Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 65,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Senex, John (fl. 1719-1721) A map of Louisiana and of the river Mississippi by John Senex

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC06090 Author/Creator: Senex, John (fl. 1719-1721) Place Written: London, England Type: Maps Date: circa 1719-1721 Pagination: 1

Summary of Content: Engraved map of North America from Chesapeake Bay to the Rio del Norte. English version of the first map to show Texas, earlier land routes, and details of gulf region and the Mississippi. Original outline coloring. Scale: 1 inch = approximately 22 leagues. Dedication to William Law within a large ornamental cartouche illustrating a female angel blowing a horn, two putti with cornucopias (one with fruit, the other with money), old man supporting a gushing urn (symbolizing the source of the Mississippi), two putti laboring in mines. Nebenzahl, The Compass 42:26, associates this with the Mississippi land speculation craze or "Bubble." Senex's English version of De l'Isle's prototype map, Carte de la Louisiane et cours du Mississipi (1718), "the first detailed map of the Gulf Region and the Mississippi, the first printed map to show Texas, the first to show the land routes of earlier centuries--De Soto in 1539-40 and his successor Moscoso in 1542, Cavelier in 1687, Tonty in 1702, and the recent route of Denis in 1713 and 1716" (Tooley, "French Mapping of the Americas" [MCS 33] 43). Senex is often called a plagiarist of De l'Isle's map, but his map is also a highly interesting historical rebuttal of that map. It is generally accepted that De l'Isle provided a "mother map" with the first accurate depiction of the Mississippi, but he also produced a politically chauvinistic document that claimed vast territories for the French and marked the beginning of a cartographic war, known as the War of the Maps (which ended in the actual French and Indian War). In De l'Isle's map Florida appears unmistakably as part of the French territory of Louisiana which stretches to the Rio Grande (the name "Florida" does not even appear on his map); Carolina is described as belonging to the French by right of discovery and possession; British colonies are restricted to the area east of the Alleghenies. Both Britain and Spain protested. Senex's map, which appeared in his A New General Atlas (London, 1721), cartographically removed several of the French claims, restoring the name Florida and ignoring the French possession of Carolina. Of significant Texas interest, Senex follows De l'Isle by translating into English the first appearance of a form of the name "Texas" on a printed map (Mission de los Teijas established in 1716, near present-day Nacogdoches on the Trinity River). References: Tooley (above), Cumming 182. Lowery 297. Martin & Martin 19 (citing the De'Isle's 1718 original), Phillips, Atlases 563. Schwartz & Ehrenberg, The Mapping of America 141. Wheat, Transmississippi West 100 (giving date 1719; see also p. 67, where he notes that the original map shows "distinct advances in the mapping of the American West"). Other maps in Senex's atlas are dated 1719, and it seems reasonable, following Wheat, that Senex would have produced his map immediately following the De l'Isle furor.


Historical Era: Colonization and Settlement, 1585-1763

Keywords/Subjects: Geography and Natural History, Surveying, Texas

Sub Era: Early Settlements