The earliest reference in the history of the United States is made either to the voyage of Christopher Columbus to America in 1492 or to the indigenous native inhabitants, better known as Red Indians. After 1600, European colonists, mostly from England, inhabited the states, and they imported with them the African slaves. Thirteen British colonies were established by 1770. The British Parliament pronounced its authority over these colonies by imposing taxes, and this was simply unacceptable to the Americans. They considered it unconstitutional as they had no representation in the British Parliament. These conflicts became aggravated to the extent that they transformed into a full-scale war in April, 1775. On July 4, 1776, the colonies declared their independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain, and this was the emergence of the United States of America.
1. The Declaration of Independence–July 4, 1776
The Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. The purpose of this declaration was to pronounce the causes of separation, particularly the excesses of King George III of Great Britain. John Adams led the committee to select Thomas Jefferson to draft the statement. The Declaration served as a charge sheet against the King of Great Britain and offered the justification for the Declaration of Independence. The second sentence of the Declaration of Independence is considered one of the best-known sentences in English. It states, ‘We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.’
2. Signing of the Constitution–September 17, 1787
To replace the 1777 Articles of Confederation, the founding fathers signed the Constitution of the United States. It was adopted by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 17, 1787. It is the supreme law of the United States of America. It was ratified or approved in 11 states and was effective from March 4, 1789. The Constitution is subject to change through following the amendment process. The Constitution has been amended for a total of 27 times. The first three Articles of the Constitution relate to the rules, and they separate the powers of the three branches of the federal government; legislature, executive, and judiciary. The last four Articles relate to principles of federalism. The Tenth Amendment defines the characteristics of the federation.
3. The Louisiana Purchase–1803
Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers, principal author of the Declaration of Independence and the third President of the United States of America, was truly a great leader as shown by his determination and farsightedness in the case of the Louisiana Purchase. France controlled the vast Louisiana area from 1699 to 1762 when it gave it to Spain. Napoleon Bonaparte regained it in 1800, but the United States acquired its 828,000 square miles in 1803 for a total sum of $15 million. This translates the purchase of land at the rate of less than three cents per square mile. Thomas Jefferson, although faced opposition, yet materialized the deal in the greater interests of the country and future generations. The purchased territory included all or part of the current states of Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, the Continental Divide, Louisiana and
New Orleans, Minnesota, North Dakota, New Mexico, Texas, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado,
4. Stock Market Crash–October 29, 1929
The Great Depression, caused by the stock market crash on October 29, 1929, was one of the most testing ordeals for the Americans. As the stocks dropped down without any hope of recovery, people rushed to withdraw their deposits from banks. Many of them, being unable to pay, were closed. Many banks which had invested in stocks also closed creating panic. Similarly, businesses and factories closed, and the stock market, which was considered the best way to become rich, contrarily became a sure recipe for bankruptcy. Millions of people became jobless. President Hoover was replaced with President Roosevelt who, through his New Deal, eased the country out of the situation but not to an extent of relief. The Dust Bowl added to the misery.
5. The Attack on Pearl Harbor–December 7, 1941
At 7:48 a.m. on December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked the United States Naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attack was conducted by 353 Japanese fighters, bombers, and torpedo planes. The attack was conducted in surprise and in two waves from six aircraft carriers. All eight of the U.S. Navy’s battleships were damaged, and four of them were sunk. According to the records, 2,402 Americans were killed and 1,282 were wounded. The U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed
December 7th, 1941 ‘a date which will live in infamy.’
6. The Atomic Bombings–August 6-9, 1945
The Second World War ended in Europe after Nazi Germany signed the instrument of surrender on May 8, 1945, but the Pacific war was still ongoing. The USA, along with China and the United Kingdom, called for the surrender of Japan and warned of ‘prompt and utter destruction’ in case of a failure to surrender. Japan ignored the ultimatum, and the U.S. dropped the atom bomb called ‘Little Boy’ on the City of Hiroshima on
August 6, 1945, followed by dropping another atom bomb, ‘Fat Man’ on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. More than 45,000 Japanese were killed on the very first day in Hiroshima, and more than 30,000 were killed in Nagasaki on the first day. Additionally, 90,000 Japanese were killed within 4 months due to the aftereffects of the atomic bombing.
7. Assassination of John F. Kennedy–November 22, 1963
While traveling along with his wife Jacqueline, Texas Governor John Connelly and his wife Nellie were in a Presidential motorcade when U.S. President John F. Kennedy was shot dead. The suspected assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was also assassinated before he could face trial. The Warren Commission, after a ten-month investigation, arrived at the conclusion that Oswald was the lone assassin of Kennedy, and Jack Ruby was also the alone assassin of Oswald. The Americans initially supported the finding but later on suspected it to be untrue. The United States House Select Committee on Assassination later detected serious flaws in the investigation of the Warren Commission.
8. First Step on the Moon–July 21, 1969
The late President John F. Kennedy, in his speech before the United States Congress, proposed a goal for landing on the moon saying, ‘Before this decade is out, we want to land a man on the Moon and return him safely to Earth.’ His plan was realized when the spaceflight Apollo 11 carrying Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the surface of the Moon. Making his first step on the Moon, Armstrong’s historic words were broadcast live to the world. He said, ‘One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.’ The spaceflight Apollo 11, piloted by Michael Collins, was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Florida.
9. The 9/11 Attacks–September 11, 2001
On September 11, 2001, 19 Al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked 4 passenger jets for suicidal attacks. American Airlines Flight 11 was crashed against the North Tower of the World Trade Center complex in New York while United Airlines Flight 175 struck against its South Tower. Both towers collapsed within two hours, and the falling debris destroyed the surrounding buildings. The third plane, American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon while the fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, missed its intended target and crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. More than 3,000 people died in these attacks.
10. The 56th U.S. Presidential Election–November 4, 2008
On January 20, 2009, Barack Obama, having won the elections, became the 44th President of the United States of America. He was the first-ever African-American to become a U.S. President. It practically ended forever all sorts of racial discrimination in the United States of America giving a great message to people the world over. In October, 2009, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for ‘his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.’ He was reelected on November 6, 2012, and is currently the second-term President of the United States of America.
History is a great teacher, but not every country has learned from it equally. America might have learned a few things from the wars of Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Left alone as a superpower, there is no one left there to tell the U.S. that instead of being too demanding and always asking others to do more, it’s probably opportune for the USA to learn a little more from its own history. Obviously, it requires so much before becoming a superpower, but it is equally true that it needs so much more to retain this status.