History of the United States of America

Presentation / Essay (Pre-University), 2001

10 Pages

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1492 - Discovery of a New World

Christopher Columbus was the first man who wanted to find a direct rout to Asia. He stumbled on a new World called America. On his first voyage he arrived on his ships Santa Maria, Pinta and Niña the island Arawaks (Bahamas) in 1492. The natives of Arawaks gave Columbus and his crew a warm welcome. His second voyage led them to the Caribs. The inhabitants believed that they and their ships were gods who came from the skies. But the natives were only seen as a strong and productive work force. Columbus ordered some of his men to stay behind, built a fort and trade with the inhabitants. After a while, the Spanish discovered gold and silver on the island of Hispaniola. Therefore, the Spanish searched on the other Caribbean islands and investigated the north of the American continent.

1565 - The Oldest City in the United States

The Spanish explorer and treasure hunter Don Juan Ponce de Leon first sighted he mainland of the North American continent in 1513. He claimed the land for Spain and named it La Florida, meaning "Land of Flowers". Between 1513 and 1563 the government of Spain launched six expeditions to settle Florida, but all failed. The French succeeded in establishing a fort and a colony on the St. Johns River in 1564 and threatened Spain's treasure fleets which sailed along Florida's shoreline returning to Spain. As a result of this incursion into Florida, King Phillip II named Don Pedro Menendez de Avilés, Spain's most experienced admiral, as governor of Florida. Phillip II instructed him to explore and to colonize the territory.

Menendez arrived off the coast of Florida, in August 1565. Eleven days later, he and his 600 men came ashore at the side of the Timucuan Indian village. He fortified the captured village and named it Saint Augustine. After brilliant military maneuvers, Menendez destroyed the French garrison on the St. Johns River and, with the help of a hurricane, also defeated the French fleet. With the coast of Florida in Spanish hands, he built the town, established missions to the Indians for the Church and explored the land. The town was burnt and sacked by the English buccaneers Sir Francis Drake in 1586 and Capt. John Davis in 1665. Saint Augustine is the oldest lasting European settlement on the North American continent.

1607 - The First British Colony

In June 1606, King James I of England allowed the Virginia Company to settle an English colony in the Chesapeake region of North America. In December 104 men started to North America with four ships named Sarah, Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery to search for gold and to build the colony. In May 1607, this group of explorers decided to settle on an Island. They named the nearby river James, after their king. That is why the colonists called this settlement Jamestown. Although they have been attacked by the Alonquian Indians and had a lack of food, the English settlers were able to survive. Under the leadership of Captain John Smith, the colonists built a wooden fort for their protection. Lord De La Ware, Jamestown's new governor, planed to deliver needed supplies and consequently gave the colony a chance to expand. After that the British began to colonize all over what is now New England. The wars with the Alonquian ended after Pocahontas, the daughter of the Alonquian chief, married John Rolfe, a European settler. Jamestown was the first permanent British colony in North America.

1614 - The Dutch in North America

In 1614, Dutch merchants established a trading post at Fort Orange. Ten years later thirty families came from Holland to settle in this area, which was called New Netherland. The Dutch government gave trading rights to the Dutch West India Company. In the next few years, other colonists arrived and a large settlement was found on Manhattan Island. Peter Minuit, who became governor of New Netherland, bought the island from Native Americans in 1626 for $24. The biggest port on Manhattan was named New Amsterdam. With the intention of attracting new settlers, the Dutch West India Company offered free land along the Hudson River. Peter Stuyvesant became governor in 1646. The English fleet, which arrived in 1664, wanted to capture New Netherland. Governor Stuyvesant was willed to fight, but he did not get any support of the other settlers and finally he was forced to allow the English to take control of the land. New Amsterdam was renamed New York.

1620 - Freedom of Worship

In 1620, Thomas Weston, assisted by John Carver and Robert Cushman, hired the Mayflower and the Speedwell to undertake a voyage to base a colony in Northern Virginia. The Speedwell turned out to be a leaky ship and was unable to make the voyage. Christopher Jones was the captain of the Mayflower when it took the Pilgrims to New England in 1620. Because of navigation problems and stormy weather, the ship sighted Cape Cod instead of Virginia on November 19th, after a two-month voyage. Some time was spent in selecting a suitable place for the colony. On December 26th, the Pilgrims established Plymouth (Massachusetts).

1773 - No Taxation without Representation

On May 10th, 1773, the parliament authorized the East India Tea Co. to export 500,000 pounds of tea to the American colonies to sell it without the usual duties and taxes. The citizens of Boston had not allowed the unloading of three British ships that arrived in Boston in November 1773 with 342 chests of tea. The royal governor of Massachusetts, Thomas Hutchinson, did not let the tea ships return to England until the duty has been paid. On the evening of December 16th, a group of Bostonians, led by the American patriot Samuel Adams and disguised as Mohawks, boarded the ship and dumped the tea into Boston Harbour. The British closed the port, because Boston's government did not want to pay for the lost tea. The Boston Tea Party increased the conflict between the colonists and Britain.

1775 - The Way to Independence

The American Revolution had some reasons. Social, economical, and political changes in the colonies before 1750 and, more important, the French and Indian War (1754-1763) changed the relationship between the colonies and their home country. Since 1765 the colonists had to pay for costs of the wars, which escalated in the Stamp Act crisis. One year later the Townshend law was passed. It imposed taxes on tea, paper, glass, paint and lead. So the Americans rejected these payments because of not having been allowed to send delegates to the British Parliament ("No taxation without representation"). After the confrontation in course of the Boston tea party, the thirteen Colonies (Virginia, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Georgia) wanted to be independent from the British crown. To crush the revolt, the British government decided to use overwhelming military forces. On April 19th, 1775 the first armed conflict took place near Concord, a village twenty miles northwest of Boston. Between 1776 and 1778, the British had some military successes. They captured New York, Saratoga Springs and Philadelphia. Nevertheless, the Americans had a number of important advantages. They were fighting on their own territory, close to the sources of supply and amid a mostly friendly population. Their Patriots had some resourceful military leaders, who had been tested in the French and Indian War. After all, in spite of better equipment and support from German mercenaries, the British troops lost against the American forces under leadership of their commander George Washington and colonists were able to drive the British away from Boston. The turning point of the war was on July 4th, 1776 when the colonists won the important battle near Saratoga. Finally, the thirteen Colonies declared their independence and established the Congress in Philadelphia. This Declaration of Independence (the foundation document of the United States of America) was composed by Thomas Jefferson. Until 1780 the colonists get support from Spain and the Netherlands and entered into an alliance with the French. The result was an expansion to an international conflict. Near Yorktown the Americans could defeat the British troops on October 19th, 1781. The British government had to admit the independence on September 3rd, 1783. The former colonies ratified the constitution and formed the United States in 1789. In total, the war lasted for eight years and had four phases, each with different strategies and characters.

1861 - Freedom for the Blacks

The American Civil War is one of the most momentous and controversial periods in American history. After Abraham Lincoln was nominated for President, the southern states declared that if Lincoln was elected, they would secede the union and proclaim themselves an independent nation, the Confederate States of America. Lincoln planed to stop the spread of slavery. He became President and immediately the eleven southern states (Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas) left the union. They formed the Confederate States of America under the reign of president Davis, with the capital Richmond. The northern States, which represented capitalism, equality, manufacturing and industry, supported the politics of President Lincoln. The southern States, which had many agricultural enterprises with cash crops of tobacco, cotton and sugarcane, fought for keeping the slavery. As the union did not accept the secede, the Civil War began on April 12th, 1861 when the Confederate Army took over Fort Sumter in Charleston (South Carolina). Lincoln was forced to declare war. The Confederate Army won the first battles, but at least the northern states triumphed and won the long and bloody war.

600,000 men on both sides died and over 1,100,000 were injured. The South was devastated and General Lee surrendered to General Grant on April 9th, 1865 at Appomattox Court House in Virginia. The Confederate States lost because of the superiority outnumber of the north. Abraham Lincoln abolished the slavery of the blacks on January 1st, 1883. John Wilkes Booth killed Lincoln in his moment of victory on April 15th, 1865 in the theatre of Washington.

1917 - The Great War

Because of the World War I in Europe in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson wanted neutral politics in relation to Europe. In January 1917, Germany declared absolute submarine warfare against all ships in the waters around the British Isles. Not wanting to give up their trading rights with Great Britain, Wilson threatened them with war. Afterwards, in spring 1915, a German submarine sank the British liner Lusitania with nearly 1,200 people aboard. On August 19th, the British steamer Arabic was sunk, too, without any warning. In March 1916, the Germans torpedoed the French ship Sussex. President Wilson arranged an ultimatum, saying that unless Germany stops its methods of submarine warfare, the United States would break off their relations. Germany agreed. On January 22nd, 1917, the German government proclaimed that they have started their submarine warfare again. When five American ships had been sunk in April, the USA declared war on Germany. In October 1918, the U.S.-Army with over 1,750,000 soldiers had been put to France. President Wilson hoped to an early end of the war and his famous Fourteen Points, which were set in January 1918 as the basis for peace. In summer 1918, when Germany's armies were beaten back, the German government appealed to Wilson to negotiate based on the Fourteen Points. An armistice was concluded on November 11th, when Germany was pronounced guilty and being forced to give up their colonies and reduce their army. Through the First World War the U.S.A. become a world power.

1920 - The Golden Twenties

Because of an increasing in crime, poverty and violence the situation calls for a quick decision. The American Administration was forced to pass the first law of Prohibition in 1851. From now on, it was illegal to produce and sell alcohol. In 1873, the American women demonstrated against Saloons and other localities with high consumption of alcohol. In 1900, the Anti-Saloon League (ASL) was founded which had a great influence on politics. Until 1916, 23 of 48 states passed anti-saloon laws. In January 1919, the Condition was changed and the production, sale and transport of alcohol was finally illegal. As a result of that, the illegal distilling of alcohol, smuggle by so-called Bootleggers and illegal selling in Speakeasies (camouflaged saloons) increased. Corruption in police and politics helped the Mafia to install itself in the U.S.A. The most famous Gangster in the 1920s was Al Capone who had the whole underworld of Chicago in his hands. Tax fraud was the only crime he could be accused of. In 1931, he was sentenced to eleven years custody.

1929 - A Black Thursday

The changes wrought in the 1920s were far-reaching. The workweek dropped from 60 to 48 hours. Technology grew and automobiles, radios and movies became hugely popular. With profits soaring and interest rates low, plenty of money was available for investment. Much of it, however, went into reckless speculation in the stock market. In the fall of 1929, the New York Stock Exchange was more active than ever before. On October 24th, 1929, Black Thursday, the stock market crashed. Banks were closed. This financial crises was produced by the speculators James Fisk und Jay Gould. They tried to take the US gold market under their control. On September 20th, they began with buying gold in New York City. On September 24th, they were able to let the prices rise from $140 to $163,5. This rapid rise in price alarmed the New York Stock Exchange. The inflatorian demand for gold could only be stopped if US- Minister of finance George Sewall Boutwell opened $4,000,000 worth of Gold to commerce. Fisk und Gould made about $11,000,000 profit. Many investors were on the brinks of ruin.

1941 - Nuclear Warfare was Deceiving

Neutral laws, which were published from 1935 to 1937, forbid trading or credit to any warring nation. Neutrality was also the initial American response to the outbreak of the World War II in Europe in 1939. After the crushing defeat of France and the air war against Britain in 1940, the United States abandoned their politics of Neutrality, and joined Canada into a defence alliance to protect the nations in the western hemisphere. The Congress voted for rearmament and in early 1941, President Theodore Roosevelt transferred arms and equipment mostly to Great Britain, the Soviet Union and China. The 1940s presidential elections ended in another majority for Roosevelt. For the first time in U.S. history, a president was elected to a third term of office. On December 7th, 1941, Japan started bombing Pearl Harbour, Hawaii. The next day America declared war to Japan and another three days later Germany and Italy declared war to the U.S.A. The nation started with mobilization its people and its industrial capacity. By the end of 1943, approximately 65,000,000 men and women were in uniforms or in war-related occupations. The western Allies decided that their necessary military effort were to be concentrated on Europe. The Pacific area was to be secondary objective. On D- Day, June 6th, 1944, allied forces landed in the Normandy (France). On August 25th, Paris was liberated and in February and March 1945, troops advanced into Germany and on May 8th, Germany surrendered. Nevertheless, the war in the pacific area continued. On August 6th, the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. 92,000 people died and 37,000 were injured. Two days later, another bomb destroyed Nagasaki and killed over 60,000 people. Because of that, Emperor Hirohito formally surrendered on September 2nd, 1945. The war was over.

1947 - Cold Times

After Harry Truman was elected for President, he changed the relations to the Soviet Union. He established a politic of anticommunism, which was based on the American economic superiority and, until July 1945, of the monopoly on nuclear weapons. Their concept was a free Europe under leadership by the U.S.A. In the sequel, there were several problems and misunderstandings, which determinated the relationship between the U.S.A. and the USSR. In 1949, China changed the political system into communism and the USSR tested their first atomic bomb. The arms race ended in a draw - the relationship freezed.

1962 - World on the Brick of Ruin

As a result of the cold war, Nikita Chruschtschow, the soviet leader, planed to install medium- range missile on Cuba. President John F. Kennedy recognized the risk for the U.S.A. and the members of the NATO-alliance. On October 22nd, 1962, Kennedy ordered the Soviet leaders to withdraw the missiles. Besides, he imposed a sea-blockade to prevent continued arms supplies. The conflict came to a head and the world was near to a nuclear world war. After long negotiations, the Soviet Union decided to remove the weapons from Cuba. In return, the U.S.A. took away their missiles pointed at Moscow from Turkey. Officially, the conflict ended with a signing from Washington and Moscow, which was sent to the secretary-general of the U.N.

1963 - Dead of a Statesman

In autumn 1963, J. F. Kennedy started his election campaign. On November 22nd, Kennedy was driven through Dallas (Texas) when deadly rounds in head and neck killed him. Lee Harvey Oswald, the presumed murder, was also shot by Jack Ruby two days later. In 1964, the fact-finding committee came to the result that Oswald must be the only offender.

Nevertheless, a second committee in 1979 discovered that Kennedy was murdered by at least two sharpshooters. They concluded that President Kennedy felt victim to constipation. The committee cost suspicion on the CIA, the FBI, the Mafia and Fidel Castro.

1965 - Love and Peace Against War

In 1955, the U.S.A. relieved France as a protecting power in South Vietnam. With help from the Americans Ngo Dinh Diem was able to install a dictatorship, which persecuted any opposition. Diem cancelled the elections, which were planed for 1956. The Vietcong, which were supported by North Vietnam, began to fight against the dictator and American installations. In 1960, the South established an own army, which depended on the North. Because of increasing attacks from the Vietcong, the U.S.A. strengthened their pact with the South. In 1961, President Kennedy reinforced the U.S.-Army in Vietnam. In 1963, over 16,000 soldiers were stationed. The Diem-regime was put increasing under pressure by the Vietcong, which took a large area under their control. On November 1st, 1963 after a putsch, Diem was deprived of his power and executed. After several putsches and ten different administrations in 18 months, Nguyen Van Thieu was the new President. But in August 1964, the war escalated because of the "Tonking-incident". On August 2nd and 4th, Military torpedo boats from the North attacked two U.S.-destroyers. President Lyndon B. Johnson was authorized to lead the troops against North Vietnam by the Congress. In February 1965 the U.S.A. began to bomb strategically important targets in North Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Until 1968 the U.S.-Army took 543,000 men to Vietnam. The U.S.A. got support from Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and other allies. In spite of numeral ratio and military superiority, U.S.-Army was unable to get the war to a decision. With global bombards with napalm and defoliant (Agent Orange) the Americans tried to change the power. The economy and infrastructure from the North was destroyed. At this time North Vietnam depended on military support from the USSR and China. In November 1967, the Pentagon published the number of killed soldiers with 15,058 and 10,9527 injured army members. The financial costs ran up to $25,000,000,000 and because of that more and more people demonstrated against this war in the U.S.A. In January 1968, the Vietcong started a large-scale attack against many South Vietnamese Towns. After that offensive and the publication of massacre on the civilians by chemical weapons, the protests in the U.S.A. and the whole world became louder. On March 31st, President Johnson declared the bombings for concluded. The U.S.A. and North Vietnam discussed about a peace treaty in Paris on May 13th, 1968. But the negotiation was broke off and the South went on fighting. In 1969, the new President Richard Nixon wanted to end the military mission in Vietnam. Nevertheless, the Vietcong demanded of the U.S. government the immediate and complete withdrawal of the American troops. Moreover, the Americans wanted to prevent support from Laos and Cambodia. Therefore, they bombarded Laos and Cambodia in 1970 and 1971. These attacks were ostracized by the world and intensified the anti-war protests in the whole world. After endless discussions and a going on of the war, President Nixon declared the cease-fire on January 23rd, 1973. This war killed over two million Vietnams; twelve million people lost their home. Over 157,000 U.S.-soldiers were killed and 150,000 men injured.

1968 - Peacefully Man Died by Force

In 1955, the court of justice declared the segregation on public schools for unlawful, which expanded on all sectors of public life. So, Martin Luther King was requested to lead a boycott of the public bus system in Montgomery (Alabama). As a result of these protests, which lasted 381 days, Luther King was arrested, became several threatening letters and his house was blast. After the protest, each kind of race discriminations in public transportation stopped at once. In 1968, Martin Luther King planed to lead a Poor People's March to Washington because wanted to demonstrate against the War in Vietnam. But on April 4th, Luther king was shot by James Earl Ray in Memphis (Tennessee). For 1983, every third Monday on January was declared for nation holiday. The house where he was born and his grave belong to the national monuments of the U.S.A.

1969 - The Eagle has landed

The famous flight of Apollo 11 began on July 16th, 1969. After getting into orbit, Edwin E. Aldrin and Neil Armstrong switched to the lunar module. Michael Collins was left in the command module. In July 20th, they landed the module on the moon near the Mare Tranquillitatis area. A few hours later Armstrong went down a ladder and set his foot on the moon. On July 21st, four days after lift-off, at 3.56 a.m. (MEZ) humankind was able to bring the first human beings to the moon. After Aldrin got out, they went for a walk. In two hours, they collected 21 kilogramme minerals, took pictures and realized some experiments. Via satellite, millions of people watched the sensation. Without a hitch, the astronauts flew back to earth. On July 24th, they splashed down in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii.

1973 - Procedure Against President

On June 17th, 1972, five men were arrested because they broke into offices in the Watergateapartments in Washington, which belonged to George McGovern, the candidate for president elections of the Democratic Party. The men planed to install bugging systems by order of President Nixon's election-committee. In the course of the preliminary proceedings, Nixon was accused of accomplishment in March 1974. The Congress instituted an impeachment against the President. In the sequel of the investigation, it became known that Nixon ordered the FBI to dismiss the case that means that he wanted to disguise the scandal. To anticipate the Impeachment Nixon resigned his post as the first President of the U.S.A. The Watergateaffair produced a breach of trust inside the American society.











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