GARDINER, John (d. 1839)
Map of the Bounty Lands in Illinois Territory
[Washington: General Land Office, 1817]. Engraved map, 20¾ x 16¾ inches. Old folds. Two period manuscript additions near the lower neat line, identifying the locations of St. Louis and the Missouri River.
The earliest obtainable map to name Illinois and one of the earliest maps issued by the General Land Office.
An early and important map of the Illinois Territory, issued at the end of the War of 1812, when "bounty lands" were being given out to veterans in return for their service. This is the earlier of two issues of the map, without the printed township grid found in the later issue.
In May, 1812, Congress passed a law which set aside lands in what is now Arkansas, Michigan, and Illinois as payment for service in the War of 1812 (they had similarly given out lands in the Northwest Territory to Revolutionary War veterans). Offering western lands was a means of doing well by doing good - the free lands would attract settlers and push the frontiers of American civilization westward. One hundred sixty acres in bounty lands in the Illinois Territory was offered to each prospective settler for free. Some war veterans actually did move westward, others sold the rights to their lands to those more eager to go to the frontier. Ultimately, thousands went west to Illinois in the decade, and the territory became a state in 1818.
John Gardiner was the chief clerk of the General Land Office, and composed a handful of maps of available western lands during the second decade of the 19th century. This map shows a wide swath of territory available in Illinois between the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. The lands are neatly divided into squares, with "Ranges East" and "Ranges West" on either side of a north-south "Principal Meridian" line, and also with an east-west dividing "Base Line" passing through the center of the territory. Lake Peoria is called "Lake Peoire" and the creek flowing into the Illinois River at the lower end of the lake is called "Kickaboo or Red Bud Cr." The attractive map was drawn by C. Schwarz of Washington, DC, though the identify of the firm that actually engraved the map is unknown. The map can be dated to 1817 based on a letter from Gardiner to James Madison, dated 29 October 1817, sending him a copy of the map "which I have engraved for the use of soldiers of the late Army."
This appears to be the first issue of the map, without the printed "townships maps" often found in the lower left corner. This map is also often found with a few words or lines of manuscript text describing particular areas, and bearing the signature of John Gardiner. The present example does not bear Gardiner's signature, nor any additional lines of text, but it does bear a faint outline of the continued southward courses of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, with a manuscript note showing the location of St. Louis and a small grouping of nine squares showing the town, and another ink manuscript note reading "Missouri R."
"This is the first map that Phillips lists under Illinois, and it is perhaps the first map showing a considerable part of Illinois with 'Illinois' in the title" (Streeter).
An early and important map of Illinois, and of American efforts to push westward, into unsettled territories.
Phillips, Maps, p.326; Streeter Sale 1430; Karrow, Checklist of Printed Maps of the Middle West to 1900 (Illinois), p.290; American Imprints (1812) 27202; Graff 1505.