After Columbus discovered the New World in 1592, the European nations went on a mad rush to explore, colonize and conquer every last part of it.

They succeeded somewhat, such as when the British Empire conquered the native habitants of the east coast of the North American continent and the Spanish conquered the Incan and Aztec Empires.

Elsewhere, the would-be conquerors and explorers co-existed with the natives, but even then usually got their way when they decided to take new territory.

As the 1600s and 1700s passed, Britain, France and Spain would claim the bulk of territory in the New World. Especially in the British North American Colonies, generations of English descendants would pass without ever having visited the motherland.

In the 1800s, the American colonists would choose to fight one of the emerging global superpowers for their freedom and liberty, for the right to govern themselves. In 1876, the colonies declared their independence, sparking a seven-year war that birthed the United States of America.

Throughout the 1900s, the young republic established itself as an economic and military power in its own right. It fought challenges from within and without. It went through a four-year civil war that accelerated radical social changes; to this day, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. are remembered as American heroes, cut down in the prime of their lives and never seeing the many effects their actions and stances had on the country they both loved.

In 2010, the United States stands as an economic and military superpower, one with its best days ahead of it. It has been said that if the 20th Century was the "British Century", the 21st will belong to America.

Britain, though still the dominant superpower, is beginning to fray as its many colonies seek their own independence.

France, Spain, Germany and Italy are strong second-tier powers who cannot police the world, but could still influence world events.

Japan, opened to the world in the 1950s by American interests, has aggressively established its dominance in Asia; it, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina could become influential and powerful, albeit decades down the road.

The wild card is Russia; large enough to rival Britain and America, the Russian Empire has chosen not to become a major global player. The Czar and his forces are strong, but are they invincible?

In Washington, the leaders of a generally neutral, isolationistic country nevertheless look at Britiain's small but numerous troubles, and at Europe, Asia, India, Africa and the Middle East, not to mention its own South. Republicans and Democrats both realize that, at some point, America will have to step up and lead the world forward through the 21st century...preferably, and hopefully, without war and bloodshed.

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