The Minnesota

​Territorial Pioneers

Established May 11, 1897 - Incorporated 1924

Territorial Boundaries before 1834

Lands East of the Mississippi

In 1834, Michigan Territory was enlarged to include land from both the original Northwest Territory and the Louisiana purchase.

Prior to that time, land that would be included in the Minnesota Territory had three distinct histories. The land east of the Mississippi was part of the Northwest Territory, which became property of the United States in the Treaty of Paris in 1783. Land west of the Mississippi was part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. 

The Red River Basin in what would become Northwestern Minnesota and Eastern North Dakota was ceded to the United States as part of the agreement reached with Britain in 1818 that set the 49th parallel as the international boundary between US and British territory in North America.

Western Minnesota was included in the following territories:

  • July 4, 1805: Louisiana Territory
  • Jun 4, 1812: Missouri Territory

The United States acquired the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. At the southern end of the purchase, Orleans Territory included most of what is now the state of Louisiana. The balance of the purchase was organized as Louisiana Territory. When the state of Louisiana entered the union in 1812, the Louisiana Territory was renamed Missouri Territory to avoid confusion.  When Missouri became a state in 1821, the rest of the original territory continued to be referred to as Missouri Territory but was technically unorganized until 1834. 

In 1818, the Anglo-American Convention set the northern boundary of US territories at the 49th parallel, unless otherwise specified. (The boundaries of the Northwest Angle of Minnesota were designated by the Treaty of Paris in 1783 and remained in force.) As a result of this agreement, the land referred to as "the Red River Basin" in what is now northwestern Minnesota and eastern North Dakota was ceded to the US. 

The unorganized northern portion of what had been the Missouri Territory and the Red River Basin were included when the Michigan Territory expanded westward in 1834.

Eastern Minnesota was included in the following territories:

  • May 7, 1800: Indiana Territory
  • Feb 3, 1809: Illinois Territory
  • April 18, 1818: Michigan Territory

The Northwest Territory was ceded to the United States in the Treaty of Paris in 1783.  That portion of Minnesota east of the Mississippi River has been recognized as a part of the United States since the Revolutionary War.  The maps shown here reflect the changing territorial boundaries for this area from 1784 until 1818.

Find more details about each map by clicking here.

An Overview of the History of the Upper Midwest
Upper Midwest Collection of the Library of Congress

Lands West of the Mississippi