Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Philosophical Geographic Features

My original career path, oh those many years ago, was to become a professional philosopher. I was introduced to the world of antique maps and prints, and decided that a career in that field would be a lot of fun and offered more chances of actually earning a living. However, I have never lost my interest in and love of philosophy. Recently I was reading about an early map of the Carolina colony and came across a reference to one of my favorite philosophers, John Locke, who actually had an island named after him!

I have been able to find only two other geographic names which are taken from philosophers, Carla-Bayle in France, named after French philosopher Pierre Bayle, and Berkeley, California, named after Anglo-Irish philosopher George Berkeley. Unfortunately, though Locke did have an island named after him, none such exists today; the history of this makes an interesting story.

John Locke (1632-1704), was one of the great philosophers of the Enlightenment, especially in the fields of epistemology and political philosophy. After getting his degree at Oxford University, Locke stayed on there until 1666, when he met Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper, the 1st Earl of Shaftesbury. Lord Ashley went to Oxford to seek help with a liver infection and he was impressed with Locke’s treatment. (Later Locke persuaded the Earl to have an operation on his liver, which probably saved his life).

The Earl asked Locke to join his retinue, and in 1667, Locke moved to Exeter House in London, Lord Ashley’s home. Locke became an important part of the Earl’s household and he was appointed Secretary to two important bodies which Shaftesbury belonged to. One was the Lords of Trade and Plantation, which was a committee of the Royal Privy Council set up to advise on issues related to the newly established British colonies.

The other was the Lords Proprietors of Carolina. This was a body of eight nobles, including Lord Ashley, who had assisted Charles II in the restoration of the English throne in 1660, to whom Charles granted the rights to create a Province of Carolina in 1663. Their initial attempt at colonization failed, but they were finally successful, beginning with the founding of the Charles Town settlement in 1670.

Locke was heavily involved in this new colony, drafting the Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina, as well writing various instruction to the colonists on how to make sure their actions in the new colony were consistent with the document. This was not Locke’s shining moment, for though he elsewhere wrote against aristocracy and slavery, the Constitutions, enshrined both of these in Carolina.

The same year that the Charles Town settlement was established, John Ogilby, a Scottish dancing master and publisher, was preparing to issue an illustrated volume, America, containing a history and description of the New World. This was mostly a direct translation of a contemporary Dutch book by Arnold Montanus, who is not mentioned at all by Ogilby, and almost all the illustrations were those included by Montanus. However, in order to make his publication more attractive to his intended English audience, Ogilby sought the latest new information on the English possessions in America, adding fresh text and four new maps, of Maryland, Jamaica, Barbados, and Carolina.

As Carolina was just in the process of being settled, and by some very influential figures, Ogilby was keen to include information and a map of the colony. Thus he approached Peter Colleton, the brother of one of the Proprietors, John Colleton, who wrote to John Locke, as secretary to Lord Ashley, requesting a map he could use in his book.

To my honoured frend Mr. John Lock
Mr. Ogilby who is printing a relation of the West Indies hath been often wth mee to gett a map of Carolina wherefore I humbly desire you to gett of my lord [Ashley] those mapps of Cape feare & Albermarlee that he hath & I will drawn them into one wth that of port Royal & waite upon my lord for the nominations of the rivers, &c.

Locke was able to provide a map to Ogilby, who used it to make a new map for his volume, commonly called “The First Lord Proprietors Map.” From Locke, the map includes many names taken from the Lord Proprietors, including Craven County, Colleton River, Berkeley County, Ashley River, Cooper River, Cape Carteret, and Albemarle County.

Another name which appears on the map is “Locke Iland,” located near the mouth of the Edisto and Ashepoo Rivers. Based on very early exploration of the region, the map shows only a single island there, whereas there are actually several. Later explorations revealed this to map makers, and so the single “Locke Iland” was removed, along with its name. There is a large island right in that spot, Edisto Island, which is actually shaped much like Locke Island on the map, but none-the-less, Locke’s brief claim to geographic fame was removed soon after it was introduced.

A few other maps, such as John Speed’s from 1676, showed the island, but it wasn’t long before the newer maps no longer showed this philosophical isle.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Creating Colorado Territory

In 1854, a two large territories, Kansas and Nebraska, were created in the previously unorganized lands lying between the Continental Divide and the states and territories lining the western side of the Mississippi River, extending from the 37th degree latitude to the Canadian border. Kansas Territory lay to the west of Missouri; at the western edge of the territory rose the Rocky Mountains, with the majority of the territory consisting of an undeveloped Great Plains. It was only the eastern parts of the territory, near the Missouri border, which were settled by Anglo-Americans, the rest of the territory almost exclusively inhabited by nomadic Indian tribes.

In 1858, gold was discovered along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, near the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek. As thousands flooded into the area, in what was called the Pike’s Peak gold rush, settlements (such as Denver City) were established and the population boomed. This area was located well away from the Kansas territorial government far to the east, and the locals realized that their interests were not necessarily the same as the interests of those located in the eastern part of the territory. Besides there was no machinery available for the enforcement of law & order, a real concern to those who hoped to make their fortune. Thus these miners and other settlers wanted a new territory to be carved out of the western part of Kansas, to provide local government.


A delegation was sent to Washington for the creation of such a territory. On January 6, 1859, Schuyler Colfax, representative from Illinois, introduced a bill in Congress to organize a “Territory of Colona” along the eastern slope of the Rockies. The territory was to include the western-most parts of Kansas and Nebraska as far north as the 42nd parallel, as well as the northeastern part of New Mexico. This name was taken from the Spanish for Columbus and the New York Times stated that this name was favored by the settlers of the area.

This new territory lay north of the 36° 30’ latitude line, and by the Missouri Compromise of 1850 this meant that slavery would be prohibited there. In this period of great conflict in the country over the question of slavery, there was no way Southerners in Congress would allow the creation of such a new “free” territory, so there were not enough votes to support Colfax’s bill and the territory was never created.


The desire by citizens of the front range for a local territory continued however, and a group of prominent citizens met on April 15, 1859 in Uncle Dick Wootton's Tavern in Auraria, voting to try to organize a new, local government. A convention was held to draft a constitution for a state of Jefferson, but this was rejected in a popular referendum, many feeling that a state would prove to be too much of a financial burden. Proponents tried again, this time drafting a constitution for a territory of Jefferson, which was subsequently approved by referendum on October 24, 1859.

The constitution was adopted, government bodies established, including a territorial legislature that met and elected Robert W. Steele as provisional governor. Meanwhile, Beverly D. Williams was sent to Washington as a representative of the territory, but Congress refused his petition. Still, a Jefferson government did operate for about sixteen months, though it has been said to have "remained extralegal, factious, and semieffective." (Historical Atlas of Colorado) The territory as proposed would have been considerably larger than today's Colorado, encompassing more of Utah and much of Wyoming.

Governor Steele tried to reach an accord with the territorial government of Kansas to recognize Jefferson, as well as petitioning Congress to the same end, but neither effort succeeded. With the election of Lincoln in November 1860, all chance of Congress recognizing Jefferson ended, for Steele was a Democratic foe of Lincoln and the Republican Party.

However, after all the Southern Congressmen left the government with their state's secession in early 1861, Congress swiftly created a new, free state of Kansas out of the eastern part of the territory, leaving the western part unorganized. Shortly thereafter, Congress organized a new territory out of the lands, as well as part of southwestern Nebraska, eastern Utah and northeastern New Mexico. As Thomas Jefferson, a Southerner, was not popular in Congress in early 1861, the new territory was named Colorado.


Neither Colona nor Jefferson were ever recognized by the Federal government and so never officially existed. However, that does not mean that they did not appear on contemporary maps. Mapmakers hated to have their maps not up-to-date. Any map that did not include a depiction of a newly created territory would be considered out-of-date, and because there was a time delay between when the map was drawn and when it was published, mapmakers tended to jump the gun a bit with potential new territories. They kept their ears to the ground to learn as soon as possible about new territories that might be created by Congress, and if a mapmaker believed that such a new political entity was about to be approved, he would put it on the map even before the bill was actually passed. If the territory was created, his map would be amazingly current, ahead of his competitors, and if it never came into existence, the mapmaker just hoped no one noticed.

This happened to both Colona and Jefferson, which appeared in various forms on a number of maps, and in fact together on some maps. These are not the only American chimeric territories to appear on nineteenth century maps, and maps showing such are always popular with collectors. If you ever come across a map of the western U.S. from 1859 to early 1861, take a look to see if either of these territories appears. Click here to see maps with Colona or Jefferson Territories in the inventory of The Philadelphia Print Shop West.