Historical facts about USA

BY Shubhi Mathur, 08 Nov, 2017

Global Jigyasa - Countries 101

America was discovered in 1492 by Christopher Columbus. From 1651 to 1777, Great Britain enjoyed good trade relations with America and was largely successful in colonising the newly found continent. The American War of Independence was fought from 1775-1783 to gain independence from Great Britain.   As the 13 colonies of America consolidated, George Washington became the first President of the United States of America in 1789. The early 1800s saw the advent of the Industrial Revolution in America which completely transformed small and medium scale enterprises in the country. From 1861-1865, the American Civil War was fought between the Northern States and the Southern States. This war concluded with the abolition of slavery and kept the United States together as one sovereign nation.


With the onset of the World War 1 in 1914, the United States maintained a neutral stand. However in 1917, owing to the crucial circumstances like sinking of US ships by the Germans and involvement of close ally Britain, prompted the United States government to intervene and declare war on Germany. A few years later in 1920, via the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, women were given the right to vote in the US Circumstances in the United States changed for the worse, when the US economy was hit by a severe recession in October 1929. The stock markets collapsed leading to widescale poverty. Unemployment in the United States rose to about 25% and personal incomes dwindled. This came to be known as the ‘Great Depression’ and its devastating effects were felt all around the globe.


The US entry into World War II, was marked by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, in USA in December 1941. In August 1945, US retaliatory action against the Japanese attack changed the world forever as it dropped two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, bringing World War II to an end. The United States also actively participated in the Korean War from 1950-1953, which divided the Korean Peninsula into two parts: the Soviet controlled North Korea and the US controlled South Korea.


African American Civil Rights Movement
African American Civil Rights Movement


The years from 1954-1968 were characterised by the African-American Civil Rights movement, which put an end to racial segregation and discrimination in the United States. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, ended discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or country of origin.   The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was also ratified by the then President Johnson that ended racial discrimination in voting.


Another major issue of international importance which impacted the world as a whole between 1947 and 1991 was the Cold War between the erstwhile Soviet Union and its allies, and the United States and its NATO allies ushered from 1947-1991. Though no direct confrontation between the two blocs took place, each supported proxy wars against one another. While the Soviet Union was wary of hundreds of nuclear tests being conducted by the US, the United State of America was cautious about the expansionist Soviet policies. These two superpowers of the world competed with each other for more political and military influence over the then recently decolonised territories of Asia, Africa and Latin America. The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 and the Vietnam War (1955-1975)  saw the involvement of both the United States and the Soviet Union. This lead to the ravaging of Cuba and Vietnam and crippling of the economies of the US and Soviet Union. The Cold War came to an end with the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991.


At the beginning of the 21st century, the United States of America was rocked by terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, which altered the political discourse of not only US but the entire world. In order to avenge the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in which 3000 people lost their lives,    the US along with its NATO allies began a war on terror in Afghanistan where the leader of Al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden was allegedly hiding. United States forces invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and war between the US alliance and the Al-Qaeda ensued and continued till the time Osama Bin Laden was nabbed and killed in a secret mission in Pakistan on May 2nd , 2011. However, due to the continued insurgency and violence in Afghanistan, US troops have not completely withdrawn from Afghanistan. In 2017, President Trump indicated that the US presence in Afghanistan is set to expand until the war against terror is won.


9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre
9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre


In a bid to end the political uncertainty and violence in the Middle East, the US invaded Iraq in 2003 and overthrew the military dictator Saddam Hussein. After ensuring relative stability in the region, the US troops finally withdrew from Iraq in 2011.


In 2008, President Barack Obama became the first African-American to be elected as the President of the United States of America. He continued for two terms after which the current President, Donald Trump came to power.


President Trump does not enjoy positive approval ratings in the US. His executive orders to cut immigration and ban arrivals from 7 nationalities (Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen) have received a lot of flak globally. President Trump also set in motion his proposal to build a 650 mile fencing along the US-Mexico border in order to curb illegal immigration. However, he would require a Congressional approval for the funding of this project which hasn’t been taken yet. It is estimated that 11 million undocumented immigrants reside in the United States.


President Trump also wishes to repeal the ‘Obamacare– Affordable healthcare Act’ that helped 20 million Americans to gain health insurance. According to him, this Act is unsustainable and suffers from rising premiums.  However, this bill could not garner enough votes in the US Senate, to be replaced or repealed.


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