A New Map of the Western Parts of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and North Carolina, 1778


Thomas Hutchins (1730–89) produced this map to accompany and supplement his A Topographical Description of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and North Carolina, also published in London in 1778. A native of New Jersey, Hutchins fought with the militia in the French and Indian War. He became an expert frontiersman and was known for his skill as a surveyor, cartographer, and geographer. In 1766 he was given a regular commission as an engineer in the British army and assigned to survey the western regions of Britain’s North American empire. He eventually became the most respected surveyor and map maker in the colonies. Hutchins resigned his commission in 1780, joined the struggle for American independence, and in 1781 was named the first geographer of the United States. This hand-colored map shows state boundaries, towns, forts, roads, Indian villages, Indian paths or trails, rivers and creeks, waterfalls, portages, springs, mountain passes, and deposits of minerals. The map includes descriptive text and notes on areas with fertile land for farming. Hutchins compiled the map from many sources. It was generally well-received, but some contemporaries complained about the accuracy of the latitude and longitude measurements for various frontier towns, the location of Indian towns, and the courses of some rivers. The map is from the Rochambeau Collection at the Library of Congress, which consists of 40 manuscript maps, 26 printed maps, and a manuscript atlas that belonged to Jean-Baptiste-Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau (1725‒1807), commander in chief of the French expeditionary army (1780‒82) during the American Revolution. Some of the maps were used by Rochambeau during the war. Dating from 1717 to 1795, the maps cover much of eastern North America, from Newfoundland and Labrador in the north to Haiti in the south. The collection includes maps of cities, maps showing Revolutionary War battles and military campaigns, and early state maps from the 1790s.

Last updated: November 4, 2016