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Home > History > Growth of a Nation - Colonial Territory

Growth of a Nation - Colonial Territory

This page describes colonial territory such as America's Nortwest Territory.

Daniel Boone Escorting Settlers Through the Cumberland Gap

Daniel Boone Escorting Settlers Through the Cumberland Gap

The Land Won in the French and Indian War

In the 1750's, both France and England made claims to the land now known as the Ohio River Valley. In 1754, hostilities over the ownership of this land resulted in the Seven Years War, also called the French and Indian War. Despite the name, the war lasted nine years and the British eventually defeated the French and their Indian allies. The French were subsequently forced to give up all of their land claims in North America, which included much of the land west of the 13 colonies east of the Mississippi River. Although the British crown attempted to restrict settlement on these lands as part of the Proclamation of 1763 (because of the vast Indian presence in those lands,) Virginia, Massachusetts, and other colonies claimed parts of these lands, known collectively as the Northwest Territory. Other colonies such as North Carolina and Georgia claimed lands south of the Northwest Territory. The Proclamation of 1763 was never enforced by the British crown and settlements in present-day Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois were erected causing hostilities between the settlers and local Indians to intensify.

New States are Carved

Following the Revolutionary War, Great Britain ceded the lands to the United States (although they maintained a presence in the region until the War of 1812.) Power disputes between the former colonies escalated concerning the lands to the west, and some states refused to ratify the Articles of Confederation (the 1st American Constitution) if the land claims of Virginia, Massachusetts, and other states were recognized. The United States henceforth required those states to cede their lands before they could obtain ratification and the entirety of the land became public land owned by the U.S. Government. In 1792, Kentucky was admitted to the United States, followed by Tennessee four years later. In 1803, the state of Ohio was carved from the Northwest Territory, followed by the Indiana Territory, which would eventually be sub-divided into (or into parts of) the Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin Territories.

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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