February 14, 2008 – 10:21 pm

The Origin Of United States Of America

The United States of America has several beginnings. Native Americans and people indigenous to both continents of the Americas had been on the land for thousands of years before explorers discovered the vast continent. Because of its large geographic size, four different groups of explorers were all settling on the North American continent all at the same time. The explorations of Christopher Columbus set forth a round of Spanish explorers who founded St. Augustine, Florida in 1565. The Spanish colonists began to settle in the southern part of the country. At the same time, French fur traders had entered the land through Canada and set up New France near the site of Michigan’s Great Lakes. Spanish colonists working their way up from Mexico had begun settling the American Southwest, naming it El Paso Del Norte (“the pass of the north”). British settlers were that last of the early groups to arrive, beginning their Jamestown colony in Virginia in 1607.
The beginning of the Jamestown colony was rough, marked by starvation and war with Native Americans. But as settlers got used to the climate and farms they planted began producing good crops, tens of thousand puritans, a Christian sect persecuted in Britain, left the United Kingdom to set up a new life on America’s shores. They called their colony New England. In 1614, after seeing the success of the puritans, the Dutch began to start colonies in the upper part of the eastern coast calling it New Sweden, and New Amsterdam. Britain then began to war with the other colonies. In the French-Indian war, the British seized Canada and the outposts of the New France, and later in a war with the Dutch seized New Amsterdam and New Sweden, and renamed the area New York. After colonists spread into and accessed the rest of the Eastern seaboard 13 colonies were established and officially named The United States of America.
The colonies set up their local governments, but were still part of the sovereignty of Great Britain. The slave trade was practiced in all 13 colonies and that practice when added to longer survival rates created a population explosion in the early to mid 1700’s. Eventually the governments of the colonies became aware that although there was much freedom granted to their governments, there was no official seat or recognition of them in British Parliament and they were, in fact, subject to the policies of Britain without any say or recourse. In 1775 the colonies began meeting about separating from Britain and creating their own sovereign country. George Washington was selected to be the commander of this venture and Thomas Jefferson with input from others drafted the Declaration of Independence which was officially signed on July 4th, 1776. The ensuing war with Britain known as the Revolutionary War lasted until 1781 with the United States remaining victorious and independent from the United Kingdom who recognized America as a nation in 1783.
In 1788 the United States Constitution which set up a federal system of government was ratified by 9 of the 13 colonies which were all that was needed to pass that series of law into being. George Washington who had been integral in the victorious Revolutionary War, was named the first President of the United States of America. With the country’s system of governance and independence well established, the next phase of development was known as the Manifest Destiny, an ambitious series of wars and purchases that quadrupled the size of the United States of America. The native populations were driven west and lost their land ownership in the Indian Wars. Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the U.S., negotiated a large purchase of land with France known as the Louisiana Purchase and America got all the land in the mid-west from Louisiana to North Dakota for 3 cents an acre. Military operations secured Florida from the Spanish and the Mexican-American war secured the rest of the southwest to the coast. The already existing Republic of Texas was annexed in 1845.
With the vast expansive land grab over, the United States of America turned to domestic issues as part of its overall evolution. The first issue to garner power and test the resolve of the new nation was slavery. Although all the original colonies had been slave states, a few northern and new territories did not allow slavery. This began to create a rift as slaves tried to flee their bonds by going to other states. The Underground Railroad was one such enterprise where slaves who could get to a free state were free. Trade tariffs also become a problem with the agricultural South suffering at the hands of the industrial North. In 1860 Southern States seceded from the United States to form the Confederate States of America, setting off the American Civil War. The war polarized the country economically and politically. The South was victorious at first but as the tide of the war turned against them they suffered defeat and destruction of a lot of their property. The Civil War ended in 1865 with the surrender of the South.
Following the Civil War and period of reconstruction, America began a massive industrial age with factories creating economic prosperity and jobs. Immigrants from countries all over the world rushed to be part of the American economic boom bringing with them their families, cultural ideas and a strong labor force. This boom lasted until 1929 when the stock market crashed turning millionaires into paupers and shutting down factories creating economic hardship throughout the country. Known as the Great Depression, it was a time of hardship and mass poverty. Social reforms swept through the government to provide some kind of food and care for the American people. The Great Depression ended in 1945 when America entered World War II. America had been neutral in the first World War offered some help to Britain and France, but when Japan bombed the American naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii the U.S.A. entered the war as a full ally. The war meant factories churning out weapons, and a large proliferation of the Army which caused the economic upswing the country needed to break out of its financial slump. The war ended in 1945 when the United States used two nuclear weapons on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.
When the war ended, Americans came home from the army with money in their pockets and job skills to add to the country’s industrial complex. It was a second time of prosperity defined by the “American Dream” characterized by a family owning a home, having 2 children and a car. As Americans individually pursued their dreams America become locked in a tense war of words with the Soviet Union. This “cold war” would last for almost 30 years fueled by spying and suspicion on both sides. It would end with the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1980’s. America plunged into another war when it delved into the Vietnam Conflict. Unlike World War II, this conflict had no clear objectives or cogent strategy. It lasted from 1959 until 1971 and over 58,000 American soldiers were killed during that time. Disputes about the Vietnam War lead to division among political parties and distrust for the government. After Vietnam, America tried to change its focus back to a time of prosperity with wavering results some economic property was achieved in the 1980’s and 1990’s but continuing issues involving governmental corruption and world politics kept it at bay. On September 11, 2001 America entered its latest battle, the war on terror, after terrorists hijacked 4 airplanes and flew 2 of them in to the World Trade Center in New York City, 1 into the Pentagon in Washington, DC and 1 which crashed in a field on its way to Washington. Over 2,900 people were killed in the attacks, leading the United States to enter in a series of actions aimed at ending terrorism world-wide. As part of those actions the United States invaded the nation of Iraq in 2003 and continues to be a military presence there.
Two hundred years after the founding of Jamestown, America is still a nation trying to grow and define itself as a superpower on the world stage.

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