1. The Seven Years’ War in Europe, 1756-1763
  2. The French Revolution, 1789-1793
  3. Napoleon’s Empire, 1800-1814
  4. Europe, 1815
  5. Immigration in the 19th Century, 1800-1814
  6. The Democratic Revolution of 1848/49
  7. Industrialization and Urbanization in Europe, c. 1850

The Americas

  1. Slave trade from Africa to the Americas, 1650-1860
  2. English, French, & Spanish Settlements in North America to 1776
  3. North America Before and After the French and Indian War, 1756-1763
  4. The French & Indian War, 1754-1763
  5. Revolutionary War in the North, 1776-1780
  6. Revolutionary War in the South, 1778-1781
  7. Ratification of the U.S. Constitution, 1787-1790
  8. The Louisiana Purchase – Main Exploration Routes, 1804-1807
  9. Western Expansion in the United States, 1804-1807
  10. The War of 1812
  11. Latin American Independence, 1811-1889
  12. Removal of American Indians, 1830-1838
  13. Mexican War, 1846-1848
  14. Status of Slavery in the American Territories, 1850-1854


1. The Seven Years’ War in Europe, 1756-1763
The Seven Years’ War involved nearly all of the European powers, and fighting took place in both European and colonial theaters of war. The European conflict revolved around the area of Silesia, once part of the Austrian Empire but surrendered to Prussia in 1748. The expansion of Prussian power under Frederick II alarmed Austria, which reversed its traditional diplomatic policies and allied itself first with France and then Russia (the “Diplomatic Revolution” of 1756), while Prussia secured an alliance with Great Britain. Austria hoped not only to regain Silesia, but ultimately to dismantle the kingdom of Prussia and thereby reestablish a balance of power in Central Europe. Despite being outnumbered and suffering severe defeats over the course of the war, Frederick was able to drive the Austrians out of Silesia after the Russians withdrew their support in 1762. The Peace of 1763 reestablished pre-war boundaries and confirmed Prussia’s position as a major European power, as evidenced in this map showing the expansion of Prussian territory. Note the inset map of British and French territorial claims in Canada and the northeastern U.S., where the conflict is usually referred to as the French and Indian War [see also map 10 and 11 below].

2. The French Revolution, 1789-1793
Although the French Revolution had many sympathizers abroad and neighboring monarchs were initially reluctant to intervene on behalf of Louis XVI, fear of the spread of revolutionary principles eventually prompted them to act. For the Revolutionaries, war against the European sovereigns was seen as both a means of exporting the “universal revolution,” and of securing France’s “natural frontiers” – the Rhine, the Alps, and the Pyrenees. By April 1793, France was officially at war with every major European power except Russia. This map shows the northward and eastward expansion of French boundaries from 1789 to 1793 through the annexation of territories, including the Austrian Netherlands (present-day Belgium), the province of Savoy (formerly part of the Kingdom of Sardinia), and Nice. Areas in yellow denote a series of peasant revolts that took place between July and September 1789 known as the “Great Fear,” while the areas colored in purple indicate areas of counter-revolutionary resistance and opposition.

3. Napoleon’s Empire, 1800-1814
Between 1800 and 1814, Napoleon and his armies extended the expansion of French power begun under the Revolution, redrew the political boundaries of continental Europe, and reorganized government administration. In 1806, the Holy Roman Empire was dismantled into smaller states, including the Confederation of the Rhine. In 1807, Napoleon created the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, nullifying the earlier partitions of Poland. This map shows the extent of French Imperial power at its height (1810-1811). The areas colored in yellow indicate territories directly absorbed into the French Empire. The areas in pink indicate satellite states, either ruled directly by Napoleon (Italy) or his relatives (Spain, Naples, Westphalia), or otherwise subordinated to Imperial control. The areas colored in peach indicate states that were nominally allies of Napoleon, although engaged in war with the Emperor at various points. The areas in green remained hostile to Napoleon throughout this period. Note also the location of major battles.

4. Europe, 1815
After Napoleon’s first abdication, the Congress of Vienna was convened in September 1814 to restructure Europe in the wake of the French Empire’s collapse. Deliberations were dominated by the four Great Powers – Austria, Russia, Prussia, and Britain – whose primary aim was to ensure peace and order by containing the threat of future French aggression. France was reduced to its pre-1792 boundaries, hemmed in by strong states along its borders. To the north, the Kingdom of the Netherlands was created out of the former Dutch republic and Austrian Netherlands, and the left bank of the Rhine ceded to Prussia. To the south, Austria regained a dominant position in the Italian peninsula, and the Bourbon rulers restored in Spain. Although there was some pressure to restore the Holy Roman Empire, the Congress confirmed the Confederation of the Rhine as a barrier against German nationalist aspirations. The main map shows the boundaries set by the Congress; compare this with the inset map showing the boundaries of 1812.

5. Immigration in the 19th Century, 1800-1814
This map traces major global migration patterns at the beginning of the nineteenth century. In Europe, improved communications, growing trade and commerce, and industrializing economies, combined with significant population growth since the seventeenth century, facilitated the movement of people both domestically and abroad. Immigrants to the United States and Canada during this period came mainly from Northern and Western Europe, while Chinese immigrants settled on the West Coast. In Britain, the industrialization of farming left many agricultural laborers unemployed, many of whom emigrated to Australia and New Zealand. Migration from Spain primarily followed trade routes to South America and South Africa. The Hawaiian islands were an important locus of migration from China, Korea, Japan, and the Philippines. Note also the “involuntary” migration of African slaves, primarily to South America, the Caribbean, and the Middle East [see map 8 below].

6. The Democratic Revolution of 1848/49
In February 1848, revolution broke out in Paris and quickly spread eastward across Europe to Hungary, the Rhineland, Vienna, Berlin, and the Italian states. Although revolutionary demands in each case were shaped by local circumstances, they shared certain common features – a solidly middle-class leadership bolstered by popular discontent, demands for a constitution and for representative government (or more representative government, namely universal male suffrage). The labels in brown text on this map reveal the multiethnic character of many European states, reflecting the connection between many of these democratic revolutions and nationalist movements. In the Austrian Empire, for example, the revolution was led in March 1848 by Hungarian demands for greater autonomy from Imperial control, followed by similar demands by Czechs, Croatians, and Romanians. Conversely, nationalist sentiments also tended to divide revolutionaries and hinder the cooperation necessary for achieving lasting change.

7. Industrialization and Urbanization in Europe, c. 1850
Industrialization, one-half of what historian Eric Hobsbawm termed the “dual revolution” of 1789-1848, began in the British Isles and fueled by cotton production. Other major areas of industrialization in 1850 included coal-rich Belgium and the Rhineland, around Prague and the northern boundary of the Austrian Empire, and northern Italy, with smaller regions around Berlin, Paris, Lyon, and the western coast of Portugal. Much of this industrial growth was predicated on improved transportation and communication, evidenced by the construction of railroads and canals. This economic expansion entailed many changes in European societies, including swelling urban populations. By 1850, three cities had populations of 1,000,000 or more – London, Paris, and Hamburg – while Vienna and Berlin had 500,000 or more. The great majority of Europeans still lived in small towns and villages and worked in agricultural occupations; only in Britain did the urban and industrial population exceed the rural and agricultural population in 1850.

The Americas

8. Slave trade from Africa to the Americas, 1650-1860
This map shows the major slave trade routes between Europe, Africa, and the Americas over a two-hundred-year period. With the rise of the plantation economy after 1650, established first in sugar and later (after 1800) cotton, slavery became a fundamental economic institution in the Americas. The numbers in black rectangles indicate the approximate number of slaves sent to each region; the vast majority were transported to the West Indies and Brazil. Slaves from Western Africa formed the labor force for extracting profitable colonial commodities – sugar, cotton, coffee, tobacco, rice, and precious metals – providing the foundation for rapid growth in trade and productive economies in the European transatlantic empires. The legend on the lower left indicates the principal industries worked by slave labor in each region. Britain, which by the eighteenth century had the largest slave trade, abolished it in 1807. While other countries followed suit in officially banning the trade, illegal importation of slaves continued to flourish until the 1860’s.

9. English, French, & Spanish Settlements in North America to 1776
By 1750, nearly all the land in North America was subject to claims by the rival European states of Britain, France, and Spain. The colored areas on this map indicate territorial claims prior to the Seven Years War/French and Indian War. Spain had established the first permanent European settlement at St. Augustine in Florida in 1565, and conducted a more substantial colonizing venture in what is now the southwestern U.S. France had founded its first settlement at Quebec in 1608, and built up a thriving fur trade in the interior of the continent by cultivating close ties with Native Americans. Since establishing their first permanent settlement at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607, Britain had extended its control to nearly the entire eastern seaboard. Although the French controlled a greater amount of land, the territories claimed by Britain had by far a larger population. As many as two million people lived in the British colonies of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and the original thirteen colonies, as opposed to 80,000 in New France.

10. North America Before and After the French and Indian War, 1756-1763
The North American theater of the Seven Years’ War is referred to as the French and Indian War, essentially another phase in the long contest between Britain and France for supremacy in the global economy and colonial power. These maps show how Britain achieved dominance on the North American continent by territorial acquisitions agreed upon in the peace settlements concluding the war. The first map shows British and French territorial claims at the beginning of the war. Note the area colored in beige, which became a major source of dispute and catalyst for the war after the British established the Ohio Company in 1749 to settle there. By the Treaty of Paris signed in February 1763, France ceded all land east of the Mississippi and Canada to Britain, and all land west of the Mississippi to Spain. As shown in second map, the French thus effectively abandoned all of their North American territorial claims, and Britain’s overseas empire expanded substantially.

11. The French & Indian War, 1754-1763
This map shows the location of principal battle sites in the French and Indian War. The opening salvo of this war occurred in 1754, when the British, attempting to counter French expansion in the Ohio Valley, were defeated by French forces at Fort Necessity. The conflict in North America escalated after 1756, when France and Britain formally opened hostilities in Europe. The British gained two major victories in 1758 by taking the French strongholds of Fort Duquesne (later renamed Pittsburgh) and Louisburg. Located on Cape Breton Island off the coast of Nova Scotia, Louisburg was of great strategic importance, designed for naval domination of the North Atlantic as well as controlling access to the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes. Having gained entry to the St. Lawrence, British forces successfully attacked Quebec in 1759 and prevented further French resistance on the mainland. The French army formally surrendered at Montreal in September 1760.

12. Revolutionary War in the North, 1776-1780
The map shows troop movements and the location of battle sites during the first phase of the War for Independence, when fighting was concentrated in New England and the Mid-Atlantic colonies. The first year of the conflict, 1775-76, was dominated by the siege of Boston. The center of anti-British sentiment and tactically difficult to defend, the British ultimately evacuated the city in March 1776 and removed to Halifax, Nova Scotia. British forces quickly regrouped and focused their attentions on New York in the campaign of 1776, pushing American forces into retreat through New Jersey and into Pennsylvania. Although American forces under Washington gained two victories at Princeton and Trenton, neither side could claim a decisive triumph at the end of the campaign. The real turning point in the war occurred in the following year, when the British campaign in upstate New York ended in defeat at Saratoga in October 1777.

13. Revolutionary War in the South, 1778-1781
The fall of Saratoga forced Britain to change its tactics. Rather than continuing a full-scale military struggle against the American army, the British focused on winning the support of Americans still loyal to the crown. As seen in this map, Britain thus shifted its efforts to the South, where Loyalist sentiment was believed to be strongest. Another significant development in the final phase of the war was the intervention of France, which, seeking revenge for losses incurred during the French and Indian War, signed an alliance with the Americans in 1778. Although British forces won significant victories in the South – Savannah in 1778 and Charleston in 1780 – they were weakened by logistical problems as an army in hostile territory, facing an increasingly politicized and mobilized population. Trapped by combined American and French forces at Yorktown, the British surrendered in October 1781.

14. Ratification of the U.S. Constitution, 1787-1790
Ratification of the U.S. Constitution by all thirteen states faced considerable obstacles and was not achieved until 1790. Firstly, in proposing a new national government, delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia had exceeded their original mandate, which was to revise the existing Articles of Confederation. Secondly, the Articles in Confederation required unanimous approval by state legislatures for ratification. The Convention proposed instead that the new constitution take effect after securing ratification in 9 of the 13 states, which would take place in state conventions. Finally, the national debate between Federalists and Anti-Federalists meant that opposition to the Constitution was considerable. This map shows areas of support for and opposition to the Constitution in each state, as well as the date on which ratification was achieved. The new government went into effect after New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify in June 1788. Rhode Island was the last state to do so in May 1790.

15. The Louisiana Purchase – Main Exploration Routes, 1804-1807

16. Western Expansion in the United States, 1804-1807
These two maps show the dramatic westward expansion of the United States under Jefferson’s presidency. In 1803, an expedition was planned to cross the continent to the Pacific coast to make geographical observations and investigate trading prospects with Native Americans. Lewis and Clark set out in the spring of 1804, traveling up the Missouri River from St. Louis, crossed the Rocky Mountains, and navigated the Snake and Columbia Rivers to arrive on the Pacific coast in late 1805. With the purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803, the nation effectively doubled in size and gained control of the commercially crucial port of New Orleans. The acquisition of Louisiana also ended the threat of further French colonial ambitions in North America. To explore this newly-acquired territory, Jefferson sent an expedition in the fall of 1805 under Zebulon Pike, who proceeded from St. Louis into the upper Mississippi Valley. He made a second expedition the following year, along the Arkansas River into the present-day states of Colorado and Texas, the latter still claimed by Spain at the time.

17. The War of 1812
This map shows troop movements and principal battle sites in the War of 1812. After the U.S. declared war against Britain in June 1812, American forces suffered a number of setbacks in the first few months of the war. A planned invasion of Canada by way of Detroit failed, and the U.S. was forced to surrender the fort itself in August (#2), while Fort Dearborn (later Chicago) fell to an attack by Native Americans. In 1813, however, American forces achieved significant success in the Great Lakes. The U.S. seized control of Lake Erie (#3), forcing the British from Detroit and facilitating an invasion of Canada by water. Britain, hitherto preoccupied by war with France, prepared to invade the U.S. after Napoleon’s first abdication in April 1814. In August, British troops captured Washington, D.C. and advanced on Baltimore, where the American garrison at Ft. McHenry successfully defended the city (#5). News of the peace treaty signed at Ghent in December 1814 did not reach the U.S. until after the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815.

18. Latin American Independence, 1811-1889
By 1810, European imperial presence in the Americas had been significantly curtailed. France had relinquished all of its territorial claims in North America and was forced to withdraw from Haiti in 1803, while Britain held only Canada in the North and its Caribbean possessions. Although Spain maintained a significant amount of territory in North America, its vast empire in Latin America crumbled in the first half of the nineteenth century. Discontent with the restrictions of imperial rule and social inequities in Spanish America were further fueled by the examples of the American and French Revolutions. Napoleon’s invasion of Spain provided the catalyst for the first wave of revolution in Latin America, sparking a number of revolts against Franco-Spanish rule in several colonies. A series of military campaigns followed, pitting revolutionaries seeking independence against loyalists to Spanish rule. By 1840, both the Spanish and Portuguese empires had collapsed, Spain retaining only the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico until the end of the century.

19. Removal of American Indians, 1830-1838
The westward expansion of the U.S. that commenced at the beginning of the nineteenth century increased tensions between Native American tribes and white settlers. Between 1830 and 1838, the federal government embarked on a brutal campaign to push Native American tribes that still remained in the eastern U.S. west of the Mississippi, either by pressuring them into treaties or by military force. The “Five Civilized Tribes” – the Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choktaw – were expelled from the southern states of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida and forcibly removed to “Indian Territory” (present-day Oklahoma), created by the Indian Intercourse Act of 1834. By the end of the decade, virtually all Native American societies living east of the Mississippi River had been removed, with the exception of a few remnants of Seminoles and Cherokees. In the process, they were forced to cede over 100 million acres of land, much of it highly valuable, to the federal government.

20. Mexican War, 1846-1848
U.S. expansion west of the Mississippi put growing pressure on the federal government to annex more territory. While what is now the state of Oregon was secured through a treaty with Britain, boundary disputes in the south and west sparked the Mexican War. Texas, admitted to statehood in 1845, fixed the Rio Grande river as its border, thus also laying claim to a large area of Mexican territory (this is the area in diagonal lines on the map). Many Americans, including President Polk, also wanted to acquire the Mexican province of California. In the summer of 1846, American troops captured Santa Fe and went on to support the Bear Flag Revolution in California by American settlers. Both territories of New Mexico and California were under U.S. control by autumn, but the Mexican government refused to concede. In 1847, American forces seized the Mexican capital, and a peace treaty was finished in February 1848. As a result, the U.S. acquired all of the territory shaded in green on this map.

21. Status of Slavery in the American Territories, 1850-1854
The process of settling and organizing newly-acquired territories was complicated by the issue of slavery and sectional interests. The top map shows the status of slavery as determined by the Compromise of 1850. California was admitted as a free state, while the status of slavery in the Utah and New Mexico territories was to be decided by those states. The debate was revived shortly thereafter as expansion into the unorganized territory, previously believed to be unfit for cultivation, revealed large areas suitable for farming. By the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, the area shaded in dark green on the bottom map was to be organized into two distinct territories. In both, the status of slavery would be determined by state legislature, despite being located north of the Missouri Compromise line and thus technically free. This legislation proved highly divisive, destroying the Whig party and spawning the Republican party. The debate escalated into violence between pro- and anti-slavery factions in Kansas (see inset in bottom map).

The maps and their descriptions were compiled by Natasha Naujoks.