Page:The Harvard Classics Vol. 51; Lectures.djvu/51

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EXPANSION has been the very law of American life. In the treaties which record the successive annexations of the territory of the United States we may read the story of the nation's acquisition of its physical basis, a basis comparable in area and resources not to any single European country but to Europe as a whole. If a map of the United States is laid down upon a map of Europe drawn to the same scale, with San Francisco resting on the coast of Spain, Florida will occupy the land of Palestine, Lake Superior will be adjacent to the southern shore of the Baltic, New Orleans below the coast of Asia Minor, and the shores of North Carolina will nearly coincide with the eastern end of the Black Sea. All of Western Europe will lie beyond the Mississippi, the western limits of the United States in 1783. These treaties[1] mark the stages by which the Union acquired an area equal to all nations west of the Black Sea.


Freed from the fear of French attack after the peace of 1763, the thirteen colonies declared their independence. Against the wishes of Spain, and even against the pressure of her French ally in the Revolutionary War, the United States secured from England by the treaty of 1783[2] boundaries which extended along the Great Lakes, west to the Mississippi, and south to Florida, as well as the free navigation of the Mississippi. Spain recovered from Britain Florida which she had conquered in the course of the war.

But these boundaries were only paper rights, for England failed

  1. The references in this lecture are to the volume of American Historical Documents, and especially to the collection of treaties, Harvard Classics, xliii.
  2. H. C., xliii, 174.