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United States of America (USA) - History

The USA was founded in 1776 by a group made up mainly of landed gentry from Britain. It is a representative democracy where both male and female citizens have the right to vote.

1600 - 1800

Indigenous people were found in the US before the European Colonists arrived in the land around the 1600s. By the latter years of the 1770s, the British had thirteen colonies and these had around two million inhabitants. This was considered a fortuitous and prosperous era in the history of the US. Political systems were created as were legal systems. Taxes were imposed by Parliament of the British Order. This caused conflicts with Americans and ultimately led to a war in 1775. By 1776, colonies had declared independence and on July 4th, a document declared and signed by Thomas Jefferson and the United States of America was formed. Independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain had been declared. The military was led by George Washington with support from France. Peace was restored in 1783 and thirteen states were created although a weak government was in place and the Articles of Federation were born. These proved to be largely untenable and in 1789 the Constitution was formed which remains in place today.

George Washington was the nation’s first President and from here, a strong government was formed. Alexander Hamilton was Washington’s Chief Financial Advisor and from there, two political parties were born. These political parties opposed the Hamilton policies. Thomas Jefferson became the next president and bought the state of Louisiana from France. A further war with Britain in 1812 resulted in the end of Native Americans receiving support from Europe to attack settlers on their land.

The purchase of Louisiana expanded to California and Oregon. Requests for land from the Yeomen meant cheap purchases. Slave owners who were opposed to strict European rulings sold land and the Whig Party were against expansion. This party was far more concerned with strengthening economic power and society as a whole rather than expanding geographically. Slavery was abolished in the Northern States by 1804 although was still actively in place in Southern states due to the demand for cotton.

1800 – 20th Century

Abraham Lincoln was the Republican President who abolished slavery. During the famous American Civil War in 1861 and after a bitter, bloody four years, the North defeated the South and by 1865 slavery was abolished in its entirety. This brought about poverty in the South. The famous Fourteenth Amendment was voted in and agreed by Lincoln and a reconstruction era began in the South and ended in 1877. This era until the 1960s was a time when black people were kept in segregation. The South was considerably poorer than the North and Western regions and this continued well into the first half of the 20th century.

20th Century – Present Day

Industrial revolutionary powers in the earliest parts of the 20th century brought wealth and prosperity in Northern and Western regions. America declared war on Germany in 1917 and although considered late into the First World War, victory was claimed with allies which were funded by the US. From 1918 to 1929, prosperity reigned again for a decade until the stock market crash of 1929. This is more widely known as the Wall Street Crash and sparked the Great Depression. Franklin D. Roosevelt delved head first into a recovery period until the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 which brought the Americans into the Second World War and helped the United Kingdom to defeat Nazi Germany.

After the Second World War, America and Russia entered into the Cold War era. Russia and America confronted each other on arms and space matters. Successive wars in Vietnam and Korea followed in order to contain and prevent the spread of Communism. This resulted in an era of Liberalism and the birth of the Civil Rights Movement. The Reagan Administration re-entered a time of Conservatism. America emerged as a super power in the early 1990s as the Soviet Union broke up. America began the 21st century in further conflict with the Middle East and the September 11th attacks in 2001 led to the War on Terrorism. The global financial crisis of the late noughties has led to a deep depression in the US and recovery is slow in the second decade of the 21st century. The federal government is made up of three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. The legislative branch is run by the United States Congress, which, among other powers, is in charge of making and enforcing laws. The President is in charge of the executive branch. The judicial branch is responsible for interpreting the law.

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