The history of the United States goes back thousands of years, when people migrated across the Bering Strait into North America. The discovery and the colonization of America by European powers shook up the continent and new ideas, people and culture flew in. By 1775, present-day United States was split into roughly three thirds: the eastern part belonged to Great Britain; the central part belonged to Spain; and the western part belonged to Spain as well. In 1776 colonists in the British colonies rose up, and by 1783 had asserted their independence. With an independent Canada to the north, the history of the United States changed.
Establishing the Nation (1790-1830)
Relations with Canada
In 1789, George Washington, a praised and beloved commander of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, became the first president of the new United States. Washington's policies created a strong national government that no one questioned. Treasurer Secretary Alexander Hamilton assumed the debts of the states and created the Bank of the United States to stabilize the financial situation. Hamilton also created a political party - the first in the world to rely on voters - the Federalist Party. One of the goals of the new party was to establish relations with the US's northern neighbor, Canada.In 1791, George Washington decided to set up a meeting with Canadian President James Livingston, another hero whose fame was in the Canadian War of Independence. The two nations sent messages to each other talking about the event, and finally the meeting was held in August of that year. Washington and Livingston negotiated first about the borders. The borders turned out to be the same as OTL. They also decided that trade was allowed, but with only minor tariffs. When the meeting ended at the end of August, the two leaders returned home to joyous countries.
The economy of the two nations began to intertwine, with merchants coming from both nations and coming into the other. Agricultural products in the Southern United States were sent to Canada in exchange for minerals and lumber. The Thousand Islands, located between New York and Ontario, became the site of one of the largest trading centers in the world. The "Thousands Bridges" are the nickname of the many bridges that crossed across the islands. By 1800, Canada had become the United States' greatest trading partner.
War with France and Britain
In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson completed the Louisiana Purchase. The United States purchased the French colony of Louisiana, a whopping 828,000 sq mi of land. The purchase nearly doubled the size of the United States. Because much of the land had not been observed yet, Jefferson sent the Corps of Discovery, led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to explore it. With the aid of Native American tribes, the expedition reached the Pacific Ocean. The Expedition returned to the Eastern Coast in 1806, and had made many notable achievements in science, as well as scouting out the land.
While the United States and France had cooperated in the purchase, the two nations were in the middle of an undeclared war. In 1798, the Quasi-War began, with Revolutionary French ships capturing American ships that were trading with Great Britain. The Americans responded by creating the United States Navy, with 12 ships, each with up to 22 guns. The American and French ships fought at sea for three years until 1801, when the unofficial war was over. However, French and American disputes were not over.In 1803, the people of Haiti rose up again in rebellion against their French colonial masters, but after a disastrous defeat, the French were slowly pushing them back. President Jefferson began to see an interest in Haiti. He declared the nation's support for the rebels, and a task force was hastily established. The task force was mostly made up of Marines, but they were inexperienced, undisciplined volunteers. They were ruthlessly defeated in Haiti by the better French defenders.
Jefferson then decided to improve the military. The United States Army was created, the nation's first regular, standing army. Tactics and weapons were improved and discipline was enforced. The Army was sent to Haiti again in 1804. The United States claimed victory this time, and Haiti was now in the control of the United States. Jefferson decided to keep the military there to protect the island. In 1808, the Haitian Territory was created, the United States' first Caribbean possession.
In 1805 along with Canada, the United States ceased trade with Great Britain. This dealt a blow to the war strength of Britain, because most of its timber supplies came from Canada and the US. In 1807, the last of the once great Royal Navy invaded the Atlantic coast of Canada. The British also invaded northern Maine. The US and Canada both declared war on Great Britain. Great battles were fought at Montreal and Quebec City, as well as the famous Battle of Aroostook, a series of battles in northern Maine. The United States conquered the Bahamas, a British possession in the Caribbean. In 1808, the British were repelled from North America.
The defeat of Great Britain allowed for Napoleonic France to win the Napoleonic Wars, and be in charge of Europe until 1850. The United States' relationship with Canada had been made stronger, and the basis for the Canadian-American Alliance was formed. The US relationship with France had been made somewhat stronger, as the French and Americans had worked together in the war, but the war in Haiti had not been forgotten.
Era of Good Feelings
Following the large territorial expansion and defeat of France and Great Britain ushered in the Era of Good Feelings and the rise of nationalism. In 1808, James Madison was elected president, and ended the embargo against France and Great Britain, refreshing American seaports. The wars destroyed the Federalist Party because of their opposition to them, which drew criticism, especially during the Era of Good Feelings. The Era led to the Americans rallying behind war heroes such as Andrew Jackson and patriotic works such as Francis Scott Key's poem The Lights Over Montreal. The Chief Justice also asserted the control of the national government over state governments.
Following the short Panic of 1808, the economy grew and prospered. Samuel Slater, an immigrant from Great Britain, brought over knowledge of the textile mill to the New England states, jump-starting the industrial revolution. Textile mills were first set up at Lowell, Massachusetts. In the south, the invention of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney made the economy prosper and increased slave labor value. Southern cotton became the largest export of the United States.
President Madison encouraged the settlement of the west. New settlers went there because of the acres of land for the taking, and soon the "frontier spirit" was developed. Folk heroes such as Davy Crockett and Sam Houston represented this spirit. Agricultural was the most important part of the economy, and other economic activities was lumber and minerals. With the death of Native American leader Tecumseh during the British Invasion of Canada, the Native Americans lacked the unity needed to stop the coming of settlers. Campaigns in the Midwest led by William Henry Harrison in 1815 forced the Native Americans to leave and opened up the region to settlement.
Intervention in Mexico
In the early 1820s, the people of New Spain revolted against the rule of Ferdinand VII of Spain. This fed into the interests of American president James Monroe, who wished to established a power base in the southwestern part of the Louisiana Purchase. Monroe sent expeditions there, but he did not dare to send them over the Rio Grande, for fear of being attacked back. Eventually, the settlement of El Paso was established by General Sam Houston. The city would play an important part in the settlement of the Mexican border.In 1825, members of Ferdinand's Mexican Army crossed the Rio Grande, chasing members of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna's Mexican Republican Army (MRA). In the process, Mexican Army troops took over El Paso and massacred the citizens of it. The United States responded with a declaration of war on the Mexican Army, beginning the American Intervention. The United States Armed Forces were called up, and a campaign led by Sam Houston charged into northern and central Mexico. The bombardment of Mexican Army-controlled ports in Veracruz along the Atlantic coast decimated the defenders. Stephen Austin then lead a campaign in eastern Mexico, and soon Houston's and Austin's forces converged on Mexico City, the capital of the Mexican Army. A long siege defeated the Army, and a mob killed Ferdinand.
With the war over, the United States placed the MRA in control of Mexico. The United Mexican States were created, and its first president was Santa Anna. The northern Mexican border was set at the Rio Grande, which meant all Spanish territories north of it would become part of the United States, further adding to its territory. Many Mexicans claimed that Santa Anna was not in charge of the Mexican government, but rather the powerful United States government. President Monroe denied this, stating that "The claims are false. Mexico is an independent nation of its own."
A Stronger Nation (1831-1860)
A Regional Power
In 1832, Andrew Jackson, a hero of multiple wars, was elected to president of the United States. His presidency is known as Jacksonian Democracy, and he was a founder of the Democratic Party. He had the mind to expand America's military and foreign policy. In 1833, the Jackson Doctrine was established, which said that the Americas would be free from additional European colonization. This was made toward mainly the French and Russians, who had been eying colonial territory in Central America and Alaska, respectively. Under Jackson, the US also entered the North American Alliance, an alliance that was meant to unite the powers of North America against the upstart nation of Colombia in South America.
In 1834, Colombia declared war on Mexico and fought Mexican soldiers at the Battle of Panama City. This caused the North American Alliance to spring into action, beginning the Americas War. Soldiers were shipped down to the front in Central America. The commander of the US First Army was Winfield Scott, who led a strategy that eventually led to the retreat of Colombia out of Panama. The NAA and Brazil then began a campaign that led to the defeat of Colombia in 1838. The defeat of this nation ensured North America's dominance over South America, and therefore, it asserted America's power in North America.
It is here that historians call America a "regional power" because of its dominance in the affairs of North America, and to a lesser extent, South America. With the major powers of the Americas put down, the US could expand west without worry, which would eventually lead to their massive expansion in the west, the Pacific Ocean, and Asia.
Settlers began to cross the Mississippi River and pour into the western part of the Louisiana Territory, most of which had not been settled yet. Many returning war veterans decided to move west as well. Andrew Jackson created the Homestead Act of 1835, allowing the settlers to hold up to 160 acres of land across the Mississippi River. Many settlers believed in continentalism, the belief that America will eventually encompass or influence all of North America. Jackson was a firm believer in continentalism, but wanted to eventually influence all of North America, because Mexico, Winnipeg and Canada were all allies. The United States grew in size; both Michigan and Wisconsin were added as states in 1837.
Before, during and after the addition, the States were in conflict over slavery. Abolitionists in the north worked to ban slavery, while many Southern states relied on it to fuel their agricultural economy.