A Brief History of the United States

america history

The United States is the world’s oldest and largest democracy. Since its founding, the nation has been a powerful force in international affairs. It has often acted as a mediator and broker between conflicting powers and has maintained an expansive foreign policy. However, in the post–World War II era, the country has faced increasing domestic and economic challenges. These changes have created a political divide between neo-isolationists who want to reduce the number of the country’s overseas commitments and neo-nationalists who want a more assertive role for the United States abroad.

The country’s founders drew on republicanism and the optimism of the European Enlightenment when formulating the Constitution. They believed that laws, rather than men, should be sovereign and that government was responsible to the governed.

After the Revolutionary War, many colonial leaders wanted to join the states into a single national union. The Albany Plan was an attempt to do this, but it failed because of resistance from the colonies’ provincial legislatures. The state governments felt that they would lose power to a central government.

During the 19th century, American society and economy became industrialized, producing goods in ever-increasing quantities. This growth fueled an enormous appetite for raw materials, especially fossil fuels and metals. It also resulted in rapid population growth, which created pressures on land and water resources. In addition, a large percentage of the urban workforce was composed of African Americans who were denied full political rights by white majority rule.

Civil rights politics in the United States began with abolition of slavery and grew into a movement to grant African Americans voting rights. While these reforms were achieved in the South, the rest of the country remained resistant to changing discriminatory practices. This reluctance sparked the Civil Rights Movement, which was finally successful in convincing a majority of U.S. voters to grant women the vote in 1920.

As the nation became increasingly industrialized, it strained its natural resources and polluted air, land, and water. Its factories consumed huge amounts of coal, oil, iron, and other raw materials and produced massive amounts of waste. The resulting pollution created new environmental hazards, including asthma, bronchitis, and lung disease. In addition, the rapid expansion of cities created slums and deprived many poor citizens of jobs.

As a result of these and other factors, U.S. economic growth slowed after World War I and the Great Depression set in. Neo-isolationists pushed the United States to pare back its foreign commitments, but liberals hoped that it could become a leader in promoting peace and economic prosperity in an increasingly interdependent global economy. This period was marked by rising tensions between the free-market democracies of the West and the communist one-party states of the Soviet Union. In the wake of Sputnik, some U.S. leaders raised doubts about the value of NATO’s military umbrella in Europe.

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