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History Of The United States Essay

1377 words - 6 pages

The date of the start of the history of the United States is a subject of constant debate among historians. Older textbooks start with the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492 and emphasize the European background, or they start in 1600 and emphasize the American frontier. In recent decades American schools and universities typically have shifted back in time to include more on the colonial period and much more on the prehistory of the Native peoples.[1][2]

Indigenous peoples lived in what is now the United States for thousands of years before European colonists began to arrive, mostly from England, after 1600. The Spanish had small settlements in Florida and the Southwest, and the ...view middle of the document...

With large-scale military and financial support from France and military leadership by General George Washington, the American Patriots rebelled against British rule and succeeded in the Revolutionary War. The peace treaty of 1783 gave the new nation the land east of the Mississippi River (except Florida and Canada, and Spain disputed the Mississippi Territory until 1795) and confirmed Great Britain's recognition of the United States as a nation. The central government established by the Articles of Confederation proved ineffectual at providing stability, as it had no authority to collect taxes and had no executive officer. Congress called a convention to meet secretly in Philadelphia in 1787 to revise the Articles of Confederation. It wrote a new Constitution, which was adopted in 1789. In 1791, a Bill of Rights was added to guarantee inalienable rights. With Washington as the Union's first president and Alexander Hamilton his chief political and financial adviser, a strong central government was created. When Thomas Jefferson became president he purchased the Louisiana Territory from France, doubling the size of the United States. A second and final war with Britain was fought in 1812.

Encouraged by the notion of Manifest Destiny, federal territory expanded all the way to the Pacific. The U.S. always was large in terms of area, but its population was small, only 4 million in 1790. Population growth was rapid, reaching 7.2 million in 1810, 32 million in 1860, 76 million in 1900, 132 million in 1940, and 316 million in 2013. Economic growth in terms of overall GDP was even faster. However the nation's military strength was quite limited in peacetime before 1940. The expansion was driven by a quest for inexpensive land for yeoman farmers and slave owners. The expansion of slavery was increasingly controversial and fueled political and constitutional battles, which were resolved by compromises. Slavery was abolished in all states north of the Mason–Dixon line by 1804, but the South continued to profit off the institution, producing high-value cotton exports to feed increasing high demand in Europe. The 1860 presidential election of Republican Abraham Lincoln was on a platform of ending the expansion of slavery and putting it on a path to extinction. Seven cotton-based deep South slave states seceded and later founded the Confederacy months before Lincoln's inauguration. No nation ever recognized the Confederacy, but it opened the war by attacking Fort Sumter in 1861. A surge of nationalist outrage in the North fueled a long, intense American Civil War (1861-1865). It was fought largely in the South as the overwhelming material and manpower advantages of the North proved decisive in a long war. The war's result was restoration of the Union, the impoverishment of the South, and the abolition of slavery. In the Reconstruction era (1863–1877), legal and voting rights were extended to the freed slave. The national government emerged much stronger,...

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