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

Many of George Washington's decisions during his long career were made only after careful readings of the existing cartographical materials. (The Granger Collection, New York)

Map 2: A General Map of the British Colonies

General map of the British Colonies
(Yale University Library)

Washington owned the original 1755 map and referred to both it and the updated 1775 version throughout his life (he even mentions the in a letter). What’s important about it, Schecter says, is that it shows the placements and names of Native American tribes. “During the French and Indian War, Washington learned that there was a bewildering array of tribes and alliances,” Schecter said. This map helped Washington better understand the Indian tribes and their physical proximity. This particular detail from the map shows, in capital letters, the territory of the six Iroquois nations south and east of Lake Ontario. From east to west: Mohocks, Tuscaroras, Onyuts (Oneidas) Ondages, Cayugaes and Senecas.


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