Map of Northern America and Part of Southern America from the Mouth of the Saint Lawrence River to Cayenne Island with the New Discoveries of the Mississippi River or Colbert River
Attributed to the Abbé Claude Bernou and dated 1681, this very beautiful mural map of North America and the Gulf of Mexico is from the Navy Hydrographic Office Collection in the National Library of France. The collection goes back to Jean-Baptise Colbert (1619−83), minister of finance under King Louis XIV, whose objective was to gather knowledge about all the seacoasts of the world. The map shows many of the discoveries made by the French expeditions in the Mississippi Valley from 1672 to 1681 and indicates the position of three forts constructed in 1679 and 1680: Fort Conty (near Niagara Falls), Fort Miami (south of Lake Michigan), and Fort Crèvecoeur (on the left bank of the Illinois River). In this representation, the Mississippi River ends at its confluence with the Ohio River. The Abbé Bernou was a scheming figure at the court of Louis XIV, who was interested in North American exploration and colonization as a means to further his own ambitions. He probably commissioned this map but was not the cartographer. He sought favor with the king, Colbert, and the Marquis de Seignelay (1651−90), the son of Jean-Baptiste Colbert. The title of the map on the elaborate cartouche is Carte de l'Amérique septentrionale et partie de la méridionale depuis l'embouchure de la rivière St Laurens jusqu'à l'isle de Cayenne avec les nouvelles découvertes de la rivière de Mississipi ou Colbert (Map of northern America and part of southern America from the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River to Cayenne Island with the new discoveries of the Mississippi River or Colbert River). The naming of the Mississippi as the Colbert River may well have been an attempt to appeal to the minister and his son.
Title in Original Language
Carte de l'Amérique septentrionale et partie de la méridionale depuis l'embouchure de la rivière St Laurens jusqu'à l'isle de Cayenne avec les nouvelles découvertes de la rivière de Mississipi ou Colbert
Type of Item
1 map : manuscript, color ; 163 x 147 centimeters
- Céline Dupré, “CAVELIER DE LA SALLE, RENÉ-ROBERT,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography 1 (Toronto: University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003– ).
- Grace Lee Nute “RADISSON, PIERRE-ESPRIT,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography 2 (Toronto: University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003– ).
Last updated: October 19, 2015