Saturday, May 17, 2014

United States of America; the Sole Super Power in the World

Join of Die by Benjamin Franklin
18th Century 

Political Integration and Autonomy 

The French and Indian War (1754–1763) was a watershed event in the political development of the colonies. It was also part of the larger Seven Years' War. The influence of the main rivals of the British Crown in the colonies and Canada, the French and North American Indians, was significantly reduced which U.S territory expanded into New France that was between the Thirteen Colonies and Louisiana. Moreover, the war effort resulted in greater political integration of the colonies, as reflected in the Albany Congress and symbolized by Benjamin Franklin's call for the colonies to "Join or Die". Franklin was a man of many inventions-one of which was the concept of a United States of America, which emerged after 1765 and was realized in July 1776. 

Boston Tea Party is a turning point of American history
Following Britain's acquisition of French territory in North America, King George III issued the Royal Proclamation of 1763 with the goal of organizing the new North American empire and protecting the native Indians from colonial expansion into western lands beyond the Appalachian Mountains. In ensuing years, strains developed in the relations between the colonists and the Crown. The British Parliament passed the Stamp Act of 1765, imposing a tax on the colonies without going through the colonial legislatures. The issue was drawn: did Parliament have this right to tax Americans who were not represented in it? Crying "No taxation without representation", the colonists refused to pay the taxes as tensions escalated in the late 1760s and early 1770s. 

The Boston Tea Party in 1773 was a direct action by activists in the town of Boston to protest against the new tax on tea. Parliament quickly responded the next year with the Coercive Acts, stripping Massachusetts of its historic right of self-government and putting it under army rule, which sparked outrage and resistance in all thirteen colonies. 

First Continental Congress was held in 1774
Patriot leaders from all 13 colonies convened the First Continental Congress to coordinate their resistance to the Coercive Acts. The Congress called for a boycott of British trade, published a list of rights and grievances, and petitioned the king for redress of those grievances. The appeal to the Crown had no effect, and so the Second Continental Congress was convened in 1775 to organize the defense of the colonies against the British Army. 

Ordinary folk became insurgents against the British even though they were unfamiliar with the ideological rationales being offered. They held very strongly a sense of ”rights” that they felt the British were deliberately violating – rights that stressed local autonomy, fair dealing, and government by consent. They were highly sensitive to the issue of tyranny, which they saw manifested in the arrival in Boston of the British Army to punish the Bostonians. This heightened their sense of violated rights, leading to rage and demands for revenge. They had faith that God was on their side. 

American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War began at Concord and Lexington in April 1775 when the British tried to seize ammunition supplies and arrest the Patriot leaders. 

American Revolution 

The Thirteen Colonies began a rebellion against British rule in 1775 and proclaimed their independence in 1776 as the United States of America. In the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) the American capture of the British invasion army at Saratoga in 1777 secured the Northeast and encouraged the French to make a military alliance with the United States. France brought in Spain and the Netherlands, thus balancing the military and naval forces on each side as Britain had no allies. 

Surrender of British General J. Burgoyne at Saratoga
General George Washington (1732–1799) proved an excellent organizer and administrator, who worked successfully with Congress and the state governors, selecting and mentoring his senior officers, supporting and training his troops, and maintaining an idealistic Republican Army. His biggest challenge was logistics, since neither Congress nor the states had the funding to provide adequately for the equipment, munitions, clothing, paychecks, or even the food supply of the soldiers. 

As a battlefield tactician Washington was often outmaneuvered by his British counterparts. As a strategist, however, he had a better idea of how to win the war than they did. The British sent four invasion armies. Washington's strategy forced the first army out of Boston in 1776, and was responsible for the surrender of the second and third armies at Saratoga (1777) and Yorktown (1781). He limited the British control to New York City and a few places while keeping Patriot control of the great majority of the population.

US Declaration of Independence was signed in 2nd Continental Congress in 1776
The Loyalists, whom the British counted upon too heavily, comprised about 20% of the population but never were well organized. As the war ended, Washington watched proudly as the final British army quietly sailed out of New York City in November 1783, taking the Loyalist leadership with them. Washington astonished the world when, instead of seizing power for himself, he retired quietly to his farm in Virginia. Political scientist Seymour Martin Lipset observes, "The United States was the first major colony successfully to revolt against colonial rule. In this sense, it was the first 'new nation'." 

On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, declared the independence of "the United States of America" in the Declaration of Independence. July 4 is celebrated as the nation's birthday. The new nation was founded on Enlightenment ideals of liberalism in what Thomas Jefferson called the unalienable rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", and dedicated strongly to republican principles. Republicanism emphasized the people are sovereign (not hereditary kings), demanded civic duty, feared corruption, and rejected any aristocracy. 

US Constitution was signed in Philadelphia Convention in 1987
Early Years of the Republic

Confederation and Constitution 

In the 1780s the national government was able to settle the issue of the western territories, which were ceded by the states to Congress and became territories; with the migration of settlers to the Northwest, soon they became states. Nationalists worried that the new nation was too fragile to withstand an international war, or even internal revolts such as the Shays' Rebellion of 1786 in Massachusetts. Nationalists—most of them war veterans—organized in every state and convinced Congress to call the Philadelphia Convention in 1787. The delegates from every state wrote a new Constitution that created a much more powerful and efficient central government, one with a strong president, and powers of taxation. The new government reflected the prevailing republican ideals of guarantees of individual liberty and of constraining the power of government through a system of separation of powers.
James Madison was the 1st author of Bill of Rights
The Congress was given authority to ban the international slave trade after 20 years (which it did in 1807). A compromise gave the South Congressional apportionment out of proportion to its free population by allowing it to include three-fifths of the number of slaves in each state's total population. This provision increased the political power of southern representatives in Congress, especially as slavery was extended into the Deep South through removal of Native Americans and transportation of slaves by an extensive domestic trade.

To assuage the Anti-Federalists who feared a too-powerful national government, the nation adopted the United States Bill of Rights in 1791. Comprising the first ten amendments of the Constitution, it guaranteed individual liberties such as freedom of speech and religious practice, jury trials, and stated that citizens and states had reserved rights (which were not specified).
George Washington, the 1st US President
The New Chief Executive

George Washington — a renowned hero of the American Revolutionary War, commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, and president of the Constitutional Convention—became the first President of the United States under the new Constitution in 1789. The national capital moved from New York to Philadelphia and finally settled in Washington DC in 1800.

The major accomplishments of the Washington Administration were creating a strong national government that was recognized without question by all Americans. His government, following the vigorous leadership of Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, assumed the debts of the states (the debt holders received federal bonds), created the Bank of the United States to stabilize the financial system, and set up a uniform system of tariffs (taxes on imports) and other taxes to pay off the debt and provide a financial infrastructure. To support his programs Hamilton created a new political party—the first in the world based on voters—the Federalist Party.
The Whiskey Rebellion was 1st serious test of Federal Govt
Thomas Jefferson and James Madison formed an opposition Republican Party (usually called the Democratic-Republican Party by political scientists). Hamilton and Washington presented the country in 1794 with the Jay Treaty that reestablished good relations with Britain. The Jeffersonians vehemently protested, and the voters aligned behind one party or the other, thus setting up the First Party System. Federalists promoted business, financial and commercial interests and wanted more trade with Britain. Republicans accused the Federalists of plans to establish a monarchy, turn the rich into a ruling class, and making the United States a pawn of the British. The treaty passed, but politics became intensely heated.

The Whiskey Rebellion in 1794, when western settlers protested against a federal tax on liquor, was the first serious test of the federal government. Washington called out the state militia and personally led an army, as the insurgents melted away and the power of the national government was firmly established.
John Adams became 2nd President of America
Washington refused to serve more than two terms—setting a precedent that is followed till date, that no president of America, who serves the office for two terms, competes for third term and this principle is followed in many other countries including Iran—and in his famous farewell address, he extolled the benefits of federal government and importance of ethics and morality while warning against foreign alliances and the formation of political parties.

John Adams, a Federalist, defeated Jefferson in the 1796 election. War loomed with France and the Federalists used the opportunity to try to silence the Republicans with the Alien and Sedition Acts, build up a large army with Hamilton at the head, and prepare for a French invasion.

However, the Federalists became divided after Adams sent a successful peace mission to France that ended the Quasi-War of 1798.
Slavery was very common in Americas

During the first two decades after the Revolutionary War, there were dramatic changes in the status of slavery among the states and an increase in the number of freed blacks. Inspired by revolutionary ideals of the equality of men and their lesser economic reliance on it, northern states abolished slavery, although some had gradual emancipation schemes. States of the Upper South made manumission easier, resulting in an increase in the proportion of free blacks in the Upper South from less than one percent in 1792 to more than 10 percent by 1810. By that date, a total of 13.5 percent of all blacks in the United States were free. After that date, with the demand for slaves on the rise with the development of the Deep South for cotton cultivation, the rate of manumissions declined sharply, and an internal slave trade became an important source of wealth for many planters and traders.

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