History of the USA - the history of the United States of America
   
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Vacation 2 USA   >   History

   
 

History


Humans are believed to have first reached North America around 20,000 years ago, by crossing the Bering land bridge from Asia. These people settled and became the indigenous inhabitants of the Americas prior to the arrival of the Europeans.

The first European settlement in North America was established by Leif Erikson and the Vikings in 1000 AD, in what is today Newfoundland. However, this colony did not last for long, and it was several hundred years before Europeans reached the continent again. It has also been claimed that muslim explorers from Spain or Northwest Africa may have reached the continent, but this claim remains disputed.

The first European that is certain to have reached United States territory is Christopher Columbus who landed in Puerto Rico in 1492. Following Columbus, more and more Europeans began to arrive in the Americas, and the first expedition to what is not the continental United states was made by the Spaniard, Juan Ponce de León who is known to have explored Florida in 1513.

As the Americas were gradually explored, a variety of European countries including Denmark, France, Great Britain, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden, began to establish permanent colonies in the New World. In North America, the most successful of these was Great Britain, which by the end of the Seven Years War (known in the US as the "French and Indian War") had conquered most of the French territory in North America.

However, with the removal of the French military threat, disputes began to arise between Great Britain and her colonists over issues like taxation. These disputes eventually culiminated in American Revolution (1775 to 1783) which resulted in the formation of the United States from 13 former British colonies which had won their independence in the Revolutionary War.

Additional lands were gradually acquired by the US from France, Spain, the United Kingdom and Mexico, and within a century, the United States stretched across the entire North American continent. In 1867, Alaska was purchased from Russia. Further terroritorial acquistions followed with the annexation of Hawaii (1898), and following the Spanish-American war, of Puerto Rico. The final major addition to the US was the purchase of the Virgin Islands from Denmark in 1917.

The US has not been without difficulties during its history, the most noteable of these being the American Civil War (1861 to 1865) which was fought over the issues of slavery and states' rights. In the American Civil War, a large (Southern) part of the country, tried (ultimately unsuccessfully) to secede from the Union in an attempt to prevent the abolition of slavery, as well as to main and increase the individual states' rights.

In the 20th century, the US participated in both World Wars, and was on the victorious side in both conflicts. Following the end of World War II, the US engaged for over 40 years in a political, economic and military conflict with the USSR, known as the Cold War.

Today, the US is the most powerful country in the world, both economically and militarily, and US cultural influences can be seen all over the world in food, music, movies and the arts. Despite this, the US is today not without challenges, most notably the threat of terrorism, which was dramatically brought to the world's attention with the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001.

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  • Here are some books about the history of the United States:


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    A Patriot's History of the United States: From Columbus's Great Discovery to America's Age of Entitlement, Revised Edition

    By Larry Schweikart

    WaterBrook Press
    Released: 2014-11-25
    Paperback (1008 pages)

    A Patriot s History of the United States: From Columbus s Great Discovery to America s Age of Entitlement, Revised Edition
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    • Sentinel
    Product Description:
    The revised, 10th anniversary edition of the #1 New York Times bestseller

    Over the past decade, A Patriot’s History of the United States has become the definitive conservative history of our country, correcting the biases of historians and other intellectuals who downplay the greatness of America’s patriots. Professors Schweikart and Allen have now revised, updated, and expanded their book, which covers America’s long history with an appreciation for the values that made this nation uniquely successful.

    These Truths: A History of the United States

    By Jill Lepore

    W.W. Norton & Co
    Released: 2018-09-18
    Hardcover (960 pages)

    These Truths: A History of the United States
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    • In the most ambitious one-volume American history in decades, award-winning historian and New Yorker writer Jill Lepore offers a magisterial account of the origins and rise of a divided nation, an urgently needed reckoning with the beauty and tragedy of American history.
    • These Truths tells this uniquely American story,beginning in 1492,asking whether the course of events over more than five centuries has proven the nation's truths, or belied them. To answer that question, Lepore traces the intertwined histories of American politics, law, journalism, & technology, from the colonial town meeting to the nineteenth-century party machine,from talk radio to twenty-first-century Internet polls,from Magna Carta to the Patriot Act,from the printing press to Facebook News
    Product Description:

    New York Times Bestseller

    In the most ambitious one-volume American history in decades, award-winning historian and New Yorker writer Jill Lepore offers a magisterial account of the origins and rise of a divided nation, an urgently needed reckoning with the beauty and tragedy of American history.

    Written in elegiac prose, Lepore’s groundbreaking investigation places truth itself―a devotion to facts, proof, and evidence―at the center of the nation’s history. The American experiment rests on three ideas―"these truths," Jefferson called them―political equality, natural rights, and the sovereignty of the people. And it rests, too, on a fearless dedication to inquiry, Lepore argues, because self-government depends on it. But has the nation, and democracy itself, delivered on that promise?

    These Truths tells this uniquely American story, beginning in 1492, asking whether the course of events over more than five centuries has proven the nation’s truths, or belied them. To answer that question, Lepore traces the intertwined histories of American politics, law, journalism, and technology, from the colonial town meeting to the nineteenth-century party machine, from talk radio to twenty-first-century Internet polls, from Magna Carta to the Patriot Act, from the printing press to Facebook News.

    Along the way, Lepore’s sovereign chronicle is filled with arresting sketches of both well-known and lesser-known Americans, from a parade of presidents and a rogues’ gallery of political mischief makers to the intrepid leaders of protest movements, including Frederick Douglass, the famed abolitionist orator; William Jennings Bryan, the three-time presidential candidate and ultimately tragic populist; Pauli Murray, the visionary civil rights strategist; and Phyllis Schlafly, the uncredited architect of modern conservatism.

    Americans are descended from slaves and slave owners, from conquerors and the conquered, from immigrants and from people who have fought to end immigration. "A nation born in contradiction will fight forever over the meaning of its history," Lepore writes, but engaging in that struggle by studying the past is part of the work of citizenship. "The past is an inheritance, a gift and a burden," These Truths observes. "It can’t be shirked. There’s nothing for it but to get to know it."

    127 illustrations

    A People's History of the United States

    By Howard Zinn

    Harper Perennial Modern Classics
    Released: 2015-11-17
    Paperback (784 pages)

    A People s History of the United States
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    • Harper Perennial Modern Classics
    Product Description:

    "A wonderful, splendid book--a book that should be ready by every American, student or otherwise, who wants to understand his country, its true history, and its hope for the future." --Howard Fast

    With a new introduction by Anthony Arnove, this edition of the classic national bestseller chronicles American history from the bottom up, throwing out the official narrative taught in schools—with its emphasis on great men in high places—to focus on the street, the home and the workplace.

    Known for its lively, clear prose as well as its scholarly research, A People's History of the United States is the only volume to tell America's story from the point of view of—and in the words of—America's women, factory workers, African-Americans, Native Americans, the working poor, and immigrant laborers. As historian Howard Zinn shows, many of our country's greatest battles—the fights for a fair wage, an eight-hour workday, child-labor laws, health and safety standards, universal suffrage, women's rights, racial equality—were carried out at the grassroots level, against bloody resistance.

    Covering Christopher Columbus's arrival through President Clinton's first term, A People's History of the United States features insightful analysis of the most important events in our history. 

    Fault Lines: A History of the United States Since 1974

    By Kevin M. Kruse

    W. W. Norton & Company
    Released: 2019-01-08
    Hardcover (400 pages)

    Fault Lines: A History of the United States Since 1974
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    Product Description:

    Two award-winning historians explore the origins of a divided America.

    If you were asked when America became polarized, your answer would likely depend on your age: you might say during Barack Obama’s presidency, or with the post-9/11 war on terror, or the culture wars of the 1980s and 1990s, or the “Reagan Revolution” and the the rise of the New Right.

    For leading historians Kevin M. Kruse and Julian E. Zelizer, it all starts in 1974. In that one year, the nation was rocked by one major event after another: The Watergate crisis and the departure of President Richard Nixon, the first and only U.S. President to resign; the winding down of the Vietnam War and rising doubts about America’s military might; the fallout from the OPEC oil embargo that paralyzed America with the greatest energy crisis in its history; and the desegregation busing riots in South Boston that showed a horrified nation that our efforts to end institutional racism were failing.

    In the years that followed, the story of our own lifetimes would be written. Longstanding historical fault lines over income inequality, racial division, and a revolution in gender roles and sexual norms would deepen and fuel a polarized political landscape. In Fault Lines, Kruse and Zelizer reveal how the divisions of the present day began almost five decades ago, and how they were widened thanks to profound changes in our political system as well as a fracturing media landscape that was repeatedly transformed with the rise of cable TV, the internet, and social media.

    How did the United States become so divided? Fault Lines offers a richly told, wide-angle history view toward an answer.

    16 pages of black and white illustrations

    An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States (ReVisioning American History)

    By Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

    Beacon Press
    Released: 2015-08-11
    Paperback (312 pages)

    An Indigenous Peoples  History of the United States (ReVisioning American History)
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    • Beacon Press
    Product Description:
    2015 Recipient of the American Book Award

    The first history of the United States told from the perspective of indigenous peoples

     
    Today in the United States, there are more than five hundred federally recognized Indigenous nations comprising nearly three million people, descendants of the fifteen million Native people who once inhabited this land. The centuries-long genocidal program of the US settler-colonial regimen has largely been omitted from history. Now, for the first time, acclaimed historian and activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz offers a history of the United States told from the perspective of Indigenous peoples and reveals how Native Americans, for centuries, actively resisted expansion of the US empire.

    In An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, Dunbar-Ortiz adroitly challenges the founding myth of the United States and shows how policy against the Indigenous peoples was colonialist and designed to seize the territories of the original inhabitants, displacing or eliminating them. And as Dunbar-Ortiz reveals, this policy was praised in popular culture, through writers like James Fenimore Cooper and Walt Whitman, and in the highest offices of government and the military. Shockingly, as the genocidal policy reached its zenith under President Andrew Jackson, its ruthlessness was best articulated by US Army general Thomas S. Jesup, who, in 1836, wrote of the Seminoles: “The country can be rid of them only by exterminating them.”
     
    Spanning more than four hundred years, this classic bottom-up peoples’ history radically reframes US history and explodes the silences that have haunted our national narrative.


    From the Hardcover edition.

    A Short History of the United States: From the Arrival of Native American Tribes to the Obama Presidency

    By Robert V. Remini

    Harper Perennial
    Released: 2009-12-01
    Paperback (398 pages)

    A Short History of the United States: From the Arrival of Native American Tribes to the Obama Presidency
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    • Harper Perennial
    Product Description:

    Robert V. Remini's A Short History of the United States is an abbreviated, accessible, lively, and erudite narrative history that contains the essential facts about the discovery, settlement, growth, and development of the American nation and its institutions. Racing across the centuries—from the arrival and migration of Native Americans and the discovery of the New World by Europeans, the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Great Depression, up to the global conflicts of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries—it is a fascinating overview of a great nation's epochs and missteps, and a celebration of its achievements, its unique and enduring strengths, and its abiding commitment to individual freedoms.

    United States History: Preparing for the Advanced Placement Examination, 2018 Edition

    By John J Newman

    Perfection Learning
    Paperback (800 pages)

    United States History: Preparing for the Advanced Placement Examination, 2018 Edition
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    Product Description:
    This text is designed for a one-semester or one-year United States history course for students preparing to take the current AP U.S. History Exam. Includes Summer 2017 College Board revisions to the course and exam description. Teachers can assign the book as the course textbook or as a supplement to a college-level textbook.

    A Disability History of the United States (ReVisioning American History)

    By Kim E. Nielsen

    Beacon Press
    Released: 2013-10-01
    Paperback (240 pages)

    A Disability History of the United States (ReVisioning American History)
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    Product Description:
    The first book to cover the entirety of disability history, from pre-1492 to the present
     
    Disability is not just the story of someone we love or the story of whom we may become; rather it is undoubtedly the story of our nation. Covering the entirety of US history from pre-1492 to the present, A Disability History of the United States is the first book to place the experiences of people with disabilities at the center of the American narrative. In many ways, it’s a familiar telling. In other ways, however, it is a radical repositioning of US history. By doing so, the book casts new light on familiar stories, such as slavery and immigration, while breaking ground about the ties between nativism and oralism in the late nineteenth  century and the role of ableism in the development of democracy.
     
    A Disability History of the United States pulls from primary-source documents and social histories to retell American history through the eyes, words, and impressions of the people who lived it. As historian and disability scholar Nielsen argues, to understand disability history isn’t to narrowly focus on a series of individual triumphs but rather to examine mass movements and pivotal daily events through the lens of varied experiences. Throughout the book, Nielsen deftly illustrates how concepts of disability have deeply shaped the American experience—from deciding who was allowed to immigrate to establishing labor laws and justifying slavery and gender discrimination. Included are absorbing—at times horrific—narratives of blinded slaves being thrown overboard and women being involuntarily sterilized, as well as triumphant accounts of disabled miners organizing strikes and disability rights activists picketing Washington.
     
    Engrossing and profound, A Disability History of the United States fundamentally reinterprets how we view our nation’s past: from a stifling master narrative to a shared history that encompasses us all.

    A Young People's History of the United States: Columbus to the War on Terror (For Young People Series)

    By Howard Zinn

    Triangle Square
    Released: 2009-06-02
    Paperback (464 pages)

    A Young People s History of the United States: Columbus to the War on Terror (For Young People Series)
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    • Triangle Square
    Product Description:
    A Young People's History of the United States brings to US history the viewpoints of workers, slaves, immigrants, women, Native Americans, and others whose stories, and their impact, are rarely included in books for young people. A Young People's History of the United States is also a companion volume to The People Speak, the film adapted from A People's History of the United States and Voices of a People’s History of the United States.
    Beginning with a look at Christopher Columbus’s arrival through the eyes of the Arawak Indians, then leading the reader through the struggles for workers’ rights, women’s rights, and civil rights during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and ending with the current protests against continued American imperialism, Zinn in the volumes of A Young People’s History of the United States presents a radical new way of understanding America’s history. In so doing, he reminds readers that America’s true greatness is shaped by our dissident voices, not our military generals.

    Mexicanos, Second Edition: A History of Mexicans in the United States

    By Manuel G. Gonzales

    Indiana University Press
    Released: 2009-08-20
    Paperback (424 pages)

    Mexicanos, Second Edition: A History of Mexicans in the United States
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    • Indiana University Press
    Product Description:

    Newly revised and updated, Mexicanos tells the rich and vibrant story of Mexicans in the United States. Emerging from the ruins of Aztec civilization and from centuries of Spanish contact with indigenous people, Mexican culture followed the Spanish colonial frontier northward and put its distinctive mark on what became the southwestern United States. Shaped by their Indian and Spanish ancestors, deeply influenced by Catholicism, and tempered by an often difficult existence, Mexicans continue to play an important role in U.S. society, even as the dominant Anglo culture strives to assimilate them. Thorough and balanced, Mexicanos makes a valuable contribution to the understanding of the Mexican population of the United States―a growing minority who are a vital presence in 21st-century America.



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