Society for the History of Discoveries


    Susan Schulten Portrait    

Dr. Susan Schulten

Professor, Department of History
University of Denver


The Origins of the Colorado Territory


Congress created the Colorado Territory in 1861, in the midst of a grave secession crisis that threatened the very survival of the Union. In fact the regional and national stories are deeply intertwined, for the sectional conflict that led to the Civil War was in no small part a struggle to control the land, resources, and identity of the American West. This lecture frames Colorado’s early history as a function of both the political crisis in the East and the gold rush in the West, both of which occurred as Americans reconsidered the geography of the interior.


Susan Schulten is author of Mapping the Nation: History and Cartography in Nineteenth-Century America (2012) and The Geographical Imagination in America, 1880-1950 (2001). She is also editor of Constructing the American Past, a two-volume history of America with Oxford University Press. Her work has been funded by the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Henry Huntington Library. Her current project—a history of America through one hundred maps—is forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press. Professor Schulten has taught at the University of Denver since 1996, and from 2010 to 2017 served as chair of the history department.