Helping the Nation Expand

During the nineteenth century, much of the focus of U.S. diplomacy was on territorial expansion. Major land acquisitions followed the Louisiana Purchase.

Since 1789 the State Department has been located in 17 buildings in New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.  In November 1866, the Department moved to the newly erected Washington City Orphan Asylum building on the southeast corner of 14th and S Streets, N.W.  The building was rented for nine years for $15,000 a year.

Since 1789 the State Department has been located in 17 buildings in New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. In November 1866, the Department moved to the newly erected Washington City Orphan Asylum building on the southeast corner of 14th and S Streets, N.W. The building was rented for nine years for $15,000 a year.

Western Florida: The southern portions of the present states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama were taken over by the United States from Spain between 1810 and
1813.

Florida: After years of diplomatic wrangling with Spain, the United States annexed Florida in 1819.

Hawaii: From a position of strength, U.S. diplomats negotiated a trade treaty with Hawaii in 1842(the first of a series), rights to a naval base in 1887, and finally annexation in 1898.

Texas: Negotiations with Texas resulted in its incorporation into the United States in 1845, triggering war with Mexico. The territory was considerably larger than the present state of Texas.

Oregon: Following contentious diplomacy with Great Britain over the northern border, which many Americans wanted extended further north, a large area of the present Pacific Northwest was recognized as part of the United States in a treaty concluded in 1846.

California: Negotiations ending the war with Mexico in 1848 resulted in Mexico’s ceding to the United States what is now California and much additional territory that now makes up the American West and Southwest.

Southern Arizona and New Mexico: In 1853-54 U.S. diplomats negotiated the Gadsden Purchase, buying what is now the southern rim of Arizona and New Mexico from
Mexico.

Alaska: The United States purchased Alaska in 1867 from Russia for $7.2 million.

In a satirical look at the opposition to U.S. annexation of Texas during the 1844 campaign, Whig candidate and antiannexationist Henry Clay leads three groups: (1) the 'Hartford Convention Blue-Lights,' who shout, 'God save the King!' and 'Millions for Tribute!  not a cent for defence Go it Strong!'; (2) the 'Sunday Mail Petitioners,' representing those who wished to eliminate postal service on Sundays in the United States; and (3) the 'Abolition Martyrs,' who have been tarred and feathered for their activism.

In a satirical look at the opposition to U.S. annexation of Texas during the 1844 campaign, Whig candidate and antiannexationist Henry Clay leads three groups: (1) the "Hartford Convention Blue-Lights," who shout, "God save the King!" and "Millions for Tribute! not a cent for defence Go it Strong!"; (2) the "Sunday Mail Petitioners," representing those who wished to eliminate postal service on Sundays in the United States; and (3) the "Abolition Martyrs," who have been tarred and feathered for their activism.

Map of the United States, compiled by the Geological Survey in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management, shows U.S. geographic expansion from the founding of the Republic to the Civil War.

Map of the United States, compiled by the Geological Survey in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management, shows U.S. geographic expansion from the founding of the Republic to the Civil War.

Abel Parker Upshur, 1843-1844

Abel Parker Upshur
Secretary of State
1843-1844

John Caldwell Calhoun, 1844-1845

John Caldwell Calhoun
Secretary of State
1844-1845

James Buchanan, 1845-1849

James Buchanan
Secretary of State
1845-1849

John Middleton Clayton, 1849-1850

John Middleton Clayton
Secretary of State
1849-1850

back next