Before the purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803, the United States of America much more closely resembled the shape and size of the original 13 colonies with the Mississippi River as the western boundary of the United States. After the Louisiana Purchase, the U.S. became a dominant landholder in North America. With the French now preoccupied with strengthening their claims in Europe and the Spanish claims limited mostly to the Southwest and Central America, the U.S. was eager to lay claim to the disputed Oregon Country that both Great Britain and the U.S. coveted. The Lewis and Clark expedition helped cement that claim.
*Note on U.S. Territories:
1. Using a class textbook or encyclopedia, identify and label the original 13 colonies on Map 1. Then identify and label the states in existence by 1800, keeping in mind that Maine was part of Massachusetts until 1820 and West Virginia was part of Virginia until 1863. By 1800, how much had the United States already expanded from its original borders? In which direction did it expand?
2. Note the length and location of the Mississippi River the western boundary of the U.S. on Map 1. How might possessing the river be valuable in terms of trade and commerce for the United States?
3. Using Map 2, determine roughly by what factor the area of the United States was increased by with the Louisiana Purchase of 1803?
4. In Map 2, what nation controlled the region to the southwest? Where did that country have claims in the east? How might its leaders have felt about the U.S. expanding into the Louisiana Territory?
5. What countries were disputing the area called "Oregon Country"? How do you think the Louisiana Purchase helped cement U.S. claims to that territory? After the Louisiana Purchase, what steps were being taken to further U.S. claims in this area? If needed, refer to Setting the Stage.
6) Using Map 2 and the Map Key, who claimed the Oregon Country by 1810? What other territorial changes took place from 1800 to 1810?
* The maps on this screen have a resolution of 72 dots per inch (dpi), and therefore will print poorly. You can obtain a larger version of Map 1, Map 2 and the Map Key, but be aware that each file may take as much as 30 seconds to load with a 28.8K modem.