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American History Essay: 19th and 20th Century

American history in the 19-20th centuries is characterized by a number of important events. At the beginning of the XIX century American settlements moved towards Western Mississippi and even further. In 1820 for the first time in American history an “outsider” became the American president. Andrew Jackson was from Tennessee by birth. He grew in a poor family apart from cultural tradition in the Eastern (Atlantic) coast of the USA. Though his government is considered to be optimistic and energetic, the young country was not stable at all. This statement can be proved by the fact that in spite of Declaration of Independence which proclaimed equality of people, there still was 1,5 million slaves in the USA.

That caused debates between Northern and Southern politicians, concerning the question whether it would be justly to introduce slavery into the Western states. Congress made a compromise decision: slavery was permitted in the new state of Missouri and Arkansas; however it was abandoned on other nearby territories. As a result of Mexican war (1846-1848) American territory expanded. It caused another question, whether it is right to spread slavery on the new territories. A compromise was adopted once again. This time it declared California to be a new free state, while citizens of Yuta and New-Mexico were to decide on their own. The decision appeared to be negative. But the question remained under discussion. After electing President Lincoln, being against slavery, 11 states left the Union, proclaimed their independence, and called themselves the Confederation of the USA. It included Southern Caroline, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and Northern Caroline. In this way the Civil war broke out.

At first military success belonged to Confederacy army. Its commanders, especially Robert Li, appeared to be excellent tacticians. The Union however possessed considerable human and material resources. In summer of 1863 Li made a risky expedition to the Northern state of Pennsylvania. Gettysburg battle between the Union and the Confederacy is known to be the greatest one in the whole history of America. In three days of bloody fights Confederates were defeated.

The Civil war was the most painful episode in the American history. However it solved two questions: on the one hand it put an end to slavery and on the other hand it defined country’s future as a single whole. In 1865 Abraham Lincoln was murdered. America lost the leader, whose origin and personal qualities defined his unique role in the history. His successor Andrew Johnson came from South, but was loyal towards Union during the war. Northern representatives of his own party (Republican Party) accused him in indulgence towards former Confederacy. But he was discharged. It meant that even if the Congress doesn’t agree with President’s politics, it’s not the reason to dismiss him. But according to the Constitution the President can loose position for high treason, bribes and other severe misdeeds.

Soon after the Civil war the USA became an industrial leader among other countries. In 1869 the first transcontinental railroad was built. In 1900 the length of USA railways was bigger than European one. Petroleum industry was at its height. John Rockefeller, the owner of “Standard oil” became the richest man in America. New textile factories appeared in the South. Americans learned to use new inventions: telephone, electric lamp, gramophone, and cinematograph. An architect Luis Sallival from Chicago constructed world-famous sky-scrapers, which became a symbol of American city.

Economic growth however contained definite dangers. Huge associations called trests tried to establish monopoly in some fields of industries, such as petroleum. These enterprises could produce goods and sell them cheaply. But government took measures against trests. In 1890 a newly adopted law of Sherman prohibited trests and other organizations, limiting trade.

The end of the 19th century is marked with mass immigration. That’s why a lot of foreigners used to work in new industrial fields. However it is considered to be hard time for American farmers. While the price reduced taxes increased on the contrary.

In the twentieth century the USA has been involved in a number of wars; all of them were held outside the country. When the World War I broke out in Europe in 1914, the USA didn’t have stable position. It remained neutral. But after being attacked American soldiers were forced to struggle.
The following years can be characterized as a period of social unrest. Presidents (Harding, Coolidge) tried to raise economy and bring prosperity to American nation. It was the reason to further technical and marketing innovations.

However 1920s were not really stable. This period included conflict between people who kept to traditional understanding of life and those who preferred modern views. That’s why it is considered that it was a false prosperity, though it tried to hide weak points in economic and social life. Trying to improve economy, President Hoover allowed interference of government. This however didn’t help much. Hoover even was accused in causing Great Depression. Soon he was substituted by Franklin Roosevelt. He introduced a number of measures to improve the situation. His efforts were summed in his famous New Deal, even though it was criticized much.

World War II brought even greater instability, when totalitarism was established by Hitler in Germany and Mussolini in Italy. A great number of Americans (about 46000) died in Vietnam. That’s why there were even no signs of joy or relief when the war ended, because it cost too much lives of soldiers. It couldn’t be justified by a nobility of actions.

At the end of the 20th century in 1991 the USA attacked the Iraqi and occupied Kuwait. Many Americans supported such actions. Others were against and went to Washington D.C. to show their protest. Recently the USA signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Its purpose is a free-trade for three countries. Other Latin American countries may join later.