Social Sciences

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American History 11th
The United States of America is defined by its individual and shared culture. We will learn more about the events, wars, arts, entertainment, sports, leisure activities, and literature that have helped define America.
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Some sites for learning American History:

Online History Lessons:

Several Topics for American History:

American Geography Games:

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Europe Explodes into War
The Road to War
“Over There”
Wilson and the Peace

World War I

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World War 1 was a military conflict lasting from 1914 to 1918 which involved nearly all the biggest powers of the world. It involved two opposing alliances - the Allies and the Central Powers. The countries of the Allies included Russia, France, British Empire, Italy, United States, Japan, Rumania, Serbia, Belgium, Greece, Portugal and Montenegro. The countries of the Central Powers included Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria. World War 1 was triggered on 28 June 1914 by the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his pregnant wife Sophie. Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was the nephew of Emperor Franz Josef and heir to the throne of Austria and Hungary. The assassination was planned by a Serbian terrorist group, called The Black Hand and the man who shot Franz Ferdinand and his wife was a Bosnian revolutionary named Gavrilo Princip

The war had many causes:

a) a tangle of alliances made between countries, to maintain a balance power in Europe, which brought about the scale of the conflict

b) the Bosnian Crisis where Austria-Hungary took over the f former Turkish province of Bosnia in 1909 angering Serbia.

c) countries were building their military forces, arms and battleships

d) countries wanted to regain lost territories from previous conflicts and build empires

e) the Moroccan Crisis where Germans were protesting in 1911 against the French possession of Morocco

Other names for World War 1 include 'The War to End All Wars', The War of the Nations and 'The Great War'. In 1915, the British passenger sip Lusitania was sunk by a German submarine. In all, 1,195 passengers, including 128 Americans, lost their lives. Americans were outraged and put pressure on the U.S. government to enter the war. President Woodrow Wilson wanted a peaceful end to the war, but in 1917, when the Germans announced that their submarines would sink any ship that approached Britain, Wilson declared that America would enter the war and restore peace to Europe. The United States entered the war on April 6, 1917.

War Outcome

65 million troops were mobilized during during the war, 8 million troops died and 21 million troops were wounded. 58,000 British soldiers were lost on the first day at the Battle of the Somme. Chemical weapons were first used in World War I. The chemical was mustard gas. The U.S. was in the war in actual combat for only seven and a half months during which time 116,000 were killed and 204,000 were wounded. In the Battle of Verdun in 1916, there were over a million casualties in ten months. By 1918, German citizens were striking and demonstrating against the war. The British navy blocked German ports, which meant that thousands of Germans were starving and the economy was collapsing. Then the German navy suffered a major mutiny. After German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated on November 9th, 1918, the leaders of both sides met at Compiegne, France. The peace armistice was signed on November 11th. By the end of the war four empires — the Russian, the Ottoman, the German, and the Austro-Hungarian had collapsed because of the war.

Treaty of Versailles

In 1919, The Treaty of Versailles officially ended the War. The Treaty required that Germany accept full responsibility for causing the war; make reparations to some Allied countries; surrender some of its territory to surrounding countries; surrender its African colonies; and limit the size of its military. The Treaty also established the League of Nations to prevent future wars. The League of Nations helped Europe rebuild and fifty-three nations joined by 1923. But the U.S. Senate refused to let the United States join the League of Nations, and as a result, President Wilson, who had established the League, suffered a nervous collapse and spent the rest of his term as an invalid. Germany joined the League of Nations in 1926, but many Germans were very resentful of the Treaty of Versailles. Germany and Japan withdrew from the League of Nations in 1933. Italy withdrew three years later. The League of Nations was unable to stop German, Italian, and Japanese from expanding their power and taking over smaller countries. Many believe World War I never really ended, and that World War II never would have happened if not for World War I.

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Railroads Spur Industry

The Rise of Big Businesses

Inventions Change the Nation

The Rise of Organized Labor

The Vanderbilts

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Shipping and railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877) was a self-made multi-millionaire who became one of the wealthiest Americans of the 19th century. As a boy, he worked with his father, who operated a boat that ferried cargo between Staten Island, New York, where they lived, and Manhattan. After working as a steamship captain, Vanderbilt went into business for himself in the late 1820s, and eventually became one of the country’s largest steamship operators. In the process, the Commodore, as he was publicly nicknamed, gained a reputation for being fiercely competitive and ruthless. In the 1860s, he shifted his focus to the railroad industry, where he built another empire and helped make railroad transportation more efficient. When Vanderbilt died, he was worth more than $100 million.

The Vanderbilt family is an American family of Dutch origin prominent during the Gilded Age. Their success began with the shipping and railroad empires of Cornelius Vanderbilt, and expanded into various other areas of industry and philanthropy. Cornelius Vanderbilt's descendants went on to build great Fifth Avenue mansions, Newport, Rhode Island "summer cottages," the famous Biltmore House and various other exclusive homes. The family's prominence lasted until the mid-20th century, when the ten great Fifth Avenue mansions were torn down and other Vanderbilt homes were sold or turned into museums. The family suffered from a major downfall in prominence by the mid-20th century, known as the Fall of the House of Vanderbilt. Despite the family's downfall and major loss of fortune, the Vanderbilts remain the seventh wealthiest family in history.

Watch Series about Vanderbilt

Andrew Carnegie

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Andrew Carnegie fue un industrial, empresario y filántropo estadounidense oriundo de Escocia. Cuando era niño, emigró de Escocia junto con sus padres. Trabajó desde muy pequeño en la Pennsylvania Railroad Company. A los 20 años se convirtió en gerente de la misma ferroviaria y en el aprendiz de Thomas A. Scott, dueño de la Pennsylvania Railroad Company. Financió el Puente Eads, diseñado por James Eads. Creó laCarnegie Steel Company en Pittsburgh, que más tarde se fusionó con la Federal Steel Company de Elbert H. Gary y varias empresas más pequeñas hasta crear U.S. Steel. La fortuna que ganó con sus negocios la destinó a la filantropía y educación, fundando la Carnegie Corporation of New York, Fondo Carnegie para la Paz Internacional, y Carnegie Mellon University en Pittsburgh.

Aunque Carnegie pagaba a sus empleados los bajos salarios típicos de esa época, luego dio la mayoría de su dinero para financiar diversas bibliotecas, escuelas y universidades en EU, el Reino Unido y otros países, así como para crear fondos de pensiones para los empleados de más antigüedad. Considerado a menudo como la segunda persona más rica de la historia (revista Forbes), Carnegie empezó como radiotelegrafista y hacia la década de 1860 invirtió en ferrocarriles, coches cama para trenes, puentes y torres de perforación de petróleo. También hizo fortuna como vendedor de bonos para financiar empresas angloamericanas en Europa.

Con el acero fue donde hizo su fortuna. En la década de 1870, fundó la Carnegie Steel Company, un paso que consolidó su nombre como uno de los "grandes magnates de la Industria" (en inglés, “Captains of Industry”). Sobre la década de 1890, era la más grande y rentable de todas las empresas industriales del mundo. Carnegie la vendió a J.P. Morgan en 1901, que creó U.S. Steel. Carnegie dedicó el resto de su vida a la filantropía a gran escala, con especial énfasis en bibliotecas locales, la paz mundial, educación e investigaciones científicas.

J.P. Morgan

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John Pierpont Morgan fue un empresario, banquero y coleccionista de arte estadounidense que dominó las finanzas corporativas y la consolidación industrial de su época.

Entre sus actividades destacan la fusión de Edison General Electric y Thompson-Houston Electric Company para formar la General Electric Company en 1891, la financiación para la creación de la Federal Steel Company (Compañía Federal de Acero), y la fusión de la Carnegie Steel Company y varias compañías más del sector del hierro y del acero para formar en 1901 la Corporación de Acero de Estados Unidos. Se asoció con el empresario irlándes William Pirrie, de la Harland and Wolff, para la fundación de la International Mercantile Marine.

Legó la mayoría de su colección de arte al Museo Metropolitano de Arte de la Ciudad de Nueva York. A finales de su carrera, a principios de la primera década de 1900, él y sus socios tenían cuantiosas inversiones financieras en muchas grandes corporaciones. En 1901, era uno de los hombres más ricos del mundo. Murió en Roma, Italia, en 1913, dejando su fortuna y negocios a su hijo, Jack Pierpont Morgan.

John D. Rockefeller

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John Davison Rockefeller (July 8, 1839 – May 23, 1937) was an American business magnate and philanthropist. He was a co-founder of theStandard Oil Company, which dominated the oil industry and was the first great U.S. business trust. Rockefeller revolutionized the petroleum industry, and along with other key contemporary industrialists such as Andrew Carnegie, defined the structure of modern philanthropy. In 1870, he co-founded Standard Oil Company and aggressively ran it until he officially retired in 1897.

Rockefeller founded Standard Oil as an Ohio partnership with his brother William along with Henry Flagler, Jabez A. Bostwick, chemist Samuel Andrews, and a silent partner, Stephen V. Harkness. As kerosene and gasoline grew in importance, Rockefeller's wealth soared and he became the world's richest man and the first American worth more than a billion dollars. Adjusting for inflation, he is often regarded as the richest person in history.

Rockefeller spent the last 40 years of his life in retirement at his estate, Kykuit, in Westchester County, New York. His fortune was mainly used to create the modern systematic approach of targeted philanthropy. He was able to do this through the creation of foundations that had a major effect on medicine, education and scientific research. His foundations pioneered the development of medical research and were instrumental in the eradication of hookworm and yellow fever.

Rockefeller was also the founder of both the University of Chicago and Rockefeller University and funded the establishment of Central Philippine University in the Philippines. He was a devoted Northern Baptist and supported many church-based institutions. Rockefeller adhered to total abstinence from alcohol and tobacco throughout his life.

Watch Series About Rockefeller

New Inventions in the 1800s

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By definition, the 19th century lasted from 1801 through 1900 according to the Gregorian calendar. It is also referred to as the "1800s." The invention of useable electricity, steel, and petroleum products during the 19th century lead to a second industrial revolution (1865–1900), that featured the growth of railways and steam ships, faster and wider means of communication, and inventions with names we all know today.

The 19th century was the age of machine tools - tools that made tools - machines that made parts for other machines, including interchangeable parts. The assembly line was invented during the 19th century, speeding up the factory production of consumer goods.

The 19th century gave birth to the professional scientist, the word scientist was first used in 1833 by William Whewell. Inventors began to design practical internal combustion engines. The lightbulb, telephone, typewriter, sewing machine, all came of age during the 19th century.

More Inventions of the 1800s

Rise of Organized Labor

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Large factories had become the major employers for most people — a result of the Industrial Revolution at the end of the eighteenth century. But the downside to that was that workers lacked protection from almost all contingencies, including inflation, illness, disability, and arbitrary firing. Workers soon banded together, demanding a voice and a change in labor conditions. The 1870s were marked with particular unrest given the sad state of the nation's economy in 1873. A secret fraternal order called the Knights of Labor embraced workers in many occupations, becoming one of the most powerful early unions. In 1881, workers met in Columbus, Ohio, to establish a far more effective group called the American Federation of Labor (AFL). Its first leader was Samuel Gompers, president of the Cigar Makers' International Union and of the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions. The AFL gave workers more rights, such as negotiating with employers for better conditions and wages.

Several disastrous strikes, coupled with the depression of this era, stunted union growth. In 1892, large numbers of private detectives as well as National Guard troops quelled striking workers at Carnegie Steel Company's Homestead Mill in Pittsburgh, essentially destroying the union. In 1894, a strike by the American Railway Union against the Pullman Company was defeated by an injunction issued under the Sherman Antitrust Act

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The Conflict Takes Shape
A Promise of Freedom
Hardships of War
The War Ends

Civil War (1860-1865)
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Conflict over issues of how much control the federal government should have over the states, industrialization, trade, and especially slavery had increased tension between Northern and Southern states. After Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860, 11 Southern states seceded (or withdrew) from the Union and set up an independent government--the Confederate States of America. These events led to the outbreak of the Civil War--a brutal, bloody, four-year conflict that left the South defeated and ended slavery at the cost of more than half a million lives.

Causes of the Civil War
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Missouri Compromise – According to the deal thought of by Henry Clay, if the southern states agreed to the admission of Maine as a free state, Missouri would be admitted as a slave state. In addition, all lands acquired in the Louisiana Purchase north of 36° 30′ N latitude would be free.
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Nat Turner Rebellion – This bloody rebellion led by a Virginia slave resulted in new laws forbidding the education of slaves, and further restricting their rights.
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Wilmot Proviso – The passage of the Wilmot Proviso, which prevented the introduction of slavery into lands acquired after the Mexican-American War, further polarized northern and southern politicians on the issue of slavery.
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The Slavery Issue – The practice of slavery threatened to destroy the United States. Northern voices called slavery barbaric, while Southern voices claimed slavery an economic necessity.
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Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad – For many years prior to the Civil War, Northerners helped Southern slaves escape captivity via a secret network of trails, tunnels, and caravans known as the Underground Railroad.
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Compromise of 1850/Fugitive Slave Law – The Compromise of 1850, authored by Henry Clay, was a compromise in the true sense of the word. California became a free state, other territories would vote on the issue, and the Fugitive Slave Law was strengthened.
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Kansas Nebraska Act – As the nation pushed close to war over the issues of states rights and slavery, the Kansas Nebraska Act resulted in mass violence in what came to be known as “Bleeding Kansas.”
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Ostend Manifesto – In a bungled attempt to annex Cuba from Spain, Northern abolitionists became suspicious of a conspiracy to extend the reach of slavery, which further soured relations between the North and South.
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Dred Scott Decision – In a landmark ruling, the United States Supreme Court ruled in essence that slaves had no rights as United States citizens, even if they had previously lived in free states.
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John Brown Rebellion – John Brown was a radical abolitionist who tried to start a slave rebellion by seizing a federal arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Virginia. Learn what happened by clicking on the link above
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Election of Abraham Lincoln – The “straw that broke the camel’s back” was undoubtedly the election of the Northern, Republican president, Abraham Lincoln. Southern states were virtually assured he would eventually abolish slavery.
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Secession – In response the election of Abraham Lincoln as the 16th president, 11 Southern states seceded from the Union to form their own nation called The Confederate States of America. Lincoln would assume the unenviable task of trying to restore the Union.
Effects of the Civil War
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Emancipation Proclamation – On January 1, 1863, president Lincoln declared all slaves in “enemy territory” liberated. Of course, those who owned slaves in “enemy” territory ignored the order and slaves in border states were not included.
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The Division of Virginia – In 1863, citizens in the western portions of Virginia, who opposed secession, petitioned the U.S. Government for statehood. West Virginia became the 35th state on June 20th, 1863.
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Death in the Civil War – The Civil War was by far the deadliest war in American history. Well over 600,000 people died in combat, from disease, or as a result of the Civil War.
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Reconstruction – The period of time after the Civil War is known as Reconstruction. During this difficult era, the Southern states were gradually admitted back into the Union and the areas destroyed during the war were rebuilt.
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Scalawags and Carpetbaggers – The ruined south presented a wide range of economic and political opportunities for ambitious Northerners and Southerners. Scalawags and Carpetbaggers were slang terms used to describe such opportunists.
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Jim Crow Laws – The result of the Civil War left many in the South baitter toward the integration of African Americans into society. Jim Crow Laws were those meant to punish and ostracize African-Americans in a “legal” manner.

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The Colonies Declare Independence
Struggle in the Middle States
Fighting for Liberty in Many Fronts
Winning the War in the South

The American Revolution

The American Revolution was a time when the British colonists in America rebelled against the rule of Great Britain. There were many battles fought and the colonies gained their freedom and became the independent country of the United States. The American Revolutionary War lasted from 1775 until 1783.

Before the American Revolution, there were several British Colonies in the Americas. Not all of them participated in the revolution. There were 13 colonies which ended up rebelling. These were Delaware, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island.

Declaration of Independence
Declaration of Independence

The Signing of the Declaration of Independence

One of the main reasons that the colonists rebelled against Great Britain is that they felt they were not represented in the British government. The British government was making new laws and taxes on the colonies, but the colonies had no say. They wanted to have some say in the British government if they were going to pay high taxes and have to live by British law.

War didn't happen right away. First there were protests and arguments. Then some small skirmishes between the colonists and the local British army. Things just got worse and worse over the course of years until the colonies and Great Britain were at war.

Each colony had its own local government. In 1774 they each elected officials to represent them at the First Continental Congress. This was the first effort of the colonies to unite and make a single government. In 1776 the Second Continental Congress declared the independence of the United States from Great Britain.

New Government
The new government of the United States was different than the government of the colonist's homeland, Great Britain. They decided that they didn't want to be ruled by a king anymore. They wanted a government that was ruled by the people. The new government would be a democratic government with leaders elected by the people and balances of power to make sure that no one could become king.

Fun Facts about the American Revolution
  • The first shot fired in the American Revolution was on April 19, 1775 and is called the "shot heard round the world".
  • John Adams was the defense attorney for the British soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre. He would later become a great leader in the Revolution and the 2nd president of the United States.
  • George Washington, the first President, only attended school until he was 14 years old. He became Commander of the Virginia Militia when he was just 23.
  • The Battle of Bunker Hill was actually fought on Breed's Hill.
  • Although the war was between the colonies and Great Britain, other countries got involved as well. The French were a major ally to the colonies and there were French, German, and Spanish soldiers who fought in the war.

Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?
On June 11, 1776 the Continental Congress appointed five leaders, called the Committee of Five, to write a document explaining why they were declaring their independence. The five members were Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Robert Livingston, Roger Sherman, and Thomas Jefferson. The members decided that Thomas Jefferson should write the first draft. Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft over the next few weeks and, after some changes made by the rest of the committee, they presented it to Congress on June 28, 1776.

Did everyone agree?
Not everyone agreed at first on declaring independence. Some wanted to wait until the colonies had secured stronger alliances with foreign countries. In the first round of voting South Carolina and Pennsylvania voted "no" while New York and Delaware chose not to vote. The Congress wanted the vote to be unanimous, so they continued to discuss the issues. The next day, July 2nd, South Carolina and Pennsylvania reversed their votes. Delaware decided to vote "yes" as well. This meant that the agreement to declare independence passed with 12 yes votes and 1 abstention (meaning New York chose not to vote).

July 4, 1776
On July 4, 1776 the Congress officially adopted the final version of the Declaration of Independence. This day is still celebrated in the United States as Independence Day.
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Declaration of Independence

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The French and Indian War
Turmoil over Taxation
From Protest to Revolution
Fighting Begins in the North

Revolutionary Period (1764-1789)
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Defending the Colonies against attack by the French and others had cost the British a great deal of money. As a result, the British had very high taxes in their country. They thus decided to shift some of their financial burden to the colonists. The Stamp Act of 1765, which taxed all legal documents, newspapers and other documents, was met with a great uproar in the Colonies. In 1766, this tax was repealed, but it was just the beginning of the problems between the colonists and the British. The Boston Tea Party in 1773 was an act of revolt against the British and their tax on tea in the Colonies.

Tensions such as these eventually led to the writing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. A year earlier, the War of Independence, also known as the American Revolution, began. When the British finally surrendered on October 19, 1781, Americans were officially independent of Britain and set about establishing their own government.

French and Indian War

The French and Indian War, also known as the Seven Years War, began in the Spring on 1754. The dispute arose over the presence of British and French settlers in the Ohio River Valley (in and around present day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), but resulted in battles that were fought far from there. Both the French and English wanted exclusive rights to the area because of its economic potential and plethora of fur-bearing wildlife. Despite attempts in Europe to solve the territory battle diplomatically, no compromise could be made. French settlers began building forts along the Ohio River to protect the land from the British. Meanwhile, Robert Dinwiddie, lieutenant governor of Virginia (British), had begun issuing land-grants in the region for members of his colony. French and British military forces were both authorized by their respective governments to take the necessary measures to remove the other.

Upon hearing news of the French forts, Dinwiddie sent 21 year-old George Washington to deliver a British ultimatum to French colonists. The French refused to leave and built a fort at the source of the Ohio River which they named Fort Duquesne. The following May, Washington, now promoted to lieutenant colonel, returned to the area with 160 armed Virginians. Washington then ambushed a French reconnaissance party at what came to be known as The Battle of Jumonville Glen. In preparation for a French counterattack, Washington ordered the construction of a makeshift stockade which he named Fort Necessity, south of present day Pittsburgh. Less than a month later, the French ambushed the fort, which resulted in Washington’s surrender, and the capture of Fort Necessity. The French promptly burned the fort to the ground and gained control of the region.

For two years, the French controlled the region. When British Commander Edward Braddock and forces attacked Fort Duquesne in 1755, his army was routed and he was killed. While the French successfully defended their interests in the Ohio Valley, they were losing the battles elsewhere in North America especially in points along the shores of Lake Ontario.

In 1756, British Prime Minister William Pitt devised a comprehensive military plan to defeat the French, not only in the Ohio River Valley and North America, but in other regions of contention such as India, Africa, and the oceans. Pitt committed large numbers of troops to North America who had permission to garner supplies at will from civilians. Citizens were also forced to serve in the military. While his tactics were successful in driving back the French, he was forced to relent when a 1757 uprising concerning his laws nearly tore New York City apart. Nevertheless, the British had the upper hand in North America. In 1758, they captured Lake Ontario and Louisbourg, Nova Scotia. The capture of Fort Frontenac on Lake Ontario effectively severed communications between the French headquarters in Montreal and their forces in the Ohio Valley. Louisbourg gave the British control of the Bay of St. Lawrence. That same year, British forces teamed up with local Indians to take Fort Duquesne from the French. It was renamed Fort Pitt.

The turning point in the war occurred on September 13, 1759, when British General James Wolfe defeated French forces at Quebec in a siege that lasted almost two months. Montreal and Detroit, the other two French strongholds would fall soon after. In 1760, the battered French Army surrendered at Montreal. The entire nation of Canada was relinquished to the British. As part of the 1763 Treaty of Paris, The French lost not only Canada but also all lands in America east of the Mississippi River.

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Although struggles for supremacy had been going on for many decades between France and England in the New World, hostilities intensified in the early 1750′s as both English and French settlers had attempted to colonize land in the Ohio River Valley, near present day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The English settlers, who had moved northwest from Virginia, and French settlers, who had moved east from the Great Lakes, or south from Canada, each thought they owned the rights to the land.

In 1754, English forces under George Washington had begun their march to Fort Duquesne for the purposes of ousting the French from the region by force. On the way, they encountered a French scouting party near present-day Uniontown, Pennsylvania. Washington’s men massacred the party in what came to be known as The Battle of Jumonville Glen. Washington soon took camp at Great Meadows, a large natural clearing, and ordered the construction of Fort Necessity in anticipation of a French response. The French did respond, as 600 soldiers forced Washington to surrender the fort. The French and Indian War had begun.


As a result of the British victory in the French and Indian War, France was effectively expelled from the New World. They relinquished virtually all of their New World possessions including all of Canada. They did manage to retain a few small islands off the coast of Canada and in the Caribbean. They also agreed to stay out of India, which made Great Britain the supreme military power in that part of Asia. In addition, as compensation for Spain’s loss of Florida to England, Spain was awarded the Louisiana territory. The entire face of North America had been dramatically changed. Following the war, England issued the Proclamation of 1763, which restricted settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains in an attempt to appease Indians who had developed positive relations with France. Westward-bound settlers, however, ignored the proclamation and moved into Indian lands.

Because English had incurred significant debt while fighting the war in and for the colonies, Parliament attempted to recoup the financial loss by issuing the 1765 Stamp Act on the colonists. The Stamp Act was a tax on virtually all printed documents. The tax was ill-received by the colonists, who began a boycott of British goods and even attacked British tax collectors. Parliament repealed the Stamp Act and instead issued the Declaratory Act, which maintained Britain’s right to tax the colonists. These tax issues would become the cause of an even greater conflict 10 years later – The American Revolution.

George Washington

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George Washington was born on February 22, 1732 in Westmoreland County, Virginia, although he grew up near Fredericksburg. In his childhood and adolescence, he studied math and surveying. When he was 16, he went to live with his brother Lawrence in Mount Vernon. George was scarred with Smallpox before the age of 20, but inherited his brother’s land (including Mt. Vernon) when he died in 1752.

Washington’s military career began in 1753, when he was sent into Ohio country during the French and Indian War to protect British interests in the area. In 1754, he battled the French and was forced to surrender Fort Necessity (near present-day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania). He continued as an officer in Ohio country, and served under the British general Edward Braddock when their army was ambushed by the French in 1755. Once again, Washington tasted defeat after their surrender of Fort Duquesne to French forces. Luckily for the future United States, the French agreed to release him rather than keep him as a prisoner. He helped take Fort Duquesne back in 1758.

Washington was married to Martha Custis in 1759. He managed the family and estate until he took command of Virginia troops just before the American Revolution. He was made commander of the Continental Army on June 15, 1775. Washington, however, would struggle with a rag-tag army of volunteers and militia men. His armies were constantly low on supplies and food, and often times marched to battle without shoes. They were routed in a series of battles in and around New York City in 1776 and forced to retreat into Pennsylvania where he planned a strategic ambush. On Christmas night 1776, Washington and his men crossed the Delaware River and captured a band of 800-900 Hessian soldiers. Hessians were fearsome German mercenaries hired by the British as soldiers. The event came to be known as “Washington’s Crossing” and was successful in raising the morale of the entire army. The dramatic ambush would be called The Battle of Trenton.

Washington proved himself an excellent leader, and won several other decisive battles during the Revolution. In 1781, he helped to formulate the plan that eventually resulted in the defeat of the British army at Yorktown, Virginia and the British surrender. As an advocate of a federal government, Washington became chairman of the Constitutional Convention and helped in getting the Constitution ratified. In 1789, he was inaugurated as America’s first president after refusing to be coronated as king.

Washington was re-elected for a second term in 1792, but refused a third term. On December 14, 1799, seventeen days before the new century, Washington died of acute laryngitis or epiglottitis. Today, George Washington is probably the most honored individual in American history. Numerous cities, towns, highways, monuments, and parks bear his name. The capital of the United States is named after him. He was honored on the first American postage stamp, as well as on the quarter and one dollar bill. He even has a state named after him – Washington, although he never set foot there.

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-The 13 Colonies in North America:
The New England Colonies
The Middle Colonies
The Southern Colonies
-Roots of Self-Government

Colonial America (1492-1763)

European nations came to the Americas to increase their wealth and broaden their influence over world affairs. The Spanish were among the first Europeans to explore the New World and the first to settle in what is now the United States.
By 1650, however, England had established a dominant presence on the Atlantic coast. The first colony was founded at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607. Many of the people who settled in the New World came to escape religious persecution. The Pilgrims, founders of Plymouth, Massachusetts, arrived in 1620. In both Virginia and Massachusetts, the colonists flourished with some assistance from Native Americans. New World grains such as corn kept the colonists from starving while, in Virginia, tobacco provided a valuable cash crop. By the early 1700s enslaved Africans made up a growing percentage of the colonial population. By 1770, more than 2 million people lived and worked in Great Britain's 13 North American colonies.

The British empire settled its first permanent colony in the Americas at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. This was the but the first of 13 colonies in North America. The 13 colonies can be divided into three regions: New England, Middle, and Southern colonies. The chart below provides additional information including the years of settlement and founders of each.
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Colony Name
Year Founded
Founded By
Became Royal Colony
London Company
1620 - Plymouth Colony

1630 - Massachusetts Bay Colony
New Hampshire
John Wheelwright
Lord Baltimore
c. 1635
Thomas Hooker
Rhode Island
Roger Williams
Peter Minuit and New Sweden Company
North Carolina
South Carolina
Eight Nobles with a Royal Charter from Charles II
New Jersey
Lord Berkeley and Sir George Carteret
New York
Duke of York
William Penn
James Edward Oglethorpe


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By and large, the people who settled in the New England Colonies wanted to keep their family unit together and practice their own religion. They were used to doing many things themselves and not depending on other people for much. Some of these people came to New England to make money, but they were not the majority.

The people who founded the Middle Colonies were looking to practice their own religion (Pennsylvania mainly) or to make money. Many of these people didn't bring their families with them from England and were the perfect workers for the hard work required in ironworks and shipyards.

The founders of the Southern Colonies were, for the most part, out to make money. They brought their families, as did the New England colonists, and they kept their families together on the plantations. But their main motivation was to make the good money that was available in the new American market.

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The New England Colonies were largely farming and fishing communities. The people made their own clothes and shoes. They grew much of their own food. Crops like corn and wheat grew in large numbers, and much was shipped to England. Foods that didn't grow in America were shipped from England. Boston was the major New England port.

The Middle Colonies were part agriculture, part industrial. Wheat and other grains grew on farms in Pennsylvania and New York. Factories in Maryland produced iron, and factories in Pennsylvania produced paper and textiles. Trade with England was plentiful in these colonies as well.

The Southern Colonies were almost entirely agricultural. The main feature was the plantation, a large plot of land that contained a great many acres of farmland and buildings in which lived the people who owned the land and the people who worked the land. (A large part of the workforce was African slaves, who first arrived in 1619.)

Southern plantations grew tobacco, rice, and indigo, which they sold to buyers in England and elsewhere in America.


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Five Themes of GeographyMaps and GlobesHistory, Economics, and Other Social Sciences

Five Themes of Geography:


Maps and Globes

The location of any place or feature on the Earth's surface can be shown on a map or globe. A map is usually drawn on a flat surface; a globe on a spherical surface; but both are drawings or pictures, at a greatly reduced size, of what is on all or part of the Earth. Maps and globes of the moon, the planets, or the sky as seen from the Earth may also be made.

No one map can show everything. The features on each map are selected to fit its particular purpose. A map therefore differs from an aerial photograph, which shows all visible objects without regard to their relative importance. A map, unlike an aerial photograph, can locate not only visible features, such as seacoasts, rivers, roads, and towns, but also invisible, underground features, such as subways and geological rock layers. It can also locate abstract features, such as boundaries and grid lines, which do not appear on photographs. A map shows how the various features on the Earth's surface are arranged or distributed. A map can also show the distribution of any phenomenon or relationship—such as population density, crop production, or rainfall—that has some spatial variation. Thus a map not only shows where things on Earth are but may also be a valuable geographic tool for understanding how and why the surface of the Earth varies from place to place.

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A globe is actually a special kind of map—a map drawn on a sphere. Globes provide the same kinds of information that ordinary maps do. Political globes are more popular in the home, physical-political globes in the classroom. Among the newer types of globes are those that have raised relief and show the colors of natural vegetation. The colors are not strictly realistic, however, because they show full summer foliage for the entire Earth, even though summer alternates between the northern and southern hemispheres. Globes are sometimes made with slate surfaces for easy marking with chalk. Some slate globes have the continental outlines; others are entirely blank. Slate globes are useful for studying the Earth's grid system—latitude and longitude—and for drawing great circles or other lines of mathematical geography. They also permit any lines or features on the Earth's surface to be drawn at will.

Globes of bodies other than the Earth are also available. Those of the moon have been the most popular, especially since the side of the moon away from the Earth was first photographed in 1959. One of the most common nonterrestrial globes, the celestial globe, is like a star chart. But it shows the locations of the stars by wrapping the so-called celestial sphere— or view of the entire heavens as seen from the Earth—around a globe. Since the Earth is practically a sphere, a globe represents it best. A globe shows the Earth as it actually looks when seen from outer space. Only on a globe can distances, directions, and the shapes and sizes of areas on the Earth be shown accurately. Only on a globe can locations be shown in their true relationships to one another. A map, being flat, invariably lacks one or more of these desirable characteristics. Why, then, are maps used at all?

One reason for the popularity of maps is that globes are far more costly than maps. Indeed, globes large enough to show much detail are so expensive that only a few have been made, and these can be seen only in special exhibits. Moreover, globes, especially large ones, are difficult to carry and to store. Another disadvantage of globes is that they permit the viewer to see only one half of the Earth's surface at a time. And areas toward the edge of the half that is being viewed appear foreshortened and distorted. Although maps, unlike globes, represent the Earth as flat rather than round, they have a number of advantages as compared with globes. Maps are less costly than globes because they can be produced more rapidly and require less expensive materials. Maps can be conveniently folded or rolled for carrying or laid flat for storing. On maps the entire surface of the Earth can be seen at one time.

A useful compromise between a map and a globe, provided that not too much of the Earth has to be shown, is the spherical map, or globe section. This is a cutaway disk having the same curvature as a larger globe. It is usually large enough to show an entire continent. A spherical map shows the shape of the Earth accurately but is much cheaper to produce and much easier to carry and store than a globe.