Thursday, September 11, 2014

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

United States of America-the Flag
The United States of America (USA), commonly referred to as the United States (US), America or simply the States (Arabic: الولايات المتّحدة الأمريكيّة) (Urdu: ریاستہائے متحدہ امریکا) (Persian: ایالات متحده آمریکا), is a federal republic consisting of 50 states and a federal district. The 48 contiguous states and the federal district of Washington, D.C., are in central North America between Canada and Mexico. The state of Alaska is the northwestern part of North America and the state of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific. The country also has five populated and nine unpopulated territories in the Pacific and the Caribbean. At 3.79 million square miles (9.83 million km2) in total and with around 317 million people, the United States is the fourth-largest country by total area and third largest by population. It is one of the world's most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many countries. The geography and climate of the United States is also extremely diverse, and it is home to a wide variety of wildlife. 

Great Seal of the United States of America
Paleo-indians migrated from Asia to what is now the U.S. mainland around 15,000 years ago, with European colonization beginning in the 16th century. The United States emerged from 13 British colonies located along the Atlantic seaboard. Disputes between Great Britain and these colonies led to the American Revolution. On July 4, 1776, delegates from the 13 colonies unanimously issued the Declaration of Independence. The ensuing war ended in 1783 with the recognition of independence of the United States from the Kingdom of Great Britain, and was the first successful war of independence against a European colonial empire. The current Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787. The first 10 amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, were ratified in 1791 and guarantee many fundamental civil rights and freedoms. 

Spanish-American war in Manila
Driven by the doctrine of manifest destiny, the United States embarked on a vigorous expansion across North America throughout the 19th century. This involved displacing native tribes, acquiring new territories, and gradually admitting new states. The American Civil War ended legal slavery in the country. By the end of the 19th century, the United States extended into the Pacific Ocean, and its economy was the world's largest. The Spanish–American War and World War I confirmed the country's status as a global military power. The United States emerged from World War II as a global superpower, the first country with nuclear weapons, and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. The end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union left the United States as the sole superpower. 

The United States is a developed country and has the world's largest national economy, with an estimated GDP in 2013 of $16.7 trillion – 23% of global nominal GDP and 19% at purchasing-power parity. 

16% of American Population lives in poverty
The economy is fueled by an abundance of natural resources and the world's highest worker productivity, with per capita GDP being the world's sixth-highest in 2010. While the U.S. economy is considered post-industrial, it continues to be one of the world's largest manufacturers. The U.S. has the highest mean and second-highest median household income in the OECD as well as the highest average wage, though it has the fourth most unequal income distribution among OECD nations with roughly 16% of the population living in poverty. The country accounts for 39% of global military spending, being the world's foremost economic and military power, a prominent political and cultural force, and a leader in scientific research and technological innovation. 


In 1507, the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller produced a world map on which he named the lands of the Western Hemisphere "America" after the Italian explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci (Latin: Americus Vespucius). The first documentary evidence of the phrase "United States of America" is from a letter dated January 2, 1776, written by Stephen Moylan, Esq., George Washington's aide-de-camp and Muster-Master General of the Continental Army. Addressed to Lt. Col. Joseph Reed, Moylan expressed his wish to carry the "full and ample powers of the United States of America" to Spain to assist in the revolutionary war effort. 

United States of America first published in The Verginia Gazette in 1776
The first publicly published evidence of the phrase "United States of America" was in an anonymously written essay in The Virginia Gazette newspaper in Williamsburg, Virginia, on April 6, 1776. In June 1776, Thomas Jefferson included the phrase "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" in all capitalized letters in the headline of his "original Rough draught" of the Declaration of Independence. In the final Fourth of July version of the Declaration, the pertinent section of the title was changed to read, "The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America". In 1777 the Articles of Confederation announced, "The Stile of this Confederacy shall be 'The United States of America'". 

The short form "United States" is also standard. Other common forms include the "U.S.", the "USA", and "America". Colloquial names include the "U.S. of A." and, internationally, the "States". "Columbia", a name popular in poetry and songs of the late 1700s, derives its origin from Christopher Columbus; it appears in the name "District of Columbia". In non-English languages, the name is frequently translated as the translation of either the "United States" or "United States of America", and colloquially as "America". In addition, an acronym is sometimes used. 

James Mitchell Ashley proposed 13th Amendment
The phrase "United States" was originally treated as plural, a description of a collection of independent states—e.g., "the United States are"—including in the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1865. It became common to treat it as singular, a single unit—e.g., "the United States is"—after the end of the Civil War. 

The singular form is now standard; the plural form is retained in the idiom "these United States". The difference has been described as more significant than one of usage, but reflecting the difference between a collection of states and a unit. 

The standard way to refer to a citizen of the United States is as an "American". "United States", "American" and "U.S." are used to refer to the country adjectivally ("American values", "U.S. forces"). 

"American" is rarely used in English to refer to subjects not connected with the United States. 

Christopher Columbus
History of the United States

The history of the United States as covered in American schools and universities typically begins with either Christopher Columbus's 1492 voyage to the Americas or with the prehistory of the Native peoples; the latter approach has become increasingly common in recent decades. 

 Indigenous peoples lived in what is now the United States for thousands of years and developed complex cultures before European colonists began to arrive, mostly from England, after 1600. 

The Spanish had early settlements in Florida and the Southwest, and the French along the Mississippi River and Gulf Coast. By the 1770s, thirteen British colonies contained two and a half million people along the Atlantic coast, east of the Appalachian Mountains. 

US Declaration of Independence
After driving the French out of North America in 1763, the British imposed a series of new taxes while rejecting the American argument that taxes required representation in Parliament. Tax resistance, especially the Boston Tea Party of 1774, led to punishment by Parliament designed to end self-government in Massachusetts. All 13 colonies united in a Congress that led to armed conflict in April 1775. On July 4, 1776, the Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence drafted by Thomas Jefferson, proclaimed that all men are created equal, and founded a new nation, the United States of America. 

With large-scale military and financial support from France and military leadership by General George Washington, the American Patriots won the Revolutionary War. The peace treaty of 1783 gave the new nation most of the land east of the Mississippi River (except Florida).

War of 1912 is the last fight between US and England
The national government established by the Articles of Confederation proved ineffectual at providing stability to the new nation, as it had no authority to collect taxes and had no executive. A convention called in Philadelphia in 1787 to revise the Articles of Confederation instead resulted in the writing of a new Constitution, which was adopted in 1789. In 1791 a Bill of Rights was added to guarantee rights that justified the Revolution. With George Washington as the nation's first president and Alexander Hamilton his chief political and financial adviser, a strong national government was created. When Thomas Jefferson became president he purchased the Louisiana Territory from France, doubling the size of American territorial holdings. A second and last war with Britain was fought in 1812. 

Driven by the doctrine of Manifest Destiny, the nation expanded beyond the Louisiana purchase, all the way to California and Oregon. The expansion was driven by a quest for inexpensive land for yeoman farmers and slave owners. This expansion came at the cost of violence against indigenous native peoples and fueled the unresolved differences between the North and South over the institution of slavery. 

Jacob M. Howard contributed in 14th Amendment in US constitution
Slavery was abolished in all states north of the Mason–Dixon line by 1804, but the South continued to profit off the institution, producing cotton exports to feed high demand in Europe. The 1860 presidential election of anti-slavery Republican Abraham Lincoln triggered the secession of seven (later eleven) slave states to found the Confederacy in 1861. The American Civil War (1861-1865) ensued, with the victory of the Union and the abolition of slavery. In the Reconstruction era (1863–77) legal and voting rights were extended to the Freedmen. The national government emerged much stronger, and because of the Fourteenth Amendment, it had the explicit duty to protect individual rights. However, legal racial discrimination in the form of Jim Crow laws continued in the South until the mid-20th century. 

The United States became the world's leading industrial power at the turn of the 20th century due to an outburst of entrepreneurship in the North And Midwest, and the arrival of millions of immigrant workers and farmers from Europe. 

Wall Street Crash of 1929
The national railroad network was completed with the work of Chinese immigrants, and large-scale mining and factories industrialized the Northeast and Midwest. Mass dissatisfaction with corruption, inefficiency and traditional politics stimulated the Progressive movement, from the 1890s to 1920s, which led to many social and political reforms. In 1920 the 19th Amendment to the Constitution guaranteed women's suffrage (right to vote). This followed the 16th and 17th amendments in 1909 and 1912, which established the first national income tax and direct election of U.S. senators to Congress. 

Initially neutral in World War I, the U.S. declared war on Germany in 1917, and funded the Allied victory the following year. After a prosperous decade in the 1920s, the Wall Street Crash of 1929 marked the onset of the decade-long world-wide Great Depression. 

Pearl Harbor Attacks led to the first Atomic Attacks
Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt ended the Republican dominance of the White House and implemented his New Deal programs for relief, recovery, and reform. They defined modern American liberalism. These included relief for the unemployed, support for farmers, Social Security and a minimum wage. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the United States entered World War II alongside the Allies especially Britain and the Soviet Union. It financed the Allied war effort and helped defeat Nazi Germany in Europe and, with the detonation of newly invented atomic bombs, Japan in the Far East. 

The United States and the Soviet Union emerged as rival superpowers after World War II. Around 1947 they began the Cold War, confronting one another indirectly in the arms race and Space Race. U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War was built around the support of Western Europe and Japan, and the policy of "containment" or stopping the spread of Communism.

US was disturbed by the world wide recession of 2007-09
The U.S. became involved in wars in Korea and Vietnam to stop the spread. In the 1960s, especially due to the strength of the civil rights movement, another wave of social reforms were enacted during the administrations of Kennedy and Johnson, enforcing the constitutional rights of voting and freedom of movement to African Americans and other minorities. Native American activism also rose. The Cold War ended when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, leaving the United States the world's only superpower. As the 21st century began, international conflict centered around the Middle East and spread to Asia and Africa following the September 11 attacks by Al-Qaeda on the United States. In 2008 the United States had its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, which has been followed by slower than usual rates of economic growth during the 2010s.

people migrated from Siberia to Alaska across Beringia

Pre-Columbian Era 

It is not definitively known how or when the Native Americans first settled the Americas and the present-day United States. The prevailing theory proposes that people migrated from Eurasia across Beringia, a land bridge that connected Siberia to present-day Alaska during the Ice Age, and then spread southward throughout the Americas and possibly going as far south as the Antarctic peninsula. This migration may have begun as early as 30,000 years ago and continued through to about 10,000+ years ago, when the land bridge became submerged by the rising sea level caused by the ending of the last glacial period. These early inhabitants, called Paleoamericans, soon diversified into many hundreds of culturally distinct nations and tribes.

Indigenous People of the Americas
The pre-Columbian era incorporates all period subdivisions in the history and prehistory of the Americas before the appearance of significant European influences on the American continents, spanning the time of the original settlement in the Upper Paleolithic period to European colonization during the Early Modern period. While technically referring to the era before Christopher Columbus' voyages of 1492 to 1504, in practice the term usually includes the history of American indigenous cultures until they were conquered or significantly influenced by Europeans, even if this happened decades or even centuries after Columbus' initial landing. 

Colonial Period 

After a period of exploration sponsored by major European nations, the first successful English settlement was established in 1607. Europeans brought horses, cattle, and hogs to the Americas and, in turn, took back to Europe maize, turkeys, potatoes, tobacco, beans, and squash. 

Francisco Vasquez de Coronado
Many explorers and early settlers died after being exposed to new diseases in the Americas. The effects of new Eurasian diseases carried by the colonists, especially smallpox and measles, was much worse for the Native Americans, as they had no immunity to them. They suffered epidemics and died in very large numbers, usually before large-scale European settlement began. Their societies were disrupted and hollowed out by the scale of deaths. 

Spanish, Dutch, and French Colonization 

Spanish explorers were the first Europeans with Christopher Columbus' second expedition, which reached Puerto Rico on November 19, 1493; others reached Florida in 1513. Quickly Spanish expeditions reached the Appalachian Mountains, the Mississippi River, the Grand Canyon and the Great Plains. In 1540, Hernando de Soto undertook an extensive exploration of Southeast. Also in 1540 Francisco Vásquez de Coronado explored from Arizona to central Kansas. 

San Antonio Skyline
The Spanish sent some settlers, creating the first permanent European settlement in the continental United States at St. Augustine, Florida in 1565, but it attracted few permanent settlers. Small Spanish settlements that after American annexation grew to become important cities include Santa Fe, Albuquerque, San Antonio, Tucson, San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Francisco. 

New Netherland was the 17th-century Dutch colony centered on present-day New York City and the Hudson River Valley, where they traded furs with the Native Americans to the north and were a barrier to Yankee expansion from New England. The Dutch were Calvinists who built the Reformed Church in America, but they were tolerant of other religions and cultures. The colony was taken over by Britain in 1664. It left an enduring legacy on American cultural and political life, including a secular broadmindedness and mercantile pragmatism in the city, and a rural traditionalism in the countryside typified by the story of Rip Van Winkle. Notable Americans of Dutch descent include Martin Van Buren, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt and the Frelinghuysens. 

New France was colonized by France from 1534-1763
New France was the area colonized by France from 1534 to 1763. There were few permanent settlers outside Quebec and Acadia, but the French had far-reaching trading relationships with Native Americans throughout the Great Lakes and Midwest. French villages along the Mississippi and Illinois rivers were based in farming communities that served as a granary for Gulf Coast settlements. The French settled New Orleans, Mobile and Biloxi, and established plantations in Louisiana. 

The Wabanaki Confederacy became military allies of New France through the four French and Indian Wars, while the British colonies were allied with the Iroquois Confederacy. During the French and Indian War, the North American front of the Seven Years War, New England fought successfully against French Acadia. The British removed Acadians from Acadia (Nova Scotia) and replaced them with New England Planters. Eventually, some Acadians resettled in Louisiana, where they developed a distinctive rural Cajun culture that still exists. They became American citizens in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase. 

New Orleans was notable for its free people of color
Other French villages along the Mississippi and Illinois rivers were absorbed when the Americans started arriving after 1770, or settlers moved west to escape them. French influence and language in New Orleans, Louisiana and the Gulf Coast was more enduring; New Orleans was notable for its large population of free people of color before the Civil War. 

British Colonization 

The strip of land along the eastern seacoast was settled primarily by English colonists in the 17th century, along with much smaller numbers of Dutch and Swedes. Colonial America was defined by a severe labor shortage that employed forms of unfree labor such as slavery and indentured servitude, and by a British policy of benign neglect (salutary neglect) that permitted the development of an American spirit distinct from that of its European founders. Over half of all European immigrants to Colonial America arrived as indentured servants. 

The 1st successful English colony was at Jamestown
The first successful English colony was established in 1607, on the James River at Jamestown which began the American Frontier. It languished for decades until a new wave of settlers arrived in the late 17th century and established commercial agriculture based on tobacco. Between the late 1610s and the Revolution, the British shipped an estimated 50,000 convicts to their American colonies. A severe instance of conflict was the 1622 Powhatan uprising in Virginia, in which Native Americans killed hundreds of English settlers. The largest conflict between Native Americans and English settlers in the 17th century was King Philip's War in New England; The Yamasee War in South Carolina was as bloody. 

New England was initially settled primarily by Puritans who established the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630, although there was a small earlier settlement in 1620 by a similar group, the Pilgrims, at Plymouth Colony. The Middle Colonies, consisting of the present-day states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, were characterized by a large degree of diversity. The first attempted English settlement south of Virginia was the Province of Carolina, with Georgia Colony the last of the Thirteen Colonies established in 1733. 

Jonathan Edwards is American Religious revivalist
The colonies were characterized by religious diversity, with many Congregationalists in New England, German and Dutch Reformed in the Middle Colonies, Catholics in Maryland, and Scots-Irish Presbyterians on the frontier. Sephardic Jews were among early settlers in cities of New England and the South. Many immigrants arrived as religious refugees: French Huguenots settled in New York, Virginia and the Carolinas. Many royal officials and merchants were Anglicans. 

Religiosity expanded greatly after the First Great Awakening, a religious revival in the 1740s led by preachers such as Jonathan Edwards. American Evangelicals affected by the Awakening added a new emphasis on divine outpourings of the Holy Spirit and conversions that implanted within new believers an intense love for God. Revivals encapsulated those hallmarks and carried the newly created evangelicalism into the early republic, setting the stage for the Second Great Awakening beginning in the late 1790s. In the early stages, evangelicals in the South such as Methodists and Baptists preached for religious freedom and abolition of slavery; they converted many slaves and recognized some as preachers. 

Slaves were the 5th of American Population in 1770s
Each of the 13 American colonies had a slightly different governmental structure. Typically a colony was ruled by a governor appointed from London who controlled the executive administration and relied upon a locally elected legislature to vote taxes and make laws. By the 18th century, the American colonies were growing very rapidly because of ample supplies of land and food, and low death rates. They were richer than most parts of Britain, and attracted a steady flow of immigrants, especially teenagers who came as indentured servants. The tobacco and rice plantations imported African slaves for labor from the British colonies in the West Indies, and by the 1770s they comprised a fifth of the American population. The question of independence from Britain did not arise as long as the colonies needed British military support against the French and Spanish powers; those threats were gone by 1765. London regarded the American colonies as existing for the benefit of the mother country, a policy known as mercantilism.

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.

Marbury v. Madison, a leading case on US constitutional history
19th Century 

Jeffersonian Republican Era 

Thomas Jefferson defeated Adams for the presidency in the 1800 election. Jefferson's major achievement as president was the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, which provided U.S. settlers with vast potential for expansion west of the Mississippi River. Jefferson, a scientist himself, supported expeditions to explore and map the new domain, most notably the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Jefferson believed deeply in republicanism and argued it should be based on the independent yeoman farmer and planter; he distrusted cities, factories and banks. He also distrusted the federal government and judges, and tried to weaken the judiciary. However he met his match in John Marshall, a Federalist from Virginia. Although the Constitution specified a Supreme Court, its functions were vague until Marshall, the Chief Justice (1801–35), defined them, especially the power to overturn acts of Congress or states that violated the Constitution, first enunciated in 1803 in Marbury v. Madison.
American Infantry attacks the Lundry's Lane- War of 1912
War of 1812 

Americans were increasingly angry at the British violation of American ships' neutral rights in order to hurt France, the impressment (seizure) of 10,000 American sailors needed by the Royal Navy to fight Napoleon, and British support for hostile Indians attacking American settlers in the Midwest. They may also have desired to annex all or part of British North America. Despite strong opposition from the Northeast, especially from Federalists who did not want to disrupt trade with Britain, Congress declared war in June 18, 1812. The war was frustrating for both sides. Both sides tried to invade the other and were repulsed. The American high command remained incompetent until the last year. The American militia proved ineffective because the soldiers were reluctant to leave home and efforts to invade Canada repeatedly failed.
The Battle of New Orleans- War of 1912
The British blockade ruined American commerce, bankrupted the Treasury, and further angered New Englanders, who smuggled supplies to Britain. The Americans under General William Henry Harrison finally gained naval control of Lake Erie and defeated the Indians under Tecumseh in Canada, while Andrew Jackson ended the Indian threat in the Southeast. The Indian threat to expansion into the Midwest was permanently ended. The British invaded and occupied much of Maine. The British raided and burned Washington, but were repelled at Baltimore in 1814—where the "Star Spangled Banner" was written to celebrate the American success. In upstate New York a major British invasion of New York State was turned back.

Finally in early 1815 Andrew Jackson decisively defeated a major British invasion at the Battle of New Orleans, making him the most famous war hero.
The signing of peace treaty between US and UK
With Napoleon (apparently) gone, the causes of the war had evaporated and both sides agreed to a peace that left the prewar boundaries intact. Americans claimed victory in February 18, 1815 as news came almost simultaneously of Jackson's victory of New Orleans and the peace treaty that left the prewar boundaries in place. Americans swelled with pride at success in the "second war of independence"; the naysayers of the antiwar Federalist Party were put to shame and it never recovered. The Indians were the big losers; they never gained the independent nationhood Britain had promised and no longer posed a serious threat as settlers poured into the Midwest.

Era of Good Feelings 

As strong opponents of the war, the Federalists held the Hartford Convention in 1814 that hinted at disunion. National euphoria after the victory at New Orleans ruined the prestige of the Federalists and they no longer played a significant role. President Madison and most Republicans realized they were foolish to let the Bank of the United States close down, for its absence greatly hindered the financing of the war. So they chartered the Second Bank of the United States in 1816.
James Monroe, the last president from founding fathers of America
The Republicans also imposed tariffs designed to protect the infant industries that had been created when Britain was blockading the U.S. With the collapse of the Federalists as a party, the adoption of many Federalist principles by the Republicans, and the systematic policy of President James Monroe in his two terms (1817–25) to downplay partisanship, the nation entered an Era of Good Feelings, with far less partisanship than before (or after), and closed out the First Party System.

The Monroe Doctrine, expressed in 1823, proclaimed the United States' opinion that European powers should no longer colonize or interfere in the Americas. This was a defining moment in the foreign policy of the United States.

The Monroe Doctrine was adopted in response to American and British fears over Russian and French expansion into the Western Hemisphere.
Settlers crossing the Plains of Nebraska
Indian removal 

In 1830, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act, which authorized the president to negotiate treaties that exchanged Native American tribal lands in the eastern states for lands west of the Mississippi River. Its goal was primarily to remove Native Americans, including the Five Civilized Tribes, from the American Southeast; they occupied land that settlers wanted. Jacksonian Democrats demanded the forcible removal of native populations who refused to acknowledge state laws to reservations in the West; Whigs and religious leaders opposed the move as inhumane. Thousands of deaths resulted from the relocations, as seen in the Cherokee Trail of Tears. Many of the Seminole Indians in Florida refused to move west; they fought the Army for years in the Seminole Wars.
Methodist revival in USA 1839, watercolor second great awakening
Second Great Awakening 

The Second Great Awakening was a Protestant revival movement that affected the entire nation during the early 19th century and led to rapid church growth. The movement began around 1790, gained momentum by 1800, and, after 1820 membership rose rapidly among Baptist and Methodist congregations, whose preachers led the movement. It was past its peak by the 1840s.

It enrolled millions of new members in existing evangelical denominations and led to the formation of new denominations. Many converts believed that the Awakening heralded a new millennial age. The Second Great Awakening stimulated the establishment of many reform movements—including abolitionism and temperance designed to remove the evils of society before the anticipated Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
William Lloyd Garrison

After 1840 the growing abolitionist movement redefined itself as a crusade against the sin of slave ownership. It mobilized support (especially among religious women in the Northeast affected by the Second Great Awakening). William Lloyd Garrison published the most influential of the many anti-slavery newspapers, The Liberator, while Frederick Douglass, an ex-slave, began writing for that newspaper around 1840 and started his own abolitionist newspaper North Star in 1847. The great majority of anti-slavery activists, such as Abraham Lincoln, rejected Garrison's theology and held that slavery was an unfortunate social evil, not a sin.
Westward Expansion and Manifest Destiny 

The American colonies and the new nation grew very rapidly in population and area, as pioneers pushed the frontier of settlement west. The process finally ended around 1890-1910 as the last major farmlands and ranch lands were settled. 
Frederick Jakson Turner's ideas formed the frontier thesis
Native American tribes in some places resisted militarily, but they were overwhelmed by settlers and the army and after 1830 were relocated to reservations in the west. The highly influential "Frontier Thesis" argues that the frontier shaped the national character, with its boldness, violence, innovation, individualism, and democracy.

Recent historians have emphasized the multicultural nature of the frontier. Enormous popular attention in the media focuses on the "Wild West" of the second half of the 19th century.

As defined by Hine and Faragher, "frontier history tells the story of the creation and defense of communities, the use of the land, the development of markets, and the formation of states".

They explain, "It is a tale of conquest, but also one of survival, persistence, and the merging of peoples and cultures that gave birth and continuing life to America."
The Oregon Trail
Through wars and treaties, establishment of law and order, building farms, ranches, and towns, marking trails and digging mines, and pulling in great migrations of foreigners, the United States expanded from coast to coast fulfilling the dreams of Manifest Destiny. As the American frontier passed into history, the myths of the west in fiction and film took firm hold in the imagination of Americans and foreigners alike. America is exceptional in choosing its iconic self-image. "No other nation," says David Murdoch, "has taken a time and place from its past and produced a construct of the imagination equal to America’s creation of the West."

From the early 1830s to 1869, the Oregon Trail and its many offshoots were used by over 300,000 settlers. '49ers (in the California Gold Rush), ranchers, farmers, and entrepreneurs and their families headed to California, Oregon, and other points in the far west. Wagon-trains took five or six months on foot; after 1869, the trip took 6 days by rail.
American occupation of Mexico city during Mexican-American War
Manifest Destiny was the belief that American settlers were destined to expand across the continent. This concept was born out of "A sense of mission to redeem the Old World by high example... generated by the potentialities of a new earth for building a new heaven." Manifest Destiny was rejected by modernizers, especially the Whigs like Henry Clay and Abraham Lincoln who wanted to build cities and factories—not more farms. However Democrats strongly favored expansion, and they won the key election of 1844. After a bitter debate in Congress the Republic of Texas was annexed in 1845, which Mexico had warned meant war. War broke out in 1846, with the homefront polarized as Whigs opposed and Democrats supported the war. The U.S. army, using regulars and large numbers of volunteers, easily won the Mexican-American War (1846–48). The 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo made peace; Mexico recognized the annexation of Texas and ceded its claims in the Southwest (especially California and New Mexico). The Hispanic residents were given full citizenship and the Mexican Indians became American Indians. Simultaneously gold was discovered, pulling over 100,000 men to northern California in a matter of months in the California Gold Rush. Not only did the then president James K. Polk expand America's boarder to a fraction of Mexico but he also annexed the north western frontier known as the Oregon Territory.
Division between North and South regarding slavery
Divisions between North and South 

The central issue after 1848 was the expansion of slavery, pitting the anti-slavery elements that were a majority in the North, against the pro-slavery elements that overwhelmingly dominated the white South. A small number of very active Northerners were abolitionists who declared that ownership of slaves was a sin (in terms of Protestant theology) and demanded its immediate abolition. Much larger numbers were against the expansion of slavery, seeking to put it on the path to extinction so that America would be committed to free land (as in low-cost farms owned and cultivated by a family), free labor (no slaves), and free speech (as opposed to censorship rampant in the South). Southern whites insisted that slavery was of economic social and cultural benefit to all whites (and even to the slaves themselves), and denounced all antislavery spokesmen as "abolitionists."
Stephaen A. Douglas was the broker of compromise of 1850
Religious activists split on slavery, with the Methodists and Baptists dividing into northern and southern denominations. In the North, the Methodists, Congregationalists and Quakers included many abolitionists, especially among women activists. The Catholic, Episcopal and Lutheran denominations largely ignored the slavery issue.

The issue of slavery in the new territories was seemingly settled by the Compromise of 1850 brokered by Whig Henry Clay and Democrat Stephen Douglas; the Compromise included admission of California as a free state.

The sore point was the Fugitive Slave Act, which increased federal enforcement and required even free states to cooperate in turning over fugitive slaves to masters. Abolitionists fastened on the Act to attack slavery, as in the best-selling anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Kansas Nebraska Act created territories of America
The Compromise of 1820 was repealed in 1854 with the Kansas-Nebraska Act, promoted by Senator Douglas in the name of "popular sovereignty" and democracy. It permitted settlers to decide on slavery in each territory, and allowed Douglas to say he was neutral on the slavery issue. Antislavery forces rose in anger and alarm, forming the new Republican Party. Pro and anti-forces rushed to Kansas to vote slavery up or down, resulting in a mini civil war called Bleeding Kansas. By the late 1850s the young Republican Party dominated nearly all northern states and thus the electoral college, and insisted that slavery would never be allowed to expand (and thus would slowly die out).

The southern slave societies had become wealthy based on their cotton and other commodity production, and some particularly profited from the internal slave trade. Northern cities such as Boston and New York, and regional industries, were tied economically to slavery by banking, shipping, and manufacturing, including textile mills.

John Brown
By 1860, there were four million slaves in the South, nearly eight times as many as the total slaves nationwide in 1790. The plantations were highly profitable because of the heavy European demand for raw cotton; most of the profits were invested in new lands and new slaves drawn from the declining tobacco regions. For 50 of the nation's first 72 years a slaveholder served as president of the United States and, during that period, only slaveholding presidents were re-elected to second terms. In addition, southern states benefited by their increased apportionment in Congress due to the partial counting of slaves in their populations.

Slave rebellions were planned or actually took place —including by Gabriel Prosser (1800), Denmark Vesey (1822), Nat Turner (1831), and John Brown (1859) —but they only involved dozens of people and all failed. They caused fear in the white South, which imposed tighter slave oversight and reduced the rights of free blacks. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 required the states to cooperate with slave owners when attempting to recover escaped slaves, which outraged northerners. Formerly, an escaped slave, having reached a non-slave state, was presumed to have attained sanctuary and freedom. The Supreme Court's 1857 decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford ruled that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional; angry Republicans said it threatened to make slavery national.

Abraham Lincoln, the 16 US President
After Abraham Lincoln won the 1860 election, seven Southern states seceded from the union and set up a new nation, the Confederate States of America, on February 8, 1861. It attacked Fort Sumter, a U.S. Army fort in South Carolina, thus igniting the war. When Lincoln called for troops to suppress the Confederacy in April 1861, four more states seceded and joined the Confederacy. Four of the five northernmost "slave states" did not secede and became known as the Border States. During the war the northwestern portion of Virginia seceded and became the loyal Union state of West Virginia.

Civil War 

The Civil War began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate forces attacked a U.S. military installation at Fort Sumter in South Carolina. In response to the attack, on April 15, Lincoln called on the states to send detachments totaling 75,000 troops to recapture forts, protect the capital, and "preserve the Union", which in his view still existed intact despite the actions of the seceding states.

First Battle of Bull Run
The two armies had their first major clash at the First Battle of Bull Run, ending in a Union defeat, but, more importantly, proved to both the Union and Confederacy that the war would be much longer and bloodier than originally anticipated. The war soon divided into two theaters: Eastern and Western. In the western theater, the Union was quite successful, with major battles, such as Perryville and Shiloh, producing strategic Union victories and destroying major Confederate operations.

Warfare in the Eastern theater started poorly for the Union as the Confederates won at Manassas Junction (Bull Run), just outside Washington. Major General George B. McClellan was put in charge of the Union armies. After reorganizing the new Army of the Potomac, McClellan failed to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia in his Peninsula Campaign and retreated after attacks from newly appointed Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

22717 were killed, wounded and missed in battle of Atietam
Feeling confident in his army after defeating the Union at Second Bull Run, Lee embarked on an invasion of the north that was stopped by McClellan at the bloody Battle of Antietam. Despite this, McClellan was relieved from command for refusing to pursue Lee's crippled army. The next commander, General Ambrose Burnside, suffered a humiliating defeat by Lee's smaller army at the Battle of Fredericksburg late in 1862, causing yet another change in commanders. Lee won again at the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863, while losing his top aide, Stonewall Jackson. But Lee pushed too hard and ignored the Union threat in the west. Lee invaded Pennsylvania in search of supplies and to cause war weariness in the North. In perhaps the turning point of the war, Lee's army was badly beaten at the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1–3, 1863, and barely made it back to Virginia.

Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee
Simultaneously on July 4, 1863, Union forces under the command of General Ulysses S. Grant gained control of the Mississippi River at the Battle of Vicksburg, thereby splitting the Confederacy. Lincoln made General Grant commander of all Union armies.

The last two years of the war were bloody for both sides, with Grant launching a war of attrition against General Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. This war of attrition was divided into three main campaigns. The first of these, the Overland Campaign forced Lee to retreat into the city of Petersburg where Grant launched his second major offensive, the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign in which he besieged Petersburg. After a near ten-month siege, Petersburg surrendered. However, the defense of Fort Gregg allowed Lee to move his army out of Petersburg. Grant pursued and launched the final, Appomattox Campaign which resulted in Lee surrendering his Army of Northern Virginia on April 9, 1865, at Appomattox Court House. Other Confederate armies followed suit and the war ended with no postwar insurgency.

8% white males aged 13-43 died in American Civil War
Based on 1860 census figures, about 8% of all white males aged 13 to 43 died in the war, including 6% from the North and 18% from the South, establishing the American Civil War as the deadliest war in American history. Its legacy includes ending slavery in the United States, restoring the Union, and strengthening the role of the federal government.

Reconstruction and the Gilded Age 

Reconstruction lasted from Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863 to the Compromise of 1877. The major issues faced by Lincoln were the status of the ex-slaves (called "Freedmen"), the loyalty and civil rights of ex-rebels, the status of the 11 ex-Confederate states, the powers of the federal government needed to prevent a future civil war, and the question of whether Congress or the President would make the major decisions.

Freedmen voting in New Orleans, 1867
The severe threats of starvation and displacement of the unemployed Freedmen were met by the first major federal relief agency, the Freedmen's Bureau, operated by the Army.

Three "Reconstruction Amendments" were passed to expand civil rights for black Americans: the Thirteenth Amendment outlawed slavery; the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed equal rights for all and citizenship for blacks; the Fifteenth Amendment prevented race from being used to disfranchise men.

Ex-Confederates remained in control of most Southern states for over two years, but that changed when the Radical Republicans gained control of Congress in the 1866 elections. President Andrew Johnson, who sought easy terms for reunions with ex-rebels, was virtually powerless; he escaped by one vote removal through impeachment. Congress enfranchised black men and stripped many ex-Confederate leaders of the right to hold office. New Republican governments came to power based on a coalition of Freedmen made up of Carpetbaggers (new arrivals from the North), and Scalawags (native white Southerners).

Ku Klux Klan (KKK)-the Logo
They were backed by the US Army. Opponents said they were corrupt and violated the rights of whites. State by state they lost power to a conservative-Democratic coalition, which gained control of the entire South by 1877. In response to Radical Reconstruction, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) emerged in 1867 as a white-supremacist organization opposed to black civil rights and Republican rule. President Ulysses Grant's vigorous enforcement of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1870 shut down the Klan, and it disbanded. However, there were other paramilitary groups, such as the White League and Red Shirts that worked to regain white political power in states across the South during the 1870s.

Reconstruction ended after the disputed 1876 election between Republican candidate Rutherford B. Hayes and Democratic candidate Samuel J. Tilden. With a compromise Hayes won the election, the federal government withdrew its troops from the South, and Southern Democrats re-entered the national political scene. After 1890 southern states effectively disfranchised black voters. Blacks were segregated in public places and remained second class citizens in a system known as Jim Crow until the successes of the Civil Rights movement in 1964-65.

Rutherford B. Hayes, the 19th US president
The latter half of the nineteenth century was marked by the United States' development and settlement of the West, first by wagon trains and then aided by the completion of the transcontinental railroad and frequent wars with Native Americans as settlers encroached on their traditional lands.

Gradually the US purchased their lands and extinguished their claims, forcing most tribes onto restricted reservations.

According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census (1894):

The Indian wars under the government of the United States have been more than 40 in number. They have cost the lives of about 19,000 white men, women and children, including those killed in individual combats, and the lives of about 30,000 Indians. 

Mark Twain used the term Gilded Age
The Gilded Age 

The "Gilded Age" was a term that Mark Twain used to describe the period of the late 19th century when there had been a dramatic expansion of American wealth and prosperity.

Reform of the Age included the Civil Service Act, which mandated a competitive examination for applicants for government jobs.

Other important legislation included the Interstate Commerce Act, which ended railroads' discrimination against small shippers, and the Sherman Antitrust Act, which outlawed monopolies in business.

Twain believed that this age was corrupted by such elements as land speculators, scandalous politics, and unethical business practices.

John Davision Rockefeller, Sr
By 1890 American industrial production and per capita income exceeded those of all other world nations. In response to heavy debts and decreasing farm prices, wheat and cotton farmers joined the Populist Party.

An unprecedented wave of immigration from Europe served to both provide the labor for American industry and create diverse communities in previously undeveloped areas. From 1880 to 1914, peak years of immigration, more than 22 million people migrated to the United States.

The workers' demand for control of their workplace led to the often-violent rise of the labor movement in the cities and mining camps.

Industrial leaders included John D. Rockefeller in oil and Andrew Carnegie in steel; both became leaders of philanthropy, giving away their fortunes to create the modern system of hospitals, universities, libraries, and foundations.

Panic of 1893 caused depression in US
A severe nationwide depression broke out in 1893; it was called the Panic of 1893 and impacted farmers, workers, and businessmen who saw prices, wages, and profits fall. Many railroads went bankrupt.

The resultant political reaction fell on the Democratic Party, whose leader President Grover Cleveland shouldered much of the blame.

Labor unrest involved numerous strikes, most notably the violent Pullman Strike of 1894, which was shut down by federal troops under Cleveland's orders.

The Populist Party gained strength among cotton and wheat farmers, as well as coal miners, but was overtaken by the even more popular Free Silver movement. This Free Silver movement demanded using silver to enlarge the money supply, leading to inflation that the silverites promised would end the depression.

William Mckinley, the 25th US president
The financial, railroad, and business communities fought back hard, arguing that only the gold standard would save the economy.

In the most intense election in the nation's history, conservative Republican William McKinley defeated silverite William Jennings Bryan, who ran on the Democratic, Populist, and Silver Republican tickets.

Bryan swept the South and West, but McKinley ran up landslides among the middle class, industrial workers, cities, and among upscale farmers in the Midwest.

Prosperity returned under McKinley, the gold standard was enacted, and the tariff was raised. By 1900 the US had the strongest economy on the globe.

Apart from two short recessions (in 1907 and 1920) the overall economy remained prosperous and growing until 1929. Republicans, citing McKinley's policies, took the credit.
Charles Evans Hughes, 11th CJ of US SC
20th Century 

Progressive Era 

Dissatisfaction on the part of the growing middle class with the corruption and inefficiency of politics as usual, and the failure to deal with increasingly important urban and industrial problems, led to the dynamic Progressive Movement starting in the 1890s. In every major city and state, and at the national level as well, and in education, medicine, and industry, the progressives called for the modernization and reform of decrepit institutions, the elimination of corruption in politics, and the introduction of efficiency as a criterion for change. Leading politicians from both parties, most notably Theodore Roosevelt, Charles Evans Hughes, and Robert LaFollette on the Republican side, and William Jennings Bryan and Woodrow Wilson on the Democratic side, took up the cause of progressive reform. 

Jane Addams, American Social Reformer
Women became especially involved in demands for woman suffrage, prohibition, and better schools; their most prominent leader was Jane Addams of Chicago. Progressives implemented anti-trust laws and regulated such industries of meat-packing, drugs, and railroads. Four new constitutional amendments—the Sixteenth through Nineteenth—resulted from progressive activism, bringing the federal income tax, direct election of Senators, prohibition, and woman suffrage. The Progressive Movement lasted through the 1920s; the most active period was 1900–1918. 


The United States emerged as a world economic and military power after 1890. The main episode was the Spanish–American War, which began when Spain refused American demands to reform its oppressive policies in Cuba. The "splendid little war", as one official called it, involved a series of quick American victories on land and at sea. At the Treaty of Paris peace conference the United States acquired the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam. 

USS Missouri passes through Panama Canal
Cuba became an independent country, under close American tutelage. Although the war itself was widely popular, the peace terms proved controversial. William Jennings Bryan led his Democratic Party in opposition to control of the Philippines, which he denounced as imperialism unbecoming to American democracy. President William McKinley defended the acquisition and was riding high as the nation had returned to prosperity and felt triumphant in the war. McKinley easily defeated Bryan in a rematch in the 1900 presidential election. 

After defeating an insurrection by Filipino nationalists, the United States engaged in a large-scale program to modernize the economy of the Philippines and dramatically upgrade the public health facilities. By 1908, however, Americans lost interest in an empire and turned their international attention to the Caribbean, especially the building of the Panama Canal. In 1912 when Arizona became the final mainland state, the American Frontier came to an end. The canal opened in 1914 and increased trade with Japan and the rest of the Far East. A key innovation was the Open Door Policy, whereby the imperial powers were given equal access to Chinese business, with not one of them allowed to take control of China.

WWI Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in France
World War I 

As World War I raged in Europe from 1914, President Woodrow Wilson took full control of foreign policy, declaring neutrality but warning Germany that resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare against American ships supplying goods to Allied nations would mean war. Germany decided to take the risk and try to win by cutting off supplies to Britain; the U.S. declared war in April 1917. American money, food, and munitions arrived quickly, but troops had to be drafted and trained; by summer 1918 American soldiers under General John J. Pershing arrived at the rate of 10,000 a day, while Germany was unable to replace its losses. 

The result was Allied victory in November 1918. President Wilson demanded Germany depose the Kaiser and accept his terms, the Fourteen Points. Wilson dominated the 1919 Paris Peace Conference but Germany was treated harshly by the Allies in the Treaty of Versailles (1919) as Wilson put all his hopes in the new League of Nations. Wilson refused to compromise with Senate Republicans over the issue of Congressional power to declare war, and the Senate rejected the Treaty and the League. 

Elizabeth Cady Stanton with 2 of her 3 sons
Women's Suffrage 

The women's suffrage movement began with the June 1848 National Convention of the Liberty Party. Presidential candidate Gerrit Smith argued for and established women's suffrage as a party plank. One month later, his cousin Elizabeth Cady Stanton joined with Lucretia Mott and other women to organize the Seneca Falls Convention, featuring the Declaration of Sentiments demanding equal rights for women, and the right to vote. Many of these activists became politically aware during the abolitionist movement. The women's rights campaign during "first-wave feminism" was led by Stanton, Lucy Stone and Susan B. Anthony, among many others. Stone and Paulina Wright Davis organized the prominent and influential National Women's Rights Convention in 1850. The movement reorganized after the Civil War, gaining experienced campaigners, many of whom had worked for prohibition in the Women's Christian Temperance Union. By the end of the 19th century a few western states had granted women full voting rights, though women had made significant legal victories, gaining rights in areas such as property and child custody. 

Cover to a program of the Woman Suffrage Parade of 1913
Around 1912 the feminist movement, which had grown sluggish, began to reawaken, putting an emphasis on its demands for equality and arguing that the corruption of American politics demanded purification by women because men could not do that job. Protests became increasingly common as suffragette Alice Paul led parades through the capital and major cities. Paul split from the large National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), which favored a more moderate approach and supported the Democratic Party and Woodrow Wilson, led by Carrie Chapman Catt, and formed the more militant National Woman's Party. Suffragists were arrested during their "Silent Sentinels" pickets at the White House, the first time such a tactic was used, and were taken as political prisoners. 

The old anti-suffragist argument that only men could fight a war, and therefore only men deserve the right to vote, was refuted by the enthusiastic participation of tens of thousands of American women on the home front in World War I. Across the world, grateful nations gave women the right to vote. Furthermore, most of the Western states had already given the women the right to vote in state and national elections, and the representatives from those states, including the first woman Jeannette Rankin of Montana, demonstrated that woman suffrage was a success. The main resistance came from the south, where white leaders were worried about the threat of black women voting. Congress passed the Nineteenth Amendment in 1919, and women could vote in 1920. 

League of Women Voters members in front of White House
NAWSA became the League of Women Voters, and the National Woman's Party began lobbying for full equality and the Equal Rights Amendment, which would pass Congress during the second wave of the women's movement in 1972. Politicians responded to the new electorate by emphasizing issues of special interest to women, especially prohibition, child health, and world peace. The main surge of women voting came in 1928, when the big-city machines realized they needed the support of women to elect Al Smith, a Catholic from New York City. Meanwhile Protestants mobilized women to support Prohibition and vote for Republican Herbert Hoover. 

Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression 

In the 1920s the U.S. grew steadily in stature as an economic and military world power. The United States Senate did not ratify the Treaty of Versailles imposed by its Allies on the defeated Central Powers; instead, the United States chose to pursue unilateralism. The aftershock of Russia's October Revolution resulted in real fears of Communism in the United States, leading to a Red Scare and the deportation of aliens considered subversive. 

1918 Spanish influenza ward at Camp Funston Kansas
While public health facilities grew rapidly in the Progressive Era, and hospitals and medical schools were modernized, the nation in 1918 lost 675,000 lives to the Spanish flu pandemic. 

 In 1920, the manufacture, sale, import and export of alcohol were prohibited by the Eighteenth Amendment, Prohibition. The result was that in cities illegal alcohol became a big business, largely controlled by racketeers. The second Ku Klux Klan grew rapidly in 1922-25, then collapsed. Immigration laws were passed to strictly limit the number of new entries. The 1920s were called the Roaring Twenties due to the great economic prosperity during this period. Jazz became popular among the younger generation, and thus the decade was also called the Jazz Age. 

Crash of 1929 resulted in Great Depression
The Great depression (1929–39) and the New Deal (1933–36) were decisive moments in American political, economic, and social history that reshaped the nation. 

During the 1920s, the nation enjoyed widespread prosperity, albeit with a weakness in agriculture. A financial bubble was fueled by an inflated stock market, which later led to the Stock Market Crash on October 29, 1929. This, along with many other economic factors, triggered a worldwide depression known as the Great Depression. During this time, the United States experienced deflation as prices fell, unemployment soared from 3% in 1929 to 25% in 1933, farm prices fell by half, and manufacturing output plunged by one-third. 

In 1932, Democratic presidential nominee Franklin D. Roosevelt promised "a New Deal for the American people", coining the enduring label for his domestic policies. The desperate economic situation, along with the substantial Democratic victories in the 1932 elections, gave Roosevelt unusual influence over Congress in the "First Hundred Days" of his administration. He used his leverage to win rapid passage of a series of measures to create welfare programs and regulate the banking system, stock market, industry, and agriculture, along with many other government efforts to end the Great Depression and reform the American economy.  

Franklin Roosevelt built the New Deal Coalition
The New Deal regulated much of the economy, especially the financial sector. It provided relief to the unemployed through numerous programs, such as the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and (for young men) the Civilian Conservation Corps. Large scale spending projects designed to provide high paying jobs and rebuild the infrastructure were under the purview of the Public Works Administration. Roosevelt turned left in 1935–36, building up labor unions through the Wagner Act. Unions became a powerful element of the merging New Deal Coalition, which won reelection for Roosevelt in 1936, 1940, and 1944 by mobilizing union members, blue collar workers, relief recipients, big city machines, ethnic, and religious groups (especially Catholics and Jews) and the white South, along with blacks in the North (where they could vote). Some of the programs were dropped in the 1940s when the conservatives regained power in Congress through the Conservative Coalition. Of special importance is the Social Security program, begun in 1935. 

Pearl Harbor Attacks led US to decisively enter in WWII
World War II 

In the Depression years, the United States remained focused on domestic concerns while democracy declined across the world and many countries fell under the control of dictators. Imperial Japan asserted dominance in East Asia and in the Pacific. Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy militarized to and threatened conquests, while Britain and France attempted appeasement to avert another war in Europe. US legislation in the Neutrality Acts sought to avoid foreign conflicts; however, policy clashed with increasing anti-Nazi feelings following the German invasion of Poland in September 1939 that started World War II. Roosevelt positioned the US as the "Arsenal of Democracy", pledging full-scale financial and munitions support for the Allies—but no soldiers. Japan tried to neutralize America's power in the Pacific by attacking Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, which catalyzed American support to enter the war and seek revenge. 

Sprawled American bodies on beach of Tarawa
The main contributions of the US to the Allied war effort comprised money, industrial output, food, petroleum, technological innovation, and (especially 1944–45), soldiers. Much of the focus in Washington was maximizing the economic output of the nation. The overall result was a dramatic increase in GDP, the export of vast quantities of supplies to the Allies and to American forces overseas, the end of unemployment, and a rise in civilian consumption even as 40% of the GDP went to the war effort. This was achieved by tens of millions of workers moving from low-productivity occupations to high efficiency jobs, improvements in productivity through better technology and management, and the move into the active labor force of students, retired people, housewives, and the unemployed, and an increase in hours worked. 

Battle of the Coral Sea- May 1942
It was exhausting; leisure activities declined sharply. People tolerated the extra work because of patriotism, the pay, and the confidence that it was only "for the duration", and life would return to normal as soon as the war was won. Most durable goods became unavailable, and meat, clothing, and gasoline were tightly rationed. In industrial areas housing was in short supply as people doubled up and lived in cramped quarters. Prices and wages were controlled, and Americans saved a high portion of their incomes, which led to renewed growth after the war instead of a return to depression. 

The Allies—the US, Britain, and the Soviet Union, as well as China, Canada and other countries—fought the Axis powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan. The Allies saw Germany as the main threat and gave highest priority to Europe. The US dominated the war against Japan and stopped Japanese expansion in the Pacific in 1942. After losing Pearl Harbor and in the Philippines to the Japanese, and drawing the Battle of the Coral Sea (May 1942), the American Navy inflicted a decisive blow at Midway (June 1942). American ground forces assisted in the North African Campaign that eventually concluded with the collapse of Mussolini's fascist government in 1943, as Italy switched to the Allied side. 

The Manhattan Project created the 1st nuclear bombs
A more significant European front was opened on D-Day, June 6, 1944, in which American and Allied forces invaded Nazi-occupied France from Britain. 

On the home front, mobilization of the US economy was managed by Roosevelt's War Production Board. The wartime production boom led to full employment, wiping out this vestige of the Great Depression. Indeed, labor shortages encouraged industry to look for new sources of workers, finding new roles for women and blacks. 

However, the fervor also inspired anti-Japanese sentiment, which was handled by removing everyone of Japanese descent from the West Coast war zone. Research and development took flight as well, best seen in the Manhattan Project, a secret effort to harness nuclear fission to produce highly destructive atomic bombs. 

Hiroshima became the 1st target of Atomic Bomb
The Allied pushed the Germans out of France but faced an unexpected counterattack at the Battle of the Bulge in December. The final German effort failed, and, as Allied armies in East and West were converging on Berlin, the Nazis hurriedly tried to kill the last remaining Jews. The western front stopped short, leaving Berlin to the Soviets as the Nazi regime formally capitulated in May 1945, ending the war in Europe. Over in the Pacific, the US implemented an island hopping strategy toward Tokyo, establishing airfields for bombing runs against mainland Japan from the Mariana Islands and achieving hard-fought victories at Iwo Jima and Okinawa in 1945. Bloodied at Okinawa, the U.S. prepared to invade Japan's home islands when B-29s dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, forcing the empire's surrender in a matter of days and thus ending World War II.

Harry S. Truman introduced Truman Doctrine
The US occupied Japan (and part of Germany), sending Douglas MacArthur to restructure the Japanese economy and political system along American lines. 

Though the nation lost more than 400,000 soldiers, the mainland prospered untouched by the devastation of war that inflicted a heavy toll on Europe and Asia. 

Participation in postwar foreign affairs marked the end of predominant American isolationism. 

The awesome threat of nuclear weapons inspired both optimism and fear. Nuclear weapons were never used after 1945, as both sides drew back from the brink and a "long peace" characterized the Cold War years, starting with the Truman Doctrine in May 22, 1947. 

There were, however, regional wars in Korea and Vietnam. 

Marshall Plan Aid- the Logo
The Cold War, Counterculture, and Civil Rights 

Following World War II, the United States emerged as one of the two dominant superpowers, the USSR being the other. The U.S. Senate on a bipartisan vote approved U.S. participation in the United Nations (UN), which marked a turn away from the traditional isolationism of the U.S. and toward increased international involvement. The primary American goal of 1945–48 was to rescue Europe from the devastation of World War II and to contain the expansion of Communism, represented by the Soviet Union. The Truman Doctrine of 1947 provided military and economic aid to Greece and Turkey to counteract the threat of Communist expansion in the Balkans. In 1948, the United States replaced piecemeal financial aid programs with a comprehensive Marshall Plan, which pumped money into the economy of Western Europe, and removed trade barriers, while modernizing the managerial practices of businesses and governments. 

Map of Warsaw Pact Countries
The Plan's $13 billion budget was in the context of a US GDP of $258 billion in 1948 and was in addition to the $12 billion in American aid given to Europe between the end of the war and the start of the Marshall Plan. Soviet head of state Joseph Stalin prevented his satellite states from participating, and from that point on, Eastern Europe, with inefficient centralized economies, fell further and further behind Western Europe in terms of economic development and prosperity. In 1949, the United States, rejecting the long-standing policy of no military alliances in peacetime, formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance, which continues into the 21st century. In response the Soviets formed the Warsaw Pact of communist states. 

In August 1949 the Soviets tested their first nuclear weapon, thereby escalating the risk of warfare. Indeed, the threat of mutually assured destruction prevented both powers from going too far, and resulted in proxy wars, especially in Korea and Vietnam, in which the two sides did not directly confront each other. Within the United States, the Cold War prompted concerns about Communist influence. The unexpected leapfrogging of American technology by the Soviets in 1957 with Sputnik, the first Earth satellite, began the Space Race, won by the Americans as Apollo 11 landed astronauts on the moon in 1969. The angst about the weaknesses of American education led to large-scale federal support for science education and research. 

John F. Kennedy before his assassination
In the decades after World War II, the United States became a global influence in economic, political, military, cultural, and technological affairs. Beginning in the 1950s, middle-class culture became obsessed with consumer goods. White Americans made up nearly 90% of the population in 1950. 

 In 1960, the charismatic politician John F. Kennedy was elected as the first and—thus far—only Roman Catholic President of the United States. The Kennedy family brought a new life and vigor to the atmosphere of the White House. His time in office was marked by such notable events as the acceleration of the United States' role in the Space Race, escalation of the American role in the Vietnam War, the Cuban missile crisis, the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the jailing of Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Birmingham campaign, and the appointment of his brother Robert F. Kennedy to his Cabinet as Attorney General. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963, leaving the nation in profound shock. 

Lyndon Baines Johnson
Climax of Liberalism 

The climax of liberalism came in the mid-1960s with the success of President Lyndon B. Johnson (1963–69) in securing congressional passage of his Great Society programs. They included civil rights, the end of segregation, Medicare, extension of welfare, federal aid to education at all levels, subsidies for the arts and humanities, environmental activism, and a series of programs designed to wipe out poverty. As recent historians have explained: 
Gradually, liberal intellectuals crafted a new vision for achieving economic and social justice. The liberalism of the early 1960s contained no hint of radicalism, little disposition to revive new deal era crusades against concentrated economic power, and no intention to fast and class passions or redistribute wealth or restructure existing institutions. Internationally it was strongly anti-Communist. It aimed to defend the free world, to encourage economic growth at home, and to ensure that the resulting plenty was fairly distributed. Their agenda-much influenced by Keynesian economic theory-envisioned massive public expenditure that would speed economic growth, thus providing the public resources to fund larger welfare, housing, health, and educational programs.
Richard Nixon, the only president to resign
Johnson was rewarded with an electoral landslide in 1964 against conservative Barry Goldwater, which broke the decades-long control of Congress by the Conservative coalition. 

However, the Republicans bounced back in 1966 and elected Richard Nixon in 1968.  Richard Nixon, later, has resigned from his office and has become the only president of America to do so.

Nixon largely continued the New Deal and Great Society programs he inherited; conservative reaction would come with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. 

Meanwhile, the American people completed a great migration from farms into the cities and experienced a period of sustained economic expansion. 

Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr
Civil Rights Movement 

Starting in the late 1950s, institutionalized racism across the United States, but especially in the South, was increasingly challenged by the growing Civil Rights movement. The activism of African-American leaders Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which launched the movement. For years African Americans would struggle with violence against them but would achieve great steps toward equality with Supreme Court decisions, including Brown v. Board of Education and Loving v. Virginia, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which ended the Jim Crow laws that legalized racial segregation between whites and blacks. 

Correta Scott King poses with portrait of her husband
Martin Luther King, Jr., who had won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to achieve equality of the races, was assassinated in 1968. Following his death others led the movement, most notably King's widow, Coretta Scott King, who was also active, like her husband, in the Opposition to the Vietnam War, and in the Women's Liberation Movement. Over the first nine months of 1967, 128 American cities suffered 164 riots. Black Power emerged during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The decade would ultimately bring about positive strides toward integration, especially in government service, sports, and entertainment. Native Americans turned to the courts to fight for their land rights. They held protests highlighting the federal government's failure to honor treaties. 

The Feminine Mystique- Front Cover
One of the most outspoken Native American groups was the American Indian Movement (AIM). In the 1960s, Cesar Chavez began organizing poorly paid Mexican-American farm workers in California. He led a five-year-long strike by grape pickers. Then Chávez formed the nation's first successful union of farm workers. It later became the United Farm Workers of America (UFW).

The Women's Movement 

A new consciousness of the inequality of American women began sweeping the nation, starting with the 1963 publication of Betty Friedan's best-seller, The Feminine Mystique, which explained how many housewives felt trapped and unfulfilled, assaulted American culture for its creation of the notion that women could only find fulfillment through their roles as wives, mothers, and keepers of the home, and argued that women were just as able as men to do every type of job. In 1966 Friedan and others established the National Organization for Women, or NOW, to act for women as the NAACP did for African Americans. 

Phyllis Schlafly is known for her opposition to modern feminism
Protests began, and the new Women's Liberation Movement grew in size and power, gained much media attention, and, by 1968, had replaced the Civil Rights Movement as the US's main social revolution. Marches, parades, rallies, boycotts, and pickets brought out thousands, sometimes millions. There were striking gains for women in medicine, law, and business, while only a few were elected to office. The Movement was split into factions by political ideology early on, however (with NOW on the left, the Women's Equity Action League (WEAL) on the right, the National Women's Political Caucus (NWPC) in the center, and more radical groups formed by younger women on the far left). The proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, passed by Congress in 1972 was defeated by a conservative coalition mobilized by Phyllis Schlafly. They argued that it degraded the position of the housewife and made young women susceptible to the military draft. 

Abortion of point of debate even after Roe v. Wade
However, many federal laws (i.e., those equalizing pay, employment, education, employment opportunities, and credit; ending pregnancy discrimination; and requiring NASA, the Military Academies, and other organizations to admit women), state laws (i.e., those ending spousal abuse and marital rape), Supreme Court rulings (i.e. ruling that the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment applied to women), and state ERAs established women's equal status under the law, and social custom and consciousness began to change, accepting women's equality. The controversial issue of abortion, deemed by the Supreme Court as a fundamental right in Roe v. Wade (1973), is still a point of debate today. 

Vietnam War was a nightmare for USA
The Counterculture Revolution & Cold War Détente 

Amid the Cold War, the United States entered the Vietnam War, whose growing unpopularity fed already existing social movements, including those among women, minorities, and young people. President Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society social programs and numerous rulings by the Warren Court added to the wide range of social reform during the 1960s and 1970s. Feminism and the environmental movement became political forces, and progress continued toward civil rights for all Americans. The Counterculture Revolution swept through the nation and much of the western world in the late sixties and early seventies, further dividing Americans in a "culture war" but also bringing forth more liberated social views. 

The Watergate was a major political scandal of 1970s
Johnson was succeeded in 1969 by Republican Richard Nixon, who attempted to gradually turn the war over to the South Vietnamese forces.; He negotiated the peace treaty in 1973 which secured the release of POWs and lead to the withdrawal of U.S. troops. The war had cost the lives of 58,000 American troops. Nixon manipulated the fierce distrust between the Soviet Union and China to the advantage of the United States, achieving détente (relaxation; ease of tension) with both parties. 

The Watergate scandal, involving Nixon's cover-up of his operatives' break-in into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex destroyed his political base, sent many aides to prison, and forced Nixon's resignation on August 9, 1974. He was succeeded by Vice President Gerald Ford. The Fall of Saigon ended the VIetnam War and resulted in North and South Vietnam being reunited. Communist victories in neighboring Cambodia and Laos occurred in the same year. 

Begin, Carter and Anwar Sadat at Camp David
The OPEC oil embargo marked a long-term economic transition since, for the first time, energy prices skyrocketed, and American factories faced serious competition from foreign automobiles, clothing, electronics, and consumer goods. By the late 1970s the economy suffered an energy crisis, slow economic growth, high unemployment, and very high inflation coupled with high interest rates (the term stagflation was coined). Since economists agreed on the wisdom of deregulation, many of the New Deal era regulations were ended, such as in transportation, banking, and telecommunications. 

Jimmy Carter, running as someone who was not a part of the Washington political establishment, was elected president in 1976. On the world stage, Carter brokered the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt. In 1979, Iranian students stormed the US embassy in Tehran and took 66 Americans hostage, resulting in the Iran hostage crisis. With the hostage crisis and continuing stagflation, Carter lost the 1980 election to the Republican Ronald Reagan. On January 20, 1981, minutes after Carter's term in office ended, the remaining U.S. captives held at the U.S. embassy in Iran were released, ending the 444-day hostage crisis. 

Reagan gives a televised address about tax reductions
Close of the 20th Century 

Ronald Reagan produced a major realignment with his 1980 and 1984 landslide elections. Reagan's economic policies (dubbed "Reaganomics") and the implementation of the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 lowered income taxes from 70% to 28% over the course of seven years. Reagan continued to downsize government taxation and regulation. The US experienced a recession in 1982, but the negative indicators reversed, with the inflation rate decreasing from 11% to 2%, the unemployment rate decreasing from 10.8% in December 1982 to 7.5% in November 1984, and the economic growth rate increasing from 4.5% to 7.2%. 

Reagan ordered a buildup of the US military, incurring additional budget deficits. Reagan introduced a complicated missile defense system known as the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) (dubbed "Star Wars" by opponents) in which, theoretically, the U.S. could shoot down missiles with laser systems in space. 

Reagan speaking in front of Brandenburg Gate and Barlin Wall
The Soviets reacted harshly because they thought it violated the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and would upset the balance of power by giving the U.S. a major military advantage. For years Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev argued vehemently against SDI. However, by the late 1980s he decided the system would never work and should not be used to block disarmament deals with the U.S. Historians argue how great an impact the SDI threat had on the Soviets--whether it was enough to force Gorbachev to initiate radical reforms, or whether the deterioration of the Soviet economy alone forced the reforms. There is agreement that the Soviets realized they were well behind the Americans in military technology, that to try to catch up would be very expensive, and that the military expenses were already a very heavy burden slowing down their economy. 

Reagan's Invasion of Grenada was popular in US
Reagan's Invasion of Grenada and bombing of Libya were popular in the US, though his backing of the Contras rebels was mired in the controversy over the Iran–Contra affair that revealed Reagan's poor management style. 

Reagan met four times with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who ascended to power in 1985, and their summit conferences led to the signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Gorbachev tried to save Communism in the Soviet Union first by ending the expensive arms race with America, then by shedding the East European empire in 1989. The Soviet Union collapsed on Christmas Day 1991, ending the US–Soviet Cold War. 

Monica Clinton Scandal resulted in impeachment of Clinton
The United States emerged as the world's sole remaining superpower and continued to intervene in international affairs during the 1990s, including the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq. Following his election in 1992, President Bill Clinton oversaw one of the longest periods of economic expansion and unprecedented gains in securities values, a side effect of the digital revolution and new business opportunities created by the Internet. He also worked with the Republican Congress to pass the first balanced federal budget in 30 years. 

In 1998, Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives on charges of "high crimes and misdemeanors" for lying about a sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky but was later acquitted by the Senate. The failure of impeachment and the Democratic gains in the 1998 election forced House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Republican, to resign from Congress.

9/11 Attacks led America to the War on Terror
The presidential election in 2000 between George W. Bush and Al Gore was one of the closest in US history and helped lay the seeds for political polarization to come. The vote in the decisive state of Florida was extremely close and produced a dramatic dispute over the counting of votes. The US Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore ended the recount with a 5–4 vote. That meant Bush, then in the lead, carried Florida and the election. 

21st Century 

9/11 and the War on Terror 

On September 11, 2001 ("9/11"), the United States was struck by a terrorist attack when 19 al-Qaeda hijackers commandeered four airliners and intentionally crashed into both twin towers of the World Trade Center and into the Pentagon, killing nearly 3,000 people, mostly civilians. In response on September 20, President George W. Bush announced a "War on Terror". On October 7, 2001, the United States and NATO then invaded Afghanistan to oust the Taliban regime, which had provided safe haven to al-Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Laden. 

Osama b. Laden was the most wanted person
The federal government established new domestic efforts to prevent future attacks. The controversial USA PATRIOT Act increased the government's power to monitor communications and removed legal restrictions on information sharing between federal law enforcement and intelligence services. A cabinet-level agency called the Department of Homeland Security was created to lead and coordinate federal counter-terrorism activities. Some of these anti-terrorism efforts, particularly the US government's handling of detainees at the prison at Guantanamo Bay, led to allegations against the US government of human rights violations. 

In 2003, from March 19 to May 1, the United States launched an invasion of Iraq, which led to the collapse of the Iraq government and the eventual capture of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, with whom the US had long-standing tense relations. The reasons for the invasion cited by the Bush administration included the spreading of democracy, the elimination of weapons of mass destruction (a key demand of the UN as well, though later investigations found parts of the intelligence reports to be inaccurate), and the liberation of the Iraqi people. Despite some initial successes early in the invasion, the continued Iraq War fueled international protests and gradually saw domestic support decline as many people began to question whether or not the invasion was worth the cost. In 2007, after years of violence by the Iraqi insurgency, President Bush deployed more troops in a strategy dubbed "the surge". While the death toll decreased, the political stability of Iraq remained in doubt. 

Obama, the 1st African-American US president
In 2008, the unpopularity of President Bush and the Iraq war, along with the 2008 financial crisis, led to the election of Barack Obama, the first African-American President of the United States. Obama's victory was due in part to his opposition to Bush's unpopular foreign policies, specifically with regards to his handling of the Iraq war, and is often credited by pundits and journalists for helping him narrowly win the Democratic Party's presidential nomination over Hillary Rodham Clinton, who initially supported the war during the early stages. After his election, Obama reluctantly continued the surge by sending 20,000 additional troops until Iraq was stabilized. Then he officially ended combat operations in Iraq on August 31, 2010, but kept 50,000 in Iraq to assist Iraqi forces, help protect withdrawing forces, and work on counter-terrorism. In December 15, 2011, the war was declared formally over and the last troops left the country. 

At the same time, Obama increased American involvement in Afghanistan, starting a surge strategy using an additional 30,000 troops, while proposing to begin withdrawing troops sometime in December 2014. With regards to Guantanamo Bay, President Obama forbade torture but in general retained Bush's policy regarding the Guantanamo detainees, while also proposing that the prison eventually be closed. 

Lehman Brother filed for bankruptcy in 2008
In May 2011, after nearly a decade in hiding, the founder and leader of Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, was killed in Pakistan in a raid conducted by US naval special forces acting under President Obama's direct orders. While Al Qaeda was near collapse in Afghanistan, affiliated organizations continued to operate in Yemen and other remote areas as the CIA used drones to hunt down and remove its leadership. 

The Great Recession 

In September 2008, the United States, and most of Europe, entered the longest post–World War II recession, often called the "Great Recession." Multiple overlapping crises were involved, especially the housing market crisis, a subprime mortgage crisis, soaring oil prices, an automotive industry crisis, rising unemployment, and the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The financial crisis threatened the stability of the entire economy in September 2008 when Lehman Brothers failed and other giant banks were in grave danger. Starting in October the federal government lent $245 billion to financial institutions through the Troubled Asset Relief Program which was passed by bipartisan majorities and signed by Bush.

Obama signs the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act 2009
Following his election victory by a wide electoral margin in November 2008, Bush's successor - Barack Obama - signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which was a $787 billion economic stimulus aimed at helping the economy recover from the deepening recession. Obama, like Bush, took steps to rescue the auto industry and prevent future economic meltdowns. These included a bailout of General Motors and Chrysler, putting ownership temporarily in the hands of the government, and the "cash for clunkers" program which temporarily boosted new car sales. 

The recession officially ended in June 2009, and the economy slowly began to expand once again. The unemployment rate peaked at 10.1% in October 2009 after surging from 4.7% in November 2007, and gradually fell to 7.3% as of August 2013. 

A Govt Shut Down notice posted, statue of liberty in far back
Recent Events 

From 2009 to 2010, the 111th Congress passed major legislation such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act, which were signed into law by President Obama. Following the 2010 midterm elections, which resulted in a Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a Democratic-controlled Senate, Congress presided over a period of elevated gridlock and heated debates over whether or not raise the debt ceiling, extend tax cuts for citizens making over $250,000 annually, and many other key issues. These ongoing debates led to President Obama signing the Budget Control Act of 2011 and the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 - which resulted in budget sequestration cuts going into effect in March 2013 - as well as an increase in taxes primarily for the wealthy. Congressional gridlock continued as Congressional Republicans' call for the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act - popularly known as "Obamacare" - along with other various demands, resulted in the first government shutdown since the Clinton administration and almost led to the first default on U.S. debt since the 19th century. As a result of growing public frustration with both parties in Congress since the beginning of the decade, Congressional approval ratings fell to record lows, with only 11% of Americans approving as of October 2013. 

Damage from Hurricane Sandy in NY
Other major events that have occurred during the 2010s include the rise of new political movements across the world, such as the conservative Tea Party movement in the US and the liberal Occupy movement. There was also unusually severe weather over the summer of 2012, and over half the country experienced record drought. Hurricane Sandy caused massive damage to coastal areas of New York and New Jersey in late October. The ongoing debate over the issue of rights for the LGBT community, most notably that of same-sex marriage, began to shift in favor of same-sex couples, and has been reflected in dozens of polls released in the early part of the decade, President Obama becoming the first president to openly support same-sex marriage, and the 2013 Supreme Court decisions in the cases of United States v. Windsor and Perry v. Hollingsworth. As of June 2013, debates continue over the ongoing sequestration, as well as tax reform, same-sex marriage, immigration reform, gun control, and US foreign policy in the Middle East. 

A composite satellite image of the contiguous United States
Geography, Climate, and Environment:

The land area of the contiguous United States is 2,959,064 square miles (7,663,941 km2). Alaska, separated from the contiguous United States by Canada, is the largest state at 663,268 square miles (1,717,856 km2). Hawaii, occupying an archipelago in the central Pacific, southwest of North America, is 10,931 square miles (28,311 km2) in area. 

The United States is the world's third or fourth largest nation by total area (land and water), ranking behind Russia and Canada and just above or below China. The ranking varies depending on how two territories disputed by China and India are counted and how the total size of the United States is measured: calculations range from 3,676,486 square miles (9,522,055 km2) to 3,717,813 square miles (9,629,091 km2) to 3,794,101 square miles (9,826,676 km2). Measured by only land area, the United States is third in size behind Russia and China, just ahead of Canada. 

Mississippi River near Harper's Ferry, Iowa
The coastal plain of the Atlantic seaboard gives way further inland to deciduous forests and the rolling hills of the Piedmont. The Appalachian Mountains divide the eastern seaboard from the Great Lakes and the grasslands of the Midwest. The Mississippi–Missouri River, the world's fourth longest river system, runs mainly north–south through the heart of the country. The flat, fertile prairie of the Great Plains stretches to the west, interrupted by a highland region in the southeast. The Rocky Mountains, at the western edge of the Great Plains, extend north to south across the country, reaching altitudes higher than 14,000 feet (4,300 m) in Colorado. Farther west are the rocky Great Basin and deserts such as the Chihuahua and Mojave. 

The Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges run close to the Pacific coast, both ranges reaching altitudes higher than 14,000 feet (4,300 m). The lowest and highest points in the continental United States are in the state of California, and only about 80 miles (130 km) apart. At 20,320 feet (6,194 m), Alaska's Mount McKinley is the tallest peak in the country and in North America. Active volcanoes are common throughout Alaska's Alexander and Aleutian Islands, and Hawaii consists of volcanic islands. The supervolcano underlying Yellowstone National Park in the Rockies is the continent's largest volcanic feature. 

Wide natural beach near Sabine Pass- Gulf of Mexico
The United States, with its large size and geographic variety, includes most climate types. To the east of the 100th meridian, the climate ranges from humid continental in the north to humid subtropical in the south. The southern tip of Florida is tropical, as is Hawaii. The Great Plains west of the 100th meridian are semi-arid. Much of the Western mountains are alpine. The climate is arid in the Great Basin, desert in the Southwest, Mediterranean in coastal California, and oceanic in coastal Oregon and Washington and southern Alaska. Most of Alaska is subarctic or polar. Extreme weather is not uncommon—the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico are prone to hurricanes, and most of the world's tornadoes occur within the country, mainly in the Midwest's Tornado Alley. 

The U.S. ecology is considered "mega diverse": about 17,000 species of vascular plants occur in the contiguous United States and Alaska, and over 1,800 species of flowering plants are found in Hawaii, few of which occur on the mainland. The United States is home to more than 400 mammal, 750 bird, and 500 reptile and amphibian species. About 91,000 insect species have been described. 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
There are 58 national parks and hundreds of other federally managed parks, forests, and wilderness areas. Altogether, the government owns 28.8% of the country's land area. Most of this is protected, though some is leased for oil and gas drilling, mining, logging, or cattle ranching; 2.4% is used for military purposes. 

Environmental Issues 

Environmental issues have been on the national agenda since 1970. Environmental controversies include debates on oil and nuclear energy, dealing with air and water pollution, the economic costs of protecting wildlife, logging and deforestation, and international responses to global warming. Many federal and state agencies are involved. The most prominent is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), created by presidential order in 1970. The idea of wilderness has shaped the management of public lands since 1964, with the Wilderness Act. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 is intended to protect threatened and endangered species and their habitats, which are monitored by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. 

American Census headquarters in Suitland, Maryland


The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the country's population now to be 317,518,000, including an approximate 11.2 million illegal immigrants. The U.S. population almost quadrupled during the 20th century, from about 76 million in 1900. The third most populous nation in the world, after China and India, the United States is the only major industrialized nation in which large population increases are projected. 

A chart of the top reported ancestries in the USA
With a birth rate of 13 per 1,000, 35% below the world average, its population growth rate is positive at 0.9%, significantly higher than those of many developed nations. In fiscal year 2012, over one million immigrants (most of whom entered through family reunification) were granted legal residence. Mexico has been the leading source of new residents since the 1965 Immigration Act. China, India, and the Philippines have been in the top four sending countries every year. Nine million Americans identify as homosexual, bisexual or transgender, making up less than four percent of the population. A 2010 survey found that seven percent of men and eight percent of women identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual. 

The United States has a very diverse population—31 ancestry groups have more than one million members. White Americans are the largest racial group; German Americans, Irish Americans, and English Americans constitute three of the country's four largest ancestry groups. Black Americans are the nation's largest racial minority and third largest ancestry group. Asian Americans are the country's second largest racial minority; the three largest Asian American ethnic groups are Chinese Americans, Filipino Americans, and Indian Americans. 

Inupiaq man of Alaska Native
In 2010, the U.S. population included an estimated 5.2 million people with some American Indian or Alaska Native ancestry (2.9 million exclusively of such ancestry) and 1.2 million with some native Hawaiian or Pacific island ancestry (0.5 million exclusively). The census counted more than 19 million people of "Some Other Race" who were "unable to identify with any" of its five official race categories in 2010. 

The population growth of Hispanic and Latino Americans (the terms are officially interchangeable) is a major demographic trend. 

The 50.5 million Americans of Hispanic descent are identified as sharing a distinct "ethnicity" by the Census Bureau; 64% of Hispanic Americans are of Mexican descent. Between 2000 and 2010, the country's Hispanic population increased 43% while the non-Hispanic population rose just 4.9%. Much of this growth is from immigration; in 2007, 12.6% of the U.S. population was foreign-born, with 54% of that figure born in Latin America. 

Montage of Los Angeles
Fertility is also a factor; in 2010 the average Hispanic (of any race) woman gave birth to 2.35 children in her lifetime, compared to 1.97 for non-Hispanic black women and 1.79 for non-Hispanic white women (both below the replacement rate of 2.1). Minorities (as defined by the Census Bureau as all those beside non-Hispanic, non-multiracial whites) constituted 36.3% of the population in 2010, and over 50% of children under age one, and are projected to constitute the majority by 2042. This contradicts the report by the National Vital Statistics Reports, based on the U.S. census data, which concludes that, 54% (2,162,406 out of 3,999,386 in 2010) of births were non-Hispanic white. 

About 82% of Americans live in urban areas (including suburbs); about half of those reside in cities with populations over 50,000. In 2008, 273 incorporated places had populations over 100,000, nine cities had more than one million residents, and four global cities had over two million (New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston). 

Dallas City- the Montage
There are 52 metropolitan areas with populations greater than one million. Of the 50 fastest-growing metro areas, 47 are in the West or South. The metro areas of Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, and Phoenix all grew by more than a million people between 2000 and 2008. 


English (American English) is the de facto national language. Although there is no official language at the federal level, some laws—such as U.S. naturalization requirements—standardize English. In 2010, about 230 million, or 80% of the population aged five years and older, spoke only English at home. 

Spanish, spoken by 12% of the population at home, is the second most common language and the most widely taught second language. Some Americans advocate making English the country's official language, as it is in at least 28 states. 

Languages Spoken by more than million in the US
Both Hawaiian and English are official languages in Hawaii, by state law. While neither has an official language, New Mexico has laws providing for the use of both English and Spanish, as Louisiana does for English and French. Other states, such as California, mandate the publication of Spanish versions of certain government documents including court forms. Many jurisdictions with large numbers of non-English speakers produce government materials, especially voting information, in the most commonly spoken languages in those jurisdictions. 

Several insular territories grant official recognition to their native languages, along with English: Samoan and Chamorro are recognized by American Samoa and Guam, respectively; Carolinian and Chamorro are recognized by the Northern Mariana Islands; Spanish is an official language of Puerto Rico and is more widely spoken than English there. 

Religious Affiliation in the United States of America

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion and forbids Congress from passing laws respecting its establishment. Christianity is by far the most common religion practiced in the U.S., but other religions are followed, too. In a 2013 survey, 56% of Americans said that religion played a "very important role in their lives", a far higher figure than that of any other wealthy nation. In a 2009 Gallup poll 42% of Americans said that they attended church weekly or almost weekly; the figures ranged from a low of 23% in Vermont to a high of 63% in Mississippi. 

Islam is 3rd largest religion in US
According to a 2012 survey, 73% of adults identified themselves as Christian, down from 86.4% in 1990. Protestant denominations accounted for 48%, while Roman Catholicism, at 22%, was the largest individual denomination. The total reporting non-Christian religions in 2012 was 6%, up from 4% in 2007. Other religions include Judaism (1.7%), Buddhism (0.7%), Islam (0.6%), Hinduism (0.4%), and Unitarian Universalism (0.3%). The survey also reported that 19.6% of Americans described themselves as agnostic, atheist, or simply having no religion, up from 8.2% in 1990. There are also Baha'i, Sikh, Jain, Shinto, Confucian, Taoist, Druid, Native American, Wiccan, humanist and deist communities. 

Protestantism is the largest group of religions in the United States, with Baptists being the largest Protestant sect, and the Southern Baptist Convention being the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. Roman Catholicism in the U.S. has its origin in the Spanish and French colonization of the Americas, and later grew due to Irish, Italian, Polish, German and Hispanic immigration. Rhode Island is the only state where the majority of the population is Catholic. Lutheranism in the U.S. has its origin in immigration from Northern Europe. North and South Dakota are the only states in which a plurality of the population is Lutheran. Utah is the only state where Mormonism is the religion of the majority of the population. Mormonism is also relatively common in parts of Idaho, Nevada and Wyoming. 

Religion plays least important role in New England
The Bible Belt is an informal term for a region in the Southern United States in which socially conservative evangelical Protestantism is a significant part of the culture and Christian church attendance across the denominations is generally higher than the nation's average. By contrast, religion plays the least important role in New England and in the Western United States. 

As with other Western countries, the U.S. is becoming less religious. Irreligion is growing rapidly among Americans under 30. Polls show that overall American confidence in organized religion is declining and that younger Americans in particular are becoming increasingly irreligious. 

US is the highest in teenage pregnancy among OECD nations
Family Structure 

In 2007, 58% of Americans age 18 and over were married, 6% were widowed, 10% were divorced, and 25% had never been married. Women now work mostly outside the home and receive a majority of bachelor's degrees. 

The U.S. teenage pregnancy rate, 79.8 per 1,000 women, is the highest among OECD nations. Between 2007 and 2010, the highest teenage birth rate was in Mississippi, and the lowest in New Hampshire. Abortion is legal throughout the U.S., owing to Roe v. Wade, a 1973 landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court. While the abortion rate is falling, the abortion ratio of 241 per 1,000 live births and abortion rate of 15 per 1,000 women aged 15–44 remain higher than those of most Western nations. In 2011, the average age at first birth was 25.6 and 40.7% of births were to unmarried women. The total fertility rate (TFR) was estimated for 2013 at 2.06 births per woman. 

Same-sex marriage ceremony in San Francisco
Adoption in the United States is common and relatively easy from a legal point of view (compared to other Western countries). In 2001, with over 127,000 adoptions, the U.S. accounted for nearly half of the total number of adoptions worldwide. 

Same-sex marriage is legally performed in 16 U.S. states, 8 tribal jurisdictions, and the District of Columbia. Same-sex marriages were performed in Utah but the United States Supreme Court issued a stay and same-sex marriages are not currently performed in the state while the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver considers the case. Oregon recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions. Ohio recognizes out-of-state marriages for death certificate purposes only. Illinois has legalized same-sex marriage but it has not yet gone into effect. Same-sex marriage is currently legal in Illinois but only for same-sex couples in which at least one of them is terminally ill. 

Polygamy is illegal in all 50 states.
Political System of the United States
Government and Politics:

The United States is the world's oldest surviving federation. It is a constitutional republic and representative democracy, "in which majority rule is tempered by minority rights protected by law". The government is regulated by a system of checks and balances defined by the U.S. Constitution, which serves as the country's supreme legal document. For 2012, the US ranked 21st on the Democracy Index and 19th on the Corruption Perceptions Index. 

In the American federalist system, citizens are usually subject to three levels of government: federal, state, and local. The local government's duties are commonly split between county and municipal governments. In almost all cases, executive and legislative officials are elected by a plurality vote of citizens by district. There is no proportional representation at the federal level, and it is very rare at lower levels. 

The Senate's side of the Capitol Building in Washington DC
The federal government is composed of three branches: 
  • Legislative: The bicameral Congress, made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives, makes federal law, declares war, approves treaties, has the power of the purse, and has the power of impeachment, by which it can remove sitting members of the government. 
  • Executive: The president is the commander-in-chief of the military, can veto legislative bills before they become law (subject to Congressional override), and appoints the members of the Cabinet (subject to Senate approval) and other officers, who administer and enforce federal laws and policies. 
  • Judicial: The Supreme Court and lower federal courts, whose judges are appointed by the president with Senate approval, interpret laws and overturn those they find unconstitutional. 

Supreme Court of USA
The House of Representatives has 435 voting members, each representing a congressional district for a two-year term. House seats are apportioned among the states by population every tenth year. At the 2010 census, seven states had the minimum of one representative, while California, the most populous state, had 53. 

The Senate has 100 members with each state having two senators, elected at-large to six-year terms; one third of Senate seats are up for election every other year. The president serves a four-year term and may be elected to the office no more than twice. The president is not elected by direct vote, but by an indirect electoral college system in which the determining votes are apportioned to the states and the District of Columbia. The Supreme Court, led by the Chief Justice of the United States, has nine members, who serve for life. 

Nebraska Capitol- Nebraska uniquely has unicameral legislature
The state governments are structured in roughly similar fashion; Nebraska uniquely has a unicameral legislature. The governor (chief executive) of each state is directly elected. Some state judges and cabinet officers are appointed by the governors of the respective states, while others are elected by popular vote. 

The original text of the Constitution establishes the structure and responsibilities of the federal government and its relationship with the individual states. Article One protects the right to the "great writ" of habeas corpus, The Constitution has been amended 27 times; the first 10 amendments, which make up the Bill of Rights, and the Fourteenth Amendment form the central basis of Americans' individual rights. All laws and governmental procedures are subject to judicial review and any law ruled by the courts to be in violation of the Constitution is voided. The principle of judicial review, not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, was established by the Supreme Court in Marbury v. Madison (1803) in a decision handed down by Chief Justice John Marshall. 

The political divisions of the United States of America
Political divisions 

The United States is a federal union of 50 states. The original 13 states were the successors of the 13 colonies that rebelled against British rule. Early in the country's history, three new states were organized on territory separated from the claims of the existing states: Kentucky from Virginia; Tennessee from North Carolina; and Maine from Massachusetts. Most of the other states have been carved from territories obtained through war or purchase by the U.S. government. One set of exceptions includes Vermont, Texas, and Hawaii: each was an independent republic before joining the union. During the American Civil War, West Virginia broke away from Virginia. The most recent state—Hawaii—achieved statehood on August 21, 1959. The states do not have the right to unilaterally secede from the union. The states compose the vast bulk of the U.S. land mass. 

The District of Columbia
The District of Columbia is a federal district which contains the capital of the United States, Washington D.C. The United States also possesses five major overseas territories: Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands in the Caribbean; and American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific. Those born in the major territories are birthright U.S. citizens except Samoans. Samoans born in American Samoa are born U.S. nationals, and may become naturalized citizens. American citizens residing in the territories have fundamental constitutional protections and elective self-government, with a territorial Member of Congress, but they do not vote for president as states. Territories have personal and business tax regimes different from that of states. The United States also observes tribal sovereignty of the Native Nations. Though reservations are within state borders, the reservation is a sovereign. While the United States recognizes this sovereignty, other countries may not. 

The Logo of Republican Party
Parties and Elections 

The United States has operated under a two-party system for most of its history. For elective offices at most levels, state-administered primary elections choose the major party nominees for subsequent general elections. Since the general election of 1856, the major parties have been the Democratic Party, founded in 1824, and the Republican Party, founded in 1854. Since the Civil War, only one third-party presidential candidate—former president Theodore Roosevelt, running as a Progressive in 1912—has won as much as 20% of the popular vote. The third-largest political party is the Libertarian Party. 

Within American political culture, the Republican Party is considered center-right or conservative and the Democratic Party is considered center-left or liberal. The states of the Northeast and West Coast and some of the Great Lakes states, known as "blue states", are relatively liberal. The "red states" of the South and parts of the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains are relatively conservative. 

House of Representatives Chamber
The winner of the 2008 presidential election and the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama, is the 44th U.S. president. 

In the 113th United States Congress, the House of Representatives is controlled by the Republican Party, while the Democratic Party has control of the Senate. The Senate currently consists of 52 Democrats, two independents who caucus with the Democrats, and 46 Republicans; the House consists of 234 Republicans and 201 Democrats. There are 30 Republican and 20 Democratic state governors. 

Since the founding of the United States until 2000s, the country's governance has been primarily dominated by White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs).

The UN headquarters in New York
However, the situation has changed recently and of the top 17 positions (four national candidates of the two major party in the 2012 U.S. presidential election, four leaders in 112th United States Congress, and nine Supreme Court Justices) there is only one WASP. 

Foreign relations 

The United States has established foreign relations. It is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and New York City hosts the United Nations Headquarters. It is a member of the G8, G20, and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Almost all countries have embassies in Washington, D.C., and many have consulates around the country. Likewise, nearly all nations host American diplomatic missions. However, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Bhutan, and the Republic of China (Taiwan) do not have formal diplomatic relations with the United States (although the U.S. still supplies Taiwan with military equipment). 

US has special relationship with United Kingdom
The United States has a "special relationship" with the United Kingdom and strong ties with Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Israel, and several European countries such as France and Germany. It works closely with fellow NATO members on military and security issues and with its neighbors through the Organization of American States and free trade agreements such as the trilateral North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. In 2008, the United States spent a net $25.4 billion on official development assistance, the most in the world. As a share of America's large gross national income (GNI), however, the U.S. contribution of 0.18% ranked last among 22 donor states. By contrast, private overseas giving by Americans is relatively generous. 

The Map of TTPI
The U.S. exercises full international defense authority and responsibility for three sovereign nations through Compact of Free Association with Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau, all of which are Pacific island nations which were part of the U.S.-administered Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) beginning after World War II, and gained independence in subsequent years. 

Government finance 

Taxes are levied in the United States at the federal, state and local government level. These include taxes on income, payroll, property, sales, imports, estates and gifts, as well as various fees. In 2010 taxes collected by federal, state and municipal governments amounted to 24.8% of GDP. During FY2012, the federal government collected approximately $2.45 trillion in tax revenue, up $147 billion or 6% versus FY2011 revenues of $2.30 trillion. Primary receipt categories included individual income taxes ($1,132B or 47%), Social Security/Social Insurance taxes ($845B or 35%), and corporate taxes ($242B or 10%). 

U.S Taxation is generally progressive
U.S. taxation is generally progressive, especially the federal income taxes, and is among the most progressive in the developed world, but the incidence of corporate income tax has been a matter of considerable ongoing controversy for decades. In 2009 the top 10% of earners, with 36% of the nation's income, paid 78.2% of the federal personal income tax burden, while the bottom 40% had a negative liability. However, payroll taxes for Social Security are a flat regressive tax, with no tax charged on income above $113,700 and no tax at all paid on unearned income from things such as stocks and capital gains. The historic reasoning for the regressive nature of the payroll tax is that entitlement programs have not been viewed as welfare transfers. The top 10% paid 51.8% of total federal taxes in 2009, and the top 1%, with 13.4% of pre-tax national income, paid 22.3% of federal taxes. In 2013 the Tax Policy Center projected total federal effective tax rates of 35.5% for the top 1%, 27.2% for the top quintile, 13.8% for the middle quintile, and −2.7% for the bottom quintile. State and local taxes vary widely, but are generally less progressive than federal taxes as they rely heavily on broadly borne regressive sales and property taxes that yield less volatile revenue streams, though their consideration does not eliminate the progressive nature of overall taxation. 

Federal Debt Held by the Public 1790-2013
During FY 2012, the federal government spent $3.54 trillion on a budget or cash basis, down $60 billion or 1.7% vs. FY 2011 spending of $3.60 trillion. Major categories of FY 2012 spending included: Medicare & Medicaid ($802B or 23% of spending), Social Security ($768B or 22%), Defense Department ($670B or 19%), non-defense discretionary ($615B or 17%), other mandatory ($461B or 13%) and interest ($223B or 6%). 

Public debt 

In March 2013, U.S. federal government debt held by the public was approximately $11.888 trillion, or about 75% of U.S. GDP. Intra-governmental holdings stood at $4.861 trillion, giving a combined total debt of $16.749 trillion. By 2012, total federal debt had surpassed 100% of U.S. GDP. The U.S. has a credit rating of AA+ from Standard & Poor's, AAA from Fitch, and Aaa from Moody's. 

The US Joint Service Color Guard on a parade
Historically, the U.S. public debt as a share of GDP increased during wars and recessions, and subsequently declined. For example, debt held by the public as a share of GDP peaked just after World War II (113% of GDP in 1945), but then fell over the following 30 years. In recent decades, large budget deficits and the resulting increases in debt have led to concern about the long-term sustainability of the federal government's fiscal policies. However, these concerns are not universally shared. 


The president holds the title of commander-in-chief of the nation's armed forces and appoints its leaders, the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The United States Department of Defense administers the armed forces, including the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force. The Coast Guard is run by the Department of Homeland Security in peacetime and the Department of the Navy in time of war. In 2008, the armed forces had 1.4 million personnel on active duty. The Reserves and National Guard brought the total number of troops to 2.3 million. The Department of Defense also employed about 700,000 civilians, not including contractors. 

The US Navy Fleets
Military service is voluntary, though conscription may occur in wartime through the Selective Service System. American forces can be rapidly deployed by the Air Force's large fleet of transport aircraft, the Navy's 10 active aircraft carriers, and Marine Expeditionary Units at sea with the Navy's Atlantic and Pacific fleets. The military operates 865 bases and facilities abroad, and maintains deployments greater than 100 active duty personnel in 25 foreign countries. The extent of this global military presence has prompted some scholars to describe the United States as maintaining an "empire of bases". 

The Military budget of the United States in 2011, was more than $700 billion, 41% of global military spending and equal to the next 14 largest national military expenditures combined. At 4.7% of GDP, the rate was the second-highest among the top 15 military spenders, after Saudi Arabia. U.S. defense spending as a percentage of GDP ranked 23rd globally in 2012 according to the CIA. Defense's share of U.S. spending has generally declined in recent decades, from Cold War peaks of 14.2% of GDP in 1953 and 69.5% of federal outlays in 1954 to 4.7% of GDP and 18.8% of federal outlays in 2011. 

more than 2000 US troops were killed in Afghanistan
The proposed base Department of Defense budget for 2012, $553 billion, was a 4.2% increase over 2011; an additional $118 billion was proposed for the military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

The last American troops serving in Iraq departed in December 2011; 4,484 servicemen were killed during the Iraq War. Approximately 90,000 U.S. troops were serving in Afghanistan in April 2012; by November 8, 2013 2,285 had been killed during the War in Afghanistan. 

Crime and Law Enforcement 

Law enforcement in the United States is primarily the responsibility of local police and sheriff's departments, with state police providing broader services. Federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Marshals Service have specialized duties. At the federal level and in almost every state, jurisprudence operates on a common law system. State courts conduct most criminal trials; federal courts handle certain designated crimes as well as certain appeals from the state criminal courts. Plea bargaining in the United States is very common; the vast majority of criminal cases in the country are settled by plea bargain rather than jury trial. 

The US has above average levels of violent crimes
In 2012 there were 4.7 murders per 100,000 persons in the United States, a 54% decline from the modern peak of 10.2 in 1980. Among developed nations, the United States has above-average levels of violent crime and particularly high levels of gun violence and homicide. A cross-sectional analysis of the World Health Organization Mortality Database from 2003 showed that United States "homicide rates were 6.9 times higher than rates in the other high-income countries, driven by firearm homicide rates that were 19.5 times higher." Gun ownership rights continue to be the subject of contentious political debate. 

Capital punishment is sanctioned in the United States for certain federal and military crimes, and used in 32 states. No executions took place from 1967 to 1977, owing in part to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down arbitrary imposition of the death penalty. In 1976, that Court ruled that, under appropriate circumstances, capital punishment may constitutionally be imposed. Since the decision there have been more than 1,300 executions, a majority of these taking place in three states: Texas, Virginia, and Oklahoma. Meanwhile, several states have either abolished or struck down death penalty laws. In 2010, the country had the fifth highest number of executions in the world, following China, Iran, North Korea, and Yemen. 

more than 1 in every 100 adults was incarcerated in US
The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate and total prison population in the world. At the start of 2008, more than 2.3 million people were incarcerated, more than one in every 100 adults. The prison population has quadrupled since 1980. African-American males are jailed at about six times the rate of white males and three times the rate of Hispanic males. The country's high rate of incarceration is largely due to changes in sentencing guidelines and drug policies. In 2008, Louisiana had the highest incarceration rate, and Maine the lowest. In 2012 Louisiana had the highest rate of murders and nonnegligent manslaughters in the United States. 


The United States has a capitalist mixed economy which is fueled by abundant natural resources and high productivity. According to the International Monetary Fund, the U.S. GDP of $17.1 trillion constitutes 22% of the gross world product at market exchange rates and over 19% of the gross world product at purchasing power parity (PPP). Though larger than any other nation's, its national GDP was about 5% smaller at PPP in 2011 than the European Union's, whose population is around 62% higher. The country ranks ninth in the world in nominal GDP per capita and sixth in GDP per capita at PPP. The U.S. dollar is the world's primary reserve currency.

The United States exports in 2011
The United States is the largest importer of goods and second largest exporter, though exports per capita are relatively low. In 2010, the total U.S. trade deficit was $635 billion. Canada, China, Mexico, Japan, and Germany are its top trading partners. In 2010, oil was the largest import commodity, while transportation equipment was the country's largest export. China is the largest foreign holder of U.S. public debt. 

In 2009, the private sector was estimated to constitute 86.4% of the economy, with federal government activity accounting for 4.3% and state and local government activity (including federal transfers) the remaining 9.3%. While its economy has reached a postindustrial level of development and its service sector constitutes 67.8% of GDP, the United States remains an industrial power. The leading business field by gross business receipts is wholesale and retail trade; by net income it is manufacturing. 

Subway is one the most recognized brand in the world
Chemical products are the leading manufacturing field. The United States is the third largest producer of oil in the world, as well as its largest importer. It is the world's number one producer of electrical and nuclear energy, as well as liquid natural gas, sulfur, phosphates, and salt. While agriculture accounts for just under 1% of GDP, the United States is the world's top producer of corn and soybeans. The National Agricultural Statistics Service maintains agricultural statistics for products that include; peanuts, Oats, Rye, Wheat, Rice, Cotton, corn, barley, hay, sunflowers, and oilseeds. In addition, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides livestock statistics regarding beef, poultry, pork, along with dairy products. The National Mining Association provides data pertaining to coal and minerals that include; beryllium, copper, lead, magnesium, zinc, titanium and others. In the franchising business model, McDonald's and Subway are the two most recognized brands in the world. Coca-Cola is the most recognized soft drink company in the world. 

US is one the highest in labor productivity in the world
Consumer spending comprises 71% of the U.S. economy in 2013. In August 2010, the American labor force consisted of 154.1 million people. With 21.2 million people, government is the leading field of employment. The largest private employment sector is health care and social assistance, with 16.4 million people. About 12% of workers are unionized, compared to 30% in Western Europe. The World Bank ranks the United States first in the ease of hiring and firing workers. The United States is the only advanced economy that that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation and is one of just a few countries in the world without paid family leave as a legal right, with the others being Papua New Guinea, Suriname and Liberia. In 2009, the United States had the third highest labor productivity per person in the world, behind Luxembourg and Norway. It was fourth in productivity per hour, behind those two countries and the Netherlands. 

2008 recession significantly effected US employment rate
The 2008-2012 global recession had a significant impact on the United States. It brought high unemployment (which has been decreasing but remains above pre-recession levels), along with low consumer confidence, the continuing decline in home values and increase in foreclosures and personal bankruptcies, an escalating federal debt crisis, inflation, and rising petroleum and food prices. In fact, a 2011 poll found that more than half of all Americans think the U.S. is still in recession or even depression, despite official data that shows a historically modest recovery. 

Income, poverty, and wealth 

Americans have the highest average household and employee income among OECD nations, and in 2007 had the second highest median household income. According to the Census Bureau real median household income was $50,502 in 2011, down from $51,144 in 2010. The Global Food Security Index ranked the U.S. number one for food affordability and overall food security in March 2013. Americans on average have over twice as much living space per dwelling and per person as European Union residents, and more than every EU nation. 

A housing development in San Jose, California
The U.S. economy is currently embroiled in the economic downturn which followed the financial crisis of 2007–2008, with output still below potential according to the CBO and unemployment still above historic trends. From 1983 to 2008, U.S. real compounded annual GDP growth was 3.3%, compared to a 2.3% weighted average for the rest of the G7. In 2013 the United Nations Development Programme ranked the United States 16th among 132 countries on its inequality-adjusted human development index (IHDI), 13 places lower than in the standard HDI. 

Unemployment has been steadily declining since 2010 but remains higher than pre-recession levels. There remains a record proportion of long-term unemployed, continued decreasing household income, and tax and federal budget increases. Nearly half of U.S. households are considered "low-income" by the U.S. census (earning $45,000 or less per year for a family of four). 

Poverty is now falling down in the US
The rise in the share of total annual income received by the top 1 percent, which has more than doubled from 9 percent in 1976 to 20 percent in 2011, has had a significant impact on income inequality, leaving the United States with one of the widest income distributions among OECD nations. The post-recession income gains have been very uneven, with the top 1 percent capturing 95 percent of the income gains from 2009 to 2012. 

 There has been a widening gap between productivity and median incomes since the 1970s. While inflation-adjusted ("real") household income had been increasing almost every year from 1947 to 1999, it has since been flat and even decreased recently. Poverty in the U.S. has been increasing as median incomes have declined, having now fallen for five consecutive years. There were about 643,000 sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons in the U.S. in January 2009. 

Wealth is highly concentrated in the United States
Almost two-thirds stayed in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program and the other third were living on the street, in an abandoned building, or another place not meant for human habitation. In 2011 16.7 million children lived in food-insecure households, about 35% more than 2007 levels, though only 1.1% of U.S. children, or 845,000, saw reduced food intake or disrupted eating patterns at some point during the year, and most cases weren't chronic. 

Wealth, like income and taxes, is highly concentrated: The richest 10% of the adult population possesses 69.8% of the country's household wealth, the second-highest share among developed nations. Between June 2007 and November 2008 the global recession led to falling asset prices around the world. Assets owned by Americans lost about a quarter of their value. Since peaking in the second quarter of 2007, household wealth is down $14 trillion. At the end of 2008, household debt amounted to $13.8 trillion. 

Truck Transport near Eastern Washington, USA


Personal transportation is dominated by automobiles, which operate on a network of 13 million roads, including one of the world's longest highway systems. The world's second largest automobile market, the United States has the highest rate of per-capita vehicle ownership in the world, with 765 vehicles per 1,000 Americans. About 40% of personal vehicles are vans, SUVs, or light trucks. The average American adult (accounting for all drivers and non-drivers) spends 55 minutes driving every day, traveling 29 miles (47 km). 

Mass transit accounts for 9% of total U.S. work trips. While transport of goods by rail is extensive, relatively few people use rail to travel, though ridership on Amtrak, the national intercity passenger rail system, grew by almost 37% between 2000 and 2010. Also, light rail development has increased in recent years. Bicycle usage for work commutes is minimal. 

Hartshield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
The civil airline industry is entirely privately owned and has been largely deregulated since 1978, while most major airports are publicly owned. The three largest airlines in the world by passengers carried are U.S.-based; American Airlines is number one after its 2013 acquisition of US Airways. Of the world's 30 busiest passenger airports, 16 are in the United States, including the busiest, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Energy The United States energy market is 29,000 terawatt hours per year. 


consumption per capita is 7.8 tons of oil equivalent per year, the 10th highest rate in the world. In 2005, 40% of this energy came from petroleum, 23% from coal, and 22% from natural gas. The remainder was supplied by nuclear power and renewable energy sources. The United States is the world's largest consumer of petroleum. 

The Hooven Dam was once the largest of its kind in the world
For decades, nuclear power has played a limited role relative to many other developed countries, in part because of public perception in the wake of a 1979 accident. In 2007, several applications for new nuclear plants were filed. The United States has 27% of global coal reserves. It is the world's largest producer of natural gas and crude oil. 

Science and Technology

The United States came into being around the Age of Enlightenment (circa 1680 to 1800), an era in Western philosophy in which writers and thinkers rejecting the superstitions of the past instead, chose to emphasize the intellectual, scientific and cultural life, centered upon the 18th century, in which reason was advocated as the primary source for legitimacy and authority. Enlightenment philosophers envisioned a "republic of science," where ideas would be exchanged freely and useful knowledge would improve the lot of all citizens. 

Franklin, one of the 1st American Scientists
The United States Constitution itself reflects the desire to encourage scientific creativity. It gives the United States Congress the power "to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." This clause formed the basis for the U.S. patent and copyright systems, whereby creators of original art and technology would get a government granted monopoly, which after a limited period would become free to all citizens, thereby enriching the public domain. 

Early North American Science 

In the early decades of its history, the United States was relatively isolated from Europe and also rather poor. At this stage America's scientific infrastructure was still quite primitive compared to the long-established societies, institutes, and universities in Europe. 

Two of America's founding fathers were scientists of some repute. Benjamin Franklin conducted a series of experiments that deepened human understanding of electricity. 

David R. Rittenhouse
Among other things, he proved what had been suspected but never before shown: that lightning is a form of electricity. 

Franklin also invented such conveniences as bifocal eyeglasses. Franklin also conceived the mid-room furnace, the "Franklin Stove." 

However, Franklin's design was flawed, in that his furnace vented the smoke from its base: because the furnace lacked a chimney to "draw" fresh air up through the central chamber, the fire would soon go out. 

 It took David R. Rittenhouse, another hero of early Philadelphia, to improve Franklin's design by adding an L-shaped exhaust pipe that drew air through the furnace and vented its smoke up and along the ceiling, then into an intramural chimney and out of the house. 

Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), was among the most influential leaders in early America; during the American Revolutionary War (1775-83), Jefferson served in the Virginia legislature, the Continental Congress, was governor of Virginia, later serving as U.S. minister to France, U.S. secretary of state, vice president under John Adams (1735-1826), author of the Declaration of Independence and the third U.S. president. During Jefferson’s two terms in office (1801-1809), the U.S. purchased the Louisiana Territory and Lewis and Clark explored the vast new acquisition. After leaving office, he retired to his Virginia plantation, Monticello, and helped spearhead the University of Virginia. Jefferson was also a student of agriculture who introduced various types of rice, olive trees, and grasses into the New World. He stressed the scientific aspect of the Lewis and Clark expedition (1804–06), which explored the Pacific Northwest, and detailed, systematic information on the region's plants and animals was one of that expedition's legacies. 

Dr. Benjamin Rush, painted by Charles Willson Peale
Like Franklin and Jefferson, most American scientists of the late 18th century were involved in the struggle to win American independence and forge a new nation. These scientists included the astronomer David Rittenhouse, the medical scientist Benjamin Rush, and the natural historian Charles Willson Peale. 

During the American Revolution, Rittenhouse helped design the defenses of Philadelphia and built telescopes and navigation instruments for the United States' military services. After the war, Rittenhouse designed road and canal systems for the state of Pennsylvania. He later returned to studying the stars and planets and gained a worldwide reputation in that field. 

As United States Surgeon General, Benjamin Rush saved countless lives of soldiers during the American Revolutionary War by promoting hygiene and public health practices. By introducing new medical treatments, he made the Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia an example of medical enlightenment, and after his military service, Rush established the first free clinic in the United States. 

Peale Museum was created by Charles Willson Peale
Charles Willson Peale is best remembered as an artist, but he also was a natural historian, inventor, educator, and politician. He created the first major museum in the United States, the Peale Museum in Philadelphia, which housed the young nation's only collection of North American natural history specimens. Peale excavated the bones of an ancient mastodon near West Point, New York; he spent three months assembling the skeleton, and then displayed it in his museum. The Peale Museum started an American tradition of making the knowledge of science interesting and available to the general public. 

Science Immigration

American political leaders' enthusiasm for knowledge also helped ensure a warm welcome for scientists from other countries. A notable early immigrant was the British chemist Joseph Priestley, who was driven from his homeland because of his dissenting politics. Priestley, who went to the United States in 1794, was the first of thousands of talented scientists who emigrated in search of a free, creative environment. 

Bell on the telephone in NY calling Shicago
Other scientists had come to the United States to take part in the nation's rapid growth. Alexander Graham Bell, who arrived from Scotland by way of Canada in 1872, developed and patented the telephone and related inventions. 

Charles Steinmetz, who came from Germany in 1889, developed new alternating-current electrical systems at General Electric Company, and Vladimir Zworykin, an immigrate from Russia in 1919 arrived in the States bringing his knowledge of x-rays and cathode ray tubes and later won his first patent on a television system he invented. 

The Serb Nikola Tesla went to the United States in 1884, where he brilliantly adapted the principle of rotating magnetic field for the construction of alternating current induction motor and the polyphase system for the generation, transmission, distribution and use of electrical power. 

Enrico Fermi migrated from Italy to the USA
Into the early 1900s Europe remained the center of science research, notably in England and Germany. From the 1920s onwards, the tensions heralding the onset of World War II spurred sporadic but steady scientific emigration, or “Brain Drain”, in Europe. Many of these emigrants were Jewish scientists, fearing the repercussions of anti-Semitism, especially in Germany and Italy, and sought sanctuary in the United States. 

One of the first to do so was Albert Einstein in 1933. At his urging, and often with his support, a good percentage of Germany's theoretical physics community, previously the best in the world, left for the US. 

Enrico Fermi, came from Italy in 1938 and led the work that produced the world's first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. Many other scientists of note moved to the US during this same emigration wave, including Niels Bohr, Victor Weisskopf, Otto Stern, and Eugene Wigner. 

the Manhattan project created the 1st nuclear bombs
Indeed, several scientific and technological breakthroughs during the Atomic Age were the handiwork of such immigrants, who recognized the potential threats and uses of new technology. For instance, it was the German professor Einstein and his Hungarian colleague, Leó Szilárd, who took the initiative and convinced president Franklin D. Roosevelt to pursue the pivotal Manhattan Project. Many physicists instrumental to the project were also European immigrants, such as the Hungarian Edward Teller, “father of the hydrogen bomb,” and German Nobel laureate Hans Bethe. Their scientific contributions, combined with Allied resources and facilities helped establish the United States during World War II as an unrivaled scientific juggernaut. In fact, the Manhattan Project’s Operation Alsos and its components, while not designed to recruit European scientists, successfully collected and evaluated Axis military scientific research at the end of the war, especially that of the German nuclear energy project, only to conclude that it was years behind its American counterpart. 

Operation Paperclip brought German Nazis to USA
When World War II ended, the US, the UK and the Soviet Union were all intent on capitalizing on Nazi research and competed for the spoils of war. While President Harry S. Truman refused to provide sanctuary to ideologically committed members of the Nazi party, the Office of Strategic Services introduced Operation Paperclip, conducted under the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency. This program covertly offered otherwise ineligible intellectuals and technicians white-washed dossiers, biographies, and employment. Ex-Nazi scientists overseen by the JIOA had been employed by the US military since the defeat of the Nazi regime in Project Overcast, but Operation Paperclip ventured to systematically allocate German nuclear and aerospace research and scientists to military and civilian posts, beginning in August 1945. Until the program’s termination in 1990, Operation Paperclip was said to have recruited over 1,600 such employees in a variety of professions and disciplines 

Wernher Magnus Maximilian (Freiher von Braun)
In the first phases of Operation Paperclip, these recruits mostly included aerospace engineers from the German V-2 combat rocket program, experts in aerospace medicine and synthetic fuels. Perhaps the most influential of these was Wernher Von Braun, who had worked on the Aggregate rockets (the first rocket program to reach outer space), and chief designer of the V-2 rocket program. Upon reaching US soil, Von Braun first worked on the U.S. Air Force ICBM program before his team was reassigned to NASA. Often credited as “The Father of Rocket Science,” his work on the Redstone rocket and the successful deployment of the Explorer 1 satellite as a response to Sputnik 1 marked the beginning of the American Space program, and therefore, of the Space Race. Von Braun’s subsequent development of the Saturn V booster for NASA in the mid-to late sixties resulted in the first manned moon landing, the Apollo 11 mission, in 1969. 

America Invested tremendously in big science
In the post-war era the US was left in a position of unchallenged scientific leadership, being one of the few industrial countries not ravaged by war. Additionally, science and technology were seen to have greatly added to the Allied war victory, and were seen as absolutely crucial in the Cold War era. This enthusiasm simultaneously rejuvenated American industry, and celebrated Yankee ingenuity, instilling a zealous nation-wide investment in "Big Science" and state-of-the-art government funded facilities and programs. This state patronage presented appealing careers to the intelligentsia, and further consolidated the scientific preeminence of the United States. As a result, the US government became, for the first time, the largest single supporter of basic and applied scientific research. By the mid-1950s the research facilities in the US were second to none, and scientists were drawn to the US for this reason alone. The changing pattern can be seen in the winners of the Nobel Prize in physics and chemistry. During the first half-century of Nobel Prizes – from 1901 to 1950 – American winners were in a distinct minority in the science categories. Since 1950, Americans have won approximately half of the Nobel Prizes awarded in the sciences. 

America is the leading country-being 1st- in nuclear power
The American Brain Gain continued throughout the Cold War, as tensions steadily escalated in the Eastern Bloc, resulting in a steady trickle of defectors, refugees and emigrants. The partition of Germany, for one, precipitated over three and a half million East Germans – the Republikflüchtling - to cross into West Berlin by 1961. Most of them were young, well-qualified, educated professionals or skilled workers - the intelligentsia - exacerbating human capital flight in the GDR to the benefit of Western countries, including the United States. 

The Atomic Age and "Big Science" 

One of the most spectacular – and controversial – accomplishments of US technology has been the harnessing of nuclear energy. The concepts that led to the splitting of the atom were developed by the scientists of many countries, but the conversion of these ideas into the reality of nuclear fission was accomplished in the United States in early 1940s, both by many Americans but also aided tremendously by the influx of European intellectuals fleeing the growing conflagration sparked by Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini in Europe. 

President Franklin D. Roosevelt
During these crucial years, a number of the most prominent European scientists, especially physicists, immigrated to the United States, where they would do much of their most important work; these included Hans Bethe, Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi, Leó Szilárd, Edward Teller, Felix Bloch, Emilio Segrè, and Eugene Wigner, among many, many others. American academics worked hard to find positions at laboratories and universities for their European colleagues. 

After German physicists split a uranium nucleus in 1938, a number of scientists concluded that a nuclear chain reaction was feasible and possible. The Einstein–Szilárd letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt warned that this breakthrough would permit the construction of "extremely powerful bombs." This warning inspired an executive order towards the investigation of using uranium as a weapon, which later was superseded during World War II by the Manhattan Project the full Allied effort to be the first to build an atomic bomb. The project bore fruit when the first such bomb was exploded in New Mexico on July 16, 1945. 

Nuclear power can be used for many peaceful purposes
The development of the bomb and its use against Japan in August 1945 initiated the Atomic Age, a time of anxiety over weapons of mass destruction that has lasted through the Cold War and down to the anti-proliferation efforts of today. Even so, the Atomic Age has also been characterized by peaceful uses of nuclear power, as in the advances in nuclear power and nuclear medicine. 

Along with the production of the atomic bomb, World War II also began an era known as "Big Science" with increased government patronage of scientific research. The advantage of a scientifically and technologically sophisticated country became all too apparent during wartime, and in the ideological Cold War to follow the importance of scientific strength in even peacetime applications became too much for the government to any more leave to philanthropy and private industry alone. This increased expenditure on scientific research and education propelled the United States to the forefront of the international scientific community—an amazing feat for a country which only a few decades before still had to send its most promising students to Europe for extensive scientific education. 

Three Mile Island Incident
The first US commercial nuclear power plant started operation in Illinois in 1956. At the time, the future for nuclear energy in the United States looked bright. But opponents criticized the safety of power plants and questioned whether safe disposal of nuclear waste could be assured. A 1979 accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania turned many Americans against nuclear power. The cost of building a nuclear power plant escalated, and other, more economical sources of power began to look more appealing. During the 1970s and 1980s, plans for several nuclear plants were cancelled, and the future of nuclear power remains in a state of uncertainty in the United States. 

Meanwhile, American scientists have been experimenting with other renewable energy, including solar power. Although solar power generation is still not economical in much of the United States, recent developments might make it more affordable. 

Silicon Valley, as seen from over north San Jose
Telecom and Technology 

For the past 80 years, the United States has been integral in fundamental advances in telecommunications and technology. For example, AT&T's Bell Laboratories spearheaded the American technological revolution with a series of inventions including the light emitted diode (LED), the transistor, the C programming language, and the UNIX computer operating system. SRI International and Xerox PARC in Silicon Valley helped give birth to the personal computer industry, while ARPA and NASA funded the development of the ARPANET and the Internet. 

Herman Hollerith was just a twenty-year-old engineer when he realized the need for a better way for the U.S. government to conduct their Census. The result of years of hard work was a punch card system that was so effective it shaved the Census time in more than half. That kick started the Tabulating Machine Company. By the 1960s, the company name was changed to International Business Machines, and IBM dominated business computing. They revolutionized the industry by bringing out the first comprehensive family of computers (the System/360) it caused many of their competitors to either merge or go bankrupt, leaving IBM in an even more dominant position. IBM is known for it’s many inventions like the floppy disk, introduced in 1971, supermarket checkout products, and introduced in 1973, the IBM 3614 Consumer Transaction Facility, an early form of today's Automatic Teller Machines. 

Robert Hutching Goddard
The "Space Age" 

Running almost in tandem with the Atomic Age has been the Space Age. American Robert Goddard was one of the first scientists to experiment with rocket propulsion systems. In his small laboratory in Worcester, Massachusetts, Goddard worked with liquid oxygen and gasoline to propel rockets into the atmosphere, and in 1926 successfully fired the world's first liquid-fuel rocket which reached a height of 12.5 meters. Over the next 10 years, Goddard's rockets achieved modest altitudes of nearly two kilometers, and interest in rocketry increased in the United States, Britain, Germany, and the Soviet Union. As Allied forces advanced during World War II, both the American and Russian forces searched for top German scientists who could be claimed as "spoils" for their country. The American effort to bring home German rocket technology in Operation Paperclip, and the bringing of German rocket scientist Wernher von Braun (who would later sit at the head of a NASA center) stand out in particular. 

Launching of Space Shuttle Columbia
Expendable rockets provided the means for launching artificial satellites, as well as manned spacecraft. In 1957 the Soviet Union launched the first satellite, Sputnik I, and the United States followed with Explorer I in 1958. The first manned space flights were made in early 1961, first by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and then by American astronaut Alan Shepard. 

From those first tentative steps, to the 1969 Apollo program landing on the Moon and the partially reusable Space Shuttle, the American space program brought forth a breathtaking display of applied science. Communications satellites transmit computer data, telephone calls, and radio and television broadcasts. Weather satellites furnish the data necessary to provide early warnings of severe storms. Global positioning satellites were first developed in the US starting around 1972, and became fully operational by 1994. Interplanetary probes and space telescopes began a golden age of planetary science and advanced a wide variety of astronomical work. 

Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Medicine and Health Care 

As in physics and chemistry, Americans have dominated the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine since World War II. The private sector has been the focal point for biomedical research in the United States, and has played a key role in this achievement. As of 2000, for-profit industry funded 57%, non-profit private organizations such as the Howard Hughes Medical Institute funded 7%, and the tax-funded National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded 36% of medical research in the U.S. However, by 2003, the NIH funded only 28% of medical research funding; funding by private industry increased 102% from 1994 to 2003. 

National Institute of Health- NIH
The NIH consists of 24 separate institutes in Bethesda, Maryland. The goal of NIH research is knowledge that helps prevent, detect, diagnose, and treat disease and disability. At any given time, grants from the NIH support the research of about 35,000 principal investigators. Five Nobel Prize-winners have made their prize-winning discoveries in NIH laboratories. NIH research has helped make possible numerous medical achievements. For example, mortality from heart disease, the number-one killer in the United States, dropped 41 percent between 1971 and 1991. The death rate for strokes decreased by 59 percent during the same period. Between 1991 and 1995, the cancer death rate fell by nearly 3 percent, the first sustained decline since national record-keeping began in the 1930s. And today more than 70 percent of children who get cancer are cured. 

America is stepping in the Gene Therapy Era
With the help of the NIH, molecular genetics and genomics research have revolutionized biomedical science. In the 1980s and 1990s, researchers performed the first trial of gene therapy in humans and are now able to locate, identify, and describe the function of many genes in the human genome. 

Research conducted by universities, hospitals, and corporations also contributes to improvement in diagnosis and treatment of disease. NIH funded the basic research on Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), for example, but many of the drugs used to treat the disease have emerged from the laboratories of the American pharmaceutical industry; those drugs are being tested in research centers across the country. 

Education in United States of America
Education in the United States

Education in the United States is provided by public schools and private schools. Public education is universally available, with control and funding coming from the state, local, and federal government. Public school curricula, funding, teaching, employment, and other policies are set through locally elected school boards, who have jurisdiction over individual school districts. State governments set educational standards and mandate standardized tests for public school systems. 

Private schools are generally free to determine their own curriculum and staffing policies, with voluntary accreditation available through independent regional accreditation authorities. 88% of school-age children attend public schools, 9% attend private schools, and nearly 3% are homeschooled. 

Education if compulsory in the United States of America
Education is compulsory over an age range starting between five and eight and ending somewhere between ages sixteen and eighteen, depending on the state. This requirement can be satisfied in public schools, state-certified private schools, or an approved home school program. In most schools, education is divided into three levels: elementary school, middle or junior high school, and high school. Children are usually divided by age groups into grades, ranging from kindergarten and first grade for the youngest children, up to twelfth grade as the final year of high school. 

There are also a large number and wide variety of publicly and privately administered institutions of higher education throughout the country. Post-secondary education, divided into college, as the first tertiary degree, and graduate school, is described in a separate section below. 

Samuel Read Hall founded 1st Normal School in USA
Government-supported and free public schools for all began to be established after the American Revolution. Between 1750 and 1870 parochial schools appeared as "ad hoc" efforts by parishes. Historically, many parochials elementary schools were developed which were open to all children in the parish, mainly Catholic, but also Lutherans, Calvinists and Orthodox Jews. Nonsectarian Common schools, designed by Horace Mann were opened, which taught the three Rs (of reading, writing, and arithmetic) and also history and geography. 

In 1823, Reverend Samuel Read Hall founded the first normal school, the Columbian School in Concord, Vermont, to improve the quality of the burgeoning common school system by producing more qualified teachers. 

The Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, now Tuskegee University
States passed laws to make schooling compulsory between 1852 (Massachusetts) and 1917 (Mississippi). They also used federal funding designated by the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Acts of 1862 and 1890 to set up land grant colleges specializing in agriculture and engineering. By 1870, every state had free elementary schools, albeit only in urban centers. 

Starting from about 1876, thirty-nine states (out of 50) passed a constitutional amendment to their state constitutions, called Blaine Amendments after James G. Blaine, one of their chief promoters, forbidding public tax money be used to fund local parochial schools. 

Charles W. Eliot, head of the committee of 10
Following the American Civil War, the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute was founded in 1881, in Tuskegee, Alabama to train "Colored Teachers", led by Booker T. Washington, (1856-1915), who was himself a freed slave. His movement spread to many other Southern states to establish small colleges for "Colored or Negro" students then (now "Black") entitled "A. & M.", ("Agricultural and Mechanical") or "A. & T.", ("Agricultural and Technical"), some of which later developed into state universities. 

Responding to many competing academic philosophies being promoted at the time, an influential working group of educators, known as the Committee of Ten was established in 1892, by the National Education Association recommended that children should receive twelve years of instruction, consisting of eight years of elementary education (also known as "grammar schools") followed by four years in high school ("freshmen", "sophomores", "juniors" and "seniors"). 

Gradually by the late 1890s, regional associations of high schools, colleges and universities were being organized to coordinate proper accrediting standards, examinations and regular surveys of various institutions to assure equal treatment in graduation and admissions requirements, course completion and transfer procedures. 

Brown v. Board of Edu outlawed segregation
By 1910, 72 percent of children attended school. Private schools spread during this time, as well as colleges and — in the rural centers — land grant colleges also. Between 1910 and 1940 the high school movement resulted in rapidly increasing public high school enrollment and graduations. By 1930, 100 percent of children attended school. 

The 1946 National School Lunch Act, which is still in operation, provided low-cost or free school lunch meals to qualified low-income students through subsidies to schools, providing the idea of a "full stomach" during the day supported class attention and studying. The 1954 Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas made racial desegregation of public elementary and high schools mandatory.

L.B Johnson at ESEA signing ceremony
private schools expanded in response to accommodate white families attempting to avoid desegregation by sending their children to private secular or religious schools. 

In 1965, the far-reaching Elementary and Secondary Education Act ('ESEA'), passed as a part of President Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty, provided funds for primary and secondary education ('Title I funding') while explicitly forbidding the establishment of a national curriculum. 

Section IV of the Act created the Pell Grant program which provides financial support to students from low-income families to access higher education. 

In 1975, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act established funding for special education in schools. 

Policy changes have also sometimes slowed equal access to higher education for poorer people. Cuts to the Pell Grant scholarship aid programs in 2012 reduced the number of low-income students who would receive grants. 

"No Child Left Behind" act was passed in 2002
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 made standardized testing a requirement. The Higher Education Amendments of 1972 made changes to the Pell Grants. The 1975 Education for All Handicapped Children Act required all public schools accepting federal funds to provide equal access to education and one free meal a day for children with physical and mental disabilities. The 1983 National Commission on Excellence in Education report, famously titled A Nation at Risk, touched off a wave of local, state, and federal reform efforts. 

The 2002 No Child Left Behind, passed by a bipartisan coalition in Congress provided federal aid to the states in exchange for measures to penalize schools that were not meeting the goals as measured by standardized state exams in mathematics and language skills. In the same year, the U.S. Supreme Court diluted some of the century-old "Blaine" laws upheld an Ohio law allowing aid to parochial schools under specific circumstances. The 2006 Commission on the Future of Higher Education evaluated higher education. 

High School Senior Classroom in Calhan, USA

In 2000, 76.6 million students had enrolled in schools from kindergarten through graduate schools. Of these, 72 percent aged 12 to 17 were considered academically "on track" for their age, i.e. enrolled in at or above grade level. Of those enrolled elementary and secondary schools, 5.2 million (10.4 percent) attended private schools. 

Over 85 percent of the adult population have completed high school and 27 percent have received a bachelor's degree or higher. The average salary for college or university graduates is greater than $51,000, exceeding the national average of those without a high school diploma by more than $23,000, according to a 2005 study by the U.S. Census Bureau. The 2010 unemployment rate for high school graduates was 10.8%; the rate for college graduates was 4.9%. 

Michigan State University Computer Center
The country has a reading literacy rate of 99% of the population over age 15, while ranking below average in science and mathematics understanding compared to other developed countries. In 2008, there was a 77% graduation rate from high school, below that of most developed countries. 

The poor performance has pushed public and private efforts such as the No Child Left Behind Act. In addition, the ratio of college-educated adults entering the workforce to general population (33%) is slightly below the mean of other developed countries (35%) and rate of participation of the labor force in continuing education is high. A 2000s (decade) study by Jon Miller of Michigan State University concluded that "A slightly higher proportion of American adults qualify as scientifically literate than European or Japanese adults". 

The US ranks 10th among industrial nations for graduates
According to the National Association of School Nurses, 17% of students are considered obese and 32% are overweight. 

The American school year traditionally begins at the end of August or the day after Labor Day in September, after a traditional summer recess. Children customarily advance together from one grade to the next as a single cohort or "class" upon reaching the end of each school year in late May or early June. 

Higher Education 

Higher education in the United States is an optional final stage of formal learning following secondary education, often at one of the 4,495 colleges or universities and junior colleges in the country. In 2008, 36% of enrolled students graduated from college in four years. 57% completed their undergraduate requirements in six years, at the same college they first enrolled in. The U.S. ranks 10th among industrial countries for percentage of adults with college degrees. 

A Classroom of University of California, USA
Like high school, the four undergraduate grades are commonly called freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior years (alternatively called first year, second year, etc.). Students traditionally apply for admission into colleges. Schools differ in their competitiveness and reputation; generally, the most prestigious schools are private, rather than public. Admissions criteria involve the rigor and grades earned in high school courses taken, the students' GPA, class ranking, and standardized test scores (Such as the SAT or the ACT tests). Most colleges also consider more subjective factors such as a commitment to extracurricular activities, a personal essay, and an interview. While colleges will rarely list that they require a certain standardized test score, class ranking, or GPA for admission, each college usually has a rough threshold below which admission is unlikely. 

Saint Anselm College's Alumni Hall, USA
Once admitted, students engage in undergraduate study, which consists of satisfying university and class requirements to achieve a bachelor's degree in a field of concentration known as a major. (Some students enroll in double majors or "minor" in another field of study.) The most common method consists of four years of study leading to a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), a Bachelor of Science (B.S.), or sometimes another bachelor's degree such as Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.), Bachelor of Social Work (B.S.W.), Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.,) or Bachelor of Philosophy (B.Phil.) Five-Year Professional Architecture programs offer the Bachelor of Architecture Degree (B.Arch.) 

Professional degrees such as law, medicine, pharmacy, and dentistry, are offered as graduate study after earning at least three years of undergraduate schooling or after earning a bachelor's degree depending on the program. These professional fields do not require a specific undergraduate major, though medicine, pharmacy, and dentistry have set prerequisite courses that must be taken before enrollment. 

A Community College awards Associate Degree
Some students choose to attend a community college for two years prior to further study at another college or university. In most states, community colleges are operated either by a division of the state university or by local special districts subject to guidance from a state agency. Community colleges may award Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AS) degree after two years. Those seeking to continue their education may transfer to a four-year college or university (after applying through a similar admissions process as those applying directly to the four-year institution. Some community colleges have automatic enrollment agreements with a local four-year college, where the community college provides the first two years of study and the university provides the remaining years of study, sometimes all on one campus. The community college awards the associate's degree, and the university awards the bachelor's and master's degrees. 

Juris Doctor Degree from Suffolk University, USA
Graduate study, conducted after obtaining an initial degree and sometimes after several years of professional work, leads to a more advanced degree such as a master's degree, which could be a Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MS), Master of Business Administration (MBA), or other less common master's degrees such as Master of Education (MEd), and Master of Fine Arts (MFA). Some students pursue a graduate degree that is in between a master's degree and a doctoral degree called a Specialist in Education (Ed.S.). 

After additional years of study and sometimes in conjunction with the completion of a master's degree and/or Ed.S. degree, students may earn a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or other doctoral degree, such as Doctor of Arts, Doctor of Education, Doctor of Theology, Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Pharmacy, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, Doctor of Podiatry Medicine, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Doctor of Psychology, or Juris Doctor. 

Some programs, such as medicine and psychology, have formal apprenticeship procedures post-graduation, such as residencies and internships, which must be completed after graduation and before one is considered fully trained. Other professional programs like law and business have no formal apprenticeship requirements after graduation (although law school graduates must take the bar exam to legally practice law in nearly all states). 

Sex Education is very common in USA
Entrance into graduate programs usually depends upon a student's undergraduate academic performance or professional experience as well as their score on a standardized entrance exam like the Graduate Record Examination (GRE-graduate schools in general), the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), or the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Many graduate and law schools do not require experience after earning a bachelor's degree to enter their programs; however, business school candidates are usually required to gain a few years of professional work experience before applying. 8.9 percent of students receive postgraduate degrees. Most, after obtaining their bachelor's degree, proceed directly into the workforce. 

Sex Education 

Almost all students in the U.S. receive some form of sex education at least once between grades 7 and 12; many schools begin addressing some topics as early as grades 4 or 5. However, what students learn varies widely, because curriculum decisions are so decentralized. Many states have laws governing what is taught in sex education classes or allowing parents to opt out. Some state laws leave curriculum decisions to individual school districts. 

Life Expectancy Rate in the USA

The United States has life expectancy of 78.4 years at birth, up from 75.2 years in 1990, ranks it 50th among 221 nations, and 27th out of the 34 industrialized OECD countries, down from 20th in 1990. Increasing obesity in the United States and health improvements elsewhere have contributed to lowering the country's rank in life expectancy from 1987, when it was 11th in the world. Obesity rates in the United States are among the highest in the world. Approximately one-third of the adult population is obese and an additional third is overweight; the obesity rate, the highest in the industrialized world, has more than doubled in the last quarter-century. Obesity-related type 2 diabetes is considered epidemic by health care professionals. The infant mortality rate of 6.06 per thousand places the United States 176th highest out of 222 countries. 

Traffic accident was 1 of most death causing factors
In 2010, coronary artery disease, lung cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, and traffic accidents caused the most years of life lost in the U.S. Low back pain, depression, musculoskeletal disorders, neck pain, and anxiety caused the most years lost to disability. The most deleterious risk factors were poor diet, tobacco smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, physical inactivity, and alcohol use. Alzheimer's disease, drug abuse, kidney disease and cancer, and falls caused the most additional years of life lost over their age-adjusted 1990 per-capita rates. U.S. teenage pregnancy and abortion rates are substantially higher than in other Western nations. 

The U.S. is a global leader in medical innovation. America solely developed or contributed significantly to 9 of the top 10 most important medical innovations since 1975 as ranked by a 2001 poll of physicians, while the EU and Switzerland together contributed to five. Since 1966, Americans have received more Nobel Prizes in Medicine than the rest of the world combined. From 1989 to 2002, four times more money was invested in private biotechnology companies in America than in Europe. 

Many people, in the US, do not carry health insurance
The U.S. health-care system far outspends any other nation, measured in both per capita spending and percentage of GDP. Health-care coverage in the United States is a combination of public and private efforts and is not universal. In 2010, 49.9 million residents or 16.3% of the population did not carry health insurance. The subject of uninsured and underinsured Americans is a major political issue. In 2006, Massachusetts became the first state to mandate universal health insurance. Federal legislation passed in early 2010 would ostensibly create a near-universal health insurance system around the country by 2014, though the bill and its ultimate impact are issues of controversy. 

Culture of the United States:

The culture of the United States is primarily Western, but is influenced by Native American, African, Asian, Polynesian, and Latin American cultures. A strand of what may be described as American culture started its formation over 10,000 years ago with the migration of Paleo-Indians from Asia, as well as from Oceania and Europe, into the region that is today the continental United States.

Molly Pitcher is a famous American folklore
The United States of America has its own unique social and cultural characteristics such as dialect, music, arts, social habits, cuisine, and folklore. 

The United States of America is an ethnically and racially diverse country as a result of large-scale migration from many ethnically and racially different countries throughout its history as well as differing birth and death rates among natives, settlers, and immigrants. 

Its chief early European influences came from English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish settlers of colonial America during British rule. British culture, due to colonial ties with Britain that spread the English language, legal system and other cultural inheritances, had a formative influence. 

Other important influences came from other parts of Europe, especially Germany, France, and Italy.

Thomas Jefferson's cultural critique
Original elements also play a strong role, such as Jeffersonian democracy. Thomas Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia was perhaps the first influential domestic cultural critique by an American and a reactionary piece to the prevailing European consensus that America's domestic originality was degenerate. Prevalent ideas and ideals that evolved domestically, such as national holidays, uniquely American sports, military tradition, and innovations in the arts and entertainment give a strong sense of national pride among the population as a whole. 

American culture includes both conservative and liberal elements, scientific and religious competitiveness, political structures, risk taking and free expression, materialist and moral elements. Despite certain consistent ideological principles (e.g. individualism, egalitarianism, and faith in freedom and democracy), American culture has a variety of expressions due to its geographical scale and demographic diversity. The flexibility of U.S. culture and its highly symbolic nature lead some researchers to categorize American culture as a mythic identity; others see it as American exceptionalism.

US as melting pot was a popular Idea in 1900s
It also includes elements that evolved from Indigenous Americans, and other ethnic cultures—most prominently the culture of African Americans, cultures from Latin America, and Asian American cultures. Many American cultural elements, especially from popular culture, have spread across the globe through modern mass media. 

The United States has traditionally been thought of as a melting pot, however beginning in the 1960s and continuing on in the present day, the country trends towards cultural diversity, pluralism and the image of a salad bowl instead. 

Due to the extent of American culture, there are many integrated but unique social subcultures within the United States. The cultural affiliations an individual in the United States may have commonly depend on social class, political orientation and a multitude of demographic characteristics such as religious background, occupation and ethnic group membership.

Regions of United States of America
Regional Variations 

Semi-distinct cultural regions of the United States include New England, the Mid-Atlantic states, the Southern United States, the Midwestern United States and the Western United States—an area that can be further subdivided, on the basis of the local culture into the Pacific States and the Mountain States. 

The western coast of the continental United States consisting of California, Oregon, and the state of Washington is also sometimes referred to as the Left Coast, indicating its left-leaning political orientation and tendency towards social liberalism.

Go to Church- a billboard in Bible Belt, USA
Southern United States are informally called "the Bible Belt" due to socially conservative evangelical Protestantism, which is a significant part of the region's culture and Christian church attendance across the denominations is generally higher there than the nation's average. This region is usually contrasted with the mainline Protestantism and Catholicism of the northeastern United States, the religiously diverse Midwest and Great Lakes, the Mormon Corridor in Utah and southern Idaho, and the relatively secular western United States. The percentage of non-religious people is the highest in the northeastern state of Vermont at 34%, compared to the Bible Belt state of Alabama, where it is 6%. 

Strong cultural differences have a long history in the U.S. with the southern slave society in the antebellum period serving as a prime example. Not only social, but also economic tensions between the Northern and Southern states were so severe that they eventually caused the South to declare itself an independent nation, the Confederate States of America; thus initiating the American Civil War.

David Hackett Fischer
Fischer's Theory 

David Hackett Fischer theorizes that the United States is made up today of four distinct regional cultures. The book's focus is on the folkways of four groups of settlers from the British Isles that emigrated from distinct regions of Britain and Ireland to the British American colonies during the 17th and 18th centuries. Fischer's thesis is that the culture and folkways of each of these groups persisted, albeit with some modification over time, providing the basis for the four modern regional cultures of the United States. 

According to Fischer, the foundation of American culture was formed from four mass migrations from four different regions of the British Isles by four distinct socio-religious groups. New England's earliest settlement period occurred between 1629 and 1640 when Puritans, mostly from East Anglia in England, settled there, forming the New England regional culture. The next mass migration was of southern English cavaliers and their Irish and Scottish domestic servants to the Chesapeake Bay region between 1640 and 1675. This facilitated the development of the Southern American culture.

Map of the Delaware Valley Region, USA
Then (between 1675 and 1725), thousands of Irish, English and German Quakers, led by William Penn, settled in the Delaware Valley. This settlement resulted in the formation of what is today considered the "General American" culture, although, according to Fischer, it is really just a regional American culture, even if it does today encompass most of the U.S. from the mid-Atlantic states to the Pacific Coast. Finally, Scotch-Irish, English and Scottish settlers from the borderlands of Britain and Ireland migrated to Appalachia between 1717 and 1775. They formed the regional culture of the Upland South, which has since spread west to such areas as West Texas and parts of the U.S. Southwest. 

Fischer suggests that the U.S. today is not a country with one General American culture and three or more regional sub-cultures. He asserts that the country is composed of just regional cultures, and that understanding that helps one to understand many things about modern American life. Fischer also makes the point that the development of these regional cultures derived not only from where exactly the settlers first came, but when they came. 

Fischer asserts that during different periods of time, a population of people will have very distinct beliefs, fears, hopes and prejudices, and that various groups of settlers brought these feelings to the New World where they more or less froze in time in America, even if they eventually changed in their place of origin.

Woodard offers a unique theory of US culture
Woodard's Theory 

Continuing the work of Fischer, Colin Woodard, in his book American Nations, claims an existence of eleven rival regional cultures in North America, based on the cultural characteristics of the original settlers of these regions. These regions are: Yankeedom, New Netherland, The Midlands, Tidewater, Greater Appalachia, The Deep South, New France, El Norte, The Left Coast, The Far West and First Nation (a region in parts of northern Canada and Alaska, and Greenland). 

According to Woodard, these regions cross and disregard formal state or even country borders. For example, he compares the Mexican border with the Berlin wall, saying that "El Norte in some ways resembles Germany during the Cold War: two peoples with a common culture separated by a large wall."

English is the most spoken language in US

Although the United States has no official language at the federal level, 28 states have passed legislation making English the official language and it is considered to be the de facto national language. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, more than 97% of Americans can speak English well, and for 81% it is the only language spoken at home. More than 300 languages besides English have native speakers in the United States—some of which are spoken by the indigenous peoples (about 150 living languages) and others imported by immigrants. 

Spanish has official status in the commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the state of New Mexico; Spanish is the primary spoken language in Puerto Rico and various smaller linguistic enclaves. According to the 2000 census, there are nearly 30 million native speakers of Spanish in the United States. Bilingual speakers may use both English and Spanish reasonably well but code-switch according to their dialog partner or context. Some refer to this phenomenon as Spanglish.

Spanish spoken at home in the United States
Indigenous languages of the United States include the Native American languages, which are spoken on the country’s numerous Indian reservations and Native American cultural events such as pow wows; Hawaiian, which has official status in the state of Hawaii; Chamorro, which has official status in the commonwealths of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands; Carolinian, which has official status in the commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands; and Samoan, which has official status in the commonwealth of American Samoa. American Sign Language, used mainly by the deaf, is also native to the country. 

The national dialect is known as American English, which itself consists of numerous regional dialects but has some shared unifying features that distinguish it from other national varieties of English. There are four large dialect regions in the United States—the North, the Midland, the South, and the West—and several smaller dialect regions such as those of New York City and Boston. A standard dialect called "General American" (analogous in some respects to the received pronunciation elsewhere in the English-speaking world), lacking the distinctive noticeable features of any particular region, is believed by some to exist as well; it is sometimes regionally associated with the vaguely-defined "Midwest".

The Famous Zenger Trial in an American Court

The right to freedom of expression in the American constitution can be traced to German immigrant John Peter Zenger and his legal fight to make truthful publications in the Colonies a protected legal right, ultimately paving the way for the protected rights of American authors. 

In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, American art and literature took most of its cues from Europe. During its early history, America was a series of British colonies on the eastern coast of the present-day United States. Therefore, its literary tradition begins as linked to the broader tradition of English literature. However, unique American characteristics and the breadth of its production usually now cause it to be considered a separate path and tradition.

James Fenimore Cooper, an American writer
America's first internationally popular writers were James Fenimore Cooper and Washington Irving in the early nineteenth century. They painted an American literary landscape full of humor and adventure. These were followed by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Henry David Thoreau who established a distinctive American literary voice in the middle of the nineteenth century. 

Mark Twain, Henry James, and poet Walt Whitman were major figures in the century's second half; Emily Dickinson, virtually unknown during her lifetime, would be recognized as America's other essential poet. Eleven U.S. citizens have won the Nobel Prize in Literature, including John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, Eugene O'Neill, Pearl S. Buck, T. S. Eliot and Sinclair Lewis. Ernest Hemingway, the 1954 Nobel laureate, is often named as one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century.

John Singer Sargent
A work seen as capturing fundamental aspects of the national experience and character—such as Herman Melville's Moby-Dick (1851), Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), and F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (1925)—may be dubbed the "Great American Novel". Popular literary genres such as the Western and hardboiled crime fiction were developed in the United States. 

Fine Arts 

In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, American artists primarily painted landscapes and portraits in a realistic style. A parallel development taking shape in rural America was the American craft movement, which began as a reaction to the Industrial Revolution. Developments in modern art in Europe came to America from exhibitions in New York City such as the Armory Show in 1913. After World War II, New York emerged as a center of the art world. Painting in the United States today covers a vast range of styles. American painting includes works by Jackson Pollock, John Singer Sargent, and Norman Rockwell, among many others.

Add Architecture in the US is diverse

Architecture in the United States is regionally diverse and has been shaped by many external forces, not only English. U.S. architecture can therefore be said to be eclectic, something unsurprising in such a multicultural society. In the absence of a single large-scale architectural influence from indigenous peoples such as those in Mexico or Peru, generations of designers have incorporated influences from around the world. Currently, the overriding theme of American Architecture is modernity, as manifest in the skyscrapers of the 20th century. 

Early Neoclassicism accompanied the Founding Father's idealization of European Enlightenment, making it the predominant architectural style for public buildings and large manors. However, in recent years, suburbanization and mass migration to the Sun Belt has allowed architecture to reflect a Mediterranean style as well.

Eugene O'neill, the father of American Drama

Theater of the United States is based in the Western tradition and did not take on a unique dramatic identity until the emergence of Eugene O'Neill in the early twentieth century, now considered by many to be the father of American drama. O'Neill is a four-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for drama and the only American playwright to win the Nobel Prize for literature. After O'Neill, American drama came of age and flourished with the likes of Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Lillian Hellman, William Inge, and Clifford Odets during the first half of the twentieth century. After this fertile period, American theater broke new ground, artistically, with the absurdist forms of Edward Albee in the 1960s. 

Social commentary has also been a preoccupation of American theater, often addressing issues not discussed in the mainstream. Writers such as Lorraine Hansbury, August Wilson, David Mamet and Tony Kushner have all won Pulitzer Prizes for their polemical plays on American society. The United States is also the home and largest exporter of modern musical theater, producing such musical talents as Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Loewe, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein, George and Ira Gershwin, Kander and Ebb, and Stephen Sondheim. Broadway is one of the largest theater communities in the world and is the epicenter of American commercial theater.

The US has many genres of dance

The United States is represented by various genres of dance, from ballet to hip-hop. 


American music styles and influences (such as country, jazz, rock and roll, rock, hip-hop, rap) and music based on them can be heard all over the world. Music in the U.S. is diverse. It includes African-American influence in the 20th century. The first half of this century is famous for jazz, introduced by African-Americans in the south. In the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, rock was prevalent.

Lumiere Brother, pioneers of modern cenima

The cinema of the United States, often generally referred to as Hollywood, has had a profound effect on cinema across the world since the early twentieth century. Its history can be separated into four main periods: the silent film era, classical Hollywood cinema, New Hollywood, and the contemporary period. 

While the Lumiere Brothers are generally credited with the birth of modern cinema, it is American cinema that has emerged as the most dominant force in the industry. 

American independent cinema was revitalized in the late 1980s and early 1990s when another new generation of moviemakers, including Spike Lee, Steven Soderbergh, Kevin Smith, and Quentin Tarantino made movies like, respectively: Do the Right Thing; Sex, Lies, and Videotape; Clerks; and Reservoir Dogs.

Fahrenheit 9/11, a controversial movie
In terms of directing, screenwriting, editing, and other elements, these movies were innovative and often irreverent, playing with and contradicting the conventions of Hollywood movies. Furthermore, their considerable financial successes and crossover into popular culture reestablished the commercial viability of independent film. Since then, the independent film industry has become more clearly defined and more influential in American cinema. Many of the major studios have capitalized on this by developing subsidiaries to produce similar films; for example Fox Searchlight Pictures. 

To a lesser degree in the early 21st century, film types that were previously considered to have only a minor presence in the mainstream movie market began to arise as more potent American box office draws. 

These include foreign-language films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero and documentary films such as Super Size Me, March of the Penguins, and Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11.

MLB is 1 of 4 professional sports leagues in US
Sports in the United States

Sports are an important part of the culture of the United States. Three of the nation's five most popular team sports were developed in North America: American football, basketball and ice hockey, whereas soccer was developed in England and baseball was developed in both Ireland and the United States. 

The four major professional sports leagues in the United States are Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Football League (NFL), and the National Hockey League (NHL); all enjoy massive media exposure and are considered the preeminent competitions in their respective sports in the world. 

Three of those leagues have teams that represent Canadian cities, and all four are among the most lucrative sports leagues in the world. 

Major League Soccer- the Logo
The top professional soccer league in the United States, Major League Soccer, has not yet reached the popularity levels of the top four sports leagues, although average attendance has been increasing and in fact has surpassed those of the NBA and the NHL. 

Professional teams in all major sports operate as franchises within a league. All major sports leagues use the same type of schedule with a playoff tournament after the regular season ends. In addition to the major league-level organizations, several sports also have professional minor leagues, active in smaller cities across the country. 

Sports are particularly associated with education in the United States, with most high schools and universities having organized sports. College sports competitions play an important role in the American sporting culture. In many cases college athletics are more popular than professional sports, with the major sanctioning body being the NCAA. 

USOC is the National Olympic Committee

The United States has sent athletes to every celebration of the modern Olympic Games, except the 1980 Summer Olympics, which it boycotted. The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) is the National Olympic Committee for the United States. 

American athletes have won a total of 2570 medals at the Summer Olympic Games and another 253 at the Winter Olympic Games. More medals have been won in athletics (track and field) (738, 29%) and swimming (489, 19%) than any others. Thomas Burke was the first athlete to represent the United States at the Olympics. He took first place in both the 100 meters and the 400 meters of the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. American athlete Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time, with 22 Olympic medals, 18 of them gold. 

US is the only country to win atleast 1 GM in every Winter Olympics
The United States has won more gold and overall medals than any other country in the Summer Games and overall. The US also has the second-most overall medals at the Winter games, trailing only Norway. Earlier United States mainly conceded to Soviet Union at summer Games and to Soviet Union, Norway, East Germany at winter Games only and now strongly fights with China only at summer Games. The United States is the only country to have won at least one gold medal at every Winter Olympics, and has won the total medal count at Lake Placid in the 1932 Winter Olympics and at Vancouver in the 2010 Winter Olympics. During the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, the United States set a record for most total medals of any country at a single Winter Olympics. 

Motor sports are widely popular in the United States
The United States has hosted both Summer and Winter Games in 1932 and most occasions of the Games among other countries - eight times, four times each for the Summer and Winter Games: 
  • 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis, 1932 Summer Olympics and 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta 
  • 1932 Winter Olympics and 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. 
Individual Sports 

Motor Sports 

Motor sports are widely popular in the United States, but Americans generally ignore major international series, such as Formula One and MotoGP, in favor of home-grown racing series.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Americans, like the rest of the world, initially began using public streets as a host of automobile races. As time progressed it was soon discovered that these venues were often unsafe to the public as they offered relatively little crowd control. Promoters and drivers in the United States discovered that horse racing tracks could provide better conditions for drivers and spectators than public streets. The result has been long standing popularity for oval track racing while road racing has waned; however, an extensive illegal street racing culture persists. 

Indianapolis 500 

Historically, open wheel racing was the most popular nationwide, with the Indianapolis 500 being the most widely followed race. However, an acrimonious split in 1994 between the primary series, CART (later known as Champ Car), and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (the site of the Indy 500) led to the formation of the Indy Racing League, which launched the rival IndyCar Series in 1996. 

The Baryan-Bob and Mike-brothers
From that point, the popularity of open wheel racing in the U.S. declined dramatically. The feud was settled in 2008 with an agreement to merge the two series under the IndyCar banner, but enormous damage had already been done to the sport. 


Tennis is a popular sport in the U.S. with the pinnacle of the sport in the country being the US Open. Tennis is popular in all five categories (Men's and Ladies' Singles; Men's, Ladies' and Mixed Doubles); however, the most popular are the singles. The United States has had a lot of success in tennis for many years, with players such as Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, and Pete Sampras dominating their sport in the past. More recently, the Williams sisters, Venus Williams and Serena Williams, have been a strong force in the women's game, and twin brothers Bob and Mike Bryan hold almost all significant career records for men's doubles teams. 

An NFL American Football Match
Popular Team sports 

The most popular team sports in the United States are American football, basketball, baseball/softball, soccer, and ice hockey. All five of these team sports are popular with fans, have a fully professional league, are played by millions of Americans, and enjoy varsity status at many Division 1 colleges. 

American Football 

American football, known within the U.S. simply as football, has the most participants of any sport at both high school and college levels. The NFL is the preeminent professional football league in the United States. The NFL has 32 franchises divided into two conferences. After a 16-game regular season, each conference sends six teams to the NFL Playoffs, which eventually culminate in the league's championship game, the Super Bowl. 

A college football match Colorado State v. Air Force
Millions watch college football throughout the fall months, and some communities, particularly in rural areas, place great emphasis on their local high school football teams. The popularity of college and high school football in areas such as the Southern United States (Southeastern Conference) and the Great Plains stems largely from the fact that these areas historically generally did not possess markets large enough for a professional team. Nonetheless, college football has a rich history in the United States, predating the NFL by decades, and fans and alumni are generally very passionate about their teams. 

During football season in the fall, fans have the opportunity to watch high school games on Fridays and Saturdays, college football on Saturdays, and NFL games on Sundays, the usual playing day of the professional teams. However, some colleges play games on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, while the NFL offers weekly games on Monday (since 1970) and Thursday (since 2006). Between September and Thanksgiving weekend, there is at least one nationally televised college or professional football game every day. Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest annual sporting event held in the United States. The Super Bowl itself is always among the highest-rated programs off all-time in the Nielsen ratings. 

Tom Brady, a notable NFL player
Notable NFL players include Larry Csonka, Roger Staubach, Dick Butkus, Joe Greene, Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas, Walter Payton, Steve Young, Jerry Rice, Brett Favre, Emmitt Smith, and Ray Lewis. Notable current NFL players include Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Adrian Peterson. 

Indoor American football, a form of football played in indoor arenas, has several professional and semi-professional leagues. The Arena Football League, which plays by the formerly proprietary code of arena football, was active from 1987 to 2008 and folded in 2009, but several teams from the AFL and its former minor league, af2, relaunched the league in 2010. Most other extant indoor leagues date to the mid-2000s (decade) and are regional in nature. 

The Canadian Football League has a niche market in the United States; the league has not had any teams in the United States since the mid-1990s but has had at least some television coverage continuously since 2004. 

Team Washington Redskins on the field
Nationwide, the NFL obtains the highest television ratings for regular and post-season games among major sports. This situation began in the late 1960s and early 1970's with the establishment of the Super Bowl and merger of the existing professional leagues, the old NFL and the American Football League, into one NFL league. Since then, watching NFL games on television on Sunday afternoons has become a common routine for many Americans during the football season. Among the professional American football teams in the NFL which have become practically identified with their host cities are the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Dallas Cowboys, the Green Bay Packers and the Washington Redskins. It could also be said that college football (i.e. NCAA) enjoys unparalleled popularity in the southeastern states, where there are fewer professional teams in the major sports leagues. In many of these areas, college football is the most avidly followed sport, with the Saturday college games being the biggest event of the week. 

Fenway Park, the oldest stadium in major league baseball

Baseball and the variant, softball, are popular participatory sports in the U.S. The highest level of baseball in the U.S. is Major League Baseball. The World Series of Major League Baseball is the culmination of the sport's postseason each October. It is played between the winner of each of the two leagues, the American League and the National League, and the winner is determined through a best-of-seven playoff. 

Notable American baseball players in history include Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Cy Young, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax, Yogi Berra, Hank Aaron, Nolan Ryan, Cal Ripken, Roger Clemens, and Jackie Robinson, who was instrumental in dissolving the color line and allowing African-Americans into the major leagues. The more noted players of today include Derek Jeter and Albert Pujols. 

Basketball was invented by James Naismith

Of those Americans citing their favorite sport, basketball is ranked second (counting amateur levels) behind football. However, in regards to professional sports the NBA is ranked third in popularity. More Americans play basketball than any other team sport, according to the National Sporting Goods Association, with over 26 million Americans playing basketball. Basketball was invented in 1891 by physical education teacher James Naismith in Springfield, Massachusetts. 

The National Basketball Association, more popularly known as the NBA, is the world's premier men's professional basketball league and one of the major professional sports leagues of North America. It contains 30 teams (29 teams in the U.S. and 1 in Canada) that play an 82-game season from October to June. After the regular season, eight teams from each conference compete in the playoffs for the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy. The American Basketball Association, active from 1967 until 1976, when it merged with the NBA, was the last major competitor of the NBA. 

US men's national basketball team at the 2008 summer Olympics
Since the 1992 Summer Olympics, NBA players have represented the United States in international competition and won several important tournaments. The Dream Team was the unofficial nickname of the United States men's basketball team that won the gold medal at the 1992 Olympics. 

Basketball at both the college and high school levels is popular throughout the country. Every March, a 68-team, six-round, single-elimination tournament (commonly called March Madness) determines the national champions of NCAA Division I men's college basketball. 

Most U.S. states also crown state champions among their high schools. Many high school basketball teams have intense local followings, especially in the Midwest and Upper South. Indiana has 10 of the 12 largest high school gyms in the United States, and is famous for its basketball passion, known as Hoosier Hysteria. 

Kareem Abdul Jabbar, a notable NBA player
Notable NBA players in history include Wilt Chamberlain (4 time MVP), Bill Russell (5 time MVP), Bob Pettit (11 time all NBA team), Bob Cousy (12 time all NBA team), Walt Frazier, Jerry West, (12 time all NBA team), Julius Erving, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (6 time MVP), Magic Johnson (3 time MVP), Larry Bird (3 time MVP), Michael Jordan (6 time finals MVP), John Stockton (#1 in career assists and steals), Karl Malone (14 time all NBA team), Shaquille O'Neal (3 time finals MVP) and Jason Kidd (#2 in career assists and steals). Notable players in the NBA today include Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Tim Duncan, Kevin Durant, Paul George, Dwyane Wade, James Harden, Dwight Howard, Demarcus Cousins, Blake Griffin and Carmelo Anthony. 

Ever since the 1990's, an increasing number of players born outside the United States have signed with NBA teams, sparking league interest in different parts of the world. Among the notable foreign-born players in the NBA today are two-time MVP Steve Nash (a South Africa-born Canadian), 2007 Finals MVP Tony Parker (France), and 11 time all-star Dirk Nowitzki (Germany), the first European to win the NBA Most Valuable Player Award. 

Michael Jordan with hi coach Phil Jackson
Aside from its huge popularity as a high school and college sport in Indiana and Kentucky, basketball may also be the most popular professional sport in cities during particular periods when the local NBA team may be enjoying an era of remarkable success, such as in Chicago during the dynasty days of the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan during the 1990s, or in Los Angeles ever since the Los Angeles Lakers developed as a perennial powerhouse and title contender since the 1980's, becoming the most popular sports team in the city and the league's glamor team in part due to the many Hollywood stars regularly attending their games. Professional basketball is also primarily followed in cities where there are no other sports teams in the four major professional leagues, such as in the case of the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Sacramento Kings, the San Antonio Spurs, or the Portland Trail Blazers. New York City has also had a long historical connection with college and professional basketball, and many basketball legends initially developed their reputations playing in the many playgrounds throughout the city. Madison Square Garden, the home arena of the New York Knicks, is often referred to as the "Mecca of basketball." 

Soccer is increasing in popularity in the US

Soccer (called "football" in most of the world), although not as popular in the U.S. as certain American sports such as baseball and American football, has been increasing in popularity in recent years. Soccer is played by over 13 million people in the U.S., making it the third most played sport in the U.S. Most Division 1 colleges field both a men's and women's varsity soccer team. Many American sports fans, as compared to decades ago, now follow international competitions such as the World Cup, and club competitions such as the UEFA Champions League and England's Premier League, and there is growing interest in the top local professional league, Major League Soccer. 

The United States men's and women's senior national teams, as well as a number of national youth teams for both sexes, represent the United States in international soccer competitions and are governed by the United States Soccer Federation (U.S. Soccer). The U.S. men's team is one of only seven teams in the world to have qualified for every World Cup since 1990. 

A Football Stadium in America
Major League Soccer is the premier soccer league in the United States. MLS has 19 clubs (16 from the U.S., 3 from Canada). The 34-game schedule runs from mid-March to late October, with the playoffs and championship in November. Soccer-specific stadiums continue to be built for MLS teams around the country. Other professional soccer leagues in the U.S. include the Division II North American Soccer League, the Division III USL Pro, and the Major Indoor Soccer League. 

Women's professional soccer has not seen sustained success. The first two attempts at fully professional leagues—the Women's United Soccer Association and Women's Professional Soccer—each folded after playing three seasons. U.S. Soccer has since established a new professional league, the National Women's Soccer League, which started in 2013. However, at the lower levels of the salary scale, the NWSL is effectively semi-professional. The new league has financial and operational backing from U.S. Soccer, and additional financial support from the Canadian Soccer Association and Mexican Football Federation. 

Pele played in NASL
Many notable international soccer players have played in NASL — including Pelé, the Brazlian football legend, Eusébio, George Best, Franz Beckenbauer, and Johan Cruyff — or in MLS — including Roberto Donadoni, Lothar Matthäus, David Beckham, Thierry Henry, and Robbie Keane. Notable international women to have played professionally in the U.S. include Marta, Birgit Prinz, and Christine Sinclair. 

The best American soccer players enter the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame. Particularly notable American players, past and present, include Bert Patenaude, Kyle Rote, Jr., Shep Messing, Roy Lassiter, Alexi Lalas, Cobi Jones, Tony Meola, Eric Wynalda, Brad Friedel, Brian McBride, Kasey Keller, Jeff Cunningham, Claudio Reyna, Eddie Pope, Landon Donovan, and Clint Dempsey. Notable female American players include Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, Brandi Chastain, Julie Foudy, Michelle Akers, Christie Rampone, Abby Wambach, Hope Solo, and Alex Morgan. 

Beach Volleyball has become popular

Volleyball is also a notable sport in the United States, especially at the college and university levels. Unlike most Olympic sports which are sponsored widely at the collegiate level for both sexes, the support for college volleyball is dramatically skewed in favor of the women's game. 

In the 2011–12 school year, over 300 schools in NCAA Division I alone (the highest of three NCAA tiers) sponsored women's volleyball at the varsity level, while fewer than 100 schools in all three NCAA divisions combined sponsored varsity men's volleyball, with only 23 of them in Division I. This is partially due to Title IX; female-oriented sports such as volleyball help balance a college's athletic opportunities for women with those for men. 

Beach volleyball has increasingly become popular in the United States, in part due to media exposure during the Olympic Games. 

A Rugby Match in the United States
Rugby Union 

Rugby union, popular in other English-speaking nations, is not as well known in the United States. Rugby is played recreationally and in colleges, though it is not governed by the NCAA There are more than 457,983 registered and unregistered players, with more than a quarter being women. The semi-professional Rugby Super League is the premier domestic competition. The U.S. national team competes at the Rugby World Cup. In the sevens variation of the sport, the men's national team is one of 15 "core teams" that participate in every event of the annual IRB Sevens World Series, and the women's national team is one of nine core teams in the IRB Women's Sevens World Series. 

Rugby participation in the US has grown significantly in recent years, growing by 350% between 2004 and 2011. A 2010 survey by the National Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association ranked rugby as the fastest growing sport in the US. 

USA vs Tonga in 2007 Rugby World Cup
Rugby's profile in the U.S. has received a tremendous boost from the IOC's announcement in 2009 that rugby would return to the Olympics in 2016. Since the Olympic announcement, rugby events such as the Collegiate Rugby Championship, the USA Sevens, and the Rugby World Cup have been broadcast on network TV. The USA Sevens, held every year in February, regularly draws more than 60,000 fans to Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. Two recent American presidents have been rugby players. Bill Clinton developed an interest in rugby in England, playing at Oxford University. George W. Bush was a keen player, during high school and University, and was on Yale's 1st XV, and in 1968, he was part of their dramatic win over Harvard. 

A Water Polo Match
Water Polo 

Water polo is a team water sport. The playing team consists of six field players and one goalkeeper. The winner of the game is the team that scores the most goals by getting the ball past the opposing team's goalkeeper into the net. Gameplay involves swimming, players passing the ball while being defended by opponents, and scoring by throwing into a net defended by a goalie. Water polo, therefore, has strong similarities to the land-based game of team handball. The frequency of 'man-up' (or 'power play') situations also draws comparisons with Ice hockey. 


Cricket, another common sport in Commonwealth countries, is not a popular sport in the U.S. Many amateur cricket leagues have been formed by Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Australian, South African, English and Caribbean (more specifically Commonwealth Caribbean) immigrants, and as a result, the sport has made limited inroads into the mainstream sports community because of a large influx of migrants from cricketing countries who make up almost 16 million of the American population. 

Cricket was the most popular sport in 18th century
Cricket used to be the most popular sport in America during the 18th century, 19th and early 20th centuries, when it suffered a rapid decline. In fact the first intercollegiate tournament in America was a cricket tournament. The first annual Canada vs. U.S. cricket match, played since the 1840s, was attended by 10,000 spectators at Bloomingdale Park in New York. The U.S. vs. Canada cricket match is the oldest international sporting event in the modern world, predating even today's Olympic Games by nearly 50 years. The U.S. participated in the 2004 ICC Champions Trophy where they were comprehensively beaten in matches against Australia and New Zealand. United States of America Cricket Association governs the professional Cricket in the country and are an associate member of International Cricket Council. 

Cricket is slowly growing in popularity in the US
United States Cricket team currently plays in World Cricket League Division IV to work their way up to 2013 Cricket World Cup Qualifier in order to enter 2015 Cricket World Cup. In 2011, they played Americas Region Twenty20 Division One tournament and qualified for the 2012 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier. United States Cricket team also plays in the ICC Americas Championship and were qualified for ICC Intercontinental Cup in the past. United States Youth Cricket Association formed in 2010 to develop the interest in sport among the young kids. Women's cricket is one of the plans of USACA but it is a long road to build the infra-structure. Cricket is one of the most watched pay per view sports in the U.S., and multiple channels are provided by DirecTv, Dish Network and Comcast TV services. Starting 2012, ESPN will broadcast Cricket on ESPN3 and on its regular channels. 

The only professional Cricket Stadium in the U.S. is Central Broward Regional Park located in Lauderhill, Florida. The Leo Magnus Cricket Complex in Los Angeles and Philadelphia Cricket Club in Philadelphia are few other established Cricket Grounds in the country that could qualify to play professional Cricket. Compton Cricket Club is a private club in Los Angeles that uses Cricket to promote Peace and good will among the troubled neighborhood of Compton. 

Disc Ultimate match in America
Ultimate and Disc Sports (Frisbee) 

Alternative sports, using the flying disc, began in the mid-sixties. As numbers of young people became alienated from social norms, they resisted and looked for alternative recreational activities, including that of throwing a Frisbee. What started with a few players like Victor Malafronte, Z Weyand and Ken Westerfield experimenting with new ways of throwing and catching a Frisbee, later would become known as playing freestyle. Organized disc sports, in the 1970s, began with promotional efforts from Wham-O, a few tournaments and professionals using Frisbee show tours to perform at universities, fairs and sporting events. Disc sports such as freestyle, double disc court, guts, disc ultimate and disc golf became this sports first events. Two events, the team sport of disc ultimate and disc golf are very popular worldwide and are now being played semi professionally. The World Flying Disc Federation, Professional Disc Golf Association, and the Freestyle Players Association, are the official rules and sanctioning organizations for flying disc sports worldwide. 

Australian Rules Football match in the US
Disc ultimate is a team sport played with a flying disc. The object of the game is to score points by passing the disc to members of your own team, on a rectangular field, 120 yards (110m) by 40 yards (37m), until you have successfully completed a pass to a team member in the opposing teams end zone. There are currently over four million people that play some form of organized ultimate in the US. Ultimate is also being played semi professionally with two newly formed leagues, the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) and Major League Ultimate (MLU). 

Other Sports 

Australian rules football in the United States is a fast growing team and spectator sport that was first played in the country in 1996. The United States Australian Football League is the governing body for the sport in the U.S., with various clubs and leagues around the country. The National Championships are held annually. The United States men's national Australian rules football team and the women's national team both regularly play international matches and play in the Australian Football International Cup, a tournament for all competing countries apart from Australia. 

Team Handball is not a popular game in the US
Curling is popular in northern states, possibly because of climate, proximity to Canada, or Scandinavian heritage. The national popularity of curling is growing after significant media coverage of the sport in the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics. 

Gaelic football and hurling are governed by North American GAA and New York GAA. They do not have a high profile, but are developing sports, with New York fielding a representative team in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship. 

Team handball, a common sport in European countries, is not a popular sport in the U.S. The sport is mostly played in the country on the amateur level. Handball is not a NCAA sport, but is played in the Summer Olympics. The sport's governing body is USA Team Handball. 

Angleball match in the United States of America
Inline hockey was invented by Americans as a way to play the sport in all climates. The PIHA is the league with the largest number of professional teams in the nation. Street hockey is a non-standard version of inline hockey played by amateurs in informal games. 

Other Team Recreational Activities

Angleball is a high fitness sport developed in the 1940s by College Hall of Fame football coach Rip Engle as a way for players to maintain physical fitness in the off-season. It has light contact and minimal rules. Angleball is used for muscle conditioning in the NFL, and for fun by colleges, schools, camps and all-age groups. Because of angleball's light contact gameplay that emphasizes skill, accuracy and endurance, it has been called the best game ever developed for groups up to 40 composed of mixed ages and genders. Angleball gameplay is simple. Two large balls are placed atop standards (normally 10' tall posts with a 10' radius circle around the post) at opposite sides of a field. Teams pass a smaller ball back and forth, attempting to knock the other team's ball off its perch with the smaller ball. An offensive player who is touched by a defensive player cannot shoot for a goal and has three seconds to pass the ball. 

Capture the flag is played recreationally by adults and children.

Kickball is traditionally played in elementary school level
Dodgeball is played traditionally by children in school, though adult leagues in urban areas have formed within the past 10 years. A caricatured version was portrayed in the 2004 film comedy Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. 

Kickball is also played recreationally by adults and children, especially at the elementary school level. Its rules are largely identical to baseball, except that no bat is used and instead a large rubber ball is rolled along the ground for the "batter" to kick. 

Roller derby is a fast-growing contact sport played on roller skates. Roller Derby was portrayed in the 2009 film Whip It and in the 2012 documentary "Derby, Baby! A story of love, addiction and rink rash" Since September 2009, there were 350 women's, men's, and junior leagues in the U.S.A. There are multiple Associations that govern roller derby: JRDA = Junior Roller Derby Association MADE = Modern Athletic Derby Endeavor MRDA = Men's Roller Derby Association OSDA = Old School Derby Association RDCL = Roller Derby Coalition of Leagues USARS = USA Roller Sports WFTDA = Women's Flat Track Derby Association WFTDA-AL = WFTDA Apprentice.

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