BY,MUHAMMAD HASAN NAGRA,TOBA TEK SINGH,PAKISTAN
United States History, story of how the republic developed from colonial beginnings in the 16th century, when the first European explorers arrived, until moderntimes. As the nation developed, it expanded westward from small settlements along the Atlantic Coast, eventually including all the territory between the Atlanticand Pacific oceans across the middle of the North American continent, as well as two noncontiguous states and a number of territories. At the same time, thepopulation and the economy of the United States grew and changed dramatically. The population diversified as immigrants arrived from all countries of the world.From its beginnings as a remote English colony, the United States has developed the largest economy in the world. Throughout its history, the United States hasfaced struggles, both within the country
between various ethnic, religious, political, and economic groups
and with other nations. The efforts to deal with andresolve these struggles have shaped the United States of America into the 21st century.This is one of seven major articles that together provide a comprehensive discussion of the United States of America. For more information on the United States,please see the other six major articles: United States (Overview), United States (Geography), United States (People), United States (Culture), United States(Economy), and United States (Government).
1.EARLY CULTURAL INTERACTION
Early American history began in the collision of European, West African, and Nat
ive American peoples in North America. Europeans “discovered” America by
accident, then created empires out of the conquest of indigenous peoples and the enslavement of Africans. Yet conquest and enslavement were accompanied bycenturies of cultural interaction
interaction that spelled disaster for Africans and Native Americans and triumph for Europeans, to be sure, but interaction thattransformed all three peoples in the process.
A Native America in 1580
The lands and human societies that European
explorers called a New World were in fact very old. During the Ice Ages much of the world’s water was bound up in
glaciers. Sea level dropped by hundreds of feet, creating a land bridge between Alaska and Siberia. Asians walked across to become the first human inhabitants of the Americas. Precisely when this happened remains unknown, but most scientists believe it occured before 15,000 years ago. When the last glaciers recededabout 10,000 years ago (thus ending this first great migration to America), ancestors of the Native Americans filled nearly all of the habitable parts of North andSouth America. They lived in isolation from the history
and particularly from the diseases
of what became known as the Old World. See also First Americans.The Native Americans who greeted the first Europeans had become diverse peoples. They spoke between 300 and 350 distinct languages, and their societies andways of living varied tremendously. The Aztecs of Mexico and the Incas of Peru built great empires (see Aztec Empire; Inca Empire). In what is now the UnitedStates, the Mississippians (see Mound Builders) built cities surrounded by farmland between present
day St. Louis, Missouri, (where their city of Cahokia waslarger than medieval London) and Natchez, Mississippi. Th
e Mississippians’ “Great Sun” king ruled authoritatively and was carried from place to place by servants,
preceded by flute
players. The Pueblo peoples of the Southwest lived in large towns, irrigated their dry land with river water, and traded with peoples as far awayas Mexico and California.In the East, the peoples who eventually encountered English settlers were varied, but they lived in similar ways. All of them grew much of their food. Womenfarmed and gathered food in the woods. Men hunted, fished, and made war. None of these peoples kept herds of domestic animals; they relied on abundant wildgame for protein. All lived in family groups, but owed their principal loyalties to a wider network of kin and to their clans. Some
the Iroquois in upstate New York and the Powhatan confederacy in Virginia
formed alliances called confederacies for the purposes of keeping peace among neighbors and making war onoutsiders. Even within these confederacies, however, everyday political organization seldom extended beyond villages, and village chiefs ruled their independent
minded people by consent.
B West Africa in 1580
In Central and West Africa, the great inland kingdoms of Mali and Ghana were influenced (and largely converted) by Islam, and these kingdoms had traded withthe Muslim world for hundreds of years. From the beginning, slaves were among the articles of trade. These earliest enslaved Africans were criminals, warcaptives, and people sold by their relatives to settle debts. New World demand increased the slave trade and changed it. Some of the coastal kingdoms of present
day Togo and Benin entered the trade as middlemen. They conducted raids into the interior and sold their captives to European slavers. Nearly all of the Africans enslaved and brought to America by this trade were natives of the western coastal rain forests and the inland forests of the Congo and Central Africa. About half of all Africans who were captured, enslaved, and sent to the Americas were Bantu
speaking peoples. Others were from smaller ethnic and languagegroups. Most had been farmers in their homeland. The men hunted, fished, and tended animals, while women and men worked the fields cooperatively and inlarge groups. They lived in kin
based villages that were parts of small kingdoms. They practiced polygyny (men often had several wives, each of whommaintained a separate household), and their societies tended to give very specific spiritual duties to women and men. Adolescent girls and boys were inductedinto secret societies in which they learned the sacred and separate duties of women and men. These secret societies provided supernatural help from the spiritsthat governed tasks such as hunting, farming, fertility, and childbirth. Although formal political leaders were all men, older, privileged women exercised greatpower over other women. Thus enslaved African peoples in the New World came from societies in which women raised children and governed one another, andwhere men and women were more nearly equal than in America or Europe.
C European Exploration