GARDINER, John (d. 1839)
Map of the Bounty Lands in Illinois Territory
[Washington: General Land Office, 1817]. Engraved map, 21 x 16 3/4 inches. Signed by Gardiner. Matted.
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 Illinois Territory. This is the earlier of two issues of the map, without the printed township grid. This copy includes a portion of manuscript corresponding to the very southern "tail" of the range, here highlighted in red. This grid at lower left is Gardiner's enlargement of this red area, with the river hand-colored blue and a description of one quarter section, with the following manuscript notation: "Fractional township 13 South of Range 1 West / Description of the SE 1/4 section 20 in Township 13 south of range 1 West from the surveyors returns. Rolling woodland / Timber Oak Hickory &c / Underwood Sassafrass hazel &c." Underneath the additional manuscript notation, the map is signed by John Gardiner, the Chief Clerk of the General Land Office. 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 Illinois Territory were offered to each prospective settler for free. Some war veterans actually did move westward, while 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 1810s. 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 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, D.C., though the identity 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 Oct. 29, 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, as in the present copy. "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.