The Laird U. Park example of Lewis Evans’s treasonous defense of his controversial 1755 map

By EVANS, Lewis, 1756 
£45,000

Geographical, Historical, Political, Philosophical and Mechanical essays. Number II. Containing a Letter Representing, the Impropriety of sending Forces to Virginia: The Importance of taking Fort Frontenac; And that the Preservation of Oswego was owing to General Shirle’s Proceeding thither. And containing Objections to those Parts of Evans’s General Map and Analysis, which relate to the French Title to the Country, on the North-West Side of St. Laurence River, between Fort Frontenac and Montreal, &c. Published in the New-York Mercury, …with an Answer…

Ephemera
  • Author: EVANS, Lewis
  • Publication place: Philadelphia
  • Publisher: Printed for the Author; and Sold by him in Arch-Street: And at New-York by G. Noel, Bookseller near Count’s Market.
  • Publication date: 1756.
  • Physical description: Quarto, 42 pages and 1 page advertisement leaf, last leaves a bit frayed with some spotting, old folds; modern plain wrappers, preserved in brown morocco backed cloth chemise.Collation: [A]2, B‑L2
  • Dimensions: 270 by 190mm. (10.75 by 7.5 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 16429

Notes

The publication of Lewis Evans’s (c1700-1756) Map of the Middle British Colonies’ in 1755, and accompanying Geographical, Historical, Political, Philosophical and Mechanical Essays’. The former caused quite a political ruckus, in spite of its significant cartographical achievements, and usefulness to the British forces waging the French and Indian war: “… to publish a Map, and assert in print, in the most positive Terms, that the King of France has an undoubted Title to the very lands, for the reigning of which, his Majesty is now in Arms and to found that Title upon a solemn Treaty, and yet suppress the Publication of the Article relating to it; is a Piece of Conduct, for which, I confess myself at a Loss to Account” (“a Gentleman in New York”, page 4).

The Gentleman’s objections, which were originally published in the New York Mercury’, outlined the claims of Governor Shirley and his associates that Evans had been playing the game of the French in the delineation of the French boundaries in his famous Map of the Middle Colonies and that vigorous action towards Canada would cause the French to withdraw from the Ohio country. Various other charges were made against Evans and Governor Pownall, to whom Evans had dedicated the map” (Streeter).

The letter and Evans’s repost are published here in the second Geographical, Historical, Political, Philosophical and Mechanical Essays. Number II’, a rare pamphlet, printed by Benjamin Franklin. However, in this essay, Evans goes further and suggests that the Colonial authorities’ actions in allowing the French to establish themselves in that region, were treasonable. As a result, the governor of Pennsylvania managed to get Evans jailed in New York City in the spring of 1756. He was released on 8 June on a writ of habeas corpus because he was ill, but he died three days later in New York City.

The last leaf is an advertisement for Evans’s map: The Price of the colour’d Maps on superfine Writing Paper, Two Pieces of Eight, and of the plain Ones, on Printing Paper, One Piece of Eight each”.

Rare: one of only 4 examples to be offered at auction since the Streeter sale in 1967. 

Provenance

1. B. Boodley, early inscription on the title-page; and Lewis Evans’s Controversy w’th Gov.r Sir William Shirley. 1756” on the last page.
2. Laird U. Park, his sale Sotheby’s 29th November 2000, lot 88. 

Bibliography

  1. Evans 7652
  2. Howes E‑227
  3. Miller 633
  4. Streeter sale 1012.

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