Maps Showing the Evolution of Settlement, 1624–1755
Use this primary source imagery to analyze major events in history.
- This activity should be assigned at the end of Chapter 2 as a way for students to synthesize the changes and continuities that have occurred in the English colonies from 1607 to 1763.
Major advances in cartography took place during the European Age of Exploration in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The printing press made maps more widely available, and a renewed emphasis on geometry made them much more accurate in conveying physical features. Despite these advances, maps were still expensive, and settlers typically had to rely on the mother country to print and sell them. Explorers and colonizers needed maps, and some created their own as they explored new lands. Maps from the early colonial era outlined more than physical features of the land—they played an essential role in the encounters and struggles between Europeans and American Indians, as well as the clashing of European empires. As you examine these maps, think about how they reflect changes and continuities in English colonial claims from 1624 to 1755.
- What two new technologies allowed for improved maps during the Age of Exploration?
- How can a map reveal more than just physical features?
- (Figure 1) Why did Smith include the two images of American Indians on this map?
- (Figure 1) Are there more English or native place names on this map? What does this reveal?
- (Figure 2) Is there more detail in the depiction of coastlines or land? What does this reveal?
- (Figure 2) In what ways is Christopher Browne’s map similar to John Smith’s map of Virginia? How is it different?
- (Figures 1-3) How did English territorial claims change between 1624 and 1719, according to these maps? How did they stay the same?
- (Figures 1-3) How did English territorial claims change between 1719 and 1755? How did they stay the same?
Historical Reasoning Questions
- What role did maps play in the power struggles between Europeans and American Indians?
- What role did maps play in the power struggle between European empires?
- How did the three mapmakers adjust their maps to suit different needs during the colonial period?
- Write a thesis statement that answers the following prompt: Analyze the changes and continuities in English colonial claims from 1624 to 1755.
Smith, John, and William Hole. Virginia, 1624: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Virginia_map_1606.jpg
A new map of Virginia Maryland and the improved parts of Pennsylvania and New-Jersey, 1719: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_new_map_of_Virginia_Maryland_and_the_improved_parts_of_Pennsylvania_and_New-Jersey._Most_humbly_inscribed_to_the_Right_Honble._the_Earl_of_Orkney_etc_Knight_of_ye_most_noble_and_ancient_Order_of_ye_Thistle_1719._Revised_RMG_F0379.tiff
Mitchell, John. A Map of the English and French Dominions in North America: With the Roads, Distances, Limits, and Extent of the Settlements, 1755.: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikimedia/commons/7/7b/Mitchell_Map-06full2.jpg