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2.1: Early Maps

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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From the days of Columbus on, explorers and cartographers made maps of the New World. The two maps below were made in 1636 and 1651. For context, recall that the Jamestown colony in Virginia was founded in 1608 and that the Mayflower landed in New England in 1620. Both of these maps show Virginia, but they portray it very differently. Compare the maps, and consider why two maps of the same area would be so different.

Virginia and Maryland – Gerhard Mercator

Source: A map titled Virginia and Maryland, made by Gerhard Mercator and published in 1636. (Figure below).

Virginia and Maryland

A Map of Virginia – Edward Williams

Source: Map of Virginia made by Edward Williams and published in 1651.(Figure below).


  1. These maps show the same land, but they were made 15years apart. In what ways are the two maps different?
  2. Contextualize: How might attitudes toward Native Americans have changed between 1636 and 1651?

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