North America Divided into its III Principal Parts


This map, North America Divided into its III Principal Parts, was created in the late 17th century and reflects the contemporary knowledge of North America and neighboring regions in the early colonial era. It was drafted in 1685 by the English cartographer Philip Lea, who made several maps of North America in the course of a career in which he produced a wide range of maps and atlases. Some parts of the map bear their modern names. Others have names that are colorfully descriptive, such as “Tract of Land full of Wild Bulls,” “Mission of ye Recollect or Upstart Franciscan Friars,” and “Chooaskaby or Nation of Strong Men.” The map contains the names of rivers, lakes, cities, colonies, mission sites, forts, Native American territories, and known mountain ranges. The area of the English colonies along the eastern seaboard of the continent was already well known, as were the Spanish possessions in modern-day Mexico, Florida, the Caribbean, and Baja California. The French colonial possessions in present-day Quebec and Ontario, as well as in the Upper Midwest and Mississippi River Valley south to Louisiana, were less known but still substantively portrayed on the map. The northwestern-most part of the continent, above Baja California and stretching to modern-day Western Canada, Alaska, and the Arctic, was completely unknown. Spanish and Russian explorers and cartographers began to fill out the northwestern coastal parts of the map by the mid-18th century, at about the time the British mapped the interior of Canada. The map has grid lines but no scale.

Last updated: January 8, 2018