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John William Gerard de Brahm (c1717-1799) was a German cartographer, engineer[1] and mystic. In 1754 he was appointed by the British as surveyor general for Georgia. He is said to have been the most prolific mapmaker in the Southern Colonies in the late eighteenth century[2]. Formerly an ally of European colonisation, his contact with American Indians led him to despise European Imperialism as a sin which would ultimately bring destruction to the world. He believed that the American Indians had been corrupted by the immorality of traders and their attempts to civilise them[3]. He was imprisoned in France by the American Revolutionary government, accused of being loyal to the British cause. From 1778 he resided in Britain; making a brief visit to his German homeland before settling in Philadelphia in 1791 where he converted to Quakerism. There his writings on Cosmography were inspired by the ideas of an earlier German mystic, Jacob Boehme. He perceived the eighteenth century carving up of lands for personal glory as a tyranny of reason[4].

Contents

Early life

He was born in Koblenz in c1717.

Works

  • Atlantic Pilot, (1772)
  • Time an Apparition of Eternity and Voice of the Everlasting Gospel, (1791-2)
  • Apocalyptic Gnomon Points out Eternity‚Äôs Divisibility Rated with Time Pointed at by Gnomons Sidereal, (1795)

Legacy

De Brahm, derided by contemporaries, never managed to gain many followers to his religious thought. His criticism of dynastic politics and the aggression of nation-states as well as his anti-imperialist position was not well-received in the intellectual climate of the early American Republic.

References

  1. ^ Toomey, Michael. "JOHN WILLIAM GERARD DE BRAHM". The Tennessee Encycopedia of History and Culture. Tennessee Historical Society. http://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/imagegallery.php?EntryID=D017. Retrieved 2009-07-29.  
  2. ^ Georgia land surveying history and law, Farris W. Cradle, University of Georgia Press, 1991
  3. ^ "The Bewildering World of William De Brahm: An Eighteenth-Century Map Maker Surveys the End of Time", Robert E. Paulett, eighteenth century studies, Vol. 42, No. 4, p10
  4. ^ "The Bewildering World of William De Brahm: An Eighteenth-Century Map Maker Surveys the End of Time", Robert E. Paulett, eighteenth century studies, Vol. 42, No. 4, p13

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