Usa History Essay Research Paper The history — страница 2

  • Просмотров 189
  • Скачиваний 5
  • Размер файла 16
    Кб

against the federal government’s efforts to curtail the latter’s spread. Several compromises over the slavery issue held the Union together for more than a half-century, but the election as president in 1860 of Abraham Lincoln, whose Republican Party clearly advocated the prohibition of slavery in the Western territories, led South Carolina to secede, joined by 10 other Southern states by the next year. Lincoln denied the Southern states’ right to secede. The North’s defeat of the South in the ensuing Civil War (1861-65) resulted in the preservation of the Union, the abolition of slavery, the establishment of citizenship for former slaves, and the institution of universal adult male suffrage. Lincoln’s plans for magnanimity to the defeated South were cut short by his

assassination, and Congress, completely dominated by northern Radical Republicans, embarked on its own, more punitive scheme of reconstruction. This system, which protected black civil rights in the South, came to an end with the withdrawal of federal (Northern) troops by 1877. Thereafter, Southern blacks were gradually disenfranchised and forcibly segregated within the larger society. The post-Civil War United States was characterized by rapid industrialization, a continuing westward movement across the Great Plains, a massive influx of foreign immigrants, and the slow emergence of the United States into a position of world power. The westward movement fueled by the desire for land, led to a long series of evictions of Plains Indians from their lands onto less desirable

reservations. Immigration from Europe exceeded 13,000,000 between 1900 and 1914 alone and provided labour for the North’s burgeoning factories. When Cuba revolted against Spain in 1895, American sympathies and interests ultimately led to war with Spain (1898). Victory brought the United States its first overseas territories (the Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico) and marked it as an emergent international power. The United States’ rise to great-power status had its price. Though President Woodrow Wilson pledged neutrality in World War I, the United States was unable to remain outside the struggle. Its entry into the war in 1917 was decisive in bringing about an Allied victory and commenced American involvement in the European balance of power. The prosperity of the decade that

followed World War I came to a sudden end in 1929 when the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began. It ushered in an era of increased federal involvement in economic and social policy under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. His New Deal legislation revolutionized the country, but full economic recovery was still not achieved until war production became massive on the eve of World War II. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor brought the United States into World War II on the side of Britain and the Soviet Union against the fascist nations of Germany, Japan, and Italy. The war effort galvanized the American economy’s productive capacity, and after victory was achieved in 1945 the United States experienced three decades of unprecedented economic growth and prosperity.

The Allied victory in 1945 left the United States the leader of the Western world, deeply involved in the reconstruction of Europe and Japan, but embroiled in 40-year-long rivalry with the Soviet Union that became known as the Cold War. In 1949 the United States formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in an effort to counter the Soviet military presence in eastern Europe, and a Soviet-inspired attack on South Korea involved the United States in the Korean War (1950-53), which ended in stalemate. The United States subsequently became involved in the Vietnam War (1955-75) in an effort to prevent communist North Vietnam from taking over South Vietnam. The prolonged and unsuccessful American war effort ended in a withdrawal of the United States from the conflict in 1973 and the

fall of South Vietnam to the communists two years later. At home the 1960s witnessed a successful protest movement by American blacks to outlaw racial segregation and discrimination and to obtain full voting rights in the South and other parts of the country. The expense of the Vietnam War drained resources away from liberal programs of social reform in the 1960s and early ’70s, however, and the end of American involvement in the Vietnam War was accompanied by the Watergate scandal, which forced the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon in 1974. The Cold War ended with the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, leaving the United States the undisputed superpower in the world. The most serious challenges late in the 20th century were economic ones, however. Beginning in the