U.S. Expansion : Expansionism Maps

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U.S. Expansion and Expansionism Maps
Land Acquisitions and Growth of the United States

Land and Territory Purchases of the United States
U.S. Acquisition of Territory and Territorial Expansion History

These maps indicate the evolution of the borders of the United States, and reflect changes to the internal and external borders of the country, as well as status and name changes. It also shows the surrounding areas that eventually became part of the United States. Each situation has a map, to show what the specific composition of the country was at any given time. After achieving independence with the Treaty of Paris, the United States expanded westward, enlarging its borders seven times, with two major border adjustments, one with the United Kingdom and one with Spain, and several small disputes. The original thirteen states grew into fifty states, most of which began as incorporated territories. The general pattern seen in this is of territorial expansion, carving of organized territories from the newly acquired land, modification of the borders of these territories, and eventual statehood. Only two states, Nevada and Missouri, grew appreciably after statehood, and four, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia, lost land, in each case to form new states. The animated maps (aka gif maps) are self-explanatory; however, certain maps contain narratives, which are listed just below the respective map.

US and North American Territorial Expansion Map
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US Growth and North American Continent Expansionism Map

It took American colonists a century and a half to expand as far west as the Appalachian Mountains, a few hundred miles from the Atlantic coast. It took another fifty years to push the frontier to the Mississippi River. Seeking cheap land and inspired by the notion that Americans had a “manifest destiny” to stretch across the continent, pioneers by 1850 pushed the edge of settlement to Texas, the Southwest, and the Pacific Northwest. The U.S. had expanded and acquired the vast territory that stretched from sea to shining sea....

Recommended Viewing: Lewis & Clark - The Journey of the Corps of Discovery (1997) (DVD) (240 minutes) (PBS) (September 28, 2004). Review: Another reliably well-crafted, generally engrossing documentary from Ken Burns, Lewis & Clark employs the director's now-familiar approach to his subjects, from its elegant juxtaposition of period illustrations and portraits against newly filmed footage of historic sites to Burns's repertory of accomplished actors to provide gravitas for quotes from the key figures. Granted the formula has become familiar enough to allow parody, but Burns knows how to invest his historical investigations with movement and drama, making this four-hour journey a worthwhile trip. Continued below…

As narrated by Hal Holbrook, Dayton Duncan's script explicates the agenda presented by Thomas Jefferson to Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, placing it in the context of the young country's gamble in Jefferson's Louisiana Purchase, and the expedition's goals for opening the West. While preserving the heroic scale of the undertaking, Burns also finds time to delve into the politics of the venture and the disparate personalities of the two explorers; in particular, Duncan and Burns look at the career of Lewis, the presidential protégé, his moody demeanor, and his untimely death. The film also looks beyond its titular leaders to examine the personalities of their corps of soldiers, their boatmen, and the Indians they met and depended on, most notably their female Shosone guide, Sacagawea. --Sam Sutherland

US states by date of statehood Map
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Map of each US state as it receives statehood

Animation showing US states by date of statehood. The first thirteen states, however, are shown in the order by the date each ratified the present United States Constitution, the rest show the year of admission to the union in the sliding scale at the bottom. Also note that this shows present day state boundaries, which in some cases do not correspond with the historical boundaries of the state, such as West Virginia which was a part of Virginia until 1861.

Recommended Reading: How the States Got Their Shapes. From Publishers Weekly: America's first century was defined by expansion and the negotiation of territories among areas colonized by the French and Spanish, or occupied by natives. The exact location of borders became paramount; playwright and screenwriter Stein amasses the story of each state's border, channeling them into a cohesive whole. Continued below...
Proceeding through the states alphabetically, Stein takes the innovative step of addressing each border-north, south, east, west-separately. Border stories shine a spotlight on many aspects of American history: the 49th parallel was chosen for the northern borders of Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana because they ensured England's access to the Great Lakes, vital to their fur trade; in 1846, Washington D.C. residents south of the Potomac successfully petitioned to rejoin Virginia (called both "retrocession" and "a crime") in order to keep out free African-Americans. Aside from tales of violent conquest and political glad-handing, there's early, breathtaking tales of American politicos' favorite sport, gerrymandering (in 1864, Idaho judge Sidney Edgerton single-handedly "derailed" Idaho's proposed boundary, to Montana's benefit, with $2,000 in gold). American history enthusiasts should be captivated by this fun, informative text. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

US Territorial Acquisitions Map
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American Expansionism

This map depicts the territorial acquisitions of the United States, such as the Thirteen Colonies, the Louisiana Purchase, Treaty of Amity; Treaty of Adams-Onis; Acquisition of Florida, British and Spanish cessions, Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, The Gadsden Purchase, as well as additional lands ceded through treaties and purchases.

Original Thirteen Colonies Highlighted Map
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13 Original Colonies

Recommended Reading: The Constitution of the United States of America, with the Bill of Rights and all of the Amendments; The Declaration of Independence; and the Articles of Confederation, by Thomas Jefferson (Author), Second Continental Congress (Author), Constitutional Convention (Author). Description: Collected in one affordable volume are the most important documents of the United States of America: The Constitution of the United States of America, with the Bill of Rights and all of the Amendments; The Declaration of Independence; and the Articles of Confederation. These three documents are the basis for our entire way of life. Every citizen should have a copy.

Confederate States of America (CSA) Map
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Secession / Readmission of Southern States

Map shows the Confederate States of America (also known as the Confederacy, Confederate States, and CSA) during the American Civil War (1861-1865). The CSA was the government formed by eleven Southern states of the United States of America and existed from 1861 to 1865. It is a detailed animated map depicting each respective state's secession and readmission to the Union (United States) during Reconstruction.

Editor's Choice: The Civil War - A Film by Ken Burns. Review: The Civil War - A Film by Ken Burns is the most successful public-television miniseries in American history. The 11-hour Civil War didn't just captivate a nation, reteaching to us our history in narrative terms; it actually also invented a new film language taken from its creator. When people describe documentaries using the "Ken Burns approach," its style is understood: voice-over narrators reading letters and documents dramatically and stating the writer's name at their conclusion, fresh live footage of places juxtaposed with still images (photographs, paintings, maps, prints), anecdotal interviews, and romantic musical scores taken from the era he depicts. Continued below...
The Civil War uses all of these devices to evoke atmosphere and resurrect an event that many knew only from stale history books. While Burns is a historian, a researcher, and a documentarian, he's above all a gifted storyteller, and it's his narrative powers that give this chronicle its beauty, overwhelming emotion, and devastating horror. Using the words of old letters, eloquently read by a variety of celebrities, the stories of historians like Shelby Foote and rare, stained photos, Burns allows us not only to relearn and finally understand our history, but also to feel and experience it. "Hailed as a film masterpiece and landmark in historical storytelling." "[S]hould be a requirement for every student."

Homestead Act Map
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Homestead Act Map

This map reflects the states that participated in the Homestead Act of 1862 -- an Act that had reigned from the initial signature of President Abraham Lincoln in 1862 and ceased to exist during the administration of President Ronald Reagan in 1986. It is one of the least studied "acts" in U.S. history, and it is also responsible for the accelerated settlement of the American West.

US Territorial Growth and Expansionism Map
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USA Territory Acquired

US Territorial Expansionism Map
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Manifest Destiny Map

In the span of five years, the United States increased its size by a third. It annexed Texas in 1845 (see Texas History); negotiated with Britain for half of the Oregon country; and acquired California, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming as a result of a war with Mexico. (See Manifest Destiny.)

US Sectionalism Map
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A divided nation

Sectionalism played a major role in shaping the United States, and it was also a major factor or cause of the American Civil War. (See Sectionalism and Southern Secession.)

US Census Bureau Map of present-day US Regions
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US Census Bureau Map reflecting US Regions

Mason and Dixon Line Map
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Mason-Dixon Line

US Expansion Map
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US Growth Map

(Right) What is the Mason-Dixon Line? What comes to mind when you hear the term? Do you think of two different cultures? Is the Mason-Dixon Line relevant today? While it makes for an interesting discussion, this page contains some lesser known facts about the nation's famous dividing line known as the Mason-Dixon Line.

The Mason-Dixon Line (or "Mason and Dixon's Line") is a demarcation line between four U.S. states, forming part of the borders of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and West Virginia (then part of Virginia). It was surveyed between 1763 and 1767 by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon in the resolution of a border dispute between British colonies in Colonial America. Popular speech, especially since the Missouri Compromise of 1820 (apparently the first official usage of the term "Mason's and Dixon's Line"), uses the Mason-Dixon Line symbolically as a cultural boundary between the Northern United States and the Southern United States (Dixie).

Recommended Viewing: Founding Fathers (A&E) (200 minutes). Description: The four programs from the History Channel in this set profile America's Founding Fathers, noting right at the outset they were a "mismatched group of quarrelsome aristocrats, merchants, and lawyers." The story of how these disparate characters fomented rebellion in the colonies, formed the Continental Congress, fought the Revolutionary War, and wrote the Constitution is told by noted historians, and the production is enhanced with beautifully photographed reenactments as well as intelligent use of period paintings and engravings. The story begins with Samuel Adams and John Hancock in Boston, whose protests against British taxation led to the Boston Tea Party. Moving on to the Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia, the brilliant delegates from the South, particularly George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, appear on the scene, and the story is told of how an improbable cohesion between the colonies began. Continued below…

Other main characters, including Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, appear in turn, and each of the major participants is portrayed in a biographical profile. How these men all came to act together, despite the stark differences in their backgrounds and temperaments, becomes the main thread of the story. They were all quite human, as the historians who appear in interviews remind us. Some of them drank too much, some had illegitimate children, some owned slaves, and some could hardly get along with anyone. Yet these men with complicated private lives worked together and performed heroically. This is an intelligently rendered and captivating look at the men who formed the American nation.

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Related Studies:

 

United States Maps: Acquisition of Territory and Expansionism History

Map of United States and its Acquisition of Territory: Expansionism History

Population of the Thirteen Original Colonies: Free, Slave, White, and Nonwhite

The order which the 13 Original States ratified the constitution and order of Statehood

U.S. Regions: West, Midwest, South and Northeast

Manifest Destiny

Mexican Cession, American Expansionism, Slavery, and Civil War

Monroe Doctrine

The Louisiana Purchase Agreement

Westward Expansion: 1803-1861

Treaty of Amity; Treaty of Adams-Onis; Acquisition of Florida

Oklahoma and Indian Territories: Map of the The Five Civilized Tribes

Oklahoma Settlement History

Republic of Texas

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

The Gadsden Purchase

Kansas Territory

Nebraska Territory

Colorado Territory

Popular Sovereignty

Sectionalism

Homestead Act

Recommended Viewing: The History Channel Presents The Revolution (A&E) (600 minutes). Review: They came of age in a new world amid intoxicating and innovative ideas about human and civil rights diverse economic systems and self-government. In a few short years these men and women would transform themselves into architects of the future through the building of a new nation – “a nation unlike any before.” From the roots of the rebellion and the signing of the Declaration of Independence to victory on the battlefield at Yorktown and the adoption of The United States Constitution, THE REVOLUTION tells the remarkable story of this pivotal era in history. Venturing beyond the conventional list of generals and politicians, THE HISTORY CHANNEL® introduces the full range of individuals who helped shape this great conflict including some of the war’s most influential unsung heroes. Continued below...

Through sweeping cinematic recreations intimate biographical investigations and provocative political military and economic analysis the historic ideas and themes that transformed treasonous acts against the British into noble acts of courage both on and off the battlefield come to life in this dramatic and captivating program. This TEN HOUR DVD Features: History in the Making: The Revolution Behind-the-Scenes Featurette; Interactive Menus; Scene Selections.

 
Recommended Viewing: The History Channel Presents The Presidents (A&E) (360 minutes). Review: THE PRESIDENTS is an unprecedented eight-part survey of the personal lives and legacies of the remarkable men who have presided over the Oval Office. From George Washington to George W. Bush, THE PRESIDENTS gathers together vivid snapshots of all 43 Commanders-in-Chief who have guided America throughout its history--their powerful personalities, weaknesses, and major achievements or historical insignificance. Based on the book To the Best of My Ability, edited by Pulitzer Prize-winner James McPherson, THE PRESIDENTS features rare and unseen photographs and footage, unexpected insight and trivia from journalists, scholars, and politicians such as Walter Cronkite, David Brinkley, Wesley Clark, Bob Dole, and former President Jimmy Carter. Continued below...
Viewed within the changing contexts of each administration, the Presidency has never seemed more compelling and human. Narrated by Edward Herrmann (The Aviator), this three-DVD (6 HOURS) set is a proud addition to the award-winning documentary tradition of THE HISTORY CHANNEL®. DVD Features: Feature-length Bonus Program "All The Presidents' Wives"; Timeline of U.S. Presidents; Interactive Menus; Scene Selection. (6 HOURS); Highly Recommended! Great for the home, family, and classroom.
 

Recommended Reading: 1776, by David McCullough (Simon & Schuster). Description: Esteemed historian David McCullough covers the military side of the momentous year of 1776 with characteristic insight and a gripping narrative, adding new scholarship and a fresh perspective to the beginning of the American Revolution. It was a turbulent and confusing time. As British and American politicians struggled to reach a compromise, events on the ground escalated until war was inevitable. McCullough writes vividly about the dismal conditions that troops on both sides had to endure, including an unusually harsh winter, and the role that luck and the whims of the weather played in helping the colonial forces hold off the world's greatest army. Continued below...

He also effectively explores the importance of motivation and troop morale--a tie was as good as a win to the Americans, while anything short of overwhelming victory was disheartening to the British, who expected a swift end to the war. The redcoat retreat from Boston, for example, was particularly humiliating for the British, while the minor American victory at Trenton was magnified despite its limited strategic importance. Some of the strongest passages in 1776 are the revealing and well-rounded portraits of the Georges on both sides of the Atlantic. King George III, so often portrayed as a bumbling, arrogant fool, is given a more thoughtful treatment by McCullough, who shows that the king considered the colonists to be petulant subjects without legitimate grievances--an attitude that led him to underestimate the will and capabilities of the Americans. At times he seems shocked that war was even necessary. The great Washington lives up to his considerable reputation in these pages, and McCullough relies on private correspondence to balance the man and the myth, revealing how deeply concerned Washington was about the Americans' chances for victory, despite his public optimism. Perhaps more than any other man, he realized how fortunate they were to merely survive the year, and he willingly lays the responsibility for their good fortune in the hands of God rather than his own. Enthralling and superbly written, 1776 is the work of a master historian.

 
Recommended Reading: 500 Nations (372 minutes). Description: 500 Nations is an eight-part documentary (more than 6 hours and that's not including its interactive CD-ROM filled with extra features) that explores the history of the indigenous peoples of North and Central America, from pre-Colombian times through the period of European contact and colonization, to the end of the 19th century and the subjugation of the Plains Indians of North America. 500 Nations utilizes historical texts, eyewitness accounts, pictorial sources and computer graphic reconstructions to explore the magnificent civilizations which flourished prior to contact with Western civilization, and to tell the dramatic and tragic story of the Native American nations' desperate attempts to retain their way of life against overwhelming odds. Continued below...

Mention the word "Indian," and most will conjure up images inspired by myths and movies: teepees, headdresses, and war paint; Sitting Bull, Geronimo, Crazy Horse, and their battles (like Little Big Horn) with the U.S. Cavalry. Those stories of the so-called "horse nations" of the Great Plains are all here, but so is a great deal more. Using impressive computer imaging, photos, location film footage and breathtaking cinematography, interviews with present-day Indians, books and manuscripts, museum artifacts, and more, Leustig and his crew go back more than a millennium to present an fascinating account of Indians, including those (like the Maya and Aztecs in Mexico and the Anasazi in the Southwest) who were here long before white men ever reached these shores. It was the arrival of Europeans like Columbus, Cortez, and DeSoto that marked the beginning of the end for the Indians. Considering the participation of host Kevin Costner, whose film Dances with Wolves was highly sympathetic to the Indians, it's no bulletin that 500 Nations also takes a compassionate view of the multitude of calamities--from alcohol and disease to the corruption of their culture and the depletion of their vast natural resources--visited on them by the white man in his quest for land and money, eventually leading to such horrific events as the Trail of Tears "forced march," the massacre at Wounded Knee, and other consequences of the effort to "relocate" Indians to the reservations where many of them still live. Along the way, we learn about the Indians' participation in such events as the American Revolution and the War of 1812, as well as popular legends like the first Thanksgiving (it really happened) and the rescue of Captain John Smith by Pocahontas (it probably didn't).

 
Recommended Reading: American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic (Hardcover). Review: From the prizewinning author of the best-selling Founding Brothers and American Sphinx, a masterly and highly ironic examination of the founding years of our country. The last quarter of the eighteenth century remains the most politically creative era in American history, when a dedicated and determined group of men undertook a bold experiment in political ideals. It was a time of triumphs; yet, as Joseph J. Ellis makes clear, it was also a time of tragedies—all of which contributed to the shaping of our burgeoning nation. Continued below...

From the first shots fired at Lexington to the signing of the Declaration of Independence to the negotiations for the Louisiana Purchase, Ellis guides us through the decisive issues of the nation’s founding, and illuminates the emerging philosophies, shifting alliances, and personal and political foibles of our now iconic leaders—Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, and Adams. He casts an incisive eye on the founders’ achievements, arguing that the American Revolution was, paradoxically, an evolution—and that part of what made it so extraordinary was the gradual pace at which it occurred. He shows us why the fact that it was brought about by a group, rather than by a single individual, distinguished it from the bloodier revolutions of other countries, and ultimately played a key role in determining its success. He explains how the idea of a strong federal government, championed by Washington, was eventually embraced by the American people, the majority of whom had to be won over, as they feared an absolute power reminiscent of the British Empire. And he details the emergence of the two-party system—then a political novelty—which today stands as the founders’ most enduring legacy. But Ellis is equally incisive about their failures, and he makes clear how their inability to abolish slavery and to reach a just settlement with the Native Americans has played an equally important role in shaping our national character. He demonstrates how these misjudgments, now so abundantly evident, were not necessarily inevitable. We learn of the negotiations between Henry Knox and Alexander McGillivray, the most talented Indian statesman of his time, which began in good faith and ended in disaster. And we come to understand how a political solution to slavery required the kind of robust federal power that the Jeffersonians viewed as a betrayal of their most deeply held principles. With eloquence and insight, Ellis strips the mythic veneer of the revolutionary generation to reveal men both human and inspired, possessed of both brilliance and blindness. American Creation is a book that delineates an era of flawed greatness, at a time when understanding our origins is more important than ever. About the Author: Joseph J. Ellis received the Pulitzer Prize for Founding Brothers and the National Book Award for his portrait of Thomas Jefferson, American Sphinx. He is the Ford Foundation Professor of History at Mount Holyoke College. He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, with his wife, Ellen, and their youngest son, Alex.

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