Osgood Carleton (1741-1816) was the key figure in the early mapping of the Eastern District of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: Maine. A land surveyor and teacher of the mathematical arts in Boston, he compiled existing manuscript maps and plans into maps of the district for books on U.S. geography [map 1] and Maine history , in 1793 and 1795 respectively. These were the first printed maps of Maine.
Carleton persuaded the Commonwealth to require every town to make a detailed plan and from these he compiled maps of both Massachusetts and Maine. The maps were engraved by John Norman and printed in 1798 [map 3] but state authorities rejected them because of their poor quality. Carleton and new engravers, J. Callendar and S. Hill, then worked under official supervision to produce new maps. These new maps were first published in 1801 and were subsequently further corrected. The 1802 state, displayed here, was the first to feature several river systems between the Penobscot and St. Croix Rivers, including the Union, Narraguagus, and Pleasant Rivers, and the east and west branches of the Machias River . Both the rejected and accepted maps contain a wealth of information about economic activities in early Maine.
An Accurate Map of the District of Maine Being Part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Engraving, hand-colored; four sheets, 138cm x 98cm combined
Thompson, no. 4 — State II
Map of the District of Maine Massachusetts Compiled from Actual Surveys Made by Order of the General Court, and Under the Inspection of Agents of their Appointment
Boston: B. & J. Loring, 1802
Engraving; four sheets, 134cm x 92cm combined, dissected
Thompson, no. 8 — State III
The poor quality of engraving in the U.S.A. in the 1790s is evident in a comparison of two other early maps of Maine: the map from an early Philadelphia atlas by Matthew Carey [map 5] is quite crude when compared to the fine line work and elegant lettering of a rare German map derived in large part from Carleton’s work .
The Province of Maine from the Best Authorities … 1794
From Mathew Carey, The General Atlas for Carey’s Edition of Guthrie’s Geography Improved (Philadelphia, 1795), map 27
Engraving; 36cm x 24cm
Thompson, no. 13 — State I