Item #5082 A Map of Upper and Lower Canada With Part of the United States Adjoining. Comprising the Present Seat of War[.] Taken from the best authorities by J. G. Hales Geogrphr of Portsmouth N.H. John Groves Hales.

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A Map of Upper and Lower Canada With Part of the United States Adjoining. Comprising the Present Seat of War[.] Taken from the best authorities by J. G. Hales Geogrphr of Portsmouth N.H.

Boston, 1813. T. Wightman, engraver. Hand-colored engraving on two joined sheets, 21.625” x 32.5” plus margins. CONDITION: Very good, light soiling, old creases, some present at time of printing, old folds flattened, skillfull paper pulp reinforcement here and there on verso, expert reinstatement of small loss to printed border and lower Lake Michigan at forty-four degree mark.

An exceptionally rare War of 1812 map, conceived and issued while Hales was living in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where the effects of the War were keenly felt.

This map depicts the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River theater of the War, extending from Lower Canada (i.e., the lower St. Lawrence River) and the District of Maine in the east to the easternmost portions of Lake Superior and Lake Michigan in the west. Upper portions of New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio are shown, along with most of Michigan Territory and the northeast corner of Indiana Territory. Central to the map are Lakes Ontario and Erie, where important actions occurred during the War. Text to the north of Lake Huron reads “Great Tract of Wilderness Forest” and “Chippewa Hunting Country.” Numerous forts are identified, including Fort George at the western end of Lake Ontario, Forts Erie and Malden on Lake Erie, and Fort Detroit. Also shown are the various forts in northwestern Ohio, including Forts Recovery, Adams, Defiance, Meigs and Miami.

Like most American port cities, Portsmouth suffered great economic hardship during the War. Hales doubtless anticipated a market for his map both locally and elsewhere among those eager to trace developments in the War, although the rarity of the map suggests that he had few takers. Opinions regarding the War being sharply divided in the U.S., and Hales being a recent immigrant from England, one has to wonder where his sympathies lay. Unlike Thomas Kensett’s Map of Upper and Lower Canada (Cheshire, Ct., 1812) which carries a dedication “To the officers of the Army and citizens of the United States” or Shelton & Kensett’s An Improved Map of the United States (Cheshire, 1813), with its vignettes of naval battles celebrating American heroism, Hales’ map is devoid of patriotic expression. Here he seems to have steered a neutral course, perhaps to maximize the map’s audience. Hales would have been well aware of the fervent opposition to the War among Federalists. In Portsmouth, for instance, while the New Hampshire Gazette offered pro-War coverage, the Federalist-leaning Oracle announced the outbreak of hostilities with the headline “War Horrid War!”

One of New England’s finest mapmakers, John Groves Hales (ca. 1785–1832) was born in England, where he became a civil engineer and surveyor, prior to emigrating to Portsmouth, New Hampshire around 1810. His first published maps appeared in 1813. These were Map of the Compact Part of Portsmouth and A Map of Upper and Lower Canada, both carrying a Portsmouth imprint, although engraved by Boston engraver Thomas Wightman. Perhaps seeking a larger market for his next map, Hales turned his attention to the south, publishing Map of Boston in the State of Massachusetts in 1814, the most detailed map of the city published up to that time. His most important map followed in 1819—Map of Boston and Vicinity. As noted by Michael Buehler in his Surveyor, Mapmaker, Forger: The Career of John Groves Hales (ca. 1785–1832), the latter was an unusually sophisticated map for its time and place:

To produce it Hales conducted a trigonometric survey (also known as a “triangulation”), using careful measurements and calculations to establish a network of precisely-placed locations, which served as control points for placing the details of the natural and human landscape […] Though these advanced methods had been in use in Europe for many years, and had been applied in the surveys of the American coast published in the Atlantic Neptune, this seems to have been the first time they were applied to a terrestrial map of New England.

In addition to the aforementioned maps, Hales attempted an improved map of the state of Massachusetts, a project which failed due to a lack of official support, and possibly as a result of Hales’ conviction on charges of forgery in 1823. He also published The County of Essex From Actual Survey (1825) and undertook numerous surveys for corporations and towns. Hales’ manuscript town surveys are held by the Massachusetts State Archives. A number of these were printed and published by Pendleton’s Lithography of Boston in the early 1830s, including maps of Lexington, Concord, Holliston, Pembroke, and Northampton.

This map is very rare indeed. OCLC records just three copies, at Harvard, Yale, and New Hampshire Historical Society. Not in Phillips, Rumsey, Antique Map Price Record, or Rare Book Hub.

A nice example of this seldom-seen War of 1812 map. 

REFERENCES: Buehler, Michael. “Surveyor, Mapmaker, Forger: The Career of John Groves Hales (ca. 1785–1832),” Newsletter of the Boston Map Society, 2009; Peveril Meigs, “John G. Hales, Boston, Geographer and Surveyor, 1785–1832,” The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, 129 (1975), pp. 23–29.

Item #5082

Price: $17,500.00

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