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Home > History > Growth of a Nation - 49th Parallel

Growth of a Nation - 49th Parallel

This page describes the 49 the parallel - the border established between the United States and British Canada in 1818.

Northwest Angle of Minnesota

Northwest Angle of Minnesota

Murky Boundaries

Despite its withdrawal from much of America after the War of 1812, Great Britain still controlled much of Canada. The boundaries between American territory and British Territory, however, were often subject to interpretation. In an attempt to establish diplomatic relations, the United States and Great Britain agreed to define the boundaries between territories along the 49th parallel at the Anglo-American Convention of 1818. This division defined British territory as most of Canada (north of the 49th parallel), and American territory as the Red River Basin (this includes the portions of Minnesota and North Dakota as shown on the map) south of the parallel (the southernmost portion of a huge area known as Rupert's Land). Land west of the Rocky Mountains, known as Oregon Territory, was open to both the Americans and the British.

Creation of the Northwest Angle

This agreement corrected a geography error made in 1783 that defined the east/west border of the United States and Great Britain as between the Lake of the Woods in northern Minnesota and the Mississippi River. Because the source of the Mississippi River was well south of Lake of the Woods, the corrected border resulted in what is known as an exclave - a projection of land surrounded on three sides by the land of another country. This exclave, in northern Minnesota, is the only portion of the United States (other than Alaska) north of the 49th parallel. It is called the Northwest Angle.

Louisiana Purchase Articles and Activities


The Story of a Growing Nation

Original Colonies
Colonial Territory (Northwest Territory)
Land Ordinances of 1784 and 1785
The Louisiana Purchase
The Establishment of the 49th Parallel
The Monroe Doctrine
The Adams-Onis Treaty and the Annexation of Florida
The Building of the Erie Canal
The Battle of the Alamo
Oregon Territory
Manifest Destiny
California Gold Rush
Mexican-American War
The Alaska Purchase
The Annexation of Hawaii
The Gadsden Purchase


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