American History

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Autor: Chlapec maximus
Typ práce: Maturita
Dátum: 29.12.2007
Jazyk: Angličtina
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First settlements
The American continent was discovered first around the year 1000 by Icelandic Vikings. They failed to establish any permanent settlements. Till 1400 native Indians were the only inhabitants. Five hundreds year later a great demand for spices, textiles and also a navigation error brought Christopher Columbus (an Italian mariner under Spanish monarchs) to the Caribbean Sea instead to Asia. The first English colony was founded in Virginia at Jamestown in 1607. In 1620 the ship named Mayflower brought 102 Englishmen, women and children to north-eastern region (now Massachusetts) where they found the colony called Plymouth. They were Puritans – members of a religious sect which wanted to reform the Church of England. They called themselves the Pilgrim Fathers and wanted to build up a colony based on their own religious ideals. The winter was cold and about half of them died. In spring they planted corn and other plants (with help and advice from the Indians with whom they lived in peace). During the 17th century many colonists, mostly British but also French, German, Dutch and Irish settled in the country, mainly along the eastern coast. About half a million Africans were brought to America as slaves.

Foundation of the USA, The War of Independence (1775 – 1783)
British government started to charge new taxes on sugar, coffee, textiles etc. To cover the costs of the war against France. The colonists refused to pay taxes and so British soldiers were sent to Boston. In 1773 a group of patriots, dressed as Indians, threw a cargo of British tea into the Boston Harbor. This event is known as the Boston Tea Party. Americans began boycotting British trade. In 1775 the War began. Later George Washington (a Virginia planter) took over the command of a Continental Army. The Continental Congress began to work as a national government and on July 4th, 1776 they agreed on the Declaration of Independence written mainly by Thomas Jefferson. The War of Independence lasted till 1783 when Britain signed the peace treaty and recognised the USA.

Expansion and Civil War (1861 – 1865)
In this era of expansion social reforms became important, especially the abolition of slavery. There was a note on slavery being inhumane in the Declaration of Independence, but it was removed from it by southern delegates. About 60 years of never ending disputes led to the Civil War between the North and the South. It was the worst episode in American history. It started after Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860. Southern States protested against Lincoln being the President and wanted to leave the Union. Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which granted freedom to all slaves. The army of confederation was defeated by the army of union (the North won).

The end of the 19th century and the 20th century
Industrial growth started after the Civil War. Urbanisation was the major trend, especially in the north. During this period the USA became the world’s leading industrial power. Why America entered WWI? The war started in Europe in 1914. At the start of the war, the USA sold goods to both warring countries – England and Germany. In this time Woodrow Wilson was a president and he kept almost 3 years the USA out of this war. But England, which had the strongest navy in the world, blockaded Germany. It meant, that war goods transported to Germany were removed. The Germans had a smaller navy than the English, so they used submarines, attacking underwater. First a German submarine attacked an English passenger ship, called Lusitania, and killed over 1 thousand passengers. America made a strong protest to Germany. Then the Germans sank a French ship, called Sussex, – it meant another warning. But attacks continued and therefore the United States entered the war on the side of England and France.
Prohibition – the twenties. The WWII: The war was declared against Japan in 1941 and president Harry Truman ordered the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Cold War period after WWII saw increasing mistrust between the US and the Soviet Union. There were several war conflicts e.g. Korean War, Vietnam War.
The USA continues to have one of the highest standards of living in the world.
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