Life, Liberty and the Representation of Space: Maps of the American Revolution


The Osher Map Library’s collection of maps from and of the American Revolution may be divided into five major categories, based on who made them and what they were made for. Some were produced for planning military strategy. Others were intended to inform the general public in England, America, France, and Germany, each country using cartography as a medium for propaganda. These maps illustrate the competitive nature of bitter political squabble, as one country publishes a map in reaction to the most recent cartographic claims of the enemy. In addition to maps produced by cartographic authorities, individuals recorded their own observations and experiences of the war through hand-drawn maps and diaries. Approaching the Revolution’s conclusion, maps were made for peace talks at the Treaty of Paris in 1783. The final section focuses on Portland maps, including maps made during the Revolutionary War, as well as later maps reflecting on revolutionary events as they shaped the city’s transformation into the willful phoenix, rising from the ashes of conflict.