Section 1 of Article 3 of the Constitution provides for vesting the judicial power of the United States in one supreme court and in such inferior courts as Congress establishes. Section 2 defines the scope of U.S. judicial power and establishes the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. The judicial power extends to all cases arising under the Constitution, laws, and treaties of the United States; to cases concerning foreign diplomats and admiralty practice; and to diversity cases (those between citizens of different states) and cases in which the United States or a state is a party (however, the Eleventh Amendment, adopted in 1798, forbids federal cognizance of cases brought against a state by citizens of another state or by citizens of a foreign state).
The cases in which the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction—i.e., where another court need not first consider the controversy—are those in which diplomats or a state is a party; even here, it has been held, inferior courts may enjoy concomitant jurisdiction. In all other federal cases the Supreme Court exercises appellate jurisdiction, but subject to limitations and regulations made by Congress.
The court's annual term begins in October. Five justices constitute a quorum to hear a case, and decision is rendered by majority vote. In the event of a tie, the previous judgment is affirmed. Under the Judiciary Law as amended in 1934, cases are usually brought to the court by appeal or by writ of certiorari. The appeal procedure is used when the highest state court has declared that a U.S. statute is unconstitutional or that a state statute does not violate the U.S. Constitution, laws, or treaties. If a lower federal court rules that a U.S. statute is unconstitutional, the government may prosecute an immediate appeal. Certiorari is granted at the court's discretion, with most applications refused. It may be used to review the constitutional decisions of state courts of last resort and federal decisions on any important matter, especially when the inferior courts are in disagreement.
The Supreme Court has two fundamental functions. On the one hand, it must interpret and expound all congressional enactments brought before it in proper cases; in this respect its role parallels that of the state courts of final resort in making the decisive interpretation of state law. On the other hand, the Supreme Court has power (superseding that of all other courts) to examine federal and state statutes and executive actions to determine whether they conform to the U.S. Constitution. When the court rules against the constitutionality of a statute or an executive action, its decision can be overcome only if the Constitution is amended or if the court later overrules itself or modifies its previous opinion. The decisions are not confined to the specific cases, but rather are intended to guide legislatures and executive authority; thereby they mold the development of law. Thus, in the U.S. governmental system the Supreme Court potentially wields the highest power.
The Supreme Court, however, has found many constitutional limitations on its powers, and has voluntarily adopted others so as not to interfere unduly with the other branches of government or with the states. Though there are some notable exceptions, the court has a standing policy of eschewing political disputes, i.e., issues that are considered to be policy matters of legislative or executive authorities. In 1962 the court, over protests that it was entering a "political thicket," ruled in Baker v. Carr that the legislatures of several states must correct imbalances in representation between rural and urban areas. The court rarely attempts to infringe upon the power of the President over foreign affairs. Self-imposed restraints, observed only intermittently, include consideration of a constitutional issue only if the case cannot be considered on other grounds, and the formulation of constitutional decisions in the narrowest terms.
Members of the court are appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. Like all federal judges, they retain their office indefinitely during "good behavior" (only in one instance—that of Justice Samuel Chase in 1805—were impeachment proceedings ever brought against a member of the Supreme Court).
The size of the Supreme Court is not prescribed by the Constitution; it is set by statute. The court began in 1789 with six members and was increased to seven in 1807, to nine in 1837, and to ten in 1863. In 1866 the membership was reduced to eight to prevent President Andrew Johnson from filling any vacancies. Since 1869, the court has comprised nine members.
By 2007 a total of 110 Justices, 108 men and 2 women, had sat on the bench. Five served both as Associate Justice and as Chief Justice; they were John Rutledge (appointed Chief Justice in 1795 but never confirmed by the Senate), Edward D. White (appointed to the court in 1894 and Chief Justice from 1910 to 1921), Charles Evans Hughes (an Associate Justice from 1910 to 1916, he served as Chief Justice from 1930 to 1941), Harlan F. Stone (appointed to the court in 1925 and Chief Justice from 1941 to 1946), and William H. Rehnquist (appointed Associate Justice in 1971 and Chief Justice from 1986 to 2005). See the table entitled Supreme Court Justices for a chronological list of all Chief Justices and Associate Justices.
The history of the Supreme Court reflects the development of the U.S. economy, the alteration of political views, and the evolution of the federal structure. In its earliest years, the court had little business to transact. Much of the justices' time was consumed in appearing on the federal courts of appeal in the judicial circuits assigned to them. This obligation of circuit riding was later to interfere seriously with the performance of the court's more important business. For the most part the full bench—sitting first in New York City, then in Philadelphia, finally in Washington—was a court of last resort in admiralty cases and in cases arising out of diversity of citizenship. The court somewhat later decided (in 1842 in Swift v. Tyson) that in diversity suits it would follow not state law but a presumed federal common law.The Court under Marshall
The status of the Supreme Court was somewhat uncertain until the tenure (1801-35) of John Marshall, the "Great Chief Justice." Marshall, a strong Federalist, in Marbury v. Madison established the principle of judicial review, i.e., the right of all courts to refuse the enforcement of unconstitutional enactments of Congress. The same power in regard to state laws was asserted in the opinion of Martin v. Hunter's Lessee (1816), delivered by Justice Joseph Story.
In other opinions, Marshall further strengthened the Federalist position as against those who espoused states' rights. This is seen notably in McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), which, by holding the creation of the second National Bank a legitimate power of Congress, gave judicial sanction to Alexander Hamilton's broad interpretation of the Constitution and extended the powers of the federal government over matters of decisive economic importance; and in Gibbons v. Ogden (1824), which confirmed the power of Congress to regulate commerce. Also of importance was Marshall's decision in the Dartmouth College Case (1819), which protected state-granted charters from impairment by state legislatures.The Court under Taney
Under Marshall's successor, Roger B. Taney, the court recognized to some extent the claims of state regulatory authority through police power. However, in the Dred Scott Case, Taney made what many persons considered an unwarranted limitation of federal authority in forbidding Congress to prohibit slavery in the territories. So violent was the reaction of antislavery forces to the decision that in the North the prestige of the court declined greatly. The low point in the judiciary's estate came during the Civil War when Taney's challenge of President Lincoln's power to suspend habeas corpus was ignored by the President and denounced by the Northern press (see Merryman, ex parte).From the Civil War to 1937
The end of the Civil War to 1937 encompasses the second great period in the history of the court. After the adoption (1868) of the Fourteenth Amendment, the character of litigation before the court was altered, and there were many cases alleging that state legislation took liberty or property without due process of law, or denied equal protection of the laws. In the late 19th cent., the flood of litigation arising from a wide variety of causes was delaying the disposition of cases up to three years. Relief was imperative, and finally, in 1891, Congress created the circuit courts of appeals to give a final hearing to most appeals and excused the justices from riding circuit (however, each justice still heads one or more circuits).
In the early 20th cent., the court appeared to be highly conservative in its views. It showed in general a rigid adherence to stare decisis (the rule that precedents are to be followed), a tendency to prevent the states from adopting laws that restricted business in its employment practices and other activities, and little disposition to restrain the states from restricting civil liberties, as in the Plessy v. Ferguson case (1896), which upheld the right of states to enforce segregationist Jim Crow legislation in many Southern states. In the Insular Cases (1901), arising out of questions concerning the status of peoples in the territories acquired as a result of the Spanish American War, the court asserted that the civil rights guaranteed by the Constitution did not automatically apply to the people of an annexed territory, i.e., the Constitution did not follow the flag.
In one notable case, Muller v. Oregon (1908), the court departed from its conservative stand to uphold a state law limiting the maximum working hours of women. The case was unique in that Louis D. Brandeis, counsel for the state, and later to become a distinguished member of the court, eschewed the traditional legal arguments and showed with overwhelming evidence from physicians, factory inspectors, and social workers that the number of hours women worked affected their health and morale. The modern concern with civil liberties began in the aftermath of World War I, as the court, led by Oliver Wendell Holmes and Brandeis, began to expand the constitutional protections to free speech.The Roosevelt Years
A third great period of constitutional history began after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt came to office and Congress passed landmark economic legislation. Much of the economic legislation of the New Deal was attacked on various constitutional grounds, e.g., that the laws were unwarranted delegations of legislative power to the President and interfered with the exclusive power of the states over intrastate commerce. From 1935 to 1937, the court struck down such major pieces of New Deal legislation as the National Industrial Recovery Act (in the Schechter Poultry Case), the Agricultural Adjustment Act, and the Bituminous Coal Act. Some of the laws were condemned by five-to-four decisions.
Unalterably in the conservative camp were Pierce Butler, James McReynolds, George Sutherland, and Willis Van Devanter. The liberals (and supporters for the most part of New Deal legislation) were Benjamin N. Cardozo, Brandeis, and Harlan F. Stone. In the center were Chief Justice Hughes and Owen J. Roberts. Roosevelt, who had not appointed a single justice, was determined to change the composition of the court and proposed (Feb., 1937) a measure designed to displace the "nine old men" and to infuse the bench with "new blood" of his choosing.
His plan—which even his opponents conceded was probably constitutional—was to provide retirement at full pay for all members of the court over 70; if a justice refused to retire, an "assistant" with full voting rights was to be appointed. In no case might there be more than 15 justices. The majority in Congress, which characterized the scheme as "packing the court," prevented it from ever coming up for a vote, and it was abandoned in July.
In April, however, Hughes and Roberts joined the liberal group, thus giving the New Deal a precarious majority of one. By five-to-four votes the National Labor Relations Act and the Social Security Act were upheld. The majority justified these and other decisions by pointing out that the scope of federal legislation had to expand because the growing interdependence of the country made local economic legislation of little value. The court also enunciated the novel view that in acting under the "general welfare" clause of Article 1, Section 8, of the Constitution, Congress was not limited to carrying out its express powers as listed in Article 1 but might pursue a wider range of objectives. Congress was thus given a vast new range of legislative power free of Supreme Court censure.
In 1938, the court took another revolutionary step in overruling Swift v. Tyson. The doctrine of a federal common law was repudiated, and in handling diversity suits the federal courts were directed to use state law. While in this case the Supreme Court limited the scope of federal activity, it took certain steps in the opposite direction. In the conflict of laws (juristic relations between states) it announced many new principles, and it forbade even limited state taxation of federal facilities but offered Congress fairly wide scope to tax various state-supported activities.
The court of the 1940s, with seven appointments by Roosevelt, was not more unified than its Depression-era predecessor. There was less public concern, however, since the court did not invalidate major legislation, while the diverse views of its members on technical subjects—antitrust and patent law, conflict of laws, taxation—mainly concerned lawyers and business. On the contrary, the percentage of dissents and of special opinions was greater than at any previous time. A notable blot on the court's record during World War II was its decision in Korematsu v. United States (1944), which upheld the constitutionality of wartime relocation and internment of Japanese-Americans.The 1950s and 1960s: Civil Liberties and Criminal Procedure
In the 1950s, the court found itself more and more concerned with the constitutional rights of the individual. Freedom of speech and other civil liberty issues were repeatedly brought before the court during this period of concern over internal subversion. Similarly, Congressional interrogation practices, state sedition laws, and other questionable methods used by the authorities in uncovering Communists in and out of government came under severe scrutiny near the end of the decade. The court's willingness to hold the constitutional guarantees of free speech and due process as above the alleged needs of internal security brought strong criticism from conservative jurists and led to attempts in Congress to curb the court's jurisdiction.
By the late 1950s, a fairly clear division on civil liberties had been established within the court. One wing, often called the judicial pacifists, sided with Felix Frankfurter, who argued that legislation and inquiries concerning internal security should be given the benefit of doubt despite infringements of personal liberty. The judicial activist wing, led by Justices Hugo L. Black and William O. Douglas, felt that the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights are absolute and should be considered beyond the power of Congress or the executive to modify. However, in civil-rights litigation, the court closed ranks in 1954, under Chief Justice Earl Warren, to order the desegregation of Southern public schools by a unanimous vote (see integration; Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kans.).
In the 1960s, the court expanded the protection given individuals accused of crimes, especially in the areas of search and seizures (Mapp v. Ohio), confessions (Miranda v. Arizona), and the right to an attorney (Gideon v. Wainwright). In 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed the first African American, Thurgood Marshall, to the court.
In his first term in office, President Richard M. Nixon was able to significantly affect the outlook of the court by appointing a Chief Justice, Warren Burger, and three Associate Justices, Harry Blackmun, Lewis Powell, and William Rehnquist. Byron White, appointed by John F. Kennedy, often voted with the four to cut back the scope of the Warren court on criminal and other holdings. Emphasizing property rights and freedom from government interference, the court held that a private club with a state liquor license could refuse to serve guests because of their race and that a private shopping center could selectively ban political pickets.
In other areas, however, the Burger court proved surprisingly liberal. The death penalty (see capital punishment) was declared unconstitutional in Furman v. Georgia (1972) on the grounds that it constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This was later overturned in Gregg v. Georgia (1976). In Nixon v. United States (1974), a unanimous court, including three Nixon appointees, ordered President Nixon to produce tape recordings relevant to the Watergate affair, a decision that precipitated his resignation three weeks later.
The court's most controversial decision of the Burger years was the declaration of women's rights to abortion in Roe v. Wade (1973). Critics were opposed to both its results—invalidation of state statutes prohibiting abortion—and the grounds for the decision, which they believed had usurped the prerogatives of legislatures in voiding state laws and asserted an unenumerated right not laid out in the Constitution. This argument found favor in the 1980s, under the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, who were committed to overturning the 1973 decision, and had the opportunity to make five appointments to the court.The Current Court
With the emergence of a working conservative majority, particularly under the leadership of William Rehnquist (1986-2005), many of the Warren and Burger court precedents in the areas of criminal procedure and civil liberties were scaled back. Though the court approved of restrictions on the right to abortion, it also, by a narrow majority, continued to uphold the underlying principle of Roe v. Wade. The continuing controversy over the abortion ruling and other civil liberties cases placed the court in the center of a national political debate, underscored by the bitter Senate hearings on the unsuccessful nomination of Robert Bork and the contention that surrounded the elevation of Clarence Thomas to the court. From the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s the other members of the court were John Paul Stevens, appointed by President Ford; Sandra Day O'Connor, the first female Justice, Antonin Scalia, and Anthony Kennedy, all Reagan appointees; David Souter, appointed by President George H. W. Bush (who also appointed Thomas); and Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, both Clinton appointees. At the beginning of the 21st cent., the court's center was far to the right of the center during the Warren and even the Burger years. On the other hand, Justices Souter, Ginsburg, and others were felt to have acted as a brake on conservative judicial activism. A significant subsequent set of decisions (2004, 2005) in which the justices found that only juries can make the findings of fact that affect a defendant's sentence was notable for the shifting alliances among the members that determined the outcome of the cases.
The Rehnquist court, despite its sometimes activist approach, also espoused the doctrines of judicial restraint, restrictions on federal power, and deference to the states. These positions appeared to be abandoned by the court in Dec., 2000, when, after Al Gore had sought and won a court-ordered recount from the Florida supreme court, the U.S. Supreme Court split 5-4 along ideological lines and ordered an end to the recount (because a single standard for conducting the recounts had not been established by the Florida court). Many observers felt that the court had tarnished its reputation with its decision, and some felt that it was a blatantly political ruling in favor of the Republican candidate, George W. Bush.
In 2005, with the retirement of Justice O'Connor and the death of Chief Justice Rehnquist, Bush appointed John G. Roberts, Jr., to succeed Rehnquist and Samuel A. Alito, Jr., to replace O'Connor. These appointments, especially that of Alito, who was confirmed in 2006, were generally regarded as increasing the conservatism of the Court, as shown by its upholding (2007) of a federal law banning the late-term abortion procedure abortion opponents have called "partial-birth" abortion and its decision (2007) that strongly limited the degree to which school districts could use race in order to avoid resegregation.
A notable ruling (2006) of the new Court determined that the president could not use military commissions that had not been authorized by Congress to try foreign terror suspects. The judgment appeared to undermine the Bush administration's long-standing but legally untested assertion that the president's constitutional powers to defend the United States were not subject to congressional legislation. The 5-3 decision overturned an appeals court ruling that had been decided in part by the new chief justice, who did not participate in the ruling. President Barack Obama appointed Sonia Sotomayor to the Court in 2009; regarded as a liberal, she succeeded Justice Souter and became the Court's first Hispanic-American member.
Modern scholarly studies include Alice F. Bartee, Cases Lost, Causes Won: The Supreme Court and the Judicial Process (1983); Vincent Blasi, The Burger Court (1983); John Agresto, The Supreme Court and Constitutional Democracy (1984); D. P. Currie, The Constitution in the Supreme Court: The First Hundred Years, 1789-1888 (1985); George J. Lankevich and Howard B. Furer, ed., The Supreme Court in American Life (1986); David M. O'Brien, Storm Center: The Supreme Court in American Politics (1986); Archibald Cox, The Court and the Constitution (1987); William Rehnquist, The Supreme Court (1987); William Lasser, The Limits of Judicial Power (1988); G. Edward White, The American Judicial Tradition (rev. ed. 1988); James F. Simon, The Center Holds: The Power Struggle inside the Rehnquist Court (1995); J. Toobin, The Nine (2007); B. Solomon, FDR v. The Constitution (2009).
The outlying territories and areas of the United States include: in the Caribbean Basin, Puerto Rico (a commonwealth associated with the United States) and the Virgin Islands of the United States (purchased from Denmark in 1917); in the Pacific Ocean, Guam (ceded by Spain after the Spanish-American War), the Northern Mariana Islands (a commonwealth associated with the United States), American Samoa, Wake Island, and several other islands. The United States also has compacts of free association with the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia.
The conterminous United States may be divided into several regions: the New England states (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut), the Middle Atlantic states (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia), the Southeastern states (North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky), the states of the Midwest (Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri), the Great Plains states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas), the Mountain states (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah), the Southwestern states (Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona), and the states of the Far West (Washington, Oregon, California, and Nevada).
Alaska is the largest state in area (656,424 sq mi/1,700,578 sq km), and Rhode Island is the smallest (1,545 sq mi/4,003 sq km). California has the largest population (2000 pop. 33,871,648), while Wyoming has the fewest people (2000 pop. 493,782). In the late 20th cent., Nevada, Arizona, Florida, Colorado, Utah, Georgia, and Texas experienced the fastest rates of population growth, while California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Arizona, and North Carolina gained the greatest number of residents. West Virginia, North Dakota, and the District of Columbia experienced population decreases over the same period. The largest U.S. cities are New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia. Among the other major cities are Boston, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Richmond, Virginia Beach, Charlotte, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Tampa, Miami, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Saint Louis, Nashville, Memphis, New Orleans, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, El Paso, Albuquerque, Denver, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas, Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, Fresno, Long Beach, San Diego, and Honolulu.
The conterminous United States may be divided into seven broad physiographic divisions: from east to west, the Atlantic-Gulf Coastal Plain; the Appalachian Highlands; the Interior Plains; the Interior Highlands; the Rocky Mountain System; the Intermontane Region; and the Pacific Mountain System. An eighth division, the Laurentian Uplands, a part of the Canadian Shield, dips into the United States from Canada in the Great Lakes region. It is an area of little local relief, with an irregular drainage system and many lakes, as well as some of the oldest exposed rocks in the United States.
The terrain of the N United States was formed by the great continental ice sheets that covered N North America during the late Cenozoic Era. The southern edge of the ice sheet is roughly traced by a line of terminal moraines extending west from E Long Island and then along the course of the Ohio and Missouri rivers to the Rocky Mts.; land north of this line is covered by glacial material. Alaska and the mountains of NW United States had extensive mountain glaciers and were heavily eroded. Large glacial lakes (see Lake Bonneville under Bonneville Salt Flats; Lahontan, Lake) occupied sections of the Basin and Range province; the Great Salt Lake and the other lakes of this region are remnants of the glacial lakes.The East and the Gulf Coast
The Atlantic-Gulf Coastal Plain extends along the east and southeast coasts of the United States from E Long Island to the Rio Grande; Cape Cod and the islands off SE Massachusetts are also part of this region. Although narrow in the north, the Atlantic Coastal Plain widens in the south, merging with the Gulf Coastal Plain in Florida. The Atlantic and Gulf coasts are essentially coastlines of submergence, with numerous estuaries, embayments, islands, sandspits, and barrier beaches backed by lagoons. The northeast coast has many fine natural harbors, such as those of New York Bay and Chesapeake Bay, but south of the great capes of the North Carolina coast (Fear, Lookout, and Hatteras) there are few large bays. A principal feature of the lagoon-lined Gulf Coast is the great delta of the Mississippi River.
The Atlantic Coastal Plain rises in the west to the rolling Piedmont (the falls along which were an early source of waterpower), a hilly transitional zone leading to the Appalachian Mountains. These ancient mountains, a once towering system now worn low by erosion, extend southwest from SE Canada to the Gulf Coastal Plain in Alabama. In E New England, the Appalachians extend in a few places to the Atlantic Ocean, contributing to a rocky, irregular coastline. The Appalachians and the Adirondack Mountains of New York (which are geologically related to the Canadian Shield) include all the chief highlands of E United States; Mt. Mitchell (6,684 ft/2,037 m high), in the Black Mts. of North Carolina, is the highest point of E North America.The Plains and Highlands of the Interior
Extending more than 1,000 mi (1,610 km) from the Appalachians to the Rocky Mts. and lying between Canada (into which they extend) in the north and the Gulf Coastal Plain in the south are the undulating Interior Plains. Once covered by a great inland sea, the Interior Plains are underlain by sedimentary rock. Almost all of the region is drained by one of the world's greatest river systems—the Mississippi-Missouri. The Interior Plains may be divided into two sections: the fertile central lowlands, the agricultural heartland of the United States; and the Great Plains, a treeless plateau that gently rises from the central lowlands to the foothills of the Rocky Mts. The Black Hills of South Dakota form the region's only upland area.
The Interior Highlands are located just W of the Mississippi River between the Interior Plains and the Gulf Coastal Plain. This region consists of the rolling Ozark Plateau (see Ozarks) to the north and the Ouachita Mountains, which are similar in structure to the ridge and valley section of the Appalachians, to the east.The Western Mountains and Great Basin
West of the Great Plains are the lofty Rocky Mountains. This geologically young and complex system extends into NW United States from Canada and runs S into New Mexico. There are numerous high peaks in the Rockies; the highest is Mt. Elbert (14,433 ft/4,399 m). The Rocky Mts. are divided into four sections—the Northern Rockies, the Middle Rockies, the Wyoming (Great Divide) Basin, and the Southern Rockies. Along the crest of the Rockies is the Continental Divide, separating Atlantic-bound drainage from that heading for the Pacific Ocean.
Between the Rocky Mts. and the ranges to the west is the Intermontane Region, an arid expanse of plateaus, basins, and ranges. The Columbia Plateau, in the north of the region, was formed by volcanic lava and is drained by the Columbia River and its tributary the Snake River, both of which have cut deep canyons into the plateau. The enormous Colorado Plateau, an area of sedimentary rock, is drained by the Colorado River and its tributaries; there the Colorado River has entrenched itself to form the Grand Canyon, one of the world's most impressive scenic wonders. West of the plateaus is the Basin and Range province, an area of extensive semidesert.
The lowest point in North America, in Death Valley (282 ft/86 m below sea level), is there. The largest basin in the region is the Great Basin, an area of interior drainage (the Humboldt River is the largest stream) and of numerous salt lakes, including the Great Salt Lake. Between the Intermontane Region and the Pacific Ocean is the Pacific Mountain System, a series of ranges generally paralleling the coast, formed by faulting and volcanism. The Cascade Range, with its numerous volcanic peaks extends S from SW Canada into N California, and from there is continued south by the Sierra Nevada, a great fault block. Mt. Whitney (14,495 ft/4,418 m), in the Sierra Nevada, is the highest peak in the conterminous United States.The Pacific Coast, Alaska, and Hawaii
West of the Cascades and the Sierra Nevada and separated from them by a structural trough are the Coast Ranges, which extend along the length of the U.S. Pacific coast. The Central Valley in California, the Willamette Valley in Oregon, and the Puget Sound lowlands in Washington are part of the trough. The San Andreas Fault, a fracture in the earth's crust, parallels the trend of the Coast Ranges from San Francisco Bay SE to NW Mexico; earthquakes are common along its entire length. The Pacific Coastal Plain is narrow, and in many cases the mountains plunge directly into the sea. A coastline of emergence, it has few islands, except for the Channel Islands (see Santa Barbara Islands) and those in Puget Sound; there are few good harbors besides Puget Sound, San Francisco Bay, and San Diego Bay.
Alaska may be divided into four physiographic regions; they are, from north to south, the Arctic Lowlands, the coastal plain of the Arctic Ocean; the Rocky Mountain System, of which the Brooks Range is the northernmost section; the Central Basins and Highlands Region, which is dominated by the Yukon River basin; and the Pacific Mountain System, which parallels Alaska's southern coast and which rises to Mt. McKinley (Denali; 20,320 ft/6,194 m), the highest peak of North America. The islands of SE Alaska and those of the Aleutian Islands chain are partially submerged portions of the Pacific Mountain System and are frequently subjected to volcanic activity and earthquakes. These islands, like those of Hawaii, are the tops of volcanoes that rise from the floor of the Pacific Ocean. Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on Hawaii are active volcanoes; the other Hawaiian islands are extinct volcanoes.Major Rivers and Lakes
The United States has an extensive inland waterway system, much of which has been improved for navigation and flood control and developed to produce hydroelectricity and irrigation water by such agencies as the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Tennessee Valley Authority. Some of the world's larger dams, man-made lakes, and hydroelectric power plants are on U.S. rivers. The Mississippi-Missouri river system (c.3,890 mi/6,300 km long), is the longest in the United States and the second longest in the world. With its hundreds of tributaries, chief among which are the Red River, the Ohio, and the Arkansas, the Mississippi basin drains more than half of the nation. The Yukon, Columbia, Colorado, and Rio Grande also have huge drainage basins. Other notable river systems include the Connecticut, Hudson, Delaware, Susquehanna, Potomac, James, Alabama, Trinity, San Joaquin, and Sacramento.
The Great Salt Lake and Alaska's Iliamna are the largest U.S. lakes outside the Great Lakes and Lake of the Woods, which are shared with Canada (Lake Michigan and Iliamna are the largest freshwater lakes entirely within the United States). The Illinois Waterway connects the Great Lakes with the Mississippi River, and the New York State Canal System links them with the Hudson. The Intracoastal Waterway provides sheltered passage for shallow draft vessels along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.
The United States has a broad range of climates, varying from the tropical rain-forest of Hawaii and the tropical savanna of S Florida (where the Everglades are found) to the subarctic and tundra climates of Alaska. East of the 100th meridian (the general dividing line between the dry and humid climates) are the humid subtropical climate of SE United States and the humid continental climate of NE United States. Extensive forests are found in both these regions. West of the 100th meridian are the steppe climate and the grasslands of the Great Plains; trees are found along the water courses.
In the SW United States are the deserts of the basin and range province, with the hottest and driest spots in the United States. Along the Pacific coast are the Mediterranean-type climate of S California and, extending north into SE Alaska, the marine West Coast climate. The Pacific Northwest is one of the wettest parts of the United States and is densely forested. The Rocky Mts., Cascades, and Sierra Nevada have typical highland climates and are also heavily forested. In addition to the Grand Canyon in Arizona and Great Salt Lake in Utah, widely publicized geographic marvels of the United States include Niagara Falls, on the New York-Canada border; the pink cliffs of Bryce Canyon National Park, in Utah; and the geysers of Yellowstone National Park, primarily in Wyoming (for others, see National Parks and Monuments, table).
More than 79% of the United States population are urban (and more than 50% are estimated to be suburban, a not strictly defined category that can be taken as a subset of urban), and the great majority of the inhabitants are of European descent. According to the U.S. census, as of 2000 the largest minority were Hispanics, who, at 35,305,818 people, accounted for 12.5% of the population; this figure includes people of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, and many other origins (who may be any race). The African-American population numbered 34,658,190, or 12.3% of the population, although an additional 0.6% of the population were of African-American descent in part. The Asian population totaled 10,242,998 in 2000, or 3.6%, and consisted predominantly of people of Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, or Japanese origin; an additional 0.6% of the population had a mixed-race background that was partially Asian. The Native American population of the United States, which included natives of Alaska such as Eskimos and Aleuts, was 2,475,956, or 0.9%, but an additional 0.6% were of partial Native American descent. Roughly a third of Native Americans lived on reservations, trust lands, territories, or other lands under Native American jurisdiction. Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders numbered 398,835 in 2000, or 0.1% of the population; an additional 0.2% were of partial Pacific Island descent. Persons who defined themselves as being of mixed racial background constituted 2.4% of the population in 2000, but the number of people with a mixed racial background, especially in the African-American and Hispanic populations, was in fact much higher. About 82% of the people speak English and about 11% speak Spanish as their first language. There are large numbers of speakers of many other Indo-European and Asian languages, and most languages of the world are spoken somewhere in the United States.
In addition to the original group of British settlers in the colonies of the Atlantic coast, numerous other national groups were introduced by immigration. Large numbers of Africans were transported in chains under abysmal conditions to work as slaves, chiefly on the plantations of the South. When the United States was developing rapidly with the settlement of the West (where some earlier groups of French and Spanish settlers were absorbed), immigrants from Europe poured into the land. An important early group was the Scotch-Irish. Just before the middle of the 19th cent., Irish and German immigrants were predominant. A little later the Scandinavian nations supplied many settlers.
After the Civil War, the immigrants came mainly from the nations of S and E Europe: from Italy, Greece, Russia, the part of Poland then in Russia, and from Austria-Hungary and the Balkans. During this period, there were also large numbers of immigrants from China. During the peak years of immigration between 1890 and 1924 more than 15 million immigrants arrived in the United States. After the immigration law of 1924 (see immigration), immigration was heavily restricted until the mid-1960s. Since the 1980s, large numbers of new immigrants have arrived. U.S. Census Bureau figures indicate that the proportion of foreign-born people in the U.S. population reached 11.1% in 2000, the highest it had been since the 1930 census; more than 40% of the more than 31 million foreign born had arrived since 1990. More than half of all foreign-born persons in the United States are from Latin America, and more than a quarter are from Asia.
There is religious freedom in the United States, and the overwhelming majority of Americans are Christians. In turn, the majority of Christians are Protestants, but of many denominations. The largest single Christian group embraces members (some 61 million in 1999) of the Roman Catholic Church; the Orthodox Eastern Church is also represented. In addition, roughly 2.5% of Americans adhere to Judaism, and some 1%-2% are Muslims. Education in the United States is administered chiefly by the states. Each of the 50 states has a free and public primary and secondary school system. There are also in the United States more than 3,500 institutions of higher learning, both privately supported and state supported (see separate articles on individual colleges and universities).
The mineral and agricultural resources of the United States are tremendous. Although the country was virtually self-sufficient in the past, increasing consumption, especially of energy, continues to make it dependent on certain imports. It is, nevertheless, the world's largest producer of both electrical and nuclear energy. It leads all nations in the production of liquid natural gas, aluminum, sulfur, phosphates, and salt. It is also a leading producer of copper, gold, coal, crude oil, nitrogen, iron ore, silver, uranium, lead, zinc, mica, molybdenum, and magnesium. Although its output has declined, the United States is among the world leaders in the production of pig iron and ferroalloys, steel, motor vehicles, and synthetic rubber. Agriculturally, the United States is first in the production of cheese, corn, soybeans, and tobacco. The United States is also one of the largest producers of cattle, hogs, cow's milk, butter, cotton, oats, wheat, barley, and sugar; it is the world's leading exporter of wheat and corn and ranks third in rice exports. In 1995, U.S. fisheries ranked fifth in the world in total production.
Major U.S. exports include aircraft, motor vehicles and parts, food, iron and steel products, electric and electronic equipment, industrial and power-generating machinery, organic chemicals, transistors, telecommunications equipment, pharmaceuticals, and consumer goods. Leading imports include ores and metal scraps, petroleum and petroleum products, machinery, transportation equipment (especially automobiles), food, clothing, computers, and paper and paper products. The major U.S. trading partners are Canada (in the world's largest bilateral trade relationship), Mexico, China, Japan, Great Britain, Germany, and South Korea. Despite the steady growth in imports, the gross domestic product also has continued to rise, and in 2006 it was easily the largest in the world at about $13 trillion. The development of the economy has been spurred by the growth of a complex network of communications not only by railroad, highways, inland waterways, and air but also by telephone, radio, television, computer (including the Internet), and fax machine. This infrastructure has fostered not only agricultural and manufacturing growth but has also contributed to the leading position the United States holds in world tourism revenues and to the ongoing shift to a service-based economy. In 1996 some 74% of Americans worked in service industries, a proportion matched, among major economic powers, only by Canada.
The government of the United States is that of a federal republic set up by the Constitution of the United States, adopted by the Constitutional Convention of 1787. There is a division of powers between the federal government and the state governments. The federal government consists of three branches: the executive, the legislative, and the judicial. The executive power is vested in the President and, in the event of the President's incapacity, the Vice President. (For a chronological list of all the presidents and vice presidents of the United States, including their terms in office and political parties, see the table entitled Presidents of the United States.) The executive conducts the administrative business of the nation with the aid of a cabinet composed of the Attorney General and the Secretaries of the Departments of State; Treasury; Defense; Interior; Agriculture; Commerce; Labor; Health and Human Services; Education; Housing and Urban Development; Transportation; Energy; and Veterans' Affairs.
The Congress of the United States, the legislative branch, is bicameral and consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The judicial branch is formed by the federal courts and headed by the U.S. Supreme Court. The members of the Congress are elected by universal suffrage (see election) as are the members of the electoral college, which formally chooses the President and the Vice President.
Exploration of the area now included in the United States was spurred after Christopher Columbus, sailing for the Spanish monarchy, made his voyage in 1492. John Cabot explored the North American coast for England in 1498. Men who were important explorers for Spain in what now constitutes the United States include Ponce de León, Cabeza de Vaca, Hernando De Soto, and Coronado; important explorers for France were Giovanni da Verrazano, Samuel de Champlain, Louis Jolliet, Jacques Marquette, and La Salle. These three nations—England, Spain, and France—were the chief nations to establish colonies in the present United States, although others also took part, especially the Netherlands in the establishment of New Netherland (explored by Henry Hudson), which became New York, and Sweden in a colony on the Delaware River (see New Sweden).
The first permanent settlement in the present United States was Saint Augustine (Florida), founded in 1565 by the Spaniard Pedro Menéndez de Avilés. Spanish control came to be exercised over Florida, West Florida, Texas, and a large part of the Southwest, including California. For the purposes of finding precious metals and of converting heathens to Catholicism, the Spanish colonies in the present United States were relatively unfruitful and thus were never fully developed. The French established strongholds on the St. Lawrence River (Quebec and Montreal) and spread their influence over the Great Lakes country and along the Mississippi; the colony of Louisiana was a flourishing French settlement. The French government, like the Spanish, tolerated only the Catholic faith, and it implanted the rigid and feudalistic seignorial system of France in its North American possessions. Partly for these reasons, the French settlements attracted few colonists.
The English settlements, which were on the Atlantic seaboard, developed in patterns more suitable to the New World, with greater religious freedom and economic opportunity. The first permanent English settlement was made at Jamestown (Virginia) in 1607. The first English settlements in Virginia were managed by a chartered commercial company, the Virginia Company; economic motives were paramount to the company in founding the settlements. The Virginia colony early passed to control by the crown and became a characteristic type of English colony—the royal colony. Another type—the corporate colony—was initiated by the settlement of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony in 1620 and by the establishment of the more important Massachusetts Bay colony by the Puritans in 1630.
Religious motives were important in the founding of these colonies. The colonists of Massachusetts Bay brought with them from England the charter and the governing corporation of the colony, which thus became a corporate one, i.e., one controlled by its own resident corporation. The corporate status of the Plymouth Colony, evinced in the Mayflower Compact, was established by the purchase (1626) of company and charter from the holders in England. Connecticut and Rhode Island, which were offshoots of Massachusetts, owed allegiance to no English company; their corporate character was confirmed by royal charters, granted to Connecticut in 1662 and to Rhode Island in 1663. A third type of colony was the proprietary, founded by lords proprietors under quasi-feudal grants from the king; prime examples are Maryland (under the Calvert family) and Pennsylvania (under William Penn).
The religious and political turmoil of the Puritan Revolution in England, as well as the repression of the Huguenots in France, helped to stimulate emigration to the English colonies. Hopes of economic betterment brought thousands from England as well as a number from Germany and other continental countries. To obtain passage across the Atlantic, the poor often indentured themselves to masters in the colonies for a specified number of years. The colonial population was also swelled by criminals transported from England as a means of punishment. Once established as freedmen, former bondsmen and transportees were frequently allotted land with which to make their way in the New World.Colonial America
The colonies were subject to English mercantilism in the form of Navigation Acts, begun under Cromwell and developed more fully after the Stuart Restoration. As shown by C. M. Andrews, G. L. Beer, and later historians, the colonies at first benefited by these acts, which established a monopoly of the English market for certain colonial products. Distinct colonial economies emerged, reflecting the regional differences of climate and topography. Agriculture was of primary importance in all the regions.
In New England many crops were grown, corn being the closest to a staple, and agricultural holdings were usually of moderate size. Fur trade was at first important, but it died out when the New England Confederation defeated Philip in King Philip's War and the Native Americans were dispersed. Fishing and commerce gained in importance, and the economic expansion of Massachusetts encouraged the founding of other New England colonies.
In the middle colonies small farms abounded, interspersed with occasional great estates, and diverse crops were grown, wheat being most important. Land there was almost universally held through some form of feudal grant, as it was also in the South. Commerce grew quickly in the middle colonies, and large towns flourished, notably Philadelphia and New York.
By the late 17th cent. small farms in the coastal areas of the South were beginning to give way to large plantations; these were developed with the slave labor of Africans, who were imported in ever-increasing numbers. Plantations were almost exclusively devoted to cultivation of the great Southern staples—tobacco, rice, and, later, indigo. Fur trade and lumbering were long important. Although some towns developed, the Southern economy remained the least diversified and the most rural in colonial America.
In religion, too, the colonies developed in varied patterns. In Massachusetts the religious theocracy of the Puritan oligarchy flourished. By contrast, Rhode Island allowed full religious freedom; there Baptists were in the majority, but other sects were soon in evidence. New Jersey and South Carolina also allowed complete religious liberty, and such colonies as Maryland and Pennsylvania established large measures of toleration. Maryland was at first a haven for Catholics, and Pennsylvania similarly a haven for Quakers, but within a few decades numerous Anglicans had settled in those colonies. Anglicans were also much in evidence further south, as were Presbyterians, most of them Scotch-Irish.
Politically, the colonies developed representative institutions, the most important being the vigorous colonial assemblies. Popular participation was somewhat limited by property qualifications. In the proprietary colonies, particularly, the settlers came into conflict with the executive authority. Important points of difference arose over the granting of large estates to a few, over the great power of the proprietors, over the failure of the proprietors (who generally lived in England) to cope with problems of defense, and over religious grievances, frequently stemming from a struggle for dominance between Anglicans and other groups. In corporate Massachusetts religious grievances were created by the zealous Puritan demand for conformity.
These conflicts, together with England's desire to coordinate empire defenses against France and to gain closer control of the colonies' thriving economic life, stimulated England to convert corporate and proprietary colonies into royal ones. In general, royal control brought more orderly government and greater religious toleration, but it also focused the colonists' grievances on the mother country. The policies of the governors, who were the chief instruments of English will in the colonies, frequently met serious opposition. The colonial assemblies clashed with the governors—notably with Edmund Andros and Francis Nicholson—especially over matters of taxation. The assemblies successfully resisted royal demands for permanent income to support royal policies and used their powers over finance to expand their own jurisdiction.
As the 18th cent. progressed, colonial grievances were exacerbated. The British mercantile regulations, beneficial to agriculture, impeded the colonies' commercial and industrial development. However, economic and social growth continued, and by the mid-18th cent. there had been created a greater sense of a separate, thriving, and distinctly American, albeit varied, civilization. In New England, Puritan values were modified by the impact of commerce and by the influence of the Enlightenment, while in the South the planter aristocracy developed a lavish mode of life. Enlightenment ideals also gained influential adherents in the South. Higher education flourished in such institutions as Harvard, William and Mary, and King's College (now Columbia Univ.). The varied accomplishments of Benjamin Franklin epitomized colonial common sense at its most enlightened and productive level.
A religious movement of importance emerged in the revivals of the Great Awakening, stimulated by Jonathan Edwards; the movement ultimately led to a strengthening of Methodism. Also inherent in this movement was egalitarian sentiment, which progressed but was not to triumph in the colonial era. One manifestation of egalitarianism was the long-continued conflict between the men of the frontiers and the wealthy Eastern oligarchs who dominated the assemblies, a conflict exemplified in the Regulator movement. Colonial particularism, still stronger than national feeling, caused the failure of the Albany Congress to achieve permanent union. However, internal strife and disunity remained a less urgent issue than the controversy with Great Britain.The States in Union
After the British and colonial forces had combined to drive the French from Canada and the Great Lakes region in the French and Indian War (1754-60; see under French and Indian Wars), the colonists felt less need of British protection; but at this very time the British began colonial reorganization in an effort to impose on the colonists the costs of their own defense. Thus was set off the complex chain of events that united colonial sentiment against Great Britain and culminated in the American Revolution (1775-83; the events are described under that heading).
The Revolution resulted in the independence of the Thirteen Colonies: Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia; their territories were recognized as extending north to Canada and west to the Mississippi River. The Revolution also broadened representation in government, advanced the movement for separation of church and state in America, increased opportunities for westward expansion, and brought the abolition of the remnants of feudal land tenure. The view that the Revolution had been fought for local liberty against strong central control reinforced the particularism of the states and was reflected in the weak union established under the Articles of Confederation (see Confederation, Articles of).
Before ratification of the Articles (1781), conflicting claims of states to Western territories had been settled by the cession of Western land rights to the federal government; the Ordinance of 1787 established a form of government for territories and a method of admitting them as states to the Union. But the national government floundered. It could not obtain commercial treaties or enforce its will in international relations, and, largely because it could not raise adequate revenue and had no executive authority, it was weak domestically. Local economic depressions bred discontent that erupted in Shays's Rebellion, further revealing the weakness of the federal government.
Advocates of strong central government bitterly attacked the Articles of Confederation; supported particularly by professional and propertied groups, they had a profound influence on the Constitution drawn up by the Constitutional Convention of 1787. The Constitution created a national government with ample powers for effective rule, which were limited by "checks and balances" to forestall tyranny or radicalism. Its concept of a strong, orderly Union was popularized by the Federalist papers (see Federalist, The) of Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, which played an important part in winning ratification of the Constitution by the separate states.Washington, Adams, and Jefferson
The first person to be elected President under the Constitution was the hero of the Revolution, George Washington. Washington introduced many government practices and institutions, including the cabinet. Jay's Treaty (1794) allayed friction with Great Britain. Hamilton, as Washington's Secretary of the Treasury, promulgated a strong state and attempted to advance the economic development of the young country by a neomercantilist program; this included the establishment of a protective tariff, a mint, and the first Bank of the United States as well as assumption of state and private Revolutionary debts. The controversy raised by these policies bred divisions along factional and, ultimately, party lines.
Hamilton and his followers, who eventually formed the Federalist party, favored wide activity by the federal government under a broad interpretation of the Constitution. Their opponents, who adhered to principles laid down by Thomas Jefferson and who became the Democratic Republican or Democratic party, favored narrow construction—limited federal jurisdiction and activities. To an extent these divisions were supported by economic differences, as the Democrats largely spoke for the agrarian point of view and the Federalists represented propertied and mercantile interests.
Extreme democrats like Thomas Paine had ebullient faith in popular government and popular mores; Joel Barlow, too, envisioned a great popular culture evolving in America. From such optimists came schemes for broad popular education and participation in government. Men like John Adams had mixed views on the good sense of the masses, and many more conservative thinkers associated the "people" with vulgarity and ineptitude. The Federalists generally represented a pessimistic and the Democrats an optimistic view of man's inherent capacity to govern and develop himself; in practice, however, the values held by these two groups were often mixed. That a long road to democracy was still to be traveled is seen in the fact that in the late 18th cent. few but the economically privileged took part in political affairs.
The Federalists were victorious in electing John Adams to the presidency in 1796. Federalist conservatism and anti-French sentiment were given vent in the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 and in other acts. Deteriorating relations with France were seen in the XYZ Affair and the "half war" (1798-1800), in which U.S. warships engaged French vessels in the Caribbean. The so-called Revolution of 1800 swept the Federalists from power and brought Jefferson to the presidency. Jefferson did bring a plainer and more republican style to government, and under him the Alien and Sedition Acts and other Federalist laws were allowed to lapse or were repealed.
Jefferson moved toward stronger use of federal powers, however, in negotiating the Louisiana Purchase (1803). In foreign policy he steered an officially neutral course between Great Britain and France, resisting the war sentiment roused by British impressment of American seamen and by both British and French violations of American shipping. He fostered the drastic Embargo Act of 1807 in an attempt to gain recognition of American rights through economic pressure, but the embargo struck hardest against the American economy, especially in New England.Madison, Monroe, and Adams
Under Jefferson's successor, James Madison, the continued depredations of American shipping, combined with the clamor of American "war hawks" who coveted Canada and Florida, led to the War of 1812, which was, however, opposed in New England (see Hartford Convention). The Treaty of Ghent (see Ghent, Treaty of) settled no specific issues of the war, but did confirm the independent standing of the young republic. Politically, the period that followed was the so-called era of good feeling. The Federalists had disintegrated under the impact of the country's westward expansion and its new interests and ideals. Democrats of all sections had by now adopted a Federalist approach to national development and were temporarily in agreement on a nationalist, expansionist economic policy. This policy was implemented in 1816 by the introduction of internal improvements, a protective tariff, and the second Bank of the United States.
The same policies were continued under James Monroe. The Monroe Doctrine (1823), which proclaimed U.S. opposition to European intervention or colonization in the American hemisphere, introduced the long-continuing U.S. concern for the integrity of the Western Hemisphere. Domestically, the strength of the federal government was increased by the judicial decisions of John Marshall, who had already helped establish the power of the U.S. Supreme Court. By 1820, however, sectional differences were arousing political discord. The sections of the country had long been developing along independent lines.
In the North, merchants, manufacturers, inventors, farmers, and factory hands were busy with commerce, agricultural improvements, and the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution. In the South, Eli Whitney's cotton gin had brought in its wake a new staple; cotton was king, and the new states of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi were the pride of the cotton kingdom. The accession of Florida (1819) further swelled the domain of the South. The American West was expanding as the frontier rapidly advanced. Around the turn of the century settlement of territory W of the Appalachians had given rise to the new states of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio. Settlers continued to move farther west, and the frontier remained a molding force in American life.
The Missouri Compromise (1820) temporarily resolved the issue of slavery in new states, but under the presidency of John Quincy Adams sectional differences were aggravated. Particular friction, leading to the nullification movement, was created by the tariff of 1828, which was highly favorable to Northern manufacturing but a "Tariff of Abominations" to the agrarian South. In the 1820s and 30s the advance of democracy brought manhood suffrage to many states and virtual direct election of the President, and party nominating conventions replaced the caucus. Separation of church and state became virtually complete.Jackson to the Mexican War
An era of political vigor was begun with the election (1828) of Andrew Jackson to the presidency. If Jackson was not, as sometimes represented, the incarnation of frontier democracy, he nonetheless symbolized the advent of the common man to political power. He provided powerful executive leadership, attuned to popular support, committing himself to a strong foreign policy and to internal improvements for the West. His stand for economic individualism and his attacks on such bastions of the moneyed interests as the Bank of the United States won the approval of the growing middle class. Jackson acted firmly for the Union in the nullification controversy. But the South became increasingly dissident, and John C. Calhoun emerged as its chief spokesman with his states' rights doctrine.
Opponents of Jackson's policies, including both Northern and Southern conservative propertied interests, amalgamated to form the Whig party, in which Henry Clay and Daniel Webster were long the dominant figures. Jackson's successor, Martin Van Buren, attempted to perpetuate Jacksonian policies, but his popularity was undermined by the panic of 1837. In 1840, in their "Log Cabin and Hard Cider" campaign, the conservative Whigs adopted and perfected the Democratic party's techniques of mass appeal and succeeded in electing William Henry Harrison as President. The West was winning greater attention in American life, and in the 1840s expansion to the Pacific was fervently proclaimed as the "manifest destiny" of the United States.
Annexation of the Republic of Texas (which had won its own independence from Mexico), long delayed primarily by controversy over its slave-holding status, was accomplished by Harrison's successor, John Tyler, three days before the expiration of his term. Tyler's action was prompted by the surprising victory of his Democratic successor, James K. Polk, who had campaigned on the planks of "reoccupation of Oregon" and "reannexation of Texas." The annexation of Texas precipitated the Mexican War; by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo the United States acquired two fifths of the territory then belonging to Mexico, including California and the present American Southwest. In 1853 these territories were rounded out by the Gadsden Purchase. Although in the dispute with Great Britain over the Columbia River country (see Oregon), Americans demanded "Fifty-four forty or fight," under President Polk a peaceful if more modest settlement was reached. Thus the United States gained its Pacific Northwest, and "manifest destiny" was virtually fulfilled.
In California the discovery of gold in 1848 brought the rush of forty-niners, swelling population and making statehood for California a pressing question. The westward movement was also stimulated by many other factors. The great profits from open-range cattle ranching brought a stream of ranchers to the area (this influx was to reach fever pitch after the Civil War). The American farmer, with his abundant land, was often profligate in its cultivation, and as the soil depleted he continued to move farther west, settling the virgin territory. Soil exhaustion was particularly rapid in the South, where a one-crop economy prevailed, but because cotton profits were frequently high the plantation system quickly spread as far west as Texas. Occupation of the West was also sped by European immigrants hungry for land.Slavery, Civil War, and Reconstruction
By the mid-19th cent. the territorial gains and westward movement of the United States were focusing legislative argument on the extension of slavery to the new territories and breaking down the Missouri Compromise of 1820. The Wilmot Proviso illustrated Northern antislavery demands, while Southerners, too, became increasingly intransigent. Only with great effort was the Compromise of 1850 achieved, and it was to be the last great compromise between the sections. The new Western states, linked in outlook to the North, had long since caused the South to lose hold of the House of Representatives, and Southern parity in the Senate was threatened by the prospective addition of more free states than slaveholding ones. The South demanded stronger enforcement of fugitive slave laws and, dependent on sympathetic Presidents, obtained it from Millard Fillmore and especially from Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan.
The passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854), which repealed the Missouri Compromise, led to violence between factions in "bleeding Kansas" and spurred the founding of the new Republican party. Although there was sentiment for moderation and compromise in both North and South, it became increasingly difficult to take a middle stand on the slavery issue, and extremists came to the fore on both sides. Southerners, unable to accept the end of slavery, upon which their entire system of life was based, and fearful of slave insurrection (especially after the revolt led by Nat Turner in 1831), felt threatened by the abolitionists, who regarded themselves as leaders in a moral crusade. Southerners attempted to uphold slavery as universally beneficial and biblically sanctioned, while Northerners were increasingly unable to countenance the institution.
Vigorous antislavery groups like the Free-Soil party had already arisen, and as the conflict became more embittered it rent the older parties. The Whig party was shattered, and its Northern wing was largely absorbed in the new antislavery Republican party. The Democrats were also torn, and the compromise policies of Stephen A. Douglas were of dwindling satisfaction to a divided nation. Moderation could not withstand the impact of the decision in the Dred Scott Case, which denied the right of Congress to prohibit slavery in the territories, or the provocation of John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry (1859). The climax came in 1860 when the Republican Abraham Lincoln defeated three opponents to win the presidency.
Southern leaders, feeling there was no possibility of fair treatment under a Republican administration, resorted to secession from the Union and formed the Confederacy. The attempts of the seceding states to take over federal property within their borders (notably Fort Sumter in Charleston, S.C.) precipitated the Civil War (1861-65), which resulted in a complete victory for the North and the end of all slavery. The ensuing problems of Reconstruction in the South were complicated by bitter struggles, including the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson in 1868. Military rule in parts of the South continued through the administrations of Ulysses S. Grant, which were also notable for their outrageous corruption. A result of the disputed election of 1876, in which the decision was given to Rutherford B. Hayes over Samuel J. Tilden, was the end of Reconstruction and the reentry of the South into national politics.The Late Nineteenth Century
The remainder of the 19th cent. was marked by railroad building (assisted by generous federal land grants) and the disappearance of the American frontier. Great mineral wealth was discovered and exploited, and important technological innovations sped industrialization, which had already gained great impetus during the Civil War. Thus developed an economy based on steel, oil, railroads, and machines, an economy that a few decades after the Civil War ranked first in the world. Mammoth corporations such as the Standard Oil trust were formed, and "captains of industry" like John D. Rockefeller and financiers like J. P. Morgan (see under Morgan, family) controlled huge resources.
The latter part of the 19th cent. also saw the rise of the modern American city. Rapid industrialization attracted huge numbers of people to cities from foreign countries as well as rural America. The widespread use of steel and electricity allowed innovations that transformed the urban landscape. Electric lighting made cities viable at night as well as during the day. Electricity was also used to power streetcars, elevated railways, and subways. The growth of mass transit allowed people to live further away from work, and was therefore largely responsible for the demise of the "walking city." With the advent of skyscrapers, which utilized steel construction technology, cities were able to grow vertically as well as horizontally.
Into the "land of promise" poured new waves of immigrants; some acquired dazzling riches, but many others suffered in a competitive and unregulated economic age. Behind the facade of the "Gilded Age," with its aura of peace and general prosperity, a whole range of new problems was created, forcing varied groups to promulgate new solutions. In the 1870s the expanding Granger movement attempted to combat railroad and marketing abuses and to achieve an element of agrarian cooperation; this movement stimulated some regulation of utilities on the state level. Labor, too, began to combine against grueling factory conditions, but the opposition of business to unions was frequently overpowering, and the bulk of labor remained unorganized.
Some strike successes were won by the Knights of Labor, but this union, discredited by the Haymarket Square riot, was succeeded in prominence by the less divisive American Federation of Labor (see American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations). Massachusetts led the way (1874) with the first effective state legislation for an eight-hour day, but similar state and national legislation was sparse (see labor law), and the federal government descended harshly on labor in the bloody strike at Pullman, Ill., and in other disputes. Belief in laissez faire and the influence of big business in both national parties, especially in the Republican party, delayed any widespread reform.
The Presidents of the late 19th cent. were generally titular leaders of modest political distinction; however, they did institute a few reforms. Both Hayes and his successor, James A. Garfield, favored civil service reforms, and after Garfield's death Chester A. Arthur approved passage of a civil service act; thus the vast, troublesome presidential patronage system gave way to more regular, efficient administration. In 1884 a reform group, led by Carl Schurz, bolted from the Republicans and helped elect Grover Cleveland, the first Democratic President since before the Civil War. Under President Benjamin Harrison the Sherman Antitrust Act was passed (1890).
The attempt of the Greenback party to combine sponsorship of free coinage of silver (see free silver) and other aids to the debtor class with planks favorable to labor failed, but reform forces gathered strength, as witnessed by the rise of the Populist party. The reform movement was spurred by the economic panic of 1893, and in 1896 the Democrats nominated for President William Jennings Bryan, who had adopted the Populist platform. He orated eloquently for free silver, but was defeated by William McKinley, who gained ardent support from big business.Expansionists and Progressives
By the 1890s a new wave of expansionist sentiment was affecting U.S. foreign policy. With the purchase of Alaska (1867) and the rapid settlement of the last Western territory, Oklahoma, American capital and attention were directed toward the Pacific and the Caribbean. The United States established commercial and then political hegemony in the Hawaiian Islands and annexed them in 1898. In that year expansionist energy found release in the Spanish-American War, which resulted in U.S. acquisition of Puerto Rico, the Philippine Islands, and Guam, and in a U.S. quasi-protectorate over Cuba.
American ownership of the Philippines involved military subjugation of the people, who rose in revolt when they realized that they would not be granted their independence; the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1901) cost more American lives and dollars than the Spanish-American War. Widening its horizons, the United States formulated the Open Door policy (1900), which expressed its interest in China. Established as a world power with interests in two oceans, the United States intervened in the Panama revolution to facilitate construction of the Panama Canal; this was but one of its many involvements in Latin American affairs under Theodore Roosevelt and later Presidents.
By the time of Roosevelt's administration (1901-9), the progressive reform movement had taken definite shape in the country. Progressivism was partly a mode of thought, as witnessed by the progressive education program of John Dewey; as such it was a pragmatic attempt to mold modern institutions for the benefit of all. Progressives, too, were the muckrakers, who attacked abuse and waste in industry and in society. In its politics as shaped by R. M. La Follette and others, progressivism adopted many Populist planks but promoted them from a more urban and forward-looking viewpoint. Progressivism was dramatized by the magnetic Roosevelt, who denounced "malefactors of great wealth" and demanded a "square deal" for labor; however, in practice he was a rather cautious reformer. He did make some attacks on trusts, and he promoted regulation of interstate commerce as well as passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act (1906) and legislation for the conservation of natural resources.
Roosevelt's hand-picked successor, William H. Taft, continued some reforms but in his foreign policy and in the Payne-Aldrich Tariff Act, passed in his administration, favored big business. Taft's conservatism antagonized Roosevelt, who split with the Republican party in 1912 and ran for the presidency on the ticket of the Progressive party (see also Insurgents). But the presidency was won by the Democratic reform candidate, Woodrow Wilson. Wilson's "New Freedom" brought many progressive ideas to legislative fruition. The Federal Reserve System and the Federal Trade Commission were established, and the Adamson Act and the Clayton Antitrust Act were passed. Perhaps more than on the national level, progressivism triumphed in the states in legislation beneficial to labor, in the furthering of education, and in the democratization of electoral procedures. Wilson did not radically alter the aggressive Caribbean policy of his predecessors; U.S. marines were sent to Nicaragua, and difficulties with Mexico were capped by the landing of U.S. forces in the city of Veracruz and by the campaign against Francisco (Pancho) Villa.World War I
The nation's interest in world peace had already been expressed through participation in the Hague Conferences, and when World War I burst upon Europe, Wilson made efforts to keep the United States neutral; in 1916 he was reelected on a peace platform. However, American sympathies and interests were actively with the Allies (especially with Great Britain and France), and although Britain and Germany both violated American neutral rights on the seas, German submarine attacks constituted the more dramatic provocation. On Apr. 6, 1917, the United States entered the war on the side of the Allies and provided crucial manpower and supplies for the Allied victory. Wilson's Fourteen Points to insure peace and democracy captured the popular imagination of Europe and were a factor in Germany's decision to seek an armistice; however, at the Paris Peace Conference after the war, Wilson was thwarted from fully implementing his program.
In the United States, isolationist sentiment against participation in the League of Nations, an integral part of the Treaty of Versailles (see Versailles, Treaty of), was led by Senator William E. Borah and other "irreconcilables." The majority of Republican Senators, led by Henry Cabot Lodge, insisted upon amendments that would preserve U.S. sovereignty, and although Wilson fought for his original proposals, they were rejected. Isolationist sentiment prevailed during the 1920s, and while the United States played a major role in the naval conferences for disarmament and in the engineering of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which outlawed war, its general lack of interest in international concerns was seen in its highly nationalistic economic policies, notably its insistence (later modified) on collecting the war debts of foreign countries and the passage of the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act.From Prosperity to Depression
The country voted for a return to "normalcy" when it elected Warren G. Harding President in 1920, but the ensuing period was a time of rapid change, and the old normalcy was not to be regained. The Republican governments of the decade, although basically committed to laissez faire, actively encouraged corporate mergers and subsidized aviation and the merchant marine. Harding's administration, marred by the Teapot Dome scandal, gave way on his death to the presidency of Calvin Coolidge, and the nation embarked on a spectacular industrial and financial boom. In the 1920s the nation became increasingly urban, and everyday life was transformed as the "consumer revolution" brought the spreading use of automobiles, telephones, radios, and other appliances. The pace of living quickened, and mores became less restrained, while fortunes were rapidly accumulated on the skyrocketing stock market, in real estate speculation, and elsewhere. To some it seemed a golden age. But agriculture was not prosperous, and industry and finance became dangerously overextended.
In 1929 there began the Great Depression, which reached worldwide proportions. In 1931, President Herbert Hoover proposed a moratorium on foreign debts, but this and other measures failed to prevent economic collapse. In the 1932 election Hoover was overwhelmingly defeated by the Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt. The new President immediately instituted his New Deal with vigorous measures. To meet the critical financial emergency he instituted a "bank holiday." Congress, called into special session, enacted a succession of laws, some of them to meet the economic crisis with relief measures, others to put into operation long-range social and economic reforms. Some of the most important agencies created were the National Recovery Administration, the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, the Public Works Administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the Tennessee Valley Authority. This program was further broadened in later sessions with other agencies, notably the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Works Progress Administration (later the Work Projects Administration).
Laws also created a social security program. The program was dynamic and, in many areas, unprecedented. It created a vast machinery by which the state could promote economic recovery and social welfare. Opponents of these measures argued that they violated individual rights, besides being extravagant and wasteful. Adverse decisions on several of the measures by the U.S. Supreme Court tended to slow the pace of reform and caused Roosevelt to attempt unsuccessfully to revise the court. Although interest centered chiefly on domestic affairs during the 1930s, Roosevelt continued and expanded the policy of friendship toward the Latin American nations which Herbert Hoover had initiated; this full-blown "good-neighbor" policy proved generally fruitful for the United States (see Pan-Americanism). Roosevelt was reelected by an overwhelming majority in 1936 and won easily in 1940 even though he was breaking the no-third-term tradition.World War II
The ominous situation abroad was chiefly responsible for Roosevelt's continuance at the national helm. By the late 1930s the Axis nations (Germany and Italy) in Europe as well as Japan in East Asia had already disrupted world peace. As wars began in China, Ethiopia, and Spain, the United States sought at first to bulwark its insular security by the Neutrality Act. As Axis aggression led to the outbreak of the European war in Sept., 1939, the United States still strove to stay out of it, despite increasing sympathy for the Allies. But after the fall of France in June, 1940, the support of the United States for beleaguered Britain became more overt. In Mar., 1941, lend-lease aid was extended to the British and, in November, to the Russians. The threat of war had already caused the adoption of selective service to build the armed strength of the nation. Hemisphere defense was enlarged, and the United States drew closer to Great Britain with the issuance of the Atlantic Charter.
In Asian affairs the Roosevelt government had vigorously protested Japan's career of conquest and its establishment of the "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere." After the Japanese takeover of French Indochina (July, 1941), with its inherent threat to the Philippines, the U.S. government froze all Japanese assets in the United States. Diplomatic relations grew taut, but U.S.-Japanese discussions were still being carried on when, on Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese bombs fell on Pearl Harbor. The United States promptly declared war, and four days later Germany and Italy declared war on the United States. (For an account of military and naval events, see World War II.)
The country efficiently mobilized its vast resources, transforming factories to war plants and building a mighty military force which included most able-bodied young men and many young women. The creation of a great number of government war agencies to control and coordinate materials, transportation, and manpower brought unprecedented government intervention into national life. Rationing, price controls, and other devices were instituted in an attempt to prevent serious inflation or dislocation in the civilian economy.
The war underscored the importance of U.S. resources and the prestige and power of the United States in world affairs. A series of important conferences outlined the policies for the war and the programs for the peace after victory; among these were the Moscow Conferences, the Casablanca Conference, the Cairo Conference, the Tehran Conference, and the Yalta Conference, at which Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin planned for postwar settlement. Roosevelt was also a key figure in the plans for the United Nations.
After Roosevelt's sudden death in Apr., 1945, Harry S. Truman became President. A month later the European war ended when Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945. Truman went to the Potsdam Conference (July-August), where various questions of the peacetime administration of Europe were settled, many on an ad interim basis, pending the conclusion of peace treaties. Before the war ended with the defeat of Japan, the United States developed and used a fateful and revolutionary weapon of war, the atomic bomb. The Japanese surrender, announced Aug. 14, 1945, and signed Sept. 2, brought the war to a close.
Peacetime readjustment was successfully effected. The government's "G.I. Bill" enabled many former servicemen to obtain free schooling, and millions of other veterans were absorbed by the economy, which boomed in fulfilling the demands for long-unobtainable consumer goods. The shortening of the postwar factory work week and the proportionate reduction of wages precipitated a rash of strikes, causing the government to pass the Taft-Hartley Labor Act (1947). Some inflation occurred by 1947 as wartime economic controls were abandoned. Congress passed a host of Truman's measures relating to minimum wages, public housing, farm surpluses, and credit regulation; thus was instituted acceptance of comprehensive government intervention in times of prosperity. The nation's support of Truman's policies was signified when it returned him to the presidency in 1948 in an upset victory over Thomas E. Dewey.The United States in a Divided World
The most striking postwar development was America's new peacetime involvement in international affairs. U.S. support for the United Nations symbolized its desire for peace and order in international relations. However, relations between the United States and the Soviet Union worsened during the late 1940s. In addition, a serious human problem was presented by Europe, prostrated and near starvation after years of war. The Truman Doctrine attempted to thwart Soviet expansion in Europe; massive loans, culminating in the Marshall Plan, were vital in reviving European economies and thus in diminishing the appeal of Communism.
As the cold war intensified, the United States took steps (1948) to nullify the Soviet blockade of Berlin and played the leading role in forming a new alliance of Western nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). In the Korean War, U.S. forces played the chief part in combating the North Korean and Chinese attack on South Korea. Thus the United States cast off its traditional peacetime isolationism and accepted its position as a prime mover in world affairs.
International policy had significant repercussions at home. The fear of domestic Communism and subversion almost became a national obsession, culminating in such sensational events as the Alger Hiss case and the trial and execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg (see Rosenberg Case). Security measures and loyalty checks in the government and elsewhere were tightened, alleged Communists were prosecuted under the Smith Act of 1940, and employees in varied fields were dismissed for questionable political affiliations, past or present. The most notorious prosecutor of alleged Communists was Senator Joseph McCarthy, whose extreme methods were later recognized as threats to freedom of speech and democratic principles.
Two decades of Democratic control of the White House came to an end with the presidential election of 1952, when Dwight D. Eisenhower was swept into office over the Democratic candidate, Adlai E. Stevenson. Although it did not try to roll back the social legislation passed by its Democratic predecessors, the Eisenhower administration was committed to a laissez-faire domestic policy. By the mid-1950s, America was in the midst of a great industrial boom, and stock prices were skyrocketing. In foreign affairs the Eisenhower administration was internationalist in outlook, although it sternly opposed Communist power and threatened "massive retaliation" for Communist aggression. Some antagonism came from the neutral nations of Asia and Africa, partly because of the U.S. association with former colonial powers and partly because U.S. foreign aid more often than not had the effect of strengthening ruling oligarchies abroad.
In the race for technological superiority the United States exploded (1952) the first hydrogen bomb, but was second to the USSR in launching (Jan. 31, 1958) an artificial satellite and in testing an intercontinental guidedmissile. However, spurred by Soviet advances, the United States made rapid progress in space exploration and missile research. In the crucial domestic issue of racial integration, the U.S. Supreme Court in a series of decisions supported the efforts of African-American citizens to achieve full civil rights. In 1959, Alaska and Hawaii became the 49th and 50th states of the Union. Despite hopes for "peaceful coexistence," negotiations with the USSR for nuclear disarmament failed to achieve accord, and Berlin remained a serious source of conflict.
In 1961, the older Eisenhower gave way to the youngest President ever elected, John F. Kennedy, who defeated Republican candidate Richard M. Nixon. President Kennedy called for "new frontiers" of American endeavor, but had difficulty securing Congressional support for his domestic programs (integration, tax reform, medical benefits for the aged). Kennedy's foreign policy combined such humanitarian innovations as the Peace Corps and the Alliance for Progress with the traditional opposition to Communist aggrandizement.
After breaking relations with Cuba, which, under Fidel Castro, had clearly moved within the Communist orbit, the United States supported (1961) an ill-fated invasion of Cuba by anti-Castro forces. In 1962, in reaction to the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba, the United States blockaded Soviet military shipments to Cuba and demanded the dismantling of Soviet bases there. The two great powers seemed on the brink of war, but within a week the USSR acceded to U.S. demands. In the meantime, the United States achieved an important gain in space exploration with the orbital flight around the earth in a manned satellite by Col. John H. Glenn. The tensions of the cold war eased when, in 1963, the United States and the Soviet Union reached an accord on a limited ban of nuclear testing.The Great Society and the Vietnam War
On Nov. 22, 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated while riding in a motorcade in Dallas, Tex. His successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, proclaimed a continuation of Kennedy's policies and was able to bring many Kennedy measures to legislative fruition. Significant progress toward racial equality was achieved with a momentous Civil Rights Act (1964), a Voting Rights Act (1965), and the 24th Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished the poll tax. Other legislation, reflecting Johnson's declaration of a "war on poverty" and his stated aim of creating a "Great Society," included a comprehensive Economic Opportunity Act (1964) and bills providing for tax reduction, medical care for the aged, an increased minimum wage, urban rehabilitation, and aid to education.
Public approval was given in the landslide victory won by Johnson over his Republican opponent, Senator Barry Goldwater, in the 1964 presidential election. The victory also represented voter reaction against Senator Goldwater's aggressive views on foreign policy. Ironically, international problems dominated Johnson's second term, and Johnson himself pursued an aggressive course, dispatching (Apr., 1965) troops to the Dominican Republic during disorders there and escalating American participation in the Vietnam War. Authorization for the latter was claimed by Johnson to have been given (Aug., 1964) by Congress in the Tonkin Gulf resolution, which was passed after two U.S. destroyers were allegedly attacked by North Vietnamese PT boats in the Gulf of Tonkin. The federal military budget soared, and inflation became a pressing problem.
The Vietnam War provoked increasing opposition at home, manifested in marches and demonstrations in which casualties were sometimes incurred and thousands of people were arrested. An impression of general lawlessness and domestic disintegration was heightened by serious race riots that erupted in cities across the nation, most devastatingly in the Watts district of Los Angeles (1965) and in Detroit and Newark (1967), and by various racial and political assassinations, notably those of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Senator Robert F. Kennedy (1968). Other manifestations of social upheaval were the increase of drug use, especially among youths, and the rising rate of crime, most noticeable in the cities. Opposition to American involvement in the Vietnam War so eroded Johnson's popularity that he chose not to run again for President in 1968.The Nixon Years
Johnson's position as leader of the Democratic party had been seriously challenged by Senator Eugene McCarthy, who ran as a peace candidate in the primary elections. Antiwar forces in the Democratic party received a setback with the assassination of Senator Kennedy, also a peace candidate, and the way was opened for the nomination of Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, a supporter of Johnson's policies, as the Democratic candidate for President. Violence broke out during the Democratic national convention in Chicago when police and national guardsmen battled some 3,000 demonstrators in what a national investigating committee later characterized as "a police riot." The Republican candidate, Richard M. Nixon, ran on a platform promising an end to the Vietnam War and stressing the need for domestic "law and order"; he won a narrow victory, receiving 43.4% of the popular vote to Humphrey's 42.7%. A third-party candidate, Gov. George C. Wallace of Alabama, carried five Southern states. The Congress remained Democratic.
Pronouncing the "Nixon doctrine"—that thenceforth other countries would have to carry more of the burden of fighting Communist domination, albeit with substantial American economic aid—Nixon began a slow withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam. Criticism that he was not moving fast enough in ending the war increased and massive antiwar demonstrations continued, and when Nixon in the spring of 1970 ordered U.S. troops into neutral Cambodia to destroy Communist bases and supply routes there, a wave of demonstrations, some of them violent, swept American campuses. Four students were killed by national guardsmen at Kent State Univ. in Ohio, and 448 colleges and universities temporarily closed down. Antiwar activity declined, however, when American troops were removed from Cambodia after 60 days.
The institution of draft reform, the continued withdrawal of U.S. soldiers from Vietnam, and a sharp decrease in U.S. casualties all contributed toward dampening antiwar sentiment and lessening the war as an issue of public debate. Racial flare-ups abated after the tumult of the 1960s (although the issue of the busing of children to achieve integration continued to arouse controversy). The growing movement of women demanding social, economic, and political equality with men also reflected the changing times. A dramatic milestone in the country's space program was reached in July, 1969, with the landing of two men on the moon, the first of several such manned flights. Significant unmanned probes of several of the planets followed, and in 1973 the first space station was orbited.
In domestic policy Nixon appeared to favor an end to the many reforms of the 1960s. He was accused by civil-rights proponents of wooing Southern support by seeking delays in the implementation of school integration. Such actions by his administration were overruled by the Supreme Court. Nixon twice attempted to appoint conservative Southern judges to the U.S. Supreme Court and was twice frustrated by the Senate, which rejected both nominations. In an attempt to control the spiraling inflation inherited from the previous administration, Nixon concentrated on reducing federal spending. He vetoed numerous appropriations bills passed by Congress, especially those in the social service and public works areas, although he continued to stress defense measures, such as the establishment of an antiballistic missiles (ABM) system, and foreign aid.
Federal budget cuts contributed to a general economic slowdown but failed to halt inflation, so that the country experienced the unprecedented misfortune of both rising prices and rising unemployment; the steady drain of gold reserves after almost three decades of enormous foreign aid programs, a new balance-of-trade deficit, and the instability of the dollar in the international market also affected the economy. In Aug., 1971, Nixon resorted to the freezing of prices, wages, and rents; these controls were continued under an ensuing, more flexible but comprehensive program known as Phase II. Another significant move was the devaluation of the dollar in Dec., 1971; it was further devalued in 1973 and again in 1974.
In keeping with his announced intention of moving the United States from an era of confrontation to one of negotiation, Nixon made a dramatic visit to the People's Republic of China in Feb., 1972, ending more than 20 years of hostility between the two countries and opening the way for a normalization of relations. A trip to Moscow followed in the spring, culminating in the signing of numerous agreements between the United States and the Soviet Union, the most important being two strategic arms limitations accords, reached after lengthy talks begun in 1969. The attainment of a degree of friendly relations with China and the USSR was especially surprising in view of the provocative actions that the United States was taking at that time against North Vietnam. Although U.S. ground troops were being steadily withdrawn from Vietnam, U.S. bombing activity was increasing. Finally Congress halted the bombing and limited Nixon's power to commit troops. A cease-fire in Vietnam was not achieved until Jan., 1973.
In the presidential election of 1972, the Democratic party reforms that increased the power of women and minority groups in the convention resulted in the nomination of Senator George S. McGovern for President. Senator McGovern called for an immediate end to the Vietnam War and for a drastic cut in defense spending and a guaranteed minimum income for all citizens. His candidacy was damaged by the necessity to replace his original choice for Vice President and by the continuing perception of McGovern as a radical. Nixon was reelected (Nov., 1972) in a landslide, losing only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.
But Nixon's second term was marred, and finally destroyed, by the Watergate affair, which began when five men (two of whom were later discovered to be direct employees of Nixon's reelection committee) were arrested after breaking into the Democratic party's national headquarters at the Watergate apartment complex in Washington, D.C. Nixon resigned on Aug. 9, the first president in the history of the republic to be driven from office under the threat of impeachment.Ford and Carter
Nixon was succeeded by Vice President Gerald R. Ford. (Nixon's first Vice President, Spiro T. Agnew, had resigned in Oct., 1973, after being charged with income tax evasion.) Ford promised to continue Nixon's foreign policy, particularly the improvement of relations with China and the USSR (in his last days in office, Nixon had made trips to the Middle East and the Soviet Union to promote peace).
In domestic affairs, the United States was hurt by skyrocketing fuel prices due to an Arab oil embargo. The embargo was imposed (1973) in retaliation for U.S. support of Israel in the Yom Kippur War (see Arab-Israeli Wars). Ford attempted to formulate new policies to stem the ever-increasing inflation rate, which by late 1974 had reached the most severe levels since the period following World War II. He was also confronted with mounting unemployment and with the threat of a devastating world food crisis. Ford's popularity suffered a sharp setback when he granted Nixon a complete and unconditional pardon for any crimes that Nixon may have committed during his term as President. The public disapproval of this decision, along with the deteriorating economy, contributed to a sharp reversal in Republican fortunes in the elections of 1974.
In Dec., 1974, Nelson A. Rockefeller, a former governor of New York, was sworn in as Vice President following extensive hearings before Congressional committees. Thus, neither the President nor the Vice President had been popularly elected, both having been chosen under the terms of the Twenty-fifth Amendment. Ford's tenure as President was hindered by difficult economic times and an inability to work with the Democrat-controlled Congress. Ford vetoed dozens of bills, many of which were overridden by Congress to provide funding for social programs. Ford also lacked broad support within his own party, as former California governor (and future President) Ronald Reagan made a strong challenge for the Republican presidential nomination.
The Democratic contender in the 1976 presidential election, former Georgia governor James E. "Jimmy" Carter, ran a brilliant and tireless campaign based on populist appeals to honesty and morality. His position as a newcomer to national politics was considered an asset by an untrusting nation in the wake of the Watergate scandal. In spite of a late surge by Ford, Carter narrowly won the election. The day after being sworn in as President, Carter pardoned thousands of draft evaders from the Vietnam War. In domestic affairs, Carter focused a great deal of attention on energy issues, creating the Department of Energy in 1977 and insisting on the necessity of nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuel consumption. However, nuclear energy in the United States suffered a severe setback in 1979 when an accident at the Three Mile Island power facility near Harrisburg, Penn. resulted in the partial meltdown of the reactor core.
States with large energy industries such as Texas, Louisiana, Wyoming, and Colorado all benefited from extremely high energy prices throughout the 1970s. Alaska's economy also boomed as the Alaska pipeline began transporting oil in 1977. Soaring oil prices as well as increased foreign competition dealt a severe blow to American industry, especially heavy industries such as automobile and steel manufacturing located in America's Rust Belt. Central cities in the United States experienced great hardship in the 1960s and 70s. Rising crime rates and racial unrest during the 1960s accelerated the outmigration of people and businesses to the suburbs. By the late 1970s, many large cities had lost their middle class core populations and suffered severe budgetary problems.
Inflation continued to rise dramatically as it had during Ford's administration and eventually reached a 30-year high in 1979. Efforts to control inflation such as raising interest rates plunged the economy into recession. In 1977 Carter signed the Panama Canal Treaty and a year later Congress voted to turn over the canal to Panama in 1999. Carter's greatest achievement in foreign policy came in 1978 when he mediated unprecedented negotiations between Egypt and Israel at Camp David, Md. The talks led to the signing of a peace treaty (see Camp David accords) by Egyptian president Anwar al-Sadat and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin in 1979. Also in that year the United States resumed official diplomatic relations with China and Carter entered into a second round of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT II) with the Soviet Union.
Carter's pledge to stand against nations that abused human rights resulted in a grain and high-technology embargo of the Soviet Union in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Carter also organized a boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics. His decision in 1979 to allow Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlevi, the deposed leader of Iran, to receive medical treatment in the United States inflamed the already passionate anti-American sentiment in that nation. On Nov. 4, 1979, a group of militants seized the U.S. embassy in Iran, taking 66 hostages. The Iran hostage crisis destroyed Carter's credibility as a leader and a failed rescue attempt (1980) that killed eight Americans only worsened the situation. (The hostages were only released on Jan. 20, 1981, the day Carter left office.) With the hostage crisis omnipresent in the media and the nation's economy sliding deeper into recession, Carter had little to run on in the 1980 presidential election. Republican nominee Ronald Reagan promised to restore American supremacy both politically and economically.The Reagan Years
The nation enthusiastically responded to Ronald Reagan's neoconservative message as he soundly defeated Carter and third-party candidate John Anderson to become, at the age of 70, the oldest man to be elected president. Reagan's coattails proved to be long as the Republicans made large gains in the House of Representatives and won control of the Senate for the first time since 1954, ushering in a new wave of conservatism. His program of supply-side economics sought to increase economic growth through reduced taxes which would in turn create even greater tax revenue. Critics argued that his tax cuts only benefited corporations and wealthy individuals. Reagan drastically cut spending on social programs as part of his vow to balance the federal budget.
In labor disputes, Reagan was decidedly antiunion. This was never more evident than in 1981 when he fired 13,000 striking air traffic controllers. In Mar., 1981, Reagan was wounded in an assassination attempt but fully recovered, dispelling doubts regarding his age and health. The U.S. economy continued to worsen; in 1983 the unemployment rate reached its highest point since the Great Depression at almost 11%. By the end of that year, however, oil prices began to drop, slowing the inflation rate and helping the economy to begin a recovery. Reagan's deregulaton of the banking, airline, and many other industries spurred enormous amounts of economic activity. In 1984 the unemployment rate fell and the dollar was strong in foreign markets. With the economy recovering, Reagan was unstoppable in the 1984 presidential election.
Democratic nominee Walter F. Mondale chose U.S. Representative Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate; she was the first woman to gain a major party's vice presidential nomination. Reagan scored an overwhelming victory, carrying 49 states and winning a record 525 electoral votes. Economic recovery did not last, however; while Reagan was cutting government funding for social programs the defense budget skyrocketed to levels not seen since World War II. The federal budget deficit also soared and in 1987, Reagan submitted the first trillion-dollar budget to Congress. In addition, the deregulated economy proved extremely volatile; financial scandals were prevalent and the trade imbalance grew. Finally in 1987 the stock market crashed, falling a record 508 points in a single day.
Reagan's foreign policy was aggressively anti-Communist as he discarded the policy of détente employed by Nixon, Ford, and Carter. He revived Cold War rhetoric, referring to the Soviet Union as the "evil empire" and used increased defense spending to enlarge the U.S. nuclear arsenal and fund the Strategic Defense Initiative, a plan popularly known as "Star Wars." In 1981, Reagan imposed sanctions against Poland after the establishment of a military government in that country. Reagan also sought aid for the Contras—counterrevolutionaries seeking to overthrow the Marxist-oriented Sandanista government in Nicaragua. At the same time the United States was secretly mining Nicaraguan harbors.
In 1983 241 U.S. marines stationed in Beirut, Lebanon as part of a UN peacekeeping force were killed by terrorists driving a truck laden with explosives in a suicide mission. Later that year Reagan ordered the invasion of the tiny Caribbean nation of Grenada; the action was roundly criticized by the world community, but succeeded in toppling the pro-Cuban regime. In 1986 the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff, killing the entire seven-person crew, including six astronauts and a civilian schoolteacher. Reagan's aggressive policies in the Middle East worsened already bad relations with Arab nations; he ordered (1986) air strikes against Libya in retaliation for the Libyan-sponsored terrorist attack in West Berlin that killed two American servicemen.
Although the president had vowed never to negotiate with terrorists, members of his administration did just that in the Iran-contra affair. Against the wishes of the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, Reagan officials arranged the illegal sale of arms to Iran in exchange for the release of American hostages in the Middle East. The profits from the sales were then diverted to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua. Reagan improved his image before he left office, however, by agreeing to a series of arms reduction talks initiated by Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev. Reagan was also able leave a powerful legacy by appointing three conservative Supreme Court justices, including Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to serve on the high court.Bush, Clinton, and Bush
Reagan had groomed his Vice President, George H. W. Bush, to succeed him. The presidential election of 1988 was characterized by negative campaigning, low voter turnout, and a general disapproval of both candidates. The mudslinging especially hurt the Democratic nominee, Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis, who rapidly lost his lead in the polls and eventually lost by a substantial margin. Bush vowed a continuation of Reagan's policies and in foreign affairs he was as aggressive as his predecessor. In 1989, after a U.S.-backed coup failed to oust Panamanian President Manuel Noriega, Bush ordered the invasion of Panama by U.S. troops. Noriega was eventually captured in early 1990 and sent to Miami, Fla. to stand trial for drug trafficking (see Panama).
Bush's major military action, however, was the Persian Gulf War. After Iraq invaded Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990, Bush announced the commencement of Operation Desert Shield, which included a naval and air blockade and the steady deployment of U.S. military forces to Saudi Arabia. In November the United Nations Security Council approved the use of all necessary force to remove Iraq from Kuwait and set Jan. 15, 1991, as the deadline for Iraq to withdraw. A few days before the deadline Congress narrowly approved the use of force against Iraq. By this time the United States had amassed a force of over 500,000 military personnel as well as thousands of tanks, airplanes, and personnel carriers. Less than one day after the deadline, the U.S.-led coalition began Operation Desert Storm, beginning with massive air attacks on Baghdad. Iraqi troops were devastated by continual air and naval bombardment, to the point that it took only 100 hours for coalition ground forces to recapture Kuwait. On Feb. 27, with the Iraqi army routed, Bush declared a cease-fire.
The quick, decisive U.S. victory, combined with an extremely small number of American casualties, gave President Bush the highest public approval rating in history. Mounting domestic problems, however, made his popularity short-lived. When Bush took office, he announced a plan to bail out the savings and loan industry, which had collapsed after deregulation during the Reagan administration. In 1996 it was determined that the savings and loan crisis had cost the U.S. government some $124 billion.
The United States went through a transitional period during the 1980s and early 90s, economically, demographically, and politically. The severe decline of traditional manufacturing which began in the 1970s forced a large-scale shift of the economy to services and other sectors. States with large service, trade, and high-technology industries (such as many Sun Belt states) grew in population and thrived economically. Meanwhile, states heavily dependent on manufacturing, including much of the Midwest, suffered severe unemployment and outmigration. Midwestern states grew less than 5% during the 1980s while Sun Belt states grew between 15% and 50%.
In addition, the end of the Cold War, precipitated by the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the collapse of Soviet Communism, resulted in a reduction of the U.S. armed forces as well as the opening of new markets in an increasingly global economy. In Apr., 1992, after the severe police beating of an African American, one of the worst race riots in recent U.S. history erupted in Los Angeles, killing 58, injuring thousands, and causing approximately $1 billion in damage. Smaller disturbances broke out in many U.S. cities. After the Persian Gulf War the nation turned its attention to the domestic problems of recession and high unemployment. Bush's inability to institute a program for economic recovery made him vulnerable in the 1992 presidential election to the Democratic nominee, Arkansas governor Bill Clinton.
Clinton won the election, gaining 43% of the popular vote and 370 electoral votes. Incumbent Bush won 38% of the popular vote and 168 electoral votes. Although independent candidate H. Ross Perot did not win a single electoral vote, he made a strong showing with 19% of the popular vote, after a populist campaign in which he vowed to eliminate the $3.5 trillion federal deficit. Clinton, generally considered a political moderate, was particularly successful in appealing to voters (especially in the Midwest and West) who had previously abandoned the Democratic party to vote for Reagan. Bush, for his part, was unable to convince voters that he could transform his success in international affairs into domestic recovery. One of his last actions as president was to send (Dec., 1992) U.S. troops to Somalia as part of a multinational peacekeeping force administering famine relief.
The economy gradually improved during Clinton's first year in office, and this, along with a tax increase and spending cuts, caused some easing of the budget deficit. The North American Free Trade Agreement, signed by the United States, Canada, and Mexico in 1992 and designed to make its participants more competitive in the world marketplace, was ratified in 1993 and took effect Jan. 1, 1994.
During his first two years in office, Clinton withdrew U.S. troops from Somalia after they had suffered casualties in an ill-defined mission; he also sent troops to Haiti to help in reestablishing democratic rule there. The president proposed a major overhaul of the way American health care is financed, but it died in Congress. Clinton's problems with Congress were exacerbated in 1994 after the Republicans won control of both the Senate and the House and attempted, largely unsuccessfully, to enact a strongly conservative legislative program, dubbed the "Contract with America." There were prolonged stalemates as the president and Congress clashed over the federal budget; in Apr., 1996, a fiscal 1995 budget was agreed upon after seven months of stopgap spending measures and temporary government shutdowns.
In Apr., 1995, in the worst act of terrorism ever on American soil, a bomb was exploded at the federal building in Oklahoma City, Okla., killing 169 people. Late in 1995, the antagonists in the Yugoslavian civil war (see Bosnia and Herzegovina; Croatia) accepted a U.S.-brokered peace plan, which U.S. troops were sent to help monitor. U.S. efforts also contributed to Arab-Israeli acceptance of agreements to establish limited Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza.
By 1996, President Clinton had improved his standing in the polls by confronting House Republicans over the federal budget, and he subsequently adopted a number of Republican proposals, such as welfare reform, as his own, while opposing the more conservative aspects of those proposals. Clinton won his party's renomination unopposed and then handily defeated Republican Bob Dole and Reform party candidate Ross Perot in the November election.
As his second term began, Clinton's foes in and out of Congress pursued investigation of Whitewater and other alleged improprieties or abuses by the president. By late 1997 independent prosecutor Kenneth Starr had been given information that led to the Lewinsky scandal, which burst on the national scene in early 1998. Battle lines formed and remained firm through Clinton's impeachment (Oct., 1998), trial (Jan., 1999), and acquittal (Feb., 1999), with a core of conservative Republicans on one side and almost all Democrats on the other. The American people seemed to regard the impeachment as largely partisan in intent. Lying behind their attitude, however, was probably the sustained economic boom, a period of record stock-market levels, relatively low unemployment, the reduction of the federal debt, and other signs of well-being (although critics noted that the disparity between America's rich and poor was now greater than ever). This, combined with the afterglow of "victory" in the cold war, continued through the end of the 1990s.
In foreign affairs, the United States (as the only true superpower) enjoyed unprecendented international influence in the late 1990s, and in some areas it was able to use this influence to accomplish much. There was steady, if sometimes fitful, progress toward peace in the Middle East, and George Mitchell, a U.S. envoy, brokered what many hoped was a lasting peace in Northern Ireland. On the other hand, America had little influence on Russian policy in Chechnya, and it remained locked in a contest of wills with Iraq's President Saddam Hussein nine years after the end of the Persian Gulf War. The reluctance of the Congress to pay the country's UN dues nearly led to the embarrassment of the loss of the American General Assembly vote in 1999 even as Secretary-General Kofi Annan expressed a desire for greater American involvement in the organization.
Meanwhile, in Kosovo the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, led by the United States, was unable to prevent a Yugoslav campaign against Kosovar Albanians but ultimately forced the former Yugoslavia to cede contral of the province; U.S. and other troops were sent into Kosovo as peacekeepers. That conflict showed that the United States was again reluctant to commit military forces, such as its army, that were likely to suffer significant casualties, although it would use its airpower, where its great technological advantages enabled it strike with less risk to its forces.
Negotiations in the Middle East, which continued in 2000, broke down, and there was renewed violence in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank late in the year. The Clinton administration worked to restart the negotiations, but the issues proved difficult to resolve. In the United States, the Nasdaq Internet and technology stock bubble, which had begun its rise in 1999, completely deflated in the second half of 2000, as the so-called new economy associated with the Internet proved to be subject to the rules of the old economy. Signs of a contracting economy also appeared by year's end.The George W. Bush Presidency, 9/11, and Iraq
The 2000 presidential election, in which the American public generally appeared uninspired by the either major-party candidate (Vice President Al Gore and the Republican governor of Texas, George W. Bush) ended amid confusion and contention not seen since the Hayes-Tilden election in 1876. On election night, the television networks called and then retracted the winner of Florida twice, first projecting Gore the winner there, then projecting Bush the winner there and in the race at large. The issue of who would win Florida and its electoral votes became the issue of who would win the presidency, and the determination of the election dragged on for weeks as Florida's votes were recounted. Gore, who trailed by several hundred votes (out of 6 million) in Florida but led by a few hundred thousand nationally, sought a manual recount of strongly Democratic counties in Florida, and the issue ended up being fought in the courts and in the media. Ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court called a halt to the process, although its split decision along ideological lines was regarded by many as tarnishing the court. Florida's electoral votes, as certified by the state's Republican officials, were won by Bush, who secured a total of 271 electoral votes (one more than needed) and 48% of the popular vote (Gore had 49% of the popular vote). Bush thus became the first person since Benjamin Harrison in 1888 to win the presidency without achieving a plurality in the popular vote.
The slowing economy entered a recession in Mar., 2001, and unemployment rose, leading to continued interest rate reductions by the Federal Reserve Board. The Bush administration moved quickly to win Congressional approval of its tax-cut program, providing it with an early legislative victory, but other proposed legislation moved more slowly. The resignation of Senator Jeffords of Vermont from the Republican party cost it control of the Senate, a setback due in part to administration pressure on him to adhere to the party line. Internationally, the United States experienced some friction with its allies, who were unhappy with the Bush administration's desire to abandon both the Kyoto Protocal (designed to fight global warming) and the Antiballistic Missile Treaty (in order to proceed with developing a ballistic missile defense system). Relations with China were briefly tense in Apr., 2001, after a Chinese fighter and U.S. surveillance plane collided in mid-air, killing the Chinese pilot.
The politics and concerns of the first eight months of 2001 abruptly became secondary on Sept. 11, when terrorists hijacked four planes, crashing two into the World Trade Center, which was destroyed, and one into the Pentagon; the fourth crashed near Shanksville, Pa. Some 3,000 persons were killed or missing as a result of the attacks. Insisting that no distinction would be made between terrorists and those who harbored them, Bush demanded that Afghanistan's Taliban government turn over Osama bin Laden, a Saudi-born Islamic militant whose Al Qaeda group was behind the attacks. The U.S. government sought to build an international coalition against Al Qaeda and the Taliban and, more broadly, against terrorism, working to influence other nations to cut off sources of financial support for terrorists.
In October, air strikes and then ground raids were launched against Afghanistan by the United States, with British aid. Oman, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan permitted the use of their airspace and of bases within their borders for various operations. The United States also provided support for opposition forces in Afghanistan, and by December the Taliban government had been ousted and its and Al Qaeda's fighters largely had been routed. Bin Laden, however, remained uncaptured, and a force of U.S. troops was based in Afghanistan to search for him and to help with mopping-up operations.
The terrorist attacks stunned Americans and amplified the effects of the recession in the fall. Events had a severe impact on the travel industry, particularly the airlines, whose flights were temporarily halted; the airlines subsequently suffered a significant decrease in passengers. Congress passed several bills designed to counter the economic effects of the attacks, including a $15 billion aid and loan package for the airline industry. A new crisis developed in October, when cases of anthrax and anthrax exposure resulted from spores that had been mailed to media and government offices in bioterror attacks.
Although consumer spending and the stock market rebounded by the end of the year from their low levels after September 11, unemployment reached 5.8% in Dec., 2001. Nonetheless, the economy was recovering, albeit slowly, aided in part by increased federal spending. In early 2002 the Bush administration announced plans for a significant military buildup; that and the 2001 tax cuts were expected to result in budget deficits in 2002-4. Prompted by a number of prominent corporate scandals involving fraudulent or questionable accounting practices, some of which led to corporate bankruptcies, Congress passed legislation that overhauled securities and corporate laws in July, 2002.
The fighting in Afghanistan continued, with U.S. forces there devoted mainly to mopping up remnants of Taliban and Al Qaeda forces. U.S. troops were also based in Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan to provide support for the forces in Afghanistan. In the Philippines, U.S. troops provided support and assistance to Philippine forces fighting guerrillas in the Sulu Archipelago that had been linked to Al Qaeda, and they also trained Georgian and Yemeni forces as part of the war on terrorism.
During 2002 the Bush administration became increasingly concerned by the alleged Iraqi development and possession of weapons of mass destruction, and was more forceful in its denunciations of Iraq for resisting UN arms inspections. In March, Arab nations publicly opposed possible U.S. military operations against Iraq, but U.S. officials continued to call for the removal of Saddam Hussein. President Bush called on the United Nations to act forcefully against Iraq or risk becoming "irrelevant." In November the Security Council passed a resolution offering Iraq a "final opportunity" to cooperate on arms inspections, this time under strict guidelines, and inspections resumed late in the month, although not with full Iraqi cooperation. Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress voted to authorize the use of the military force against Iraq, and the United States continued to build up its forces in the Middle East.
The November election resulted in unexpected, if small, gains for the Republicans, giving them control of both houses of Congress. After the election, Congress voted to establish a new Department of Homeland Security, effective Mar., 2003. The department regrouped most of the disparate agencies responsible for domestic security under one cabinet-level official; the resulting government reorganization was the largest since the Department of Defense was created in the late 1940s.
Dec., 2002, saw the negotiation of a free-trade agreement with Chile (signed in June, 2003), regarded by many as the first step in the expansion of NAFTA to include all the countries of the Americas. President Bush ordered the deployment of a ballistic missile defense system, to be effective in 2004; the system would be designed to prevent so-called rogue missile attacks. In advance of this move the United States had withdrawn from the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty with Russia in June. North Korea, often described as one of the nations most likely to launch a rogue attack, had admitted in October that it had a program for developing nuclear weapons, and the United States and other nations responded by ending fuel shipments and reducing food aid. In the subsequent weeks North Korea engaged in a series of well-publicized moves to enable it to resume the development of nuclear weapons, including withdrawing from the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. The United States, which had first responded by refusing to negotiate in any way with North Korea, adopted a somewhat less confrontational approach in 2003.
President Bush continued to press for Iraqi disarmament in 2003, and expressed impatience with what his administration regarded as the lack of Iraqi compliance. In Feb, 2003, however, the nation's attention was pulled away from the growing tension over Iraq by the breakup of the space shuttle Columbia as it returned to earth. Seven astronauts were killed in this second shuttle mishap, and focus was once again directed toward the issues of the safety of the space shuttle and the dynamics of the decision-making process at NASA.
Despite vocal opposition to military action from many nations, including sometimes rancorous objections from France, Germany, and Russia, the United States and Great Britain pressed forward in early 2003 with military preparations in areas near Iraq. Although Turkey, which the allies hoped to use as a base for opening a northern front in Iraq, refused to allow use of its territory as a staging area, the bulk of the forces were nonetheless in place by March. After failing to win the explicit UN Security Council approval desired by Britain (because the British public were otherwise largely opposed to war), President Bush issued an ultimatum to Iraqi president Saddam Hussein on March 17th, and two days later the war began with an airstrike against Hussein and the Iraqi leadership. Ground forces invaded the following day, and by mid-April the allies were largely in control of the major Iraqi cities and had turned their attention to the rebuilding of Iraq and the establishment of a new Iraqi government. No weapons of mass destruction, however, were found by allied forces during the months after the war, and sporadic guerrilla attacks on the occupying forces occurred during the same time period, mainly in Sunni-dominated central Iraq.
The cost of the military campaign as well as of the ongoing U.S. occupation in Iraq substantially increased what already had been expected to be a record-breaking U.S. deficit in 2003 to around $374 billion. The size of the deficit, the unknown ultimate cost of the war, and the continued weak U.S. economy (the unemployment rate rose to 6.4% in June despite some improvement in other areas) were important factors that led to the scaling back of a tax cut, proposed by President Bush, by more than half to $350 billion.
In Aug., 2003, a massive electrical blackout affected the NE United States. Much of New York and portions of Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and neighboring Ontario, Canada, lost power, in many cases for a couple days. The widespread failure appeared to be due in part to strains placed on the transmission system, its safeguards, and its operators by the increased interconnectedness of electrical generation and transmission facilities and the longer-distance transmission of electricity. An investigation into the event, however, laid the primary blame on the Ohio utility where it began, both for inadequate system maintenance and for failing to take preventive measures when the crisis began.
The economy improved in the latter half of the 2003. Although the unemployment rate inched below 6% and job growth was modest, overall economic growth was robust, particularly in the last quarter. A major Medicare overhaul was enacted and signed in December, creating a prescription drug benefit for the first time. The same month the Central American Free Trade Agreement was finalized by the United States, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, and in early 2004, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic agreed to become parties to the accord. The United States also reached free-trade agreements with Australia and Morocco.
U.S. weapons inspectors reported in Jan., 2004, that they had failed to find any evidence that Iraq had possessed biological or chemical weapons stockpiles prior to the U.S. invasion. The assertion that such stockpiles existed was a primary justification for the invasion, and the report led to pressure for an investigation of U.S. intelligence prior to the war. In February, President Bush appointed a bipartisan commission to review both U.S. intelligence failures in Iraq and other issues relating to foreign intelligence; the commission's 2005 report criticized intelligence agencies for failing to challenge the conventional wisdom about Iraq's weapon systems, and called for changes in how U.S. intelligence gathering is organized and managed. The Senate's intelligence committee, reviewing the situation separately, concluded in its 2004 report that much of the CIA's information on and assessment of Iraq prior to the war was faulty.
Also in February, U.S., French, and Canadian forces were sent into Haiti to preserve order. Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide had resigned under U.S.-French pressure after rebel forces had swept through most of the country and threatened to enter the capital. U.S. forces withdrew from Haiti in June when Brazil assumed command of a UN peacekeeping force there.
By March, John Kerry had all but secured the Democrat nomination for president. With both major party nominees clear, the focus of the political campaigns quickly shifted to the November election. Both Bush and Kerry had elected not to accept government funding, enabling them each to raise record amounts of campaign funding, and the post-primary advertising campaign began early. In July, Kerry chose North Carolina senator John Edwards, who had opposed him in the primaries, as his running mate.
U.S. forces engaged in intense fighting in Iraq in Apr., 2004, as they attempted to remove Sunni insurgents from the town of Falluja. The battling there was the fiercest since the end of the invasion, and ultimately U.S. forces broke off without clearing the fighters from the city, a goal that was not achieved until after similar fighting in November. Guerrilla attacks by Sunni insurgents continued throughout the year. Also in April a radical cleric attempted to spark a Shiite uprising, and there was unrest and fighting in a number of other Iraqi cities. By mid-April the Shiite militia was in control only in the region around An Najaf, but the militia did not abandon its hold there until after intense battling in August. At the end of June, Paul Bremer, the head of the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority, turned over sovereignty to an Iraqi interim government. Nonetheless, the unrest called into question the degree to which Iraq had been pacified, and the 160,000 U.S.-led troops still in Iraq were, for the time being, the true guarantor of Iraqi security. Meanwhile, the prestige of the U.S. military had been damaged by revelations, in May, that it had abused Iraqis held in the Abu Ghraib prison during 2003-4.
In July, 2004, the U.S. commission investigating the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, criticized especially U.S. intelligence agencies for failings that contributed to the success of the attacks, and called for a major reorganization of those agencies, leading to the passage of legislation late in the year. In the following months the country's focus turned largely toward the November presidential election, as the campaigns of President Bush and Senator Kerry and their surrogates escalated their often sharp political attacks. In a country divided over the threat of terrorism and the war in Iraq, over the state of the economy and the state of the nation's values, election spending reached a new peak despite recent campaign financing limitations, and fueled a divisive and sometimes bitter mood. Ultimately, the president appeared to benefit from a slowly recovering economy and the desire of many voters for continuity in leadership while the nation was at war. Amid greatly increased voter turnout, Bush secured a clear majority of the popular vote, in sharp contrast to the 2000 election that first made him president. Republicans also increased their margins of control in both houses of Congress, largely through victories in the more conservative South.
The very active 2005 hurricane season saw several significant storms make landfall on the U.S. coast. In August, Hurricane Katrina devastated the Mississippi and SE Louisiana coasts, flooded much of New Orleans for several weeks, and caused extensive destruction inland in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, making it the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history. The following month, Hurricane Rita caused devastation along the SW Louisiana coast and widespread destruction in inland Louisiana and SE Texas.
Katrina displaced many Louisiana residents, some permanently, to other parts of the state and other states, particularly Texas. Some 200,000 persons were left at least temporarily unemployed, reversing job gains that had been made in the preceding months. The storm had a noticeable effect on the economy, driving up the already higher prices of gasoline, heating oil, and natural gas (as a result of well and refinery damage) to levels not seen before, and causing inflation to rise and industrial output to drop by amounts not seen in more than two decades.
The striking ineffectiveness of federal, state, and local government in responding to Hurricane Katrina, particularly in flooded New Orleans but also in other areas affected by the storm, raised questions about the ability of the country to respond to major disasters of any kind. President Bush—and state and local officials—were criticized for responding, at least initially, inadequately to Katrina, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency in particular seemed overwhelmed by the disaster's scale and incapable of managing the federal response in subsequent weeks. Many Americans wondered if the lessons of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and the changes in the federal government that followed had resulted in real improvements or if those very changes and their emphasis on terror attacks had hindered the ability of the United States to respond to natural disasters.
The perceived failings in the federal response to Katrina seemed to catalyze public dissatisfaction with President Bush, as Americans became increasingly unsettled by the ongoing war in Iraq, the state of the U.S. economy, and other issues less than a year after Bush had been solidly reelected. Congress, meanwhile, passed a $52 billion emergency spending bill to deal with the effects of Katrina, but did not make any significant spending cuts or reductions in tax cuts to compensate for the additional outlays until Feb., 2006, when Congress passed a bill cutting almost $40 billion from a variety of government benefit programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, and student loans.
Internationally and domestically, the United States government was the subject of condemnation from some quarters for aspects of its conduct of the "war on terror" in the second half of 2005. In Aug., 2005, Amnesty International (AI) denounced the United States for maintaining secret, underground CIA prisons abroad. Subsequent news reporting indicated that there were prisons in eight nations in E Europe and Asia, and in December the United States acknowledged that the International Committee of the Red Cross had not been given access to all its detention facilities. (A year after the AI report the U.S. for the first time acknowledged that the CIA had maintained a group of secret prisons.) A Swiss investigator for the Council of Europe indicated (Dec., 2005) that reports that European nations and the United States had been involved in the abduction and extrajudicial transfer of individuals to other nations were credible, and he accused (Jan., 2006) the nations of "outsourcing" torture. In Jan., 2006, the New York-based Human Rights Watch accused the U.S. government of a deliberate policy of mistreating terror suspects. The U.S. policy toward terror suspects was subsequently denounced in 2006 by the UN Human Rights Council, the UN Committee on Torture, and the European Parliament.
In Dec., 2005, the National Security Agency was revealed to be wiretapping some international communications originating in the United States without obtaining the legally required warrants. The practice had begun in 2002, at the president's order. The administration justified it by asserting that the president's powers to defend the United States under the Constitution were not subject to Congressional legislation and that the legislation authorizing the president to respond to the Sept., 2001, terror attacks implicitly also authorized the wiretapping. Many politicians, former government officials, and legal scholars, however, criticized the practice as illegal or unconstitutional. The revelations and assertions did not derail the renewal of most nonpermanent parts of the USA PATRIOT Act, a sometimes criticized national security law originally enacted in 2001 after the Sept. 11th attacks; with only minor adjustments most of the law was made permanent in Mar., 2006. President Bush subsequently agreed (July, 2006) to congressional legislation that would authorize the administration's domestic eavesdropping program while placing a few limitations on it, but House and Senate Republicans disagreed over aspects of the proposed law, and it was not passed before the November elections. Meanwhile, in August, a federal judge declared the program illegal, a decision that the Justice Dept. appealed. In Jan., 2007, however, the Bush administration indicated the eavesdropping program would be overseen by the secret federal court responsible for issuing warrants for foreign intelligence surveillance.
The administation's position on the president's powers had been implicitly criticized by the Supreme Court when it ruled in June, 2006, that military commissions that had not been authorized by Congress could not be used to try the foreign terror suspects held at Guantánamo Bay. The Court also ruled that the Geneva Conventions applied to the suspects, who had been taken prisoner in Afghanistan; that ruling was a defeat for the administration, which had also come under increasing foreign government criticism for holding the suspects without trying them. As a result of the ruling, the Bush administration won the passage (Sept., 2006) of legislation that established special military tribunals to try foreign terror suspects, such as those held at Guantánamo, but the law was criticized by human rights advocates and others for stripping suspects of habeas corpus and other rights long enshrined as part of American law.
Illegal immigration also became a contentious political topic in 2006. While the House of Representatives, dominated by conservative Republicans, sought to require greater government efforts to restrict illegal immigration and greater penalities for illegally entering the United States, the Bush administration and the Senate emphasized developing a guest-worker program and allowing some long-term illegal immigrants the opportunity to become citizens as well as increasing border security. The differences between the houses of Congresses stalled legislative action on illegal immigration while maintaining it as a political issue as the 2006 congressional elections approached; ultimately the only legislation passed on the issue was a Oct., 2006, law that called for adding 700 mi (1,100 km) of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. A new attempt at passing an immigration overhaul in 2007 died in Congress in June.
In the 2006 congressional elections the Republicans suffered significant reversals, losing control of both the Senate and the House, although the some of the seats lost in the Senate were the result of very narrow Democratic wins. Congressional corruption and sex scandals during 2006 appeared to loom large with many voters, as did the ongoing lack of significant progress in the fighting in Iraq. The president had hoped to benefit from improvement in the economy—the national unemployment rate had gradually dropped during 2005-6 and high oil prices earlier in the year had fallen—but some polls indicated the economy was a significant issue mainly in areas where voters felt that they had not benefited from the broad national trends.
Iraq, where 3,000 U.S. military personnel had died by the end of 2006, remained the nation's focus into early 2007. The congressionally commissioned Iraq Study Group, headed by James Baker and including prominent Republicans and Democrats, recommended a number of changes in U.S. efforts relating to Iraq, including greatly diminishing the role of U.S. combat forces and replacing them with Iraqi troops, making diplomatic overtures to Syria and Iran to gain their support for a resolution of the fighting in Iraq, and attempting to bring peace to Iraq as part of a broader Middle East peace initiative. Military aspects of the plan were received with skepticism by U.S. military experts, but the president ultimately choose to increase U.S. forces in Iraq temporarily, beginning in Jan., 2007, an attempt to control sectarian strife and increase security, principally in Baghdad. The president's decision was not well received in Congress, both by the newly empowered Democrats and some Republicans, but congressional opponents of the course pursued by the administration in Iraq lacked both the numbers and the unanimity necessary to confront the president effectively, as was demonstrated when a war funding bill was passed (May, 2007) without any binding troop withdrawal deadlines. By the mid-2008, when the "surge" in U.S. forces in Iraq had ended, it, along with a change in counterinsurgency tactics and other factors, appeared to have been successful in reducing violence and helping to establish control over some parts of Iraq.
The second half of 2007 saw the economy become a significant concern as problematic mortgage lending involving adjustable rate mortgages and, often, borrowers of marginal creditworthiness roiled U.S. and international financial markets and companies as a result of the securitization of mortgages, which both had hidden the risk involved in such mortgages and distributed that risk among many financial companies and investors. Concerns over creditworthiness issues led to a contraction in mortgage lending and housing construction and also led to some difficulties in commercial lendings. By the end of 2007, it was clear that a housing bubble that had contributed significantly to economic growth since 2001 had burst, and many banks and financial firms suffered significant losses as a result. That, dramatic increases in crude oil prices, and other worsening economic conditions contributed to the beginning of a recession by year's end.
In early 2008 the economic slowdown led to job losses and increased unemployment, while credit uncertainties contributed to the near-collapse of a major Wall Street investment firm; mortgage deliquencies also rose. The deteriorating economy led to the passage of a federal economic stimulus package, government measures designed to increase the availability of federally insured mortgages, lower interest rates, and moves by the Federal Reserve Board to assure the availability of credit and shore up the financial markets. In July, 2008, the president also signed a housing bill designed to help shore up the U.S. corporations that guarantee most American mortgages and also to provide mortgage relief to some homeowners, but ongoing problems with mortgage defaults led to increasing losses at those corporations and resulted in a government takeover of the institutions in September.
The deterioration of financial and economic conditions in the country and the world accelerated in mid-September, forcing the government and the Federal Reserve to intervene still more actively. The government also took over insurance giant AIG, whose financial health been undermined by credit default swaps it had sold (credit default swaps are contracts that pay, in return for a fee, compensation if a bond, loan, or the like goes into default). The nation also experienced its largest bank failure ever as the FDIC took over and sold Washington Mutual. By the end of the month the four remaining major Wall Street investment banks had disappeared through bankruptcy, merger, or conversion to bank holding companies, and banks had become unusually reluctant to lend. The economic crisis, which was the most severe since the early 1980s, also became increasingly international in scope, with particularly dramatic consequences in such diverse nations as Iceland, Russia, and Argentina.
Congress passed a $700 billion financial institution rescue package in early October, giving the Treasury secretary broad leeway in using government funds to restore financial stability, but the unsettling economic situation led stock prices to erode daily in early October, compounding the nation's financial difficulties and anxieties. The government subsequently moved to recapitalize the banking system in an attempt to restart lending, and the Federal Reserve began buying commercial paper (short-term debt with which companies finance their day-to-day operations), becoming the lender of last resort not just for the banking system but the economy at large. The Federal Reserve also eventually lowered its federal funds interest rate target to below 0.25%.
The effects of housing price drops, mortgage difficulties, the credit crunch, and other problems meanwhile slowed consumer spending, which contributed to a decrease in the GDP in the third and fourth quarters of 2008. By October unemployment had increased to 6.5% (and rose to 7.2% by the end of the year), and the economy had become a major factor in the presidential election campaign. Democrat Barack Obama handily defeated Republican John McCain in Nov., 2008, to become the first African American to be elected to the presidency, and Democrats also increased their majorities in the U.S. Congress. Although the inauguration of President Obama in Jan., 2009, was acknowledged by most Americans as a historic watershed, the economic difficulties and international conflicts confronting the United States were sobering and had all but forced Obama to name his cabinet and highest advisers as quickly as possible once he became president-elect.
The economy continued in recession in 2009, with unemployment reaching 9.8% in September. The Obama administration continued and expanded the previous administration's antirecessionary measures, winning passage of a $787 billion stimulus package and offering aid especially to the U.S. financial industry; the automobile industry, with Chrysler and General Motors forced into bankruptcy and reorganized by July, 2009; and (to a more limited extent) to homeowners. Those and other measures were expected to result in a series of budget deficits that, as a percentage of GDP, were the largest since World War II. In October, when the administration announced the 2009 deficit was $1.4 trillion (roughly triple that of the year before), it appeared clear that a depression had been avoided, and subsequently there were signs of a likely end to the recession, with the economy reported to have expanded 2.2% in the third quarter. Banking and housing, however, remained in the doldrums at best at year's end, and the unemployment rate increased to around 10% in the last months of 2009.
There are a great number of articles on Americans of major importance, on the principal government agencies and departments, and on numerous topics of American history, e.g., Whiskey Rebellion, Ohio Company, Independent Treasury System, and Santa Fe Trail. There are also articles on more than 2,000 cities, towns, and villages in the United States. The state articles supply bibliographies for state history. Aspects of American culture are discussed under American architecture, American art, American literature, and jazz. Many general articles (e.g., slavery; diplomatic service) have useful material and bibliographies relating to the United States.
The writings on American history are voluminous. Useful bibliographies are F. Freidel and R. K. Showman, ed., Harvard Guide to American History (2 vol., rev. ed. 1974) and C. Fitzgerald, ed., American History: A Bibliographic Review (4 vol., 1986-89).Major Historians and Works
Some of the classic works on American history are those of Henry Adams, C. M. Andrews, George Bancroft, Charles A. Beard, Carl L. Becker, G. L. Beer, Alfred Chandler, John Fiske, Eugene Genovese, Herbert Gutman, J. B. McMaster, H. L. Osgood, Francis Parkman, Vernon Louis Parrington, Ulrich B. Phillips, James Ford Rhodes, and Frederick Jackson Turner.
Other works of significance are by Bernard Bailyn, S. F. Bemis, Ray Allan Billington, Daniel Boorstin, Bruce Catton, H. S. Commager, David Donald, D. S. Freeman, L. H. Gipson, Richard Hofstadter, John F. Jameson, Perry Miller, S. E. Morison, R. B. Morris, Allan Nevins, A. M. Schlesinger, A. M. Schlesinger, Jr., T. J. Wertenbaker, Gordon Wood, and C. Vann Woodward.
Standard reference works are R. B. Morris and H. S. Commager, ed., Encyclopedia of American History (rev. ed. 1970); H. S. Commager, ed., Documents of American History (8th ed. 1968); and the cooperative "New American Nation Series" (ed. by H. S. Commager and R. B. Morris, 1954-). Another cooperative work is the "History of the South" series (ed. by W. H. Stephenson and E. M. Coulter, 10 vol., 1947-67). See also U.S. Bureau of the Census, Statistical Abstract of the United States (latest ed.) and Susan B. Carter et al., ed., Historical Statistics of the United States (2006).
Brief general histories include D. J. Boorstin, The Americans (3 vol., 1958-73); H. J. Carman, H. C. Syrett, and Bernard Wishy, A History of the American People (3d ed., 2 vol., 1967); S. E. Morison, The Oxford History of the American People (3 vol., 1972); S. E. Morison and H. S. Commager, The Growth of the American Republic (7th ed. 1980); J. A. Garraty, A Short History of the American Nation (5th ed. 1988); and P. Johnson, A History of the American People (1998).Specialized Topics in American History
Specialized topics are treated in such studies as M. Curti, The Growth of American Thought (3d ed. 1964); A. Heimert, Religion and the American Mind (1966); R. A. Billington and J. B. Hedges, Westward Expansion (3d ed. 1967); A. H. Kelly and W. A. Harbison, The American Constitution (4th ed. 1970); M. J. Frisch, ed., American Political Thought (1971); S. E. Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the United States (1972); R. E. Spiller et al., ed., Literary History of the United States (3d ed. 3 vol., 1963-72); J. S. Adams, Contemporary Metropolitan America (4 vol., 1976); P. O. Muller, Contemporary Suburban America (1981); M. E. Armbruster, The Presidents of the United States and Their Administrations from Washington to Reagan (7th rev. ed. 1982); J. P. Greene, Encyclopedia of American Political History (3 vol., 1984); L. M. Friedman, History of American Law (rev. ed. 1985) and Law in America (2002); K. T. Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier (1985); J. Agnew, The United States in the World (1987); W. H. Frey and A. Speare, Regional and Metropolitan Growth and Decline in the United States (1988); J. Schlesinger, America at Century's End (1989); A. King, The New American Political System (1990); J. Garreau, The Nine Nations of North America (1981) and Edge City: Life on the New Frontier (1991); C. Sellers, The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America, 1815-1846 (1991); J. J. Ellis, Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation (2000); N. F. Cott, No Small Courage: A History of Women in the United States (2001); A. Fairclough, Better Day Coming: Blacks and Equality, 1890-2000 (2001); A. Taylor, American Colonies (2001); I. Berlin, Generations of Captivity: A History of African-American Slaves (2003); W. A. McDougall, Freedom Just around the Corner: A New American History: 1585-1828 (2004) and Throes of Democracy: The American Civil War Era, 1829-1877 (2008); S. Wilentz, The Rise of American Democracy (2005); D. W. Howe, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 (2007); D. S. Reynolds, Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson (2008); G. C. Herring, From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations since 1776 (2008); J. Lears, Rebirth of a Nation: The Making of Modern America, 1877-1920 (2009).Geographical Studies
Geographical works include N. M. Fenneman, Physiography of Western United States (1931) and Physiography of Eastern United States (1938); R. H. Brown, Historical Geography of the United States (1948); National Geographic Society, Atlas of North America: Space Age Portrait of a Continent (1985); David Clark, Post-Industrial America: A Geographical Perspective (1985); D. W. Meinig, The Shaping of America (1986); J. P. Allen and E. J. Turner, We the People: An Atlas of America's Ethnic Diversity (1987); P. L. Knox et al., The United States: A Contemporary Human Geography (1988); S. S. Birdsall and J. W. Florin, Regional Landscapes of the United States and Canada (4th rev. ed. 1992); Wilbur Zelinsky, The Cultural Geography of the United States (rev. ed. 1992); T. L. McKnight, Regional Geography of the United States and Canada (1992).
See G. Hunt, History of the Seal of the United States (1909); U.S. Dept. of State, The Seal of the United States (1957).
See study by J. Bamford (1983).
See A. Millett, Semper Fidelis (1982).
Institution for the training of commissioned officers for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps. It was founded at Annapolis, Md., in 1845 and reorganized in 1850–51. Women were first admitted in 1976. Graduates are awarded the degree of bachelor of science and a commission as ensign in the Navy or as second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. Annapolis has produced many notable Americans, including George Dewey, Richard E. Byrd, Chester Nimitz, William F. Halsey, Jr., A.A. Michelson, Hyman Rickover, Jimmy Carter, Ross Perot, and several astronauts.
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Institution for the training of commissioned officers for the U.S. Army. Founded in 1802 at the fort at West Point, N.Y., it is one of the oldest service academies in the world. It was established as an apprentice school for military engineers and was, in effect, the first U.S. school of engineering. It was reorganized in 1812, and in 1866 its educational program was expanded considerably. Women were first admitted in 1976. The four-year course of college-level education and training leads to a bachelor of science degree and a commission as second lieutenant in the Army. West Point has trained such leaders as Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis, John Pershing, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, Omar Bradley, and George Patton.
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Institution for the training of commissioned officers for the U.S. Air Force, located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Created by an act of Congress in 1954, it opened in 1955. Graduates receive a bachelor's degree and a second lieutenant's commission. Most physically qualified graduates go on to Air Force pilot-training schools. Candidates may come from the ranks of the U.S. Army or Air Force, may be children of deceased veterans of the armed forces, or may be nominated by U.S. senators or representatives or by the president or vice president. All applicants must take a competitive entrance examination.
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The territory was originally inhabited for several thousand years by numerous American Indian peoples who had probably migrated from Asia. European exploration and settlement from the 16th century began displacement of the Indians. The first permanent European settlement, by the Spanish, was at Saint Augustine, Fla., in 1565. The English settled Jamestown, Va. (1607); Plymouth, Mass. (1620); Maryland (1634); and Pennsylvania (1681). The English took New York, New Jersey, and Delaware from the Dutch in 1664, a year after English noblemen had begun to colonize the Carolinas. The British defeat of the French in 1763 (see French and Indian War) assured Britain political control over its 13 colonies. Political unrest caused by British colonial policy culminated in the American Revolution (1775–83) and the Declaration of Independence (1776). The U.S. was first organized under the Articles of Confederation (1781), then finally under the Constitution (1787) as a federal republic. Boundaries extended west to the Mississippi River, excluding Spanish Florida. Land acquired from France by the Louisiana Purchase (1803) nearly doubled the country's territory. The U.S. fought the War of 1812 against the British and acquired Florida from Spain in 1819. In 1830 it legalized the removal of American Indians to lands west of the Mississippi River. Settlement expanded into the Far West in the mid-19th century, especially after the discovery of gold in California in 1848 (see gold rush). Victory in the Mexican War (1846–48) brought the territory of seven more future states (including California and Texas) into U.S. hands. The northwestern boundary was established by treaty with Britain in 1846. The U.S. acquired southern Arizona by the Gadsden Purchase (1853). It suffered disunity during the conflict between the slavery-based plantation economy in the South and the industrial and agricultural economy in the North, culminating in the American Civil War and the abolition of slavery under the 13th Amendment. After Reconstruction (1865–77) the U.S. experienced rapid growth, urbanization, industrial development, and European immigration. In 1887 it authorized allotment of American Indian reservation land to individual tribesmen, resulting in widespread loss of land to whites. Victory in the Spanish-American War brought the U.S. the overseas territories of the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico. By the end of the 19th century, it had further developed foreign trade and acquired other outlying territories, including Alaska, Midway Island, the Hawaiian Islands, Wake Island, American Samoa, and the Panama Canal Zone.
The U.S. participated in World War I in 1917–18. It granted suffrage to women in 1920 and citizenship to American Indians in 1924. The stock market crash of 1929 led to the Great Depression, which New Deal legislation combated by increasing the federal government's role in the economy. The U.S. entered World War II after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor (Dec. 7, 1941). The explosion by the U.S. of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima (Aug. 6, 1945) and another on Nagasaki (Aug. 9, 1945), Japan, brought about Japan's surrender. Thereafter the U.S. was the military and economic leader of the Western world. In the first decade after the war, it aided the reconstruction of Europe and Japan and became embroiled in a rivalry with the Soviet Union known as the Cold War. It participated in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953. In 1952 it granted autonomous commonwealth status to Puerto Rico. Racial segregation in schools was declared unconstitutional in 1954. Alaska and Hawaii were made states in 1959. In 1964 Congress passed the Civil Rights Act and authorized U.S. entry into the Vietnam War. The mid- to late 1960s were marked by widespread civil disorder, including race riots and antiwar demonstrations. The U.S. accomplished the first manned lunar landing in 1969. All U.S. troops were withdrawn from Vietnam in 1973. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the U.S. assumed the status of sole world superpower. The U.S. led a coalition of forces against Iraq in the Persian Gulf War (1990–91). Administration of the Panama Canal was turned over to Panama in 1999. After the September 11 attacks on the U.S. in 2001 destroyed the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon, the U.S. attacked Afghanistan's Taliban government for harbouring and refusing to extradite the mastermind of the terrorism, Osama bin Laden. In 2003 the U.S. attacked Iraq, with British support, and overthrew the government of
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Fundamental law of the U.S. federal system of government and a landmark document of the Western world. It is the oldest written national constitution in operation, completed in 1787 at the Constitutional Convention of 55 delegates who met in Philadelphia, ostensibly to amend the Articles of Confederation. The Constitution was ratified in June 1788, but because ratification in many states was contingent on the promised addition of a Bill of Rights, Congress proposed 12 amendments in September 1789; 10 were ratified by the states, and their adoption was certified on Dec. 15, 1791. The framers were especially concerned with limiting the power of the government and securing the liberty of citizens. The Constitution's separation of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government, the checks and balances of each branch against the other, and the explicit guarantees of individual liberty were all designed to strike a balance between authority and liberty. Article I vests all legislative powers in the Congress—the House of Representatives and the Senate. Article II vests executive power in the president. Article III places judicial power in the hands of the courts. Article IV deals, in part, with relations among the states and with the privileges of the citizens, Article V with amendment procedure, and Article VI with public debts and the supremacy of the Constitution. Article VII stipulates that the Constitution would become operational after being ratified by nine states. The 10th Amendment limits the national government's powers to those expressly listed in the Constitution; the states, unless otherwise restricted, possess all the remaining (or “residual”) powers of government. Amendments to the Constitution may be proposed by a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress or by a convention called by Congress on the application of the legislatures of two-thirds of the states. (All subsequent amendments have been initiated by Congress.) Amendments proposed by Congress must be ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures or by conventions in as many states. Twenty-seven amendments have been added to the Constitution since 1789. In addition to the Bill of Rights, these include the 13th (1865), abolishing slavery; the 14th (1868), requiring due process and equal protection under the law; the 15th (1870), guaranteeing the right to vote regardless of race; the 17th (1913), providing for the direct election of U.S. senators; the 19th (1920), instituting women's suffrage, and the 22nd (1951), limiting the presidency to two terms. Seealso civil liberty; commerce clause; Equal Rights Amendment; establishment clause; freedom of speech; judiciary; states' rights.
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Legislature of the U.S., separated structurally from the executive and judicial (see judiciary) branches of government. Established by the Constitution of the United States, it succeeded the unicameral congress created by the Articles of Confederation (1781). It consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Representation in the Senate is fixed at two senators per state. Until passage of the 17th Amendment (1913), senators were appointed by the state legislatures; since then they have been elected directly. In the House, representation is proportional to each state's population; total membership is restricted (since 1912) to 435 members (the total rose temporarily to 437 following the admission of Hawaii and Alaska as states in 1959). Congressional business is processed by committees: bills are debated in committees in both houses, and reconciliation of the two resulting versions takes place in a conference committee. A presidential veto can be overridden by a two-thirds majority in each house. Congress's constitutional powers include the setting and collecting of taxes, borrowing money on credit, regulating commerce, coining money, declaring war, raising and supporting armies, and making all laws necessary for the execution of its powers. All finance-related legislation must originate in the House; powers exclusive to the Senate include approval of presidential nominations, ratification of treaties, and adjudication of impeachments. Seealso bicameral system.
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Bank chartered in 1791 by the U.S. Congress. It was conceived by Alexander Hamilton to pay off the country's debts from the American Revolution and to provide a stable currency. Its establishment, opposed by Thomas Jefferson, was marked by extended debate over its constitutionality and contributed significantly to the evolution of pro- and anti-bank factions into the first U.S. political parties, the Federalist Party and the Democratic-Republican Party. The national bank played the unexpected but beneficial role of preventing private state banks from overextending credit, a restriction that some nevertheless considered an affront to states' rights. Meanwhile, agrarian populists regarded the bank as an institution of privilege and wealth and the enemy of democracy and the interests of the common people. Antagonism over the bank issue grew so heated that its charter could not be renewed in 1811. Criticism of the bank reached its height during the administration of Pres. Andrew Jackson, who led anti-bank forces in the long struggle known as the Bank War. The bank's charter expired in 1836. Its reorganization as the Bank of the United States of Pennsylvania ended its regulation of private banks.
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The Native Americans had at least 2,000 separate plant foods which contributed to their cooking. Numerous root vegetables were indigenous to America. Root vegetables were numerous in the diet including camas bulb, arrowhead, blue lapine, bitterroot, biscuit root, breadroot, prairie turnip, sedge tubers, and whitestar potatoes (Ipomoea lacunosa) along with the sweet potato and white potato. Greens included salmonberry shoots and stalks, coltsfoot, fiddlehead fern, milkweed, wild celery, wood sorrel, purslane, and wild nasturtium. Other vegetables include century plant crowns and flower shoots, yucca blossoms, tule rootstocks, amole stalks, bear grass stalks, cattail rootstocks, narrowleaf yucca stalks, and sotol crowns. Fruits included strawberries which Europeans named the Virginia strawberry due to being larger than the European dwarf mountain strawberry. Additional fruits included huckleberries, blueberries, cherries, currants, gooseberries, plums, crab apples, raspberries, sumac berries, juniper berries, hackberries, elderberries, hawthorne fruit, pitaya, white evening primrose fruit, and yucca fruit (of various species, such as Spanish bayonet, banana yucca). Some fruits which were found only in North America at the time were the fruit of various species of cactus (e.g., cholla, saguaro, nipple cactus, prickly pear, etc.), agarita berries, chokecherries, American persimmons, and the wild beach plum.
Nuts proliferated in the diet as well, including pecans, hickory nuts, beechnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, chinquapins, black walnuts, and butternuts. Acorns were also popularly used to produce oil for seasoning, and pounded into a flour to mix with cornmeal to thicken soups and fried into cakes and breads. Legumes included peanuts, screwbeans, honey locust beans, and mesquite beans. The grain used in most of Native American cooking was maize, while wild rice (not a true grain) was found in certain southern regions. The seeds from various plants were also commonly utilized: pine nuts (western white pine, western yellow pine, pinyon pine), anglepod, dropseed, pigweed, spurge, sunflower seeds, tumbleweed, unicorn plant.
Saltwater fish eaten by the Native Americans were cod, lemon sole, flounder, herring, halibut, sturgeon, smelt, drum on the East Coast, and olachen on the West Coast. Whale was hunted by Native Americans off the Northwest coast, especially by the Makah, and used for their meat and oil. Seal and walrus were also utilized. Eel from New York's Finger Lakes region were eaten. Catfish seemed to be favored by tribes, including the Modocs. Crustacean included shrimp, lobster, crayfish, and giant crabs in the Northwest and blue crabs in the East. Other shellfish include abalone and geoduck on the California coast, while on the East Coast the surf clam, quahog, and the soft-shell clam. Oysters were eaten on both shores, as were mussels and periwinkles.
The Native Americans are credited as the first in America to create fire-proof pottery to place in direct flame. In what is now the Southwestern United States, Native Americans also created ovens made of adobe called hornos in which to bake items such as breads made from cornmeal. Native Americans in other parts of America made ovens out of dug pits. These pits were also used to steam foods by adding heated rocks or embers and then seaweed or corn husks (or other coverings) placed on top to steam fish and shellfish as well as vegetables; potatoes would be added while still in-skin and corn while in-husk, this would later be referred to as a clambake by the colonists. The hole was also a location for producing what has become Boston baked beans made from beans, maple sugar and a piece of bear fat.
When the colonists came to America, their initial attempts at survival included planting crops familiar to them from back home in England. In the same way, they farmed animals for clothing and meat in a similar fashion. Through hardships and eventual establishment of trade with Britain, the West Indies and other regions, the colonists were able to establish themselves in the American colonies with a cuisine similar to their previous British cuisine. There were some exceptions to the diet, such as local vegetation and animals, but the colonists attempted to use these items in the same fashion as they had their equivalents or ignore them if they could. The manner of cooking for the American colonists followed along the line of British cookery up until the Revolution. The British sentiment followed in the cookbooks brought to the New World as well.
There was a general disdain for French cookery, even with the French Huguenots in South Carolina and French-Canadians. One of the cookbooks that proliferated in the colonies was The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy written by Hannah Glasse, wrote of disdain for the French style of cookery, stating “the blind folly of this age that would rather be imposed on by a French booby, than give encouragement to a good English cook!” Of the French recipes, she does add to the text she speaks out flagrantly against the dishes as she “… think it an odd jumble of trash.” Reinforcing the anti-French sentiment was the French and Indian War from 1754-1764. This created a large anxiety against the French, which influenced the English to either deport many of the French, or as in the case of the Acadians, they migrated to Louisiana. The Acadian French did create a large French influence in the diet of those settled in Louisiana, but had little or no influence outside of Louisiana.
As many of the New Englanders were originally from England, game hunting was often a pastime from back home that paid off when they immigrated to the New World. Much of the northern colonists depended upon the ability either of themselves to hunt, or for others from which they could purchase game. This was the preferred method for protein consumption over animal husbandry, as it required much less work to defend the kept animals against Native Americans or the French.
Those living near the New England shore often dined on fish, crustaceans, and other animals that originated in the waters. Colonists ate large quantities of turtle, and it was an exportable delicacy for Europe. Cod, in both fresh and salted form was enjoyed, with the salted variation created for long storage. The highest quality cod was usually dried, however, and exported to the Mediterranean in exchange for fruits not available in the American colonies. Lobsters proliferated in the waters as well, and were extremely common in the New England diet.
The diet of the uplands often included cabbage, string beans, white potatoes, while most avoided yams and peanuts. Non-poor whites in the uplands avoided crops imported from Africa because of the inferred inferiority of crops of the African slaves. Those who could grow or afford wheat often had biscuits on their table for breakfast, along with healthy portions of pork. Salted pork was a staple of any meal, as it used in the preparations of vegetables for flavor, in addition to its direct consumption as a protein.
The lowlands, which included much of the Acadian French regions of Louisiana and the surrounding area, included a varied diet heavily influenced by Africans and Caribbeans, rather than just the French. As such, rice played a large part of the diet as it played a large part of the diets of the Africans and Caribbean. In addition, unlike the uplands, the lowlands subsistence of protein came mostly from coastal seafood and game meats. Much of the diet involved the use of peppers, as it still does today. Interestingly, although the English had an inherent disdain for French foodways, as well as many of the native foodstuff of the colonies, the French had no such disdain for the indigenous foodstuffs. In fact, they had a vast appreciation for the native ingredients and dishes.
Similarly, while some dishes considered typically American many have their origins in other countries, American cooks and chefs have substantially altered them over the years, to the degree that the dish as now enjoyed the world over are considered to be American. Hot dogs and hamburgers are both based on traditional German dishes, brought over to America by German immigrants to the United States, but in their modern popular form they can be reasonably considered American dishes, even "All-American", along with the Italian influence of pizza.
Many companies in the American food industry develop new products requiring minimal preparation, such as frozen entrees. Some corporate kitchens (e.g. General Mills, Campbell's, Kraft Foods) develop consumer recipes featuring their company's products. Many of these recipes have become very popular. For example, the General Mills Betty Crocker's Cookbook, first published in 1950 and currently in its 10th edition, is commonly found in American homes.
New England is the most northeastern region of the United States, including the six states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The region consists of a heritage linking it to Britain. The Native American cuisine became part of the cookery style that the early colonists brought with them. The style of New England cookery originated from its colonial roots, that is to say practical, frugal and willing to eat anything other than what they were used to from their British roots. Much of the cuisine started with one-pot cookery, which resulted in such dishes as succotash, chowder, baked beans, and others.
Lobster is an integral ingredient to the cuisine, indigenous to the shores of the region. Other shellfish of the coastal regions include little neck clams, sea scallops, blue mussels, oysters, soft shell clams and razor shell clams. Much of this shellfish contributes to New England tradition, the clambake. The clambake as known today is a colonial interpretation of a Native American tradition.
The fruits of the region include the Vitis labrusca grapes used in grape juice made by companies such as Welch's, along with jelly, Kosher wine by companies like Mogen David and Manischewitz along with other wineries that make higher quality wines. Apples from New England include the original varieties, Baldwin, Lady, Mother, Pomme Grise, Porter, Roxbury Russet, Wright, Sops of Wine, Peck's Pleasant, Titus Pippin, Westfield-Seek-No-Further, and Duchess of Oldenburg. Cranberries are another fruit indigenous to the region.
"Restaurant industry sales are expected to reach a record high of $476 billion in 2005, an increase of 4.9 percent over 2004... Driven by consumer demand, the ethnic food market reached record sales in 2002, and has emerged as the fastest growing category in the food and beverage product sector, according to USBX Advisory Services. Minorities in the U.S. spend a combined $142 billion on food and byy 2010, America's ethnic population is expected to grow by 40 percent.
A movement began during the 1980s among popular leading chefs to reclaim America's ethnic foods within its regional traditions, where these trends originated. One of the earliest was Paul Prudhomme, who in 1984 began the introduction of his influential cookbook, "Paul Prodhomme's Louisiana Kitchen" by describing the over 200 year history of Creole and Cajun cooking; wherein, he aims to "preserve and expand the Louisiana tradition. Prodhomme's success quickly inspired other chefs to seek popularity and preach their new philosophy. Norman Van Aken embraced a Floribean type cuisine fused with many ethnic and globalized elements, as was depicted in his "Feast of Sunlight" cookbook in 1988. Finally, the movement took on much notoriety around the world when California gained momentous recognition, then seemingly started to lead the trend itself. Chefs from the popular restaurant Chez Panisse, in Berkeley, both took that restaurant to exceptional acclaim, as well as graduated to expanded concepts on their own. Examples of the Chez Panisse phenomenon and chefs embracing a new globalized cuisine were celebrity chefs like Jeremiah Tower and Wolfgang Puck, both former colleagues at the restaurant. Puck went on to describe his belief in contemporary, new style American cuisine, as it was exemplified and celebrated in its ethnic traditions. Puck states the embodiment of the idea in his introduction to "The Wolfgang Puck Cookbook:
"Another major breakthrough, whose originators were once thought to be crazy, is the mixing of ethnic cuisines. It is not at all uncommon to find raw fish listed next to tortillas on the same menu. Ethnic crossovers also occur when distinct elements meet in a single recipe. This country is, after all, a huge melting pot. Why should its cooking not illustrate the American transformation of diversity into unity?
Puck's former colleague, Jeremiah Tower, in turn, became synomonous with California Cuisine, as well as his "New American Classics, and the overall American culinary revolution. Meanwhile, the restaurant that inspired both Puck and Tower became a distinguished establishment, popularizing its so called "mantra" in its book by Paul Bertolli and owner, Alice Waters, "Chez Panisse Cooking," in 1988. Published well after the restaurants' founding in 1971, this new cookbook from the restaurant seemed to perfect the idea and philosophy that had developed over the years. The book embraced America's natural bounty, namely that of California, while containing recipes that reflected Bertoli's and Waters' appreciation of both northern Italian and French style foods.
Some of the ethnic influences could be found in the nation from after the Civil War and into the History of United States continental expansion during most of the 19th century. Ethnic influences already in the nation at that time would include the following groups and their respective cuisines:
Today, of the most popular “ethnic” cuisines in the United States, you can see almost everywhere the prevalence of Chinese, Italian and Mexican cuisines in almost every aspect of the food industry. According to the National Restaurant Association, also known as the NRA by industry professionals, of the top three "ethnic cuisines" in the United States...
"Italian, Mexican and Chinese (Cantonese) cuisines have indeed joined the mainstream. These three cuisines have become so ingrained in the American culture that they are no longer foreign to the American palate. According to the study, more than nine out of 10 consumers are familiar with and have tried these foods, and about half report eating them frequently. The research also indicates that Italian, Mexican and Chinese (Cantonese) have become so adapted to such an extent that "authenticity" is no longer a concern to customers.
Contributions from these ethnic foods have become just as common as traditional “American’ fares like hotdogs, hamburgers, beef steaks, cherry pie, Coca-Cola, milkshakes, fried chicken and so on. Nowadays, Americans also have a ubiquitous consumption of foods like pizza and pasta, tacos and burritos to “General Tso's Chicken” and Fortune Cookies. Fascination with these and other ethnic foods may also vary with region.
The first generation of television chefs such as Robert Carrier and Julia Child tended to concentrate on cooking based primarily on European, especially French and Italian, cuisines. Only during the 1970s and 80s did television chefs such as James Beard and Jeff Smith shift the focus towards home-grown cooking styles, particularly those of the different ethnic groups within the nation. Notable American restaurant chefs include Thomas Keller, Charlie Trotter, Grant Achatz, Alfred Portale, Paul Prudhomme, Paul Bertolli, Mario Batali, Alice Waters, Emeril Lagasse, Cat Cora, and Celebrity Chefs like Bobby Flay, Ina Garten, and Todd English.