Germanic Norse seafarers, speaking the Old Norse language, who raided and traded from their Scandinavian homelands across wide areas of northern and central Europe, as well as European Russia, during the late 8th to late 11th centuries. Following extended phases of exploration, expansion and settlement, Viking (Norse) communities and polities were established in diverse areas of north-western Europe, European Russia, the North Atlantic islands and as far as the north-eastern coast of North America. Vikings under Leif Ericson, heir to Erik the Red, reached North America and set up short-lived settlements in present-day L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, and Labrador, Canada. an Italian explorer, navigator, and colonizer, citizen of the Republic of Genoa. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean. Those voyages, and his efforts to establish permanent settlements on the island of Hispaniola, initiated the Spanish colonization of the New World. Though Columbus was not the first European explorer to reach the Americas (having been preceded by the Norse expedition led by Leif Ericson in the 11th century), his voyages led to the first lasting European contact with the Americas, inaugurating a period of European exploration, conquest, and colonization that lasted for several centuries. an English landed gentleman, writer, poet, soldier, politician, courtier, spy, and explorer. He is also well known for popularising tobacco in England. He rose rapidly in the favour of Queen Elizabeth I and was knighted in 1585. In 1594, Raleigh heard of a "City of Gold" in South America and sailed to find it, publishing an exaggerated account of his experiences in a book that contributed to the legend of "El Dorado". Raleigh's charter explored from North Carolina to Florida and named the region 'Virginia' in honour of the "Virgin Queen". After Queen Elizabeth died in 1603, Raleigh was again imprisoned in the Tower. refers to a grant of land, usually 50 acres, given to settlers in the 13 colonies. The system was used mainly in Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Maryland. It proved to be quite effective by increasing the population in the British colonies. The headright system was originally created in 1618 in Jamestown, Virginia. It was used as a way to attract new settlers to the region and address the labour shortage. With the emergence of tobacco farming, a large supply of workers was needed. New settlers who paid their way to Virginia received 50 acres of land. However, most of the workers who arrived in Virginia were indentured servants, people who pledged to perform five to seven years of labour. Plantation owners definitely benefited from the headright system when they transported slaves. Many families grew in power by receiving many acres of land. an English settlement on the east coast of North America (Massachusetts Bay) in the 17th century, in New England, situated around the present-day cities of Salem and Boston. The territory administered by the colony included much of present-day central New England, including portions of the U.S. states of Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. The Massachusetts Bay Colony begun in 1628 was successful, with about 20,000 people migrating to New England in the 1630s. The population was strongly Puritan, and its governance was dominated by a small group of leaders who were strongly influenced by Puritan religious leaders. The colony was economically successful, engaging in trade with England and the West Indies. a series of acts passed, beginning in 1767, by the Parliament of Great Britain relating to the British colonies in North America. The acts are named after Charles Townshend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who proposed the programme. Historians vary slightly in which acts they include under the heading "Townshend Acts", but six laws are often mentioned: the Revenue Act of 1767, the Indemnity Act, the Commissioners of Customs Act, the Vice Admiralty Court Act, and the New York Restraining Act. The purpose of the Townshend Acts was to raise revenue in the colonies to pay the salaries of governors and judges so that they would remain loyal to Great Britain, to create a more effective means of enforcing compliance with trade regulations, to punish the province of New York for failing to comply with the 1765 Quartering Act, and to establish the precedent that the British Parliament had the right to tax the colonies. The Townshend Acts were met with resistance in the colonies, prompting the occupation of Boston by British troops in 1768, which eventually resulted in the Boston Massacre of 1770. As a result of widespread protest in the American colonies, Parliament began to consider a motion to partially repeal the Townshend duties. Most of the new taxes were repealed, but the tax on tea was retained. The British government continued in its attempt to tax the colonists without their consent and the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution followed. (the Incident on King Street) was an incident on March 5, 1770, in which British Army soldiers killed five male civilians and injured six others. The incident was heavily propagandized by leading Patriots, such as Paul Revere and Samuel Adams, to fuel animosity toward the British authorities. British troops had been stationed in Boston, capital of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, since 1768 in order to protect and support crown-appointed colonial officials attempting to enforce unpopular Parliamentary legislation. Amid ongoing tense relations between the population and the soldiers, a mob formed around a British sentry, who was subjected to verbal abuse and harassment. He was eventually supported by eight additional soldiers, who were subjected to verbal threats and thrown objects. They fired into the crowd, without orders, instantly killing three people and wounding others. Two more people died later of wounds sustained in the incident. The crowd eventually dispersed after Acting Governor Thomas Hutchinson promised an inquiry, but reformed the next day, prompting the withdrawal of the troops to Castle Island. Eight soldiers, one officer, and four civilians were arrested and charged with murder. Defended by the lawyer and future American president, John Adams, six of the soldiers were acquitted, while the other two were convicted of manslaughter and given reduced sentences. The men found guilty of manslaughter were sentenced to branding on their hand. Depictions, reports, and propaganda about the event, notably the colored engraving produced by Paul Revere (shown at right), further heightened tensions throughout the Thirteen Colonies. a political protest by the Sons of Liberty in Boston, on December 16, 1773. The demonstrators, some disguised as American Indians, destroyed an entire shipment of tea sent by the East India Company, in defiance of the Tea Act of May 10, 1773. They boarded the ships and threw the chests of tea into Boston Harbour, ruining the tea. The British government responded harshly and the episode escalated into the American Revolution. The Boston Tea Party was a key event in the growth of the American Revolution. Parliament responded in 1774 with the Coercive Acts, or Intolerable Acts, which, among other provisions, ended local self-government in Massachusetts and closed Boston's commerce. the armed conflict between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen of its former North American colonies, which had declared themselves the independent United States of America. Early fighting took place primarily on the North American continent. In 1778 France, eager for revenge after its defeat in 1763, signed an alliance with the new nation. The conflict then escalated into a world war with Britain combating France, Spain, and the Netherlands. Contemporaneous fighting also broke out in India between the British East India Company and the French allied Kingdom of Mysore.
The war had its origins in the resistance of many Americans to taxes imposed by the British parliament, which they claimed were unconstitutional. Patriot protests escalated into boycotts and the destruction of a shipment of tea at the Boston Tea Party. The British government punished Massachusetts by closing the port of Boston and taking away self-government. The Patriots responded by setting up a shadow government which took control of the province outside of Boston. Twelve other colonies supported Massachusetts. In April 1775 fighting broke out between Massachusetts militia units and British regulars at Lexington and Concord. The Continental Congress appointed General George Washington to take charge of militia units besieging British forces in Boston, forcing them to evacuate the city in March 1776. In July 1776, the Continental Congress formally declared independence. The British were meanwhile mustering forces to suppress the revolt. The victory in the Battles of Saratoga encouraged France to enter the war in 1778, followed by its ally Spain in 1779. Washington took control of a Franco-American siege at Yorktown and captured the entire British force of over 7,000 men. The defeat at Yorktown finally turned the British Parliament against the war. The war at sea continued, and the British Navy scored key victories, especially the Battle of the Saintes in 1782. In 1783, the Treaty of Paris ended the war and recognized the sovereignty of the United States over the territory bounded roughly by what is now Canada to the north, Florida to the south, and the Mississippi River to the west.
one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A renowned polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. As an inventor, he is known for the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin stove, among other inventions. He facilitated many civic organizations, including Philadelphia's fire department and a university. Franklin earned the title of "The First American" for his early and indefatigable campaigning for colonial unity. His efforts to secure support for the American Revolution by shipments of crucial munitions proved vital for the American war effort. For many years he was the British postmaster for the colonies, which enabled him to set up the first national communications network. He was active in community affairs, colonial and state politics, as well as national and international affairs. From 1785 to 1788, he served as governor of Pennsylvania. Toward the end of his life, he freed his own slaves and became one of the most prominent abolitionists. the supreme law of the United States of America. Delegates used two streams of intellectual tradition: (1) The Virginia Plan recommended a consolidated national government, generally favouring the most highly populated states. (2) It used the philosophy of John Locke to rely on consent of the governed, Montesquieu for divided government, and Edward Coke to emphasize civil liberties. On May 14, 1787, only the Virginia and Pennsylvania delegations were present. A quorum of seven states met and deliberations began on May 25. Eventually twelve states were represented. On July 24, a committee of five — John Rutledge (South Carolina), Edmund Randolph (Virginia), Nathaniel Gorham (Massachusetts), Oliver Ellsworth (Connecticut), and James Wilson (Pennsylvania) — was elected to draft a detailed constitution. 39 signed the Constitution. the second president of the United States (1797-1801), having earlier served as the first vice president of the United States. An American Founding Father, Adams was a statesman, diplomat, and a leading advocate of American independence from Great Britain. After the Boston Massacre, with anti-British feelings in Boston at a boiling point, he provided a principled, controversial, and successful legal defence of the accused British soldiers, because he believed in the right to counsel and the "protect[ion] of innocence". He assisted Thomas Jefferson in drafting the Declaration of Independence in 1776. In 1800, Adams was defeated for re-election by Thomas Jefferson and retired to Massachusetts. Adams was the first U.S. president to reside in the executive mansion that eventually became known as the White House. a military conflict, lasting for two-and-a-half years, fought by the United States of America against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, its North American colonies, and its American Indian allies. Seen by the United States and Canada as a war in its own right, it is frequently seen in Europe as a theatre of the Napoleonic Wars, as it was caused by issues related to that war. The United States declared war on June 18, 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions brought about by the British war with France, the impressment of American merchant sailors into the Royal Navy, British support of Indian tribes against American expansion, outrage over insults to national honour after humiliations on the high seas, and possible American interest in annexing British territory in modern-day Canada. a book about slavery published in 1956 by academic Kenneth M. Stampp of the University of California, Berkeley and other universities. It describes and analyzes the many different facets of slavery in the south, from the seventeenth century through the mid-nineteenth century, including demographics, lives of slaves and slaveholders, the southern economy and labour systems, the northern and abolitionist response, slave trading, and political issues of the time. An interesting element of the book is how Stampp analyzes the standard view of historians such as Ulrich Phillips that many southern slave owners were very kind to their slaves, and provided well for them. It was sometimes known for slaves to have lives as good as or better than poor northern workers. However, Stampp examines this issue mostly to show this behaviour as a selfish strategy, easing the lives of some slaves, in order to prevent dissent among slaves, or possible legal action for mistreatment of slaves. Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes extensively from The Peculiar Institution. a landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court held that African Americans, whether enslaved or free, could not be American citizens and therefore had no standing to sue in federal court, and that the federal government had no power to regulate slavery in the federal territories acquired after the creation of the United States. Dred Scott, an enslaved African American man who had been taken by his owners to free states and territories, attempted to sue for his freedom. In a 7-2 decision written by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, the Court denied Scott's request. Although Taney hoped that his ruling would definitively settle the slavery question, the decision immediately spurred vehement dissent from anti-slavery elements in the North, especially Republicans. Many contemporary lawyers, and most modern legal scholars, consider the ruling regarding slavery in the territories to be dictum, not binding precedent. The decision proved to be an indirect catalyst for the American Civil War. It was functionally superseded by the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which gave African Americans full citizenship. Abolitionism is a movement to end slavery, whether formal or informal. In Western Europe and the Americas, abolitionism was a historical movement to end the African and Indian slave trade and set slaves free. In the 17th century, English Quakers and evangelical religious groups condemned slavery as un-Christian; in the 18th century, abolition was part of the message of the First Great Awakening in the Thirteen Colonies; and in the same period, rationalist thinkers of the Enlightenment criticized it for violating the rights of man. After the American Revolution established the United States, northern states passed legislation during the next two decades abolishing slavery, sometimes by gradual emancipation. Massachusetts ratified a constitution that declared all men equal; freedom suits challenging slavery based on this principle brought an end to slavery in the state. In other states, such as Virginia, similar declarations of rights were interpreted by the courts as not applicable to Africans. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order of the U.S. government issued on January 1, 1863 changing the legal status of 3 million slaves in designated areas of the Confederacy from "slave" to "free." The border states were exempt from the Emancipation Proclamation, but they too (except Delaware) began their own emancipation programs. the name of three distinct movements in the United States. The first sought to overthrow the Republican state governments in the South during the Reconstruction Era, especially by violence against African American leaders. It ended about 1871. The second was a very large, controversial, nationwide organization in the 1920s that especially opposed Catholics. The current manifestation consists of numerous small unconnected groups that use the KKK name. They have all emphasized racism, secrecy and distinctive costumes. All have called for purification of American society, and all are considered part of right-wing extremism. The first Ku Klux Klan flourished in the Southern United States in the late 1860s, and then died out by the early 1870s. Members made their own, often colourful, costumes: robes, masks, and conical hats, designed to be outlandish and terrifying, and to hide their identities. was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments. The amendment addresses citizenship rights and equal protection of the laws, and was proposed in response to issues related to former slaves following the American Civil War. The amendment was bitterly contested, particularly by Southern states, which were forced to ratify it in order for them to regain representation in Congress. The Fourteenth Amendment, particularly its first section, is one of the most litigated parts of the Constitution, forming the basis for landmark decisions. The Due Process Clause prohibits state and local government officials from depriving persons of life, liberty, or property without legislative authorization. The Equal Protection Clause requires each state to provide equal protection under the law to all people within its jurisdiction. the term Reconstruction Era has two senses: (1) covers the complete history of the entire country from 1865 to 1877 following the Civil War; (2) sense focuses on the transformation of the Southern United States from 1863 to 1877, as directed by Congress, with the reconstruction of state and society. Reconstruction encompassed three major initiatives: restoration of the Union, transformation of southern society, and enactment of progressive legislation favouring the rights of freed slaves. President Abraham Lincoln's Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction—issued in 1863, two years before the war even ended—mapped out the first of these initiatives, his Ten-Percent Plan. Under the plan, each southern state would be readmitted to the Union after 10 percent of its voting population had pledged future loyalty to the United States, and all Confederates except high-ranking government and military officials would be pardoned. The Radical Republicans also believed that southern society would have to be completely transformed to ensure that the South would not try to secede again. The Radicals therefore attempted to reshape the South by enfranchising blacks, putting Unionist and pro-Republican governments in southern legislatures, and punishing southern planter elites, whom many politicians held responsible for the Civil War. As "carpetbaggers" and "scalawags" streamed into the South, southerners denounced them as traitors and falsely accused many of corruption. Ultimately, the most important part of Reconstruction was the push to secure rights for former slaves. Radical Republicans, aware that newly freed slaves would face insidious racism, passed a series of progressive laws and amendments in Congress that protected blacks' rights under federal and constitutional law. The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery, the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the Fourteenth Amendment granted blacks citizenship, the Fifteenth Amendment gave black men the right to vote, and the Civil Rights Act of 1875 attempted to ban racial discrimination in public places. Reconstruction was a mixed success. By the end of the era, the North and South were once again reunited, and all southern state legislatures had abolished slavery in their constitutions. Reconstruction also laid to a rest the debate of states' rights vs. federalism, which had been a pressing issue since the late 1790s. But Reconstruction failed in most other ways. the late 19th century, from the 1870s to about 1900. The term was coined by writer Mark Twain in The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today (1873), which satirized an era of serious social problems masked by a thin gold gilding. The Gilded Age was an era of rapid economic growth, especially in the North and West. American wages, especially for skilled workers, were much higher than in Europe, which attracted millions of immigrants. The political landscape was notable in that despite some corruption, turnout was very high and elections between the evenly matched parties were close. The dominant issues were cultural (especially regarding prohibition, education and ethnic and racial groups), and economic (tariffs and money supply). With the rapid growth of cities, political machines increasingly took control of urban politics. an American statesman, author, explorer, soldier, naturalist, and historian who served as the 26th President of the United States. A leader of the Republican Party, he was the spokesman for the Progressive Era. Leading his party and country into the Progressive Era, his "Square Deal" domestic policies promised the average citizen fairness, pursuit of anti-trust litigation, low railroad rates, and guaranteeing pure food and drugs. In foreign policy, Roosevelt concentrated on the Americas, where he began construction of the Panama Canal; while his incumbency saw no wars, a significant naval expansion sent the Great White Fleet on a world tour, projecting the Navy's dominance as a blue-water fleet, firming his policy to "speak softly and carry a big stick". From 1914 to 1917, he campaigned for American entry into World War I, and reconciled with Republican leadership. a central issue, with fears that large corporations would impose monopolistic prices to defraud consumers and drive small, independent companies out. By 1904, 318 trusts including those in railroads, local transit, and banking industry controlled two-fifths of the nation's industrial output. It was Roosevelt who acted most powerfully as the "trust buster." Once he became President, Roosevelt worked to increase the regulatory power of the federal government. Regulation of railroads was strengthened by the Elkins Act of 1903 and the Hepburn Act of 1906, which curbed the monopolitistic power of the railroads. Under the president's leadership, the Attorney General brought 44 suits against monopolists. Notably, J. P. Morgan's Northern Securities Company, a huge railroad combination, was broken up. To deal with the labour and management issues, Roosevelt established the Department of Commerce and Labour. an armed engagement between combined forces of the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes, against the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army. The battle, which occurred June 25-26, 1876, near the Little Bighorn River in eastern Montana Territory, was the most prominent action of the Great Sioux War of 1876. It was an overwhelming victory for the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho, led by several major war leaders, including Crazy Horse and Chief Gall, inspired by the visions of Sitting Bull. The total U.S. casualty count, including scouts, was 268 dead and 55 injured. USS Maine (ACR-1), commissioned in 1895, was the first United States Navy ship to be named after the state of Maine. The Maine is best known for her loss in Havana Harbour on the evening of 15 February 1898. Sent to protect U.S. interests during the Cuban revolt against Spain, she exploded suddenly, without warning, and sank quickly, killing nearly three quarters of her crew. The cause and responsibility for her sinking remained unclear after a board of inquiry investigated. The phrase, "remember the Maine, to Hell with Spain", became a rallying cry for action, which came with the Spanish-American War later that year. While the sinking of the Maine was not a direct cause for action, it served as a catalyst, accelerating the approach to a diplomatic impasse between the U.S. and Spain. the 1920s in the United States and Europe, characterizing the decade's distinctive cultural edge in New York, Montreal, Chicago, Paris, Berlin, London, Los Angeles, and many other major cities during a period of sustained economic prosperity. The spirit of the Roaring Twenties was marked by a general feeling of discontinuity associated with modernity and a break with traditions. Everything seemed to be feasible through modern technology. New technologies, especially automobiles, moving pictures and radio proliferated "modernity" to a large part of the population. Normalcy returned to politics in the wake of hyper-emotional patriotism after World War I, jazz music blossomed, the flapper redefined modern womanhood and Art Deco peaked. a nationwide constitutional ban on the sale, production, importation, and transportation of alcoholic beverages that remained in place from 1920 to 1933. It was promoted by the "dry" crusaders, a movement led by rural Protestants and social Progressives in the Democratic and Republican parties, and was coordinated by the Anti-Saloon League, and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. Prohibition was mandated under the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Enabling legislation, known as the Volstead Act, set down the rules for enforcing the ban and defined the types of alcoholic beverages that were prohibited. For example, religious uses of wine were allowed. Private ownership and consumption of alcohol was not made illegal under federal law; however, in many areas local laws were stricter, with some states banning possession outright. Nationwide Prohibition ended with the ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment, which repealed the Eighteenth Amendment, on December 5, 1933. sometimes called the Crimea Conference and codenamed the Argonaut Conference, held from February 4 to 11, 1945, was the World War II meeting of the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union, represented by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Premier Joseph Stalin, respectively, for the purpose of discussing Europe's post-war reorganization. The conference convened in the Livadia Palace near Yalta in Crimea. The meeting was intended mainly to discuss the re-establishment of the nations of war-torn Europe. Within a few years, with the Cold War dividing the continent, Yalta became a subject of intense controversy. held at Cecilienhof, the home of Crown Prince Wilhelm Hohenzollern, in Potsdam, occupied Germany, from 17 July to 2 August 1945. (In some older documents it is also referred to as the Berlin Conference of the Three Heads of Government of the USSR, USA and UK) Participants were the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States. The three powers were represented by Communist Party General Secretary Joseph Stalin, Prime Ministers Winston Churchill, and, later, Clement Attlee, and President Harry S. Truman.Stalin, Churchill, and Truman—as well as Attlee, who participated alongside Churchill while awaiting the outcome of the 1945 general election, and then replaced Churchill as Prime Minister after the Labour Party's defeat of the Conservatives—gathered to decide how to administer punishment to the defeated Nazi Germany, which had agreed to unconditional surrender nine weeks earlier, on 8 May (V-E Day). The goals of the conference also included the establishment of post-war order, peace treaty issues, and countering the effects of the war. the 36th president in 1963, following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Johnson was strongly supported by the Democratic Party, and as President he designed the "Great Society" legislation upholding civil rights, public broadcasting, Medicare, Medicaid, aid to education, the arts, urban and rural development, public services, and his "War on Poverty". Assisted in part by a growing economy, the War on Poverty helped millions of Americans rise above the poverty line during Johnson's presidency. Civil rights bills signed by Johnson banned racial discrimination in public facilities, interstate commerce, the workplace, and housing; and the voting rights act banned certain requirements in Southern states used to disenfranchise African Americans. a general term, included the segregation or "hypersegregation" of facilities, services, and opportunities such as housing, medical care, education, employment, and transportation along racial lines. The expression most often refers to the legally or socially enforced separation of African Americans from other races, but also applies to the general discrimination against people of colour by white communities. The term can also refer to other manifestations of racial discrimination, such as separation of roles within an institution: for example, in the United States Armed Forces before the 1950s, black units were typically separated from white units but were led by white officers. a major political scandal that occurred in the United States in the 1970s as a result of the June 17, 1972, break-in at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C., and the Nixon administration's attempted cover-up of its involvement. When the conspiracy was discovered and investigated by the U.S. Congress, the Nixon administration's resistance to its probes led to a constitutional crisis. The affair began with the arrest of five men for breaking and entering into the DNC headquarters at the Watergate complex on June 17, 1972. Facing near-certain impeachment in the House of Representatives and equally certain conviction by the Senate, Nixon resigned the presidency on August 9, 1974. On September 8, 1974, his successor, Gerald Ford, pardoned him.