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.

Ironically, the founders of the republic have been hailed and lionized by left, right, and center for—in effect—creating the first apartheid state. ~ Gerald Horne
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
To the extent that 1776 led to the resultant U.S., which came to captain the African Slave Trade—as London moved in an opposing direction toward a revolutionary abolition of this form of property—the much-celebrated revolt of the North American settlers can fairly be said to have eventuated as a counter-revolution of slavery. ~ Gerald Horne
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. ... 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. ~ W. E. B. Du Bois

QuotesEdit

Eighteenth centuryEdit

  • 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..
  • To the extent that 1776 led to the resultant U.S., which came to captain the African Slave Trade—as London moved in an opposing direction toward a revolutionary abolition of this form of property—the much-celebrated revolt of the North American settlers can fairly be said to have eventuated as a counter-revolution of slavery.
  • 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.

Twentieth centuryEdit

 
We Americans should pause and consider what our country means to us—and what it means to the world. ~ Gerald Ford
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 centuryEdit

 
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
  • Republicans, for the past few decades, have depended on Americans’ inability to make sense of history in judging their policies. How else to explain the fact that, under Trump, they have succeeded in turning legal immigration into the excuse for all the country’s ills, when any clear historical analysis would demonstrate that it has been the fount of the lion’s share of America’s innovation, creativity, and economic production?
  • Too often, U.S. History is reduced down to, there was slavery, uh, then there was a Civil War, then there wasn't slavery anymore, then there was the Civil Rights movement, then there wasn't racism anymore. Just a smooth, steady upward arc. But the moment on either side of those landmark eras complicate the hell out of that arc. Because they were filled with white hostility, and ugly backsliding.
  • [I]gnoring the history you don't like is not a victimless act, and a history of America that ignores white supremacy is a white supremacist history of America.
  • The 1776 Commission clearly faltered in conception and execution, but the basic premise of a government commission on our founding history has a long precedent. Since the 19th century, the federal government has created many such commissions, particularly regarding the American Revolution and founding era. They’ve expanded the focus of American history, boosted national unity and even promoted concepts of liberty internationally. In 1924, for example, President Calvin Coolidge signed the George Washington Bicentennial Celebration Commission into existence six years before the event and sought to “ensure intellectual rigor” by incorporating historians and the American Historical Association. It led to public commemorations around the world, historians’ presentations in the capital and the publication of an edited collection of Washington’s letters. Taking place during the Great Depression, it roused the “whole land” “in spite of economic distress,” said Commission Director Sol Bloom, and it did “more to aid in maintaining national sanity during these distressful times than anything else could possibly have done,” reported the Muncie Post-Democrat.
    In 1973, Congress created the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration, which offered a chance to reengage with America’s history. As President Gerald Ford said in 1976, “We Americans should pause and consider what our country means to us—and what it means to the world.” In the wake of Watergate and Richard Nixon’s resignation (some previously accused Nixon of politicizing the commemoration), the Bicentennial, which included public events and academic components, spurred unity and inclusivity with nearly all of the population participating in some fashion combined with a major expansion in diverse public historical sites.
  • Celebrations of history have also been used to sow division. In 1876, during the centennial of the American Revolution in and around Boston, patriot descendants excluded African Americans, Irish Americans and female suffragists from positions of social prominence and political power. The patriots’ heirs called those without the “common blood” un-American, while the minority groups labeled their accusers as “unworthy descendant[s].” This was a battle between a literal versus a symbolic inheritance of the American Revolution—could its ideals be expanded to all? It led to years of bitter social and political feuds, such as over what monuments went up, if certain types of protest were acceptable, and what political candidates properly represented the Founders’ beliefs and current citizens. (Sound familiar?) Certain revolutionary era events, like the Battle of Bunker Hill, were championed by Bostonians as “a glorious act of patriots,” while the Boston Massacre, where the mixed-race Crispus Attucks was the first American killed, was remembered as a “low and disgraceful mob.”
  • 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 Times’ “1619 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.”

See alsoEdit

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