While this is the earliest official state map of Massachusetts, its importance far exceeds its local interest. It was also one of the earliest state maps published after American independence and its compilation provided a model for other states.
Carleton, a highly respected Boston mathematician and geographer, proposed this project in 1791. The state legislature sanctioned his proposal on June 18, 1794, when it passed a resolution directing the selectmen of every town to prepare a survey. By June 1795, 265 town maps had been submitted, from which Carleton compiled a single comprehensive map of the state.