History of the US
The US is widely known as the strongest player in the international arena, as well as a great multicultural country with a rich history. The current paper investigates the history of the US since the appearance of first Indian tribes on its territory to show how each period has influenced its development and contributed to making it as unique as it is now. The history of Indians, Europeans, South Americans, and Aztecs has strongly contributed to the American strength and rich cultural traditions. As a result, after achieving independence, the country has become a beloved and special place for all of its multicultural citizens. Primarily, there are several historical events that have contributed to these cultures’ unification and the creation of a strong and great state.
The US has obtained the status of one of the most powerful states in the world. Referring to its history, one can see that such a position was predetermined by numerous events that have made people unify and cooperate regardless of their origin and ethnic background. However, some historical events have also encouraged conflicts and separatism. As the most powerful multicultural country in the world, the US has a rich history that has shaped it in many aspects. The international position, cultural peculiarities, and relations between citizens are all reflected in the history of the American state. Only learning this history can lead to a deep understanding of the values and position of the modern United States. Therefore, this paper is focused on the historical development of America as the major factor that has predetermined its formation, multiculturalism, and strength.
Nowadays, the US is a strong country that has to deal with the challenges of globalization. Globalization is not only an economic phenomenon, but also a cultural, environmental, military, and political one. This phenomenon influences all areas and creates new serious challenges (Ituma, 2012). The USA is focused on attaining stability and peace not only inside its own borders but in the world in general. On the international level, it plays a huge role in attaining peace and promoting human rights and democracy around the world. Moreover, one of the US policies is international security, which means working against crimes, terrorism, drug trafficking, nuclear proliferation, etc. At the same time, the American government is focused on environmental and health concerns. This includes participation in different international programs and humanitarian assistance, which means helping people to deal with natural disasters, conflicts, hunger, and many other problems. Hence, the USA plays and will continue to play a crucial role in international relations because of the provided support and strong policies aimed at promoting and implementing the principles of liberty, law, and democracy around the world. However, these principles have been forming for a very long time, starting from the exploration and colonization periods, and now it has become the “calling card” of the country.
Indians Coming to America
The first people that migrated to America came from Asia (Bureau of International Information Programs, 2010). Some scientists believe that they lived on the territory of modern Alaska. Mainly, these people have moved to the South, to the territory that is called the USA nowadays. They inhabited the Northwest, the Pacific Ocean area, the Southwest’s deserts and mountains, and the Midwest, the Mississippi River area (Bureau of International Information Programs, 2010). Hence, some groups called Hopewellians, Hohokam, Anasazi, and Adenans formed and built villages (Bureau of International Information Programs, 2010). Nature was an important element of their spiritual faith. These tribes were both trading and fighting with each other. After some time, these groups have disappeared and Zuni and Hopi emerged. Hence, by the time the first Europeans came to America, two million native people inhabited this territory (Bureau of International Information Programs, 2010). The Indian way of life and culture were quite complex, because of the coexistence of different tribes with varying languages and traditions. Indians were very religious and believed in the strict order of nature, obeying its rules (Lord&Burke, 1991). Hence, the cultural differences between Indians and Europeans were extremely big. However, in the end, this very fact has helped in the creation of the newly independent nation.
Christopher Columbus, one of the most famous explorers, was born in Italy. However, it was the Spanish Queen Isabella that financially supported his trip. In 1492, Columbus reached the islands of the Caribbean Sea, but he never was in what is now called the USA (Bureau of International Information Programs, 2010). During his first trip in 1492, the main goal was to reach Asia, but he found the New World instead. He made three more trips, during which he explored these new lands. Columbus was not the first European explorer who reached America, but his trips led to the first serious connection between Europe and America. Furthermore, this event began the colonization era that lasted for several centuries. His role in history is quite ambiguous. On one hand, Columbus’ trips led to serious changes in the history and the development of the Western world. On the other hand, his voyages led to the slave trade and he was accused of initiating the genocide of native people. First, Columbus saw the islands that are now called the Bahamas, and native people there were friendly and peaceful. In return, Columbus wanted to take their gold and, because of this, he made some of the people prisoners. He saw his goal as spreading Christianity and believed that it would be easy to make them forget their religion and choose Christian beliefs instead. Moreover, Columbus was assured that the native people would become great servants. During his trips, he was taking increasingly more prisoners and continued with his explorations (Bureau of International Information Programs, 2010). Overall, it cannot be said that Columbus discovered new territories because it had already been done before. Instead, his role was to create a strong connection between Europe and America. It is critical to note that the native people did not welcome Columbus’ actions, because his attitude and policies led to the promotion of slavery in those lands, particularly sexual slavery, and to cruel and unfair treatment of native groups.
Europeans. Cortez. Aztecs
Spain was one of the European countries that wanted to get strong positions in the new world. By 1550, Spain, which had been a small country only a century ago, became one of the most powerful European nations that controlled a greater part of two continents (Bureau of International Information Programs, 2005). One of the reasons for such changes was the Europeans` desire to bring riches to Europe. Hence, in 1519 Hernan Cortes headed the expedition to Mexico that included roughly six hundred conquistadors on his ships with weapons and horses (Bureau of International Information Programs, 2005). Because of the desired riches and fame, Cortes decided to move toward the Aztecs. They were ruling the empire that was approximately the same size as modern Mexico. This empire was rich and its capital was twice bigger than that of any European city. Their ruler was Moctezuma and he accepted Cortes, but the conquistadors wanted the gold. Due to the support received from the neighboring Indians that were conquered by the Aztecs, Cortes defeated the Aztec empire, and, in 1535, it was renamed the New Spain (Bureau of International Information Programs, 2005). A similar scenario happened to the Incas in Peru, because they had the gold and riches that Spain wanted. Incas, just as the Aztecs, were quickly defeated by Spain. Very soon, most of South America was under the control of the Spaniards (Bureau of International Information Programs, 2005). Afterward, the colonies of Peru and Mexico became important sources through which the Europeans were able to settle in the New World and establish other colonies.
Europeans in North America
There are several reasons why America was explored so intensively. The period between the 1400 and 1500s was marked by the geographical explorations of the lands beyond Europe (Bureau of International Information Programs, 2010). At the same time, European nations were in continuous conflict, because of the desire and struggle to reach wealth and power. Most of these countries were convinced that trade with other states would help to increase their wealth. Because of some difficulties with direct trade opportunities with Asia, European leaders started to search for sea routes to Asian countries. Hence, Portuguese prince Henry and Spain King Ferdinand decided to provide financial assistance to the explorers that wanted to travel across the sea (Bureau of International Information Programs, 2010). In addition to their mission to find new trade routes, the explorers were fascinated by the idea of finding silver, gold, and other sources of enrichment. Moreover, the Europeans believed that exploration was a great opportunity to introduce other people of different cultures to Christianity and convert their lands. Some explorers went to Asia and Africa, while others decided that they could find a faster way by going west. These explorers discovered the new lands that are now known as the South and North America. This caused the events that would later lead to the creation of the United States of America. Additionally, Europeans were under strict control in their homes, but in the New World they felt the freedom that they desired. Moreover, the assimilation with the native population and, in some cases, acceptance of their worldviews led to the development of new opinions and worldviews.
Conquering North America
Hence, the Exploration Era provided a tight connection between Europe and America and led to the start of the Colonization Era. For over a hundred years, Spanish explorers and soldiers claimed the Americas territory as their own. The reasons for such actions varied. Some people believed that they would be able to attain great wealth through America`s conquering, while others were convinced that they were devoted Catholics and their duty was to convert the native people of the American territory to the Christian religion. There also were people who simply wanted to escape their own country`s control. Due to several factors, the Spanish conquered the native people without serious struggles. One of these factors was their weapons that consisted of guns, steel swords, and crossbows. These strong weapons helped the Spanish to deal with the poorly armed native population. Additionally, Spanish soldiers were fighting on horses and that gave them advantages over the native people who were fighting on foot. The second factor that played a huge role was the disease that was brought unwittingly by the Europeans. One of such diseases was called smallpox. It had existed among Europeans for thousands of years and time helped them to develop some resistance to this disease. However, Native Americans never dealt with the disease and had no resistance to it. Hence, the native population was seriously harmed, and it helped Pizarro and Cortes to conquer even the most powerful empires.
Colonization and Slavery
While Spain was creating a new empire in the New World, France was also exploring America. In 1524, Verrazzano was focused on finding the northwestern way from North America to India. He had some followers and, in 1534, Cartier explored the territory that is called Montreal nowadays. After that, there were some attempts to explore the Florida place, but Spanish pushed the French out of there. This is why they concentrated on the West and North. In contrast to the Spanish Empire, New France was focused not on silver or gold, but on the fish and fur trade. The New France population consisted of missionaries and trappers. Despite the attempts of France to colonize the new area, its policy was not very effective. In order to change the situation, it granted charters to fur-trading companies. However, in 1663 the king took direct control over New France (Allen, 2007). Hence, France failed to reach the widespread colonies' success in Great Britain and the wealth of Spain. Another country that took part in the colonization process was the Netherlands. It focused on becoming a commercial power, and exploration was a great chance to reach that goal. Hence, in 1609 Hudson organized America`s expedition for the Dutch East India Company and claimed the area that nowadays is known as Albany. In 1614, the New Netherland Company received a grant from the government on the territory that lay between Virginia and New France (Allen, 2007).
However, the strongest colonizing country was England. In 1497, Cabot was sponsored to go on the expedition, where he explored the Newfoundland territory. Before Queen Elizabeth's rule, England was not interested in the exploration of America, because it was focused on the trade processes and gaining control over the British Isles. With the rule of Queen Elizabeth, the colonization of America became the primary task (Allen, 2007). By the 17th century, England was known as the leader of the colonization process due to establishing settlements in the West Indies and around the Atlantic coast (Allen, 2007).
As was already mentioned, during the colonization of America slavery became a common practice, because it was beneficial for the Europeans to capture the native population and make them slaves. In response to such a situation, in 1512 laws were established in Spain that prohibited slavery. In 1542, even stricter laws were accepted that were aimed at preventing the Indian's exploitation by landowners by limiting their dominion and power. Such a position helped to decrease the level of enslavement. However, with the arrival of other Europeans this level was increased again, and these countries were not focused on establishing anti-slavery laws. Later, the slaves from Africa that were imported through huge commercial slave trade replaced the native workers. By the eighteenth century, African slaves were commonly used instead of the native population. They were forcefully imported on ships to America from their homelands by slave traders who were capturing and selling them. In exchange, the slave traders were receiving guns, rum, and other goods from Europeans. Overall, near twelve million Africans were imported to America (Eltis, 2000). Most of them were working on sugar plantations in the Caribbean or Brazil. The North American slave trade rate increased from 1770 to 1860, and its volume was greater than that of any European population. These factors were another reason for the development of a strong independent position. From a historical perspective, it can be seen how America transformed into a huge multicultural country with a strong international position. Nowadays, many challenges exist connected with racial segregation, minority support, and providing a balance among people in all spheres. However, this multicultural aspect is another reason for the strong international position that has been forming for a very long time.
Conflicts between the European Countries
In the 18th century, France, Britain, and Spain controlled North America. Florida was under Spanish control, while French forces were focused in the central and northern areas, and Britain controlled the East. All these nations could not exist together in peace. Hence, it was quite predictable that the American colonization would end with a war over territories. Hence, in 1754 the war in North America between France and Britain began (Bureau of International Information Programs, 2010). In that war, Britain was victorious and captured all French territories. Around two centuries before these events, the main countries that were competing with each other were France and Spain, but that struggle was not over the North American territory, but over the Caribbean. The situation changed when Britain claimed the Atlantic coast that was situated between French Canada and Spanish Florida in the middle of the sixteenth century. Hence, these countries started trying to defeat each other and dominate the continent with consideration of the changing Indian support. The main competitors became France and Britain, particularly when both countries concentrated on the Mississippi River and Ohio areas. However, these lands belonged to Native Americans for a very long time (Bureau of International Information Programs, 2010). In 1700, Britain became known as the dominant imperial European power and the American colonists were ready to share the bounty.
In the US, the ideas of democracy and liberalism are the basic elements of the political system. The colonists built the new society of the United States and they strongly believed in these ideas. After Britain`s victory in the war in 1750, the colonists were ordered to pay for this war. Moreover, the colonists were restricted in many areas. Some laws were established and they restricted the colonists` rights to occupy new lands. Forced to provide their houses and food to British soldiers, colonists were also required to pay high taxes. As a result, the colonists started to show organized resistance (Volo, 2012). Some colonies even wanted independence from Britain. All this had led to the Boston Tea Party, which signified the beginning of the revolution and the fight over rights, liberty, and independence. In fact, it can be evaluated as great proof that American people were ready to protect their freedom. This is why this event is crucial in American history and has not just shown the strength of American spirit, but has initiated the American Revolution. Consequently, in 1774, the First Continental Congress was formed to support the existing opposition. The Boston Tea Party inspired many colonists to enforce similar acts (Volo, 2012). Many historians define it as a starting point of the creation of a new independent and powerful nation. As a result, the newly independent country the United States of America appeared on the world map (Volo, 2012). Since then, the freedom of speech and each separate citizen are the main values of the state. As a matter of fact, the people`s struggle over their freedom affected everyone in the world and led to the creation of the institute of independence. Due to the protest, people realized that constitutional rights and freedom are worth everything to protect. The long history of the formation of the US shows that not only was a new state created, but also a new strong independent position. This is how the US became a powerful state with a strong position in the international system it is nowadays. The people`s desire for freedom and liberty has been forming for many years.
Overall, I am convinced that the US is a powerful multicultural country that has been moving to its position gradually and for quite a long time. Starting from the exploration and colonization periods, this position began to develop and reached its peak when the rights and freedom of people were restricted. Such an attitude led to the revolution and fight over the principles of liberty and own independence. Over the centuries, this struggle helped to form a strong position that influences other countries and the international community in general. Such a position promotes independence, liberty, freedom, equal conditions from racial and gender perspectives. Hence, the US as a great multicultural country with its strengths and weaknesses has been forming for centuries, and the current achievements are predetermined by the national and governmental decisions during all stages.