CHAMPLAIN, Samuel de (1567-1635)
[Stage Harbor, Massachusetts] port. fortuné
Paris: Chez Pierre Le-Mur, 1613. Engraved map of Stage Harbor, from 'Les Voyages dv Sievr de Champlain', in excellent condition, map size: 6 x 9 1/2 inches, sheet size: 8 1/4 x 9 3/4 inches.
A highly important map by Samuel de Champlain, and one of a series of the very first printed sea charts of North America
This is a highly important and early map of what is now known as Stage Harbor, near Chatham, on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. It is one of a series of the very first printed sea charts of North America, devised by the great explorer Samuel de Champlain. From 1605 to 1606, Champlain explored the Massachusetts coast in search of a location to build a settlement that might be even better than the existing French base of Port Royal, that was establish in the spring of 1605 in Nova Scotia.
In October, 1606 Champlain's pinnace became trapped on the shoals while rounding Cap Blanc (Cape Cod). The damaged ship made it down to Stage Harbor where for two weeks the men worked to repair the rudder of the ship. The local Monomoyick tribe did not take kindly to their presence, with the result that a few French sailors were killed. By this point, the ship had been repaired and Champlain ordered a hasty departure. The party then explored Nantucket Sound, but on their way back north they decided to visit the bay again to take revenge on the natives. However this sortie was unsuccessful, resulting in a few more Frenchmen losing their lives. Champlain then left the region for the relative security of Port Royal. Why the name 'port. fortuné' was given to such an improvident location remains a mystery.
The map depicts the bay as being essentially formed by a large sandbar, with an island lying in the middle. Champlain's ship is depicted in between the island and the mainland, and an elegant compass rose, surrounded by depth soundings, occupies the mouth of the bay. The countryside is shown to be heavily populated with presumably hostile native villages, adding to the sense of siege experienced by the party. A detailed legend is printed beneath which explains the various details marked by letters on the map.
Samuel de Champlain was one of the greatest explorers and cartographers of his era, and the founding father of what would one day become Canada. Inspired by the voyages of his countryman, Jacques Cartier, he made his first voyage to Canada in 1603. Upon his return to France, his reports encouraged Henry IV to finance a colonizing expedition, and specifically the company was given a royal monopoly on all settlement and fur trading rights between the 40th and 45th parallels. In 1604, Champlain joined the venture as second in command to Sieur Dugua, Sieur de Monts, and it was on this voyage that Champlain explored the Massachusetts coast.
In 1608, Champlain founded Quebec on an impressive promontory overlooking the St.Lawrence River. Having overcome much initial adversity, this settlement proved to be successful, eventually becoming the capital of a vast French domain that eventually extended down to the Gulf of Mexico and over to the Rockies.
Champlain, passionately dedicated to the mission of securing the permanence of New France, had to return to France frequently to raise funds and encourage new settlers to join the enterprise. This map was published in 1613 as part of his greatest work, Les Voyages dv Sievr de Champlain , a detailed narrative of the founding of New France, intended to raise the profile of his venture. Champlain later became the governor of New France, and by the time he died on Christmas Day in 1635, he knew that he had succeeded in his mission.
Burden, The Mapping of North America I, 175; Cumming, Skelton & Quinn, The Discovery of North America , p.270; Morison, Samuel de Champlain, Father of New France , pp.79-87.