History of the United States

occurrences and people in the USA throughout history

The history of the United States extends from the time of the initial discovery of continental and overseas U.S. territories by indigenous peoples, through acquisition by European and North American states and into the present day.



Eighteenth century

  • On 22 June 1772 in a London courtroom ... the presiding magistrate, Lord Mansfield, had just made a ruling that suggested that slavery, the blight that had ensnared so many, would no longer obtain, at least not in England. A few nights later, a boisterous group of Africans, numbering in the hundreds, gathered for a festive celebration. ... Others were not so elated, particularly in Virginia, where the former “property” in question in this case had been residing. “Is it in the Power of Parliament to make such a Law? Can any human law abrogate the divine? The Law[s] of Nature are the Laws of God,” wrote one querulously questioning writer. Indicating that this was not a sectional response, a correspondent in Manhattan near the same time assured that this ostensibly anti-slavery ruling “will occasion a greater ferment in America (particularly in the islands) than the Stamp Act itself,” a reference to another London edict that was then stirring controversy in the colonies. The radical South Carolinian William Drayton—whose colony barely contained an unruly African majority—was apoplectic about this London decision, asserting that it would “complete the ruin of many American provinces.”
  • Ironically, the founders of the republic have been hailed and lionized by left, right, and center for—in effect—creating the first apartheid state.
  • The state of slavery is of such a nature that it is incapable of being introduced on any reasons, moral or political, but only by positive law, which preserves its force long after the reasons, occasions, and time itself from whence it was created, is erased from memory. It is so odious, that nothing can be suffered to support it, but positive law. Whatever inconveniences, therefore, may follow from the decision, I cannot say this case is allowed or approved by the law of England; and therefore the black must be discharged.
  • I do in Virtue of the Power and Authority to ME given, by His MAJESTY, determine to execute Martial Law, and cause the same to be executed throughout this Colony: and to the end that Peace and good Order may the sooner be [effected], I do require every Person capable of bearing Arms, to [resort] to His MAJESTY'S STANDARD, or be looked upon as Traitors to His MAJESTY'S Crown and Government, and thereby become liable to the Penalty the Law inflicts upon such Offences; such as forfeiture of Life, confiscation of Lands, &c. &c. And I do hereby further declare all indentured Servants, Negroes, or others, (appertaining to Rebels,) free that are able and willing to bear Arms, they joining His MAJESTY'S Troops as soon as may be, for the more speedily reducing this Colony to a proper Sense of their Duty, to His MAJESTY'S Leige Subjects..

Twentieth century

What happened to the Negro in this country is not simply a matter of my memory or my history; it's a matter of American history and American memory. As a Negro, I cannot afford to deny or overlook it, but the white American necessity is precisely to deny, ignore and overlook it. ~ James Baldwin
  • What happened to the Negro in this country is not simply a matter of my memory or my history; it's a matter of American history and American memory. As a Negro, I cannot afford to deny or overlook it, but the white American necessity is precisely to deny, ignore and overlook it.
    • James Baldwin, in "Liberalism and the Negro: A Round-Table Discussion," Commentary, vol. 37, no. 3 (March 1964), p. 41.
  • Historians usually focus their attention on the past of countries that still exist, writing hundreds and thousands of books on British history, French history, German history, Russian history, American history, Chinese history, Indian history, Brazilian history or whatever. Whether consciously or not, they are seeking the roots of the present, thereby putting themselves in danger of reading history backwards. As soon as great powers arise, whether the United States in the twentieth century or China in the twenty-first, the call goes out for offerings on American History or Chinese History, and siren voices sing that today’s important countries are also those whose past is most deserving of examination, that a more comprehensive spectrum of historical knowledge can be safely ignored.
    • Norman Davies, Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe (2011)
  • The object of this new American industrial empire, so far as that object was conscious and normative, was not national well-being, but the individual gain of the associated and corporate monarchs through the power of vast profit on enormous capital investment; through the efficiency of an industrial machine that bought the highest managerial and engineering talent and used the latest and most effective methods and machines in a field of unequaled raw material and endless market demand. That this machine might use the profit for the general weal was possible and in cases true. But the uplift and well-being of the mass of men, of the cohorts of common labor, was not its ideal or excuse. Profit, income, uncontrolled power in My Business for My Property and for Me—this was the aim and method of the new monarchial dictatorship that displaced democracy in the United States in 1876.
  • The difference of development, North and South, is explained as a sort of working out of cosmic social and economic law. ... In this sweeping mechanistic interpretation, there is no room for the real plot of the story, for the clear mistake and guilt of building a new slavery of the working class in the midst of a fateful experiment in democracy.
  • The creation of the United States of America is the greatest of all human adventures. No other national story holds such tremendous lessons, for the American people themselves and for the rest of mankind. It now spans four centuries and, as we enter the new millennium, we need to retell it, for if we can learn those lessons and build upon them, the whole of humanity will benefit in the new age which is now opening. American history raises three fundamental questions. First, can a nation rise above the injustices of its origins and, by its moral purpose and performance, atone for them? All nations are born in war, conquest, and crime, usually concealed by the obscurity of a distant past. The United States, from its earliest colonial times, won its title-deeds in the full blaze of recorded history, and the stains on them are there for all to see and censure: the dispossession of an indigenous people, and the securing of self-sufficiency through the sweat and pain of an enslaved race. In the judgmental scales of history, such grievous wrongs must be balanced by the erection of a society dedicated to justice and fairness. Has the United States done this? Has it expiated its original sins? The second question provides the key to the first. In the process of nation-building, can ideals and altruism—the desire to build the perfect community—be mixed successfully with acquisitiveness and ambition, without which no dynamic society can be built at all? Have the Americans got the mixture right? Have they forged a nation where righteousness has the edge over the needful self-interest? Thirdly, the Americans originally aimed to build an other-worldly ‘City on a Hill,’ but found themselves designing a republic of the people, to be a model for the entire planet. Have they made good their audacious claims? Have they indeed proved exemplars for humanity? And will they continue to be so in the new millennium?
  • These early diaries and letters, which are plentiful, and the fact that most important documents about the early American colonies have been preserved, mean that the United States is the first nation in human history whose most distant origins are fully recorded.
  • In the year 1877, the signals were given for the rest of the century: the blacks would be put back; the strikes of white workers would not be tolerated; the industrial and political elites of North and South would take hold of the country and organize the greatest march of economic growth in human history. They would do it with the aid of, and at the expense of, black labor, white labor, Chinese labor, European immigrant labor, female labor, rewarding them differently by race, sex, national origin, and social class, in such a way as to create separate levels of oppression—a skillful terracing to stabilize the pyramid of wealth.

Twenty first century

The report seems to be a response to The New York Times’ “1619 Project", which traced the story of slavery through American history and became a lightning rod for Trump and conservatives, who saw it as an attack on their view of American history. ~ Alex Seitz-Wald
For those who are going to college, there’s going to be a lot of correction. Especially if they go outside of the state. For those who don’t go to college, they’re going to hold these inaccurate perceptions about Black people throughout their years, if they don’t get any correction. ~ LaGarrett J King
  • When history does appear in the news, it’s often been politicized. The 1776 Commission was one example, with its anachronistic references to the “Pro-Life Movement” and comparisons of American progressives to Mussolini. But the New York Times1619 Project was also problematic—though it was journalism, not a government report. The project claims that “our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written,” based on the questionably supported and readily disputable initial claim “that the colonists declared their independence from Britain … to protect the institution of slavery in the colonies” (although the Times’ later made a “clarification” and other alterations). Princeton historian Sean Wilentz, a critic of both projects, recently noted this connection: “[The 1776 Commission report is] the flip side of those polemics, presented as history, that charge the nation was founded as a slavocracy. … It’s basically a political document, not history.”
  • The changes to the state curriculum came a year after the Republican Florida governor, the presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis, enacted the Stop Woke Act, Time reported.
    The law prohibits teaching students or employees about anything that could cause them to “feel guilt, anguish or any form of psychological distress” because of their race, color, national origin or sex.
    LaGarrett J King, director of the Center for K-12 Black History and Racial Literacy Education at the University at Buffalo, said the updates to the Florida curriculum were “anti-Black”.
    Students of Florida, King said, will be “extremely ignorant about the history of this country.
    “For those who are going to college, there’s going to be a lot of correction. Especially if they go outside of the state. For those who don’t go to college, they’re going to hold these inaccurate perceptions about Black people throughout their years, if they don’t get any correction.”
    King added: “I’m fearful because history is about identity and history helps us understand other folk. If we do not understand the complexities of those histories, that can have some damaging consequences to how we treat people in the present.”

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