Abstract

Scholarship has long emphasized how Europeans justified colonial expansion by imagining North America as an unsettled continent, but eighteenth-century maps reveal the limits of this European fantasy. Rather than portraying North America as a land in need of settlers, British mapmakers needed to build an empire on the settlements of Indians. No mapmaker did this to a greater extent than John Mitchell in his famous 1755 work, A Map of the British and French Dominions in North America. This article explores the uncertain decades surrounding the Seven Years’ War and the ambiguous but essential place of Indian settlements in the contest for North America. By taking European rhetoric at face value, we have overlooked a world where American Indians had the power to define the nature of settlement across much of North America—a power reflected in European maps. It was not until the early American republic and the creation of Indian reservations that these Native American settlements disappeared from maps of America east of the Mississippi.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-0895
Print ISSN
1543-4273
Pages
pp. 478-505
Launched on MUSE
2016-07-25
Open Access
No
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