Today one of my clients asked me why his LeRouge map of the Carolinas had both French and English text.
Here was my asnwer:
The map you purchased speaks to the desperate need that the French had to extract vengeance for their vast loses to the English in the French and Indian War which ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1763. The French were left with Guadeloupe and Martinique after having over 35% of North America. It was humiliating but Louis XV simply didn't care about his American Colonies. He lived at Versailles with one of the most beautiful women that ever lived as his Mistress. Giving himself pleasure was his only concern.
But the French military seethed humiliated by their total defeat lead by two Hanoverian Kings who also happened to be the Kings of England one right after each other - George II and George III.
Three things then occurred between 1774 - 1776 that provided a perfect confluence of events for a satisfying revenge.
1. Louis XV died in 1774 leaving the way for his easily manipulated, son, Louis XVI to come to power.
2. The "Americans" being niggardly deadbeats proved unwilling to pay for the vast expenditures of the French and Indian War. It had NOTHING to do with "representation" as they said. They still would not have paid if they had been given power. So they started questioning authority in a massive effort to avoid paying their fair share. This is still the case after 238 years.
3. The TRUE hero of the American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin, came to Paris in 1776.
This confluence of events gave the French Aristocracy their chance for revenge with the master of manipulation, Franklin, leading them to the result they wanted already.
As a result the French government made funds and men available in 1777-78 for the cause of the American Rebels. And with the leadership of Rochambeau and his fellow countryman, the able Admiral de Grasse, Cornwallis was cornered at Yorktown and the British decided that killing fellow Englishman was too distasteful to be continued and went home.
The map you have is the result of these events. It copies very closely the English edition of 1775 but was published in Paris by leRouge in 1777.
Yes, some of it is in French and some of it is in English. It was part of an atlas of North America that I would be delighted to show you at anytime. But it was used by the French who could read the imprint and understand most of the information even though some of it was still in English. The engraver was in a hurry to get this atlases published for the French market and plagiarized Thomas Jeffreys books to let the very interested French public, military, aristocracy know what this "America" and the war there was all about. In the rush to get the book out, most of the English that SHOULD have been translated simply was not. So most of the map is in English because of the rush to get the book out. Another French atlas by Sartine was completing for this business and it came out the next year - 1778. It did poorly and is now much rarer today because it lost the race to LeRouge the publisher of your map.
I would recommend Walter Issacson's "Benjamin Franklin" as the best book to read if you want to know more about these events.
Most importantly thank you for asking these wonderful questions. It is always a pleasure to answer a bright, curious man.
By the way, do you know about this amazing auction - http://www.aradernyc.com/