In the second half of the eighteenth century, British surveyors came to North America and the West Indies in unprecedented numbers. Their images of coastlines, forts and frontiers helped win the French and Indian War and pictured a triumphant British Atlantic world. The American Revolution shattered this vision of peace, commerce and settlement. Once tasked to promote an expansive American empire, wartime mapmakers applied their knowledge to make war on American colonists. Max Edelson, professor of history at the University of Virginia, describes the importance of survey knowledge in maps from empire to independence.
About the Speaker
Max Edelson is a professor of history at the University of Virginia. His studies surround the history of British America and the Atlantic World, and his research examines space, place and culture in colonial North America and the Caribbean. He is the author of two books, Plantation Enterprise in Colonial South Carolina (Harvard University Press, 2006) and The New Map of Empire: How Britain Imagined America Before Independence (Harvard University Press, 2017). He has also co-developed a dynamic visualization tool for historic map collections, MapScholar, with a Digital Implementation Grant in 2012. Professor Edelson also co-directs the University of Virginia’s Early American Seminar, an ongoing research seminar jointly sponsored by the Corcoran Department of History, the Jefferson Scholars Foundation and the International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello.