Eccentric hand drawn map of Detroit from 1761 acquired from the University of Michigan Library
ANN ARBOR, me. – It’s been 54 years since the Vision for Detroit was sold at Sotheby’s.
Now the original treasure will shine for all to see as it will be part of the William L. Clements Library collection at the University of Michigan. The whereabouts of to whom it belonged and / or was sold in its early days is unknown.
Still, former Clements curator Brian Dunnigan, who studied the photograph, wrote about this hand-drawn map for his book titled Frontier Metropolis: Picturing Early Detroit.
A photograph showing part of the “Plan of the Fort at De Troit,” a rare hand-drawn map of early Detroit made for British military use in 1761 and recently acquired by the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan. The plan is 21 ½ x 28 ½ inches, created in ink and watercolor on thin paper. (University of Michigan Clements Library)
“This map was made in 1761 by the noted surveyor and map-maker William Brasier for General Jeffery Amherst,” said Dunnigan. “Comparing maps helps understand Detroit’s growth and change. This map was drawn just a few months after the cession of Detroit from New France to Great Britain and shows the fortress that was later attacked by Pontiac and his warriors in the summer of 1763. “
“General Amherst / J. Chapman, sc.” (1800). A portrait print of British General Jeffery Amherst, engraving by John Chapman. Amherst’s Indian policy damaged relations between Detroit Indians and the British, culminating in Pontiac’s rebellion in 1763. Available from the Clements Library Image Bank, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan. Jeffery Amherst (1758-1764) Finding Aid is also in the Clements Library. (University of Michigan Clements Library)
He continued, “This map was drawn just months after Detroit was ceded by New France to Great Britain, and shows the fortress that Pontiac and his warriors later attacked in the summer of 1763.”
While the Great Lakes region was controlled by the British before the end of the French and Indian Wars, it was not common to the Commonwealth of Nations.
John Montrésor, “Map of Detroit and Its Surroundings”. (ca.1763-1764). Another handwritten card made for General Amherst and purchased for the Clements Library collections in 1936. It shows the fort in a larger area, highlighting the village of Potawatomi to the west and the village of Huron on the other side of the river. Available from the Clements Library Image Bank, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan. (University of Michigan Clements Library)
The French commander turned in his latest plan of the fort when officers of British descent acquired Detroit.
Detail of the lower center from William Brasier’s “Plan of the Fort at De Troit” (1761). An inserted illustration with the inscription “Blick aus dem Westen” shows roofs protruding over wooden palisade walls and lying on a gentle hill overlooking the river. It vividly captures what the British saw when they first approached the fort to accept the French surrender. (University of Michigan Clements Library)
“Brasier’s plan highlights key features such as named streets, the location of gunpowder magazines, land within the fort, and the commanding officer’s extensive garden,” said Mary Pedley, assistant assistant curator for maps. “Most noticeable, however, is the inclusion of a small view of the fort from the west. This image of the fort, perched on a gentle hill overlooking the river, vividly captures what the British saw when they first approached the fort to accept the French surrender and negotiate with the Ottawa (Odawa ), Potawatomi, Potawatomi, The villages Ojibwa and Huron (Wendot) are located around the fort. “
Joseph Gaspard Chaussegros de Léry, “The Detroit River from Lake Sainte Claire to Lake Erie”. (1764). The 1764 printed version of the 1749 plan by the French engineer Chaussegros de Léry, one of the earlier French plans that William Brasier likely had access to for his 1761 manuscript plan. Available from the Clements Library Image Bank, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan. (University of Michigan Clements Library)
Pedley pointed out that the surrounding landmarks served as a meeting point for those of local heritage and the colonial powers, which is noteworthy given the involvement of both sides in the fur trade.
Digital facsimile of the cartographer William Brasier’s “Plan of the Fort at De Troit” (1761), recently acquired by the William L. Clements Library of the University of Michigan. Its reference key identifies the following locations: “A. The king’s powder magazine. B. Log houses. C. The Cavalier. D. The Church. E. Commander’s Garden. F. Powder magazine of the inhabitants. “ (University of Michigan Clements Library)
Detroit’s early markings are on the Braiser Map, a stopgap to the city’s plans in the Clements Library that further complements Detroit’s rich history.
The Clements have one of the most historic collections in the country. Their maps give you a step-by-step approach to the growth of the city, which is thriving to this day.
For more information about the Clements Library at the University of Michigan, visit clements.umich.edu
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