American Westward Expansion
Nicholas Biddle Van Zandt’s map shows a portion of the war’s contested territory just three years after the peace treaty was signed. It portrays natural characteristics that would have been relevant to white settlers interested in agricultural development: waterways, swamps, overflowed areas, elevation, timber, and prairie. Each plat is identified with a pair of coordinates so readers could match the narrative with a place on the map and contextualize each parcel within the larger area. Significantly, no evidence of Native American society appears; Van Zandt imposed the surveyor’s grid on a supposedly unpopulated landscape.
In contrast, the blueprint map by regional historian Harry Albert Musham (1886-1972), created in 1936, represents the Great Lakes region as it might have appeared to a careful observer on the eve of the War of 1812. The map depicts the region’s mix of Native American and European-American habitation. It shows Native American communication and transportation routes, treaty and land cessions, and the territorial and state boundaries defined by whites.