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Early American Cartographies$
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Martin Bruckner

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807834695

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807838723_bruckner

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A Compass to Steer By John Locke, Carolina, and the Politics of Restoration Geography

A Compass to Steer By John Locke, Carolina, and the Politics of Restoration Geography

(p.93) A Compass to Steer By John Locke, Carolina, and the Politics of Restoration Geography
Early American Cartographies

Martin Brückner

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter discusses how historians of the English experience in America often look at the colonial period through Lockean spectacles. We think of a Lockean labor theory of value, and a Lockean notion of property founded on the improvement of vacant or at least neglected land, as both the philosophy and the ideology of American colonization, and, ultimately, of American independence. Over the course of the seventeenth century, writes Bruce McLeod, “a labor theory of value was inexorably becoming the justification for expropriating land inhabited by others. . . . Thus wilderness and commons alike were essentially up for grabs since both lacked the organizing principle of private property.” Since the 1980s advent of the new, “critical” history of cartography, pioneered most conspicuously by J. B. Harley, we have tended to think of early American maps as the expressions of this philosophy and the tools of this ideology of expansive individualism.

Keywords:   English experience, colonial period, Lockean spectacles, American colonization, American independence, expansive individualism

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