• Weird History

25 Maps That Tell The Entire History Of The United States

If you want to learn about history, you have a plethora of resources. Oral traditions, written texts, and material objects all reveal historical facts, as do maps. US history maps, going all the way back to before the United States even existed, give insights into the people, events, and trends that have defined the North American continent and the American nation.

Maps can contain demographic information. They may also reflect the establishment of boundaries, redefined borders, or changing physical features. Some US maps incorporate economic, cultural, and political content, all of which reveal some of the most significant moments and changes in US history. Maps may also remind viewers of something from the past that, in hindsight, looks like a mistake, perhaps imparting a lesson for the future.

  • Distribution Of Pre-Columbian Native People And Languages

    When European explorers landed in the Western Hemisphere, there were a plethora of groups inhabiting the region. Each tribe or clan had a distinct language and culture, often interacting with one another through trade and conflict alike. The extent to which Native American groups shared linguistic origins remains unclear, but interaction over time undoubtedly took place. At one time, there were roughly 400 individual tribal languages spoken in North America.

    Hunters, artisans, farmers, and city-dwellers lived in complex societies from coast to coast. The Aztecs, for example, held dominance over much of modern Mexico, while the Iroquois Confederacy, an intertribal alliance among indigenous tribes, was in place as early as the 12th century and included peoples throughout the northeastern part of the continent.

  • Early Native American Territorial Map

    During the 12th century, the Iroquois Confederacy brought together five Native American tribes - the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca - to bring about peace. A sixth tribe, the Tuscarora, joined in the 18th century, highlighting the continued territorial occupation and interaction. 

    Language "stocks," identified by John Wesley Powell in 1891, became the "cornerstone of the linguistic edifice in aboriginal North America" during the 20th century. With 58 stocks classified, language served as a tool for understanding where individuals groups lived and, perhaps, how they may have been connected with one another. 

  • The Age Of Discovery

    The Age of Discovery, or Age of Exploration, as it's sometimes known, began during the 15th century and extended through the 1600s. Kicking off with Henry the Navigator and the Portuguese venturing into the Atlantic and landing at locations along the African coast, the Age of Discovery also led to Spanish, English, Dutch, and French-supported ventures to the New World.

    Spain dominated activity in North, Central, and South America, claiming large portions of land as its own. With the Treaty of Tordesillas of 1494, lands outside of Europe were divided between Portugal and Spain, giving the latter control of people, land, and resources west of a line "three hundred and seventy leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands."

  • Spanish Exploration

    Christopher Columbus arrived in the Caribbean in 1492 and, after several trips between Europe and the New World, set up a permanent Spanish presence in the region. Spain took possession of islands like Hispaniola and Cuba, setting a foundation from which further exploration was possible.

    During the 1510s, Juan Ponce de León ventured into Florida and Vasco Núñez de Balboa traversed the Isthmus of Panama, discovering the Pacific Ocean in the process. Hernán Cortés made inroads into Mexico and what would later be the southern United States, ultimately bringing an end to the Aztec empire in the process. Other Spanish explorers followed suit, with men like Francisco Vázquez de Coronado locating the Grand Canyon and Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo venturing out along the coast of California during the 1540s.

    Contact between Europeans and native populations proved devastating for the latter. Disease and warfare resulted in the loss of millions of lives throughout the Americas.