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Learn about the History of the United States of America

It is believed that the first people began to settle in America approximately 11,000 BC. These people crossed the Bearings Strait. They spread from the far north to settle through out the North and South American Continents. These first peoples became known as American Indians, Native Americans, or Native Peoples of America. They developed a wide variety of cultures, and life styles. (http://www.native-languages.org/kids.htm)

There are many arguments about when and who were the First Europeans to come to the American Continent. While it is generally believed that Christopher Columbus lead the first expedition to arrive on the Continent, others argue that Scandinavian Vikings or Irish Celts were the First Europeans to arrive. Other scientists point out that it is possible that the Chinese were first non-native Americans to explore. Much of the early history of the continent is shrouded in mystery and will likely remain that way, despite the best efforts of archeologist and historians.

Despite these debates, we can continue with the history in the late 1400s. Columbus' expedition represented the first major landing of non-native peoples (1492) on the American continents. The results were astounding. The move to conquer this new world sweep over Europe quickly, as did the desire to exploit the many valuable resources available.

In 1502 the North and South American Continents were named after the explorer, Amerigo Vespucci, who was the first European to determine that these new lands were not part of Asia.

In 1524 Giovanni da Verrazano explored from the Carolina Coast to New York Harbor. The first European city established was St. Augustine, Florida in 1565, by the Spanish. During the 1500s and 1600s exploration and settlement proceeded at a rapid pace.

The Eastern Coast of the North American continent eventually became part of the colonies of the English. The colonial rulers and settlers had displaced the native peoples and began to farm and develop the region. Within these lands there were thirteen colonies (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia).

Under English rule the European settlers prospered, while the Native Americans either faced death or the difficult and dangerous move westward and African slaves were brought in to work on the large farms. England pressed its own settlers too hard though. In the middle 1700s there were stirrings of revolt. Despite popular portrayals of unity, the American Colonist were greatly divided over what they should do, some wanted independence, others wanted better representation within England, still others preferred to keep things the same. Despite the arguments, in 1775 in Massachusetts, fighting began that marked the beginning of the American Revolution. In 1776 on July 4th, the Continental Congress (made up of representatives from the 13 colonies) signed the Declaration of Independence.

The war lasted until 1781, when the British surrendered. The result was a new free American nation, but the form of government was yet to be determined. However on September 17, 1987, Thirty-nine Delegates approved the new Constitution (http://www.house.gov/Constitution/Constitution.html). Establishing the structure of the government and its basic rules of operation that still operate today.

On April 30th, 1789, George Washington is sworn in as the first President of the United State of America.

After America became an independent country, they were faced with numerous years of difficulty, from within and without. There was industrial growth in the North and agricultural growth in the South. Conflicts over issues such as how much control the federal government should have over the States, trade practices, domestic policies and slavery all lead to the US Civil War. This war lasted for four years (1861-1865) and resulted in the deaths of more than half a million people and the rampant destruction of property and economic ability. The Southern States were defeated and slavery was officially ended, although the oppression of the newly freed slaves and their descendents was to continue for many years to come.

There was a drive to expand westward ever pushing the Native Americans into further hardships. This drive was fostered by increasing industrialization, allowing railroads to go further and faster. Also the increasing population, brought about by better healthcare and immigrants, forced citizens to seek out new lands to settle and Westerners to grow more food to feed the people in the East.

At this time America entered what is know as the Modern Era. There were great technological advances made in the US, and there were great scientific discoveries. America assumed a place among the great nations of the world and has maintained such a position over the years. Numerous conflicts outline the 1900s for Americans, but also great accomplishments. The ever-expanding national spirit and the influx of immigrants have colored the national culture. The involvement of America in World War I and II, the Korean and Vietnam wars, numerous conflicts in Latin America, and the more recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Within our own borders we have addressed Women's Rights and Civil Rights for Minorities. We have suffered (with the rest of the World) through the Great Depression. We have made strides in art and culture, for example Jazz music is considered a great American Treasure (http://www.hr57.org/mlkonjazz.html). The history of America is complex despite its brevity, only 230 years. Please feel free to visit the links below for much more detailed information.