America Maps and Surveys

Maps of the Americas made by Europeans and colonists progressed from crude outlines, based on dead reckoning and observation, to precise works reflecting the efforts of professional surveyors and cartographers. Early Maps European expansion in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was accompanied by a rising concern with accurate mapping, which was complicated by the difficulty of reconciling several accounts into a single map. The Casa de Contrataci³n, founded in 1503 to oversee and regulate Spanish movements to the New World, emphasized accurate cartography and navigation. In 1512, the royal pattern, a continuously updated cartographic pattern, was established. The Spanish could not maintain a monopoly on New World cartographic information, however, and maps circulated widely in the sixteenth century. The first published map to include the word America and to depict North and South America with a continuous coastline was the German scholar Martin Waldseem¼ller’s Cosmographica (1507). New World maps also were included in the first known atlas, Abraham Ortelius’s Theatrum Orbis Terrarum or Theater of the World (1570). Latecomers to the New World, the English were also latecomers to New World mapping. The first published map of the New World originally produced (as opposed to maps that were adapted from Continental ones) by an English cartographer was John White’s map, which was included in the 1590 edition of Thomas Harriot’s book A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia. John Smith was another early English mapper.

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