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The Brief American Pageant , Sixth Edition
David M. Kennedy, Stanford University
Lizabeth Cohen, Harvard University
Thomas A. Bailey
Mel Piehl, Valparaiso University
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Introduction | Questions to Consider | Source

Land Division in New Orleans
(c. 1720)

Instructors' Note
The principle geographic features of the map are the large lake; the Mississippi River; wooded areas; and, most important, the series of long, narrow lots, which were typical of French possessions in the New World. Known as the "long lot" system, the scheme allowed each landholder to have as much of the rich, bottomland and river frontage as possible. This organization promoted agriculture and furnished the farmer with access to transportation. The comparison between the "long lot" map and the Northwest Ordinance is obvious. The "long lots" are rectangular, reflecting an earlier settlement of public lands and their focus on the river, while the Old Northwest lots are square, illustrating a scheme less focused on local geographical features.

As successive European groups arrived in North America, they brought with them artifacts and ideas. The latter included systems for organizing land holdings. These different patterns—sometimes one on top the other—appear in early maps and illustrate the distinct approaches to identifying and organizing property ownership.

Questions to Consider
  1. What are the principle geographic features of the map?

  2. What is the shape of the land holdings?

  3. What purpose does the shape of the land holdings appear to serve?

  4. Compare the shape of the land holdings to that illustrated in "Township and Range Map of the Old Northwest. . . (1785-1787)"

  5. How could you use the information from the map for other kinds of historical interpretation?


Drawing of the English trading with the Indians