The history of the United States as covered in American schools and universities typically begins with either Christopher Columbus's 1492 voyage to the Americas or with the prehistory of the Native peoples, with the latter approach having become increasingly common in recent decades.
Indigenous peoples lived in what is now the United States for thousands of years and developed complex cultures before European colonists began to arrive, mostly from England, after 1600. The Spanish had early settlements in Florida and the Southwest, and the French along the Mississippi River and Gulf Coast. By the 1770s, thirteen British colonies contained two and a half million people along the Atlantic coast, east of the Appalachian Mountains. The colonies were prosperous and growing rapidly, and had developed their own autonomous ...view middle of the document...
During and after the war, the 13 states were united under a weak federal government established by the Articles of Confederation. When these proved unworkable, a new Constitution was adopted in 1789; it became the basis of the United States federal government, and later included a Bill of Rights. With Washington as the nation's first president and Alexander Hamilton his chief financial adviser, a strong national government was created. In the First Party System, two national political parties grew up to support or oppose Hamiltonian policies. When Thomas Jefferson became president he purchased the Louisiana Territory from France, doubling the size of American territorial holdings. A second and last war with Britain was fought in 1812. One lasting consequence of this war was the weakening of Indian resistance to occupation of their territories, encouraging further incursions by white settlers and the expansion of the United States.
Under the sponsorship of the Jeffersonian Democrats and the Jacksonian Democrats, the nation expanded beyond the Louisiana purchase, all the way to California and Oregon. The expansion was driven by a quest for inexpensive land for yeoman farmers and slave owners. This expansion came at the cost of violence against indigenous native peoples and fueled the unresolved differences between the North and South over the institution of slavery. The expansion, under the rubric of Manifest Destiny was a rejection of the advice of Whigs who wanted to deepen and modernize the economy and society rather than merely expand the geography. Slavery was abolished in all states north of the Mason–Dixon line by 1804, but many had strong economic ties related to slavery because of shipping, banking and manufacturing. The international demand for cotton led to expansion of slavery throughout the Deep South in the nineteenth century and a forced internal migration.