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USA
The United States of America is a country located in North America. Also known as the United States, America, The USA, or The States, the USA is a federal republic with its capital at Washington DC. The country was founded on 4 July 1776 after the US Declaration of Independence, and its US Constitution was finished on 4 March 1789, establishing the new nation's laws and government. It has since been famous for being a great power, but also infamous as a jingoistic country that was involved in nearly all of the major wars of the 20th century and frequently intervenes in foreign affairs.

History

Founding

US map

Map of the United States

The United States was founded on 4 July 1776 when 56 delegates from the Thirteen Colonies of Great Britain signed the Declaration of Independence, an article that was written by Thomas Jefferson and reviewed by a few other members of the Continental Congress (such as Roger Sherman and Benjamin Franklin). The Americans signed the declaration after the British king George III of Great Britain rejected the Olive Branch Petition, an article that asked the king to consider returning life to the way it was before the start of the American Revolutionary War in 1775. Led by President of Congress John Hancock, the United States gained full independence in 1783 after the Treaty of Paris was signed, ending the Revolution. America gained independence with assistance from the Kingdom of France, the Kingdom of Spain, and the United Provinces, who joined the war against the British in 1778, 1779, and 1780, respectively, and from the Kingdom of Morocco, the first to recognize their independence in 1777. The new American nation was finalized with the signing of the US Constitution in 1789, which set forth the laws of the country. America was supposed to be an egalitarian society in which "all men are created equal", and they passed the Bill of Rights to guarantee a certain set of rights to the people of the country. They passed some amendments to the Constitution to add or take away some rights, and also enacted bills such as the Neutrality Act, Alien-Sedition Act, Volstead Act, and other laws that would be major changes to law.

Background

Smith 1607

John Smith arriving in Virginia with settlers

Virginia soldiers

John Smith's soldiers fighting against the Powhatan Confederacy

Before the United States was founded, the country was originally composed of various Native American civilizations that lived in villages across the country. They were one with nature, but in 1607, the first English explorers under John Smith arrived on the eastern seaboard and founded the Colony of Virginia. They set up a capital at Jamestown and built a dockyard at Yorktown, and they expanded their colony against the Powhatan Confederacy in wars that ended with the 1644 defeat of the Powhatan tribe. On 1619, the English settlers of Jamestown were joined by women from back home in the Kingdom of England, and they built cities that grew rapidly. Immigrants from Scandinavia and other parts of Northern Europe arrived in the country with a guarantee from King James I of England that they would be given English rights and some land grants ("headrights") if they chose to settle in the colonies. In 1619, the first African-American slaves arrived in the United States, imported from Africa by the Dutch. Soon, the Middle Passage was packed with ships coming to and from Africa hoping to enslave some Africans and sell them to plantation owners for cheap labor - the American Indians rapidly died out due to disease brought by the colonists, so they could not rely on them for labor. That same year, Virginia set up the House of Burgesses, a lawmaking government that was the first form of American government. In 1620, more settlers arrived in the Northeast and founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony and Plymouth Colony in an area that came to be known as New England. They fought the Nauset tribe and defeated them, taking over several regions there. In the following decades, expansion occurred until all of the eastern seabord was occupied (except for Spanish Florida to the south). The last colony to be founded was Georgia in 1730. The Thirteen Colonies of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia were British colonies until 1776. The northern states were mainly used for trade, building ports that traded with other nations. Factories were built and people worked there to produce goods that could be exported, and goods from all over the world could be imported. The Middle Colonies were mainly farmland, as settlers moved out to Pennsylvania at the Ohio Valley to settle new towns. The colony of Pennsylvania was founded on the idea of religious freedom, with English Catholics arriving first and French Huguenots later arriving. Other states founded on religious freedom were Maryland (founded for Catholics) and Rhode Island (whose capital was "Providence", founded by Roger Williams with the purpose of welcoming people of all faiths into the colony). Finally, the Southern Colonies were mainly plantations. Although South Carolina had a major port at Charleston and Georgia had the port of Savannah, all of the inland towns were plantations, mainly selling sugar, tobacco, coffee, and other American goods.
British Colonial army

Colonial American troops during the Seven Years' War

Edward Braddock

Edward Braddock

The colonies were constantly at war with the native tribes on the frontier, pushing them back to over the Appalachian Mountains. Indian raids were constantly a problem, and they eventually allied with the Kingdom of France in the Ohio Valley. From 1701 to 1714, while the War of the Spanish Succession was being fought in Europe, British and Colonial troops fought against French and Indian troops in Canada and on the Frontier in several skirmishes. There were not as many land battles as there were in Europe, but mainly Indian raids. Naval battles took place off the colonies as both sides struggled over the control of trade routes in the country. War raged again from 1740 to 1748 in King George's War and from 1754 to 1763 in the French and Indian War. The French and Indian War was one of the most ferocious wars fought on the American continent. Beginning when George Washington and a small American army clashed with the French under Jumonville in the Ohio Valley in 1754, the war escalated into a conflict spanning from the Ohio Valley in Virginia up into Canada. The colonists and Iroquois Confederacy allies fought against the French, their Huron, Abenaki, Shawnee, Lenape, and other Indian allies on the frontier and in the northern colonies on the Great Lakes, and many battles took place around French and British forts in the Ohio Valley, on the Hudson River Valley, and in the gulf of the St. Lawrence River. In 1758 the British Army got involved in the war for real when Jeffrey Amherst seized Louisbourg from the French in Canada, and the British army moved from Nova Scotia into Canada. They evicted the Acadians from Canada, forcing them to flee into French Louisiana (where they became known as "Cajuns"). The British army under James Wolfe captured Quebec in 1759 in a battle that cost his life and that of his French adversary Louis-Joseph de Montcalm, but the battle was a decisive British victory. Montreal fell in 1760, and the Spanish entry into the war in 1762 did little to help the French side. The British Royal Navy defeated the French at sea multiple times in the North Atlantic, the River Valley, and in the Caribbean, and in 1762 they captured the Spanish Empire city of Havana in Cuba and Manila in the Philippines. In 1763, the Treaty of Paris ended the war, and Britain gained control of all lands east of the Mississippi bar Spanish Florida. Louisiana went to Spain, and Canada became a British possession. France was completely pushed out of North America's mainland and restricted to the island of Martinique in the Caribbean and French Guiana in northern South America.
George III

King George III of Great Britain

In the aftermath of the war, King George III of Great Britain decided to tax the colonists for the vast amount of debts that Britain had gathered during the hard-fought war. In 1765 Parliament passed the Stamp Act, taxing American goods indirectly. Americans were angered by this and broke into the mansion of Boston governor Thomas Hutchinson, and in 1770 the Boston Massacre of 7 American thugs that assaulted a British soldier led to public outcry. The British repealed the Stamp Act, but their Tea Act and the Townshend Acts led to more animosity. In 1773, the American "Sons of Liberty" under Samuel Adams dumped loads of tea into Boston Harbor, getting rid of a huge portion of British income. The British responded with the Intolerable Acts, closing Boston Harbor and stationing troops in American houses in the Quartering Act. The Americans responded by forming the Committees of Correspondence, a group of riders that spread propaganda through the colonies while avoiding British troops. They managed to unite many colonies against the British, and several American politicians from all of the colonies formed the Continental Congress, the body of American lawmakers that gathered to discuss the issues. They eventually came to be the leaders of the revolution against the British, and in meeting, they were all committing the crime of treason, which was punishable by death. In 1775, American men in Massachusetts formed a militia of "Minutemen" and stockpiled arms at Concord, prompting General Thomas Gage to send British troops to Concord to destroy the guns. They met the American militia at Lexington, where the first shots of the war were fired. A few Americans were killed in a short battle, while only 1 British soldier was shot in the thigh. The Americans decided to carry out guerrilla warfare in the surrounding area, and they moved the guns from Concord to other locations. As the British marched, they were picked off by Americans at the Old North Bridge and Barrett's Farm, and on the retreat to Boston they suffered heavy losses. 95 Americans and 270 British were killed or wounded in the Battle of Lexington and the Battle of Concord, the first two battles of the war.
Bunker Hill

The Battle of Bunker Hill, June 1775

The American militia proceeded to lay siege to Boston, which was still under British control. British generals John Burgoyne, William Howe, and Henry Clinton arrived in the country in June 1775, and they led their army in an attack on the American defenses at Breed's Hill (later mistaken as nearby Bunker Hill). The Americans held the British off for several hours before running out of ammunition, and they were forced to retreat. 1/6 of the British officers killed in the war died at Bunker Hill, and 1,000 British troops were killed or wounded. The Americans resumed the siege of Boston as Howe took over Gage's position. Meanwhile, Benedict Arnold and Ethan Allen (the latter of whom led the "Green Mountain Boys" of Vermont, a group of hard drinkers and thugs who attacked New Yorkers to prevent them from entering their self-declared state of Vermont) attacked Fort Ticonderoga in northern New York and forced all 45 British troops to surrender. 
Washington Continental

George Washington leading the Continental Army

After Bunker Hill and Fort Ticonderoga, the Second Continental Congress convened to appoint a commander of their new armed forces, the Continental Army. They elected General George Washington of Virginia as its commander-in-chief due to his French and Indian War experience, and he took control of an army of poorly-trained rag-tag farmers when he arrived in Boston. Many had little to no experience in warfare, and they were low on morale and ammunition. An American attack on Quebec in December 1775 by Benedict Arnold and Richard Montgomery, hoping to gain Canadian support for the American Revolution, failed as Arnold was wounded, Montgomery was killed, and the freezing American troops were racked by grapeshot. The Americans withdrew, and 1776 looked like another bad year.
Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

General Washington won his first victory in Boston in early 1776, threatening to bombard the British in the city unless General Howe withdrew his army. The British did withdraw by ship to Halifax, and Boston became the capital of the patriot rebellion. The Americans gained control of all of the northern colonies and became powerful, but some still wanted peace. Disheartened by the defeat at Quebec, the Americans tried to offer peace to King George, saying that Parliament and not King George was to blame for their rebellion and that they wanted a return to a better time. King George flatly refused, and on 2 July 1776 the Continental Congress drafted the Declaration of Independence, which had been written by Thomas Jefferson, a gentleman farmer from Virginia. On 4 July, the document was signed by Congress, and America became independent. The declaration was also a declaration of war, and the British king sent an army of 23,000 troops to North America to attack New York City, which was the center of all trade in America. Sitting on the Hudson River, it was a city of 20,000 people that was a commercial center, cleaned up since the 1750s. On 10 July, the British Royal Navy bombarded Kip's Bay, Manhattan. General Howe's army moved to Staten Island, and Washington moved to Manhattan. The British landing at Kip's Bay was a horrible defeat for the Americans, who fled despite Washington's attempts to rally them. The British failed initially to land at Throggs Neck in The Bronx, but they later pushed inland and advanced to Brooklyn, where Washington and his army planned to fight them. The British Army was now 36,000-strong, and included not only British troops, but also German mercenaries called "Hessians", fierce bayonet-equipped troops that were purchased from Hessian princes with the help of King George's German wife Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

In August, the Americans and their British and Hessian enemies met in the Battle of Long Island (also called Brooklyn Heights). The American army was outflanked by Howe and defeated, with William Alexander's 2nd Maryland Regiment holding the British and Hessians off as the rest of the army retreated. Only 45 of the regiment survived, and Alexander was wounded and captured. Washington first retreated to Manhattan, and then to New Jersey. The British and Hessians burnt New York City down and proceeded to occupy much of the colonies again. 

Washington's army was demoralized by the loss of New York City and withdrew south through New Jersey. Most of the troops' enlistments were supposed to expire on 31 December 1776, so Washington needed a miracle to rally them. He got his chance when he found out that 1,200 Hessians under Johann Rall were encamped at Trenton in New Jersey. Crossing the Delaware River from Pennsylvania into New Jersey, Washington ambushed the Hessians and destroyed their army with only 4 men wounded. Rall was killed, and most of his men were captured. The reason why the victory worked so well was because Rall ignored a spy's letter warning him of the American advance while he was having a party with his troops on Christmas Day, 1776. The letter was found in his pocket even after he was killed.

With this victory, Washington proceeded to defeat the British rearguard nearby in the Battle of Princeton in January 1777. The British general Charles Cornwallis was forced to retreat, and the Hessians in Elizabeth and Hackensack were forced to withdraw. New Jersey was now in Patriot hands, and the Americans succeeded in driving the British and Hessians out. The Americans mainly fought the British in the northern colonies, and in 1777 the British general Burgoyne came up with a plan to defeat the Americans: he would invade New York through Canada, the Mohawk Valley, and New York City. William Howe would seize the American capital of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania and capture the congress. The plan went well for Howe, who defeated Washington at Brandywine and then Germantown before capturing the capital. Washington was defeated, but in the north, a British and Indian attack on Fort Schuyler (now Fort Stanwix) was repelled after a bloody battle at Oriskany that cost the Americans dearly and American trickery (captured Loyalist Han Yost Schuyler was sent to the Indians, convincing them that they were about to be killed, forcing them to desert the British). Burgoyne's march from Canada was slowed by Daniel Morgan's frontiersmen, who felled trees to block the British roads. They also picked off the Indian scouts that came with the British, and all of them either were killed or deserted. British officers were also targeted by sharpshooters, breaking the rules of war.

Simon Fraser

Simon Fraser

The final confrontation in the campaign occurred at Saratoga. An initial battle was inconclusive, but in the second battle, the Americans stormed two British redoubts and killed British general Simon Fraser, who was shot from afar by marksman Timothy Murphy. General Burgoyne surrendered his whole army to General Horatio Gates and Benedict Arnold, and the battle led France to join the Americans in the war. After the battle, the Americans encamped at Valley Forge in the winter. Conditions were bad, with many troops lacking shoes and food and men suffering from smallpox and dysentery in cold weather. However, French general Gilbert du Motier de Lafayette joined the Continental Army and Prussian general Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben arrived to train the Americans, and he taught them how to become a European-style army. In 1778, they won their first post-Valley Forge victory at the Battle of Monmouth, where they defeated the British as they left Philadelphia. The British retreated to Sandy Hook and from there to New York, where they camped out. 1779 saw few major battles on land, although George Rogers Clark's frontiersmen peacefully secured the British forts of Vincennes and Kaskaskia on the frontier and the Polish-American general Casimir Pulaski was killed in the failed siege of Savannah, a French blunder.

In 1780, the British shifted their focus to the south, with the north in American hands apart from New York. They captured Charleston from the Americans and defeated Horatio Gates at the Battle of Camden, but American guerrilla leaders Daniel Morgan, Thomas Sumter, and Andrew Pickens attacked several British forts in South Carolina and held the British general Cornwallis from heading up north to meet Henry Clinton in New York City to defeat Washington. The battle of Cowpens utterly defeated the British army, and in 1781 Washington and a French army under Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur (Comte de Rochambeau) snuck past New York and encircled Cornwallis at Yorktown. After the French Navy destroyed the British fleet sent to aid Cornwallis, Cornwallis' defenses fell to an Allied assault and he was forced to surrender. The Siege of Yorktown pretty much ended the war, although fighting resumed in British-held Georgia and the frontier until the end of the war with the Treaty of Paris in 1783. The Treaty of Paris let America gain full independence, but there were many issues with setting up the new country.

Constitution

Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton

The Articles of Confederation of 1785 divided the country, as the country was not allowed to levy taxes, could not maintain an army or navy, and the states had too many individual rights. A party of people, called the Federalist Party (led by the likes of Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, John Adams, and James Madison), supported the writing of the US Constitution, which would set the power for the government. However, the Anti-Federalists under Patrick Henry, Thomas Paine, James Monroe, Samuel Adams, and Richard Henry Lee opposed the constitution. The Federalist Papers of 1787-1788 defended the constitution, and in 1789 the constitution was set into stone. It included the Judiciary Act of 1789, which set up the Judicial Branch of the USA, led by the Supreme Justice of the US Supreme Court. It gave the president four-year terms as president, allowed the government certain powers, and united America. In order to satisfy anti-Federalists, the Bill of Rights was also published, which had ten amendments to the constitution. They included the right to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, the right to bear arms, prohibiting excessive bail or searching possessions without a warrant, right to a speedy public trial, and the right of states to have control over laws not named in the previous nine amendments. The Bill of Rights showed the American people what their rights as citizens were, and remains one of the most important documents in American history.

Washington's Presidency 1789-1797

Washington

George Washington

Impressment

A British captain press-ganging an American sailor

George Washington was unanimously elected as President of the USA without an opposition candidate on 30 April 1789, and he was given the heavy task of setting a precedent for future Presidents. Washington was a great leader, making wise and honorable decisions. Washington did not belong to a political party, but leaned towards Alexander Hamilton's elitist Federalist Party, which proposed a strong central government, having a Bank of the United States, a government ruled by the wealthy upper classes, and an industrial economy. Washington had to deal with complaints from both Hamilton, who served as his Secretary of the Treasury, and Thomas Jefferson, his Secretary of State, who became the leader of the Democratic Republican Party and was a rival of Hamilton. Jefferson was a people's man, and he believed that the government should be ruled by the people, it should be weaker and give the states more rights, and that the economy should be based on agriculture instead of factories. Jefferson used the National Gazette to attack Hamilton, and both of them frequently argued. Washington dealt with these scenarios while also acting as the leader of the country. Washington declared the United States' neutrality in the French Revolutionary Wars from 1792 to 1797, as America's two parties were again torn between supporting the new First French Republic (supported by Jefferson and the Republicans) and Great Britain (supported by Hamilton and the Federalists). Washington decided to keep America out of the war, which caused both countries to be hostile to the USA. Britain began a policy of "impressment", in which the Royal Navy would make up for its shortage of crew members for its 700 warship by stealing American crew members from their ships. The French also did so, but not to the extent that the British did. 
Little Turtle

Little Turtle

Another problem was the threat of the Native Americans. Led by Little Turtle, the Miami and other tribes resisted the United States' expansion to the Mississippi River. In the 1780s, the Americans fought the Cherokee Nations of Kentucky and Tennessee and the Iroquois Confederacy of New York, Ohio, and Indiana. The Americans pushed west, and the native tribes were forced to relocate west of the Mississippi. Their major threat was Little Turtle's confederacy in the Northwest Indian War, during which they suffered a defeat at the Battle of the Wabash in 1791. However, on 20 August 1794 General Anthony Wayne and 3,000 American troops defeated Alexander McKillop and Blue Jacket's army of 1,500 Miamis, Lenape, Shawnee, Wyandots, Ojibwe, Ottawa, Potawatomi, Mingo, and Canadian militiamen at the Battle of Fallen Timbers. The victory led to the Treaty of Greenville in 1795, which led to the forced relocation of the Indian tribes to the east of the Mississippi.
Whiskey Rebellion

President George Washington leading the US Army during the Whiskey Rebellion.

Washington also had to deal with the first rebellion the new America faced in 1794 when whiskey farmers in Pennsylvania rose up in the Whiskey Rebellion against Alexander Hamilton's tax on the drink. Washington led 13,000 American volunteers to quell the uprising, the only sitting US president to lead an army in battle. Washington was victorious, putting down the unrest. His time in office ended in 1797, when he decided to make an example by leaving after two terms in office, giving up his power.

Adams Presidency, 1797-1801

John Adams

John Adams

John Adams and the Federalist Party won the next elections for the presidency, and Adams had Thomas Jefferson be his Vice-President, although he was an anti-Federalist. Under John Adams, America devolved into a dictatorship. In 1797, after the French diplomats demanded a bribe from the American ambassadors in order for them to be able to speak with the French ambassador in Paris (the "XYZ Affair"), America and France went to war in the "Quasi-War". The United States defended their ships from French privateer attacks in the West Indies and on the Atlantic Ocean, and during the conflict, Adams boosted the power of the presidency with the Alien and Sedition Acts, which limited the ability of immigrants to vote and let the president imprison critics of his leadership. His last action in office in 1801 was to decrease the amount of Supreme Court justices from 9 to 5, and appointed Federalist "Midnight Judges" on his last day in office in hopes of making the Federalists rule America if his rivals won the next elections. Thomas Jefferson won the election, and his Secretary of State James Madison refused to deliver William Marbury's commission to him. In the landmark case Marbury v. Madison, Marbury delivered his complaint to the Supreme Court, but the court found his petition for his title unconstitutional and dismissed him. The case did, however, set up the process of judicial review, in which the Supreme Court could declare laws unconstitutional.

Jefferson's Presidency, 1801-1809

Napoleon

Napoleon I

Jefferson's first term in office was just as controversial as Adams'. In 1803 he purchased the Louisiana Territory from Emperor Napoleon of the French Empire, who needed money to fight against Haiti (who had destroyed an army sent to restore control to the island in 1802), paying $15,000,000 to double the size of the USA. The controversial part of the decision was his instant admission of the states to the union, and he appointed military governors to lead the territories, which was used by the Federalists as anti-Jefferson propaganda, as he instituted martial law over the people of Louisiana. The anti-Federalists argued that it was unlikely that the Louisiana Territory would be settled, as it was still full of Native Americans that were hostile to the American government.
Lewis and Clark Expedition

The route of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, 1804-1806

In 1804-06, Jefferson sent Merriweather Lewis and William Clark on the Lewis and Clark Expedition with the goal of reaching the Pacific Ocean, and they explored lands up to the Pacific in Oregon. They brought Jefferson two bear cubs as pets, and their exploration of the Oregon Trail paved the way for Manifest Destiny. Explorers like Zebulon Pike soon followed, and America laid claims to the Oregon Territory, lands also claimed by the United Kingdom.

Relations between the United States and the United Kingdom plummeted in Jefferson's second term in office from 1805 to 1809. In 1807, the USA passed the Embargo Act of 1807 to prove their neutrality in the Napoleonic Wars, as the French Empire and the United Kingdom were again at war. This caused the American economy to crumble, as they suffered from a lack of ability to sell their goods to French and British merchants. America's ships were again seized by the British and French, with their goods stolen. The largest naval incident that caused the war was the Chesapeake-Leonard Affair of 1807, in which an unarmed USS Chesapeake was fired upon by blockading Royal Navy man-of-war HMS Leopard after the American captain James Barron refused to allow the British to search his ship for British deserters. The incident caused a breakdown in relations, but Jefferson decided to solve the problem through negotiations.

Madison's Presidency, 1809-1817

Tecumseh

Tecumseh

Jefferson left office in 1809, and James Madison became the fourth President of the United States. Madison was a Federalist, but had served as Secretary of State for Thomas Jefferson. Madison's tenure was marred by bad decisions, as he had to deal not only with British aggression but also the resistance of the Shawnee tribes to America. Led by Tecumseh, a confederacy of Indian tribes resisted the Americans. They were defeated in the 1811 Battle of Tippecanoe by William Henry Harrison, the Governor of the Indiana Territory, who had been fighting the Indians in the former Louisiana Territory for a long time.
Battle of New Orleans

Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans, 8 January 1815

Edward Pakenham

Edward Pakenham

By 1812, the USA and UK were on the brink of war again. Britain had supported Indian raids and also "impressed" American sailors at sea, forcing them to serve on British ships (these actions were also carried out by Napoleonic France). In 1812, America declared war on Britain, starting the War of 1812. The Americans failed in their invasion of British Canada at the start of the war and also lost Detroit to the British and Indians, but they won some spirited victories on the high seas and repelled an invasion of upstate New York in 1814 after the Battle of Lake Champlain. The Americans lost their good fortunes in April 1814 after Emperor Napoleon was forced to abdicate power in France, freeing up the whole 1,000 ships of the Royal Navy and the whole British Army. The British occupied eastern Maine to the north of the USA and also landed at Washington DC in Maryland, where they razed the presidential mansion, Capitol, and other key buildings. When the presidential mansion was burnt down, President James Madison fled, leaving his wife Dolly Madison behind - she bravely saved the painting of George Washington from the mansion before escaping. The British also attempted to seize Baltimore, but at the Siege of Fort McHenry, the Americans were able to resist the British. At the Battle of North Point, General Robert Ross was killed by the Americans, and the British were forced to retreat from the siege. The Americans rallied their armies and defeated the British-allied Red Sticks band of the Creeks at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend before invading Spanish Florida. They captured Pensacola and Mobile in West Florida and forced the British to blow up Fort San Carlos de Barrancas. On 29 December 1814, the two sides signed the Treaty of Ghent in Belgium, officially ending the war. However, the last battle, the Battle of New Orleans, was fought only on 8 January 1815. A British army under Edward Pakenham left Jamaica with Admiral Alexander Cochrane, and they landed at New Orleans. They attacked earthworks defended by General Andrew Jackson and a rag-tag army of Americans, Haitians, slaves, pirates, and other miscreants, and the British were held back by Jackson's army. The British generals were picked off and 2,500 British troops were killed in the attack. The battle was strategically worthless, but it gained Jackson fame (and later the presidency).

Henry Clay

Henry Clay

The effects of the War of 1812 in terms of territorial gain were negligible. The United States retained control of the Mobile District in Mississippi from Spain, but the border with Canada was unchanged. The USA and the United Kingdom remained hostile with each other, but the Americans proved that they were a truly independent country. The "Era of Good Feelings" followed the war, with the Americans having an upsurge of national pride. The poem "The Star-Spangled Banner" by Francis Scott Key was written about the US defense of Fort McHenry, and in 1932 it became the national anthem of the USA. However, some issues prevailed after the war. Henry Clay's American System, which included the creation of the Second Bank of the United States in 1816, instituting protective tariffs on goods, and improving transportation through subsidies, was highly controversial. However, the Erie Canal came out of this plan, linking the Hudson River with Lake Erie. Nevertheless, Clay was opposed by other factions such as those of Andrew Jackson. In addition, there were disputes over the tariffs and states rights. 

Monroe's Presidency, 1817-1825

James Monroe

James Monroe

Also coming after the war was an increased feeling of nationalism. President James Monroe's Secretary of State John Quincy Adams negotiated the 1819 Adams-Onis Treaty with Spain's diplomat Luis de Onis, which secured Florida for the USA. The purchase of Spanish Florida completed America's conquest of all lands to the east of the Mississippi as negotiated in the 1794 Pinckney's Treaty. In 1823, the Monroe Doctrine of President Monroe was a threat to the European powers, declaring that further attempts by European nations to colonize or interfere in the Americas would be regarded as hostile and met with US intervention. The USA and the United Kingdom benefitted, as it guaranteed that no new European power would move in. In addition, the treaty avoided making the Americas a battleground for European warfare. The treaty coincided with the independence of South America from Spanish rule, as Peru had just become independent at the Battle of Ayacucho. During Monroe's term, America also fought against the Seminoles in Florida, with Andrew Jackson commanding American forces in the suppression of the tribe's violent rebellion against the USA.

Quincy Adams' Presidency, 1825-1829

John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams

In 1825, John Quincy Adams was elected as President of the United States. His presidency involved the paying of the national debt, and as a part of the American System of Henry Clay, he formed a national currency through the Bank of the United States. He also signed the Tariff of Abominations in 1828, antagonizing the Jacksonian Party by increasing the tariffs on goods in the south. His foreign policies were not many, as he decided to stay neutral during the Greek War of Independence despite Henry Clay's calls for US intervention on the side of the Kingdom of Greece, as Adams wanted to stop the US from getting entangled in European affairs.

After losing control of Congress, Quincy Adams' tenure was unstable. In 1829, he was succeeded as President by Andrew Jackson, his archenemy.

Jackson's Presidency, 1829-1837

Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson's presidency was very controversial, with his opponents calling him "jackass"; Jackson adopted the donkey as his symbol, later coming to represent the Democratic Party. He ordered the Indian Removal Act of 1831, forcing the "five civilized tribes" of the south (Choctaws, Creeks, Seminoles, Cherokee Nations, and Chickasaws) to relocate to the Indian Territory of present-day Oklahoma. From 1835 to 1842 he crushed the Seminoles in the Second Seminole War, putting down Osceola's rebellion. In the 1832 case Worcester v. Georgia, the state of Georgia was forced to leave Cherokee lands alone. However, Jackson stated "John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it". The Cherokees were forced to relocate, despite the lawsuit.

Jackson was called "King Andrew the First" in some cases due to his dictatorial leadership. He used the spoils system - when supporters of the winning candidate in an election would be given government jobs as a reward - to attract followers in the elections. In 1832, South Carolina decided to secede in the Nullification Crisis, but he sent troops to put down the uprising.

Jackson's foreign policies were successful due to his Minister to France William C. Rives. Secretary of State Martin Van Buren said that relations with France were hopeless because the French seized American ships since the Napoleonic Era and sent their ships to Spanish ports while using their crews for forced labor. On 4 July 1831, Rives negotiated an agreement where France paid the USA $5,000,000 in reparations for the attacks, but the process was delayed until February 1836. Jackson made a controversial statement where he said that the USA was "wholly disappointed" by France and demanded Congress to make trade reprisals when France was deliberately stalling the payments, but he later apologized, while holding onto his beliefs that France was stalling payments on purpose. 

Jackson was also unsuccessful in getting trade agreements with the Qing Dynasty of China and Japan, the latter of which was isolationist since the 17th century. He also failed to purchase the predominantly-white Tejas territory from Mexico, but in 1836 Jackson supported the Republic of Texas' war for independence against the Mexicans. The United States sent volunteers to assist Texas, and their involvement was important in Texas' acquisition of independence.

The economy crashed under Jackson in the Panic of 1837, which resulted from his killing of the Second Bank of the United States in 1832, refusing to renew its charter. The US economy went into a depression, and investment was stopped when the UK's economy also crashed. He left office on 3 March 1837.

Van Buren's presidency, 1837-1841

Martin Van Buren

Martin Van Buren

Jackson's Secretary of State Martin Van Buren became the next President of the United States on 4 March 1837. Van Buren's presidency was marred with bad fortune, as he was forced to deal with the economic crisis. On 29 December 1837, during the Patriot War/Upper Canada Rebellion, Sir Allan McNab and Canadian militia attacked SS Caroline in the St. Lawrence when it was rumored that the ship was supplying Canadian rebels with guns. One black man, Amos Durfee, was killed by the Canadian militia, and his body was displayed in Buffalo, New York. The USA falsely claimed that 22 people were killed by the British, nearly leading to another war. President Van Buren protested strongly against London, but the United Kingdom ignored him. Van Buren sent General Winfield Scott to take command of US forces along the Canadian border to prevent future attacks, and at the Battle of the Windmill on 12-16 November 1838, the Americans and British assisted each other in the defeat against American filibusterers that were fighting on the side of the rebels.

Another deterioration in British-American relations followed soon after. From 1838 to 1839, 6,000 US troops faced off with 15,000 British troops under Gordon Drummond, and in the Battle of Caribou, US and British-Canadian armed lumberjacks fought in a bloodless skirmish. The Pork and Beans War was nearly a new Anglo-American War, which led to fears that the USA would be at war with the United Kingdom again.

Van Buren's economic policies also failed. Known as "Van Ruin" for his failed attempts to store government money in independent banks, he was used as a scapegoat for the failure of the US government to recover from the depression, an event that only occurred in 1842, when the economy rebounded. Van Buren was voted out of office in 1840.

William Henry Harrison's presidency, 1841

William Henry Harrison

William Henry Harrison

In 1841, American Whig Party candidate William Henry Harrison was elected as President of the United States with John Tyler as his Vice-President. On his inaugaration day, it rained heavily, and the 68-year-old Harrison caught a cold. He died after a month in office, having not been able to make any decisive actions during his short term as president. This led to the so-called "Tecumseh Curse", where presidents elected in a year ending with a zero would die early - Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, elected in 1860 and 1960, respectively, were both assassinated in their terms. 

Tyler's Presidency, 1841-1845

John Tyler

John Tyler

Harrison was succeeded as President by his Vice-President, John Tyler. He was the first person to become President that was not elected to office, and to fix constitutional uncertainties, he took the oath of office and moved into the White House. He vetoed several of his party's own bills because he saw many of their movements as unconstitutional, and he was called "His Accidency" by his own party members, who expelled him from the party.

Tyler nevertheless had great achievements in his foreign policy. In 1842, the United Kingdom and United States signed the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, and the USA gained control of the region of Caribou, forming the present-day state of Maine. In 1844, the Treaty of Wanghia led to commerce between the USA and China, a feat that Andrew Jackson had failed to achieve. In the last days of his term, he began the process of annexing Texas to the union, and he left office on 4 March 1845.

Polk's presidency, 1845-49

James K. Polk

James K. Polk

On 4 March 1845, US Democratic Party candidate James K. Polk was elected as President of the United States, succeeding Tyler. In February 1846, Texas became the 28th state of the USA. He also agreed to divide the Oregon Territory with the UK after threatening war with the British if they refused to cede Oregon to America. Polk also made it his main goal to secure the annexation of the California Territory to the USA, hoping to complete Manifest Destiny. He offered to buy the territory for $30,000,000, twice the price that the USA had paid for Louisiana. However, President Mariano Paredes snubbed the delegation, so Pol decided to send troops to the disputed mouth of the Rio Grande on the Gulf of Mexico along Texas' southern border. Having invaded Mexico's territory, the army there was counterattacked.
Battle of Buena Vista

Battle of Buena Vista

US territorial acquisitions

Map of US territorial acquisitions

Under general Zachary Taylor, the Americans won victories at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, securing Texas for them. Missouri volunteers commander Alexander Doniphan and General Stephen Kearny secured New Mexico and Arizona easily, and explorer John Fremont captured California with aid from the Californian Republic. Taylor proceeded to capture Matamoros on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande and advanced to Monterrey, which he captured. The Americans then defeated the Mexicans at the Battle of Buena Vista in February 1847, although under the leadership of recently-returned President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the Mexicans almost defeated the Americans. The American victory allowed General Winfield Scott's army of 12,000 troops to capture Veracruz on the coast of the Caribbean, and US troops headed inland, seizing Mexico City. US troops remained in the city from September 1847 until February 1848, when Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The United States gained New Mexico, Arizona, half of Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California from Mexico, and the California Gold Rush took place in 1848, making the poor California region into a very wealthy region.

Taylor's presidency, 1849-1850

Zachary Taylor

Zachary Taylor

As a national hero endorsed by several political clubs, Zachary Taylor won the 1848 presidential elections with the US Whig Party against Lewis Cass' Democrats and Martin Van Buren's Free Soil Party. Taylor had an unclear platform and a lack of interest in politics, but the Whigs persuaded him to run on their ticket. He kept his distance from Congress and his cabinet, and although he was a southern slaveholder, he also avoided the issue of slavery. Instead, he pushed for California and New Mexico to aim for statehood, and California was made a state in the Compromise of 1850, also during which the state of Texas gave up its claim to New Mexico and all lands north of the Missouri Compromise line, but kept the Texan panhandle. Taylor died in office on 9 July 1850 of stomach problems, and his Vice-President Millard Fillmore was the next president. 

Fillmore presidency, 1850-1853

Millard Fillmore

Millard Fillmore

Fillmore, the last Whig president, succeeded Taylor when he died, as he was his Vice-President. He was an anti-slavery moderate, and he supported the Compromise of 1850 to end the slavery crisis of that year. Fillmore did not agree with the Wilmot Proviso, which ban slavery in all of the Mexican Cession territories. He supported the American expedition to Japan under Commodore Matthew Perry, which opened Japan to foreign trade again, with the USA gaining trading posts in the Orient. In addition, he opposed France's designs on the Kingdom of Hawaii, an uncivilized island nation that was located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, far from America's interests at the time. Fillmore's great folly was his support of Narciso Lopez, who carried the modern-day flag of Cuba and attempted to liberate the island from Spain. He was executed on 1 September 1851 in Havana after failing to capture the city. Fillmore attempted re-election, but the Whigs dissolved and Franklin Pierce succeeded him.

Pierce's presidency, 1853-57

Franklin Pierce

Franklin Pierce

Franklin Pierce of the Democratic Party was elected as President of the United States on 4 March 1853. A Young America movement leader, he purchased additional lands along the Rio Grande in southern New Mexico and Arizona from Mexico for $10,000,000, adjusting the USA to its modern border with Mexico. He defeated Winfield Scott's Whig Party, which dissolved in 1854 after the elections. That same year, however, he caused violence in the USA when he created the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which allowed the territories of Kansas and Nebraska to decide if they wanted slavery or not, causing the Bleeding Kansas civil war between Border Ruffians and Free Staters. He also enforced the Fugitive Slave Act, which left slaves without trial by jury or self-representation in defiance of the Bill of Rights. 

Without mentioning his domestic disasters, he had a foreign catastrophe with the Ostend Manifesto, in which American foreign ministers Pierre Soule for Spain, James Buchanan for Britain, and John Y. Mason for France met in Ostend, Belgium to discuss the annexation of Spanish Cuba as a slave state. However, Soule made no secret of his plans, ruining American relations with the other Great Powers, making the North German Confederation, France, the Austrian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the United Kingdom, the Russian Empire, and Belgium reset their relations with America to nearly indifferent and angering Spain, which became intensely hostile towards America (already made worse by Narciso Lopez's attempt to liberate Cuba from Spain in 1851). Although Cuba became a US core, the core was not acted upon until the 1898 Spanish-American War.

Buchanan's presidency, 1857-1861

James Buchanan

James Buchanan

Pierce's even worse successor was James Buchanan, a Democratic Party member who defeated Millard Fillmore's attempt at regaining power and John C. Fremont's US Republican Party campaign. He won by 45.3%, beating Fremont's 33.1% and Fillmore's 21.5%. Formerly the ambassador to the United Kingdom, Buchanan was known as a "doughface", a sympathizer with the south although he was from Pennsylvania - he was also the first president to be a lifelong bachelor. His attempts to maintain peace between the north and south failed, and his inability to identify a ground for peace led to a sharp divide between pro-slavery and anti-slavery activists. By the time he left office on 4 March 1861, Buchanan had divided the nation and set the American Civil War into motion.

Lincoln's presidency, 1861-1865

Abraham Lincoln
Union infantry

Union troops on the march

Abraham Lincoln, a US Republican Party senator from Illinois who was a former Whig Party lawyer. As a moderate from a swing state, he won the 1860 presidential elections. However, his history of being an anti-slavery senator (especially during his debates with Democratic politican Stephen A. Douglas) led to seven southern slave states seceding to form the Confederate States. On 12 April 1861, the Confederates seized Fort Sumter after a short barrage, starting the American Civil War. Lincoln's main goal was now to preserve the union, with the issue of slavery being a sideshow - he stated that he would preserve the union regardless of if slavery was legal or illegal. He suspended habeas corpus in the ex parte Merryman decision, and on 8 November 1861 he suffered a breach of diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom and France after the Trent Affair, in which USS San Jacinto intercepted RMS Trent and captured Confederate diplomats James Murray Mason and John Slidell. The British strengthened its military forces in both British Canada and on the Atlantic Ocean in preparation for war, but Lincoln resolved the issue in December by releasing the two diplomats, and they left for the UK on 14 January 1862.

The northern states, loyal to the USA, were defeated repeatedly in 1861 and 1862, but a few important victories such as at Pea Ridge, New Orleans, Shiloh, and Antietam were secured. The Confederates and Union were engaged in stalemate up until 1863, when the Union besieged Charleston in South Carolina and defeated a Confederate invasion of Pennsylvania on the 1-4 July 1863 Battle of Gettysburg. The Confederates retreated, and the US troops were able to counterattack. Although they lost the Battle of Chickamauga, they were victorious at the Battle of Chattanooga in early 1864. Their general William T. Sherman invaded Georgia and conquered the state from the CSA, pushing into the Carolinas. Ulysses S. Grant secured Kentucky and Tennessee before he was posted in command of the USA army in Washington DC, which was prepared for an invasion of the south. He defeated the CSA at the Wilderness and Spotsylvania (technically draws, but he outflanked the CSA), and despite a defeat at Cold Harbor, he resumed the march south and besieged Petersburg in late 1864. On 2 April 1865, Petersburg fell, and on 3 April 1865, Richmond surrendered. On 9 April 1865, CSA commander Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House, and the main war ended.

Lincoln also solved the issue of slavery on 1 January 1863 with the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all of the slaves in the United States. Although there were fears that the border states under Union control would secede, the proclamation instead led to African-American volunteers ("contraband") joining the Union Army and fighting alongside the Union in the south. 

Unfortunately, Lincoln was assassinated on 15 April 1865 while watching "Our American Cousin" at the Ford Theatre in Washington DC by John Wilkes Booth, a Confederate sympathizer who was angry at the Union victory in the Civil War. He was succeeded by his Vice-President Andrew Johnson.

Reconstruction Era 1865-1877

Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson

After the assassination of Lincoln, his Vice-President Andrew Johnson became the new president of the United States. Johnson's tenure as president was filled with challenges, as the south entered a period known as "Reconstruction", where US troops were stationed in the south, which was in ruins after the "March to the Sea" of 1864. The south's laws were still racist against African-Americans, with some laws being passed that would attempt to bypass the United States government's constitutional amendments that gave African-Americans the right to vote, citizenship, and equal rights. The south was also plagued with "carpetbaggers" - northerners who headed to the south to exploit the economic turmoil for their own gains, which would fill their pockets but leave the south in shambles. Unfortunately, this occupation went on for several years, while Tennessee was the only state not to be occupied by the American government due to being a border state during the civil war. The rest of the south was under occupation from federal government troops until 1877, when the last troops withdrew from South Carolina. Johnson was nearly impeached for his poor actions while in office, but the process was incomplete, and he left office before he could be impeached. 

Also during this time, the south saw the birth of the racist Ku Klux Klan, formed by Confederate veterans under Nathan Bedford Forrest. Originating in Tennessee, these radicals were known for their anti-black, anti-Catholic, and anti-Jewish violence, and they became a major threat. President Ulysses S. Grant, who succeeded Johnson, passed various acts against the terrorists, and this led to their eventual destruction. The klan would be suppressed until its revival in 1916 at Stone Mountain, Georgia.

The government also focused on other areas of crisis: the expansion against the Native Americans in the west was still continuing. The Americans fought the Sioux in Red Cloud's War of 1866 as they tried to protect the Bozeman Trail from attacks by the Sioux Indians, but the Fetterman Massacre resulted in the government negotiating a peace treaty with the Indians for the first time. The result of this was a brief propaganda victory for the natives, but more US government troops were sent west. In the 1870s, several leaders of native tribes like the Kiowa, Sauk, Comanche, and Cheyenne resisted the Americans, led by William T. Sherman. The American forces were defeated at the Battle of Rosebud and infamously defeated at the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876, with George Armstrong Custer being surrounded by the Sioux chief Crazy Horse and his forces wiped out. However, in 1877 the Sioux were forced to surrender with the arrival of more US troops, while the Nez Perce migration towards Canada was also defeated by the Americans. The defeat of the Nez Perce and Sioux ended Indian hopes for peace, and the Reconstruction era resulted in more devastation in both the south and the west.

Gilded Age

In the era following the Reconstruction and the throes of the Industrial Revolution, America became the land of opportunity for many emigrees seeking a better life away from their homelands. In the 1840s, Irish immigration began due to the "Great Famine" at home and due to British religious persecution, and new neighborhoods developed in New York City and Boston. Xenophobia dominated the minds of the "nativists", gangs of Anglo-Americans who were opposed to the notion of Catholics coming to the country. This led to violence as the rival groups fought on the streets, and this trend was to continue into the 1900s as ethnic organizations such as the ¨Mafia", "Westies¨, and other gangs were formed. As the late 1800s continued and industrialization, kulturkampf, and other crises continued, several oppressed groups from Europe set out for America. Most of the immigrants came from the new country of Italy, which had just been united in 1860 due to the efforts of Giuseppe Garibaldi and his Redshirts. These immigrants were also attacked by nativists, and the Irish and English-Americans teamed up against these new arrivals. In addition, Jewish immigrants from the anti-Semitic Russian Empire faced persecution, and many of these new groups were forced to live in closely-knit communities in certain areas of the country. New York City was divided into several sectors, with these new groups living together and resisting the hatred of other groups, forming the modern city. 

The term "Gilded Age" comes from the phrase "gilded lily", where a beautiful flower is coated with gold to increase its appearance, although it is actually dead on the inside. America had to deal with the arrival of millions of people, and industrialization threatened to reduce the average American's life to that of a laborer. Cities grew as farms failed in their popularity, with manufactured goods coming to the forefront of America's gross domestic product. The Gilded Age saw the formation of socialism in response to the unfair treatment of workers, with socialism guaranteeing fair pay, fair work hours, and representation for the masses. The Knights of Labor, American Federation of Labor, and other organizations formed in response to the cruel and unjust practices of large companies, who drained the money from people's pockets by taking power over an industry as a ¨monopoly¨. These businesses, such as US Steel and Standard Oil, eventually had more power than some politicians, and in cities "political machines" formed to give kickbacks to allies in exchange for votes. During this era, corruption was rampant, so it was up to journalists to expose these horrors. Men like Jacob Rees investigated these poor areas, such as the overcrowded "tenements", rife with squalor. Known as "muckrakers", these journalists sought to be the vanguard of social change in the country, exposing the horrors of American society and forcing the government to change what had previously been perceived as a part of everyday life. Tenements became apartment complexes, while the meat industry was reformed by the Food and Drug Act under President Theodore Roosevelt in the early 1900s after Upton Sinclair's work "The Jungle" described in detail the horros of the meat packing industry in Chicago.

Workers' rights was a major focus of this era of progressivism, with the AFL and Knights of Labor pushing for greater rights. The average worker could work 48 hours without a break, with some working full weeks without any days off. The workers were paid very little, while the big businesses gained all of the money. Some men, like John D. Rockefeller, were charitable and gave money to the poor, but this did not masquerade the fact that big businesses were gaining - but not giving - all of their money from their workers' toil. Socialism became a major part of American politics due to the injustices that the business magnates inflicted upon the people, and Samuel Gompers was one of the champions of the people. The Pullman Strike of the 1890s had to be put down by US soldiers due to the resolve of the workers, one of the last times that the American armed forces were called upon to suppress its own citizens. The Triangle Shirtwaist fire of 1911 killed several people, leading to safety regulations and breaks being extended and leading to workers having greater rights.

Imperialism

America had not been an imperialist power in the early decades of the 19th century, but in the later years America developed into a strong country in need of resources. The solution was - it seemed - to bully other countries into giving America trade rights. The Second Opium War of the 1850s was backed by the United States, with the United Kingdom distributing several Chinese ports to western countries to give them a piece of the pie as a part of the "Open-Door Policy". While Americans did not respect the rights of Chinese immigrants, with the Chinese Exclusion Act being an example, they valued trade with the Orient highly. In the 1890s they annexed Hawaii to take advantage of the pineapple resources on the island, and they set their sights on Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam afterwards. In 1898, the USS Maine exploded in Havana harbor while intimidating the Spanish into ensuring that their treatment of the Cuban people - currently engaged in a rebellion against the Spanish - was just. Although it was an accident, yellow journalism made it seem as if it was a Spanish attack, so America entered a short war with Spain. America conquered these colonial possessions, and they brutally suppressed Filipino resistance to their colonization of the islands, while the 1905 Platt Amendment gave Cuba its independence. America also set its sights on building a Caribbean-Pacific canal, and they headed to Panama, as it was less-dangerous than Nicaragua to the north. The Americans pressured Colombia into allowing Panama to gain independence, and the grateful Panamanians allowed for America to continue France's plans to build a canal through Panama. This connected the Atlantic and Pacific half-way through the Americas, which shortened the amount of time it took for American ships to pass from one ocean to the other. The Americans succeeded in another goal of theirs, and it helped to project America's power as a "Great Power". However, some were opposed to imperialism, with William McKinley being seen as a tyrant. America was no longer the revolutionary and free country, but one that seized the freedom of other countries for the sake of capitalism. Theodore Roosevelt's policy of "speak softly and carry a big stick" intimidated other countries into letting the Americans have hegemony over the Western Hemisphere, and their victory over the colonial power of Spain destroyed the only other competitive civilization in the Americas (the United Kingdom gave the Dominion of Canada its independence previously, removing the threat to the north of another War of 1812-esque dispute). 

World War I

In 1914, World War I began in Europe, with the German Empire and Austria-Hungary fighting against the great Russian Empire, France, and United Kingdom. This war had unclear origins, with minor events building up to become a large war. America's president Woodrow Wilson was determined to maintain neutrality, but it became more evident that America would have to become involved due to her friendship with the United Kingdom. When the SS Lusitania was torpedoed by Germany in 1915, America was infuriated, and Germany's continued use of "unrestricted submarine warfare" led to America eventually deciding to enter the war on the side of Britain. Germany also attempted to coax Mexico into attacking America from the south as an ally of the Central Powers, with Mexico being enraged at the United States for invading them to capture Pancho Villa, an enemy of America. America's entry was delayed to 1917, and its American Expeditionary Force did not see action until 1918. At the Battle of Chateau-Thierry, they thwarted a German offensive towards Paris, and they took part in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive and other attacks against the Germans that helped to turn the tide of the war. On 11 November 1918, Germany was forced to make peace with the Allied Powers, and America became a world power, having participated in the defeat of Germany. 

Red Scare

However, bad news came for capitalism when the Russian Empire was overthrown by communists under Vladimir Lenin in October 1917, as the new Soviet Union was opposed to the capitalist principles that America stood for. The First Red Scare took place, threatening American society as the people knew it. Radical leftists were prosecuted for pro-Soviet beliefs, and the American government grew apprehensive of communists forming in the United States. Leftism became a major threat to the government of Woodrow Wilson, who feared that the unfair labor laws in America might lead to more strikes. The United States dispatched troops to assist the White Army - the loyalists of Czar Nicholas II of Russia - in fighting against the Bolsheviks and their Red Army in the Russian Civil War, and the Americans, British, Japanese, and French sent small armies to occupy the Red Army's lands. The Americans helped in the occupation of Vladivostok and other Russian ports, but their presence was eventually considered to be unnecessary, as the Red Army later won over the White Army and forced the White Army's leaders to go into exile. 

Banana Wars

At the same time, the United States was engaged in wars with several countries of Central America as a part of the "Banana Wars", fought by the USA to acquire resources from the weaker independent countries of the region. Augusto Sandino led opposition to the Americans' occupation of Nicaragua in the 1920s, and by the 1930s the Americans were forced to end their occupation of Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and other Central American countries that they occupied.

Great Depression

In 1927, America was hit hard by the stock market crash on Wall Street, leading to the "Great Depression". Exacerbated by the "Dust Bowl" storms in the Midwest that caused for many crops to die, the stock market crash led to widespread poverty across the country, and America fell into a period of economic uncertainty. President Herbert Hoover did little to try to fix the economic shambles that America had fallen into, but President Franklin Roosevelt was elected to office in 1934 and his "New Deal" was able to solve America's problems. America recovered under Roosevelt, and he was beloved by the people for also fighting against the polio disease which inflicted him and thousands of other Americans. 

Road to war

The United States again faced pressure to fight in Europe with the rise of Adolf Hitler to power as the first Chancellor of Nazi Germany in 1933. America was opposed to the ideals of fascism, where dictators were given absolute power over the countries which they ruled and with "popular support", and many Americans fought alongside the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War. The Germans bombed Guernica in 1937, committing a war crime that was made infamous by Pablo Picasso's painting of the ordeal. Many Americans, motivated by the desire for adventure as well as for the fight against fascism, joined the international brigades' Abraham Lincoln Brigade and fought against Francisco Franco's forces, who were backed by the Nazis and Fascist Italy.

World War II

In 1939, America's pressure increased when Nazi Germany declared war on Poland, invading the country to settle a dispute over East Prussia. The United Kingdom and France entered the war on the side of their Polish allies, but from September to October 1939 Poland was defeated in several battles by the Nazis. Eventually, it became apparent that the Germans were gaining ground, as in 1940 they overwhelmed the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Denmark, and Norway within a few months. The United Kingdom was committed to defending its possessions, winning the Battle of Britain in the air and also defeating the Italians in North Africa. The Americans sent some volunteers to fight with the RAF during The Blitz, and Americans also volunteered to join the "Flying Tigers", a unit of American airmen that volunteered to fight the Japanese Empire during the Second Sino-Japanese War, which began back in 1937 but was running concurrently with World War II. The American government assisted the Republic of China by putting an oil embargo on Japan, which sorely needed the oil to speed up its offensives in mainland China. On 7 December 1941, Japan responded with a surprise attack on the US Navy at Pearl Harbor, killing almost 3,000 Americans and destroying or sinking several American battleships. However, the American aircraft carriers and oil reserves survived the attack. The United States declared war on Japan the next day in the famous "Day of Infamy" speech, and they also fought against Nazi Germany and Italy, who declared war on America as a part of their Tripartite Pact agreement with Japan. 

The Japanese overwhelmed American defenses in the Philippines and the Pacific Islands, with the Battle of Wake being remembered as a classic example of American heroism against more enemy forces. The Americans recovered, however, at the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Battle of Midway in the summer of 1942, and the Americans proceeded to launch a counterattack. At the Battle of Guadalcanal, the Americans recaptured the Solomon Islands from the Japanese in a campaign of island-hopping that took until February 1943, and the Americans proceeded to use this strategy to recapture several more islands from the Japanese in the next two years. In addition, the Americans sent forces to assist the British and Free French in liberating North Africa from Vichy France and the Germans, and their forces took over most of northern Africa without resistance. In 1943, the last German troops in North Africa surrendered at Cape Bon, Tunisia, and the Americans proceeded to invade the "soft underbelly of Europe" through Sicily, the southern island of Italy. The Americans pushed north after speedily conquering Sicily in a swift campaign masterminded by George S. Patton, and the Americans were able to push north after landing at Salerno and clearing the beach despite heavy losses. The Americans fought their way up the "boot" of Italy at Monte Cassino and Anzio, with the British, Polish, French, Brazilians, and Italians (who changed sides after overthrowing Benito Mussolini) helping in the push north. The United States also gave material support to their former Soviet enemies, who were now fighting the Nazis on the eastern front. The Allied Powers were strong enough to take on the Axis Powers from two sides, and on 6 June 1944 the Americans, British, Canadians, and Poles landed at several beaches in Normandy, pushing south into France and liberating the whole of the country by September 1944. They proceeded to liberate Antwerp in Belgium, and in the winter of 1944-45 they smashed a German counterattack at the "Battle of the Bulge", which allowed them to plan their crossing of the Rhine.

The Germans did not attempt to defend the rest of France after this battle, and the Allies forded the Rhine River at various locations. Despite the failure of the Allied invasion of the Netherlands in Operation Market Garden, they were able to push north into the Netherlands and won the battle of Weser against the Germans, while the Americans proceeded to ford the Rhine at several locations. The Germans failed to blow up the bridges over the Rhine, and the Americans and British pushed into Germany. Germany was pummeled by heavy aerial bombardment, but the Allies allowed for the Soviets to take Berlin in May 1945 while the Allied advance halted on the Elbe River at Torgau. On 12 May 1945 the last pocket of German resistance ended at Prague, and the war in Europe was won. 

However, the Americans still faced off with the Japanese in the Pacific theatre, where they had successfully retaken several islands in their island-hopping campaign. They proceeded to win the Battle of Leyte Gulf in late 1944, and they proceeded to liberate Manila in early 1945, taking back most of the islands of the Philippines from the Imperial Japanese Army while fighting alongside Filipino freedom fighters. The Americans then planned to invade Japan itself; the operation on the main islands might take up to 250,000 losses, but they did not expect as much losses on the Ryukyu Islands or Volcano Islands. At Okinawa and Iwo Jima, their forces succeeded in landing at the beaches and pushing inland, with the Americans raising the flag on Mount Suribachi in Iwo Jima and their forces taking Shuri Castle in Okinawa. The Americans forced Japan to surrender after the Soviets invaded Manchuria and the Americans dropped two nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and on 2 September 1945 the Japanese surrendered, just a day after exactly six years of straight conflict between the Allies and Axis.

World War II helped the American economy to recover, as unemployed workers were able to work in manufacturing goods needed for the war. While the men fought overseas, women and children were recruited in helping in the factories, increasing their role in the household. America was now a world power, having won World War II against resolute foes who had nearly taken over all of Europe. In addition, America's navy gained its reputation as the most powerful navy, surpassing that of Britain. America's army was now said to be the strongest, and their air force had destroyed almost the whole Japanese air force in addition to wreaking havoc on two Japanese cities with nuclear bombs. 

Cold War

Unfortunately for the United States, their Soviet counterparts were not as anxious as they were to liberate Europe. Instead, the Soviets occupied all of Europe up to their final positions in World War II, dividing Germany and most of Europe in half with the "Iron Curtain". The Soviets refused to relinquish their gained grounds to independent countries, setting up several communist states as puppets while the Americans gave freedom to their liberated lands. France, the United Kingdom, and the USA occupied Germany, with zones of occupation in Berlin; the Soviets and Poles occupied East Berlin and all lands east of the Iron Curtain. Just as one world war ended, it seemed that another one was going to begin, with the British keeping a plan called "Operation Unthinkable" as a possiblity if the Soviets and Allies ever did go to war. The Western Allies set up NATO in 1949, while the Soviets set up the Warsaw Pact soon after. However, the most important organization to be founded at the time was the United Nations, founded in 1946 to prevent another world war from happening. 

The fight against communism

America had to combat communism to preserve its status as the world's strongest power, with the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan helping all capitalist countries that were in danger of being overrun by communists. The Americans intervened in the Greek Civil War and Chinese Civil War to fight against the communists in those countries; while they succeeded in maintaining capitalist rule over Greece, the Chinese Civil War ended with the Chinese Communist Party seizing power. The new People's Republic of China allied with the USSR, and in 1950 they intervened in a proxy war with the USA when North Korea (a communist state set up by the USSR) invaded South Korea (a puppet of the USA), starting the Korean War. The United Nations put together a coalition of several countries to fight the communists, with men from as far as Ethiopia and Colombia aiding the mainly-American and British forces in fighting the North Koreans. The Chinese invaded Korea to assist the North Koreans, and the war was fought in a World War I-style series of trench battles, with stalemate dominating the conflict's later years. In 1953, a ceasefire was agreed to, with the countries remaining divided, technically a victory for America. However, the United States found itself caught up in another war two years later when they sent advisers to the recently-independent state of South Vietnam, which had gained independence from France a year earlier at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. South Vietnam was an autocratic capitalist state, while its northern neighbor North Vietnam was a communist government backed by the Soviet Union and China. In 1963, 1,500 troops were sent to South Vietnam to assist the South Vietnamese as the North created the "Viet Cong" militias to fight the government, and in 1964, after the Gulf of Tonkin incident, the United States declared war on North Vietnam. From 1964 to 1973, the United States fought against the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) in the Tet Offensive and Easter Offensive, while their main enemies were the Viet Cong guerrillas that ambushed them at every turn. After years of death, President Richard Nixon decided to begin the process of "Vietnamization", where the US would step up its bombing of Vietnam and extend it to the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia while US troops left the responsiblity of the war to the South Vietnamese. In 1975, two years after the Paris Peace Accords ended the war, the NVA overwhelmed the south's capital of Saigon and reunited Vietnam as a communist country.

Proxy wars

Vietnam and Korea were two bloody wars, but the overall feeling of the Cold War was one of proxy wars between the countries without the Americans and Soviets actually fighting on the battlefield. Tensions were high at numerous points, such as in 1959 when Cuba's communist Fidel Castro took over the country from America's ally Fulgencio Batista, a dictator. America attempted an invasion in 1961 at the Bay of Pigs, but this failed; the USSR placed missiles in Cuba in 1962, and this "Cuban Missile Crisis" ended only when the USA threatened to put Jupiter missiles in Turkey; both nations backed off. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald, a US soldier who had defected to the USSR and sought to kill Kennedy, the USSR's main enemy. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s the two countries acted against each other through proxy wars and competitions, but without the need for an actual war (specifically a global thermonuclear war) to settle the score. The Americans won the Space Race in 1969, making it to the Moon before the Soviets, and the Americans succeeded in installing more allies in South America against leftist Soviet-backed governments. Coups in the Dominican Republic in 1965 and Chile in 1973 were just two of the many revolutions and fights between the two spectrums of politics that led to bloodshed and the emergence of dictators in Latin America. The United States even invaded the Dominican Republic with armed forces and sent advisers to Angola to assist UNITA in fighting the Soviet-backed MPLA, which was backed by Cuban boots on the ground. Tensions were high, but nuclear war never occurred due to the policy of detente and negotiations.

In 1958, the United States indirectly caused the Middle East to become a political quagmire. Ten years earlier, the Jewish state of Israel gained independence from the United Kingdom and fought off the anti-Semitic Arab countries bordering it, with some Americans like Mickey Marcus supporting Israel's independence. The United States gave support to Israel morally, but it never intervened in Middle Eastern affairs until communists rose up in Lebanon in 1958. The US Marine Corps was sent to help President Camille Chamoun in putting down the uprising in Operation Blue Bat, a success that maintained the government's power. In 1967 the United States armed Israel in the Six-Day War and again in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, leading to OPEC (mostly Arab countries) putting an oil embargo on America. An energy crisis followed in the 1980s until the King of Saudi Arabia, a strong ally of the USA, eventually lifted the embargo and restored relations. The worst moment for the USA in the Middle East occurred in 1979 with the Iranian Revolution, where extremist Shia Muslims overthrew the Shah of Iran, who went to the USA for medical treatment. When America refused to hand over the Shah to the revolutionaries (he had been an important ally in the oil trade with the US), Iranians took hostages at the US embassy, and an American rescue attempt failed, ruining President Jimmy Carter's reputation. The Americans negotiated with Iran in the 1980s, giving them guns in the Iran-Iraq War in hopes of regaining their hostages; in 1983 they sold weapons to Iran to fund the Contras in the Nicaraguan Civil War in the "Iran-Contra Affair", which President Ronald Reagan denied ordering. Soon, all hostages were home, but relations with Iran progressively grew worse as the USA deployed troops and ships to fight in the Lebanese Civil War against Syria from 1983 to 1984. The 1983 Beirut barracks bombing killed 141 US and French troops, following the bombing of the US embassy. Hezbollah, a new Islamist group, attacked US targets until the troops were withdrawn, and the Middle East became a hotbed of anti-American organizations and crises involving the West.

1990s

The United States experienced an economic boom in the early 1990s, although it followed years of poverty, including an AIDS epidemic in the later 1980s, and years of high crime rates. President Ronald Reagan's successors George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton inherited the strong state that Reagan had built, and Buh staved off an Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in the Gulf War in 1990 after invading Panama in 1989. In 1991, the USSR fragmented into several states, with Russia being the largest; the Cold War ended as all of the communist states were overthrown and were replaced by pro-West states. Europe was free again, and the Middle East became the main focus of foreign policy in the following decades. Terrorism by al-Qaeda and the Taliban in the Middle East and the USA caused the Americans to focus on fighting terrorism, while homegrown terrorism from people such as Timothy McVeigh were also causes of worry. In 1993, the same year that the United States invaded Somalia during the Somali Civil War, the World Trade Center was attacked with a car bomb that killed 6 people. In the rest of the 1990s, a civil war was fought in Afghanistan between the various factions of Mujahideen that America had once backed in their fight against the Soviets. 

Culture

US ancestry

US states by ancestry

Irish immigrants 1800s

1800s Irish immigrants

Chinese railroad workers 1880

Chinese railroad workers in 1880

Freedom House Cubans

Cuban immigrants to the United States in 1959

Mexican immigrants

Mexican immigrants in the USA

The United States is a land of immigrants, and it has a very diverse ethnic and cultural makeup. The population of the United States in 1790 was 3,929,214, and in 2015, it rose to 320,111,681 people, rapidly expanding as immigrants poured into the country. America's first settlers were English-Americans, but immigrants from the Netherlands, France, Germany, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden followed them in the first wave of immigration from the start of the Jamestown colony in 1607. The population later grew to include immigrants from Central Europe in the 1800s, with the Irish, Germans, Scandinavians, and Chinese arriving in the country to work on the railroads. The acquisition of the Louisiana Territory gave the USA a large population of Cajuns and other French settlers, and the Mexican Cession of 1848 gave the United States a large Mexican population. The USA grew to include the Irish around the same time, as the potato famine in Ireland led to the starving Irish to emigrate to America for a better future. A second wave of European immigration came after 1848, when failed revolutions led to several Europeans (primarily Germans and Poles) fleeing for the USA. Romanian-Americans were one of the first non-English or non-German ethnic groups to settle in the Midwest, with the first families of Romanian descent settling in St. Louis. The St. Louis Romanians grew as the first immigrant community in the city, and they were the first Eastern Orthodox community in the country. In the 1890s up to the early 1900s, a new wave of immigrants came to Ellis Island in New York City, with Italians being the largest immigrant group (4,114,103), followed by Austria-Hungary (4,004,940, mainly Poles and Jews), the Russian Empire (3,241,098, also mainly Jews), German Empire (2,527,202), Ireland (1,529,144), Sweden-Norway (1,491,151), France (216,510), and Congress Poland (153,339). In addition, 241,846 people came to San Francisco from Japan and 118,393 from China. In the 1940s, Mexican immigration began as more railroad workers were needed to work on the railroads from Los Angeles to the rest of California, and they took over the homes of Japanese people interned in camps during World War II. Mexican immigration resumed for decades, and other Central Americans later began to join them. In 1946-1949, a new wave of Chinese immigration began after the Chinese Civil War, mainly supporters of the Kuomintang - later in the 20th century and 21st century, some Red Chinese came to the USA in search of business opportunities. In 1958-62, many Cubans arrived in the USA after the Cuban Revolution, mainly the educated doctors and other wealthy people who supported Fulgencio Batista's dictatorial government. Vietnamese people came to the USA during the Vietnam War from 1964-1975, especially as the NVA gained the advantage in 1968-75. Cambodians and Laotians also arrived at the same time. In 1979, a large group of Iranians fled for the USA after the Iranian Revolution, where a violent Islamist government took power and persecuted minorities and anti-Islamists. In 1980, more Cubans arrived in the country after the Mariel Boatlift, where exiles arrived in Miami and quickly became criminals. In 1989-1992, a large wave of ex-Soviet and Eastern European immigrants arrived in the USA after the fall of the USSR, and many Afghans also came following the fall of the communist government there. The later wave of immigration came from Albania and Kosovo after the Yugoslav Wars, and Mexicans illegally immigrated to the USA over the border in the 2000s and onwards.

=== 19th century population growth ===

US population 1836

The US population in 1836

In 1836, the United States had a population of 3,990,000 people. 93.9% of them were Protestant, 4.5% Catholic, and 1.6% Animist. 57.1% of the people were Yankees (northern Americans of British Isles descent), 22.2% were Dixies (southern Americans of British Isles descent), 16.1% were African-Americans (mainly slaves from the south), 1.9% Irish, 1% Native Americans, and 1.6% other, with a Dakota, Sephardim, Romanian, and other European minority population. There were very few, if any, Asians, until the later half of the 19th century. 45.6% of the population were farmers, 28.3% laborers, 14.2% slaves, 8.3% artisans, 1.4% soldiers, .7% clergymen, .7% craftsmen, .5% aristocrats, .3% bureaucrats, and .1% officers, with no clerks or capitalists yet. 92.2% of Americans voted for the conservative US Democratic Party, 4% voted for the Southern Democrats, and 3.9% for the US Whig Party.


US population 1842

US population in 1842

By the time of the annexation of Texas in 1845, the population was different. The USA now had a population of 5,500,000 people, with 90.1% being Protestant and 8.9% Catholic, with Animist, Eastern Orthodox, and Jewish minorities. 53% of the population was Yankee, 22.3% Dixie, 11.6% African-Americans, 2.5% Mexicans, 1.5% Irish, 1.5% British, 1.4% French, 1.3% North German, and 5% other (including South Germans, Russians, Ukrainians, Romanians, Native Americans, etc.). 38.7% were now farmers, 33.8% laborers, 10.3% slaves, 8.5% artisans, 3% craftsmen, 2% soldiers, 1.1% aristocrats, 1% clergymen, .5% officers, .4% bureaucrats, .2% clerks, and .2% capitalists.


US population 1868

Population in 1868

In 1868, the United States grew to 7,700,000 people. 55.7% of the population was Yankee, 22.3% Dixie, 7.6% African-American, 2.7% French, 1.8% Mexican, 1.5% North German, 1.5% British, 1.3% Texan, 1.1% Irish, and 4.5% other (Native American, Hawaiian, Albanian, Sinhala, Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Romanian, and other). The work force was 39.1% farmers, 38.7% laborers, 9% artisans, 6.5% craftsmen, 1.8% soldiers, 1.5% aristocrats, 1.4% clergymen, .6% bureaucrats, .6% officers, .5% clerks, and .4% capitalists. There were no slaves after the end of the American Civil War, as all slaves were freed in the Emancipation Proclamation.


US population 1874

US population in 1874

By 1874, the United States had already increased to 9,100,000, growing by 1,400,000 people in six years. 56.4% of the population was Yankee, 22.5% Dixie, 5.8% African-American, 3% French, 1.8% British, 1.7% North German, 1.6% Mexican, 1.5% Texan, 1.2% South German, and 4.7% other (including Czechs and other new immigrant groups). In an industrializing naton, 38.8% of the population were laborers, 35.9% farmers, 8.7% artisans, 8.7% craftsmen, 2.7% soldiers, 1.5% aristocrats, 1.3% clergymen, .8% bureaucrats, .6% clerks, .5% officers, and .4% capitalists, with no slaves. 89.3% of the population was Protestant and 9.8% Catholic. Although the nation was mainly liberal, 74.3% of the population voted for the conservative US Democratic Party. The US Republican Party had a 10% minority, the second-largest political faction in the country. 9.4% were Southern Democrats, and the remaining 6.3% were the US Socialist Party.


US population 1882

US population in 1882

In a 17 July 1882 census, there were 11,790,000 people living in the USA. 54.7% were Yankees, 21.1% Dixies, 4.8% African-Americans, 3.2% French, 2.9% Koreans (from the recently-acquired American Korea), 1.7% British, 1.5% North Germans, 1.5% South Germans, 1.4% Texans, 1.3% Mexicans, and 5.9% other. 84.7% were Protestant, 9.6% were Catholic, 2.9% were Mahayana, and 1.7% were Orthodox. The population increased by 2,690,000 in eight years, and the Mahayana religion became a minority religion due to America's occupation of central Korea. At this time, 35.7% of the ideology was socialist, 33.3% conservative, 29.6% liberal, and 1.3% reactionary. 65.8% of the vote went to the conservative US Democratic Party, 12.4% went to the reactionary Southern Democrats, 11.5% US Republican Party, and the US Socialist Party 10.3%. At that time, an industrializing America's workforce was made up of 39.2% laborers, 33.7% farmers, 10.7% craftsmen, 8% artisans, 3% soldiers, 1.4% aristocrats, 1.4% clergymen, .9% bureaucrats, .7% clerks, .5% officers, .3% capitalists, and .3% slaves (slavery was allowed in Korea). 

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