Skip to main content

A brief history of the United States of America

Many people believe that the history of America roughly began in 1492 when Columbus "stopped by", but that isn't true. Some of America's earliest ancestors came from Eurasia over what is now called the Bering Strait when it was in a state of glaciation. Of course, we all now that this wasn't the only way in. What happened after is a whole 'nother story.

Christopher Columbus did NOT come to what is now known as the United States; the farthest North he made it to in the four voyages he embarked on was what is now called Cuba. He did, however get a lot of other people interested in making the trip, and this began the story of many of us.

important events and people in us history

Jamestown was the first English settlement of the Americas, founded in 1607. Many others, willing to give up nearly everything to get out from under England's rule, started to come over. By 1733 the 13 Colonies were founded, and, to put it very simply, they all talked about how Great Britain still had a hold over them, when they should take care of everything themselves. In 1776 the United States Of America was formed, developing their own governments, yet Great Britain still had control over these people. After more and more taxes, all 13 colonies joined in protest (politically and militarily). The American Revolutionary War began in 1775 and lasted through to 1783. The war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. The Constitution of the United States was adopted in 1787.

A few names that have since then become famous for their roles in the start of the States: George Washington, a great commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, and, oh yeah, that job he hired on for later as President of the United States; Daniel Boone, a militia officer in the war; Benedict Arnold, a leading force at the beginning of the war, now only really known for treason. There are many others.

Slavery has been around since the beginning of civilization. Through the years more land and more states were added to this country, and through the years there have been a lot of growing pains. Almost from the beginning the Native Americans and the new settlers have clashed, and eventually the Native Americans were reduced to prisoners on their own land. Even now many live on reservations, victims of poverty and discrimination. Fortunately, there were some great Native Americans that have made a difference in their peoples' lives, past and present: Sitting Bull (Sioux), Crazy Horse (Western Sioux), Cochise (Apache), Leonard Peltier (Lakota and Anishnabe/AIM) and Wilma Mankiller (first female chief of the Cherokee Nation), to name just a few. However, the Native Americans weren't the only slaves in this country.

Many southern states were known for having slave owners, living on big plantations and making their living off of crops such as cotton and tobacco, and many slaves died as slaves. It was a terrible way to treat another human, but just about anyone who was unfortunate enough to be born of the white persuasion was also unfortunate enough to be a slave. Slavery was slowly being phased out of existence in the North, the border states and urban areas, but was expanding in highly profitable cotton districts of the south. When Abraham Lincoln decided that there should be a stop to the expansion of slavery, and eventually obliterated completely. To many in the South, this was a threat against their Constitutional Rights. Secession began with 11 states in all seceding from the Union. What some believe to be the bloodiest war ever fought began in 1861 and ended in 1865 with Lee's surrender. Just a few of the "players" in this tale: Abraham Lincoln, President of The United States; Robert E. Lee, Commanding General of the Confederate Army; Ulysses S. Grant, Commander of the United States Army and President of the United States 1869-1877. Lincoln was assassinated six days after the surrender by Lee.

The United States has gone through a lot since more and more people decided to make her their home: the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890, where some cavalry soldiers tried to disarm a band of Lakota Indians, but instead ended up killing men, women, and children after someone allegedly fired his rifle; the Wright Brothers made their first powered flight in 1903. Can you imagine a life without flight? WWI started in 1914, the US joined in in 1917 to 1919; Wall Street Crashed 1929, which most believe led to the Great Depression in the 1930s, which was worldwide. WWII begins in 1941, the US joins in that December after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and this is the only war where nuclear bombs were ever used. The African-American Civil Rights Movement from 1955 to 1968, led by Dr. Martin Luther King and other activists, was a major social movement where racial discrimination and segregation of African-Americans was a major problem, and several people were hurt, even murdered in the fight. The Viet Nam War, 1956-1975, where many lost their lives, and where many soldiers who came home to ridicule for fighting in the war.

John F Kennedy, probably the most popular President the United States has ever had, was assassinated in Dallas, Texas in 1963. Jonas Salk developed the first successful vaccine for polio, and announced it publicly in 1953. In 1955, Rosa Parks, tired of being treated like she was less than human, refused to give up her seat to a white person because she was black. NASA, or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, has a long history in the space program; several trips to the moon, and two very disastrous space shuttle launches. The Columbine High School shootings in 1999, where two boys who went to the same school, strolled in one day and murdered several of their fellow class mates and a teacher, and wounded several others, before killing themselves.

September 11, 2001, the day the towers fell. Since that day so much anger and hate has been shown towards too many who don't deserve it. Bombing two of the tallest public buildings in New York City and killing nearly 3,000 people immediately, not to mention those who have died from the toxic rubble that took months to clean up. However, some closure has come since our own Navy Seals found and took down Osama Bin Laden in 2011, who most believe him to be the one who planned the attacks in New York City.

Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which nearly wiped New Orleans off the face of the earth. Other Hurricanes have hit our shores, along with several tornado outbreaks that have seemed to try and kill everyone they can. Barack Obama is elected and reelected a second term, with a lot of defiance in his own cabinet, and more trouble with his new health care act.

There is so much more to America's history, which means there is so much to learn about your own past. Whether your family comes from the original settlers or came over later, whether you are Native American, Irish, Italian, Asian, Latin, or African-American, or any one of the countless combinations that are out there, you owe it to yourself and your future generations to learn all you can about your history.