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Visit our companion site, American Passages. Produced in conjunction with Oregon Public Broadcasting, this rich site includes an archive featuring over 3,000 images, audio clips, presentation software, and more.


These maps give you a sense of how the geography of the New World evolved in the decades between Christopher Columbus's voyage and the post-Revolutionary War era. In contrast to fifteenth-century Europe, which was united by many linguistic and cultural commonalities, North American Native peoples spoke hundreds of languages, structured their societies in widely diverse forms, and held extremely diverse religious and mythological beliefs, as the "Indians of North America" map suggests. The rapid expansion of transatlantic trade in the 1700s linked America to the Atlantic Rim, a region encompassing Europe, Africa, the Caribbean basin, North America, and South America. After the Revolutionary War, America’s boundaries began to expand West. By 1820, most of Louisiana and other regions near the Mississippi River had been settled.

Beginnings to 17001700-1820

Beginnings to 1700

The Old World on The Eve of Colonization

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Voyages of Discovery

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Spanish Conquests and Explorations of the New World

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Indians of North America, ca. 1500

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European Settlement in the Chesapeake

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