewise all the private grants of land made and located in that province...
Copperplate engraving with full original color
Paper size: four panels, 37” x 27 1/2”
London: William Faden (engraver), 1 August 1779

This map by Claude Joseph Sauthier is one of the most celebrated maps of New York of the entire colonial period. It shows all existing towns, counties, and major roads, and gives an excellent portrait of the extent of settlement (still largely confined to the Hudson Valley). Western New York is portrayed as a vast wilderness and is, thus, labeled simply as "Country of the Six Nations, Indian Country."

C.J. Sauthier was born on November 10, 1736 in Strasbourg, (Alsace) France. He received training as a draftsman and illustrator, and early in life was greatly inspired by the master gardeners Dezallier d'Argenville and Alexandre Le Blond). In 1763 Sauthier wrote his first great work, A Treatis on Public Architecture and Garden Planning.

Sauthier arrived in North America in 1767, accompanying then British Royal Governor of North Carolina, William Tryon, around the Province. Between 1768 and 1771, Sauthier dedicated himself to mapping towns (and even one camp and battlefield) in North Carolina, all of which were deemed militarily important to the British government. (During his lifetime, Sauther also created superb maps of Bath, Beaufort, Brunswick, Cross Creek (now Fayatteville), Edenton, Halifax, Hillsborough, New Bern, Salisbury, Wilmington and the Camp and Battlefield of Alamance.) Today, these maps form part of King George III's esteemed Topographical Collection at the British Library, though some are also contained in the collections of the Public Record Office in London, the North Carolina Division of Archives and History in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the Clinton Collection at the William L. Clements Library of the University of Michigan. During this time period, Sauthier also played a key role in the planning of the Tryon Palace gardens in New Bern.

In 1771, Sauthier left North Carolina with Tryon. That year Tryon rose to the position of Governor of New York and Sauthier was appointed surveyor of the Province of New York by Tryon. Thus, Sauthier's efforts were crucial to the surveying of the boundary between New York and Quebec.

Nevertheless, it was the American Revolution that most cemented Sauthier's status as a master surveyor and mapmaker. Indeed, the maps Sauthier produced during this period were of incalculable military importance to the British government. On July 12, 1776, British General William Howe arrived on Staten Island and asked Sauthier to survey and produce a map of the island. Soon after making this request, General Howe successfully captured the City of New York. In addition, after British General Hugh Percy (commander of the 5th Regiment of Foot) made his successful attack on Fort Washington (at the northern tip of Manhattan Island) in November 1776, he, like General Howe, requested that Sauthier survey and map the area. Moreover, General Percy grew to like Sauthier so much that he asked him to accompany his British forces up to Newport, Rhode Island. Sauthier also chose to join Percy at his ancestral home at Alnwick Castle
in England following the country's defeat in the war. Sauthier worked as Percy's private secretary. Sauthier died in 1790 in his native Strasbourg at the age of 66.


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