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The explorer Christopher Columbus made four trips across the Atlantic Ocean from Spain: in 1492, 1493, 1498 and 1502. He was determined to find a direct water route west from Europe to Asia, but he never did. Instead, he accidentally stumbled upon the Americas. Though he did not really discover the New World (millions of people already lived there),his journeys marked the beginning of centuries of trans-Atlantic conquest and colonization. The 13 colonies Traditionally, when we tell the story of Colonial America, we are talking about the English colonies along the Eastern seaboard. That story is incomplete, but the story of those 13 colonies (New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia) is an important one. English Colonial Expansion Sixteenth-century England was a tumultuous place. Because they could make more money from selling wool than from selling food, many of the nations landowners were converting farmers fields into pastures for sheep. By 1775, on the eve of revolution, there were nearly 2.5 million European and African settlers in North Americas 13 colonies. These colonists did not have much in common, but they were able to band together and fight for their independence. The declaration of independence When armed conflict between bands of American colonists and British soldiers began in April 1775, the Americans were ostensibly fighting only for their rights as subjects of the British crown. The Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia on July 4, a date now celebrated as the birth of American independence. Together with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence can be counted as one of the three essential founding documents of the United States government. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

America's Wars Throughout the history of the United States, Americans have fought on battlefields both near and far, in clashes both large and small, alone and with allies at their sides. From the American Revolution of the late 18th century to the Iraq War in the early 21st, these conflicts have shaped the countrys policies, influenced its culture, defined its borders and cost thousands of lives. The American Revolution The American Revolution (1775-83) is also known as the American Revolutionary War and the U.S. War of Independence. The conflict arose from growing tensions between residents of Great Britain's 13 North American colonies and the colonial government, which represented the British crown. After French assistance helped the Continental Army force the British surrender at Yorktown, the Americans had effectively won their independence, though fighting would not formally end until 1783. The Civil War In the spring of 1861, decades of simmering tensions between the northern and southern United States over issues including states rights versus federal authority, slavery exploded into the American Civil War (1861-65). The War Between the States, as the Civil War was also known, pitted neighbor against neighbor and in some cases, brother against brother. By the time it ended in Confederate surrender in 1865, the Civil War proved to be the costliest war ever fought on American soil, with some 620,000 of 2.4 million soldiers killed. The States The United States of America comprises 50 states and the federal district of Washington, D.C., each with its own geography, traditions and history. The largest state in the country is Alaska, and the smallest is Rhode Island. Thirteen states became part of the United States of America at its inception, while others entered the union at various stages of its history. The Presidents Elected every four years, the president of the United States leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the U.S. Armed Forces. Forty-three men have led the country during its 235-year history. (George Washington, John Adams,Thomas Jefferson,Abraham Lincon, Benjamin Harrison,Theodore Roosevelt,James Carter, Ronald Reagan, William J.Clinton ,George W. Bush ,Barack Obama).

Notable Americans The United States of America was settled, founded and shaped by generations of diverse and extraordinary people who defined its political, cultural and national character. They include inventors, explorers, educators, activists, entrepreneurs and military leaders, among others.( Benjamin Franklin,Thomas Edison,Martin Luther King Jr. ,s.a) Women who fought for the vote On Election Day in 1920, millions of American women exercised their right to vote for the first time. For almost 100 years, women (and men) had been fighting to win that right: They had made speeches, signed petitions, marched in parades and argued over and over again that women, like men, deserved all of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. Perhaps the most well-known womens rights activists are Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul ,Elizabeth Cady Stanton . SYMBOLS THE FLAG: The 50 stars represent the 50 states; the 13 stripes the 13 original colonies.The flag is known as Old Glory, and no one knows for certain who designed it. Most historians believe that U.S. Congressman, Francis Hopkinson was the original designer, while a few still believe that Betsy Ross. GREAT SEAL : The seal was developed by Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in 1776. A final design was approved in 1782, and today (both sides) are found on the back of the U.S. one-dollar bill, and often stamped into specific documents, including foreign treaties and presidential proclamations. NATIONAL EMBLEM : The Bald Eagle was officially declared the National Emblem of the United States by the Second Continental Congress in 1782. It was selected by the USA's founding fathers because it is a species unique to North America. It has become the living symbol of the USA's freedom, spirit and pursuit of excellence. OFFICIAL MOTTO: "In God We Trust" NATIONAL ANTHEM: "The Star-Spangled Banner" NATIONAL FLOWER: The Rose. SYMBOL OF FREEDOM : The Statue of Liberty