Skip to Main Content

The Luso-Hispanic World in Maps: A Selective Guide to Manuscript Maps to 1900

Scope of this Guide

The Luso-Hispanic World in Maps: A Selective Guide to Manuscript Maps to 1900 in the Collections of the Library of Congress includes cartographic objects depicting portions of five continents prepared by cartographers from Spain, Portugal, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, various countries of Latin America, and the United States, among others. This group of materials also contains a small number of views and scenes. Thus these maps and views collectively represent different national and political interests and perspectives, at various periods of time. With few exceptions, the maps cited in this guide are hand drawn in pen, ink, and watercolor on a variety of mediums including vellum, linen, and tracing linen. It is interesting to note, however, that a few of the maps, including some late nineteenth century military plans prepared on tracing linen, are manuscript copies of printed maps. No attempt has been made in this introduction to provide a comprehensive overview of the manuscript maps of the Luso-Hispanic world.

Defining the Luso-Hispanic World

We define the Luso-Hispanic World broadly. It embraces countries and regions of the world ruled by Spain and Portugal at the zenith of their power. The term "Luso" is an abbreviated version of Lusitania referring to the Roman province now Portugal. We have included maps of the U.S. Southeast and Southwest, the Atlantic Coast of Africa, the Philippines, various Pacific Islands, and Sri Lanka as well as maps of areas more traditionally identified as Luso-Hispanic such as the Iberian Peninsula, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central and South America. This project has made quite evident that the sun never set on the Spanish empire until the end of the nineteenth century. Spain and Portugal vied with each other as well as with other European powers for trade and possessions in the Americas, Africa, and Asia. Also included in our definition is area of interest. For this reason, maps of geographic areas and regions not under direct Spanish and Portuguese rule but that were nevertheless of military and "intelligence" interest to the "home" countries have also been included. This explains the presence of maps of Delaware Bay [848], Boston Harbor [961], the Atlantic Coast from Cape Henry to Nova Scotia, and of two English ports from the eighteenth century [423, 424] - all prepared by Spanish cartographers. The fact that Spanish mapmakers made detailed and highly accurate maps of areas such as the Atlantic Coast of North America, the South China Sea, and the Strait of Magellan indicates that Spanish cartography was as modern and scientific as cartography in any other European country well into the nineteenth century.

Manuscript nautical chart of Boston Harbor showing numerous islands and shoals
Campo, Jossef del. [Boston and Harbor]. [178-?].Luso-Hispanic World number 961. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

The authors of this publication have defined the word "America" to represent the entire Western Hemisphere and not merely the United States. We have attempted to consistently use the term U.S. or United States, instead of the adjective American, when referring to materials related to the United States. Also, North America is the continent extending from Central America to Canada and Alaska. In this publication we use the term North America, however, to describe areas that encompass more than one of the nations that comprise it. We have made an exception to this definition as we use the terminology "Central America" and "Caribbean" to describe multiple nations or islands in those specific areas.

We have endeavored throughout this publication to provide uniform descriptions and cross references, a difficult task when dealing with so many disparate maps. In addition, time has not always allowed us to pursue more thoroughly investigations of individual maps. Wherever possible we have attempted to draw attention to comparisons between certain maps that were either copies of or very similar to one another. While we have been successful for the most part, there are some cross references that were not made due to time constraints. This compilation which provides descriptions for the more than 1000 maps surveyed required considerable time. Often a description was prepared and revised at different moments within the six month period that we were engaged in the project. This, in part, explains some unevenness in style between the use of abbreviated and full sentences, among other idiosyncrasies. In spite of these stated drawbacks, this extensive survey of maps has revealed to us numerous possibilities for fruitful investigation and discovery, and we hope that this publication serves as a stimulus to other interested researchers. Furthermore, it is hoped that this publication will serve as a catalyst to those contemplating exhibitions or seeking pertinent illustrations for publications in various disciplines and on myriad subjects.

Perhaps only in its broad geographical sense, which these compilers used to organize the material, does this grouping of maps correspond to a collection. The materials listed here relate to and reflect the Luso-Hispanic World at various moments in its long history, including that at the time of its greatest expanse. Chronologically, the maps identified in this publication show the changing nature of three and a half centuries of economic interests, related to the growth of systematic interoceanic trade, trade routes, trade rivalries, and varieties of colonial rule. Intricate and lavishly decorative portolan charts from the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries (the earliest described in this guide) emphasize sea power and reflect maritime mercantile interests. These maps pay scant attention to interiors of countries and continents. Coastlines are often rendered in a stylized, "scalloped" fashion. Most of the Library's portolan charts were made by Spanish (specifically Catalan and Mallorcan) and Portuguese cartographers, who were among the most advanced chart makers of the early Renaissance era, on account of their knowledge of the Atlantic World. A body of maps from the mid-seventeenth century by the Dutch cartographer, Johannes Vingboons, includes substantially more detailed depictions of places, e. g., Cuba and the West Indies [156], the North Coast of the Gulf of Mexico [82], Virginia and North Carolina [817], and California [84]. Although less decorative and colorful than portolan charts, these are more specialized in their renderings reflecting the ever growing mercantile and military need for information about local coastal features, harbors, towns, and settlements in distant places.

The entire group of materials surveyed is not unified as a collection found in a single location in the Library of Congress or as such in a specific division, e.g., Geography and Map, Manuscript, or in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division. Nevertheless most of the objects described in this publication are found in the Geography and Map Division, and specifically in that division's rarities enclosure interfiled individually with the other items in that enclosure arranged in geographical order. Additional representative items are found in discrete collections in the Manuscript and Rare Book and Special Collections Divisions. The objects listed, therefore, do not represent a discrete collection in any sense, since these more than 1000 maps and views are markedly distinct in quality, character, scope, purpose, chronology, and geographical location. These materials were not acquired by the Library of Congress at the same time or from the same sources. The maps and views surveyed for this guide represent the nearly two hundred year period of growth of maps of the Luso-Hispanic world collected by the Library of Congress. It reflects in some respects the steady growth of the collections of the Library of Congress and echoes the simultaneous expansion of the United States, both territorially and in its worldwide involvement.

Since the compilers do not believe that any project related to Library of Congress collections, which evolve daily, can be definitive, the reader should be cautioned in using this volume. We did review systematically the collections in the Geography and Map Division as has been stated earlier. However, due to the limited time frame allotted for this project, the compilers were unable to review thoroughly the other holdings of the Library of Congress where cartographic objects are known to or could possibly exist, e.g., the Manuscript, Rare Book and Special Collections, and the Prints and Photographs Divisions. For instance, we are aware of the presence of maps in several collections in the Manuscript Division, e.g., the East Florida Papers, the Luis Berlandier Papers, an item in the Portuguese Manuscripts Collection, and a series of mid-nineteenth century fraudulent land maps from the Puebla-Tlaxcala region of Mexico. If we have the opportunity to revise the current publication we will endeavor to delve further into the Library of Congress' myriad collections to identify even more manuscript maps of the Luso-Hispanic world.

Mapping the Luso-Hispanic World

This body of materials reaffirms the close and often ambiguous relationship between art and cartography, especially between the mid-sixteenth and the end of the eighteenth century. While the following remarks are based on observations made of maps surveyed for this project, they appear to apply generally to post-fifteenth century cartography as a whole. A significant feature or ingredient of maps from this time period (especially between 1550 and 1800) is that they contain or include artistic elements. Frequently these maps employ depictions of religious figures, various peoples and races, banners, heraldic devices, real and imaginary fauna, and flora. In addition, maps often contain rhumb lines, elaborate and decorative wind roses, and cartouches. The best examples of earlier portolan charts and maps in world atlases achieve a sumptuous gem like pictorial effect that "united the skills of the chart maker with those of a miniaturist." (George Kish, "The Origins of Cartography", The Dictionary of Art (London: Macmillan, 1996), vol. 20, p. 363.)

Illustrated profile view showing a a harbor and surrounding land, a fort, a city, two ships, and mountainous land in the background
[Vingboons, Johannes]. Havana op 't Eyland Cvba. [1665-1670]. Luso-Hispanic World number 348. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

By the end of the sixteenth century, European navigators first became familiar with extensive areas of coastline along various continents and islands previously unknown to them. As a consequence, the harbors, islands, and anchorages, once discovered, "had to be recorded so that those who followed could relocate them." (Christopher Terrell, "The Seaman's View", The Map Collector, No. 31, June 1985, p. 3.) This, in turn, served as an impetus for organized expeditions to include both a "plattmaker" who would draw plans of anchorages and a "painter" who would record views of the coast and approaches to important harbors. (Christopher Terrell, "The Seaman's View", The Map Collector, No. 31, June 1985, p. 3.) It should also be remembered that in some instances cartographers and artists practiced both professions. Such is the case of the Dutch cartographer, Johannes Vingboons (1616/17-1670), who was born into a family of artists of Flemish origin. Although he produced maps for the Dutch West India Company, he also was an engraver "who worked with his brother Philips on two volumes illustrating Philips's architectural designs." (Paul H. Rem, "Vinckboons", The Dictionary of Art (London: Macmillan, 1996), vol. 32, p. 586.) The Library has some ten maps by Vingboons of the Hispanic world, and one of them is a panoramic view of Havana [348] which prominently features a ship. The image of the ship appears to have been borrowed from that in a cartouche of a 1611 map. Another example of the cartographic-artistic connection is provided by the Ozanne brothers in the eighteenth century. Both Nicolas and Pierre Ozanne (1737-?) had extensive training in draftsmanship and engraving. Nicolas produced well-known engravings of French ports and vessels. Pierre served as master draftsman for the Gardes de la Marine (1757-1773), and as a draftsman accompanying at least two scientific expeditions. The Library possesses several well rendered views of naval formations, towns, and coasts in the Caribbean as well as exquisite and elegant maps of the same region by Pierre Ozanne. These were the result of his service as assistant engineer-builder for the French fleet that took part in the U.S. Revolution.

In maps of the eighteenth century, one begins to note an attempt to render three dimensionally elements of the landscape such as coastal relief, interior relief, vegetation type and density, towns, and settlements. The attempt at incorporating the "look and feel" of land features and objects is probably related to greater accuracy in surveying as well as to the rise and development of landscape painting from the seventeenth century forward. High quality military, political, and landownership maps of the late eighteenth century and of varying origins (e.g., French, Spanish, English) appear to depict land as though viewed from the air. In the nineteenth century, the relationship of art and cartography becomes more complex. Affinities between the two continue to exist but there is also distinct separation. "Plan de la Batalla deYungay" (1839) [700] includes two distinct registers. While the upper register consists of a relatively detailed watercolor sketch of a portion of the battle, the lower register contains a plan of the entire battle site with the sequence of events. In this instance, a map includes both a plan and a sketch side by side, intricately related but separate. The battle, as indicated in the map, pitted two distinguished political leaders of the Andean region against each other: President Santa Cruz of Bolivia and of the Confederación Perú-Boliviana and Manuel Bulnes, commander of the victorious forces of the Unido-Restaurador and future president of Chile. Suggestive of the close relationship between maps and art is the small body of views and panoramic views housed in the Geography & Map Division's rarity vault. Most of the views date from the nineteenth century and include renderings of harbors (St. Eustastius) [774] and of coastlines (Virgin Islands [192,193]. Some of the very latest examples of maps in this survey are those prepared during the Spanish-American War of 1898 as fought in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. While these are technically proficient (some of these are manuscript tracings of printed originals), they do not have a particularly esthetic quality.

Maps spanning the three hundred and fifty year period of this survey seemingly employ images and artistic motifs in order to convey personal, corporate, or national statements. Thus many of the Maggs Brothers purchase maps produced at or under the direction of the Real Escuela de Navegación, Cadiz, Spain bear the shield of that school. It is a distinctive emblem that conveys to the maps in question an authoritative seal of approval by a corporate body and also of that of the Spanish nation. In often elaborate map cartouches and borders, cartographers depict local inhabitants, "native inhabitants" in typical dress, and local fauna and flora. In some cases, these scenes are rendered by cartographers or assistants who never traveled to the place or region mapped. Their scenes were thus the product of (other) explorers' accounts and/or their own imaginations. Even the European cartographer or draftsman who accompanied an expedition and had seen first hand the fauna and flora of a given place seems to be making personal and cultural statements about the wilderness, fecundity, and exotic character of the Americas and Asia. Decorative coats of arms, flags, banners, and shields often found in a cartouche or near the title on a map are less than subtle reminders of national ownership, possession, and territorial control. A late eighteenth century cartographer alert to detail, visual representation, and the latest scientific developments, was Francisco Requena, the commander of the Spanish party of a joint Spanish-Portuguese boundary commission that explored the Amazon Basin with the goal of establishing a fixed border between Spanish and Portuguese possessions in South America. The cartouches in Requena's maps sometimes reflect the tasks and activities of his survey team. Hence in "Mapa de Una Parte De Los Rios De Los Engaños...", a "strip map" of a portion of the Amazon Basin [255], Requena has included an elaborate cartouche in which two Europeans dressed in European garb are engaged in surveying activities. While one draws or sketches, the other is occupied with a telescope. A third figure, a scantily clad Native American appears on the lower left of the cartouche peering into the scene. The rocky frame of the cartouche is enlivened from time to time by a plant, tree, or shrub characteristic of Amazon flora. Although the elements used in the cartouche are based on observation, the way in which the cartographer has arranged them emphasizes the opposition of and dichotomy between European and Native American. The cartouche thus may serve as a vehicle for both personal and cultural statements.

Cartas esfericas y planos de los Puertos situados sobre las Costas Septentrionales de las Californias è Yslas adyacentes, descubiertos por los Españoles
Cartas esfericas y planos de los Puertos situados sobre las Costas Septentrionales de las Californias é Yslas adyacentes, descubiertos por los Españoles / ordenados por un Oficial de la Marina Real Española. [1799]. Luso-Hispanic World number 4. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

Scientific expeditions and explorations of newly acquired European possessions in various continents were undertaken in the eighteenth century by several governments. Carlos III of Spain (1759-1788), himself a product of Enlightenment thinking, encouraged scientific endeavors as part of an overall strategy to revitalize Spain and her overseas empire. Thus, Spain sponsored a number of official voyages toward the end of the eighteenth century. The Geography and Map Division houses maps from at least two such expeditions, one to the Strait of Magellan in the late 1780's and the other to the Pacific Ocean in the 1790's. There are 18 maps that depict related segments of the Strait of Magellan prepared by Spanish cartographers associated with the former mission [220-235, 237] and a carta reducida or composite map [200] of the entire region.

The Library of Congress also houses a selected number of maps prepared during the Malaspina Expedition of the late eighteenth century. Under the command of Alejandro Malaspina, this expedition (1789-1794) undertook an ambitious and systematic investigation of the natural and ethnographic history of lands and various islands along the Pacific Coast from Chile to Alaska. The expedition was prompted in part by a desire to promote commercial activity and to increase hydrographic knowledge of that vast region. In addition, and perhaps most compelling, the expedition was formed in reaction to the perceived threat posed by British and Russian interests and claims along the far northwestern coast of North America, from Alaska south to upper California [4, 413].

Spanish Cartography

The extraordinary breadth, detail, accuracy, and volume of Spanish manuscript maps found in the Library of Congress collections demonstrate, contrary to the opinion held in some circles, that Spanish cartography flourished well into the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. As this body of materials also illustrates, maps prepared by Spanish cartographers over the span of this survey were often sensitively and well rendered. These observations should help to dispel the notion that Spanish maps were deficient, purposely erroneous, or less accurate than those produced by other leading European powers. Even recently, this widely accepted assessment has been expressed in different ways by various recognized scholars. An example of this belief is the following categorical statement that, "Notwithstanding several centuries of Spanish maritime activity in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, charts of these waters and coasts were generally of inferior quality." (Walter W. Ristow and R. A. Skelton, Nautical Charts on Vellum in the Library of Congress (Washington: Library of Congress, 1977), p. 25.) Spanish maps prepared throughout the eighteenth century of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean region, housed in the Library of Congress' Geography and Map Division, show that this is not the case at all. Another recent evaluation of Spanish cartography includes the assumption that the Spanish purposely omitted recording the latest available information on maps. "Most of the details uncovered by Spain's explorers...did not appear on printed charts" because Spain, "...eager to protect its New World discoveries from European rivals...guarded the reports of its explorers as state secrets. New pilots, for example, took an oath in the name of the Holy Trinity never to relinquish their charts to foreigners...." (David J. Weber, The Spanish Frontier in North America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992), p. 55.) While it is generally accepted that Spain did not issue numerous printed maps during the early part of its colonial experience, some scholars have used the belief cited above to support the position that Spain produced erroneous maps in general, whether printed or manuscript, to somehow deviously keep foreign interlopers away from its overseas possessions.

Diverse opinions such as these, but especially the first opinion noted above, appear to derive from a complex set of attitudes that has influenced much American and English thinking about Spain over the centuries. Some of the notions concerning Spain include: (1) her "exotic" and "romantic" nature created by the extended Arab presence in the Iberian peninsula and by Spain's relative isolation from the rest of Europe, thereby implying that Spain was not totally European, (2) a mysterious, zealous, overreaching, and often misunderstood Spanish Catholicism intolerant of other faiths and hostile to new thoughts and ideas, and (3) as a consequence of this, a backward nation unable and ill-disposed to promote or sustain scientific endeavors in almost any field or domain.

The survey of Spanish maps made for this publication patently refutes the third and last cited notion. The maps produced under the auspices of the Real Escuela de Navegación, Cadiz, Spain were intended to provide Spanish pilots and navigators with the latest information available about navigational hazards, characteristics of the water bottom, and distinguishing features of coastal sites and relief. As such, these maps had to be as accurate as possible. Another example of Spain's impressive map making capabilities is the group of maps produced by the different boundary commission partidas involved in the demarcation of the Spanish-Portuguese border in South America undertaken in the late eighteenth century. The Spanish maps for segments of the border region are highly accurate and detailed. Those produced by Francisco Requena, chief of the Spanish partida in the Amazon River Basin, include the sites and locations where the surveying parties measured and recorded latitudes and longitudes. These maps are the product of the latest knowledge concerning astronomical measurements and are examples of the high quality of Spanish scientific investigation in the period of the Enlightenment.

A more generous and perhaps more accurate assessment of Spanish cartography and related scientific endeavors was offered by an early nineteenth century anonymous British translator, who wrote in his preface to José Ponce y Vargas' Voyage of Discovery to the Strait of Magellan..., "...To mention one branch of scientific literature only, -- I mean what relates to maritime information respecting her dominions, European and American, Spain has done more, and in a more systematic way than all the other Powers of Christendom put together. She has surveyed, by the most able operators, furnished with the best instruments and instructions which England and France could produce, the whole sea coast of those vast regions; and the results she has...laid before the public." (José de Vargas y Ponce, Voyage of Discovery to the Strait of Magellan; with an Account of the Manners and Customs of the Inhabitants; and of the Natural Productions of Patagonia.... Work translated from the Spanish by anonymous translator. (London, 1820; Milford House, 1973, reprint), pp. v-vi.) The survey of maps made for this guide has confirmed this opinion. The review of maps conducted in various Divisions of the Library of Congress has further affirmed that cartographic knowledge, scientific attainment, and esthetics of presentation are not the exclusive domain of any single nation.

Types of Maps in this Guide

This body of materials consists of maps spanning the period from the mid-sixteenth century to 1900. It includes a relatively small number of rare and valuable portolan charts of the sixteenth century, another small group of maps done by the Dutch cartographer, Johannes Vingboons, in the seventeenth century, a rare and valuable world atlas by the Portuguese cartographer João Teixeira of 1630, a large, rich, and varied group of maps from the eighteenth century, and a smaller but varied group of maps from the nineteenth century. Collectively these holdings reflect various stages of Spanish empire building. For instance, a number of detailed, colorful, and well-executed eighteenth century plans of Havana, its harbor, and the Royal Shipyard [354] attest to the importance of that city as a military hub and as a center of intercontinental commerce and trade. But this collection also sheds light on various aspects of British, French, and U.S. ambition and imperial designs.

The Library of Congress' holdings of manuscript maps prepared by Iberian cartographers is primarily Spanish, rather than Portuguese, in origin. Although this body of materials includes a good number of maps of Brazil, almost all of them were drawn by Spanish cartographers. Thus, this group of materials presents a fragmentary but rich picture of Portuguese cartographic contributions associated with that country's historically recognized imperial aspirations and activities. The Library of Congress' collections do contain three outstanding examples of Portuguese cartography: the Taboas Geraes..., a comprehensive 32 sheet manuscript world atlas of 1630 by João Teixeira, the official cosmographer to the Portuguese crown [8], a ca. 1650 atlas containing 33 separate sheets of Sri Lanka [5], and a large eighteenth century vellum chart of the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent continents by Manoel Ferreira [12]. We believe that this rich but relatively meager representation of Portuguese materials illustrates the unevenness of the collections and collecting practices of the Library of Congress rather than the lack of Portuguese cartographic production.

Taboas geraes de toda a navegação. World.
[Albernaz, João Teixeira]. Taboas Geraes de Toda a Navegaçao/ 1630. Luso-Hispanic World number 8. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

Almost 400 maps acquired by the Library of Congress in the late 1920s from Maggs Brothers, an antiquarian dealer in London, forms the nucleus of the disparate body of materials surveyed. The bulk of maps in that collection, primarily dating from the eighteenth century, were prepared at or under the supervision of the Real Escuela de Navegación, Cadiz, Spain. Around 1750, the name of this official body, La Real Escuela de Navegación, begins to appear frequently in the lengthy titles and headings of Spanish manuscript maps in the Library of Congress. Less frequently but on a number of maps of various locations, Spanish maps of this period also bear the distinctive seal of the school. In addition, several of the maps also include the name of the master cartographer and his associates who prepared the map. Names associated with this entity include Pedro Rivelles, Bernabé Muñoz, Josef del Campo, etc. Little is known about the exact relationship of the Real Escuela de Navegación to the Spanish Navy or about the services it provided to other Spanish maritime endeavors. However, it is evident that the Real Escuela de Navegación was an agency that performed services in the Royal Navy. We do not know the precise dates of its existence as a separate entity of the Royal Navy, and what entity(ies) preceded and followed it. After 1800, the name occurs less commonly in Spanish maps in the Library of Congress' collections. It is probable that the Real Escuela de Navegación was established in the mid-eighteenth century to ensure the accuracy and consistency of maps produced for naval and commercial shipping and to house the growing record of maps and charts related to Spain's vast empire.

By and large, these maps reflect hydrographic and navigational concerns as they depict coastlines, coastal features, soundings, navigational hazards such as shoals and sandbanks, and the characteristics of the water bottom. Maps of this group were intended to help mariners and explorers to identify harbors, headlands, coastlines, and particular navigational hazards associated with those places. Although coastal towns, settlements, and relief are usually depicted, this group of maps tends to include little or no information about other interior features, such as Native American nations and settlements or the origins of interior streams. It is evident that the maps were intended, as were the portolan charts that preceded them, to provide navigational information in order to assist military and commercial shipping to reach safely intended destinations. With some exceptions, most of these maps are clear and crisp and have a spareness that lends an abstract quality to them. Some also have elaborate cartouches and wind roses that add to their elegance. Among the reasons for expanded Spanish mapping in the eighteenth century were perceived military threats, increased marine trade and commerce, scientific expeditions, and the expansion in the number of ports in Spain and in its empire that was open exclusively to Spanish trade. Previous to the mid-eighteenth century, all shipping to and from Spain was controlled as a matter of state policy. Ships were allowed to sail from only a handful of designated Iberian ports, specifically, Cadiz, Seville, and La Coruña, and were permitted to enter an equally limited number of ports in the Americas and in Asia, specifically, Havana, Vera Cruz, Cartagena, Portobelo, Acapulco, and Manila.

In addition to numerous Spanish maps, the Maggs Brothers collection includes a small number of distinctive French maps that were also housed at the Real Escuela de Navegación. This is noteworthy, for the presence of French maps of various Pacific ports of South America and of the West African coast, gives rise to questions concerning Spanish attempts to keep Latin America sealed from foreign commerce and scientific ventures. Although undated, these French maps can be attributed to the early eighteenth century based on style, presentation, and internal evidence. It is probable that some of these were prepared in conjunction with an international scientific expedition undertaken by La Condamine to South America in 1735. In any case, the presence of French maps in a collection from the Real Escuela de Navegación is significant, for it suggests that Latin America was not as firmly sealed off from the rest of the world as has been advanced by some and that Spanish cartography did not develop in isolation. The presence of these maps also raises questions about the relationship of Spain and France following the accession of the House of Bourbon to the throne of Spain in 1700. Of additional interest, maps of specific areas in the eastern Caribbean derived from British sources are found in the Maggs Collection. This occurrence suggests two possibilities: (1) that the maps were acquired through a scientific exchange of data between the two powers, or (2) that the maps represent effective intelligence gathering on the part of the Spanish. In support of the latter activity, this publication identifies several high quality (assumed British) copies of Spanish maps of the Americas found in the collection of British Admiral Lord Richard Howe (1726-1799).

The Howe Collection contains some 72 eighteenth century manuscript maps and charts of the West Indies, the North and South American coastlines, and of the Philippines. The Library of Congress acquired the collection in 1905 from the descendants of Admiral Lord Richard Howe who served as commander in chief of the British fleet in North America during the first two years of the U.S. Revolutionary War. (Annette Melville, Special Collections in the Library of Congress: A Selective Guide (Washington: Library of Congress, 1980), p. 181.) These maps were not mere slavish tracings of Spanish maps, but were elegant re-drawings of maps serving as sensitive intelligence data.

Another category of map that appears at intervals during the three and half centuries of this review is that depicting landownership. The earliest map in this body of materials is the Oztoticpac land map produced ca. 1540 in Mexico [559]. While it includes traditional Mexica glyphs and symbols for recording and measuring, its purpose was to serve as a document in support of Spanish land claims. Other examples of distinctive land holding maps appear in the eighteenth century, related to and reflecting the rise of planters and a plantation economy throughout the Caribbean region from the Gulf Coast of North America to the North Coast of South America. These maps also emphasize the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a relatively few individuals. In many instances, accumulation of wealth was related to the rise of sugar. The Library of Congress has a number of this kind of map from Louisiana, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, St. Croix, Dominica, and Suriname. These maps depicting portions of the previously named islands or provinces include the outlines of land holdings and names of landholders. Some of these maps also include references to crops, e.g., sugar, cotton, indigo, etc. that were grown. Only occasionally do the maps refer directly to the large slave populations necessary to sustain a plantation economy. While maps reveal and emphasize certain things, they repress others.

Manuscript cadastral map with illustrations of fruit trees, property diagrams, and text in Spanish and Nahuatl
[The Oztoticpac lands map]. [ca. 1540]. Luso-Hispanic World number 559. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

A large number of maps in this body of materials is either directly or indirectly related to military concerns. This interest becomes quite apparent in the large number of eighteenth century maps reviewed for this project. Maps of this category include varied and detailed plans of individual fortifications built or projected. Also included in this category are map that reflect conflicts between European powers as well as struggles by colonies and provinces for independence from European powers. Two well-rendered and colorful British maps of attacks near Guantanamo and Cartagena of the same date aid the viewer in understanding that certain battles were part of a hemisphere wide push by the British against the Spanish. In the same vein, a fine British map, "The Attack Of Manilla, October 1762" [731], serves to underscore that the French and Indian War (known as the Seven Years War in Europe) was not limited to North America but was also being waged by Britain against France (and Spain) in Asia as well. Charts, maps, and views depicting military action in the Bay of Honduras and in the West Indies all help to dispel the notion that the U.S. Revolutionary War was fought solely in North America or that the only contenders were the "Americans" and the British.

Maps and charts are found in this publication that record military actions and campaigns related to United States expansion and imperial designs in the Luso-Hispanic World. Many of these appear as unfinished sketches, while others have a certain technical precision. Nevertheless, they are important for the information they yield. The Library of Congress has a number of tracings by Joseph Goldsborough Bruff that are sketch maps of battles and battle sites in the U.S.-Mexican War, 1846-1848. These maps were prepared in conjunction with documents and reports prepared for the U.S. Congress. The Library also possesses a few manuscript maps and tracings related to the Spanish American War of 1898. These include large scale maps of Santiago Bay and Havana Harbor as well as maps of both Puerto Rico and the Philippines, reminding the viewer once again of the global reach of the Spanish-American War. Of note among these latter maps are a detailed set of plans providing a sequential enactment, practically minute by minute, of the pivotal naval battle in Santiago Bay [365] and a detailed plan of Manila from Admiral Dewey's hand with a note indicating that the information on it was provided by the Philippine insurgent leader, Emilio Aguinaldo [733].

Less frequent but of considerable interest are those maps that record or suggest conflict between the White European elite or Creole class and subordinate classes such as slaves, free people of color, etc. The Library houses a number of well-executed, detailed maps of Suriname. One of these, "Extrait de la Carte hollandaise représentant la Colonie de Surinam..." (1777) [802], shows a defensive line meant to protect European settlements and numerous plantations north of it from continued and escalating attacks by revolted slaves who had escaped into the interior of the province. Issues of race, color, and defense are also present in several maps of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The Library is fortunate to house some beautiful and elegant maps of both these countries from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, a painful and bloody era. From about 1790 to 1805, Haiti was continuously immersed in civil or revolutionary conflict involving a white planter class, a free black population, and black slaves. The history of Haiti and to a lesser extent of the Dominican Republic of that era is highly complex and confusing. Unfortunately time did not permit a more thorough investigation of maps of these countries. We tried to assess and interpret these maps, but at times we were unable to identify the author of a specific map or for whom that map was made. When in doubt, we did not guess in linking certain maps with specific military campaigns, battles, or conflicts.

A special type of map closely associated with property and landownership matters is the boundary map. The lack of a precise boundary between Spanish and Portuguese possessions in South America took on added significance as an issue in the eighteenth century as explorers, traders, and missionaries entered vast expanses of land and created settlements along major rivers such as the Uruguay, Paraguay, Paraná, and Amazon and around the headwaters of the Orinoco. With the objective of minimizing regions of conflict, Spain and Portugal signed the Treaty of Madrid (1750). The tentative boundaries established and mutually agreed upon cessions of territory were not put into effect, and the treaty was annulled in February, 1761. (Lawrence Martin (rev. by Walter W. Ristow), "South American Historical Maps", Library of Congress Quarterly Journal of Current Acquisitions Vol. 1, no. 3, 1944, reproduced in A la Carte (Washington: Library of Congress, 1972), p. 189.) Various conflicts persisted, and in 1777 the Iberian powers signed the Treaty of San Ildefonso. This treaty proposed boundaries very similar to those prescribed by the Treaty of Madrid. However, the later treaty stipulated that a joint commission party of Spanish and Portuguese experts should be named to define, survey, and mark the boundary line and should inspect areas in dispute. Spain and Portugal assigned commissioners and formed partidas (parties) to survey the disputed areas in question. Although the surveying parties worked in a closely coordinated fashion, each prepared its own maps and sent forward separate reports to its respective government. The Library of Congress is fortunate to possess maps prepared by Spanish partidas for two of the contested boundary segments: (1) the territory along the Paraguay and Uruguay Rivers and (2) the region in the vicinity of the Amazon River and several of its major tributaries.

Complementing these records that reflect the demarcation of territorial limits by European powers, the Library of Congress possesses as well an extremely rich body of manuscript land ownership maps and supporting correspondence related to the last Spanish period in the U.S. Southeast. The Vicente Sebastián Pintado Collection in the Library's Manuscript Division contains the records of the last Surveyor General of Spanish West Florida (1805-1817). Pintado was responsible for preparing maps of portions of New Orleans and Pensacola, and specific areas throughout Spanish West Florida, from the Mississippi River to the Apalachicola River. His detailed maps and records for Baton Rouge and the districts surrounding that city are unique to the Library of Congress and provide substantial data on the early settlers in the region. The maps, now held in the Geography and Map Division, are complemented by a substantial body of correspondence and individual land plats in that collection in the Manuscript Division. With these documents, the Library of Congress holds the working file of the surveyor, and his personal file of correspondence regarding Spanish administrative activities along the Gulf of Mexico during the first two decades of the nineteenth century. (John R. Hébert, "Vicente Sebastián Pintado, Surveyor General of Spanish West Florida 1805-1817. The Man and his Maps", Imago Mundi, Vol. 39 (1987), p. 50-72.)

During the nineteenth century the use of specialized maps closely related to economic and commercial ventures became increasingly popular. The Library of Congress possesses a number of these maps. Many record the efforts, requiring the latest engineering and technological discoveries, to link the Atlantic coast of Mexico and Central America with the Pacific coast of that region. The Geography and Map Division houses a considerable number of maps and plans of, at least, four such principal projects: (1) a proposed rail-canal link across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, (2) a proposed canal-river link across Nicaragua, (3) the Panama Canal, and (4) a proposed canal-river link from the Pacific Coast to the Caribbean Coast of Colombia. The plans associated with these projects are often large scale and very detailed. Several are cross sections of proposed waterways or constructions and are quite technical in appearance. The materials for the construction of the Panama Canal are especially strong since the Geography and Map Division received by transfer the map collection of the Panama Canal Company from the Canal Zone Library-Museum, Balboa, Panama. Among the items in that collection are found various maps prepared by the two French Canal companies of the late nineteenth century and U.S. proposals from the period just prior to 1900. That Panama Canal Collection also contains numerous maps and plans for the U.S. construction of the Panama Canal after 1903, but because they are later in date than this publication's time frame, these items have not been described. Plans for a canal through Colombia, via the Isthmus of Darien, sometimes referred to as the Rio Atrato route, were especially popular during the mid-1850s. Among those maps is found "Map of the Atrato and San Juan Rivers in Colombia showing the proposed interoceanic canal route" from President Millard Fillmore's personal collection [250]. Additionally, the Library has an interesting file of materials on Central America from the mid-nineteenth century. These papers, the Ephraim George Squier collection, found in both the Manuscript and Geography and Map Divisions, contain an invaluable record of Squier's railroad and canal building projects across the Central American Isthmus in Honduras and Nicaragua. The maps of his efforts are found in the rarity vault of the Geography and Map Division. E.G. Squier epitomized the mid-nineteenth century American entrepreneurial spirit and drive; he is also remembered as the U.S. representative, along with the British representative, Frederick Chatfield, in Central America who nearly drove the U.S. and Britain to war over canal right-of-way and who collectively were responsible for the famous Clayton-Bulwer Treaty of 1850. (John R. Hébert, "Maps by Ephraim George Squier: Journalist Scholar and Diplomat", The Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress, Vol. 29, No. 1 (January 1972), p. 14-31.)

Another genre of specialized map represented in the body of materials surveyed, is the communications map. These maps mirror the concerns of Central and South American governments in the second half of the nineteenth century, anxious to achieve economic modernization patterned on European and U.S. models. These attempts to harness the vast resources of individual nations led to a full range of investment projects directed toward the improvement of infrastructure, i.e., roads, railroads, and other forms of communication, and international linkages. The Library possesses a select number of distinctive manuscript maps for Latin America that depict various forms of communication, including existing and proposed railroad lines, telegraph lines, canals, cables, and shipping routes. For instance, in Albert von Motz's 1882 "Map Showing the Principal Products Of Each Zone And The Actual And Proposed Railway-Systems of Mexico" [550], the ubiquitous railroad line is shown as the direct link between minerals, precious metals, and agricultural resources and their projected markets in the United States. An example of a specialized thematic map, that also related to economic development, is Tirsa Roca's 1889 map "General Plan Of The Iron Mines Of The Province Of Santiago Of Cuba" [301]. It contains detailed plans of ten distinct mining concessions located in Santiago Province, Cuba, nine years before the start of the Spanish-American War. A note on the map indicates that the item was forwarded by Roca to the U.S. Consulate in Santiago. This would suggest that the information contained on the map would be of great interest to individuals and corporate investors in the United States, if not also to those involved in U.S. strategic interests. It is also possible that the map was prepared at the direct request of the Consulate.

Manuscript map showing the entrance to a river
Hayne, A.P. [Map of Mobile Bay] / A.P. Hayne. [18--?]. Luso-Hispanic World number 857. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

In addition to the map from Millard Fillmore's collection related to canal building across the isthmus, at least three other U.S. Presidents are represented by maps from their collections or by maps that are related to their actions. For instance, Andrew Jackson's activities in Mobile and Pensacola before the Battle of New Orleans (when these two areas were still under Spanish control) and his interest in Saint Augustine are represented by maps in his collection in the Geography and Map Division [857, 872, 906]. Maps of the U.S.-Mexican War (1846-1848) include battle sites in which General Zachary Taylor (later President) was the commander, e.g., the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma in Texas [970]. One of the more surprising and interesting discoveries in our survey was the thumbnail sketch map of the Americas prepared by Thomas Jefferson [36] in an 1816 letter to Madame de Staël-Holstein (Anne Louise Germaine Necker). Jefferson, whose collection formed the nucleus of the Library of Congress after the British torched the Capital in 1814, shared his view of the future divisions of an independent Latin America and displayed his cartographic skills in the body of the letter to illustrate his observations.

Authors' Note

We believe that maps are vital documents in the study of the Luso-Hispanic world. Also we know that maps cannot be judged on their appearance but rather on the quality of the data contained. We have observed this feature time and again during our recent survey of the Library's rich holdings of cartographic materials. The user must be aware that not all maps are uniformly impressive or detailed. For instance, "A map of the Post-road from Buenos Ayres to Potosi 1816" [106], appears crude, cluttered, and visually unappealing. But numerous annotations on that map contain invaluable information regarding the flora, fauna, and ethnography along the route, thus providing an in-depth visual travel account for the period in an area of heightened political and commercial interest to foreigners.

The 1816 post road map mentioned above illustrates that an object's significance may have relatively little to do with its esthetic quality and visual appeal. We believe that each one of the maps described in this publication has a context and a purpose for its creation. Through this publication, we have identified more than 1000 maps related to the Luso-Hispanic world in various collections in the Library of Congress. In most cases, these maps have not been subjected to serious study in the past. They yet await discovery, and with more thorough investigation and imagination, their value as historical documents can be revealed.