What is America's first hour

The History of America - 30,000 Years from the First Settlers to September 11, 2001

While the historical calendar begins here in antiquity, the states on the other side of the ocean give a very specific day the meaning associated with the "zero hour": On July 4, 1776, the declaration of independence is signed, which paves the way to Makes the alliance of states free. 13 former British crown colonies are now on the way to becoming "USA"; the United States of America is born.

Table of Contents
America from the beginnings of Asiatic settlement to the year 1492 | America from 1492 to 1776 | America from 1776

American History
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The history of the continent, the history of America, of course, goes back much, much further. Archaeologists have to be employed to track it down. Because America, it is assumed today, was first settled by humans around 30,000 years ago.

America from the beginnings of Asiatic settlement to the year 1492

When did the first nomads come to settle on the North American continent? Why did they come and what paths did they take? There will be no exact answers to this. What is certain today, however, is that the first settlers arrived in North America around 30,000 years ago and came from Asia. About 15,000 years later there is said to have been another "wave of immigration"; this time the people of Siberia came to North America. Research is certain that at that time there was still a land connection with present-day Alaska that crossed the Bering Strait. From Alaska, the tribes first penetrated westwards, then south and finally eastwards across the entire continent. The oldest traces of this second wave of settlements can be found in Oregon and Texas.

It took millennia for the descendants of the settlers to slowly settle in and develop their own regional cultures and tribal rites over time. However, this does not apply to all indigenous people. Above all, the tribes that lived near the Pacific preferred nomadism and life as hunter-gatherers to the concept of settling down and thus the beginning of agriculture until the arrival of European settlers in the 15th century. All the tribes together had more than enough space on the North American continent. When Europe reached out to America, an estimated seven million Indians were living there. However, this number strictly only refers to North America and does not include the inhabitants of Central America.

America from 1492 to 1776

America had a long history behind it when it was "discovered" in 1492 by the Genoese adventurer Christopher Columbus. The term “discovery” of course only makes sense from a European point of view - after all, the Indians knew for a long time that they and their great continent existed. Even after Columbus landed, they were initially spared by the Europeans. The seafaring nations of the Old World, who at the time expected gold and other treasures from their discoveries, initially concentrated on Central and South America. But from around 1525 Spain, Portugal, France and England, at that time the most greedy and enterprising quartet in all of Europe, increasingly turned to North America. Their first destinations were on the east coast of what is now the USA. The Spaniards in particular did not want to leave it at that. They funded expeditions to explore the interior and advance further and further on the continent. In 1542, another sailor in the service of the Spanish Crown also reached the coast of California; now the continent was, so to speak, caught up in the pincers. But it would take another 50 years before the systematic exploration, settlement and exploitation on a large scale began.

For the natives, one can safely say from a historical distance today, the downfall began with the landing of Christopher Columbus. They initially fell victim to diseases that the first explorers, seafarers and settlers brought in from Europe. A few decades later, the ruthless displacement, expulsion and even the extermination of entire tribes began step by step. Today they make the once so proud and indigenous people of the North American continent only about 1.5 percent of the population.

But even for the European pioneers, not all that gleamed was gold. While for the Spaniards, French and Portuguese "only" the exploitation of the continent and its treasures were in the foreground of the conquests, the tide turned with the growing interest of the English in the "New World". From the beginning they wanted to do more than just build trading posts or military camps. The English planned very early on to colonize North America - which they did in the end.

The first steps there were bloody. The Indians fought back as best they could when the English tried to gain a permanent foothold on the coast of what is now North Carolina in 1585. The plan failed; the settlers were slain or starved to death. It was not until 1607 that the first permanent settlement could be built. But even this “Jamestown”, which originated in Virginia and was named after the English monarch James I, only succeeded with bloody sacrifices. It was at least a little easier around ten years later for the Pilgrim Fathers who arrived on the east coast on the legendary “Mayflower”. However, they did not want to make themselves useful to the king and the crown, but had religious motives for leaving their homeland. The Anglican Church had been established there since Henry VIII, but it was still far too pompous for the Puritan pilgrim fathers and, even if not officially, committed to the Catholic faith. In what is now Boston and Maine, but in Connecticut and Massachusetts, the settlers hoped for a more godly life. To this day, this spirit is alive in many New England states on the east coast.

The idea of ​​daring a future in North America and starting a new life was not only appealing to the English. The Dutch also wanted to secure their share of the still freshly discovered benefices and also developed colonial efforts. At the same time, people from all sorts of European countries suddenly emigrated to America. Many German farmers also settled on the east coast in the wake of the English pilgrim fathers. They simply had better future prospects in the New World than at home. The situation was similar with the Swedes, Irish and Russians, although their countries did not immediately pursue their own political goals on the North American continent.

Over time, six nations emerged, fighting for power in the new territory. Of these, three - France, Spain and England - remained as real rivals. While France primarily wanted to enrich itself, for example through the fur trade, the English strove to take full possession of the country. To do this, they not only had to exploit the Indians, they had to drive them out. They also succeeded; Unfortunately, for a long time they made a very bad name for themselves with their brutal behavior.

When England and France fought each other in Europe during the Seven Years' War, the peace between the two nations could not be kept in America either. The French were finally defeated and England emerged from the conflicts as a victorious power, much to the chagrin of the Indians.

From today's perspective, however, the British crown did not necessarily use this victory wisely. She wanted to keep squeezing as much money out of her colonies as possible. The fact that she neglected the interests of her own people in the process would ultimately lead to the War of Independence. The settlers, who had come across the ocean from England and who were gaining a foothold in America, no longer just wanted to pay taxes to the king without having a vote in return in the London Parliament. Was it just a distorted view of things on the other side of the pond? Couldn't it be imagined that the colonies had developed a momentum of their own? In any case, the relationship between the powerful in London and the first Americans of English descent cooled so much that it was ultimately completely frozen. As a result, London sent soldiers, but even they could not prevent people from wanting to break away from England in the long term. On July 4th, 1776 the time had finally come. 13 English colonies signed the declaration of independence and finally renounced Europe. However, it took a few more years before there actually were no more acts of war. The way for the United States of America was now really free.

America from 1776

Of course, it took a few years to organize the newfound freedom and draft a constitution. In 1789 this gigantic task was accomplished and the first President of the United States of America could be congratulated. George Washington, who had been the chairman of the Constitutional Commission, was unanimously elected. He had to show the greatest political caution from day one, not only in the USA itself, but also in foreign policy. Europe was meanwhile the scene of a revolution from which Washington was determined to keep its young America out. It worked. Nevertheless, America was to experience another war on its own soil, the causes of which were to be sought in Europe. The Napoleonic Wars in the Old World repeatedly caused displeasure in the relationship between Great Britain (which in the meantime had come together with Scotland to form a union) and the USA. Great Britain placed the United States in favor of France's cause. Fighting broke out in which, among other things, the new capital Washington was badly damaged. The British also razed the White House to the ground at that time. When the situation in Europe calmed down, the United States and Great Britain also came to an agreement. Who won the war? Hard to say. Mainly because both sides later boasted that they were winners. From then on, the USA should “only” have homemade problems and wage internal wars - until the First World War.

The challenges for the young nation were huge. More and more countries wanted to join the confederation and had to be integrated accordingly. At the same time, an immense internal political dispute was developing. Since the USA had organized itself as a federation, the member states could pass different laws. On the question of slavery, this should be a real test. It got worse than that. Some states split off again and formed a new federation. The slave question was more than just an ethical problem; this also sparked fundamentally different views of making money and of the economy. No wonder then that civil war broke out in America. This so-called Civil War raged from 1861 to 1865. President Abraham Lincoln paid a heavy price for the regained unity of the United States. He was assassinated while visiting the theater. After the end of slavery, the balance shifted within the United States. The south gradually lost its economic importance, the north benefited. The aftermath of this war can still be felt in the United States today. Moreover, the abolition of slavery did not automatically lead to equal rights for all citizens. This, too, becomes clear again and again when race riots flare up.

After the abolition of slavery, the south had to be supported. This phase went down in US history as “reconstruction”. Almost at the same time, the next big challenge emerged, which, however, should lead to a great boom in America. We're talking about industrialization.

The United States of America becomes a magnet for immigrants from all over Europe and eventually all over the world. New industries develop, a transcontinental railroad and ocean liners are built, Wall Street becomes the international financial center; Art and culture experience unprecedented highlights. The American dream is apparently within reach for anyone who is hardworking and has a bit of luck. The rags-to-riches and gold diggers who don't have that little bit of luck are generously overlooked. In the winter of 1929 the dream was suddenly over for almost everyone, suddenly there are almost only losers and hardly any winners. The stock market crash shakes both the USA and Europe to the core. The United States is recovering a little more quickly, but here too full employment is only achieved “thanks” to a new catastrophe. Only when the USA entered World War II did the population get the jobs they needed again.

Anyone who believes that the end of World War II will be the beginning of a period of peace for the United States. Will be quickly deceived. The confederation of states does not experience a war on its own soil, but it sends troops to many conflict regions around the world. Korea and Vietnam are examples of this from the first post-war years, Afghanistan and Iraq represent the recent past. These wars began after the September 11, 2001 attack in which terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in New York. The One World Trade Center built on the same site will go down in history as "the safest building in the world".