ABOUT THIS BOOK
At the age of sixteen, our first president began his professional life as a surveyor, going on to lead several expeditions to measure and map the American interior. The early surveyors, whether determining a colonial border, setting a boundary for a tract of land, accurately recording a sale, or making a map, had significant practical and political impact on the expanding country. Landed property created personal wealth for individuals and governments, and stability for the developing nation.
In Surveying Early America: The Point of Beginning, An Illustrated History, award-winning photographer Dan Patterson and American historian Clinton Terry vividly examine the profession of surveying in the eighteenth century. Retracing the steps Washington and other surveyors took to map the Ohio River Valley, readers are immersed in historically accurate details of early surveying techniques and practices. Terry’s narrative describes the practice of land and survey measurement—methods that did not substantially change until the invention of GPS technology 200 years later. Over 100 full color photographs exclusively shot for the book depict authentic and historically accurate reproductions of tools along with early American reenactors to provide an interpretive look at surveying as a primary means to building the American nation. Working with the Department of the Geographer, Patterson restages actual expeditions, brilliantly displaying the techniques and instruments Washington would have employed 260 years ago. Through the lens of Patterson’s camera and Terry’s accompanying narrative, readers see what Washington saw as he learned his trade, explored the vast American wilderness, and occasionally laid personal claim to great expanses of land along the way.