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The Territorial Expansion of the USA, between 1500 and 2000, in pictures

Updated on December 16, 2010

The North American Territorial Expansion

The North American territorial expansion of what is at present the United States of America is rather extraordinary !

A convenient way to visualize this expansion over 400 years, is with reference dates and historical maps .

√ Colonization

1000 : (probably ) exploration by the Vikings of Golf of St Laurent

1497 : (probably ) British exploration (John Cabot ) of east coast

1524 : French exploration (Giovanni da Verrazzano) of east coast

1542 : Spanish exploration of California

1570 : Spanish exploration of Virginia

1584 : British exploration (Sir Walter Raleigh)

1607 : the British build Fort James (later Jamestown)

1682 : French exploration - France claims La Louisiane

La Louisiane
La Louisiane

1750 : British, French, Spanish and uncharted territory

1754 - 1763 : the French and Indian War

1763 : French cession of all territories east of the Mississippi River

1775 : the Thirteen Original Colonies, Indian Territory, and Spanish Territory

            French Louisiana was ceded to Spain

Thirteen original Colonies & Indian Territory
Thirteen original Colonies & Indian Territory

1775 - 1783 : the American Revolution

1783 : British cession of East and West Florida to Spain

√ United States of America

1800  : Organization of states and territories - French and Spanish territory

             La Louisiane has been returned to France

1803 : the Louisiana Purchase from France

the Louisiana Purchase
the Louisiana Purchase

1818 : Treaty with Great Britain : acquisition of parts of North Dakota

            and Minnesota,cession of part of Montana,

            joint occupation of Oregon Country

1819 : Spanish Cession of East end West Florida, and part of Louisiana

1821 : Independence of Mexico

1845 : the Texas Annexation from Mexico

the Texas Annexation
the Texas Annexation

1846 : Acquisition of Oregon Country, by treaty with Great Britain

1848 : Mexican War : Acquisition of Texas, California, Nevada, Utah,

             parts of Colorado,Arizona, New Mexico and Wyoming,

             by Mexican cession

1853 : the Gadsden Purchase, from Mexico

         Second Mexican Cession, parts of Arizona and New Mexico

1783 - 1853 : Overview period

1861 - 1865 : the Civil War - Free and Slave states

the Civil War
the Civil War

1867 : the Alaska Purchase, from Russia

1898 : the Hawaii Annexation

1898 : Spanish Cession, Acquisition of the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Guam

1917 : Virgin Islands Purchase, from Denmark

1918 : Overview

1918 Map of the USA
1918 Map of the USA

√ Graphic Progress of this Territorial Expansion

A magnificent and masterly graphic overview of the territorial expansion between 1750 and 2008, was made by Esemono !

Unfortunately, animated Gif files are not accepted, so click on the above link, or go to :

Enjoy !

Read more of the History of the USA on our website :


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      Old Empresario 5 years ago

      Pretty cool essay and timelines are the best way to understand history, I think. You've definitely touched on it. But you stopped too soon! Keep going! What about the occupation of Germany, Austria, Japan, Korea, and Italy?--later Vietnam, Panama, Turkey, Colombia, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq? We now control the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the opposite sides of both oceans through vassalages and military bases. We're still growing, though we stopped making our vassals into territories, and subsequently into states. But who knows what may happen?

    • slusterbubble profile image

      slusterbubble 5 years ago from Florida

      You may have a point there. As an example, and if you want to discover the history of Belgium, that has been occupied by about everyone over the last 2,000 years (...), visit my website As to Europe, I think that the "old continent" nevertheless was very fortunate that the USA spent so much "blood, sweat and tears" to get rid of not one, but several aggressive dictators ! Afterwards and unfortunately, these have gradually been replaced by political "machines" and bloated parties, whose only goal is greed and power. I think that (most of) the individuals are to blame, and not necessarily the system ! Another consideration is that this happens in almost every country nowadays. But as a Belgian and a guest in your beautiful country, I carefully refrain from delving into recent history...

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