The Mitchell Map, 1755-1782: An Irony of Empire

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Being the promotion and dissolution of British power in North America, charted upon the “red line” map, 1755-1898; as remarked on the occasion of Patriot’s Day in the State of Maine and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, April 21st, 1997.

Matthew H. Edney

OS-1775-8. John Mitchell, A Map of the British Colonies in North America (London: William Faden, 1775), original hand-applied water color, with manuscript annotations from 1898.

Update Information

The content of this web document is as originally published in April 1997. The occasion was taken, when reformatting it in January 2013 for a new website, to fix some minor errors. However, no attempt was made to significantly revise and update its content. For updates and expansion, please refer to two subsequent publications:

Edney, Matthew H. “A Publishing History of John Mitchell’s 1755 Map of North America.” Cartographic Perspectives, no.58 (2007): 4-27 and 71-75.

Edney, Matthew H. “John Mitchell’s Map of North America (1755): A Study of the Use and Publication of Official Maps in Eighteenth-Century Britain.” Imago Mundi 60, no.1 (2008): 63-85.


Dr. Stephanie Abbot Roper was of great help in clarifying the political aspects of the map. Dr. Ronald Grim, Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress, Dr. Andrew Cook, Oriental and India Office Collections, British Library, and Mr. Edward Dahl, Early Map Specialist, National Archives of Canada were of great assistance in liberally sharing their knowledge of the “Red Line Map,” its copies, and War Office draftsmen. Ms. Wendy Raver, New York Historical Society, kindly interrogated John Jay’s map over the telephone at very short notice. General assistance provided by Dr. Harold L. Osher; Yolanda I. Theunissen, and Christi A. Mitchell, Cartographic Associate, Osher Map Library. Abraham Schechter, photographic conservator, Portland Photographics, took the photographs from which most of the imagery was scanned. Some imagery is provided courtesy of Skinners, Auctioneers and Appraisers of Antiques and Fine Art, Boston and Bolton, Massachusetts; for more information call (508) 779-6241 x 228. Publicity provided by Robert S. Caswell, Director, and Susan E. Swain, Associate Director, Media & Community Relations.