||During the last third of the twentieth century, the history of cartography caught the interest of more than a few historians who would have otherwise viewed maps as interesting, but not entirely essential to the focus of their chosen research. Since the pioneering work of J. B. Harley, David Woodward, and others, it has become more apparent that a closer inspection of the nature of maps, and cartography's part in any historical narrative, will offer information that the historian might otherwise overlook. This is especially true regarding the role that cartography plays in building and sustaining early modern empires. This dissertation explores and defines the elements of the cartographical representations in the North American imperial experience from its early colonial period to the middle of the nineteenth century. The work proceeds chronologically from the early English, French, Dutch, and Spanish territorial claims and acquisitions, to the United States' expansion of its continental holdings at the close of the Mexican War.