Fitch served briefly in the Continental Army but spent much of the Revolution engaged in business ventures that ultimately netted him little. Like Filson he sought his fortune in Kentucky, where he invested in land and worked as a surveyor. His travels took him far afield, including extensive surveys along the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers. Captured by Indians in 1782, he was taken to Detroit, across Lakes Erie and Ontario, and finally to Quebec before being repatriated.
Before becoming consumed by his invention of the steamboat, in 1785 Fitch published this map, having compiled it primarily from McMurray’s map of the United States augmented by his own surveys (For the McMurray map, see item 2 in the “Nation” section of this exhibit.) He engraved it himself and printed it on a press of his own construction, purportedly a retrofitted cider press. Like McMurray, Fitch depicted the Old Northwest carved into ten proto-states as specified by the Land Ordinance of 1784 (Thomas Jefferson proposed to name them Illinoia, Michigania, Saratoga, Washingon, Chersonesus, Sylvania, Assenisipia, Metropotamia, Polypotamia, and Pelisipia.)