Map of South Carolina and a Part of Georgia, Containing the Whole Sea-Coast, 1757
Map, 52 ¼ x 47 7/8 inches
William P. Cumming, the foremost scholar of Southern geography, stated that modern cartography of the South began in 1757 with the publication of this highly-illustrated, accurate map of South Carolina and coastal Georgia. William Gerard De Brahm's Map of South Carolina and a Part of Georgia was the first map of the Southeast created from several years of systematic scientific surveys by a highly-trained engineer. This map established a standard of quality for the maps and engineering drawings that De Brahm created in his thirty-year career and for the maps of his successors. Replete with valuable historical and geographical information, the Map of South Carolina and a Part of Georgia is an exemplary combination of artistic beauty and utility that is the hallmark of the finest eighteenth-century maps.
William Gerard De Brahm was born in Koblenz, Germany in 1717. The son of a court musician, he received a broad education in art, science, and theology. De Brahm rose to the rank of a captain of engineers in the army of Emperor Charles VII, but lost his commission when he converted from Roman Catholicism to an evangelical Protestant faith. In 1751, he led a group of German Protestant immigrants to the new British colony of Georgia where they established the religious community called Bethabara. James Glen, governor of South Carolina, learned of De Brahm's engineering talent and hired him to design and construct fortifications for Charlestown, the colonial capital. Within a few years, De Brahm had worked on fortifications around Savannah and supervised construction of Fort Loudoun in Tennessee and Fort George on the Georgia coast.
King George II appointed De Brahm surveyor general of Georgia and later of South Carolina as well. In that capacity, he performed the surveys and conducted the research that found form in his Map of South Carolina and a Part of Georgia. After the 1763 Treaty of Paris ended the French and Indian War, De Brahm's responsibilities as surveyor general expanded to include the new British colony of East Florida. He lost his post temporarily in a political feud and traveled to London both to recover his position and to supervise publication of a series of maps and navigational charts called The Atlantic Pilot (1772). The Pilot quickly became the most important sailing guide for the eastern seaboard and, with occasional updates, was used into the nineteenth century. De Brahm returned to the Southern colonies in 1774 and to his position as surveyor general, where he produced more maps and "Report of the General Survey in the Southern District of North America," a comprehensive investigation of geography, natural history, and anthropology of the Southeast.
De Brahm's Map of South Carolina and a Part of Georgia was issued in London in 1757 by Thomas Jeffreys. It was published in four sheets and those originals that survive were often pasted, as this one has been, into a single large sheet. Its cartouche is highly decorated with scenes from indigo production in the Caribbean Islands and indicates that not only did De Brahm conduct extensive scientific surveys of his own, but that he also secured information from earlier mapmakers and knowledgeable residents of the area. The map is divided into an alphabetic grid system which was used to establish reference points for the plantations of 109 South Carolinians and thirty Georgians. Roadways, churches, ferry crossings, and small towns are also depicted. Another distinctive feature is the color depiction of eight townships that were part of the South Carolina government's plan to settle white immigrants on the colonial frontier.
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