The Usa Age

The United States of America (USA or U.S.A.), commonly known as the United States (US or U.S.) or America, is a country primarily located in North America. It is a federation of 50 states, a federal capital district (Washington, D.C.), and 326 Indian reservations.[j] Outside the union of states, it asserts sovereignty over five major unincorporated island territories and various uninhabited islands.[k] The country has the world’s third-largest land area,[d] second-largest exclusive economic zone, and third-largest population, exceeding 334 million.[l]

Paleo-Indians migrated across the Bering land bridge more than 12,000 years ago. British colonization led to the first settlement of the Thirteen Colonies in Virginia in 1607. Clashes with the British Crown over taxation and political representation sparked the American Revolution, with the Second Continental Congress formally declaring independence on July 4, 1776. Following its victory in the Revolutionary War (1775–1783), the country continued to expand across North America. As more states were admitted, sectional division over slavery led to the secession of the Confederate States of America, which fought the remaining states of the Union during the 1861–1865 American Civil War. With the Union’s victory and preservation, slavery was abolished nationally. By 1890, the United States had established itself as a great power. After Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the U.S. entered World War II. The aftermath of the war left the U.S. and the Soviet Union as the world’s two superpowers and led to the Cold War, during which both countries engaged in a struggle for ideological dominance and international influence. Following the Soviet Union’s collapse and the end of the Cold War in 1991, the U.S. emerged as the world’s sole superpower.

The U.S. national government is a presidential constitutional republic and liberal democracy with three separate branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. It has a bicameral national legislature composed of the House of Representatives, a lower house based on population; and the Senate, an upper house based on equal representation for each state. Substantial autonomy is given to states and several territories, with a political culture that emphasizes liberty, equality under the law, individualism, and limited government.

One of the world’s most developed countries, the United States has had the largest nominal GDP since about 1890 and accounted for 15% of the global economy in 2023.[m] It possesses by far the largest amount of wealth of any country and has the highest disposable household income per capita among OECD countries. The U.S. ranks among the world’s highest in human rights, economic competitiveness, productivity, innovation, and higher education. Its hard power and cultural influence have a global reach. The U.S. is a founding member of the World Bank, Organization of American States, NATO, and United Nations,[n] as well as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Etymology

Further information: Names of the United States and Demonyms for the United States
The first documented use of the phrase “United States of America” is a letter from January 2, 1776. Stephen Moylan, a Continental Army aide to General George Washington, wrote to Joseph Reed, Washington’s aide-de-camp, seeking to go “with full and ample powers from the United States of America to Spain” to seek assistance in the Revolutionary War effort.[21][22] The first known public usage is an anonymous essay published in the Williamsburg newspaper, The Virginia Gazette, on April 6, 1776.[23][24][25] By June 1776, the “United States of America” appeared in the Articles of Confederation[26][27] and the Declaration of Independence.[26] The Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.[28]

History
Main article: History of the United States
For a topical guide, see Outline of United States history.

Indigenous peoples

Further information: Native Americans in the United States and Pre-Columbian era

The first inhabitants of North America migrated from Siberia across the Bering land bridge at least 12,000 years ago;[30][31] the Clovis culture, which appeared around 11,000 BC, is believed to be the first widespread culture in the Americas.[32][33] Over time, indigenous North American cultures grew increasingly sophisticated, and some, such as the Mississippian culture, developed agriculture, architecture, and complex societies.[34] Indigenous peoples and cultures such as the Algonquian peoples,[35] Ancestral Puebloans,[36] and the Iroquois developed across the present-day United States.[37] Native population estimates of what is now the United States before the arrival of European immigrants range from around 500,000[38][39] to nearly 10 million.[39][40]

European settlement (from 1492) and the Thirteen Colonies (1607–1776)
Main article: Colonial history of the United States
See also: European colonization of the Americas

Christopher Columbus began exploring the Caribbean for Spain in 1492, leading to Spanish-speaking settlements and missions from Puerto Rico and Florida to New Mexico and California.[41][42][43] France established its own settlements along the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico.[44] British colonization of the East Coast began with the Virginia Colony (1607) and Plymouth Colony (1620).[45][46] The Mayflower Compact and the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut established precedents for representative self-governance and constitutionalism that would develop throughout the American colonies.[47][48] While European settlers in what is now the United States experienced conflicts with Native Americans, they also engaged in trade, exchanging European tools for food and animal pelts.[49][o] Relations ranged from close cooperation to warfare and massacres. The colonial authorities often pursued policies that forced Native Americans to adopt European lifestyles, including conversion to Christianity.[53][54] Along the eastern seaboard, settlers trafficked African slaves through the Atlantic slave trade.[55]

The original Thirteen Colonies[p] that would later found the United States were administered by Great Britain,[56] and had local governments with elections open to most white male property owners.[57][58] The colonial population grew rapidly, eclipsing Native American populations;[59] by the 1770s, the natural increase of the population was such that only a small minority of Americans had been born overseas.[60] The colonies’ distance from Britain allowed for the development of self-governance,[61] and the First Great Awakening, a series of Christian revivals, fueled colonial interest in religious liberty.[62]

American Revolution, Revolutionary War and the early republic (1776–1820)
Main articles: American Revolution and American Revolutionary War
Further information: History of the United States (1776–1789) and History of the United States (1789–1815)

After winning the French and Indian War, Britain began to assert greater control over local colonial affairs, creating colonial political resistance; one of the primary colonial grievances was a denial of their rights as Englishmen, particularly the right to representation in the British government that taxed them. In 1774, the First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia, and passed a colonial boycott of British goods that proved effective. The British attempt to then disarm the colonists resulted in the 1775 Battles of Lexington and Concord, igniting the American Revolutionary War. At the Second Continental Congress, the colonies appointed George Washington commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and created a committee led by Thomas Jefferson to write the Declaration of Independence, adopted on July 4, 1776.[63] The political values of the American Revolution included liberty, inalienable individual rights; and the sovereignty of the people;[64] supporting republicanism and rejecting monarchy, aristocracy, and hereditary political power; virtue and faithfulness in the performance of civic duties; and vilification of corruption.[65] The Founding Fathers of the United States, who included George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, John Jay, James Madison, Thomas Paine, and John Adams, were inspired by Greco-Roman, Renaissance, and Enlightenment philosophies and ideas.[66][67]

After the British surrender at the siege of Yorktown in 1781 American sovereignty was internationally recognized by the Treaty of Paris (1783), through which the U.S. gained territory stretching west to the Mississippi River, north to present-day Canada, and south to Spanish Florida.[68] The Articles of Confederation were ratified in 1781 and established a decentralized government that operated until 1789.[63] The Northwest Ordinance (1787) established the precedent by which the country’s territory would expand with the admission of new states, rather than the expansion of existing states.[69] The U.S. Constitution was drafted at the 1787 Constitutional Convention to overcome the limitations of the Articles. It went into effect in 1789, creating a federation governed by three separate branches that together ensured a system of checks and balances.[70] George Washington was elected the country’s first president under the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights was adopted in 1791 to allay skeptics’ concerns about the power of the more centralized government.[71][72] His resignation as commander-in-chief after the Revolution and later refusal to run for a third term, established the precedent of peaceful transfer of power and supremacy of civil authority.[73][74]

Westward expansion and the sectional crisis (1820–1861)

Further information: History of the United States (1815–1849) and Territorial evolution of the United States

The Louisiana Purchase (1803) from France nearly doubled the territory of the United States.[75] Lingering issues with Britain remained, leading to the War of 1812, which was fought to a draw.[76] Spain ceded Florida and its Gulf Coast territory in 1819.[77] In the late 18th century, American settlers began to expand westward, some with a sense of manifest destiny.[78] The Missouri Compromise attempted to balance desires of northern states to prevent expansion of slavery in the country with those of southern states to expand it, admitting Missouri as a slave state and Maine as a free state and declared a policy of prohibiting slavery in the remaining Louisiana Purchase lands north of the 36°30′ parallel.[79] As Americans expanded further into land inhabited by Native Americans, the federal government often applied policies of Indian removal or assimilation.[80][81] Organized displacements prompted a long series of American Indian Wars west of the Mississippi.[82][83] The Republic of Texas was annexed in 1845,[84] and the 1846 Oregon Treaty led to U.S. control of the present-day American Northwest.[85] Victory in the Mexican–American War resulted in the 1848 Mexican Cession of California and much of the present-day American Southwest.[78][86] Issues of slavery in the new territories acquired were temporarily resolved by the Compromise of 1850.[87]

Civil War (1861–1865)
Main articles: History of the United States (1849–1865) and American Civil War

During the colonial period, slavery had been legal in the American colonies, though the practice began to be significantly questioned during the American Revolution.[88] States in The North enacted abolition laws,[89] though support for slavery strengthened in Southern states, as inventions such as the cotton gin made the institution increasingly profitable for Southern elites.[90][91][92] This sectional conflict regarding slavery culminated in the American Civil War (1861–1865).[93][94] Eleven slave states seceded and formed the Confederate States of America, while the other states remained in the Union.[95] War broke out in April 1861 after the Confederates bombarded Fort Sumter.[96] After the January 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, many freed slaves joined the Union Army.[97] The war began to turn in the Union’s favor following the 1863 Siege of Vicksburg and Battle of Gettysburg, and the Confederacy surrendered in 1865 after the Union’s victory in the Battle of Appomattox Court House.[98] The Reconstruction era followed the war. After the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, Reconstruction Amendments were passed to protect the rights of African Americans. National infrastructure, including transcontinental telegraph and railroads, spurred growth in the American frontier.[99]

Post–Civil War era (1865–1917)
Main article: History of the United States (1865–1917)

From 1865 through 1917 an unprecedented stream of immigrants arrived in the United States, including 24.4 million from Europe.[102] Most came through the port of New York City, and New York City and other large cities on the East Coast became home to large Jewish, Irish, and Italian populations, while many Germans and Central Europeans moved to the Midwest. At the same time, about one million French Canadians migrated from Quebec to New England.[103] During the Great Migration, millions of African Americans left the rural South for urban areas in the North.[104] Alaska was purchased from Russia in 1867.[105]

The Compromise of 1877 effectively ended Reconstruction and white supremacists took local control of Southern politics.[106][107] African Americans endured a period of heightened, overt racism following Reconstruction, a time often called the nadir of American race relations.[108][109] A series of Supreme Court decisions, including Plessy v. Ferguson, emptied the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments of their force, allowing Jim Crow laws in the South to remain unchecked, sundown towns in the Midwest, and segregation in cities across the country, which would be reinforced by the policy of redlining later adopted by the federal Home Owners’ Loan Corporation.[110]

An explosion of technological advancement accompanied by the exploitation of cheap immigrant labor[111] led to rapid economic development during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, allowing the United States to outpace England, France, and Germany combined.[112][113] This fostered the amassing of power by a few prominent industrialists, largely by their formation of trusts and monopolies to prevent competition.[114] Tycoons led the nation’s expansion in the railroad, petroleum, and steel industries. The United States emerged as a pioneer of the automotive industry.[115] These changes were accompanied by significant increases in economic inequality, slum conditions, and social unrest, creating the environment for labor unions to begin to flourish.[116][117][118] This period eventually ended with the advent of the Progressive Era, which was characterized by significant reforms.[119][120]

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