The first inhabitants of the US were the Indians, who came there from Asia. They spread all over America. Christopher Columbus discovered America many centuries later in 1492. He was the first European who landed there, but other sources say that America was discovered by Vikings in the 10th century, but we don’t have any proof.
Christopher Columbus, thinking that he had landed in India, named the original inhabitants Indians. The name of America came from Amerigo Vespucci, a famous Italian explorer. The settlement by Europeans was very slow. The first colony was founded in 1607. A small ship called the Mayflower brought a group of English Puritans. They escaped from England to avoid persecution after their conflict with King James I and his Church.
They are known as the Pilgrim Fathers and they landed near present day Boston, on the place which they called Plymouth. Half of them died during the first winter. Those who survive celebrated their first harvest as Thanksgiving Day. The Pilgrim Fathers were followed by thousands of Europeans during the next years.
There were 13 colonies under the rule of England along the Atlantic Coast in the 18th century. France had its colonies in the West. There were wars between these 2 rivals, which lasted for a long time. Britain needed money for the warfare and so the government raised the taxes on the colonies. It caused rebellion there. In 1773, the North Americans, dressed as Indians, emptied a cargo of British tea into the sea in Boston. It is known as the Boston Tea Party and it marked the beginning of the War of Independence (1775 – 1783). The Declaration of Independence was adopted on the 4th of July in 1776 and the United States of America was established. Britain recognized the United States in 1783. The American Constitution was adopted in 1788 and George Washington was elected as the first president the next year.
The 19th century was the turning point in immigration. Millions of Europeans arrived to America. Most of them settled in the North, where the industry was growing very rapidly. For these people, the South, with its system of slavery, was like a foreign country. The prosperity of the South depended on the hard work of the slaves. These questions about economic and social differences and the election of Abraham Lincoln as president (who was against slavery) led to the Civil War (1861 – 1865). The United States of America was separated into two countries. The Northern countries were called the Union and consisted of 26 states. The Southern countries were called the Confederation and consisted of 11 states. Each country had a parliament, a government, and its own rules and army. At the beginning of the war the Confederation was more successful; its army was smaller, but its soldiers were braver. Robert Lee and Jackson were two famous generals of the Confederation. The turning point in the war was the abolishment of slavery in 1863. The Confederation lost this war, but Abraham Lincoln was killed during the celebration of victory. From this time, the economy of America began growing.
Immigration has been continuing throughout the 20th century. People come to America from all world because it is a democratic state. America has become a melting pot of nations. During the 1st World War, America promised neutrality. The situation was bad for the allies though, and America had to entre into the war on their side in 1917. The allies won the war. The same situation happened during the 2nd World War. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor coveted America into the war on the side of Britain and the Soviet Union against Germany, Italy, and Japan. The allies won once again, but the world didn´t have a long rest from warfare.
The period called the Cold War began in 1948 and it lasted for 40 years. It was a conflict between democratic countries in the West and the Communist reign under Soviet rule. A very important point in this conflict was the birth of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949. The Korean War and Vietnam War are examples of this conflict as well. The northern parts of these countries were under communist reign and they wanted to overrule the democratic southern parts. These conflicts could have caused a 3rd World War.
The Cold War ended with the breaking up of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union.
Nowadays the United States of America is the most powerful country in the world. The USA with the President as the head of state is a federation of 50 states with 48 on the continent, and Alaska in the North and Hawaii in the Mid–Pacific. There is also one district (District of Columbia – DC) which is not a state, but the situation of the state capital.
The constitution went into effect in March of 1787. The Bill of Rights was added in 1791. This document guarantees freedom of religion (náboženství), free speech (projevu), free press, the right to a fair trial (právo na soud), etc. It gave the USA the principle of a balance of power divided into three branches (částí) – the legislative, the executive, and the judicial.
The legislative branch is made up of elected representatives. The Congress is divided into two parts. The House of Representatives consists of lawmakers who are elected according to the population of each state. The second part is the Senate whose seat is in the Capitol. The Senate has 100 members - 2 from each state. The executive branch is represented by the president and 13 executive departments. The president is elected every 4 years.
The judicial branch is made up of Federal District Courts, 11 Federal Courts of Appeals, and the Supreme Court at the top.
There are 2 political parties in the US. The Democratic Party is more liberal – they think that the government should provide wide social and economic programs for those who need them. Their symbol is the donkey. The Republican Party puts more emphasis (důraz) on private enterprise (podnikání) and individual initiative. Their symbol is the elephant.
The flag consists (sestává) of two parts – one smaller blue oblong (obdélník) with 50 white stars symbolizing the 50 American states and one larger oblong consisting of 6 white and 7 red stripes symbolizing the original 13 states which used to be the British colonies. The flag is sometimes called “Old Glory” or “Stars and stripes.” The American Anthem is called “The Star – Spangled Banner.”