There were 13 colonies of Great Britain in North America, in what later became the United States. After these colonies were in America for 3 to 4 generations, the citizens decided to set up their own country and no longer be ruled by George III, the King of Great Britain and Ireland. The Declaration of Independence was published in Philadelphia, on the 4th of July, 1776. General George Washington led the Armies of the Colonies during the Revolutionary War and he became the first United States President. The USA was born, but it had a very horrible flaw: racism was built into the papers that made it a nation. That racism allowed slavery to be used by white citizens over colored citizens. In the 1790 census, you can see that 695,000 slaves were in America, among 3,900,000 citizens. There is no counting of Native Americans, but there were between 7 to 18 million Native Americans living in North America.
This issue of racism and slavery was argued over and over while trying to write the Declaration in 1776 and in the United States congress. The issue could not be resolved. Watch the movie “1776”, to get a visual impact of what happened.
Whether slavery should be instituted in new states that wanted to join the United States, led eleven states of the South to secede from the thirty four states of the USA. Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, choose to fight the Confederation to restore the Union after the Confederate’s soldiers bombarded Union soldiers at Fort Sumter, South Carolina in 1861.
The Civil War was fought from 1861 to 1865: between 620,000 to 750,000 people were killed. Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox in April of 1865. From July 1st to July 3rd in 1863, during the battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania was the last time a foreign entity attacked the United States. This battle was won by the Union and the Confederates went back down South.
President Lincoln announced the emancipation of the slaves of the Confederacy in September of 1862, after the Union army won the battle of Antietam. But the Civil War went on for two more years. Finally, the Confederate Army west of the Mississippi accepted the negotiating terms of the Union on June 2nd, 1865 and the Civil war ended. On June 19th, 1865, Union forces reached Galveston, Texas and announced that all the confederate slaves were free. That is why we celebrate Juneteenth, Emancipation Day. At the end of the war, the US Constitution was amended and all the slaves were freed.
When the United States set up a Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg, an orator spoke for 2 hours. Then President Lincoln got up and made his 2 minute speech:
“ Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom— and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
In the years following the Civil War much political maneuvering went on, to keep African Americans from political power. After the Civil War, the United States went through a Reconstruction and Radical Reconstruction that led to African American men in the US legislature.
But the Ku Klux Klan, born in Pulaski, Tennessee violently reacted to all of this and with the help of southern states they subjected the African Americans to live in fear. There were many lynchings and false arrests and racism in the United States continues to this day.
The Southern states passed Jim Crow laws:
- – led to segregated waiting rooms in professional offices
- – movie theater seating was segregated
- – water fountains were segregated
- – amusement park entrances were segregated
All this, after Lincoln passed the XIII Amendment, freeing in excess of 4 million slaves, and it was still like that in 1962 went I went through US Navy Flight Training in Meridean, Mississippi.
The last half of the 19th century led to industrialization and wage increases in America. Immigration rose and the French gave us Lady Liberty, made of copper. On her island there is a poem, by Emma Lazarus, that ends with these words:
Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
We will move on to Europe for an overview and get back to America later.