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Letters from the Territories

In the early 1800s, the United States seemed a land of boundless promise and possibility. Between 1803 and 1853, it more than doubled in size. Stagecoach companies holding mail contracts helped to secure the newly acquired areas, turning rough trails into well-traveled roads. The somewhat regular arrival of the mail coach connected settlers to faraway families, friends, and businesses back home. 


Louisiana Purchase Territory Letter

When the government bought the Louisiana territories in 1803, over 800,000 square miles of new land was under federal government control. Click above to read a segment of a letter sent from that new territory. 


Florida Territory Letter

Florida came under United States control between 1810 and 1819 through purchase and treaty with Spain. Click above to read a segment of a letter sent from that new territory. 


Texas Territory Letter

In 1845, Texas was admitted to the Union, bringing with it more than 250,000 square miles of land that had been part of Mexico. Click above to read a segment of a letter sent from that new territory. 


Oregon Territory Letter

In 1846, the Oregon Territory came under U.S. control by means of a treaty with Britain. Click above to read a segment of a letter sent from that new territory. 


Mexican War Territory Letter

The treaty that ended the Mexican War in 1848 brought the United States 529,017 square miles of land stretching from the Oregon territories south to Mexico. Click above to read a segment of a letter sent from that new territory.


Gadsden Treaty Territory Letter

In 1853 the federal government paid Mexico $10 million for over 45,000 square miles of land in what is today southern Arizona and New Mexico. The purchase, negotiated by James Gadsden, U.S. minister to Mexico, was the first step in securing a southern-based transcontinental railway route. Click above to read a segment of a letter sent from that new territory.