Before the United States became the nation we know it as today, Indigenous tribes roamed from coast to coast, living in sync with the land prior to the arrival of the Europeans. Each tribe had their own way of life, ranging from nomadic lifestyles to established complexes with distinct social orders.
The arrival of European colonists from the 16th century shattered this way of living, resulting in death, disease, and the colonization of Indigenous lands. Spanish and French colonists, already present in North America, began to set their sights to the modern-day US. British colonists arrived on the east coast, taking their first successful settlement in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. The establishment of New England was underway until the 18th century, which led to the Seven Years’ War from 1754 to 1763 between the French, Indigenous tribes, and the British, with the latter claiming most of New France’s territory upon victory.
While the new “Americans” were of British origin, there was growing discontentment towards Britain. The American Revolution began with the Boston Tea Party in 1773, when American colonists rebelled against the British government by throwing 342 chests of tea into the water. This act ignited the Revolution, which accumulated in the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 by the Founding Fathers, creating the nation known as the United States.
Yet, independence did not mean peace; in 1812, the newly established United States went to war against Great Britain over British violations of US maritime rights. While America ultimately lost to Britain, the war allowed them to gain control over the southern Spanish-controlled areas along the Gulf of Mexico.
Of all the tumultuous years that America endured prior to the 19th century, the most important is arguably the Civil War, lasting from 1861-1865. The North sought to abolish slavery and ignite a shift in cultural values, whereas the South wanted to maintain their economic system and status quo. After a number of bloody and significant battles, Southern Confederate forces surrendered at Appomattox Court House in Virginia, freeing over four million African-Americans who had been enslaved.
The 20th century in America was characterized by a number of social movements, including women’s suffrage in 1920 and the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950-1960s. The Civil Rights Movement was a political campaign to end racial segregation, discrimination, and violence against black Americans. The era was marked by key events such as Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat to a white woman in 1955 and Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963 at the March on Washington. The Civil Rights Movement is considered to have ended with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but the struggle for racial justice has continued until modern day.
Today, the US is known as a melting pot of cultures. Immigrants from all across the world have contributed to making the US a diverse country with rich cultural and culinary influences in the “Land of the Free.”
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