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John Reid: Plan of the City of Washington

Map: USA9230
Cartographer: John Reid
Title: Plan of the City of Washington
Date: 1795
Published: New York
Width: 20 inches / 51 cm
Height: 16 inches / 41 cm
Map ref: USA9230
The first printed plan of Washington to appear in an atlas and the third folio sized plan of the city.

Geographically, the plan is based on the work of Major Pierre L’Enfant and his assistant Andrew Ellicott. L’Enfant was notoriously difficult as a work colleague and after his dismissal, the plan was completed by Ellicott and acted as the foundational model for further maps of the city.

The title of the map together with the interesting vignette above it have also been copied from the Ellicott/L’Enfant plan. The vignette shows two figures holding an open volume entitled “The Rights of Man”, the famous book written by Thomas Paine, justifying a revolution if a government fails its people. The coat of arms below is attributed to the Washington family, before its adoption as the coat of arms of the District of Columbia in 1938.

Although two official folio plans of the city were originally issued in 1792 by Thackara and Vallance in Philadelphia and Samuel Hill in Boston, this is the first plan to appear in an atlas and the third overall. John Reid published his atlas as a companion volume to William Winterbotham’s “An Historical, Geographical, Commercial and Philosophical View of the United States” in 1795 but it was also available as a separate volume, making it the second folio atlas issued in the United States.

This is the first edition, first issue of the map, as distinguished by the imprint of “J. Reid, J. Wayland and C. Smith 1795” under the title.