Baltimore: 1833-1837., 1837. 11 individual maps, of varying sizes, including 9 original manuscript maps drawn in pen and ink, pencil and ink wash on wove paper, of the State of Maryland, and of the existing 20 counties, and the Western Shore of Chesapeake Bay, and two lithographed maps of the proposed creations of Howard and Carroll Counties in 1837 and 1838 respectively. ALL IN EXCEPTIONALLY FINE NEAR ORIGINAL CONDITION.
Provenance: Probable gift of Mrs Phillip T. Tyson to the Maryland Academy of Sciences in January of 1878; deposited at the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore from 1937, with their ink stamp in the lower corner and their 20th-century shelfmarks.
John Alexander was only 21, and newly graduated from St. John's College in Annapolis when he was commissioned by the General Assembly of Maryland to "examine and collect information, and report to the next General Assembly a plan and drawing for a complete Map of Maryland and to make such surveys as may be required for the purpose of exhibiting the prominent geographical and topographical features of the country, and also to collect such statistical information as will be useful".
ALEXANDER'S ACHIEVEMENT IN THE FOUR SHORT YEARS THAT HE WORKED ON THIS COMMISSION IS IMMENSE. HIS IS THE FIRST CENTRALISED, COMPREHENSIVE, CO-ORDINATED AND SCIENTIFIC SURVEY OF THE STATE OF MARYLAND Although Alexander and his colleague Prof. Julius T. Ducatel set about their task with enthusiasm, financial support was minimal, and progress slow. Nevertheless successive annual reports of the General Assembly were illustrated by the individual county maps, even though Alexander's general map of the whole state of Maryland, while accurate and detailed, ultimately remained unfinished.
In addition to disappointing lack of official support, which eventually dried up completely by 1841, Alexander soon found that his talents were in demand from local wealthy landowners and prospective investors in canal and railroad routes. In 1837, after locating and acquiring a major coal deposit in the Allegheny region of the state, Alexander resigned his commission. Although he remained the official State Engineer until 1841, he refused to draw the salary attached. And so "ended all co-ordinated state efforts at comprehensive mapping of Maryland until the close of the century" (Papenfuse). Alexander's achievements lay unrecognised until 1861, when the U.S. Army needed a good map of the area surrounding Washington to mount defenses during the Civil War. Kate Hunter 2011. Bookseller Inventory # 72lib121