US Acquisition of Territories

  • Westward Expansion + Thesis

    In the late 1700s, Americans were beginning to push westward in the first major signs of expanding United States boundaries. However, later acquisitions would expand to overseas territory, economic dominance, and Caribbean enforcement. Thus, the great westward migration of the 1700s was only a minor beginning to the overall importance of the United States' history of imperialism.
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    US Acquisition of Territory

  • Louisianna Purchase

    Negotiations for the United States' purchase of the Louisianna territory are finalized, expanding the United States by about 828,000 square miles. The Louisianna Purchase was one of the most influential and well-known US acquisitions.
  • Adams-Onis Treaty

    The Adams-Onis Treaty officially ceded Florida to the United States and settled a border dispute between the US and Spanish colonies. Although not a major acquisition in itself, the treaty represented an accomplishment in terms of US diplomatic acquisition.
  • Texas Seceeds from Mexico

    Texa's newfound independence would clear the way for it to join the United States in 1845, although it would also create conflicts and lasting resentment from Mexico.
  • Admission of Texas

    Texas is admitted to the union as its newest state, resulting not only in the acquisitions of valuable land but in racial and societal conflicts that would help ignite the Civil War.
  • Mexican-American War

    The Mexican-American War began on this day. Begun largely due to United States expansionist visions, this war would ultimately end with enormous territorial acqusition for the US.
  • Oregon Treaty

    The signing of the Oregon Treaty finalized the 49th parallel agreement, which both limited and encouraged United States expansion. The treaty secured the US's hold on its modern west coast states.
  • Gadsden Purchase

    On this day, the United States finalized the purchase of a strip of land from Mexico that would finalize the extent of today's 48 continental states.
  • Alaska

    In 1867, the US bought Alaska from Russia for 7.2 million dollars, but Alaska would not become a state until 1959. The purchase of Alaska added 586,412 square miles to US' territory. 7.2 million dollars in 1867 equates to nearly 121 million dollars today.
  • Hawaiian Islands

    The Hawaiian Islands, at their time of annexation, were an independent nation without much protection for themselves. The US' president of the time, William McKinley, granted a Congressional resolution to grant the republic US citizenship. Hawaii became the 50th state on August 21st, 1959.
  • Guam

    The US' aquisition of Guam was a neutral event that occured in the summer of 1898. During that time, Guam was controlled by Spain. They had no knowledge of opposition to their rule and therefore had no resistance when the single US ship arrived to conquer. Spain concieted to the US quickly and quietly.
  • Puerto Rico

    Peurto Rico, like Guam, was under Spanish control when the US aquired it. Puerto Rico was, again like Guam, sparsely protected and surrendered to the US easily. Nineteen years later, the Puerto Rican citizens were granted citizenship in response to the Jones-Shafroth act.
  • Treaty of Paris Ends Spanish-American War

    In the Treaty of Paris (1898), Spain cedes to the US Guam and Puerto Rico, sells the Philippines for $20 million, and relinquishes Cuba, which becomes a US protectorate.
  • Wake Island

    Wake Island, at the time of its acquisition, was unclaimed and uninhabited, thus the US had a very easy time aquiring it as US territory.
  • American Samoa

    After the Second Samoan Civil War, the US, Britain, and Germany aquired the Samoan Islands. They split these amongst themselves after the signing of the Berlin Treaty and the US gained the American Samoa.
  • Panama Canal Zone

    The U.S. bought roughly 553 sqaure miles that made of Panama, in order to create a canal in which passage to Asia could become much quicker.
  • Guantanamo Bay

    Tomás Estrada Palma, the fisrt President of Cuba, signs the lease agreement for the US Guantanamo Bay naval base "for coaling and naval stations." This agreement was signed as a response to the Platt Amendment to an amry apporpriations bill, which set the conditions for the withdrawal of US troops from Cuba after the conlcusion of the War of 1898.
  • Virgin Islands

    Aquired due to it's Danish ownership inn WWI, the U.S. was worried that Germany, if it succeeded in taking over Denmark, would secure the West Indies and use it as a naval base.
  • Kingman Reef Purchase

    Bought after the first World War, the Reef was used as an establishing point and allowed only the U.S. naval and airforce branches to be permitted to the base
  • Kanton and Enderbury Islands

    After almost shooting each other during separate scientific trips to observe the solar eclipse of 1937, the US and England agree to joint occupation and control of Kanton and Enderbury for aircraft purposes, which would later be used in WWII.
  • Mariana Islands Purchase

    After the U.S. had fought the Japanese and invaded the northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. had the islands declared their own country yet referred to them as a trust terrirtory.
  • Marshall, Caroline, and Related Islands

    The US occupied and controlled the Marshall and Caroline Islands in the wake of Japan's defeat in WWII, and was granted US administration in 1947 for "strategic" purposes, and was not granted autonomy until 1965, and independence until 1979-1986, becoming separate republics: the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau.
  • Conclusion

    The United States at first acquired land through treaties and warfare for the sake of creating more states. However, as time progressed, the US gained control of land for only the sake of spreading their power and influence, protecting economic interests, and controlling more territory without spreading its national borders. Therefore, US expansion was largely driven by political and economic interests, not for the sake of "spreading democracy" or freedom.