American History from the Columbus’s voyages through the Mexican-American War (1846-1848)
I. Descriptive Analysis
The explorer Christopher Columbus was looking for a western route to Asia when he came across the Caribbean islands in 1492 (U.S. Department of State, 2005). He never entered mainland America, but, he took the reports of a new land to the Spanish government, which sent more explorers.
In 1497, a Vietnamese man John Cabot visited mainland America around Newfoundland. This was five years after Christopher Columbus had arrived at the Caribbean. In years to come, this visit by Cabot became one of the major factors in the fight over America, since he was on assignment from the king of England (U.S. Department of State, 2005). Later on in 1513, the second contingent of Spanish men arrived at the coast of Florida. Spain conquered Mexico in 1522, and this territory at that time included Texas.
The Europeans were not entering an uninhabited wilderness, there were millions of Native Americans living there (U.S. Department of State, 2005). The effect of European occupation of America on the Native Americans was devastating, leading to several tribes being completely wiped out. For one, the Europeans arrived with diseases that the Naïve Americans had never encountered before such as Small Pox, which wiped out many villages. Small Pox is believed to have been more devastating to the Native Americans than violent conflict with the Europeans (U.S. Department of State, 2005).
Native American tribes lived in different habitats and spoke different languages. This meant that they did not all have the same culture. Native Americans living in Western and mid Western US were generally hunters and gathers who also grew maize (U.S. Department of State, 2005). Generally, women tended the farms while men hunted. North American natives lived a communal life, and their literature was mostly oral (U.S. Department of State, 2005).
In the 1600s and 1700s, Europeans started to migrate to America in large numbers. They generally formed small colonies at first, choosing one of their own as a leader. (U.S. Department of State, 2005). They arrived in small vessels, often congested. Europeans migrated to America mostly to seek freedom; economic, political and religious.
Initial relationships with the Native Americans were complex, featuring a mix of friendliness and hostility.
The initial settlers in New England were Puritans, Christians who fled Europe due to persecution (U.S. Department of State, 2005).
The French Indian War (known in Europe as the Seven Year’ War) took place between 1754 and 1763. This war settled once and for all, the struggle for dominance in America between Britain and France. The final product of this war was the Peace of Paris, written in 1763 in which France surrendered Canada, the Great Lakes, and the Mississippi to the British (U.S. Department of State, 2005). After this war, Britain now concentrated its energies on governing its vast empire.
Being religious puritans, the pilgrims firmly believed that God had created all men equal. Having fled from serfdom in European countries, they were eager to build a nation where all men were equal.
The Declaration of Independence was written by Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States. It was widely accepted because already pamphleteer Thomas Paine had spent a year agitating fellow American settlers to go for freedom instead of serving a hereditary monarchy. Paine proposed that citizenry should be free to pursue liberty and happiness, instead of being tied to a tyrannical monarchy. The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4th 1776, announcing the beginning of the United States of America, and emphasizes a firm belief in human freedom. The bill of rights was drawn up to ensure that people’s ‘inalienable rights’ all over the USA are protected. It was deliberated for 16 weeks, before emerging as an intact document that was signed by he trimmed the fences.
The constitution was ratified by 9 out of 13 states in 1788, which divided the new colony into the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists who feared a powerful central government.
George Washington was unanimously elected the first president of the Congress of the Confederation in March 4th 1789 (U.S. Department of State, 2005). Residents characterized his behavior as ‘wise.’
George Washington exercised great wisdom and tact, especially when it came to military matters. He outwitted the British several times during the war.
Thomas Jefferson in 1803 persuaded Napoleon to sell Louisiana to America, since he was fast losing territory to the British and France had just been expelled from Haiti by slaves. He later imposed the Embargo Act against the British as a means of getting back at Britain for her harassment of American sea farers. In 1812, the United States declared war on Britain due to the mistreatment of US seamen (U.S. Department of State, 2005); this was under president James Madison.
The second Great Awakening took place in the 1800s, when many educated Americans did not hold on to strong Christian beliefs. A new wave of religious commitment hit many parts of America (U.S. Department of State, 2005).
During the early 19th Century, American ideas of freedom spread through Latin America like wildfire. Most of Hispanic America was independent by 1822. President James Monroe (Monroe Doctrine) chose to recognize them.
In the 1820s, politicians made even more efforts to win the hearts of voters, Andrew Jackson’s cry was ‘government by the people,’ not Jefferson’s ‘government for the people.’ This has left a legacy because ever since then, politicians try to win workers. It created the Nullification crisis
The nullification crisis was a result of great bitterness among voters in South Carolina’s because they did not get a big reduction in tariff rates. They saw the tariff as a representation of oppression and nullifying the tariff seemed like a good idea.
The state could declare the federal law unconstitutional but Jackson favored taking the middle ground – this got him heckled.
In the 1830s, Native Americans were forcibly evicted from their homes and forced to trek for hundreds of miles, hungry and cold – the trail of tears. All because gold had been discovered in their lands.
In the 1820s, many Americans believed that the United States of America had a ‘manifest destiny’ to possess the neighboring lands of Mexico, Texas and California. They also incited revolts. Finally, Mexico surrendered California to the US, and the US successfully fought for Texas. The Spanish-American war was fought in 1898. After the war, America was in control of islands in the Caribbean and the pacific.
The end result was a war running from 1846 to 1848 after which America regained its territories.
Asokan, N. (2005). A Study of American History Pondicherry: The Mother’s Service Society.
Borneman Walter R. (2005). 1812: The War that Forged a Nation. New York: Harper’s Perennial.
Jahoda Gloria (1995). Trail of Tears. USA: Wings.
U.S. Department of State. (2005). Outline of U.S. History. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of State.