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Madison Map of Virginia (1807)

Artist/Maker: Bishop James Madison (1749-1812)

Created: 1807

Origin/Purchase: Virginia

Materials: paper engraved on 4 sheets

Dimensions: 114.6 × 173.8 (37 1/4 × 53 in.)

Location: Library of Congress

Owner: Library of Congress

Historical Notes: While serving as president of the College of William and Mary, Bishop James Madison, first cousin of President James Madison, determined the need for an updated map of Virginia. Familiar with the local surveyors that the college licensed and examined, Madison sponsored the work, although Madison himself had no training as a draftsman or surveyor. Under the supervision of William Prentis, William Davis began drafting the map in 1803. Two years later Madison began collecting subscriptions for the work.1

Madison advertised the map in the April 15, 1805, Richmond Enquirer: "The price to subscribers will be eight dollars, neatly mounted, colored and glazed. One dollar, (to lighten the great expense of publication) to be paid on subscribing."2 Jefferson subscribed in June 1805, for two copies, and paid for them in full in 1807, when the map was published.3 He supported Madison's efforts to produce an accurate map of the state, and offered his assistance with a second edition:

[D]o you think of ever giving us a second edition of your map? if you do I may be able to furnish you with some latitudes. I have a pocket sextant of miraculous accuracy, considering it's microscopic graduation ....4

In 1818, after Madison's death, Davis redrafted a second edition of the map, which remained the authoritative work on Virginia until about 1827.5

- Text from Stein, Worlds, 386

Filed In: 
Objects, Maps


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