The lands of North and South America were populated long before any Europeans arrived. Early Native Americans relied almost solely on hunting. Because of this and weather changes they would frequently be on the move to find new sources of food. The development of growing certain crops would change how they lived. Now they could have more permanent settlements instead of going from place to place. This would aid to the increase of populations and the expansions of various distinct Indian cultures in different areas all throughout the Americas.
Great Indian societies such as the Aztec, Mayan, Inca, and Toltec would emerge. They had complex structures of government and built large cities. These cities would even be seen as impressive to the Europeans when they later arrived on the continent (Brands, Breen, Williams, Gross, 2009). The Aztecs were the most powerful of the Indians and expanded their empire as they conquered many other tribes all throughout what is now Mexico. The groups along the Atlantic coast were smaller in numbers and not as agriculturally advanced.
These cultures were more peaceful and even had some democratic type qualities to them. Many of the Europeans first contact would be with these communities. British Colonization Effects on Native Americans Despite Columbus and other explorers going off to the New World, the British did not show any major interest until the late 1500’s. The most immediate effect of the arrival of British settlers was the issue of land. They were taking land and resources that were not their own. However with peaceful relations there was plenty of land for both early settlers and the Native Americans.
Early contact between English settlers and Native Americans was not filled with hostility but was rather peaceful. Both parties were interested in developing trade. The peacefulness would not last for long. The English did not understand their customs and viewed them as savages. They felt the need to attempt to civilize them. They pushed their religion and customs on them but for the most part these customs were rejected. The Native Americans welcomed trade but did not want to change their way of life. As more English continue to arrive in the New World they began to elieve that they were entitled to this land and they were superior to these primitive cultures. The combination of a devastating amount of deaths to the Native Americans from diseases which they had no immunity to along with the increased hostilities caused them to be driven from their lands. Christianity and Colonial Social Life in the 1600’s Faith had a large impact on early colonial life. Many had left England because of religious persecution and were looking for a place where they could worship freely however they chose. There were different beliefs that settled in the areas.
There was a catholic community in Maryland, Quakers in Pennsylvania, Puritans in New England, and other Protestant colonies. This created a vast amount of differences from one colony to another. The colonies had little tolerance for beliefs outside of their own despite leaving England for those very reasons. Most of the colonies had social instability except for the Puritan colonies of New England. The Puritans strong commitment to both scripture and family helped to maintain a stable social structure. This was in contrast to other settlements that were not family oriented and men made up the majority of the colony.
They were also committed to keeping English traditions and many laws with them which helped keep order with disputes being settled in courts and not by violence. Seven Years’ War 1756-1763 The Seven Years’ War which is more commonly known as the French and Indian War was a battle of the British with the American colonies against France and its colonies. On May 18, 1756 the British officially declared war on the French and under the command of William Pitt would direct its attention to the French colonies in America (Brands et el, 2009).
The endeavor would be a huge success as the French were driven from out of North America and Britain seized control of Canada and all of the French land except for a few small islands. Some important impacts were made that extended beyond the end of the war itself. It created cooperation between the colonies to a greater extent than ever before. It provided experience and training for American officers for the future. A sense of pride and connection among the colonies was made and a feeling of being more equal with Britain was thought to have happened.
However the English never viewed the colonists as equals. American Enlightenment and the Great Awakening The American enlightenment was a time during the 1700s where knowledge and discovery where king. It started in Europe and carried over to the American colonies. It was a time of free thinking, new philosophies, and scientific experimentation and expansion. One area that was affected by this was the church but unlike Europe the American colonies stayed with traditional Christian ideals. New inventions were made and logic and reasoning was at the front of the desire to make things better.
The Great Awakening occurred during the mid 1700s and was a Christian revival that spread all throughout the colonies. Powerful preachers would go from colony to colony speaking the teachings of Christ and people of all ages and walks of life would come out to hear them. One of the key leaders in this revival was George Whitefield. It helped to unite those in the colonies that would have never crossed paths and placed the focus on God and not on the church. This created a sense of faith, hope and purpose not just in God but in this land even if it was not yet a nation it was becoming more united. A Path to Independence
The political landscape of the colonies was set up similar to that of the British. The Governor of the colony was similar to that of the king, the councils like the House of Lords and the assemblies where like the British House of Commons. However in reality they were quite different. The Governors were appointed by the King and they had powers in the colonies that even the King did not have in England. They could veto legislation and dismiss judges (Brands et el, 2009). The council was also selected in England and did not represent the interests of the people in the colonies and had little authority on its own.
A far greater percentage of people were able to vote for the assemblies in the colonies than could vote for the House of Commons in England. Problems were destined to happen with royal governors and their council having the interests of England and the colonial assemblies having the concerns of the American people. Clashes between the colonies and the native land would continue to escalate. The colonists were irate at the treatment as second class citizens or worse by the British. They were not accepting of British taxes without any kind of representation and believed they should have the right to govern themselves.
These disputes would keep growing until they united and made a Declaration of Independence from England in 1776. U. S. Constitution After the war the Articles of Confederation which the United States was loosely governed under was too weak for a national government and changes needed to be made. In 1787 at the urging of James Madison a convention was held in Philadelphia to address these issues. It was held behind closed doors with information not permitted in or out of the convention. Madison believed this kept the convention and community from false information and speculations being circulated (Brands, et el, 2009).
Much debate was had and different proposals were made but the large and small states were still very much divided until a committee headed by Benjamin Franklin was formed and compromises were made. From this a ruling government with two houses was formed into what we see today as well as the creation of executive and judicial branches. All states would ratify the Constitution with Delaware being the first on December 7, 1787 and Rhode Island being the final state on May 29, 1790. The convention was so focused on the forming of a federal government that the Bill of Rights was not included in the original drafting of the Constitution.
It was later added and passed through Congress and then ratified by the states by the end of 1791. George Washington There have been few men to have such a great impact on a country as George Washington. As general he helped to lead a revolution to establish independence from the British and birth a new nation in the United States of America. After the end of the war he was set to just retire to his Mt. Vernon home but that would not be the end of him being in the national spot light (Independence and the Presidency, nd).
He was unanimously elected as the first President of the United States and the only president to be selected in this fashion. It was his great sense of national pride and duty to this country which he fought so hard for that he accepted the honor of becoming president. Washington was not a great speaker but he was a great leader. He also used the advice and expertise of others. The cabinet he assembled included Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson as well as other great minds of the time without political interference. It may have been the greatest cabinet ever assembled.
The ground work was laid by Washington for future presidents to follow. His stepping down after only two terms would eventually become the standard for today. If not for the desire, dedication, and vision of George Washington there would not have never been a United States of America. Jefferson Presidency In 1800 Thomas Jefferson was elected as the 3rd president of the United States and would win reelection in 1804. His eight years would be full of ups and downs as he was loved by many but also hated by others. He was a man that did not like fancy titles or extravagant settings.
The laid back manner with which he presented himself made him much more like the average citizen and this helped to make him popular with the people. One of Jefferson’s great accomplishments was the Louisiana Purchase. This land doubled the size of the United States and would help expand this country and grow it into world power as this land would eventually develop into new states admitted to the union. However the purchase still had controversy because Jefferson had done it without going to Congress and this created debate if that was within the powers of the president.
As soon as he took office there was an ongoing battle with the courts which started with the appointments by President Adams in the final hours of his presidency. This would continue with the appeal of the Judiciary Act and the case of Marbury v. Madison ( Brands et el, 2009). Judges would be under attack and many of them removed from office. It became a political battle but in the end the judiciary system would emerge stronger. In 1807 the embargo act was passed because of British attacks on U. S. ships. The plan was to stop all shipments of commerce to Europe until they would interact peacefully.
This act was a total failure for Jefferson as it had a negative impact on American business and it did not have a large impact on the British. It would eventually be repealed just before the end of Jefferson’s 2nd term. War of 1812 The War of 1812 is one that often slips through the cracks and if often thought of just as a side note in history. The continued disregard and disrespect for any American property by the British would cause tensions between the nations to rise. On June 1, 1812 the United States declared war on the British. One of the biggest factors was defending our honor against the bullying of England.
The U. S. focused there attention on the Canadian and western fronts. There were some successes including having control of Lake Erie but there were also devastating defeats including the burning of the American capitol. This was not a major military victory but it was a damaging psychological victory. Baltimore would come under a heavy attack but it stood strong and the British would depart. It is from this battle that the Star- Spangled Banner was written by Francis Scott Key. One of the most noted battles of the War of 1812 was the battle of New Orleans.
It actually occurred while a peace treaty was being negotiated but word had not yet reached them in New Orleans. It was a crushing defeat for the British as they suffered high casualties versus very few for the Americans. It would be a much need boost of national pride and would launch Andrew Jackson into a national here and into the presidency. It was a war that gets over looked but one of great importance as the nation came close to once again being under British rule but prevailed to further establish our independence and separation from England. Monroe Doctrine
The Monroe Doctrine was a new foreign policy established in 1823 under President James Monroe. It stated that no further colonization by European nations could be made in North or South America. Despite its name it was really the creation of Secretary of State John Quincy Adams. He convinced Monroe and his cabinet the United States needed to take a firm stand against European nations pushing their affairs in the Americas(Brands et el, 2009). It also stated that the United States would not become involved in any European domestic matters or wars. It was more symbolic than anything and created a sense of national pride.
However it did make a statement to Europe that we are separated from them and to stay out of our land. This would also lead the way to further expansion without the interference from Europe. Jackson Presidency In 1828 Andrew Jackson was elected President and he would be reelected in 1832. Jackson was viewed as a common man of the people but one with great pride. He was stubborn and had a lack of tolerance for opposition but yet was often able to get accomplished what he desired. One of the most controversial decisions in American history was that of Jackson’s to remove all Native Americans to areas west of the Mississippi.
Most of the tribes complied on there own without any major confrontation except for the Cherokee. In 1838 they were removed by force and made to march to Oklahoma. This was known as the Trail of Tears where over 4000 died on the way because of the horrible conditions. There became a division between Jackson and his Vice President John C. Calhoun. This would come to full circle when South Carolina would claim the right to nullify any federal law that went against the best interest of the state. Calhoun would support South Carolina but Jackson did not believe in this right.
When South Carolina voted to nullify tariffs Jackson took immediate action. He was prepared to take military action and considered it treason. As a result of this South Carolina would suspend its nullification act. Jackson used his executive power to its fullest by destroying the Bank of the United States between 1828 and 1832. This would be known as the bank wars and would also lead to the development of a new political party known as the Whigs (Brands et el, 2009). Congress would attempt to reestablish a national bank but it was vetoed by Jackson. Manifest Destiny and the Mexican-American War
Manifest Destiny was the idea that the United States should expand to control all the land of North America. This would cause issues again with the British because of its connections with Canada and would lead to war with Mexico which was now independent. Texas would become a focus point of both Mexico and the United State. It had become independent from Mexico and was recognized as a nation by the United States but still had issues with Mexico over claims of land. The United States would side with Texas and eventually send troops to the Rio Grande region.
In 1846 the Mexican-American war would begin and last for two years mostly because of the Mexicans refusal to peace despite being heavily defeated in many battles. The war would come to and end in 1848 and the United States would acquire additional land from Mexico which would add to the further expansion of the United States.
Brands, H. W. , Breen, T. H. , Williams, R. H. , & Gross, A. J. (2009). American stories: A history of the United States. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall. Americas Library. Independence and the Presidency (n. d). Retrieved from www. americaslibrary. gov