Carte des Possessions Angloise & Francoise du Continent de l'Amerique Septentrionale
REINER & JOSHUA OTTENS, Published 1775Size of Image: 16 1/4" x 22 1/4" plus title and margins
Condition: Good condition, minor fox marks. Fine original color.
This beautiful rare map outlines the English and French possessions in North America at the outset of the Seven Year War (1754-1763). It is based on Jean Palairet’s Carte des possessions anlgoises et francoise du continent de l’Amérique septentionale, also published in 1755. Palairet was an English mapmaker who was, at this time, acting as the Agent to the Dutch States-General in London. As such, the outbreak of the Seven Year War created a demand by the public for maps to understand the conflict in its various facets. Thus, 1755 proved to be a momentous year in the publishing of numerous maps which attempted to support one colonial power’s claim over another. Consequently, Palairet’s map and the pamphlet that accompanied it, was actually earmarked for the french public in hopes to dissuade the french from some of its colonial claims.
As such, the present map shows not only the extent of the French and English Possessions at the onset of the conflict, but is a testament to the different approaches used by France and England in establishing their colonial outposts. The forts and the boundaries between the different colonies are delineated in red. However, it is the area in pink that indicates the area of contention between England and France. This area would eventually be a catalyst in bringing the Seven Years War to North America.
The English, initially concerned with finding a trade route to the the West via a North West passage, limited their colonial outposts east of the Appalachians. The French, on the other hand, attempted to find a western trade route through the continent, and as such, extended themselves throughout the continent with the St-Lawrence acting as its entry point. When the British colonies attempted to expand in the Mississippi valley, the French responded through the construction of multiple forts from the Gulf of the St-Lawrence to the Mississippi River Delta. Thus, the Fort du Quesne located at the Forks in present day Pittsburg as well as Quebec City became the focal points to this strategy. This strategy proved fatal for the French as they in effect over extended themselves. Furthermore, French colonial defences were limited by their ability to receive timely reinforcement from France. The French were unable to send reinforcements to its colonies because of the effective naval blockade by superior British forces, and by the requirement by France to concentrate it’s efforts in the European military theatre.
Following the end of the conflict with the fall of Quebec City in 1763, colonial maps, such as this one, would need to be effectively redrawn. France would cede New France to Great Britain and Louisiana to Spain, while Spain would cede Florida to Great Britain. As a result, Britain effectively became the pre-eminent power on the continent as a result of the realignment of colonial possessions.
(Sources: Sharp, L., “Unjust Encroachments: British and French Territorial Claims in North America., BLR item34266)