Robert R. Rea


The acquisition by Great Britain of Florida and cis-Mississippi Louisiana in 1763 brought with it both the need and the opportunity for a significant expansion of cartographic knowledge of the shores of the newly-created colonies of East and West Florida. Spanish and French charts of the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico were rather more artistic than scientific; indeed, the tools for exact surveying had yet to be developed when the Union Jack was raised at St. Augustine, Pensacola, and Mobile. Fishermen from Havana and the occasional merchant engaged in the coasting trade might know the safe anchorages and the entrances to the great bays, but no European navy possessed dependable charts of those waters. In 1763, the British Admiralty set out to rectify that situation as part of a general survey of the coasts and harbors of North America.