George Washington and His Maps
In his journey from surveyor to soldier to leader, our first president used cartography to get a feel for the young nation
- By John Hanc
- Smithsonian.com, November 16, 2010
(University of Virginia, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library)
This map of the western frontier, drawn by the 21-year-old Washington in 1754, reveals something about his character, as well as his ability as a draftsman. “This shows his toughness, as well as his skills,” Schecter says: “That he was willing to go out and trek through rain and snow in the wilderness and come back with an accurate map.”
Washington’s map was also influential. It shows the forks of the Ohio and its confluence with the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers (site of modern day Pittsburgh), and helped convince Virginia authorities that this strategic site—where a fort was planned—was vulnerable to attack and needed to be defended.
Guess who was appointed to lead the mission to defend the new settlement?