The Discoveries of John Lederer, In three several Marches from Virginia, To the West of
And other parts of the Continent: Begun in March 1669, and ended in September 1670.
Together with a General
Map of the whole territory which he traversed
London: Printed by J. C. for Samuel Heyrick, at Grays-Inne-gate in Holborn, 1672
Call number: General Collection F229 .L42 1672
John Lederer's writings are an important source for the early history and mapping of the Southeast.
Lederer, a German-born physician, led three expeditions to explore the Blue Ridge Mountains and Carolina
Piedmont region in the hope of finding an easy route to Asia. (It was a common misconception that the Pacific
was only a few days' march from the head of the James River.) Lederer scaled the Appalachian ranges, searching
for passes through which traders and settlers might travel. Although he obviously did not see the Pacific Ocean
in this area, he did return convinced that he had almost reached it.
After his third "march," he moved to Maryland, where he met Sir William Talbot, secretary of that colony
and nephew of its proprietor, Lord Baltimore. Talbot translated Lederer's account from Latin into English and
arranged to have the journal published in London. Lederer may or may not have been the first European to reach
the Valley of Virginia, but he was the first to publish an account of his discoveries. He was an astute observer of
Indian customs and beliefs, and his book was the first scientific report on the western portion of Virginia. His
influential map (shown here) provided new data about unknown areas, but it also contained several errors, most
notably the "barren Sandy dessert" and a nonexistent lake in North Carolina that were often reproduced by
other map makers. Lederer's expeditions inspired other explorers searching for passes through the mountains, and
they helped to develop the fur trade with the Catawba and Cherokee.
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