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Amazing American History Facts

Did You Know...that the history of the United States traditionally starts with the Declaration of Independence in the year 1776, while its territory was inhabited by American Indians since prehistoric times and then by European colonists who followed the voyages of Christopher Columbus starting in 1492.

Did You Know...that the pre-Columbian era combines all period subdivisions in the history and prehistory of the Americas before the arrival of large 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.

Did You Know...that European nations came to the Americas to increase their wealth and broaden their influence over world affairs. The Spanish were among the first Europeans to explore the New World and the first to settle in what is now the United States.

Did You Know...that defending the Colonies against attack by the French and others had cost the British a great deal of money. As a result, the British had very high taxes in their country. They thus decided to shift some of their financial burden to the colonists. The Stamp Act of 1765, which taxed all legal documents, newspapers and other documents, was met with a great uproar in the Colonies. In 1766, this tax was repealed, but it was just the beginning of the problems between the colonists and the British. The Boston Tea Party in 1773 was an act of revolt against the British and their tax on tea in the Colonies.

Did You Know...that during this time, Americans established their government and two parties emerged--the Federalists and the Republicans.  Americans had a lot to deal with during this period.  They had to struggle with the need to increase taxes to pay for the American Revolution as well as deal with the French Revolution which divided American support between France and Britain.

Did You Know...that Presidents Andrew Jackson, James Polk, and John Tyler, like many Americans of this time, embraced the notion of enlarging the "empire for liberty." In other words they wanted to expand the borders of America westward.  While some pioneers headed west to California, others attempted to expand the idea of what "liberty" in America meant.

Did You Know...that conflict over issues of how much control the federal government should have over the states, industrialization, trade, and especially slavery had increased tension between Northern and Southern states.  After Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860, 11 Southern states seceded (or withdrew) from the Union and set up an independent government--the Confederate States of America.

Did You Know...that after the North defeated the South in the Civil War, politicians faced the task of putting the divided country back together.  There was great debate about how severely the former Confederate states should be punished for leaving the Union.  With the assassination of President Lincoln in 1865, it was up to President Andrew Johnson to try to reunite former enemies.

Did You Know...that the growth of industry and a wave of immigrants marked this period in American history.  The production of iron and steel rose dramatically and western resources like lumber, gold, and silver increased the demand for improved transportation.  Railroad development boomed as trains moved goods from the resource-rich West to the East.

Did You Know...that in the 1890s, the belief that Americans should avoid getting involved with other countries was slowly fading.  Because of its rapid economic and social growth, the U.S. had become a major world power.

Did You Know...that foreign affairs (relationships with other countries) took up a great deal of President Woodrow Wilson's attention.  In Europe, there was the outbreak of World War I, also known as the Great War, in 1914, and in Mexico, there was the Mexican Revolution.  Although at first Americans did not want to get involved, they supported the Allies in their fight against the Central Powers.

Did You Know...that October 29, 1929, was a dark day in history. "Black Tuesday" is the day that the stock market crashed, officially setting off the Great Depression.  Unemployment skyrocketed--a quarter of the workforce was without jobs by 1933 and many people became homeless.

Did You Know...that the development and growth of the United States during this era was influenced by helping Europe recover from World War II and U.S. involvement in other wars--mainly the Cold War with the Soviet Union and the Vietnam and Korean Wars.

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