Animated map: How the West was won, in one GIF


Attention AP U.S. history students: An animated map resurfaced this week that provides a dynamic illustration of how the country expanded -- showing in seconds the volatility of nearly two centuries of history.

Even in 1783, when the Treaty of Paris ended the Revolutionary War, the borders of the United States remained something of a debate. There was controversy as to whether a small strip of Southern land known as West Florida belonged to the newly formed United States or to Spain. And in the Northeast, a dispute lasting until 1842 arose over whether land at the tip of the country belonged to Maine or New Brunswick.

Enter a GIF posted by Reddit user wtfjen earlier this week. A compilation of maps from Wikimedia Commons, the GIF plots how the U.S. border has morphed outward (and sometimes inward), from the late 1700s to the mid-1900s.


The map tracks several turning points in U.S. expansion, from the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 to the annexation of Texas less than 45 years later. It ends in 1959 with Congress’ admission of Hawaii as the 50th state.


Source: Reddit user wtfjen
Twitter: @danielrothberg