Treaties and Purchases that have made the US what it is today….
1. 1783-Peace of Paris- the treaty that ended the American Revolution established the newly independent US at being bounded on the north by Canada, on the South by Spanish Florida, on the east by the Atlantic, and on the west by the Mississippi River. These terms, especially about the boundary of Canada, were not very well defined, however. In fact, the US did not permanently settle its border with Canada until 1925!
2. 1803- Louisiana Purchase Treaty- the boundary of the US is moved from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains, containing the western watershed of the Mississippi River including the Missouri, a major tributary.
3. 1818- Convention of 1818- treaty with Britain allowing joint occupation of the Oregon Country for ten years, established the 49th parallel as the northern boundary of that part of the US that had been gained through the Louisiana Purchase from the Lake of the Woods to the Rockies. We therefore gave up part of what is now southern Alberta province to the US. This treaty also including the gain of fishing rights off eastern Canada for the US.
4. 1819- Adams-Onis Treaty (Florida Purchase Treaty)- Spain gave Florida to the US in exchange for the US payment of $5 million in claims by citizens against the Spanish and giving up part of some claims to Texas along the Sabine River.
5. 1820- Maine gains statehood as part of the Missouri Compromise, but its border with Canada is disputed. Although the King of the Netherlands was called in to try to negotiate a settlement, that treaty was rejected by the US Senate. The border will not be settled until 1842 after the Aroostook War….
6. 1842- Webster-Ashburton Treaty – After the Aroostook or Lumberjack War, our secretary of state, Daniel Webster, opened negotiations with Alexander Baring, Baron Ashburton. The boundary between Maine and Canada all along the Great Lakes, to the Lake of the Woods was determined. Of the 12,000 square miles of disputed territory, the US got 7,000 and Britain got 5,000.
7. 1845- Texas is annexed by a joint resolution in the lame duck period of president Tyler’s administration. President-elect Polk had already made it clear that he was in favor of annexation as a part of the doctrine of what would later be known as Manifest Destiny. Texas- boundaries at the time includes parts of New Mexico and Colorado as far as the southern boundary of the Oregon Country.
8. 1846- Oregon Treaty- The southern half of the Oregon Country is ceded to the US on June 15 as the US prepared for war with Mexico. The US does not insist on its claim of “54’40° or Fight,” but instead continues the 49th parallel, approximately as the boundary between the US and Canada to the Pacific, with Canada also receiving all of Vancouver Island.
9. 1848- Treaty of Guadelupe-Hidalgo- Mexico cedes the Mexican Cession after they are defeated in the Mexican War. The US receives Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and the remainder of Colorado west of the Rockies. Texas’ current boundary will later be fixed as part of the Compromise of 1850.
10. 1853- Gadsden Purchase- the Southern boundaries of Arizona and New Mexico is purchased from Mexico (supposedly to allow a southern route for the proposed transcontinental railroad). The US paid $10,000,000 for approximately 30,000 square miles of cactus, sand, and lizards, just so that Southerners would stop standing in the way of passage of a transcontinental railroad bill. What wouldn’t we do to mollify the Southerners?
11. 1867- Alaska Purchase Treaty- Secretary of State Seward was accused of folly when he purchased Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million dollars for approximately 586,000 square miles of frozen tundra and rainforest—oh, and gold and oil. That worked out to about two cents an acre, by the way. Russia was willing to deal because they were afraid that their weakness after the Crimean War would enable the US to take it without compensation.
12. 1898- Hawai’i is annexed by the Newlands Resolution on June 6, after the US Senate refused to ratify a treaty negotiated between the US and the fraudulent “Republic of Hawaii.” This occurred while the US was at war (for ten weeks) with Spain.
13. 1925- Canada- US Boundary Treaty- we finally nail down where in the Lake of the Woods the boundary with Canada is, so we swap out a few acres.
So that’s how we got the boundaries of the United STATES.
But we have other territory which is not parts of states.
AND also… the US claimed uninhabited islands to mine bird and bat poop throughout the world based on the Guano Islands Act of 1856.
And we gained territory from the Spanish- American War….
And we gained territory from World War II.