The date of the start of the HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES is a
subject of debate among historians. Older textbooks start with the
Christopher Columbus on October 12, 1492 and emphasize the
European background of the colonization of the
Americas , or they
start around 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
Indigenous people 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 built small settlements in
Florida and the Southwest , and the French along the Mississippi River
and the Gulf Coast . By the 1770s, thirteen British colonies contained
two and a half million people along the Atlantic coast east of the
Appalachian Mountains . After the end of the
French and Indian Wars in
the 1760s, the British government imposed a series of new taxes,
rejecting the colonists' argument that any new taxes had to be
approved by them (see
Stamp Act 1765
Stamp Act 1765 ). Tax resistance, especially the
Boston Tea Party
Boston Tea Party (1773), led to punitive laws (the
Intolerable Acts )
by Parliament designed to end self-government in Massachusetts.
American Patriots (as they called themselves) adhered to a political
ideology called republicanism that emphasized civic duty, virtue, and
opposition to corruption, fancy luxuries and aristocracy.
Armed conflict began in 1775 as Patriots drove the royal officials
out of every colony and assembled in mass meetings and conventions. In
Second Continental Congress declared that there was a new,
independent nation, the
United States of America, not just a
collection of disparate colonies. With large-scale military and
financial support from France and the military leadership of General
George Washington , the American Patriots won the Revolutionary War .
The peace treaty of 1783 gave the new nation the land east of the
Mississippi River (except
Florida and Canada). The central government
established by the
Articles of Confederation
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. 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 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 321 million in
2015. Economic growth in terms of overall GDP was even faster.
However, compared to European powers, the nation's military strength
was relatively 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 four 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
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, and because of the
Fourteenth Amendment in 1868, it gained the explicit duty to protect
individual rights. However, when white Democrats regained their power
in the South during the 1870s, often by paramilitary suppression of
voting, they passed
Jim Crow laws to maintain white supremacy , and
new disfranchising constitutions that prevented most African Americans
and many poor whites from voting. This situation continued for decades
until gains of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s and passage of
federal legislation to enforce constitutional rights.
United States became the world's leading industrial power at the
turn of the 20th century due to an outburst of entrepreneurship in the
Northeast and Midwest and the arrival of millions of immigrant workers
and farmers from Europe. The national railroad network was completed
with the work of Chinese immigrants and large-scale mining and
factories industrialized the Northeast and Midwest. Mass
dissatisfaction with corruption, inefficiency and traditional politics
stimulated the Progressive movement , from the 1890s to 1920s, which
led to many social and political reforms. In 1920, the 19th Amendment
to the Constitution guaranteed women\'s suffrage (right to vote). This
followed the 16th and 17th amendments in 1913, which established the
first national income tax and direct election of US senators to
Congress. Initially neutral during
World War I
World War I , the US declared war
on Germany in 1917 and later funded the Allied victory the following
After a prosperous decade in the 1920s, the
Wall Street Crash of 1929
marked the onset of the decade-long worldwide
Great Depression .
Franklin D. Roosevelt ended the Republican
dominance of the
White House and implemented his
New Deal programs for
relief, recovery, and reform. The New Deal, which defined modern
American liberalism , included relief for the unemployed, support for
farmers, Social Security and a minimum wage . After the Japanese
attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the
United States entered
World War II
World War II along with Britain , the
Soviet Union , China , and the
smaller number of Allied nations . The U.S. financed the Allied war
effort and helped defeat
Nazi Germany in the European theater . Its
involvement culminated in using the newly invented nuclear weapons on
Japanese cities that helped defeat Imperial
Japan in the Pacific
United States and the
Soviet Union emerged as rival superpowers
after World War II. During the
Cold War , the US and the USSR
confronted each other indirectly in the arms race , the
Space Race ,
proxy wars , and propaganda campaigns. US foreign policy during the
Cold War was built around the support of
Western Europe and Japan
along with the policy of containment , stopping the spread of
communism . The US joined the wars in Korea and
Vietnam to try to stop
its spread. In the 1960s, in large part due to the strength of the
civil rights movement , another wave of social reforms were enacted by
enforcing the constitutional rights of voting and freedom of movement
Americans and other racial minorities. The
Cold War ended
Soviet Union officially dissolved in 1991, leaving the United
States as the world's only superpower.
After the Cold War, the
United States focused on international
conflicts around the
Middle East in response to the
Gulf War in the
early 1990s. The beginning of the 2
1st century saw the September 11
Al-Qaeda in 2001, which would later be followed by U.S.-led
Iraq and Afghanistan . In 2008, the
United States had its
worst economic crisis since the
Great Depression , which has been
followed by slower than usual rates of economic growth during the
* 1.1 Native development prior to European contact
* 1.1.1 Major cultures
* 1.2 Native development in
* 2 Colonial period
* 2.1 Spanish, Dutch, and French colonization
* 2.2 British colonization
* 3 18th century
* 3.1 Political integration and autonomy
* 5 Early years of the republic
Confederation and Constitution
* 5.2 The new Chief Executive
* 5.3 Slavery
* 6 19th century
* 6.1 Jeffersonian Republican Era
War of 1812
War of 1812
Era of Good Feelings
Second Party System
Second Party System
Second Great Awakening
* 6.7 Abolitionism
* 6.8 Westward expansion and
* 6.9 Divisions between North and South
* 6.10 Civil War
* 6.11 Emancipation
* 6.13 The West and the
* 7 20th century
* 7.2 Imperialism
World War I
World War I
* 7.4 Women\'s suffrage
Roaring Twenties and the
World War II
World War II
* 7.7 The Cold War, counterculture, and civil rights
* 7.7.1 Climax of liberalism
Civil Rights Movement
Civil Rights Movement
* 7.7.3 The Women\'s Movement
* 7.7.4 The Counterculture Revolution and
* 7.8 Close of the 20th century
* 8 2
* 8.1 9/11 and the
War on Terror
* 8.2 The
* 8.3 Recent events
* 9 See also
* 10 References
* 11 Textbooks
* 12 Further reading
* 12.1 Primary sources
* 13 External links
Prehistory of the United States , History of Native
Americans in the
United States , and
Pre-Columbian era See also:
Americans in the
United States This map shows the
approximate location of the ice-free corridor and specific Paleoindian
Clovis theory ).
It is not definitively known how or when the Native
Americas and the present-day United States. The prevailing
theory proposes that people migrated from
Beringia , a
land bridge that connected
Siberia to present-day
Alaska during the
Ice Age , and then spread southward throughout the
possibly going as far south as the
Antarctic Peninsula . This
migration may have begun as early as 30,000 years ago and continued
through to about 10,000+ years ago, when the land bridge became
submerged by the rising sea level caused by the ending of the last
glacial period . These early inhabitants, called
soon diversified into many hundreds of culturally distinct nations and
The pre-Columbian era incorporates all period subdivisions in the
history and prehistory of the
Americas before the appearance of
significant European influences on the American continents, spanning
the time of the original settlement in the
Upper Paleolithic period to
European colonization during the
Early Modern period
Early Modern period . While
technically referring to the era before
Christopher Columbus ' voyages
of 1492 to 1504, in practice the term usually includes the history of
American indigenous cultures until they were conquered or
significantly influenced by Europeans, even if this happened decades
or even centuries after Columbus' initial landing.
NATIVE DEVELOPMENT PRIOR TO EUROPEAN CONTACT
Main article: History of Native
Americans in the
he Cultural areas of pre-Columbian
North America , according to Alfred
Native American cultures are not normally included in
characterizations of advanced stone age cultures as "
which is a category that more often includes only the cultures in
Eurasia, Africa, and other regions. The archaeological periods used
are the classifications of archaeological periods and cultures
Gordon Willey and Philip Phillips ' 1958 book Method
and Theory in American Archaeology. They divided the archaeological
record in the
Americas into five phases; see Archaeology of the
Clovis culture , a megafauna hunting culture, is primarily
identified by use of fluted spear points. Artifacts from this culture
were first excavated in 1932 near
Clovis, New Mexico . The Clovis
culture ranged over much of
North America and also appeared in South
America. The culture is identified by the distinctive
Clovis point , a
flaked flint spear-point with a notched flute, by which it was
inserted into a shaft. Dating of Clovis materials has been by
association with animal bones and by the use of carbon dating methods.
Recent reexaminations of Clovis materials using improved carbon-dating
methods produced results of 11,050 and 10,800 radiocarbon years B.P.
(roughly 9100 to 8850 BCE).
Paleoindian cultures occupied North America, with some
arrayed around the
Great Plains and
Great Lakes of the modern United
States of America and
Canada , as well as adjacent areas to the West
and Southwest. According to the oral histories of many of the
indigenous peoples of the Americas, they have been living on this
continent since their genesis, described by a wide range of
traditional creation stories . Other tribes have stories that recount
migrations across long tracts of land and a great river, believed to
Mississippi River . Genetic and linguistic data connect the
indigenous people of this continent with ancient northeast Asians.
Archeological and linguistic data has enabled scholars to discover
some of the migrations within the Americas. A
Folsom point for a
Folsom Tradition was characterized by use of Folsom points as
projectile tips, and activities known from kill sites, where slaughter
and butchering of bison took place. Folsom tools were left behind
between 9000 BCE and 8000 BCE.
Na-Dené -speaking peoples entered
North America starting around 8000
BCE, reaching the
Pacific Northwest by 5000 BCE, and from there
migrating along the
Pacific Coast and into the interior. Linguists,
anthropologists and archeologists believe their ancestors comprised a
separate migration into North America, later than the first
Paleo-Indians. They migrated into
Alaska and northern Canada, south
along the Pacific Coast, into the interior of Canada, and south to the
Great Plains and the American Southwest.
They were the earliest ancestors of the
Athabascan - speaking
peoples, including the present-day and historical Navajo and
They constructed large multi-family dwellings in their villages, which
were used seasonally. People did not live there year-round, but for
the summer to hunt and fish, and to gather food supplies for the
Oshara Tradition people lived from 5500 BCE to 600 CE.
They were part of the Southwestern Archaic Tradition centered in
New Mexico , the
San Juan Basin , the
Rio Grande Valley,
Colorado , and southeastern
Since the 1990s, archeologists have explored and dated eleven Middle
Archaic sites in present-day
Florida at which early
cultures built complexes with multiple earthwork mounds ; they were
societies of hunter-gatherers rather than the settled agriculturalists
believed necessary according to the theory of
Neolithic Revolution to
sustain such large villages over long periods. The prime example is
Watson Brake in northern Louisiana, whose 11-mound complex is dated to
3500 BCE, making it the oldest, dated site in the
Americas for such
complex construction. It is nearly 2,000 years older than the Poverty
Point site. Construction of the mounds went on for 500 years until was
abandoned about 2800 BCE, probably due to changing environmental
Poverty Point culture is a Late Archaic archaeological culture that
inhabited the area of the lower Mississippi Valley and surrounding
Gulf Coast. The culture thrived from 2200 BCE to 700 BCE, during the
Late Archaic period. Evidence of this culture has been found at more
than 100 sites, from the major complex at
Poverty Point, Louisiana (a
UNESCO World Heritage Site ) across a 100-mile (160 km) range to the
Jaketown Site near
Belzoni, Mississippi . Totem poles in
Poverty Point is a 1 square mile (2.6 km2) complex of six major
earthwork concentric rings, with additional platform mounds at the
site. Artifacts show the people traded with other Native Americans
located from Georgia to the
Great Lakes region. This is one among
numerous mound sites of complex indigenous cultures throughout the
Mississippi and Ohio valleys. They were one of several succeeding
cultures often referred to as mound builders .
Woodland period of North American pre-Columbian cultures refers
to the time period from roughly 1000 BCE to 1,000 CE in the eastern
part of North America. The term "Woodland" was coined in the 1930s and
refers to prehistoric sites dated between the Archaic period and the
Mississippian cultures . The
Hopewell tradition is the term for the
common aspects of the Native American culture that flourished along
rivers in the northeastern and midwestern
United States from 200 BCE
to 500 CE.
The indigenous peoples of the
Pacific Northwest Coast were of many
nations and tribal affiliations, each with distinctive cultural and
political identities, but they shared certain beliefs, traditions and
practices, such as the centrality of salmon as a resource and
spiritual symbol. Their gift-giving feast, potlatch , is a highly
complex event where people gather in order to commemorate special
events. These events, such as, the raising of a
Totem pole or the
appointment or election of a new chief. The most famous artistic
feature of the culture is the Totem pole, with carvings of animals and
other characters to commemorate cultural beliefs, legends, and notable
Hopewell tradition was not a single culture or society, but a
widely dispersed set of related populations, who were connected by a
common network of trade routes, known as the Hopewell Exchange
System. At its greatest extent, the Hopewell exchange system ran from
United States into the southeastern Canadian shores
Lake Ontario . Within this area, societies participated in a high
degree of exchange; most activity was conducted along the waterways
that served as their major transportation routes. The Hopewell
exchange system traded materials from all over the United States.
Mound , located in
Moundsville, West Virginia
Moundsville, West Virginia , is
one of the largest conical mounds in the
United States . It was built
Adena culture .
* ADENA CULTURE : The
Adena culture was a Native American culture
that existed from 1000 BC to 200 BC, in a time known as the Early
Woodland period . The
Adena culture refers to what were probably a
number of related Native American societies sharing a burial complex
and ceremonial system.
A map showing the extent of the Coles Creek cultural period and
some important sites.
* COLES CREEK CULTURE : The
Coles Creek culture is an indigenous
development of the Lower Mississippi Valley that took place between
Woodland period and the later
Plaquemine culture period.
The period is marked by the increased use of flat-topped platform
mounds arranged around central plazas, more complex political
institutions, and a subsistence strategy still grounded in the Eastern
Agricultural Complex and hunting rather than on the maize plant as
would happen in the succeeding
Plaquemine Mississippian period. The
culture was originally defined by the unique decoration on grog
-tempered ceramic ware by
James A. Ford after his investigations at
Mazique Archeological Site
Mazique Archeological Site . He had studied both the Mazique and
Coles Creek Sites, and almost went with the Mazique culture, but
decided on the less historically involved sites name. It is ancestral
Plaquemine culture .
The Great House at the
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument .
* HOHOKAM CULTURE : The
Hohokam was a culture centered along
American Southwest . The early
Hohokam founded a series of small
villages along the middle
Gila River . They raised corn, squash and
beans. The communities were located near good arable land, with dry
farming common in the earlier years of this period. They were known
for their pottery, using the paddle-and-anvil technique. The Classical
period of the culture saw the rise in architecture and ceramics.
Buildings were grouped into walled compounds, as well as earthen
platform mounds. Platform mounds were built along river as well as
irrigation canal systems, suggesting these sites were administrative
centers allocating water and coordinating canal labor. Polychrome
pottery appeared, and inhumation burial replaced cremation. Trade
included that of shells and other exotics. Social and climatic factors
led to a decline and abandonment of the area after 1400 A.D.
Ancestral Puebloan archeological sites
The Great Kiva of
Chetro Ketl at the Chaco
Historical Park ,
UNESCO World Heritage Site .
Mesa Verde National Park , a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Taos Pueblo , a
UNESCO World Heritage site , is an Ancient Pueblo
belonging to a Native American tribe of
Pueblo people , marking the
cultural development in the region during the
Pre-Columbian era .
White House Ruins,
Canyon de Chelly National Monument
* ANCESTRAL PUEBLOAN CULTURE : The
Ancestral Puebloan culture covered
Four Corners region of the United States, comprising
Utah , northern
Arizona , northwestern
New Mexico , and
Colorado . It is believed that the Ancestral Puebloans
developed, at least in part, from the
Oshara Tradition , who developed
Picosa culture . They lived in a range of structures that
included small family pit houses, larger clan type structures, grand
pueblos , and cliff sited dwellings. The Ancestral Puebloans possessed
a complex network that stretched across the
Colorado Plateau linking
hundreds of communities and population centers. The culture is perhaps
best known for the stone and earth dwellings built along cliff walls,
particularly during the Pueblo II and Pueblo III eras.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites located in the
United States are
credited to the Pueblos:
Mesa Verde National Park , Chaco Culture
National Historical Park and
Taos Pueblo .
* The best-preserved examples of the stone dwellings are in National
Parks (USA), examples being,
Navajo National Monument , Chaco Culture
National Historical Park, Mesa Verde National Park, Canyons of the
Ancients National Monument ,
Aztec Ruins National Monument , Bandelier
National Monument ,
Hovenweep National Monument , and Canyon de Chelly
National Monument .
Mississippian culture Monks
Cahokia (UNESCO World
Heritage Site ) in summer. The concrete staircase follows the
approximate course of the ancient wooden stairs. An artistic
recreation of The Kincaid Site from the prehistoric Mississippian
culture as it may have looked at its peak 1050-1400 AD.
* MISSISSIPPIAN CULTURE : The
Mississippian culture which extended
throughout the Ohio and Mississippi valleys and built sites throughout
the Southeast, created the largest earthworks in
North America north
of Mexico, most notably at
Cahokia , on a tributary of the Mississippi
River in present-day Illinois.
* The ten-story Monks
Cahokia has a larger circumference
Pyramid of the Sun at
Teotihuacan or the Great Pyramid of
Egypt . The 6 square miles (16 km2) city complex was based on the
culture's cosmology; it included more than 100 mounds, positioned to
support their sophisticated knowledge of astronomy , and built with
knowledge of varying soil types. The society began building at this
site about 950 CE, and reached its peak population in 1,250 CE of
20,000–30,000 people, which was not equalled by any city in the
United States until after 1800.
Cahokia was a major regional chiefdom , with trade and tributary
chiefdoms located in a range of areas from bordering the Great Lakes
Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico .
* Kincaid c. 1050-1400 AD, is one of the largest settlements of
the Mississippian culture, it was located at the southern tip of
U.S. state of
Illinois . Kincaid Mounds has been notable
for both its significant role in native North American prehistory and
for the central role the site has played in the development of modern
archaeological techniques . The site had at least 11 substructure
platform mounds (ranking fifth for mound-culture pyramids). Artifacts
from the settlement link its major habitation and the construction of
the mounds to the Mississippian period, but it was also occupied
earlier during the
Woodland period .
Mississippian culture developed the Southeastern Ceremonial
Complex , the name which archeologists have given to the regional
stylistic similarity of artifacts , iconography , ceremonies and
mythology . The rise of the complex culture was based on the people's
adoption of maize agriculture, development of greater population
densities, and chiefdom -level complex social organization from 1200
CE to 1650 CE.
Mississippian pottery are some of the finest and most widely
spread ceramics north of
Cahokian pottery was especially
fine, with smooth surfaces, very thin walls and distinctive tempering,
slips and coloring.
Map of the Five Nations of the
Iroquois (from the Darlington
* IROQUOIS CULTURE : The
League of Nations or "People of the
Long House", based in present-day upstate and western New York , had a
confederacy model from the mid-15th century. It has been suggested
that their culture contributed to political thinking during the
development of the later
United States government. Their system of
affiliation was a kind of federation, different from the strong,
centralized European monarchies.
* Leadership was restricted to a group of 50 sachem chiefs , each
representing one clan within a tribe. The Oneida and
Mohawk people had
nine seats each; the Onondagas held fourteen; the Cayuga had ten
seats; and the Seneca had eight. Representation was not based on
population numbers, as the Seneca tribe greatly outnumbered the
others. When a sachem chief died, his successor was chosen by the
senior woman of his tribe in consultation with other female members of
the clan; property and hereditary leadership were passed matrilineally
. Decisions were not made through voting but through consensus
decision making, with each sachem chief holding theoretical veto power
. The Onondaga were the "firekeepers ", responsible for raising topics
to be discussed. They occupied one side of a three-sided fire (the
Mohawk and Seneca sat on one side of the fire, the Oneida and Cayuga
sat on the third side.)
* Elizabeth Tooker, an anthropologist , has said that it was
unlikely the US founding fathers were inspired by the confederacy, as
it bears little resemblance to the system of governance adopted in the
United States. For example, it is based on inherited rather than
elected leadership, selected by female members of the tribes,
consensus decision-making regardless of population size of the tribes,
and a single group capable of bringing matters before the legislative
* Long-distance trading did not prevent warfare and displacement
among the indigenous peoples, and their oral histories tell of
numerous migrations to the historic territories where Europeans
encountered them. The
Iroquois invaded and attacked tribes in the Ohio
River area of present-day Kentucky and claimed the hunting grounds.
Historians have placed these events as occurring as early as the 13th
century, or in the 17th century
Beaver Wars .
Kamehameha I , founder of the
Kingdom of Hawaii .
* Through warfare, the
Iroquois drove several tribes to migrate west
to what became known as their historically traditional lands west of
the Mississippi River. Tribes originating in the Ohio Valley who moved
west included the Osage , Kaw ,
Omaha people . By the
mid-17th century, they had resettled in their historical lands in
Oklahoma . The Osage
Caddo -speaking Native Americans, displacing them in turn
by the mid-18th century and dominating their new historical
NATIVE DEVELOPMENT IN HAWAII
History of Hawaii
Native development in
Hawaii begins with the settlement of
1st century to
10th century . Around 1200 AD
Tahitian explorers found and began settling the area as well. This
became the rise of the Hawaiian civilization and would be separated
from the rest of the world for another 500 years until the arrival of
the British. Europeans under the British explorer Captain James Cook
arrived in the Hawaiian Islands in 1778. Within five years of contact,
European military technology would help
Kamehameha I conquer most of
the people, and eventually unify the islands for the first time;
Kingdom of Hawaii .
Colonial history of the United States European
territorial claims in North America, c. 1750 France Great Britain
After a period of exploration sponsored by major European nations ,
the first successful English settlement was established in 1607.
Europeans brought horses, cattle, and hogs to the
Americas and, in
turn, took back to Europe maize, turkeys , potatoes, tobacco, beans,
and squash . Many explorers and early settlers died after being
exposed to new diseases in the Americas. The effects of new Eurasian
diseases carried by the colonists, especially smallpox and measles,
were much worse for the Native Americans, as they had no immunity to
them. They suffered epidemics and died in very large numbers, usually
before large-scale European settlement began. Their societies were
disrupted and hollowed out by the scale of deaths.
SPANISH, DUTCH, AND FRENCH COLONIZATION
Main articles: Spanish colonization of the
Americas , Dutch
colonization of the
Americas , and French colonization of the Americas
Spanish conquests of Continental
United States The Spaniard Juan
Ponce de León named Florida. The Spanish conquistador Coronado
explored parts of the
American Southwest from 1540 to 1542.
Spanish explorers were the first Europeans with Christopher Columbus
' second expedition , to reach
Puerto Rico on November 19, 1493;
Florida in 1513. Spanish expeditions quickly reached
Appalachian Mountains , the
Mississippi River , the
Great Plains . In 1540,
Hernando de Soto undertook an
extensive exploration of the Southeast.
Francisco Vásquez de Coronado explored from
central Kansas. Small Spanish settlements eventually grew to become
important cities, such as
San Antonio, Texas ; Albuquerque, New Mexico
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles, California ; and San Francisco,
New Netherland was a 17th-century Dutch colony centered on
New York City
New York City and the Hudson River Valley ; the Dutch
traded furs with the Native
Americans to the north. The colony served
as a barrier to expansion from
New England . Despite being Calvinists
and building the
Reformed Church in America , the Dutch were tolerant
of other religions and cultures.
The colony, which was taken over by Britain in 1664, left an enduring
legacy on American cultural and political life. This includes secular
broad-mindedness and mercantile pragmatism in the city as well as
rural traditionalism in the countryside (typified by the story of Rip
Van Winkle ). Notable
Americans of Dutch descent include Martin Van
Theodore Roosevelt ,
Franklin D. Roosevelt , Eleanor Roosevelt
and the Frelinghuysens .
New France was the area colonized by France from 1534 to 1763. There
were few permanent settlers outside
Acadia , but the French
had far-reaching trading relationships with Native Americans
Great Lakes and Midwest. French villages along the
Illinois rivers were based in farming communities that
served as a granary for Gulf Coast settlements. The French established
Louisiana along with settling
New Orleans , Mobile and
Wabanaki Confederacy were military allies of
New France through
French and Indian Wars while the British colonies were allied
Iroquois Confederacy . During the
French and Indian War
French and Indian War –
the North American theater of the Seven Years\' War – New England
fought successfully against French Acadia. The British removed
Nova Scotia ) and replaced them with New England
Planters . Eventually, some
Acadians resettled in Louisiana, where
they developed a distinctive rural
Cajun culture that still exists.
They became American citizens in 1803 with the
Louisiana Purchase .
Other French villages along the Mississippi and
Illinois rivers were
absorbed when the
Americans started arriving after 1770, or settlers
moved west to escape them. French influence and language in New
Louisiana and the Gulf Coast was more enduring; New Orleans
was notable for its large population of free people of color before
the Civil War.
Further information: British colonization of the
Mayflower , which transported Pilgrims to the New World. During the
first winter at Plymouth, about half of the Pilgrims died.
The strip of land along the eastern seacoast was settled primarily by
English colonists in the 17th century along with much smaller numbers
of Dutch and Swedes . Colonial America was defined by a severe labor
shortage that employed forms of unfree labor such as slavery and
indentured servitude and by a British policy of benign neglect
(salutary neglect ). Over half of all European immigrants to Colonial
America arrived as indentured servants.
Salutary neglect permitted
the development of an American spirit distinct from that of its
The first successful English colony, Jamestown , was established in
1607 on the James River in
Virginia . Jamestown languished for decades
until a new wave of settlers arrived in the late 17th century and
established commercial agriculture based on tobacco . Between the late
1610s and the Revolution, the British shipped an estimated 50,000
convicts to their American colonies. A severe instance of conflict
was the 1622
Powhatan uprising in
Virginia in which Native Americans
killed hundreds of English settlers. The largest conflicts between
Americans and English settlers in the 17th century were King
Philip\'s War in
New England and the
Yamasee War in South Carolina.
Jennie Augusta Brownscombe , The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth,
Pilgrim Hall Museum, Plymouth, Massachusetts
New England was initially settled primarily by
Puritans . The
Pilgrims established a settlement in 1620 at
Plymouth Colony , which
was followed by the establishment of the
Massachusetts Bay Colony
Massachusetts Bay Colony in
1630. The Middle Colonies, consisting of the present-day states of New
York , New Jersey , Pennsylvania , and Delaware , were characterized
by a large degree of diversity. The first attempted English settlement
Virginia was the
Province of Carolina , with Georgia Colony
– the last of the
Thirteen Colonies – established in 1733.
The Indian massacre of Jamestown settlers in 1622. Soon the colonists
in the South feared all natives as enemies.
The colonies were characterized by religious diversity, with many
Congregationalists in New England, German and Dutch Reformed in the
Middle Colonies, Catholics in Maryland, and Scots-Irish Presbyterians
on the frontier.
Sephardic Jews were among early settlers in cities of
New England and the South. Many immigrants arrived as religious
refugees: French Huguenots settled in New York,
Virginia and the
Carolinas. Many royal officials and merchants were Anglicans.
Religiosity expanded greatly after the
First Great Awakening , a
religious revival in the 1740s led by preachers such as Jonathan
George Whitefield . American Evangelicals affected by the
Awakening added a new emphasis on divine outpourings of the Holy
Spirit and conversions that implanted within new believers an intense
love for God. Revivals encapsulated those hallmarks and carried the
newly created evangelicalism into the early republic, setting the
stage for the
Second Great Awakening beginning in the late 1790s. In
the early stages, evangelicals in the South such as Methodists and
Baptists preached for religious freedom and abolition of slavery; they
converted many slaves and recognized some as preachers.
Each of the 13 American colonies had a slightly different
governmental structure. Typically, a colony was ruled by a governor
appointed from London who controlled the executive administration and
relied upon a locally elected legislature to vote taxes and make laws.
By the 18th century, the American colonies were growing very rapidly
as a result of low death rates along with ample supplies of land and
food. The colonies were richer than most parts of Britain, and
attracted a steady flow of immigrants, especially teenagers who
arrived as indentured servants.
The tobacco and rice plantations imported African slaves for labor
from the British colonies in the West Indies, and by the 1770s African
slaves comprised a fifth of the American population. The question of
independence from Britain did not arise as long as the colonies needed
British military support against the French and Spanish powers. Those
threats were gone by 1765. London regarded the American colonies as
existing for the benefit of the mother country. This policy is known
as mercantilism .
An upper-class, with wealth based on large plantations operated by
slave labor, and holding significant political power and even control
over the churches, emerged in
South Carolina and Virginia. A unique
class system operated in upstate New York, where Dutch tenant farmers
rented land from very wealthy Dutch proprietors, such as the
Rensselaer family. The other colonies were more equalitarian, with
Pennsylvania being representative. By the mid-18th century
Pennsylvania was basically a middle-class colony with limited
deference to its small upper-class. A writer in the Pennsylvania
Journal in 1756 summed it up:
The People of this Province are generally of the middling Sort, and
at present pretty much upon a Level. They are chiefly industrious
Farmers, Artificers or Men in Trade; they enjoy in are fond of
Freedom, and the meanest among them thinks he has a right to Civility
from the greatest.
POLITICAL INTEGRATION AND AUTONOMY
Join, or Die : This 1756 political cartoon by Benjamin Franklin
urged the colonies to join together during the French and Indian War.
French and Indian War
French and Indian War (1754–63) was a watershed event in the
political development of the colonies. It was also part of the larger
Seven Years\' War . The influence of the main rivals of the British
Crown in the colonies and Canada, the French and North American
Indians, was significantly reduced with the territory of the Thirteen
Colonies expanding into
New France both in
Canada and the Louisiana
Territory . Moreover, the war effort resulted in greater political
integration of the colonies, as reflected in the
Albany Congress and
Benjamin Franklin 's call for the colonies to "Join or
Die". Franklin was a man of many inventions – one of which was the
concept of a
United States of America, which emerged after 1765 and
was realized in July 1776.
Following Britain's acquisition of French territory in North America,
King George III
King George III issued the
Royal Proclamation of 1763 with the goal of
organizing the new North American empire and protecting the native
Indians from colonial expansion into western lands beyond the
Appalachian Mountains. In ensuing years, strains developed in the
relations between the colonists and the Crown. The British Parliament
Stamp Act of 1765 , imposing a tax on the colonies without
going through the colonial legislatures. The issue was drawn: did
Parliament have this right to tax
Americans who were not represented
in it? Crying "
No taxation without representation ", the colonists
refused to pay the taxes as tensions escalated in the late 1760s and
early 1770s. An 1846 painting of the 1773
Boston Tea Party
Boston Tea Party .
The population density in the
American Colonies in 1775.
Boston Tea Party
Boston Tea Party in 1773 was a direct action by activists in the
town of Boston to protest against the new tax on tea. Parliament
quickly responded the next year with the
Coercive Acts , stripping
Massachusetts of its historic right of self-government and putting it
under army rule, which sparked outrage and resistance in all thirteen
colonies. Patriot leaders from all 13 colonies convened the First
Continental Congress to coordinate their resistance to the Coercive
Acts. The Congress called for a boycott of British trade , published a
list of rights and grievances , and petitioned the king for redress of
those grievances. The appeal to the Crown had no effect, and so the
Second Continental Congress was convened in 1775 to organize the
defense of the colonies against the British Army.
Ordinary folk became insurgents against the British even though they
were unfamiliar with the ideological rationales being offered. They
held very strongly a sense of "rights" that they felt the British were
deliberately violating – rights that stressed local autonomy, fair
dealing, and government by consent. They were highly sensitive to the
issue of tyranny, which they saw manifested in the arrival in Boston
of the British Army to punish the Bostonians. This heightened their
sense of violated rights, leading to rage and demands for revenge.
They had faith that God was on their side.
American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War began at Concord and Lexington in
April 1775 when the British tried to seize ammunition supplies and
arrest the Patriot leaders.
In terms of political values, the
Americans were largely united on a
concept called Republicanism , that rejected aristocracy and
emphasized civic duty and a fear of corruption. For the Founding
Fathers, according to one team of historians, "republicanism
represented more than a particular form of government. It was a way of
life, a core ideology, an uncompromising commitment to liberty, and a
total rejection of aristocracy."
American Revolution and History of the United States
(1776–89) Washington\'s surprise crossing of the Delaware
River in Dec. 1776 was a major comeback after the loss of New York
City; his army defeated the British in two battles and recaptured New
Thirteen Colonies began a rebellion against British rule in 1775
and proclaimed their independence in 1776 as the
United States of
America. In the
American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War (1775–83) the American
captured the British invasion army at Saratoga in 1777 , secured the
Northeast and encouraged the French to make a military alliance with
the United States. France brought in Spain and the Netherlands, thus
balancing the military and naval forces on each side as Britain had no
George Washington (1732–99) proved an excellent organizer
and administrator, who worked successfully with Congress and the state
governors, selecting and mentoring his senior officers, supporting and
training his troops, and maintaining an idealistic Republican Army.
His biggest challenge was logistics, since neither Congress nor the
states had the funding to provide adequately for the equipment,
munitions, clothing, paychecks, or even the food supply of the
As a battlefield tactician, Washington was often outmaneuvered by his
British counterparts. As a strategist, however, he had a better idea
of how to win the war than they did. The British sent four invasion
armies. Washington's strategy forced the first army out of Boston in
1776, and was responsible for the surrender of the second and third
armies at Saratoga (1777) and Yorktown (1781). He limited the British
New York City
New York City and a few places while keeping Patriot
control of the great majority of the population. Trumbull\'s
Declaration of Independence
The Loyalists, whom the British counted upon too heavily, comprised
about 20% of the population but never were well organized. As the war
ended, Washington watched proudly as the final British army quietly
sailed out of
New York City
New York City in November 1783, taking the Loyalist
leadership with them. Washington astonished the world when, instead of
seizing power for himself, he retired quietly to his farm in Virginia.
Seymour Martin Lipset observes, "The United
States was the first major colony successfully to revolt against
colonial rule. In this sense, it was the first 'new nation'."
On July 4, 1776, the
Second Continental Congress , meeting in
Philadelphia , declared the independence of "the
United States of
America" in the Declaration of Independence . July 4 is celebrated as
the nation's birthday. The new nation was founded on Enlightenment
ideals of liberalism in what
Thomas Jefferson called the unalienable
rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", and dedicated
strongly to republican principles. Republicanism emphasized the people
are sovereign (not hereditary kings), demanded civic duty, feared
corruption, and rejected any aristocracy.
EARLY YEARS OF THE REPUBLIC
History of the United States (1789–1849) See also:
First Party System and
Second Party System
Second Party System
CONFEDERATION AND CONSTITUTION
Articles of Confederation
Articles of Confederation and History of the
United States Constitution Economic growth in America per capita
income. Index with 1700 set as 100.
In the 1780s the national government was able to settle the issue of
the western territories, which were ceded by the states to Congress
and became territories. With the migration of settlers to the
Northwest, soon they became states. Nationalists worried that the new
nation was too fragile to withstand an international war, or even
internal revolts such as the Shays\' Rebellion of 1786 in
Nationalists – most of them war veterans – organized in every
state and convinced Congress to call the
Philadelphia Convention in
1787. The delegates from every state wrote a new Constitution that
created a much more powerful and efficient central government, one
with a strong president, and powers of taxation. The new government
reflected the prevailing republican ideals of guarantees of individual
liberty and of constraining the power of government through a system
of separation of powers .
The Congress was given authority to ban the international slave trade
after 20 years (which it did in 1807). A compromise gave the South
Congressional apportionment out of proportion to its free population
by allowing it to include three-fifths of the number of slaves in each
state's total population. This provision increased the political power
of southern representatives in Congress, especially as slavery was
extended into the Deep South through removal of Native
transportation of slaves by an extensive domestic trade.
To assuage the Anti-Federalists who feared a too-powerful national
government, the nation adopted the
United States Bill of Rights in
1791. Comprising the first ten amendments of the Constitution, it
guaranteed individual liberties such as freedom of speech and
religious practice, jury trials, and stated that citizens and states
had reserved rights (which were not specified).
THE NEW CHIEF EXECUTIVE
George Washington legacy remains among the two or three greatest
in American history, as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army,
hero of the Revolution, and the first President of the United States.
George Washington – a renowned hero of the American Revolutionary
War , commander-in-chief of the
Continental Army , and president of
the Constitutional Convention – became the first President of the
United States under the new Constitution in 1789. The national capital
moved from New York to
Philadelphia and finally settled in Washington
DC in 1800.
The major accomplishments of the Washington Administration were
creating a strong national government that was recognized without
question by all Americans. His government, following the vigorous
leadership of Treasury Secretary
Alexander Hamilton , assumed the
debts of the states (the debt holders received federal bonds), created
the Bank of the
United States to stabilize the financial system, and
set up a uniform system of tariffs (taxes on imports) and other taxes
to pay off the debt and provide a financial infrastructure. To support
his programs Hamilton created a new political party – the first in
the world based on voters – the Federalist Party .
Thomas Jefferson and
James Madison formed an opposition Republican
Party (usually called the
Democratic-Republican Party by political
scientists). Hamilton and Washington presented the country in 1794
Jay Treaty that reestablished good relations with Britain.
The Jeffersonians vehemently protested, and the voters aligned behind
one party or the other, thus setting up the
First Party System .
Depiction of election-day activities in
Philadelphia by John Lewis
Krimmel , 1815
Federalists promoted business, financial and commercial interests and
wanted more trade with Britain. Republicans accused the Federalists of
plans to establish a monarchy, turn the rich into a ruling class, and
United States a pawn of the British. The treaty passed,
but politics became intensely heated.
Whiskey Rebellion in 1794, when western settlers protested
against a federal tax on liquor, was the first serious test of the
federal government. Washington called out the state militia and
personally led an army, as the insurgents melted away and the power of
the national government was firmly established.
Washington refused to serve more than two terms – setting a
precedent – and in his famous farewell address , he extolled the
benefits of federal government and importance of ethics and morality
while warning against foreign alliances and the formation of political
John Adams , a Federalist, defeated Jefferson in the 1796 election.
War loomed with France and the Federalists used the opportunity to try
to silence the Republicans with the
Alien and Sedition Acts , build up
a large army with Hamilton at the head, and prepare for a French
invasion. However, the Federalists became divided after Adams sent a
successful peace mission to France that ended the
Quasi-War of 1798.
Main article: Slavery in the
United States Slaves Waiting for
Sale: Richmond, Virginia. Painted upon the sketch of 1853
During the first two decades after the Revolutionary War, there were
dramatic changes in the status of slavery among the states and an
increase in the number of freed blacks . Inspired by revolutionary
ideals of the equality of men and influenced by their lesser economic
reliance on slavery, northern states abolished slavery.
States of the
Upper South made manumission easier, resulting in an
increase in the proportion of free blacks in the
Upper South (as a
percentage of the total non-white population) from less than one
percent in 1792 to more than 10 percent by 1810. By that date, a total
of 13.5 percent of all blacks in the
United States were free. After
that date, with the demand for slaves on the rise because of the Deep
South's expanding cotton cultivation, the number of manumissions
declined sharply; and an internal U.S. slave trade became an important
source of wealth for many planters and traders.
In 1809, president
James Madison severed the U.S.A.'s involvement
Atlantic slave trade
Atlantic slave trade .
JEFFERSONIAN REPUBLICAN ERA
Jefferson saw himself as a man of the frontier and a scientist;
he was keenly interested in expanding and exploring the West.
Jefferson's major achievement as president was the
in 1803, which provided U.S. settlers with vast potential for
expansion west of the Mississippi River.
Jefferson, a scientist himself, supported expeditions to explore and
map the new domain, most notably the
Lewis and Clark Expedition
Lewis and Clark Expedition .
Jefferson believed deeply in republicanism and argued it should be
based on the independent yeoman farmer and planter; he distrusted
cities, factories and banks. He also distrusted the federal government
and judges, and tried to weaken the judiciary. However he met his
John Marshall , a Federalist from Virginia. Although the
Constitution specified a Supreme Court , its functions were vague
until Marshall, the Chief Justice (1801–35), defined them,
especially the power to overturn acts of Congress or states that
violated the Constitution, first enunciated in 1803 in Marbury v.
WAR OF 1812
War of 1812
War of 1812 Territorial expansion; Louisiana
Purchase in white.
Thomas Jefferson defeated Adams for the presidency in the 1800
Americans were increasingly angry at the British violation
of American ships' neutral rights in order to hurt France, the
impressment (seizure) of 10,000 American sailors needed by the Royal
Navy to fight Napoleon, and British support for hostile Indians
attacking American settlers in the Midwest. They may also have desired
to annex all or part of British North America. Despite strong
opposition from the Northeast, especially from Federalists who did not
want to disrupt trade with Britain, Congress declared war on June 18,
1812. Oliver Hazard Perry's message to William Henry Harrison
after the Battle of Lake Erie began with what would become one of the
most famous sentences in American military history: "We have met the
enemy and they are ours". This 1865 painting by William H. Powell
shows Perry transferring to a different ship during the battle.
The war was frustrating for both sides. Both sides tried to invade
the other and were repulsed. The American high command remained
incompetent until the last year. The American militia proved
ineffective because the soldiers were reluctant to leave home and
efforts to invade
Canada repeatedly failed. The British blockade
ruined American commerce, bankrupted the Treasury, and further angered
New Englanders, who smuggled supplies to Britain. The
William Henry Harrison finally gained naval control of Lake
Erie and defeated the Indians under
Tecumseh in Canada, while Andrew
Jackson ended the Indian threat in the Southeast. The Indian threat to
expansion into the Midwest was permanently ended. The British invaded
and occupied much of Maine.
The British raided and burned Washington, but were repelled at
Baltimore in 1814 – where the "Star Spangled Banner" was written to
celebrate the American success. In upstate New York a major British
invasion of New York State was turned back. Finally in early 1815
Andrew Jackson decisively defeated a major British invasion at the
New Orleans , making him the most famous war hero.
With Napoleon (apparently) gone, the causes of the war had evaporated
and both sides agreed to a peace that left the prewar boundaries
Americans claimed victory on February 18, 1815 as news came
almost simultaneously of Jackson's victory of
New Orleans and the
peace treaty that left the prewar boundaries in place. Americans
swelled with pride at success in the "second war of independence"; the
naysayers of the antiwar Federalist Party were put to shame and the
party never recovered. The Indians were the big losers; they never
gained the independent nationhood Britain had promised and no longer
posed a serious threat as settlers poured into the Midwest.
ERA OF GOOD FEELINGS
Era of Good Feelings
Era of Good Feelings
As strong opponents of the war, the Federalists held the Hartford
Convention in 1814 that hinted at disunion. National euphoria after
the victory at
New Orleans ruined the prestige of the Federalists and
they no longer played a significant role as a political party.
President Madison and most Republicans realized they were foolish to
let the Bank of the
United States close down, for its absence greatly
hindered the financing of the war. So, with the assistance of foreign
bankers, they chartered the Second Bank of the
United States in 1816.
The Republicans also imposed tariffs designed to protect the infant
industries that had been created when Britain was blockading the U.S.
With the collapse of the Federalists as a party, the adoption of many
Federalist principles by the Republicans, and the systematic policy of
James Monroe in his two terms (1817–25) to downplay
partisanship, the nation entered an
Era of Good Feelings , with far
less partisanship than before (or after), and closed out the First
Party System .
Monroe Doctrine , expressed in 1823, proclaimed the United
States' opinion that European powers should no longer colonize or
interfere in the Americas. This was a defining moment in the foreign
policy of the
United States . The
Monroe Doctrine was adopted in
response to American and British fears over Russian and French
expansion into the
Western Hemisphere .
In 1832, President
Andrew Jackson , 7th President of the United
States, ran for a second term under the slogan "Jackson and no bank"
and did not renew the charter of the Second Bank of the United States
of America, ending the Bank in 1836. Jackson was convinced that
central banking was used by the elite to take advantage of the average
American, and instead implemented state banks, popularly known as "pet
Indian removal Settlers crossing the Plains of
In 1830, Congress passed the
Indian Removal Act , which authorized
the president to negotiate treaties that exchanged Native American
tribal lands in the eastern states for lands west of the Mississippi
River. Its goal was primarily to remove Native Americans, including
Five Civilized Tribes
Five Civilized Tribes , from the American Southeast; they occupied
land that settlers wanted. Jacksonian Democrats demanded the forcible
removal of native populations who refused to acknowledge state laws to
reservations in the West; Whigs and religious leaders opposed the move
as inhumane. Thousands of deaths resulted from the relocations, as
seen in the
Trail of Tears . Many of the
Seminole Indians in
Florida refused to move west; they fought the Army for years in the
Seminole Wars .
SECOND PARTY SYSTEM
Second Party System
Second Party System and Presidency of
First Party System of Federalists and Republicans withered
away in the 1820s, the stage was set for the emergence of a new party
system based on well organized local parties that appealed for the
votes of (almost) all adult white men. The former Jeffersonian
(Democratic-Republican) party split into factions. They split over the
choice of a successor to President
James Monroe , and the party
faction that supported many of the old Jeffersonian principles, led by
Andrew Jackson and
Martin Van Buren , became the Democratic Party. As
Norton explains the transformation in 1828:
Jacksonians believed the people's will had finally prevailed. Through
a lavishly financed coalition of state parties, political leaders, and
newspaper editors, a popular movement had elected the president. The
Democrats became the nation's first well-organized national
party...and tight party organization became the hallmark of
nineteenth-century American politics.
Opposing factions led by
Henry Clay helped form the Whig Party . The
Democratic Party had a small but decisive advantage over the Whigs
until the 1850s, when the Whigs fell apart over the issue of slavery.
Behind the platforms issued by state and national parties stood a
widely shared political outlook that characterized the Democrats:
Horace Greeley 's New York Tribune—the leading Whig paper—endorsed
Clay for President and Fillmore for Governor, 1844.
The Democrats represented a wide range of views but shared a
fundamental commitment to the Jeffersonian concept of an agrarian
society. They viewed the central government as the enemy of individual
liberty. The 1824 "corrupt bargain" had strengthened their suspicion
of Washington politics. ... Jacksonians feared the concentration of
economic and political power. They believed that government
intervention in the economy benefited special-interest groups and
created corporate monopolies that favored the rich. They sought to
restore the independence of the individual (the "common man," i.e. the
artisan and the ordinary farmer) by ending federal support of banks
and corporations and restricting the use of paper currency, which they
distrusted. Their definition of the proper role of government tended
to be negative, and Jackson's political power was largely expressed in
negative acts. He exercised the veto more than all previous presidents
combined. Jackson and his supporters also opposed reform as a
movement. Reformers eager to turn their programs into legislation
called for a more active government. But Democrats tended to oppose
programs like educational reform mid the establishment of a public
education system. They believed, for instance, that public schools
restricted individual liberty by interfering with parental
responsibility and undermined freedom of religion by replacing church
schools. Nor did Jackson share reformers' humanitarian concerns. He
had no sympathy for American Indians, initiating the removal of the
Cherokees along the Trail of Tears.
SECOND GREAT AWAKENING
Second Great Awakening A drawing of a Protestant
camp meeting, 1829.
Second Great Awakening was a Protestant revival movement that
affected the entire nation during the early 19th century and led to
rapid church growth. The movement began around 1790, gained momentum
by 1800, and, after 1820 membership rose rapidly among Baptist and
Methodist congregations, whose preachers led the movement. It was past
its peak by the 1840s.
It enrolled millions of new members in existing evangelical
denominations and led to the formation of new denominations. Many
converts believed that the Awakening heralded a new millennial age .
Second Great Awakening stimulated the establishment of many reform
movements – including abolitionism and temperance designed to remove
the evils of society before the anticipated
Second Coming of Jesus
Main article: Abolitionism in the
After 1840 the growing abolitionist movement redefined itself as a
crusade against the sin of slave ownership. It mobilized support
(especially among religious women in the Northeast affected by the
Second Great Awakening ).
William Lloyd Garrison , a radical
abolitionist, published the most influential of the many anti-slavery
newspapers, The Liberator , while
Frederick Douglass , an ex-slave,
began writing for that newspaper around 1840 and started his own
abolitionist newspaper North Star in 1847. The great majority of
anti-slavery activists, such as Abraham Lincoln, rejected Garrison's
theology and held that slavery was an unfortunate social evil, not a
WESTWARD EXPANSION AND MANIFEST DESTINY
The American colonies and the new nation grew rapidly in population
and area, as pioneers pushed the frontier of settlement west. The
process finally ended around 1890–1912 as the last major farmlands
and ranch lands were settled. Native American tribes in some places
resisted militarily, but they were overwhelmed by settlers and the
army and after 1830 were relocated to reservations in the west. The
highly influential "
Frontier Thesis " of Wisconsin historian Frederick
Jackson Turner argues that the frontier shaped the national character,
with its boldness, violence, innovation, individualism , and
California Gold Rush
California Gold Rush news of gold brought some
300,000 people to California from the rest of the
United States and
Recent historians have emphasized the multicultural nature of the
frontier. Enormous popular attention in the media focuses on the "Wild
West" of the second half of the 19th century. As defined by Hine and
Faragher, "frontier history tells the story of the creation and
defense of communities, the use of the land, the development of
markets, and the formation of states". They explain, "It is a tale of
conquest, but also one of survival, persistence, and the merging of
peoples and cultures that gave birth and continuing life to America."
The first settlers in the west were the Spanish in New Mexico; they
became U.S. citizens in 1848. The Hispanics in California
Californios ") were overwhelmed by over 100,000 gold rush miners.
California grew explosively. San Francisco by 1880 had become the
economic hub of the entire
Pacific Coast with a diverse population of
a quarter million.
From the early 1830s to 1869, the
Oregon Trail and its many offshoots
were used by over 300,000 settlers. '49ers (in the California Gold
Rush ), ranchers, farmers, and entrepreneurs and their families headed
to California, Oregon, and other points in the far west. Wagon-trains
took five or six months on foot; after 1869, the trip took 6 days by
Manifest Destiny was the belief that American settlers were destined
to expand across the continent. This concept was born out of "A sense
of mission to redeem the Old World by high example ... generated by
the potentialities of a new earth for building a new heaven."
Manifest Destiny was rejected by modernizers, especially the Whigs
Henry Clay and
Abraham Lincoln who wanted to build cities and
factories – not more farms. Democrats strongly favored expansion,
and won the key election of 1844. After a bitter debate in Congress
the Republic of Texas was annexed in 1845, leading to war with Mexico,
who considered Texas to be a part of
Mexico due to the large numbers
of Mexican settlers. The American occupation of
Mexico City in
Mexican–American War (1846–48) broke out with the Whigs
opposed to the war, and the Democrats supporting the war. The U.S.
army, using regulars and large numbers of volunteers, defeated the
Mexican armies, invaded at several points, captured
Mexico City and
won decisively. The
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the war in 1848.
Many Democrats wanted to annex all of Mexico, but that idea was
rejected by southerners who argued that by incorporating millions of
Mexican people, mainly of mixed race, would undermine the United
States as an exclusively white republic. Instead the U.S. took Texas
and the lightly settled northern parts (California and New Mexico).
The Hispanic residents were given full citizenship and the Mexican
Indians became American Indians . Simultaneously, gold was discovered
in California in 1849, attracting over 100,000 men to northern
California in a matter of months in the
California Gold Rush
California Gold Rush . A
peaceful compromise with Britain gave the U.S. ownership of the Oregon
Country , which was renamed the
Oregon Territory .
DIVISIONS BETWEEN NORTH AND SOUTH
Main article: Origins of the
American Civil War
American Civil War United States
map, 1863 Union states Union territories not permitting slavery
Border Union states, permitting slavery Confederate states Union
territories permitting slavery (claimed by Confederacy)
The central issue after 1848 was the expansion of slavery, pitting
the anti-slavery elements in the North, against the pro-slavery
elements that dominated the South. A small number of active
Northerners were abolitionists who declared that ownership of slaves
was a sin (in terms of Protestant theology) and demanded its immediate
abolition. Much larger numbers in the North were against the expansion
of slavery, seeking to put it on the path to extinction so that
America would be committed to free land (as in low-cost farms owned
and cultivated by a family), free labor, and free speech (as opposed
to censorship of abolitionist material in the South). Southern whites
insisted that slavery was of economic, social, and cultural benefit to
all whites (and even to the slaves themselves), and denounced all
anti-slavery spokesmen as "abolitionists." Justifications of slavery
included economics, history, religion, legality, social good, and even
humanitarianism, to further their arguments. Defenders of slavery
argued that the sudden end to the slave economy would have had a
profound and killing economic impact in the South where reliance on
slave labor was the foundation of their economy. They also argued that
if all the slaves were freed, there would be widespread unemployment
Religious activists split on slavery, with the Methodists and
Baptists dividing into northern and southern denominations. In the
North, the Methodists, Congregationalists, and Quakers included many
abolitionists, especially among women activists. (The Catholic,
Episcopal and Lutheran denominations largely ignored the slavery
The issue of slavery in the new territories was seemingly settled by
Compromise of 1850 , brokered by Whig
Henry Clay and Democrat
Stephen Douglas ; the Compromise included the admission of California
as a free state in exchange for no federal restrictions on slavery
New Mexico . The point of contention was the
Fugitive Slave Act , which increased federal enforcement and required
even free states to cooperate in turning over fugitive slaves to their
owners. Abolitionists pounced on the Act to attack slavery, as in the
best-selling anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom\'s Cabin by Harriet Beecher
Compromise of 1820 was repealed in 1854 with the
Nebraska Act , promoted by Senator Douglas in the name of
"popular sovereignty " and democracy. It permitted voters to decide on
the legality slavery in each territory, and allowed Douglas to adopt
neutrality on the issue of slavery. Anti-slavery forces rose in anger
and alarm, forming the new Republican Party . Pro- and anti-
contingents rushed to
Kansas to vote slavery up or down, resulting in
a miniature civil war called Bleeding
Kansas . By the late 1850s, the
young Republican Party dominated nearly all northern states and thus
the electoral college. It insisted that slavery would never be allowed
to expand (and thus would slowly die out).
The Southern slavery-based societies had become wealthy based on
their cotton and other agricultural commodity production, and some
particularly profited from the internal slave trade. Northern cities
such as Boston and New York, and regional industries, were tied
economically to slavery by banking, shipping, and manufacturing,
including textile mills . By 1860, there were four million slaves in
the South , nearly eight times as many as there were nationwide in
1790. The plantations were highly profitable, due to the heavy
European demand for raw cotton. Most of the profits were invested in
new lands and in purchasing more slaves (largely drawn from the
declining tobacco regions). The United States, immediately before
the Civil War. All of the lands east of, or bordering, the Mississippi
River were organized as states in the Union, but the West was still
For 50 of the nation's first 72 years, a slaveholder served as
President of the
United States and, during that period, only
slaveholding presidents were re-elected to second terms. In addition,
southern states benefited by their increased apportionment in Congress
due to the partial counting of slaves in their populations.
Slave rebellions, by
Gabriel Prosser (1800),
Denmark Vesey (1822),
Nat Turner (1831), and most famously by John Brown (1859), caused fear
in the white South, which imposed stricter oversight of slaves and
reduced the rights of free blacks . The
Fugitive Slave Act of 1850
required the states to cooperate with slave owners when attempting to
recover escaped slaves, which outraged Northerners. Formerly, an
escaped slave that reached a non-slave state was presumed to have
attained sanctuary and freedom under the
Missouri Compromise . The
Supreme Court's 1857 decision in
Dred Scott v. Sandford ruled that the
Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional; angry Republicans said this
decision threatened to make slavery a national institution.
Abraham Lincoln won the 1860 election , seven Southern states
seceded from the union and set up a new nation, the Confederate States
of America (Confederacy), on February 8, 1861. It attacked Fort Sumter
, a U.S. Army fort in South Carolina, thus igniting the war. When
Lincoln called for troops to suppress the Confederacy in April 1861,
four more states seceded and joined the Confederacy. A few of the
(northernmost) "slave states " did not secede and became known as the
border states ; these were Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri.
During the war, the northwestern portion of
Virginia seceded from the
Confederacy. and became the new Union state of West
Virginia . West
Virginia is usually associated with the border states .
American Civil War
American Civil War The Union had large advantages
in men and resources at the start of the war. The ratio grew steadily
in favor of the Union.
The Civil War began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate forces
attacked a U.S. military installation at
Fort Sumter in South Carolina
. In response to the attack, on April 15, Lincoln called on the states
to send detachments totaling 75,000 troops to recapture forts, protect
the capital, and "preserve the Union", which in his view still existed
intact despite the actions of the seceding states. The two armies had
their first major clash at the
First Battle of Bull Run (Battle of
Manassas), ending in a Union defeat, but, more importantly, proved to
both the Union and Confederacy that the war would be much longer and
bloodier than originally anticipated. Lincoln with Allan
Pinkerton and Major General
John Alexander McClernand at the Battle of
The war soon divided into two theaters: Eastern and Western . In the
western theater, the Union was quite successful, with major battles,
such as Perryville and Shiloh , producing strategic Union victories
and destroying major Confederate operations. Irish anger at the
draft led to the
New York Draft Riots
New York Draft Riots of 1863, one of the worst
incidents of civil unrest in American history.
Warfare in the Eastern theater began poorly for the Union as the
Confederates won at Manassas Junction (Bull Run), just outside
Washington. Major General
George B. McClellan was put in charge of the
Union armies. After reorganizing the new
Army of the Potomac ,
McClellan failed to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond,
Virginia in his
Peninsula Campaign and retreated after attacks from
newly appointed Confederate General
Robert E. Lee .
Feeling confident in his army after defeating the Union at Second
Bull Run , Lee embarked on an invasion of the north that was stopped
by McClellan at the bloody
Battle of Antietam
Battle of Antietam . Despite this,
McClellan was relieved from command for refusing to pursue Lee's
crippled army. The next commander, General
Ambrose Burnside , suffered
a humiliating defeat by Lee's smaller army at the Battle of
Fredericksburg late in 1862, causing yet another change in commanders.
Lee won again at the
Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863, while
losing his top aide,
Stonewall Jackson . But Lee pushed too hard and
ignored the Union threat in the west. Lee invaded Pennsylvania in
search of supplies and to cause war-weariness in the North. In perhaps
the turning point of the war , Lee's army was badly beaten at the
Battle of Gettysburg
Battle of Gettysburg , July 1–3, 1863, and barely made it back to
Battle of Franklin , November 30, 1864.
Simultaneously on July 4, 1863, Union forces under the command of
Ulysses S. Grant gained control of the
Mississippi River at
Battle of Vicksburg , thereby splitting the Confederacy. Lincoln
made General Grant commander of all Union armies.
The last two years of the war were bloody for both sides, with Grant
launching a war of attrition against General Lee's Army of Northern
Virginia . This war of attrition was divided into three main
campaigns. The first of these, the
Overland Campaign forced Lee to
retreat into the city of Petersburg where Grant launched his second
major offensive, the
Richmond-Petersburg Campaign in which he besieged
Petersburg . After a near ten-month siege, Petersburg surrendered.
However, the defense of Fort Gregg allowed Lee to move his army out of
Petersburg. Grant pursued and launched the final, Appomattox Campaign
which resulted in Lee surrendering his Army of Northern
April 9, 1865, at Appomattox Court House . Other Confederate armies
followed suit and the war ended with no postwar insurgency.
Based on 1860 census figures, about 8% of all white males aged 13 to
43 died in the war, including 6% from the North and 18% from the
South, establishing the
American Civil War
American Civil War as the deadliest war in
American history. Its legacy includes ending slavery in the United
States, restoring the Union, and strengthening the role of the federal
See also: Military history of African
Americans in the American Civil
Emancipation Proclamation First Reading of
Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln by Francis Bicknell
(People in the image are clickable.)
Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order issued by
Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863. In a single stroke it
changed the legal status, as recognized by the U.S. government, of 3
million slaves in designated areas of the Confederacy from "slave" to
"free." It had the practical effect that as soon as a slave escaped
the control of the Confederate government, by running away or through
advances of federal troops, the slave became legally and actually
free. The owners were never compensated. Plantation owners, realizing
that emancipation would destroy their economic system, sometimes moved
their slaves as far as possible out of reach of the Union army. By
June 1865, the Union Army controlled all of the Confederacy and
liberated all of the designated slaves. Large numbers moved into
camps run by the Freedmen\'s Bureau , where they were given food,
shelter, medical care, and arrangements for their employment were
The severe dislocations of war and Reconstruction had a large
negative impact on the black population, with a large amount of
sickness and death.
Reconstruction Era See also: History of the United
Freedmen voting in New Orleans, 1867.
Reconstruction lasted from Lincoln's
Emancipation Proclamation of
January 1, 1863 to the
Compromise of 1877
Compromise of 1877 .
The major issues faced by Lincoln were the status of the ex-slaves
(called "Freedmen"), the loyalty and civil rights of ex-rebels, the
status of the 11 ex-Confederate states, the powers of the federal
government needed to prevent a future civil war, and the question of
whether Congress or the President would make the major decisions.
The severe threats of starvation and displacement of the unemployed
Freedmen were met by the first major federal relief agency, the
Freedmen\'s Bureau , operated by the Army.
Reconstruction Amendments " were passed to expand civil rights
for black Americans: the Thirteenth Amendment outlawed slavery; the
Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed equal rights for all and citizenship
for blacks; the Fifteenth Amendment prevented race from being used to
Ex-Confederates remained in control of most Southern states for over
two years, but changed when the
Radical Republicans gained control of
Congress in the 1866 elections. President
Andrew Johnson , who sought
easy terms for reunions with ex-rebels, was virtually powerless in the
face of the Radical Republican Congress; he was impeached but it
failed by one vote. Congress enfranchised black men and temporarily
stripped many ex-Confederate leaders of the right to hold office. New
Republican governments came to power based on a coalition of Freedmen
made up of
Carpetbaggers (new arrivals from the North), and Scalawags
(native white Southerners). They were backed by the US Army. Opponents
said they were corrupt and violated the rights of whites.
Atlanta's railyard and roundhouse in ruins shortly after the end of
the Civil War
State by state they lost power to a conservative-Democratic
coalition, which gained control of the entire South by 1877. In
response to Radical Reconstruction, the
Ku Klux Klan (KKK) emerged in
1867 as a white-supremacist organization opposed to black civil rights
and Republican rule. President Ulysses Grant's vigorous enforcement of
Ku Klux Klan Act of 1870 shut down the Klan, and it disbanded.
Paramilitary groups, such as the
White League and Red Shirts emerged
about 1874 that worked openly to use intimidation and violence to
suppress black voting to regain white political power in states across
the South during the 1870s. Rable described them as the military arm
of the Democratic Party.
Reconstruction ended after the disputed 1876 election . The
Compromise of 1877
Compromise of 1877 gave Republican candidate
Rutherford B. Hayes the
White House in exchange for removing all remaining federal troops in
the South. The federal government withdrew its troops from the South,
and Southern Democrats took control of every Southern state. From
1890 to 1908, southern states effectively disfranchised most black
voters and many poor whites by making voter registration more
difficult through poll taxes , literacy tests , and other arbitrary
devices. They passed segregation laws and imposed second-class status
on blacks in a system known as Jim Crow that lasted until the Civil
Rights Movement .
THE WEST AND THE GILDED AGE
Gilded Age The completion of the Transcontinental
Railroad (1869) at
First Transcontinental Railroad , by Andrew J.
The latter half of the nineteenth century was marked by the rapid
development and settlement of the far West, first by wagon trains and
riverboats and then aided by the completion of the transcontinental
railroad . Large numbers of European immigrants (especially from
Germany and Scandinavia) took up low-cost or free farms in the Prairie
States. Mining for silver and copper opened up the Mountain West. The
United States Army fought frequent small-scale wars with Native
Americans as settlers encroached on their traditional lands. Gradually
the US purchased the Native American tribal lands and extinguished
their claims, forcing most tribes onto subsidized reservations .
According to the
U.S. Bureau of the Census (1894), from 1789 to 1894:
The Indian wars under the government of the
United States have been
more than 40 in number. They have cost the lives of about 19,000 white
men, women and children, including those killed in individual combats,
and the lives of about 30,000 Indians. The actual number of killed and
wounded Indians must be very much higher than the given... Fifty
percent additional would be a safe estimate...
The "Gilded Age" was a term that
Mark Twain used to describe the
period of the late 19th century with a dramatic expansion of American
wealth and prosperity, underscored by the mass corruption in the
government. Reforms of the Age included the Civil Service Act , which
mandated a competitive examination for applicants for government jobs.
Other important legislation included the
Interstate Commerce Act ,
which ended railroads' discrimination against small shippers, and the
Sherman Antitrust Act
Sherman Antitrust Act , which outlawed monopolies in business. Twain
believed that this age was corrupted by such elements as land
speculators, scandalous politics, and unethical business practices.
Since the days of
Charles A. Beard
Charles A. Beard and
Matthew Josephson , some
historians have argued that the
United States was effectively
plutocratic for at least part of the
Gilded Age and
Progressive Era .
As financiers and industrialists such as
J.P. Morgan and John D.
Rockefeller began to amass vast fortunes, many US observers were
concerned that the nation was losing its pioneering egalitarian
By 1890 American industrial production and per capita income exceeded
those of all other world nations. In response to heavy debts and
decreasing farm prices, wheat and cotton farmers joined the Populist
Party . An unprecedented wave of immigration from Europe served to
both provide the labor for American industry and create diverse
communities in previously undeveloped areas. From 1880 to 1914, peak
years of immigration, more than 22 million people migrated to the
United States. Most were unskilled workers who quickly found jobs in
mines, mills, factories. Many immigrants were craftsmen (especially
from Britain and Germany) bringing human skills, and others were
farmers (especially from Germany and Scandinavia) who purchased
inexpensive land on the Prairies from railroads who sent agents to
Europe. Poverty, growing inequality and dangerous working conditions,
along with socialist and anarchist ideas diffusing from European
immigrants, led to the rise of the labor movement , which often
included violent strikes.
Skilled workers banded together to control their crafts and raise
wages by forming labor unions in industrial areas of the Northeast.
Before the 1930s few factory workers joined the unions in the labor
Samuel Gompers led the American Federation of Labor
(1886–1924), coordinating multiple unions. Industrial growth was
rapid, led by
John D. Rockefeller
John D. Rockefeller in oil and
Andrew Carnegie in steel;
both became leaders of philanthropy (Gospel of Wealth ), giving away
their fortunes to create the modern system of hospitals, universities,
libraries, and foundations. Mulberry Street, along which
Manhattan's Little Italy is centered. Lower East Side , circa 1900.
Almost 97% of residents of the 10 largest American cities of 1900 were
Panic of 1893 broke out and was a severe nationwide depression
impacting farmers, workers, and businessmen who saw prices, wages, and
profits fall. Many railroads went bankrupt. The resultant political
reaction fell on the Democratic Party, whose leader President Grover
Cleveland shouldered much of the blame. Labor unrest involved numerous
strikes, most notably the violent
Pullman Strike of 1894, which was
shut down by federal troops under Cleveland's orders. The Populist
Party gained strength among cotton and wheat farmers, as well as coal
miners, but was overtaken by the even more popular Free Silver
movement, which demanded using silver to enlarge the money supply,
leading to inflation that the silverites promised would end the
The financial, railroad, and business communities fought back hard,
arguing that only the gold standard would save the economy. In the
most intense election in the nation's history, conservative Republican
William McKinley defeated silverite
William Jennings Bryan , who ran
on the Democratic, Populist, and Silver Republican tickets. Bryan
swept the South and West, but McKinley ran up landslides among the
middle class, industrial workers, cities, and among upscale farmers in
Prosperity returned under McKinley, the gold standard was enacted,
and the tariff was raised. By 1900 the US had the strongest economy on
the globe. Apart from two short recessions (in 1907 and 1920) the
overall economy remained prosperous and growing until 1929.
Republicans, citing McKinley's policies, took the credit.
Progressive Era American children of many ethnic
backgrounds celebrate noisily in a 1902 Puck cartoon.
Dissatisfaction on the part of the growing middle class with the
corruption and inefficiency of politics as usual, and the failure to
deal with increasingly important urban and industrial problems, led to
Progressive Movement starting in the 1890s. In every major
city and state, and at the national level as well, and in education,
medicine, and industry, the progressives called for the modernization
and reform of decrepit institutions, the elimination of corruption in
politics, and the introduction of efficiency as a criterion for
change. Leading politicians from both parties, most notably Theodore
Charles Evans Hughes
Charles Evans Hughes , and Robert La Follette on the
Republican side, and
William Jennings Bryan and
Woodrow Wilson on the
Democratic side, took up the cause of progressive reform. Women became
especially involved in demands for woman suffrage, prohibition, and
better schools; their most prominent leader was
Jane Addams of
Chicago, who created settlement houses . "Muckraking" journalists such
Upton Sinclair ,
Lincoln Steffens and
Jacob Riis exposed corruption
in business and government along with rampant inner city poverty.
Progressives implemented anti-trust laws and regulated such industries
of meat-packing, drugs, and railroads. Four new constitutional
amendments – the Sixteenth through Nineteenth – resulted from
progressive activism, bringing the federal income tax, direct election
of Senators, prohibition, and woman suffrage. The Progressive
Movement lasted through the 1920s; the most active period was
American imperialism This cartoon reflects
the view of Judge magazine regarding America's imperial ambitions
following a quick victory in the
Spanish–American War of 1898. The
American flag flies from the
Hawaii in the Pacific to
Puerto Rico in the Caribbean.
United States emerged as a world economic and military power
after 1890. The main episode was the
Spanish–American War , which
began when Spain refused American demands to reform its oppressive
Cuba . The "splendid little war", as one official called
it, involved a series of quick American victories on land and at sea.
At the Treaty of Paris peace conference the
United States acquired the
Puerto Rico , and
Cuba became an independent country, under close American tutelage.
Although the war itself was widely popular, the peace terms proved
William Jennings Bryan led his Democratic Party in
opposition to control of the Philippines, which he denounced as
imperialism unbecoming to American democracy. President William
McKinley defended the acquisition and was riding high as the nation
had returned to prosperity and felt triumphant in the war. McKinley
easily defeated Bryan in a rematch in the 1900 presidential election .
After defeating an insurrection by Filipino nationalists , the United
States engaged in a large-scale program to modernize the economy of
Philippines and dramatically upgrade the public health facilities.
By 1908, however,
Americans lost interest in an empire and turned
their international attention to the Caribbean, especially the
building of the
Panama Canal . In 1912 when
Arizona became the final
mainland state , the
American Frontier came to an end. The canal
opened in 1914 and increased trade with
Japan and the rest of the Far
East. A key innovation was the
Open Door Policy , whereby the imperial
powers were given equal access to Chinese business, with not one of
them allowed to take control of China.
WORLD WAR I
Main articles: American entry into
World War I
World War I and
United States home
World War I
World War I American Cemetery at
World War I
World War I raged in Europe from 1914, President Woodrow Wilson
took full control of foreign policy, declaring neutrality but warning
Germany that resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare against
American ships supplying goods to Allied nations would mean war.
Germany decided to take the risk and try to win by cutting off
supplies to Britain through the sinking of ships such as the RMS
Lusitania ; the U.S. declared war in April 1917 mainly from the threat
of the Zimmermann telegram . American money, food, and munitions
arrived quickly, but troops had to be drafted and trained; by summer
1918 American soldiers under General
John J. Pershing arrived at the
rate of 10,000 a day, while Germany was unable to replace its losses.
The result was Allied victory in November 1918. President Wilson
demanded Germany depose the Kaiser and accept his terms in the famed
Fourteen Points speech. Wilson dominated the 1919 Paris Peace
Conference but Germany was treated harshly by the Allies in the Treaty
of Versailles (1919) as Wilson put all his hopes in the new League of
Nations . Wilson refused to compromise with Senate Republicans over
the issue of Congressional power to declare war, and the Senate
rejected the Treaty and the League.
Further information: Women\'s suffrage in the
Women suffragists demonstrating for the right to vote in 1913.
The women's suffrage movement began with the June 1848 National
Convention of the Liberty Party . Presidential candidate Gerrit Smith
argued for and established women's suffrage as a party plank. One
month later, his cousin
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Elizabeth Cady Stanton joined with Lucretia
Mott and other women to organize the
Seneca Falls Convention ,
Declaration of Sentiments demanding equal rights for
women, and the right to vote. Many of these activists became
politically aware during the abolitionist movement. The women's rights
campaign during "first-wave feminism " was led by Stanton, Lucy Stone
Susan B. Anthony , among many others. Stone and Paulina Wright
Davis organized the prominent and influential National Women\'s Rights
Convention in 1850. The movement reorganized after the Civil War,
gaining experienced campaigners, many of whom had worked for
prohibition in the Women\'s Christian Temperance Union . By the end of
the 19th century a few western states had granted women full voting
rights, though women had made significant legal victories, gaining
rights in areas such as property and child custody. Women
surrounded by posters in English and
Yiddish supporting Franklin D.
Herbert H. Lehman , and the
American Labor Party teach
other women how to vote, 1936.
Around 1912 the feminist movement began to reawaken, putting an
emphasis on its demands for equality and arguing that the corruption
of American politics demanded purification by women because men could
not do that job. Protests became increasingly common as suffragette
Alice Paul led parades through the capital and major cities. Paul
split from the large National American Woman Suffrage Association
(NAWSA), which favored a more moderate approach and supported the
Democratic Party and Woodrow Wilson, led by
Carrie Chapman Catt
Carrie Chapman Catt , and
formed the more militant National Woman\'s Party . Suffragists were
arrested during their "
Silent Sentinels " pickets at the White House,
the first time such a tactic was used, and were taken as political
The old anti-suffragist argument that only men could fight a war, and
therefore only men deserve the right to vote, was refuted by the
enthusiastic participation of tens of thousands of American women on
the home front in World War I. Across the world, grateful nations gave
women the right to vote. Furthermore, most of the Western states had
already given the women the right to vote in state and national
elections, and the representatives from those states, including the
Jeannette Rankin of Montana, demonstrated that woman
suffrage was a success. The main resistance came from the south, where
white leaders were worried about the threat of black women voting.
Congress passed the Nineteenth Amendment in 1919, and women could vote
NAWSA became the
League of Women Voters , and the National Woman's
Party began lobbying for full equality and the Equal Rights Amendment
, which would pass Congress during the second wave of the women's
movement in 1972. Politicians responded to the new electorate by
emphasizing issues of special interest to women, especially
prohibition, child health, and world peace. The main surge of women
voting came in 1928, when the big-city machines realized they needed
the support of women to elect
Al Smith , a Catholic from New York
City. Meanwhile, Protestants mobilized women to support Prohibition
and vote for Republican
Herbert Hoover .
ROARING TWENTIES AND THE GREAT DEPRESSION
History of the United States (1918–45) Further
Great Depression , Causes of the
Great Depression , and
New Deal Prohibition agents destroying barrels of alcohol in
In the 1920s the U.S. grew steadily in stature as an economic and
military world power. The
United States Senate did not ratify the
Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles imposed by its Allies on the defeated Central
Powers ; instead, the
United States chose to pursue unilateralism .
The aftershock of Russia's
October Revolution resulted in real fears
Communism in the United States, leading to a Red Scare and the
deportation of aliens considered subversive. Money supply
decreased a lot between
Black Tuesday and the Bank Holiday in March
1933 when there were massive bank runs across the United States.
While public health facilities grew rapidly in the Progressive Era,
and hospitals and medical schools were modernized, the nation in 1918
lost 675,000 lives to the
Spanish flu pandemic.
In 1920, the manufacture, sale, import and export of alcohol were
prohibited by the Eighteenth Amendment , Prohibition . The result was
that in cities illegal alcohol became a big business, largely
controlled by racketeers. The second
Ku Klux Klan grew rapidly in
1922–25, then collapsed. Immigration laws were passed to strictly
limit the number of new entries. The 1920s were called the Roaring
Twenties due to the great economic prosperity during this period. Jazz
became popular among the younger generation, and thus the decade was
also called the
Jazz Age .
Dorothea Lange 's Migrant Mother
depicts destitute pea pickers in California, centering on Florence
Owens Thompson , a mother of seven, age 32, in
Nipomo, California ,
Great Depression (1929–39) and the
New Deal (1933–36) were
decisive moments in American political, economic, and social history
that reshaped the nation.
During the 1920s, the nation enjoyed widespread prosperity, albeit
with a weakness in agriculture. A financial bubble was fueled by an
inflated stock market , which later led to the Stock Market Crash on
October 29, 1929. This, along with many other economic factors ,
triggered a worldwide depression known as the
Great Depression .
During this time, the
United States experienced deflation as prices
fell, unemployment soared from 3% in 1929 to 25% in 1933, farm prices
fell by half, and manufacturing output plunged by one-third.
In 1932, Democratic presidential nominee Franklin D. Roosevelt
New Deal for the American people", coining the enduring
label for his domestic policies. The desperate economic situation,
along with the substantial Democratic victories in the 1932 elections,
gave Roosevelt unusual influence over Congress in the "First Hundred
Days" of his administration. He used his leverage to win rapid passage
of a series of measures to create welfare programs and regulate the
banking system, stock market, industry, and agriculture, along with
many other government efforts to end the
Great Depression and reform
the American economy. The
New Deal regulated much of the economy,
especially the financial sector. It provided relief to the unemployed
through numerous programs, such as the Works Progress Administration
(WPA) and for young men, the
Civilian Conservation Corps that
undertook jobs such as forest fire fighting and creating public works.
Large scale spending projects designed to provide high paying jobs and
rebuild the infrastructure were under the purview of the Public Works
Administration . Roosevelt turned left in 1935–36, building up labor
unions through the
Wagner Act . Unions became a powerful element of
New Deal Coalition , which won reelection for Roosevelt in
1936, 1940, and 1944 by mobilizing union members, blue collar workers,
relief recipients, big city machines, ethnic, and religious groups
(especially Catholics and Jews) and the white South, along with blacks
in the North (where they could vote). Some of the programs were
dropped in the 1940s when the conservatives regained power in Congress
Conservative Coalition . Of special importance is the
Social Security program , begun in 1935.
WORLD WAR II
World War II
World War II , Military history of the United
World War II
World War II , and
United States home front during World
War II The Japanese crippled American naval power with the
attack on Pearl Harbor , destroying many battleships.
In the Depression years, the
United States remained focused on
domestic concerns while democracy declined across the world and many
countries fell under the control of dictators. Imperial
dominance in East Asia and in the Pacific.
Nazi Germany and Fascist
Italy militarized and threatened conquests, while Britain and France
attempted appeasement to avert another war in Europe. US legislation
in the Neutrality Acts sought to avoid foreign conflicts; however,
policy clashed with increasing anti-Nazi feelings following the German
invasion of Poland in September 1939 that started World War II.
Roosevelt positioned the US as the "
Arsenal of Democracy ", pledging
full-scale financial and munitions support for the Allies – but no
military personnel. This was carried out through the Lend-Lease
Japan tried to neutralize America's power in the Pacific
by attacking Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, which catalyzed
American support to enter the war.
The main contributions of the US to the Allied war effort comprised
money, industrial output, food, petroleum, technological innovation,
and (especially 1944–45), military personnel. Much of the focus in
Washington was maximizing the economic output of the nation. The
overall result was a dramatic increase in GDP, the export of vast
quantities of supplies to the Allies and to American forces overseas,
the end of unemployment, and a rise in civilian consumption even as
40% of the GDP went to the war effort. This was achieved by tens of
millions of workers moving from low-productivity occupations to high
efficiency jobs, improvements in productivity through better
technology and management, and the move into the active labor force of
students, retired people, housewives, and the unemployed, and an
increase in hours worked.
Into the Jaws of Death : The Normandy
landings began the Allied march toward Germany from the west.
American corpses sprawled on the beach of Tarawa , November 1943.
It was exhausting; leisure activities declined sharply. People
tolerated the extra work because of patriotism, the pay, and the
confidence that it was only "for the duration", and life would return
to normal as soon as the war was won. Most durable goods became
unavailable, and meat, clothing, and gasoline were tightly rationed.
In industrial areas housing was in short supply as people doubled up
and lived in cramped quarters. Prices and wages were controlled, and
Americans saved a high portion of their incomes, which led to renewed
growth after the war instead of a return to depression.
The Allies – the US, Britain, and the Soviet Union, China, as well
Canada and other countries – fought the
Axis powers of
Germany, Italy, and Japan. The Allies saw Germany as the main threat
and gave highest priority to Europe. The US dominated the war against
Japan and stopped Japanese expansion in the Pacific in 1942. After
losing Pearl Harbor and in the
Philippines to the Japanese, and
Battle of the Coral Sea
Battle of the Coral Sea (May 1942), the American Navy
inflicted a decisive blow at Midway (June 1942). American ground
forces assisted in the
North African Campaign that eventually
concluded with the collapse of Mussolini's fascist government in 1943,
as Italy switched to the Allied side. A more significant European
front was opened on
D-Day , June 6, 1944, in which American and Allied
forces invaded Nazi-occupied France from Britain. Bronze statue
Eisenhower at Capitol rotunda .
On the home front , mobilization of the US economy was managed by
War Production Board . The wartime production boom led to
full employment, wiping out this vestige of the Great Depression.
Indeed, labor shortages encouraged industry to look for new sources of
workers, finding new roles for women and blacks.
However, the fervor also inspired anti-Japanese sentiment , leading
to internment of Japanese-Americans.
Research and development
Research and development took flight as well, best seen in the
Manhattan Project , a secret effort to harness nuclear fission to
produce highly destructive atomic bombs . V-J Day in Times
The Allies pushed the Germans out of France but faced an unexpected
counterattack at the
Battle of the Bulge
Battle of the Bulge in December. The final German
effort failed, and, as Allied armies in East and West were converging
on Berlin, the Nazis hurriedly tried to kill the last remaining Jews.
The western front stopped short, leaving Berlin to the Soviets as the
Nazi regime formally capitulated in May 1945, ending the war in
Europe. Over in the Pacific, the US implemented an island hopping
strategy toward Tokyo, establishing airfields for bombing runs against
Japan from the
Mariana Islands and achieving hard-fought
victories at Iwo Jima and Okinawa in 1945. Bloodied at Okinawa, the
U.S. prepared to invade Japan\'s home islands when B-29s dropped
atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of
forcing the empire's surrender in a matter of days and thus ending
World War II. The US occupied
Japan (and part of Germany), sending
Douglas MacArthur to restructure the Japanese economy and political
system along American lines. During the war, Roosevelt coined the
term "Four Powers " to refer four major Allies of World War II, the
United States, the United Kingdom, the
Soviet Union and China, which
later became the foundation of the United Nations Security Council.
Though the nation lost more than 400,000 military personnel, the
mainland prospered untouched by the devastation of war that inflicted
a heavy toll on Europe and Asia.
Participation in postwar foreign affairs marked the end of
predominant American isolationism. The awesome threat of nuclear
weapons inspired both optimism and fear . Nuclear weapons were never
used after 1945, as both sides drew back from the brink and a "long
peace" characterized the
Cold War years, starting with the Truman
Doctrine in May 22, 1947. There were, however, regional wars in Korea
THE COLD WAR, COUNTERCULTURE, AND CIVIL RIGHTS
History of the United States (1945–64) , History of
United States (1964–80) , and
United States in the 1950s
Cuban Missile Crisis a meeting with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev
Vienna in 1961.
Following World War II, the
United States emerged as one of the two
dominant superpowers, the
USSR being the other. The
U.S. Senate on a
bipartisan vote approved U.S. participation in the United Nations
(UN), which marked a turn away from the traditional isolationism of
the U.S. and toward increased international involvement.
The primary American goal of 1945–48 was to rescue Europe from the
World War II
World War II and to contain the expansion of Communism,
represented by the
Soviet Union . The
Truman Doctrine of 1947 provided
military and economic aid to Greece and Turkey to counteract the
threat of Communist expansion in the Balkans. In 1948, the United
States replaced piecemeal financial aid programs with a comprehensive
Marshall Plan , which pumped money into the economy of Western Europe,
and removed trade barriers, while modernizing the managerial practices
of businesses and governments. President Kennedy 's Civil Rights
Address , June 11, 1963.
The Plan's $13 billion budget was in the context of a US GDP of $258
billion in 1948 and was in addition to the $12 billion in American aid
given to Europe between the end of the war and the start of the
Marshall Plan. Soviet head of state
Joseph Stalin prevented his
satellite states from participating, and from that point on, Eastern
Europe, with inefficient centralized economies, fell further and
Western Europe in terms of economic development and
prosperity. In 1949, the United States, rejecting the long-standing
policy of no military alliances in peacetime, formed the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance, which continues into the
21st century. In response the Soviets formed the
Warsaw Pact of
communist states, leading to the "iron curtain ".
In August 1949 the Soviets tested their first nuclear weapon, thereby
escalating the risk of warfare. The threat of mutually assured
destruction however, prevented both powers from nuclear war, and
resulted in proxy wars, especially in Korea and
Vietnam , in which the
two sides did not directly confront each other. Within the United
Cold War prompted concerns about Communist influence . The
unexpected leapfrogging of American technology by the Soviets in 1957
Sputnik , the first Earth satellite, began the
Space Race , won
Apollo 11 landed astronauts on the moon in 1969.
The angst about the weaknesses of American education led to
large-scale federal support for science education and research.
In the decades after World War II, the
United States became a global
influence in economic, political, military, cultural, and
technological affairs. Beginning in the 1950s, middle-class culture
became obsessed with consumer goods. White
Americans made up nearly
90% of the population in 1950.
In 1960 , the charismatic politician
John F. Kennedy was elected as
the first and – thus far – only Roman Catholic President of the
United States. The Kennedy family brought a new life and vigor to the
atmosphere of the
White House . His time in office was marked by such
notable events as the acceleration of the United States' role in the
Space Race , escalation of the American role in the
Vietnam War , the
Cuban missile crisis , the
Bay of Pigs Invasion , the jailing of
Martin Luther King, Jr. during the
Birmingham campaign , and the
appointment of his brother
Robert F. Kennedy
Robert F. Kennedy to his Cabinet as
Attorney General . Kennedy was assassinated in
Dallas , Texas, on
November 22, 1963, leaving the nation in profound shock.
Climax Of Liberalism
American soldiers during the
Vietnam War, 1967
The climax of liberalism came in the mid-1960s with the success of
Lyndon B. Johnson (1963–69) in securing congressional
passage of his
Great Society programs. They included civil rights,
the end of segregation , Medicare , extension of welfare, federal aid
to education at all levels, subsidies for the arts and humanities,
environmental activism, and a series of programs designed to wipe out
poverty. As recent historians have explained:
Gradually, liberal intellectuals crafted a new vision for achieving
economic and social justice. The liberalism of the early 1960s
contained no hint of radicalism, little disposition to revive new deal
era crusades against concentrated economic power, and no intention to
fast and class passions or redistribute wealth or restructure existing
institutions. Internationally it was strongly anti-Communist. It aimed
to defend the free world, to encourage economic growth at home, and to
ensure that the resulting plenty was fairly distributed. Their
agenda-much influenced by Keynesian economic theory-envisioned massive
public expenditure that would speed economic growth, thus providing
the public resources to fund larger welfare, housing, health, and
Johnson was rewarded with an electoral landslide in 1964 against
Barry Goldwater , which broke the decades-long control of
Congress by the
Conservative coalition . However, the Republicans
bounced back in 1966 and elected
Richard Nixon in 1968. Nixon largely
New Deal and
Great Society programs he inherited;
conservative reaction would come with the election of
Ronald Reagan in
1980. Meanwhile, the American people completed a great migration from
farms into the cities and experienced a period of sustained economic
Civil Rights Movement
Civil Rights Movement
Civil Rights Movement Duncan West speaking with
Cesar Chavez . The Delano
UFW rally. Duncan represented the Teamsters
who were supporting the
UFW and condemning their IBT leadership for
working as thugs against a fellow union. Duncan and his wife Mary were
the branch organizers of the LA IS.
Starting in the late 1950s, institutionalized racism across the
United States , but especially in the South , was increasingly
challenged by the growing Civil Rights Movement. The activism of
Rosa Parks and
Martin Luther King, Jr. led to
Montgomery Bus Boycott , which launched the movement. For years
Americans would struggle with violence against them but would
achieve great steps toward equality with Supreme Court decisions,
Brown v. Board of Education and Loving v.
Virginia , the
Civil Rights Act of 1964
Civil Rights Act of 1964 , the
Voting Rights Act of 1965 , and the
Fair Housing Act of 1968 , which ended the
Jim Crow laws that
legalized racial segregation between whites and blacks. Civil
Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. (right), with President Lyndon B.
Johnson in the background (left)
Martin Luther King, Jr., who had won the
Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize for his
efforts to achieve equality of the races, was assassinated in 1968 .
Following his death others led the movement, most notably King's
Coretta Scott King , who was also active, like her husband, in
the Opposition to the
Vietnam War , and in the Women\'s Liberation
Movement . There were 164 riots in 128 American cities in the first
nine months of 1967. Frustrations with the seemingly slow progress of
the integration movement led to the emergence of more radical
discourses during the early 1960s, which, in turn, gave rise to the
Black Power movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The decade
would ultimately bring about positive strides toward integration,
especially in government service, sports, and entertainment. Native
Americans turned to the federal courts to fight for their land rights.
They held protests highlighting the federal government's failure to
honor treaties. One of the most outspoken Native American groups was
American Indian Movement
American Indian Movement (AIM). In the 1960s,
Cesar Chavez began
organizing poorly paid
Mexican-American farm workers in California. He
led a five-year-long strike by grape pickers. Then Chávez formed the
nation's first successful union of farm workers. His United Farm
Workers of America (UFW) faltered after a few years but after Chavez
died in 1993 he became an iconic "folk saint" in the pantheon of
The Women\'s Movement
Second-wave feminism Anti-
A new consciousness of the inequality of American women began
sweeping the nation, starting with the 1963 publication of Betty
Friedan 's best-seller,
The Feminine Mystique , which explained how
many housewives felt trapped and unfulfilled, assaulted American
culture for its creation of the notion that women could only find
fulfillment through their roles as wives, mothers, and keepers of the
home, and argued that women were just as able as men to do every type
of job. In 1966 Friedan and others established the National
Organization for Women , or NOW, to act for women as the
NAACP did for
Protests began, and the new Women's Liberation Movement grew in size
and power, gained much media attention, and, by 1968, had replaced the
Civil Rights Movement
Civil Rights Movement as the US's main social revolution. Marches,
parades, rallies, boycotts, and pickets brought out thousands,
sometimes millions. There were striking gains for women in medicine,
law, and business, while only a few were elected to office. The
Movement was split into factions by political ideology early on,
however (with NOW on the left, the Women\'s Equity Action League
(WEAL) on the right, the National Women\'s Political Caucus (NWPC) in
the center, and more radical groups formed by younger women on the far
left). The proposed
Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, passed
by Congress in 1972 was defeated by a conservative coalition mobilized
Phyllis Schlafly . They argued that it degraded the position of the
housewife and made young women susceptible to the military draft .
However, many federal laws (i.e., those equalizing pay , employment ,
education , employment opportunities , and credit ; ending pregnancy
discrimination ; and requiring
NASA , the
Military Academies , and
other organizations to admit women), state laws (i.e., those ending
spousal abuse and marital rape ), Supreme Court rulings (i.e. ruling
that the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment applied
to women), and state ERAs established women's equal status under the
law, and social custom and consciousness began to change, accepting
women's equality. The controversial issue of abortion, deemed by the
Supreme Court as a fundamental right in
Roe v. Wade (1973), is still a
point of debate today.
The Counterculture Revolution And
Cold War Détente
History of the United States (1964–80) United
F-4 Phantom II shadows a Soviet
Tu-95 Bear D aircraft in
the early 1970s U.S. Senator
Edmund Muskie speaking at
Philadelphia on Earth Day, 1970
Amid the Cold War, the
United States entered the
Vietnam War , whose
growing unpopularity fed already existing social movements, including
those among women, minorities, and young people. President Lyndon B.
Great Society social programs and numerous rulings by the
Warren Court added to the wide range of social reform during the 1960s
Feminism and the environmental movement became political
forces, and progress continued toward civil rights for all Americans.
The Counterculture Revolution swept through the nation and much of the
western world in the late sixties and early seventies, further
Americans in a "culture war" but also bringing forth more
liberated social views.
Johnson was succeeded in 1969 by Republican
Richard Nixon , who
attempted to gradually turn the war over to the South Vietnamese
forces. He negotiated the peace treaty in 1973 which secured the
release of POWs and led to the withdrawal of U.S. troops. The war had
cost the lives of 58,000 American troops. Nixon manipulated the fierce
distrust between the
Soviet Union and China to the advantage of the
United States, achieving détente (relaxation; ease of tension) with
both parties. Nixon departs
Watergate scandal , involving Nixon's cover-up of his operatives'
break-in into the
Democratic National Committee headquarters at the
Watergate office complex destroyed his political base, sent many aides
to prison, and forced Nixon's resignation on August 9, 1974. He was
succeeded by Vice President
Gerald Ford . The
Fall of Saigon ended the
Vietnam War and resulted in North and South
Vietnam being reunited.
Communist victories in neighboring
Laos occurred in the
The OPEC oil embargo marked a long-term economic transition since,
for the first time, energy prices skyrocketed, and American factories
faced serious competition from foreign automobiles, clothing,
electronics, and consumer goods. By the late 1970s the economy
suffered an energy crisis , slow economic growth, high unemployment,
and very high inflation coupled with high interest rates (the term
stagflation was coined). Since economists agreed on the wisdom of
deregulation , many of the
New Deal era regulations were ended, such
as in transportation, banking, and telecommunications.
Jimmy Carter , running as someone who was not a part of the
Washington political establishment, was elected president in 1976. On
the world stage, Carter brokered the
Camp David Accords between Israel
and Egypt. In 1979, Iranian students stormed the US embassy in Tehran
and took 66
Americans hostage, resulting in the
Iran hostage crisis
Iran hostage crisis .
With the hostage crisis and continuing stagflation, Carter lost the
1980 election to the Republican
Ronald Reagan . On January 20, 1981,
minutes after Carter's term in office ended, the remaining U.S.
captives held at the U.S. embassy in Iran were released, ending the
444-day hostage crisis.
CLOSE OF THE 20TH CENTURY
History of the United States (1980–91) Ronald
Reagan at the
Brandenburg Gate challenges Soviet premier Mikhail
Gorbachev to tear down the
Berlin Wall in 1987, shortly before the end
Cold War .
Ronald Reagan produced a major realignment with his 1980 and 1984
landslide elections. Reagan's economic policies (dubbed "Reaganomics
") and the implementation of the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981
lowered the top marginal tax rate from 70% to 28% over the course of
seven years. Reagan continued to downsize government taxation and
regulation. The US experienced a recession in 1982, but the negative
indicators reversed, with the inflation rate decreasing from 11% to
2%, the unemployment rate decreasing from 10.8% in December 1982 to
7.5% in November 1984, and the economic growth rate increasing from
4.5% to 7.2%.
Reagan ordered a buildup of the US military, incurring additional
budget deficits. Reagan introduced a complicated missile defense
system known as the
Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) (dubbed "Star
Wars" by opponents) in which, theoretically, the U.S. could shoot down
missiles with laser systems in space. The Soviets reacted harshly
because they thought it violated the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile
Treaty , and would upset the balance of power by giving the U.S. a
major military advantage. For years Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev
argued vehemently against SDI. However, by the late 1980s he decided
the system would never work and should not be used to block
disarmament deals with the U.S. Historians argue how great an impact
the SDI threat had on the Soviets – whether it was enough to force
Gorbachev to initiate radical reforms, or whether the deterioration of
the Soviet economy alone forced the reforms. There is agreement that
the Soviets realized they were well behind the
Americans in military
technology, that to try to catch up would be very expensive, and that
the military expenses were already a very heavy burden slowing down
Invasion of Grenada and bombing of Libya were popular in the
US, though his backing of the
Contras rebels was mired in the
controversy over the
Iran–Contra affair that revealed Reagan's poor
management style. Supreme Court Justice-nominee Sandra Day
O\'Connor talks with President
Ronald Reagan outside the
White House ,
July 15, 1981. Serving from her appointment in 1981 by Ronald Reagan
until her retirement in 2006. She was the first woman to serve as a
Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Reagan met four times with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who
ascended to power in 1985, and their summit conferences led to the
signing of the
Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty . Gorbachev
tried to save
Communism in the
Soviet Union first by ending the
expensive arms race with America, then by shedding the East European
empire in 1989. The
Soviet Union collapsed on
Christmas Day 1991,
ending the US–Soviet
Cold War . Intermediate-Range Nuclear
United States emerged as the world's sole remaining superpower
and continued to intervene in international affairs during the 1990s,
including the 1991
Gulf War against
Iraq . Following his election in
1992 , President
Bill Clinton oversaw one of the longest periods of
economic expansion and unprecedented gains in securities values, a
side effect of the digital revolution and new business opportunities
created by the Internet. He also worked with the Republican Congress
to pass the first balanced federal budget in 30 years.
In 1998, Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives on
charges of lying about a sexual relationship with
White House intern
Monica Lewinsky . He was acquitted by the Senate. The failure of
impeachment and the Democratic gains in the 1998 election forced House
Newt Gingrich , a Republican, to resign from Congress.
Yitzhak Rabin and
Yasser Arafat during the
Oslo Accords on
September 13, 1993.
The Republican Party expanded its base throughout the South after
1968 (excepting 1976), largely due to its strength among socially
conservative white Evangelical Protestants and traditionalist Roman
Catholics, added to its traditional strength in the business community
and suburbs. As white Democrats in the South lost dominance of the
Democratic Party in the 1990s, the region took on the two-party
apparatus which characterized most of the nation. The Republican
Party's central leader by 1980 was
Ronald Reagan , whose conservative
policies called for reduced government spending and regulation, lower
taxes, and a strong anti-Soviet foreign policy. His iconic status in
the party persists into the 21st century, as practically all
Republican Party leaders acknowledge his stature. Social scientists
Theodore Caplow et al. argue, "The Republican party, nationally, moved
from right-center toward the center in 1940s and 1950s, then moved
right again in the 1970s and 1980s." They add: "The Democratic party,
nationally, moved from left-center toward the center in the 1940s and
1950s, then moved further toward the right-center in the 1970s and
The presidential election in 2000 between
George W. Bush
George W. Bush and Al Gore
was one of the closest in US history and helped lay the seeds for
political polarization to come. The vote in the decisive state of
Florida was extremely close and produced a dramatic dispute over the
counting of votes . The US Supreme Court in
Bush v. Gore ended the
recount with a 5–4 vote. That meant Bush, then in the lead, carried
Florida and the election. Including 2000, the Democrats outpolled the
Republicans in the national vote in every election from 1992 to 2016,
except for 2004.
9/11 AND THE WAR ON TERROR
History of the United States (1991–2008) Further
September 11 attacks
September 11 attacks and
War on Terror The NASDAQ
Composite index swelled with the dot-com bubble in the optimistic "New
Economy ". The bubble burst in 2000.
On September 11, 2001 ("9/11"), the
United States was struck by a
terrorist attack when 19 al-Qaeda hijackers commandeered four
airliners to be used in suicide attacks and intentionally crashed two
into both twin towers of the World Trade Center and the third into the
Pentagon , killing 2,937 victims—206 aboard the three airliners,
2,606 who were in the World Trade Center and on the ground, and 125
who were in the Pentagon. The fourth plane was re-taken by the
passengers and crew of the aircraft. While they were not able to land
the plane safely, they were able to re-take control of the aircraft
and crash it into an empty field in Pennsylvania, killing all 44
people including the four terrorists on board, thereby saving whatever
target the terrorists were aiming for. Within two hours, both Twin
Towers of the World Trade Center completely collapsed causing massive
damage to the surrounding area and blanketing
Lower Manhattan in toxic
dust clouds. All in all, a total of 2,977 victims perished in the
attacks. In response, President
George W. Bush
George W. Bush on September 20
announced a "War on Terror". On October 7, 2001, the
United States and
NATO then invaded Afghanistan to oust the
Taliban regime, which had
provided safe haven to al-Qaeda and its leader
Osama bin Laden .
The former World Trade Center in
Lower Manhattan during September 11
attacks in 2001
One World Trade Center , built in its place
The federal government established new domestic efforts to prevent
future attacks. The controversial
USA PATRIOT Act increased the
government's power to monitor communications and removed legal
restrictions on information sharing between federal law enforcement
and intelligence services. A cabinet-level agency called the
Department of Homeland Security was created to lead and coordinate
federal counter-terrorism activities. Some of these anti-terrorism
efforts, particularly the US government's handling of detainees at the
Guantanamo Bay , led to allegations against the US
government of human rights violations . George W. Bush
General Assembly of the United Nations on 12 September
2002 to outline the complaints of the
United States government against
the Iraqi government.
In 2003, from March 19 to May 1, the
United States launched an
Iraq , which led to the collapse of the
and the eventual capture of Iraqi dictator
Saddam Hussein , with whom
the US had long-standing tense relations. The reasons for the invasion
cited by the Bush administration included the spreading of democracy,
the elimination of weapons of mass destruction (a key demand of the
UN as well, though later investigations found parts of the
intelligence reports to be inaccurate), and the liberation of the
Iraqi people. Despite some initial successes early in the invasion,
Iraq War fueled international protests and gradually saw
domestic support decline as many people began to question whether or
not the invasion was worth the cost. In 2007, after years of
violence by the Iraqi insurgency , President Bush deployed more troops
in a strategy dubbed "the surge ". While the death toll decreased, the
political stability of
Iraq remained in doubt. Lehman Brothers
(headquarters pictured) filed for bankruptcy in September 2008 at the
height of the U.S. financial crisis .
In 2008, the unpopularity of President Bush and the
Iraq war, along
with the 2008 financial crisis , led to the election of
Barack Obama ,
African-American President of the United States. After his
election, Obama reluctantly continued the war effort in
August 31, 2010, when he declared that combat operations had ended.
However, 50,000 American soldiers and military personnel were kept in
Iraq to assist Iraqi forces, help protect withdrawing forces, and work
on counter-terrorism until December 15, 2011, when the war was
declared formally over and the last troops left the country . At the
same time, Obama increased American involvement in Afghanistan,
starting a surge strategy using an additional 30,000 troops, while
proposing to begin withdrawing troops sometime in December 2014. With
regards to Guantanamo Bay, President Obama forbade torture but in
general retained Bush's policy regarding the Guantanamo detainees,
while also proposing that the prison eventually be closed.
In May 2011, after nearly a decade in hiding, the founder and leader
of Al Qaeda,
Osama bin Laden , was killed in Pakistan in a raid
conducted by US naval special forces acting under President Obama's
direct orders. While Al Qaeda was near collapse in Afghanistan,
affiliated organizations continued to operate in
Yemen and other
remote areas as the
CIA used drones to hunt down and remove its
The Boston Marathon Bombing was a bombing incident, followed by
subsequent related shootings, that occurred when two pressure cooker
bombs exploded during the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. The bombs
exploded about 12 seconds and 210 yards (190 m) apart at 2:49 pm EDT,
near the marathon's finish line on Boylston Street. They killed 3
people and injured an estimated 264 others.
The Islamic State of
Iraq and the Levant - formerly known as Al-Qaeda
Iraq - rose to prominence in September 2014. In addition to taking
control of much of Western
Iraq and Eastern Syria, ISIS also beheaded
three journalists, two American and one British. These events lead to
a major military offensive by the USA and its allies in the region.
On December 28, 2014, President Obama officially ended the combat
mission in Afghanistan and promised a withdrawal of all remaining
troops at the end of 2016 with the exception of the embassy guards.
THE GREAT RECESSION
Great Recession Congressional leadership meeting
with then-President Obama in 2011.
In September 2008, the United States, and most of Europe, entered the
World War II
World War II recession , often called the "Great
Recession." Multiple overlapping crises were involved, especially
the housing market crisis , a subprime mortgage crisis , soaring oil
prices , an automotive industry crisis , rising unemployment, and the
worst financial crisis since the
Great Depression . The financial
crisis threatened the stability of the entire economy in September
Lehman Brothers failed and other giant banks were in grave
danger. Starting in October the federal government lent $245 billion
to financial institutions through the
Troubled Asset Relief Program
which was passed by bipartisan majorities and signed by Bush.
Following his election victory by a wide electoral margin in November
2008 , Bush's successor -
Barack Obama - signed into law the American
Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 , which was a $787 billion
economic stimulus aimed at helping the economy recover from the
deepening recession. Obama, like Bush, took steps to rescue the auto
industry and prevent future economic meltdowns. These included a
General Motors and
Chrysler , putting ownership temporarily
in the hands of the government, and the "cash for clunkers " program
which temporarily boosted new car sales.
The recession officially ended in June 2009, and the economy slowly
began to expand once again. The unemployment rate peaked at 10.1% in
October 2009 after surging from 4.7% in November 2007, and returned to
5.0% as of October 2015. However, overall economic growth has remained
weaker in the 2010s compared to expansions in previous decades.
History of the United States (2008–present) On
the morning of June 26, 2015 outside the Supreme Court , the crowd
reacts to the Court's decision on
Obergefell v. Hodges .
From 2009 to 2010, the 111th Congress passed major legislation such
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act , the Dodd–Frank
Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the Don\'t Ask,
Don\'t Tell Repeal Act , which were signed into law by President
Obama. Following the 2010 midterm elections , which resulted in a
Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a
Democratic-controlled Senate, Congress presided over a period of
elevated gridlock and heated debates over whether or not to raise the
debt ceiling , extend tax cuts for citizens making over $250,000
annually, and many other key issues. These ongoing debates led to
President Obama signing the
Budget Control Act of 2011 . In the Fall
Mitt Romney challenged
Barack Obama for the Presidency.
Following Obama's reelection in November 2012, Congress passed the
American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012
American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 - which resulted in an increase
in taxes primarily on those earning the most money. Congressional
gridlock continued as Congressional Republicans' call for the repeal
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act - popularly known as
"Obamacare" - along with other various demands, resulted in the first
government shutdown since the Clinton administration and almost led to
the first default on
U.S. debt since the 19th century. As a result of
growing public frustration with both parties in Congress since the
beginning of the decade, Congressional approval ratings fell to record
lows, with only 11% of
Americans approving as of October 2013.
Other major events that have occurred during the 2010s include the
rise of new political movements, such as the conservative Tea Party
movement and the liberal
Occupy movement . There was also unusually
severe weather during the early part of the decade. In 2012, over half
the country experienced record drought and
Hurricane Sandy caused
massive damage to coastal areas of New York and New Jersey.
The ongoing debate over the issue of rights for the LGBT community ,
most notably that of same-sex marriage , began to shift in favor of
same-sex couples, and has been reflected in dozens of polls released
in the early part of the decade. In 2012, President Obama became the
first president to openly support same-sex marriage, and the 2013
Supreme Court decision in the case of
United States v. Windsor
provided for federal recognition of same-sex unions. In June 2015, the
United States Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationally in the
Obergefell v. Hodges .
Political debate has continued over issues such as tax reform ,
immigration reform , income inequality and US foreign policy in the
Middle East , particularly with regards to global terrorism , the rise
of the Islamic State of
Iraq and the Levant , and an accompanying
Islamophobia . Trump signing
Executive Order 13769 at
Pentagon as the Vice President
Mike Pence and Secretary of Defense
Jim Mattis look on, January 27, 2017.
On November 8, 2016, Republican Party presidential nominee Donald
Trump defeated Democratic nominee
Hillary Clinton to become the
President-elect of the United States. Trump ran on a promise of
"Making America Great Again ," with pledges such as increasing border
security, repeal of the
Affordable Care Act , lowering taxes,
deregulation, and not getting in wars that do not directly affect
American interests. Similar to the outcome of the 2000 Presidential
Al Gore and George W. Bush, Trump lost the popular
vote to Clinton, however, he got 306 Electoral College votes. Trump's
election led to protests led mainly by Democrats and independents, who
viewed him as not temperamentally suitable for office, appealing to
racist stereotypes and beliefs (in part, because of his policy
platforms that vowed to mass deport undocumented immigrants and ban
foreign Muslims from entering the U.S., as well as his stance against
political correctness ), and a threat to the American democratic
system (specifically with regard to rights outlined in the First
Amendment, citing his repeated denunciation of press coverage that
Trump saw as negative towards him, his campaign's revocation of press
credentials to certain news organizations, and a campaign promise in
which he claimed he would "open up" libel laws). Trump's election
would be further mired in controversy after U.S. intelligence agencies
concluded that associates of the Russian government, directed by
Vladimir Putin , interfered in the election "to undermine
public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Clinton, and
harm her electability and potential presidency." This, along with
questions about potential collusion between the Trump campaign and
Russian officials, led to the launch of investigations into the matter
by the FBI, and the Senate and the House Intelligence Committees .
Historical graph of political party control of the Senate and
House of Representatives as well as the Presidency
American urban history
Colonial history of the United States
Economic history of the United States
* History of agriculture in the
* History of education in the
* History of immigration to the
* History of religion in the
History of the Southern United States
History of women in the United States
* List of historians by area of study#History of the
* List of history journals#
United States and
* List of Presidents of the
Military history of the United States
* Outline of
United States history
* Politics of the
Territorial evolution of the United States
* Territories of the
* ^ Melvyn Stokes, ed. The State of U.S. History (2002) pp 1, 348
* ^ For a capsule online history see Alonzo Hamby, "Outline of U.S.
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.; for recent textbooks see David M. Kennedy and Lizabeth Cohen, The
American Pageant (16th ed. 2016); James A. Henretta, Rebecca Edwards
and Robert O. Self, America's History (8th ed. 2014); James L. Roark,
et al. American Promise (5th ed. 2013); Robert A. Divine, et al.
America Past and Present (10th ed. 2012)
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in The Great Taos Bank Robbery and Other Indian Country Affairs,
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* ^ Joe W. Saunders*, Rolfe D. Mandel, Roger T. Saucier, E. Thurman
Allen, C. T. Hallmark, Jay K. Johnson, Edwin H. Jackson, Charles M.
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Mound Complex in
Louisiana at 5400-5000 Years Before the Present",
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the Shadow of South Mountain: The Pre-Classic
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to 1763 (4th ed. 2011)
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Christianity in Colonial America (2009)
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* ^ Mark Edward Lender, review of American Insurgents, American
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Journal of Military History (2012) 76#1 p. 233-4
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George Washington a Good Military
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American Revolution (2004)
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of Rights (2008)
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Monarchy, Plutocracy, and Anglophilia, 1789–1798," Review of
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* ^ John C. Miller, The Federalist Era: 1789–1801 (1960)
* ^ Lesson Plan on "Washington and the Whiskey Rebellion" NEH
* ^ "George Washington\'s Farewell Address". Archiving Early
America. Retrieved June 7, 2008.
* ^ David McCullough,
John Adams (2008) ch 10
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* ^ Gordon S. Wood, Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early
Republic, 1789–1815 (2009) pp 368–74
* ^ Stephen E. Ambrose, Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas
Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West (1997)
* ^ Jean Edward Smith, John Marshall: Definer of a Nation (1998) pp
* ^ Stagg 1983 , p. 4.
* ^ Carlisle & Golson 2007 , p. 44.
* ^ Pratt, Julius W. (1925b.) Expansionists of 1812
* ^ David Heidler, Jeanne T. Heidler, The War of 1812, p. 4
* ^ The Encyclopedia of the War of 1812, Spencer Tucker, p. 236
* ^ Wood, Empire of Liberty (2009) ch 18
* ^ Marshall Smelser, "Tecumseh, Harrison, and the War of 1812,"
Indiana Magazine of History (March 1969) 65#1 pp 25-44 online
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* ^ James Banner, To the Hartford Convention: the Federalists and
the Origins of Party Politics in Massachusetts, 1789–1815 (1969)
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Comes of Age in the Period of Monroe and Adams Between the War of
1812, and the Ascendancy of Jackson (1963)
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Nisbet Chambers and Walter Dean Burnham, eds. The American Party
Systems: Stages of Political Development (1967), 56–89.
* ^ Mark T. Gilderhus, "The Monroe Doctrine: Meanings and
Implications," Presidential Studies Quarterly March 2006, Vol. 36#1 pp
* ^ A B
Andrew Jackson Archived January 27, 2016, at the Wayback
Machine ., North Carolina History Project
* ^ David Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler, Indian Removal (2006)
* ^ Robert Vincent Remini,
Andrew Jackson and His Indian Wars
* ^ Mary Beth Norton et al., A People and a Nation, Volume I: to
1877 (Houghton Mifflin, 2007) p 287
* ^ Mary Beth Norton et al., A People and a Nation, Volume I: to
1877 (2007) pp 287-88
* ^ Robert Allen Rutland, The Democrats: From Jefferson to Clinton
(U. of Missouri Press, 1995) ch 1–4
* ^ Sydney Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the American People
(1972) pp 415-71
* ^ Timothy L. Smith, Revivalism and Social Reform: American
Protestantism on the Eve of the Civil War (1957)
* ^ John Stauffer, Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass
Abraham Lincoln (2009)
* ^ James Oakes (2008). The Radical and the Republican: Frederick
Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Triumph of Antislavery Politics. W.
W. Norton. p. 57.
* ^ Molly Oshatz (2011). Slavery and Sin: The Fight Against Slavery
and the Rise of Liberal Protestantism. Oxford U.P. p. 12.
* ^ For a recent overview see Robert V. Hine and John Mack
Faragher, Frontiers: A Short History of the American West (2008); for
elaborate detail see Howard R. Lamar, ed. The New Encyclopedia of the
American West (1998)
* ^ A B Robert V. Hine and John Mack Faragher, The American West: A
New Interpretive History (Yale University Press, 2000) p. 10
* ^ John David Unruh, The Plains Across: The Overland Emigrants and
the Trans-Mississippi West, 1840–1860 (1993) p 120
* ^ Merk 1963 , p. 3
* ^ Howe argues that, "
American imperialism did not represent an
American consensus; it provoked bitter dissent within the national
polity." Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation
of America, 1815–1848 (2007) pp 705–06
* ^ A B Hine and Faragher, The American West (2000) ch 6–7
Daniel Walker Howe (2007). What Hath God Wrought: The
Transformation of America, 1815-1848. p. 798.
* ^ Jeff Forret, Slavery in the
United States (Facts on File, 2012)
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www.ushistory.org. Retrieved 2017-06-03.
* ^ Jon Sensbach. Review of McKivigan, John R.; Snay, Mitchell,
eds., Religion and the Antebellum Debate Over Slavery H-SHEAR, H-Net
Reviews. January 2000. online
* ^ ushistory.org. "The
Compromise of 1850 ". www.ushistory.org.
* ^ Fergus M. Bordewich, America's Great Debate: Henry Clay,
Stephen A. Douglas, and the Compromise That Preserved the Union (2012)
* ^ Nicole Etcheson, Bleeding Kansas: Contested Liberty in the
Civil War Era (2006)
* ^ "Interview: James Oliver Horton: Exhibit Reveals History of
Slavery in New York City" Archived December 23, 2013, at the Wayback
Machine ., PBS Newshour, January 25, 2007, Retrieved February 11, 2012
* ^ Kenneth Stampp, The Causes of the Civil War (2008)
* ^ Allen C. Guelzo, Fateful Lightning: A New History of the Civil
War and Reconstruction (2012) ch 3-4
* ^ Stephen E. Woodworth, Decision in the Heartland: The Civil War
in the West (2011)
* ^ Bruce Catton, The Army of the Potomac: Mr. Lincoln's Army
* ^ On Lee's strategy in 1863 see James M. McPherson, "To Conquer a
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* ^ "Art & History: First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation
by President Lincoln".
U.S. Senate . Retrieved August 2, 2013.
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of a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation. Sight measurement.
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of Slavery in America (2006).
* ^ Jim Downs, Sick from Freedom:
African-American Illness and
Suffering during the Civil War and Reconstruction (2015)
* ^ Allen C. Guelzo, Fateful Lightning: A New History of the Civil
War and Reconstruction (2012) pp 445-513 is a brief treatment; see
also Eric Foner, A Short History of Reconstruction (1990); and Mark
Wahlgren Summers, The Ordeal of the Reunion: A New History of
* ^ Paul A, Cimbala, The Freedmen's Bureau: Reconstructing the
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* ^ A B George C. Rable, But There Was No Peace: The Role of
Violence in the Politics of Reconstruction (2007)
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Reconstruction (1992) pp 3-54
* ^ C. Vann Woodward, The Strange Career of Jim Crow (3rd ed. 1974)
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Schlup, James G. (2003). Historical dictionary of the Gilded Age.
Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe. p. 145. ISBN 0765603314 .
* ^ John Calvin Reed, The New Plutocracy (1903).
* ^ Piketty, Thomas (2014).
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* ^ Mintz, Steven (June 5, 2008). "Learn About the Gilded Age".
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* ^ Zinn, Howard . A People\'s History of the
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* ^ Peter W. Stanley, A Nation in the Making: The
the United States, 1899–1921 (1974)
Richard J. Jensen , Jon Thares Davidann, and Yoneyuki Sugital,
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* ^ The
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* ^ "Pandemics and Pandemic Scares in the 20th Century". U.S.
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* ^ Harold G. Vatter, The U.S. Economy in
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* ^ Stephen Ambrose,
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Ronald H. Spector , Eagle Against the Sun (1985) ch 12–18
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* ^ Richard B. Finn, Winners in Peace: MacArthur, Yoshida, and
Japan (1992) pp 43–103
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* ^ James T. Patterson, Grand Expectations: The United States,
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* ^ Michael O'Brien, John F. Kennedy: A Biography (2005)
* ^ Eric Alterman and Kevin Mattson, The Cause: The Fight for
American Liberalism from Franklin Roosevelt to
Barack Obama (2012)
* ^ Robert Dallek, Lyndon B. Johnson: Portrait of a President
* ^ Irving Bernstein, Guns or Butter: The Presidency of Lyndon
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Sally Foreman Griffith, Randall M. Miller, Randall B. Woods, Unto a
Good Land: A History of the American People (2005) pp 1052–53
* ^ Gregory Schneider, The Conservative Century: From Reaction to
Revolution (Rowman & Littlefield. 2009) ch 5
* ^ Bruce J. Dierenfield, The
Civil Rights Movement
Civil Rights Movement (2004)
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Commission Politics in America. Lexington Books. pp. 123–24.
* ^ Joseph, Peniel E. (2001). ""Black Liberation without Apology:
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* ^ Elizabeth Jacobs (2006). Mexican American Literature: The
Politics of Identity. Routledge. p. 13.
* ^ Angela Howard Zophy, ed. Handbook of American Women's History
(2nd ed. 2000).
* ^ Donald T. Critchlow,
Phyllis Schlafly and Grassroots
Conservatism: A Woman's Crusade (2005)
* ^ Jane J. Mansbridge, Why We Lost the ERA (1986)
* ^ Donald T. Critchlow, Intended Consequences: Birth Control,
Abortion, and the Federal Government in Modern America (2001)
* ^ Roger Chapman,
Culture Wars: An Encyclopedia of Issues, Voices,
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