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3 September 1783: Great Britain acknowledges American independence in the Treaty of Paris, formally ending the Revolutionary War.
13 July 1787: The Northwest Ordinance was the first of over 300 laws passed by the federal government to help encourage settlement, to survey the land, and to establish a legal record-keeping system. The rectangular survey system was established dividing most of the land in the public domain into townships and sections.
2 May 1803: The Louisiana Purchase: 885,000 square miles of land between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains that the United States purchased from France.
18 July 1812: War of 1812 broke out.
23 March 1815: War of 1812 ended with the Treaty of Ghent.
22 February 1819: Spain ceded the remainder of West Florida and all of East Florida to the United States for five million dollars as the result of Spain's difficulties of putting down rebellions in their South American colonies.
2 December 1823: Monroe Doctrine: President James Monroe declared that the American continents were off limits for further colonization by European powers—later justifying U.S. imperialism in the Western Hemisphere.
1839: Manifest Destiny: The popular notion that the United States was "destined" to expand from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.
15 June 1846: Oregon Treaty The border of Canada and the United States was established at the 49th parallel and the U.S. acquired the Oregon Territory covering the states of Oregon, Washington and parts of Idaho and Montana.
25 April 1846: The Mexican War was fought between the United States and Mexico over U.S.'s claim to the area between Rio Grande and Neuces River.
2 February 1848: Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the war, a treaty gave the U.S. land extending from Oklahoma to California formerly known as Alta California and Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico (now California, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming).
24 June 1853: Gadsden Purchase, acquired the southern portion of Arizona and New Mexico, and defined the border from Texas to California.
12 April 1861: Civil War broke out with shelling of Fort Sumter, South Carolina.
20 May 1862: Homestead Act Land was distributed after 1862 to homesteaders who could receive a patent (title) to the land by residing on it and making improvements for five years. Subsequent laws modified the requirements and the amount of land one could obtain by homesteading.
9 April 1865: The ending of the Civil War opened opportunities for land ownership especially west of the Missouri River.
30 March 1867: The United States purchased Alaska from Russia. 1869 The first trans-continental railroad was completed.
12 August 1898: The end of the Spanish-American War brought Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines under the control of the United States.
15 June 1898: The United States annexed Hawaii.
2 December 1899: The United States acquired American Samoa per the Tripartite Convention.
after 3 November 1903: The United States acquired the Panama Canal Zone after Panama gained independence from Colombia.
31 March 1917: The United States acquired the Virgin Islands (formerly the Danish West Indies), becoming the United States Virgin Islands
4 July 1946: The Philippines became an independent republic, delayed from 1941 as the result of World War II with Japanese occupation.
25 June 1950: Korean Conflict broke out with invasion by the North Korea armies of South Korea.
25 July 1952: Puerto Rico became a commonwealth of the United States. 27 July 1953: Cease-fire of Korean Conflict.
7 September 1977: Torrijos-Carter Treaties, with Panama taking control of the Canal Zone on 31 December 1979.