Map of the day

Source – Mapping the Nation; Digital Library Cornell University and Persuasive Maps

Time & Tide Map of the Atlantic Charter (Drawn by – Gill, MacDonald, 1884-1947)

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In August 1941, four months before Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill met secretly aboard ship in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland. The most important result of the meeting was an agreement on the joint goals of Great Britain and the United States for the post-war world, promptly named (by the press) “The Atlantic Charter.” With its promise of self-determination and “freedom from fear and want,” the Charter “served as a propaganda weapon against the Axis,” broadcasted widely by the Voice of America, and eventually the basis for the United Nations declaration. Brewer 2009, 95-96, 102; Patterson 2015, 189-192).

Equally significant, because of “its demonstration of Anglo-American unity against totalitarianism, the declaration of the Atlantic Charter served to boost British morale during one of the most difficult phases of the war.” Ellis 2009, 48. Although the U.S. entered the war in December 1941, that development had not significantly changed life in England in 1942. Hitler continued to consolidate his military gains. The blitz had lifted, but not the bombing; Hitler’s “Baedeker Raids” included massive attacks on Exeter, York, Norwich, Canterbury, Bristol and Bath. Food was in short supply and tightly rationed. “Time & Tide” magazine commissioned the well-known artist MacDonald Gill to produce this map in 1942 and issued it as part of the “morale-boosting” effort.

The Atlantic Charter is reproduced in full in text at the top, dominating the map. (The signatures of Roosevelt and Churchill are artistic license; there was in fact no signed Charter document.) The continents abound with symbols of agriculture and industrial raw materials. Some of these were particularly important to the war effort: copper, iron, manganese, petroleum, rubber. But most were simply symbolic of the free and equal trade promised by Article 4 of the Charter: “here are indicated the chief products of each country for the furtherance of a sane economic and international policy for mankind.” Gill 1944, 168. Otherwise open spaces are filled with hopeful quotes from Aristotle, Cicero, Emerson, Pope – and Isaiah’s call to beat swords into plowshares, illustrated by a bare-chested worker doing just that. In short, the map is an optimistic view of a peaceful, sunny future “after the final destruction of Nazi tyranny” (Article 6), epitomized by Gill’s trademark sunburst emerging from the Charter to enlighten the world. See Curtis 2016, 160-63.

Gill was one of the best-known commercial and patriotic artists of his time. He “produced a great many advertisements which made use of maps [using] a striking, colourful, pictorial style . . . . Boldness and information, within an instantly recognizable cartographic framework, offered real scope for the purposes of advertising and propaganda.”