U.S. territory expanded westward across the continent, brushing aside Native Americans and Mexico, and overcoming modernizers who wanted to deepen the economy rather than expand the geography. Slavery of Africans was abolished in the North, but heavy world demand for cotton let it flourish in the Southern states. The 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln calling for no more expansion of slavery triggered a crisis as eleven slave states seceded to found the Confederate States of America in 1861. The bloody American Civil War (1861–65) redefined the nation and remains the central iconic event. The South was defeated and, in the Reconstruction era, the U.S. ended slavery, extended rights to African Americans, and readmitted secessionist states with loyal governments. The present 48 contiguous states were admitted by early 1912.
The U.S. rose as an industrialized power by the early 20th century. Lifestyle changes led to the Progressive movement, which pushed for reform in industry and politics and is associated with women's suffrage and Prohibition of alcohol (the latter failed by 1933). Initially neutral in World War I, the U.S. eventually declared war on Germany in 1917, yet popular support for non-interventionism derailed post-war attempts to foster international cooperation. The Wall Street Crash of 1929 punctuated the onset of the Great Depression, to which the federal government responded with New Deal recovery programs. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the U.S. entered World War II alongside the Allies and helped defeat Nazi Germany in Europe and, with the detonation of newly-invented atomic bombs, Japan in Asia and the Pacific.
The Soviet Union and the U.S. emerged as opposing superpowers after the war and began the Cold War confronting indirectly in an arms race, the Space Race, and intervention in Europe and eastern Asia.
Liberalism reflected in the civil rights movement and opposition to war in Vietnam peaked in the 1960s–70s before giving way to conservatism in the early 1980s. The Cold War ended when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, leaving the U.S. to prosper in the booming Information Age economy that was boosted, at least in part, by information technology. International conflict and economic uncertainty heightened by 2001 with the September 11 attacks and subsequent War on Terror and the late-2000s recession.
Civil War era (1849–1865)white Americans of the North and South were to reconcile fundamental differences in their approach to government, economics, society and African American slavery. The issue of slavery in the new territories was settled by the Compromise of 1850 brokered by Whig Henry Clay and Democrat Stephen Douglas; the Compromise included admission of California as a free state and the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act to make it easier for masters to reclaim runaway slaves. In 1854, the proposed Kansas-Nebraska Act abrogated the Missouri Compromise by providing that each new state of the Union would decide its stance on slavery
The United States emerged as a world economic and military power after 1890. The main episode was the Spanish–American War, which began when Spain refused American demands to reform its oppressive policies in Cuba. The "splendid little war", as one official called it, involved a series of quick American victories on land and at sea. At the Treaty of Paris peace conference the United States acquired the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam. Cuba became an independent country, under close American tutelage. Although the war itself was widely popular, the peace terms proved controversial. William Jennings Bryan led his Democratic Party in opposition to control of the Philippines, which he denounced as imperialism unbecoming to American democracy. President William McKinley defended the acquisition, and was riding high as the nation had returned to prosperity and felt triumphant in the war. McKinley easily defeated Bryan in a rematch in the 1900 presidential election. After defeating an insurrection by Filipino nationalists, the United States engaged in a large scale program to modernize the economy of the Philippines, and dramatically upgrade the public health facilities
During most of the 1920s, the United States enjoyed a period of unbalanced prosperity: farm prices and wages fell, while new industries and industrial profits grew. The boom was fueled by an inflated stock market, which later led to the Stock Market Crash on October 29, 1929. This, along with many other economic factors, triggered a worldwide depression known as the Great Depression. During this time, the United States experienced deflation, unemployment soared from 3% in 1929 to 25% in 1933, and manufacturing output collapsed by one-third.
In 1932, Democratic presidential nominee Franklin D. Roosevelt promised "a new deal for the American people", a phrase that has endured as a label for his administration and its many domestic achievements. The desperate economic situation, along with the substantial Democratic victories in the 1932 elections, gave Roosevelt unusual influence over Congress in the "First Hundred Days" of his administration. He used his leverage to win rapid passage of a series of measures to create welfare programs and regulate the banking system, stock market, industry and agriculture, along with many other government efforts to end the Great Depression and reform the American economy. Some programs that were a part of Roosevelt's New Deal include the Works Progress Administration (WPA) relief program, the Social Security Act, the Emergency Banking Act, and the Economy Act. The recovery was rapid in all areas except unemployment, which decreased yet remained fairly high until 1940...
The Civil Rights Movement
Meanwhile, the American people completed a great migration from farms into the cities and experienced a period of sustained economic expansion. At the same time, institutionalized racism across the United States, but especially in the South, was increasingly challenged by the growing Civil Rights movement. The activism of African American leaders Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which launched the movement. For years African Americans would struggle with violence against them, but would achieve great steps towards equality with Supreme Court decisions, including Brown v. Board of Education and Loving v. Virginia, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which ended the Jim Crow laws that legalized racial segregation between Whites and Blacks.
Martin Luther King, Jr., who had won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to achieve equality of the races, was assassinated in 1968. Following his death others led the movement, most notably King's widow, Coretta Scott King, who was also active, like her husband, in the Opposition to the Vietnam War, and in the Women's Liberation Movement. Over the first nine months of 1967, 128 American cities suffered 164 riots. The late 1960s and early 1970s saw the strengthening of Black Power, however the decade would ultimately bring about positive strides toward integration.
The United States emerged as the world's sole remaining superpower and continued to intervene in international affairs, including the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq. During the 1990s, following his election in 1992, President Bill Clinton oversaw one of the longest periods of economic expansion and unprecedented gains in securities values, a side effect of the digital revolution and new business opportunities created by the Internet. Under Clinton an attempt to universalize health care failed after almost two years of work on the controversial plan. Charged with perjury and obstruction of justice from lying about a sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, Clinton was impeached in 1998 by the House but he acquitted by the Senate.
The presidential election in 2000 between George W. Bush and Al Gore was one of the closest in the U.S. history, and helped lay the seeds for political polarization to come. Following Election Day, Florida entered dispute over the counting of votes due to technical issues over certain Democratic votes in some counties, which the Supreme Court resolved in Bush v. Gore by ending the recount with a 5–4 vote and certifying Bush as president.
The Obama administration decreased troop levels in Iraq, withdrew all combat troops by August 31, 2010, and retained 50,000 troops to assist Iraqi forces, help protect withdrawing forces, and work on counter-terrorism until December 31, 2011, the date Bush scheduled for the full withdrawal. The administration increased American involvement in Afghanistan, starting a surge strategy using an addition 30,000 troops, while proposing to begin withdrawing troops in July 2011 obama is now president of united of america as 44 presdent...
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