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USA. THE HISTORIC REVIEW
1. The first settlers in North America.
2. The American colonies. Their struggle for the Independence.
3. The War of Independence
4. The USA after the war of Independence. The Civil War.
1. The USA was originally inhabited by Indians, and was opened to Europe by the 1st voyage of Christopher Columbus in 1492. The Indians had arrived about 10000 to 30000 years before, coming from Asia to North America by way of the Bering Strait. The Vikings from Scandinavia visited the continent of North America almost a thousand years ago in the 11th century. Leif Erickson called it “Vineland” (from the “vine”, which grew widely in this part of the country). This discovery wasn’t well-known in Europe. The American continent was named after Amerigo Vespucci, a nobleman from Florence who helped to organize Columbus’s second voyage in 1493. After Columbus there were many trips of exploration, by the Spanish, the Dutch, the French and the English. The first permanent white settlement in North America was founded at St. Augustine in Florida by the Spaniards in 1565, and the 1st permanent English colony Jamestown was established in 1607 in Virginia. The Red Indians did much to help the white settlers in the new land, but when the white began to take their lands the Indians began to fight for their rights. They were defeated because they didn’t have the weapons which the white settlers had. An important event in the colonization of North America took place in 1620 when a group of colonies known as the Pilgrim Fathers came to North America on the famous ship the “Mayflower”. The Pilgrim Fathers were Separatists in England or members of the Puritan movement. They arrived to America in December and landed in Plymouth. That was the beginning of the 2nd English Settlement in America. Today the people once called American Indians prefer to be called Native Americans. The influence of Indian cultures is great evident in American English. Thousands of mountains, lakes, rivers, cities, states have Indian names – Ohio, Chicago, Mexico; common nouns – tobacco, canoe and others. There are about 1.5 million Native Americans living in the USA including the Aleuts and Eskimos of Alaska. The majority live in or near the federal reservations. Most Indians live in the Southwest – Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico and California. In the reservations traditional Indian customs, language has survived. Tourists visit them to observe the Indians way of life. Off the reservation, Native Americans are one of the most deprived and unhappy of minority groups in the USA. To improve the quality of life for Indians the US government established the Bureau of Indian Affairs. It is responsible for the Indians` cash payments, food rations, agricultural equipment, and farm animals. It also maintains free schools and hospitals.
2. The establishment of the colony at Cape Cod by the Pilgrim Fathers in 1620 led to the formation of other English colonies in North America. At this period settlers from England came in the large numbers. The colonists brought with them goods, livestock. The Massachusetts Bay colony grew so quickly that it was soon throwing off branches to the south and west. Many colonists moved into Rhode Island and in 1636 Providence were founded as a place of perfect religious toleration. In that year the first migration to Connecticut began under the leadership of Thomas Hooker. The first settlement in Maryland was made under the leadership of Cecilius Calvert, who was a Catholic from England. Settlers from Virginia were settling into what are now North and South Carolina. Though the English settlers were the largest group of people who came from Europe at this period, there were also colonists from other countries such as Holland, France, Germany and Sweden. In 1609 a Dutchman, Henry Hudson, explored the river which today bears his name. A Dutch colony called New Amsterdam was established on Manhattan Island. The English weren’t pleased with such a situation. They considered that all the eastern coast of North America belonged to them. Charles II, the king of Britain, granted the area to his brother, the Duke of York, who seized the Dutch colony in 1664. The town was renamed New York in honor of the Duke of York. By the 1680s Dutch, British and Swedish settlers settled in the area which later became Pennsylvania and Delaware. Africans came unwillingly to North America. They were brought to the colonies as slaves between 1619 and 1808. Slavery was eliminated after the Civil War in 1865. Many wealthy people left Britain for America and settled in Virginia after 1649. The Scotch and Irish immigrants settled in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Many went to Virginia and Carolina. The last colony to be founded in the colonial period was Georgia. It was created in 1732 as a territory for debtors and other poor people. It was established also to protect English interests against Spanish attacks from the south. Besides the immigrants from the British Isles, other nations were also actively colonizing North America. They were the French in the north and the west and the Spaniards in the south. The French seized Canada, and controlled the central region of the continent, calling in Louisiana in honor of the French king, Louis XIV. The Spaniards controlled Florida. By 1733 English settlers had occupied 13 colonies along the Atlantic coast (Rhode Island, Conn, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia). As the British colonies in America grew strong and expanded, they soon came into conflict with their neighbors the French and the Spaniards. The struggle between England and France for America led to war, which began in 1756 and ended in 1763. In this war Spain took the side of France. Britain won the war and took all of Canada from France. Thus Britain’s rule in North America became much stronger. The colonies in North America began to develop rapidly. There were great differences between the North and the South. In the northern colonies which were rich in material and natural resources, and where there was a constant arrival of immigrants from the Old World, industry and trade made great progress. In the South agriculture was most important, and Negro slave labor was widely used on the plantations. The North was against slavery, while the South supported it. The growing strength of the colonies worried Britain, which began to take measures against the development of the colonies. This led to protest and then to the War of Independence which brought freedom to the colonies.
3. Britain couldn’t control her American colonies because it was too far away. Britain’s victory in the 7 year’s War led to a conflict between Britain and the colonies. The war cost a lot of money, and Britain decided to get the money from the colonies by introducing taxes. Moreover, Britain did everything to stop the development of American industry. The Quartering Act forced the colonies to house and feed British soldiers. The Stamp Act (1765) became more unpopular. According to it special tax stamps had to be put on all newspapers, documents and the Americans had to pay very much. The colonists were angered by the actions of the British government, because these measures were against the interests of the colonists. Most unpopular was the decision of the British government to close the western lands for settlement. When the white settlers refused to obey the British government sent troops to Boston, where the opposition to Britain was very strong. In December 1773, a group of colonists boarded British ships in Boston harbor. These ships were loaded with tea. The patriots dressed as Indians threw 342 boxes of tea into the waters to protest against the tea tax. These events are known as the “Boston Tea Party”. The British government responded by closing the port of Boston to all outside trade, and sent more troops to the colonies. In 1775 700 British soldiers were sent from Boston to seize an arms depot in Concord. At the village of Lexington they were met by 70 militiamen. In the course of this confrontation the American War of Independence began (1775-1783). The British soldiers took Lexington and Concord, but on the way back they were attacked by Volunteers. By June 1775 10000 American soldiers surrounded Boston, and the British had to evacuate the city in March 1776. In May 1775 the Congress of representatives of the colonies met in Philadelphia and began to act as a national government. It organized the Continental Army and Navy under the command of G. Washington (1732-1799), a rich planter from Virginia and a veteran of the 7 year’s War. On July 2, 1776 the Congress came to the conclusion that the colonies had the right to gain freedom and become independent. Thomas Jefferson, a democrat from Virginia together with other patriots prepared the text of the Declaration of Independence which was adopted by the Congress on July 4, 1776. This document proclaimed the independence of the 13 American colonies from Britain. In October 1777 the British army under General John Burgoyne suffered defeat at Saratoga in northern New York and surrounded. After this victory France took the side of the Americans. Britain finally recognized the independence of the US by signing the Treaty of Paris in September 1783. In 1787 the American Constitution was drawn up in Philadelphia which with its 26 amendments is in force at the present time. G. Washington was elected the first president of the US.
4. After the War of Independence the USA began to develop. In 1790 the population of the US was nearly 4 million. People, of whom about 3.5 million were whites. The people lived mostly in the countryside. There were only 5 cities: Philadelphia with 42.000 people, New York with 33.000, Boston with 18.000, Charleston with 16.000, and Baltimore with 13.000. Industry was making progress. In Massachusetts and Rhode Island the textile industry began to develop. Connecticut began to produce clocks and metallic goods, the Middle states - paper, glass and iron. Ships were built for trade fishing, carrying grain, tobacco, timber and other goods to Europe. The Americans continued to explore and colonize the western lands. Thus the country was becoming larger. Though Britain recognized American independence it did everything to hinder the development of the new nation. British interference and other aggressive acts led to war in 1812. British forces took and burned Washington, the capital. American life was characterized by a growing conflict between the Northern and the Southern states. The Southern states used black slaves on the large plantations to grow cotton, rice, tobacco, sugar. The conflict between the North and the South was becoming very serious. The importation of the slaves was banned in 1808. Thousands of Americans had been setting in Texas, which then was a part of Mexico. In 1845 the US invaded Texas and included it into the US. In 1846, The American Congress declared war on Mexico and in 1847 the American army took Mexico City. For 15 million. Dollars Mexico had to give to the USA a very large territory – most of what is today California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado. In 1846 The US settled a long dispute with British Canada. As a result the US received the southern half of the Oregon country – the present states of Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Before 1803 America bought the territory of Louisiana. Thus, as a result of these actions America became a real continental power. Its boundaries stretched from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific. In 1848 gold was discovered in California and a great gold rush started. It led to an intensive colonization of the west. The colonization raised the question would the new territories be free or become slave states? The Northern states began to pass laws abolishing slavery. By 1786 all the states north of Maryland had prohibited slavery. The question of slavery in the US remained the most disputed problem. The anti – slavery movement was a mass movement in the country after John Brown’s attempt to raise a revolt of the black slaves in 1859. In 1860 the Republican Party won the presidential election and A. Lincoln became president of the USA. The South decided to leave the American Union. 11 South states proclaimed themselves an independent nation – the Confederate States of America with its own president, government and army. The American Civil War began (1861-65). Though the Southern army fought well it could not win the war because the Northern Army had the support of the industrial north and people who were against slavery. Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 which granted freedom to all slaves. The Northern army was headed by General Sherman and Grant, the Southern army was led by General Lee and Jackson. The Civil War was the most dramatic war on the territory of the USA. It settled 2 most important issues: it put an end to slavery, which was abolished by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in 1865; it decided that the USA was a single united nation.