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It’s Independence Day weekend here in the US, so I’ll have just a short post today, because everyone should be outside enjoying the beautiful weather.

In honor of America’s 239 years of independence, let’s remember our nation’s humble beginning as thirteen tiny colonies.  The colonies had to fight against the most powerful empire on earth for the right to self-governance.  And yet they prevailed against the British after several years, and the Treaty of Paris in 1783 established the United States as an independent nation.  The colonists had the freedom not only to rule themselves, but to expand their territory westward over the North American continent.  Over the subsequent years, America took advantage of several opportunities, economic (the Louisiana Purchase), military (the Mexican-American War), and diplomatic (treaties with Great Britain over the boundary with Canada), all of which expanded its territory.

It is truly a marvel to see how the United States grew by such leaps and bounds from 1776 to the present day.  Below is a collection of maps from an Atlas which illustrate which areas were added to the union and when.  Quite a lot of information is here, including many little-known factoids of American geography, such as the fact that Vermont was an extralegal self-governing entity from 1777 to 1791.  With its many territorial possessions across the ocean, America has now become a global empire, a far cry from its thirteen original colonies.  Who knows what the future will bring?

Territorial Expansion of the United States (via AMDOCS, maintained by George Laughead, http://www.vlib.us/amdocs/)

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