Thomas Jefferson Papers

Maxfield Ludlow to Thomas Jefferson, 12 August 1817

From Maxfield Ludlow

Surveyor General’s Office
Town of Washington
State of Mississippi
August 12th 1817.—


I take the liberty of enclosing to you a Subscription, & also a Copy of a Certificate from Gideon Fitz; principal Dep. Surveyor of the South West District, State of Louisiana.—The Certificate is in the following words.


Being informed by Mr Maxfield Ludlow that he is about to publish a map embracing with other parts of the State of Louisiana, that of the Western Land District, lying South of Red River, the Surveying whereof has been under my Superintendance as Principal Deputy Surveyor, I am induced at the request of Mr Ludlow, to State, that he had the opportunity of taking any transcripts which he may have thought proper from the returns of Surveyors1 made to my office prior to his leaving Opelousas to be employed as Chief Clerk in the Office of the Surveyor General South of Tennessee in the fall of the year 1813. at which time this part of the District had been surveyed generally into Townships, many of which were Surveyed into Sections.

In consequence of the opportunity which Mr Ludlow has had of obtaining information from Surveys made in the State of Louisiana & the Mississippi Terry I have no doubt that his map will be2 the most accurate of any yet published of these countries.—

(Signed) Gideon Fitz
Principal Dep. Surveyor
S.W. District State of Louisiana

This Original Certificate of Mr Fitz’s will hereafter be handed to you by Capt Richard Fletcher, my agent &c who is now at Philadilphia superentending the engraving of my map—He informs me that he is personally acquainted with you, & on his return with the maps he will call on you at Monticello. I wish not to intrude on your goodness, nor to give you any unnecessary trouble, you will do me a great favor by handing this Subscription to Some person that will get Subscribers,—and when Capt Fletcher calls, please to inform him where he may find it.

I, have been employed by Mr Fitz, & Thomas Freeman Esqr Surveyor Genl South of the State of Tennessee for 8. Years past, during which time, Occasionally I have been deleniating this usefull work,—This map will distinctly shew the Indian boundary lines from Actual Survey, and in particular the Alabama Country and every other part as set forth in the Prospectus.—

The engraving & paper &c will cost me five Thousand dollars—and without the aid of some Eastern Gentleman, I fear, whether I ever get my own money again—I do consider that a few of favorable words from you Sir, in my behalf of this work will in a measure releive me, I, wish this only to be done on the examination of the map Your self3

In great haste Your friend

Maxfield Ludlow

(Our State Constitution is this day Signed)4


No doubt Sir but you have seen the map published by Mr Darby. This gentleman (if such he be worthy to be called) informs the public, that his map is from actual Survey.

Mr Darby I am well acquainted with, his private Surveys returned to Mr Fitz’s office, generally was condemned for their inacuracies. These Sir, are the men that generally destroy the works of honest good men,—his map is entirely Erroneous—in particular that part which lies East of the Mississippi River—I am not ashamed to assert this to the World, and can prove the facts, by the Records in this office.—You will Sir, take particular notice of Mr Darby’s Indian boundary line, from the Homochitto River to the Tombigby River—compare his map with mine,—my map is laid off in Townships & Ranges, These Townships & ranges, Join this Indian Boundary alluded too!!!—and the Correctness of my work may be seen with the Commiser of the Genl Land Office—Which maps I also made.—

M. L.

RC (MoSHi: TJC-BC); entirely in Ludlow’s hand; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr Late President of the U. S. Monticello,” with “Virginia” added in an unidentified hand; franked; postmarked Washington, Mississippi Territory, 13 Aug.; endorsed by TJ as received 21 Sept. 1817 and so recorded in SJL. Fitz certificate of 10 July 1817 printed by Ludlow in Natchez Mississippi State Gazette, 7 Feb. 1818. Enclosure: Ludlow, Prospectus for Publishing by Subscription, A Map of the State of Louisiana, with a part of the State of Mississippi and Alabama Territory, indicating that the proposed map would measure six feet six inches by four feet, on a scale of eight miles to an inch; outlining its boundaries; adding that it would include in one corner a plat illustrating the campaign of the British at New Orleans in 1815; specifying that the map would be “engraved by the best artist in the United States,” consist of four sheets, and be delivered “on or about the first day of December next”; advertising a price of $10 for subscribers or $14 if the map is mounted on rollers; and concluding with a blank subscription list (undated broadside in MoSHi: TJC-BC).

Maxfield Ludlow (d. by 1828) was employed as a surveyor in Ohio as early as 1795 and worked extensively laying out townships in Ohio in the first decade of the nineteenth century. In 1804 he was commissioned an ensign in the militia of Hamilton County, Ohio. He was living near Cincinnati by 1807, when he sought a position as a land registrar. Ludlow subsequently moved to Mississippi Territory and was employed between about 1809 and 1817 under the surveyor general for the area south of Tennessee. About 1817 he published A Map of the State of Louisiana with Part of the State of Mississippi and Alabama Territory (Ristow, American Maps and Mapmakers description begins Walter W. Ristow, American Maps and Mapmakers: Commercial Cartography in the Nineteenth Century, 1985, repr. 1986 description ends , 145; Sketches of Springfield [1852], 5, 6; Quarterly Publication of the Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio 13 [1918]: 118; The History of Clark County, Ohio [1881], 234; George William Hill, History of Ashland County, Ohio [1880], 46–8; John E. Hopley, History of Crawford County, Ohio [1912], 179, 264, 299, 338; DNA: RG 59, LAR, 1801–09; Petition and documents of Gabriel Winter [(Washington, 1818)], 18; Terr. Papers description begins Clarence E. Carter and John Porter Bloom, eds., The Territorial Papers of the United States, 1934–75, 28 vols. description ends , 6:452; A Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval [Washington, 1816], 38; Ludlow, To the Public [(Natchez, 1817)] [broadside in MWA]; Natchez Gazette, 7 July 1830).

The state constitution of Mississippi was signed on 15 Aug. 1817 (Terr. Papers description begins Clarence E. Carter and John Porter Bloom, eds., The Territorial Papers of the United States, 1934–75, 28 vols. description ends , 6:798).

1Mississippi State Gazette: “surveys.”

2Mississippi State Gazette here adds “much.”

3Manuscript: “sef.”

4Remainder of text on verso of address cover.

Index Entries

  • Alabama Territory; maps of search
  • Darby, William; map of La. by search
  • Fitz, Gideon; as surveyor search
  • Fletcher, Richard; as publishing agent search
  • Freeman, Thomas; as surveyor search
  • Louisiana (state); maps of search
  • Ludlow, Maxfield; identified search
  • Ludlow, Maxfield; letter from search
  • Ludlow, Maxfield; map by search
  • Ludlow, Maxfield; Prospectus for Publishing by Subscription, A Map of the State of Louisiana, with a part of the State of Mississippi and Alabama Territory search
  • maps; of Alabama Territory search
  • maps; of Louisiana search
  • maps; of Mississippi Territory search
  • Mississippi (state); constitution of search
  • Mississippi Territory; maps of search
  • Prospectus for Publishing by Subscription, A Map of the State of Louisiana, with a part of the State of Mississippi and Alabama Territory (M. Ludlow) search
  • subscriptions, for publications; maps search