Historical Notes: In 1786, while serving as minister to France, Jefferson received Cruz Cano's map of South America from William Carmichael and sought to have copies made for himself and Congress.1 Jefferson enlisted William Stephens Smith, John Adams's son-in-law who was then living in London, to help him commission the London mapmaker William Faden to make these copies. In a letter to Smith, Jefferson described the map and its importance:
The government of Spain at first permitted the map, but the moment they saw one of them come out, they destroyed the plates, seized all of the few copies which had got out and on which they could lay their hands, and issued the severest injunctions to call in the rest and to prevent their going abroad. Some few copies escaped their search. A friend has by good management procured me one, and it is arrived safe through all the searches that travellers are submitted to.2
Sight unseen, Faden agreed to reproduce all twelve sheets of the map.3 In December 1786, Jefferson sent the map to Faden in care of Smith, and drew up a set of suggestions for republishing the map, including three sketches of the proposed layout of the sheets.4
Thirteen years later, in 1799, Faden published his copy of Cruz Cano's work, but he neither sent Jefferson the copies he requested nor returned the original. Jefferson, who had enlisted friends such as James Madison to inquire as to Faden's progress,5 resorted to buying a copy from a London map dealer in 1805 — nineteen years after sending the original to Faden.6 Publication of the controversial map may have been delayed because of Faden's position as geographer to the King.7
1. For mention of a map of Mexico sent to Jefferson, see Carmichael to Jefferson, June 16, 1786, in PTJ, 9:649. Transcription available at Founders Online. Carmichael's description of this map's suppression by the government, and the timing of the shipment, suggest that Carmichael's map of "Mexico" was actually the Cruz Cano map of South America. For a discussion of the details surrounding the map's reproduction, see the editorial note following Jefferson to William Stephens Smith, August , 1786, in PTJ, 10:211-16. Transcription of letter and editorial note available at Founders Online.
2. Jefferson to Smith, August , 1786, in PTJ, 10:212. Transcription available at Founders Online.
3. Smith to Jefferson, September 22, 1786, in PTJ, 10:398. Transcription available at Founders Online.
4. Jefferson to Smith, December 20, 1786, in PTJ, 10:620. Transcription available at Founders Online.
5. Jefferson to Madison, June 28, 1791, in PTJ, 20:582-83. Transcription available at Founders Online. Jefferson also asked Thomas Pinckney, then in London, to check on the map's progress. Jefferson to Pinckney, June 24, 1792, in PTJ, 24:119. Transcription available at Founders Online.