Dakota Datebook

1795 Soulard Map

Sunday, February 3, 2013

 

While in St. Louis preparing for his upcoming voyage, Meriwether Lewis obtained a copy of a map produced in 1795 of the upper Louisiana Territory. The map, produced by Antoine Pierre Soulard, documented features of the Great Plains as far west as the Mandan Indians living near the mouth of the Knife River.

 

Born in France in 1766, Antoine Pierre Soulard was appointed surveyor general of Spanish Louisiana on this day, February 3, 1795. He retained the post until Louisiana passed into American hands eight years later.

 

Soulard’s map was based on word-of-mouth accounts and shared knowledge among European fur traders. It contained a number of inaccuracies and distortions that calls its usefulness to the Lewis and Clark expedition into question. Yet according to anthropologist W. Raymond Wood it “nonetheless is a ‘cartographic milestone,’ surpassing in detail and accuracy all other contemporary maps showing the same terrain.”

 

Dakota Datebook written by Christina Sunwall

 

 

Sources:

Allen, John Logan. Lewis and Clark and the Image of the American Northwest (Dover Publications; 1975) ftp: http://books.google.com/books?id=vEOgDiZlgxIC&pg=PA148&lpg=PA148&dq=antoine+soulard+map&source=web&ots=u-LG1B9yVa&sig=WjpAA5M22TepKuvN0r4cP4DtoeA#PPR4,M1

 

The Illinois State Museum- http://www.museum.state.il.us/exhibits/lewis_clark_il/htmls/il_country_exp/preps/james_mackay.html

 

Wood, W. Raymond. Prologue to Lewis & Clark: The Mackay and Evans Expedition (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press; 2003)

 

 

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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