American History Essay

775 words - 4 pages

The history of the United States as covered in schools and universities typically begins with either 1492 and Columbus, or—especially in recent years—with the prehistory of the Native peoples. Officially the United States of America began as an independent nation with the Declaration of Independence in July 1776. European colonists reached the Gulf and Pacific coasts, but the largest settlements were by the English on the East Coast, starting in 1607. By the 1770s the Thirteen Colonies contained two and half million people. They were prosperous, and had developed their own political and legal systems. The British government's threat to American self-government led to war in 1775 and the ...view middle of the document...

The bloody American Civil War (1861–65) redefined the nation and remains the central iconic event. The South was defeated and, in the Reconstruction era, the U.S. ended slavery, extended rights to African Americans, and readmitted secessionist states with loyal governments. The national government was much stronger, and it now had the explicit duty to protect individuals. Reconstruction was never completed by the US government and left the blacks in a world of Jim Crow political, social and economic inferiority. The entire South remained poor while the North and West grew rapidly.

Thanks to an outburst of entrepreneurship in the North and the arrival of millions of immigrant workers from Europe, the U.S. became the leading industrialized power by 1900. Disgust with corruption, waste, and traditional politics stimulated the Progressive movement, 1890s-1920s, which pushed for reform in industry and politics and put into the Constitution women's suffrage and Prohibition of alcohol (the latter repealed in 1933). Initially neutral in World War I, the U.S. declared war on Germany in 1917, and funded the Allied victory. The nation refused to follow President Woodrow Wilson's leadership and never joined the League of Nations. After a prosperous decade in the 1920s the Wall Street Crash of 1929 marked the onset of the decade-long...

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