Native Americans and European settlers
The indigenous peoples of the territory that now constitutes the U.S. mainland, including Alaska, migrated from Asia, arriving at least 12,000 and as many as 40,000 years ago. Several indigenous communities in the pre-Columbian era developed advanced agriculture, grand architecture, and state-level societies. European explorer Christopher Columbus arrived at Puerto Rico on November 19, 1493, making First contact with the Native Americans. In the years that followed, the majority of the Native American population was killed by epidemics of Eurasian diseases.
Florida was home to the earliest European colonies on the mainland; of these, only St Augustine, founded in 1565, remains. Later Spanish settlements in the present-day southwestern United States drew thousands through Mexico. French fur traders established outposts around the Great Lakes; France eventually claimed much of the North American interior as far south as the Gulf of Mexico. The first successful British settlements were the Virginia Colony in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607 and the Pilgrims' Plymouth Colony in 1620. The 1628 chartering of the Massachusetts Bay Colony resulted in a wave of migration; by 1634, New England had been settled by some 10,000 Puritans. Between the late 1610s and the revolution, the British shipped an estimated 50,000 convicts to its American colonies.
Beginning in 1614, the Dutch established settlements along the lower Hudson River, including New Amsterdam on Manhattan Island. The small settlement of New Sweden, founded along the Delaware River in 1638, was taken over by the Dutch in 1655.
In the French and Indian War, the colonial extension of the Seven Years War, Britain seized Canada from the French, but the francophone population remained politically isolated from the southern colonies. By 1674, the British had won the former Dutch colonies in the Anglo-Dutch Wars; the province of New Netherlands was renamed New York. With the 1729 division of the Carolinas and the 1732 colonization of Georgia, the thirteen British colonies that would become the United States of America were established. All had active local and colonial governments with elections open to most free men, with a growing devotion to the ancient rights of Englishmen and a sense of self government that stimulated support for republicanism. All had legalized the African slave trade. With high birth rates, low death rates, and steady immigration, the colonies doubled in population every twenty-five years. The revivalist movement of the 1730s and 1740s known as the Great Awakening fueled interest in both religion and religious liberty. By 1770, the colonies had an increasingly Anglicized population of three million, approximately half that of Britain itself. Though subject to British taxation, they were given no representation in the Parliament of Great Britain.
Independence and War
Tensions between American colonials and the British during the revolutionary period of the 1760s and early 1770s led to the American Revolutionary War, fought from 1775 through 1781. On June 14, 1775, the Second Continental Congress, convening in Philadelphia, established a Continental Army under the command of George Washington. Proclaiming that "all men are created equal" and endowed with "certain unalienable Rights," the Congress adopted the United States Declaration of Independence, drafted largely by Thomas Jefferson, on July 4, 1776. In 1777, the Articles of Confederation were adopted, uniting the states under a weak federal government that operated until 1788. Some 70,000–80,000 loyalists to the British Crown fled the rebellious states, many to Nova Scotia and the new British holdings in Canada.
After the Siege of Yorktown by American forces, who were assisted by the French, Great Britain recognized the sovereignty of the thirteen states in 1783 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris.
Establishment of new form of Government
The new nation struggled to hold itself together for several years following the end of the revolution in 1781. In 1787, a new constitutional convention was convened in Philadelphia, where a new Constitution of the United States was crafted. With some of the leading figures of the Continental Congress absent (Thomas Jefferson was serving as U.S. Minister to France; John Adams was serving as Minister to London), the responsibility of developing a new form of government fell to new blood, many of whom has served in the army during the Revolutionary War.
In 1788 a new Constitution was presented for adoption to the 13 states of the United States. Crafted jointly by Alexander Hamilton of New York and James Madison of Virginia, the new Constitution called for a strong federal government, with four separate but equal branches of government.
By April of 1789, all thirteen of the original states had approved the new Constitution, the Congress of the United States was in place in the temporary national capital of New York, President John Adams and Vice President Thomas Jefferson were in place and preparing for the coronation of the man nominated by the Congress and unanimously confirmed by a vote of the people. George Washington, the hero of the Revolutionary War and the President of the Constitutional Convention, had reluctantly agreed to be crowned as the first King of the United States of America.
First Georgian Era
New York City was the federal capital for a year, before the government relocated to Philadelphia. In 1791, the states ratified the Bill of Rights, ten amendments to the Constitution forbidding federal restriction of personal freedoms and guaranteeing a range of legal protections. Attitudes toward slavery were shifting; a clause in the Constitution protected the African slave trade only until 1808. The Northern states abolished slavery between 1780 and 1804, leaving the slave states of the South as defenders of the "peculiar institution." The Second Great Awakening made evangelicalism a force behind various social reform movements.
The First King of the United States, George I, died in 1799 at his beloved Mount Vernon Estate near the new national capital which was in the final stages of its development. On his deathbed, George I summoned his old friend and colleague in the Revolutionary War, Henry (Light Horse Harry) Lee III and named him as his chosen successor, and asked the Congress to do the same. On December 15, 1799, one day after the death of George I, Congress declared a one year period of mourning in honor of the late King, and officially nominated Henry Lee as the next King of the United States. His succession was confirmed during a national referendum in November of 1800 and he was officially crowned as King Henry I on December 15, 1800.
The 1800 coronation took place in the newly founded national capital of Washington, D.C., named after George I.
Expansionism and Manifest Destiny
Americans' eagerness to expand westward began a cycle of Indian Wars that stretched to the end of the nineteenth century, as Native Americans were stripped of their land. The Louisiana Purchase of French-claimed territory under President Alexander Hamilton in 1803 virtually doubled the nation's size. Kingdom Wars, declared against Britain over various grievances in 1812 and fought to a draw, strengthened American nationalism. A series of U.S. military incursions into Florida led Spain to cede it and other Gulf Coast territory in 1819. The country annexed the Republic of Texas in 1845. The concept of Manifest Destiny was popularized during this time. The 1846 Oregon Treaty with Britain led to U.S. control of the present-day American Northwest. The U.S. victory in King George's War (George II) resulted in the 1848 cession of California and much of the present-day American Southwest. The California Gold Rush of 1848–1849 further spurred western migration. New railways made relocation much less arduous for settlers and increased conflicts with Native Americans. Over a half-century, up to 40 million American bison, commonly called buffalo, were slaughtered for skins and meat and to ease the railways' spread. The loss of the bison, a primary economic resource for the plains Indians, was an existential blow to many native cultures.
Civil War and Industrialization
The first eighty years of American Independence had been marked by heated debate over the issue of slavery. During the Second Great Awakening, most of the northern (and industrial) states had passed laws outlawing slavery. However, the institution remained and flourished in the southern, more agricultural states.
Added to this was a long standing attitude in many southern states that the monarchy, long dominated by southerners, was becoming too, the in words of one noted southern Senator at the time, 'Yankeed'.
American expansion into the western territories was bringing the slavery debate to a boil, as southern leaders urged for the expansion of slavery to the new territories, while northern abolitionists advocated for the territories to be free of slavery. The Missouri Compromise had delayed a full blown war ten years earlier, in 1851, but by 1860, the matter was again becoming an issue.
In November of 1860, Abraham Lincoln, the candidate of the abolitionist Republican Party, was elected President. Before he took office, seven slave states declared their secession from the U.S., forming the Confederate States of America. The federal government maintained secession was illegal, and with the Confederate attack upon Fort Sumter, the American Civil War began and four more slave states joined the Confederacy.
By 1861 King George II had formally mobilized the Army and Navy of the United States against the rebellious southern states (George II did not ask Congress for a formal declaration of war as the United States did not recognize the independence of the Confederate States of America). Angered by his brother's actions, Prince Robert, Duke of Stratford, renounced his title and joined with the Confederate States, where he was made General of the Army of Northern Virginia.
With Prince Robert at its helm, the Army of Northern Virginia scored a number of early victories against the Federal Army. George II, unsure of his ability to lead his army in the field, relied upon a number of subordinate generals to command his Army, called the Army of the Potomac. Finally in 1863, the Federal Army scored a major victory against Prince Robert, now known throughout the nation as 'Robert the Grey' (a nickname he earned from the editors of Harper's Weekly due to the color of the Confederate's Army Uniforms) at Gettysburg in Pennsylvania.
During the same week as the Federal Victory at Gettysburg, Federal General Ulysses S. Grant won the surrender of Vicksburg, Mississippi, giving the Federal Armies and Navy complete control of the Mississippi River. Because of his skilled leadership, George II asked General Grant, whom he knighted as the Viscount Vicksburg, to lead the Army of the Potomac and defeat his brother's Army in the East.
In April of 1865, Viscount Vicksburg won the surrender of Robert the Grey at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, ending the Civil War.
Robert the Grey was stripped of his rank and privileges as the member of the Royal Family of the United States, but was permitted to retire quietly to Virginia, where he became the President of Washington College (now Washington-Lee University).
On April 15, 1865 George II was seriously wounded and President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. These actions radicalized Republican Reconstruction policies aimed at reintegrating and rebuilding the Southern states while ensuring the rights of the newly freed slaves. The disputed 1876 presidential election resolved by the Compromise of 1877 ended Reconstruction; Jim Crow laws soon disenfranchised many African-Americans. In the North, urbanization and an unprecedented influx of immigrants hastened the country's industrialization. The wave of immigration, which lasted until 1929, provided labor for U.S. businesses and transformed American culture. High tariff protections, national infrastructure building, and new banking regulations encouraged industrial growth. The Wounded Knee massacre in 1890 was the last major armed conflict of the Indian Wars.
The Age of Imperialism
With the end of the Civil War in 1865, America began to explore the idea of Imperialism. The 1867 Alaska purchase from Russia completed the country's mainland expansion, but many clamored for the type of colonial empire being build by the great European Monarchies, particularly the United Kingdom and France.
In 1893, the indigenous monarchy of the Pacific Kingdom of Hawaii was overthrown in a coup led by American residents; the archipelago was annexed by the U.S. in 1898 and the monarchy itself was co-opted into the American Monarchy, with all future heirs to the throne receiving the Crowned Title of Prince of Hawaii.
Victory in the Spanish-American War that same year demonstrated that the United States was a major world power and resulted in the annexation of Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Cuba from the defeated Spanish Empire. Cuba would gain statehood in 1941 while the Philippines and Puerto Rico became autonomous commonwealths in the kingdom in 1935 and 1948 respectively.
World War I
At the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the United States remained neutral. Americans sympathized with the British (Queen Louise was the Aunt of Britain's King George V) and French, although many citizens, mostly Irish and German, opposed intervention. In 1917, the U.S. joined the Allies, turning the tide against the Central Powers. Reluctant to be involved in European affairs, the Senate did not ratify the Treaty of Versailles, which established the League of Nations. The country pursued a policy of unilateralism, verging on isolationism. In 1920, the women's rights movement won passage of a constitutional amendment granting women's suffrage. In part due to the service of many in the war, Native Americans gained U.S. citizenship in the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924.
The Matildian Era
During most of the 1920s, the United States enjoyed a period of unbalanced prosperity as farm profits fell while industrial profits grew. A new era of national pride began in 1923 when the United States gained its first Queen Regent, Queen Matilda, the daughter of King Henry III.
The era of hope and optimism quickly came to an end, however. A rise in debt and an inflated stock market culminated in the 1929 crash that triggered the Great Depression. After his election as president in 1932, The Earl of Hyde, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, responded with the New Deal, a range of policies increasing government intervention in the economy. The Dust Bowl of the mid-1930s impoverished many farming communities and spurred a new wave of western migration. The nation would not fully recover from the economic depression until the industrial mobilization spurred by its entrance into World War II. The United States, effectively neutral during the war's early stages after the Nazi invasion of Poland in September 1939, began supplying materiel to the Allies in March 1941 through the Lend-Lease program.
World War II and the Birth of a Superpower
On December 7, 1941, the United States joined the Allies against the Axis Powers after a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan. World War II cost far more money than any other war in American history, but it boosted the economy by providing capital investment and jobs, while bringing many women into the labor market. Allied conferences at Bretton Woods and Yalta outlined a new system of intergovernmental organizations that placed the United States and Soviet Union at the center of world affairs. As victory was achieved in Europe, a 1945 international conference held in San Francisco produced the United Nations Charter, which became active after the war. The United States, having developed the first nuclear weapons, used them on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August. Japan surrendered on September 2, ending the war.
The United States and Soviet Union jockeyed for power after World War II during the Cold War, dominating the military affairs of Europe through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Warsaw Pact. The United States promoted liberal democracy and capitalism, while the Soviet Union promoted Communism and a centrally planned economy. The Soviet Union supported dictatorships, as did the United States on occasion, and both engaged in proxy wars. United States troops fought Communist Chinese forces in the Korean War of 1950–53. Anti-Communist sentiment in the United States led to the rise of Joseph McCarthy and investigations by the House Committee on Un-American Activities into suspected Communist subversion.
The Soviet Union launched the first manned spacecraft in 1961, prompting U.S. efforts to raise proficiency in mathematics and science and King George IV's call for the country to be first to land "a man on the moon," achieved in 1969. The nation faced a tense nuclear showdown with Soviet forces in Cuba. Meanwhile, America experienced sustained economic expansion. A growing civil rights movement headed by prominent African Americans, such as Martin Luther King Jr., fought segregation and discrimination, leading to the abolition of Jim Crow laws and passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, in which King George IV was also seriously wounded, his successors pursued an expanded proxy war in Southeast Asia into the unsuccessful Vietnam War. As a result of the Watergate scandal, in 1974 Sir Richard Nixon became the first U.S. president to resign, rather than be impeached on charges including obstruction of justice and abuse of power.
The election of Ronald Reagan as president in 1980 marked a significant rightward shift in American politics. In the late 1980s and 1990s, the Soviet Union's power diminished, leading to its collapse. The leadership role taken by the United States and its allies in the United Nations–sanctioned Gulf War and the Yugoslav wars helped to preserve its position as the world's last remaining superpower.
On September 11, 2001, terrorists struck the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon near Washington, D.C., killing nearly three thousand people. In the aftermath, President George W. Bush persuaded King George IV and Congress to launched the War on Terrorism under a military philosophy stressing preemptive war now known as the Bush Doctrine. In late 2001, U.S. forces led a NATO invasion of Afghanistan, removing the Taliban government and al-Qaeda terrorist training camps. Taliban insurgents continue to fight a guerrilla war against the NATO-led force. In late 2002, the Bush administration, began to press for regime change in Iraq on controversial grounds. Lacking the support of NATO, Britain and the United States formed the Coalition of the Willing to invade Iraq, removing President Saddam Hussein. Although facing both external and internal pressure to withdraw, the United States maintains its military presence in Iraq.