US history can be dated back to some 50000 years ago when people migrating from Asia (via the Bering land bridge) settled in the Alaska region. Many cultures thrived in the Americas before the arrival of European explorers in the 1400s. Very little is known about these early settlers or Native Americans.
History has it that Christopher Columbus, sailing on behalf of the Spanish Crown, first ventured in the territory of the United States; however, it took some 20 years for him to reach mainland America. An important event in the timeline of US history – the arrival of the first European in the continental United States – is known to have taken place in 1497, when John Cabot touched the mainland.
Early European Settlements And Colonization Of America (1493-1776)
Following exploration by various European nations, Dutch, English, French, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish settlements were established in the Americas. Jamestown (present-day Virginia) established in 1607 was the first English colony in North America. The Massachusetts Bay Colony was set up by the English Puritans in 1620. French and Spanish explorers too established their rules in extended territories. Strife among these powers for control over land continued and accounts from US history tell us that ultimately only the English were left with their Thirteen British Colonies.
Colonial America saw many conflicts between the Native Americans and the European colonists. Differences in culture and religion together with the British policy of utter negligence (as reflected in displacing the Native Americans westwards to make place for the European settlers) bred resentment among the Native tribes. These led to conflicts like the 1622 Powhatan uprising in Virginia, King Philip’s War in New England and other such clashes.
Declaration Of Independence And Formation Of The United States (1776-1849)
The American War of Independence culminated in the ‘Declaration of Independence’ from British rule by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, whereby the former thirteen British colonies established themselves as the United States of America under the Articles of Confederation. Later, on March 4, 1789, the Articles of Confederation was replaced with the United States Constitution, which made provisions for a representative, elective government with a weak executive.
George Washington, a prominent figure of the American Revolutionary War (Commander and chief of the Continental Army and the president of the Constitutional Convention), became the first President of the United States under the new U.S. Constitution. In the ensuing period of US history, the federal government followed a policy of expansion largely by displacing indigenous population.
American Civil War
The 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act repealed the Missouri Compromise, allowing individual states to have their own stance on slavery. When Abraham Lincoln was elected the President of the United States in 1861, eleven Southern states pulled out from the Union, establishing a rebel government, the Confederate States of America. Civil War broke out when the Confederate General Pierre Beauregard attacked Fort Sumter. President Lincoln ably guided the Union armed forces and the Civil War ended in the ultimate defeat of the rebel Southern States in 1865.
Following the Civil War, America experienced rapid growth in industrialization and became a major economic force. This glorious period of US history saw America make an entry into the World War I as a key military power.
Industrial progression continued in the post World War I years, but the era was also marked by lowering of prices of farm produces and lowered labor wages. This status quo led to the Stock Market crash in 1929. During the Great Depression years, the federal government undertook economic reform measures (like Roosevelt’s New Deal) to bail out the victims. The United States of America experienced rapid recovery in every sphere excepting unemployment, which continued to plague the nation till the initial years of World War II.
World War II And The Cold War Era
America’s involvement in World War II would have been limited to diplomatic and economic aid had it not been for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. After the attack, US joined Britain, China and the Soviet Union to defeat the combined forces of Fascist Italy, Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany.
Post World War II America emerged as one of the two superpowers (the other one being Soviet Union). One prime event in the history of United States – the nation’s entry into the United Nations – took place on December 4, 1945. In the ensuing years, USA found itself locking horns with Soviet Union in what is described as the Cold War. This resulted in a series of conflicts wherein both Soviet Union and United States tried to prove their supremacy in cultural, economic, military, social and technological spheres.
The Cold War reached its climax with the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. At about the same time, the Civil Rights Movement took deep roots in America and it brought institutionalized racism to an end. The period also saw America make immense progress in both Missile and Space Technology.
Following the collapse of the Communist Regime in Soviet Union in 1991, USA became the sole superpower of the World. America continues to play a pivotal role internationally in its capacity as the only superpower of the modern era. The 1991 Gulf War, the Digital Revolution and other such happenings propelled United States to a great height.
Into the new millennium, the nation witnessed one of the most heinous incidents in the US history – the September 11, 2001 attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center (and that of The Pentagon) planned by a terrorist outfit, led by Osama Bin Laden. In response, America launched attacks on Afghanistan (where Laden had taken refuge) with support of international community.
America’s involvement in the Iraq war, which ended in the collapse and ultimate capture of Saddam Hussein in 2003 invited scathing criticism from all quarters of the world. The Bush administration was even condemned by millions of Americans.
History stands witness that except for a few blotches here and there, United States has always upheld human rights.
This is only an abridged presentation. For more details on the glorious US history, go through the individual chapters of US history.