A response to the Goos Map …

Pas caerte van Nieu Nederlandt en de Engelsche Virginies van Cabo Cod tot Cabo Canrick. Pieter Goos. 1666. Brooklyn Historical Society Map Collection.

October’s Map of the Month (“The Goos Map”) has started many conversations among scholars at BHS. At first glance, it may appear as just a pretty nautical chart, but as a historical document, it also provides a glimpse into the politics of cartography. Maps can be used as instruments of propaganda, tools with which a nation declares: This land is ours. Even today, we see this phenomenon occurring with maps of disputed territories, like Chechnya or Palestine.  These maps challenge us to look beyond the visual, graphic nature of cartographic materials and accept the idea that maps, like all historical materials, have political connotations.

This post will discuss the political aspects of the Goos Map, featuring commentary from guest blogger William Coleman. Mr. Coleman is a member of BHS’ Board of Trustees and a retired attorney. He holds a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin and a J.D. from New York Law School. Without further ado, here are Mr. Coleman’s comments:

The October Map of the Month “Pas Caerte Nieu Nederlandt en de Engelsche Virginies, Van Cabo tot Cabo Canrick” c. 1666-1667, attributed to the Dutch printer and mapmaker Pieter Goos (Goos Map), presents a series of interesting questions relating to the purpose for which it was printed and the date of cartographical information included. In addition to the original copy of the Goos Map in the collection of the Brooklyn Historical Society, originals are in the collections of the New York State Library and the New York Public Library. [1] This map is not listed in the index of I.N. Phelps Stokes’ Iconography of Manhattan Island, although another work by Goos, a map of the West Indies, is listed.[2]

While the Goos Map was printed c. 1666-67, the cartographic information included indicates that the information used was 10-15 years older. For example, focusing on Long Island (and Brooklyn), the Goos Map includes Gardiner’s Island, subject to an English Royal Grant to the Gardiner family c. 1639 (and still owned by the same family). Similarly included is Gravesant (Gravesend) Kings County, founded by Lady Deborah Moody, c. 1645. Flatbush (Midwout) founded c. 1651, Flatlands (Nieuw Amersfoort) founded in 1647 and New Utrecht founded c. 1657, are not shown on the Goos Map.  Thus it would appear that the map data originated in the period between 1645 and before 1647. [3]

If this is correct, one possible source for the Goos Map is the first or second state map by N.J. Visscher 1650/51 or 1652, based on a manuscript map compiled by Adriaen van der Donck in 1648, a digital copy of which is available online on the New Netherland Project website. [4]

The Goos Map does not accurately reflect political control of the region as of 1666-67, as the English took over control of New Amsterdam on August 29, 1664 and the Dutch settlements along the Delaware River in October 1664. Why then would Goos continue to show New Netherland on the map? It is believed that the Goos Map was printed for political propaganda purposes to emphasize the Dutch claim to the lost territories during the Second Anglo-Dutch War that lasted from 1665-1667.

The map contains a number of anomalies irrespective of its purpose:

1.  The New Netherland Institute describes the map: Pieter Goos produced beautiful maps of the known world in the 1600s. “Nieuw Nederlandt” was part of his Atlas of the Sea, depicting, according to its French legend, “all the discovered and known Maritime Coasts” and was “necessary and convenient for all pilots, ships’ masters, and traders.” Newly published and printed in 1667, this map shows many familiar place names, such as Schuylkill, Cape May, Cape Hinlopen, and Barnegat in the Pennsylvania and Delaware areas that were at that time part of New Netherland.[5] Yet, the Hudson River north of Manhattan Island and the Connecticut River, the principal commercial arteries of New Netherland are missing.

2.  If this was intended to be a navigational map, there are a number of striking omissions from a Dutch perspective. First, the North or Maurits River is shown only to the north end of Manhattan Island, omitting Fort Orange (Albany), Esopus (Kingston) and other Dutch settlements along the River essential to the collection of beaver pelts for trade. Second, the Connecticut River and the Dutch settlement at the Fort Goede Hoop or House of Hope (Hartford) which existed from 1623 into the 1640s are omitted. Third, if my assumption is correct that the basic mapped data is from after 1645 and before 1647-51, why is extensive information included on the Delaware River and Bay, at least part of which was controlled by Sweden and the Chesapeake Bay to which the Dutch had no claim or political or military control or even settlements?

3.   If this was intended to be a geo-political map showing the extent of Dutch territorial claims or actual possessions, there are a number of questionable inclusions:

  • Present day Connecticut. The Goos Map shows New Netherland extending across the Hudson River Valley (River omitted) into and across what is now the State of Connecticut. The map includes such towns as Stamford, Stratford and New Haven without indicating that those towns were part of the English Colony of New Haven (in existence until 1665) or the English Colony of Connecticut.
  • Present day upstate New York. As mentioned above, the omission of the Hudson River Valley and Dutch Settlements is striking. Similarly, the eastern boundary between New Netherland and the English colonies of Connecticut and/or New Haven is omitted.
  • Long Island. The eastern boundary between New Netherland and the territory claimed and controlled by the English Colony of New Haven followed a roughly north-south line from Oyster Bay on the north shore to Long Beach Island on the south shore. This territorial boundary is not included.

The Goos Map is a good teaching tool showing that the “facts” stated or shown in many original documents as well as in secondary sources must be checked and validated to the extent practical and where questions remain, the unresolved “facts” should be appropriately noted in the text. [6] The Goos Map cannot be considered an accurate depiction of either the extent of European political control of the Middle Atlantic Coast of North America in 1666-67, nor of the geography of the Middle Atlantic Coast. It is a political document using data from 10-15 years earlier and omitting a number of significant geographical features including the rivers now known as the Hudson and Connecticut. While the Dutch may have claimed the region from Cape Cod south to the Virginia or North Carolina Capes, the maximum extent of their military or political control was far less, including the western part of Long Island, Manhattan Island and the Hudson River Valley to Albany, parts of New Jersey and the Delaware River Valley.

[2] Heald, see footnote 1, states that the map is included in Burden, Philip D., The Mapping of North America: A list of Printed Maps, Raleigh Publications, (1996-2007) , plate 387; Humphreys,  Old Decorative Maps and Charts,  plate 63 possibly, Decorative Printed Maps of the 15th to 18th Centuries: a revised Ed. Of Old Decorative Maps and Charts, London, New York, Staples Press (1952); Deák, Gloria-Gilda, Picturing America, 1497-1899: Prints, Maps and Drawings Bearing on the New World discoveries and on the Development of the Territory that is Now the United States, Princeton, Princeton University Press (1988), 48. None of these sources were reviewed.

[3]The map for what is now Kings County also includes a reference to Greenwyck that cannot be identified.

[4]http://www.nnp.org/vtour/visscher_map.html. See in particular the unexplained shading off the coast of Cape Cod, shown on both as New Holland.

[5] The reference to Cape Hinlopen is presumably to Cape Henlopen, Delaware. Cape May and Barnegat are of course located in what is now New Jersey.

[6] I would like to thank Carolyn Hansen, Map Cataloguer at the Brooklyn Historical Society for bringing this map to the attention of the community, to Julie Golia, PhD, Public Historian at the Brooklyn Historical Society and Eric Platt, PhD, Assistant Professor at St. Francis College for their assistance evaluating this map. All of the opinions stated here however are mine.




About Carolyn

Carolyn is the Project Map Cataloger on a grant-funded project until May 2012. When not reveling in all things cartographic, she enjoys knitting and exploring Brooklyn.
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One Response to A response to the Goos Map …

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