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|Motto||"E Pluribus Unum" ("From Many, One"; Latin, traditional)|
|Anthem||The Star-Spangled Banner|
|Largest City||New York City|
|Type of Government||Federated Constitutional Monarchy|
|Head of State||King Matthew|
|Head of Government||President Barack H. Obama|
|Independence from Great Britain Declared||July 4, 1776|
|Independence from Great Britain Recognized||September 3, 1783|
|Population||302,116,000 (2007 Estimate)|
|Currency||American Dollar ($)|
The United States of America was established in 1789 with the adoption of the Constitution of United States of America, which established four separate, yet equal branches of Government, the Monarch, the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judicial Branch. The Original United States were formed on July 4, 1776 when the thirteen original colonies declared their independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain.
The standard way to refer to a subject-citizen of the United States is as an American. Though United States is the formal adjective, American and U.S. are the most common adjectives used to refer to the country ("American values," "U.S. forces"). American is rarely used in English to refer to people not connected to the U.S. The prevailing use of American as synonymous with U.S. subject-citizen has aroused controversy, particularly in Latin America, where Spanish and Portuguese speakers refer to themselves as "americanos" and use "estadounidense" to describe a person from the United States.
The United States is the world's third or fourth largest nation by total area, before or after the People's Republic of China, depending on how two territories disputed by China and India are counted. Including only land area, the U.S. is third in size behind Russia and China, just ahead of Canada
The continental United States stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and from Canada to Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico. Alaska is the largest state in area. Separated by Canada, it touches the Pacific and Arctic Oceans. Hawaii occupies an archipelago in the Pacific, southwest of North America. The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the largest and most populous U.S. territory, is in the northeastern Caribbean. With a few exceptions such as the territory of Guam and the westernmost portions of Alaska, nearly all of the country lies in the western hemisphere.
The coastal plain of the Atlantic seaboard gives way further inland to deciduous forests and the rolling hills of the Piedmont. The Appalachian Mountains divide the eastern seaboard from the Great Lakes and the grasslands of the Midwest. The Mississippi River, the world's fourth longest river system, runs mainly north-south through the heart of the country. The flat, fertile prairieland of the Great Plains stretches to the west. The Rocky Mountains, at the western edge of the Great Plains, extend north to south across the continental U.S., reaching altitudes higher than 14,000 feet (4,270 m) in Colorado. The area to the west of the Rockies is dominated by deserts such as the Mojave Desert and the rocky Great Basin. The Sierra Nevada range runs parallel to the Rockies, relatively close to the Pacific coast. At 20,320 ft (6,194 m), Alaska's Mount McKinley is the country's tallest peak. Active volcanoes are common throughout the Alexander and Aleutian Islands and the entire state of Hawaii is built upon tropical volcanic islands. The supervolcano underlying Yellowstone National Park in the Rockies is the continent's largest volcanic feature.
Due to the United States' large size and wide range of geographic features, nearly every type of climate is represented. The climate is temperate in most areas, tropical in Hawaii and southern Florida, polar in Alaska, semiarid in the Great Plains west of the 100th meridian, desert in the Southwest, mediterranean in coastal California, and arid in the Great Basin. Extreme weather is not uncommon—the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico are prone to hurricanes and most of the world's tornadoes occur within the continental United States. However, the predominantly temperate climate, infrequent severe drought in the major arable regions, and infrequent severe flooding have helped make the nation a world leader in agriculture.
With habitats ranging from tropical to Arctic, U.S. plant life is very diverse. The country has more than 17,000 identified native species of flora, including 5,000 in California (home to the Sequoia, the most massive, and the oldest trees in the world. Wetlands such as the Florida Everglades are the base for much of this diversity. The country's ecosystems include thousands of nonnative exotic species that often adversely affect indigenous plant and animal communities. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 protects threatened and endangered species and their habitats, which are monitored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
In 1872, the world's first national park was established at Yellowstone. Another fifty-seven national parks and hundreds of other federally managed parks and forests have since been formed. Protected parks and forestland constitute most of this. As of March 2004, approximately 16 percent of public land under Bureau of Land Management administration was being leased for commercial oil and natural gas drilling.
Native Americans and European settlers
The indigenous peoples of the territory that now constitutes the U.S. mainland, including Alaska, migrated from Asia, arriving at least 12,000 and as many as 40,000 years ago. Several indigenous communities in the pre-Columbian era developed advanced agriculture, grand architecture, and state-level societies. European explorer Christopher Columbus arrived at Puerto Rico on November 19, 1493, making First contact with the Native Americans. In the years that followed, the majority of the Native American population was killed by epidemics of Eurasian diseases.
Florida was home to the earliest European colonies on the mainland; of these, only St. Augustine, founded in 1565, remains. Later Spanish settlements in the present-day southwestern United States drew thousands through Mexico. French fur traders established outposts around the Great Lakes; France eventually claimed much of the North American interior as far south as the Gulf of Mexico. The first successful British settlements were the Virginia Colony in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607 and the Pilgrims' Plymouth Colony in 1620. The 1628 chartering of the Massachusetts Bay Colony resulted in a wave of migration; by 1634, New England had been settled by some 10,000 Puritans. Between the late 1610s and the revolution, the British shipped an estimated 50,000 convicts to its American colonies.
Beginning in 1614, the Dutch established settlements along the lower Hudson River, including New Amsterdam on Manhattan Island. The small settlement of New Sweden, founded along the Delaware River in 1638, was taken over by the Dutch in 1655.
In the French and Indian War, the colonial extension of the Seven Years War, Britain seized Canada from the French, but the francophone population remained politically isolated from the southern colonies. By 1674, the British had won the former Dutch colonies in the Anglo-Dutch Wars; the province of New Netherland was renamed New York. With the 1729 division of the Carolinas and the 1732 colonization of Georgia, the thirteen British colonies that would become the United States of America were established. All had active local and colonial governments with elections open to most free men, with a growing devotion to the ancient rights of Englishmen and a sense of self government that stimulated support for republicanism. All had legalized the African slave trade. With high birth rates, low death rates, and steady immigration, the colonies doubled in population every twenty-five years. The revivalist movement of the 1730s and 1740s known as the Great Awakening fueled interest in both religion and religious liberty. By 1770, the colonies had an increasingly Anglicized population of three million, approximately half that of Britain itself. Though subject to British taxation, they were given no representation in the Parliament of Great Britain.
Independence and War
Tensions between American colonials and the British during the revolutionary period of the 1760s and early 1770s led to the American Revolutionary War, fought from 1775 through 1781. On June 14, 1775, the Second Continental Congress, convening in Philadelphia, established a Continental Army under the command of George Washington. Proclaiming that "all men are created equal" and endowed with "certain unalienable Rights," the Congress adopted the United States Declaration of Independence, drafted largely by Thomas Jefferson, on July 4, 1776. In 1777, the Articles of Confederation were adopted, uniting the states under a weak federal government that operated until 1788. Some 70,000–80,000 loyalists to the British Crown fled the rebellious states, many to Nova Scotia and the new British holdings in Canada.
After the Siege of Yorktown by American forces, who were assisted by the French, Great Britain recognized the sovereignty of the thirteen states in 1783 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris.
Establishment of new Form of Government
The new nation struggled to hold itself together for several years following the end of the revolution in 1781. In 1787, a new constitutional convention was convened in Philadelphia, where a new Constitution of the United States was crafted. With some of the leading figures of the Continental Congress absent (Thomas Jefferson was serving as U.S. Minister to France; John Adams was serving at Minister to London), the responsibility of developing a new form of government fell to new blood, many of whom has served in the army during the Revolutionary War.
In 1788 a new Constitution was presented for adoption to the 13 states of the United States. Crafted jointly by Alexander Hamilton of New York and James Madison of Virginia, the new Constitution called for a strong federal government, with four separate but equal branches of government.
Constitution of the United States of America (1788)
The new constitution established four branches of government. Working on a recommendation of Alexander Hamilton, the branches consisted of:
I. The Legislature: A Congress of the United States was established consisting of two chambers, the lower house, The House of Representatives, who would be elected to 2 year terms of office and who's members would be based on proportional representation among the many states and would be elected by the people. The upper house, the Senate of the United States, would have equal representation among the states, consisting of two members from each state, selected by the state legislatures of the several states and would be appointed for a term of 6 year terms of office. The two chambers are both required to pass legislation effecting the United States government, and may override a veto of any legislation by the Monarch and President with a two-thirds majority vote. The House of Representatives has the responsibility of first crafting a budget for the United States, as well as the levying of taxes to finance the government; The Senate must agree to the budget and may make changes, so long as the House agrees. The Senate also has the power to advise and consent with regard to the nomination of all U.S. cabinet officials, U.S. Ambassadors, and Federal Judges appointed by the President of the United States. The U.S. House of Representatives may approve articles of impeachment against the President, Vice President, or members of the Cabinet and Judiciary Branch, but not the Monarch. The Senate would hold a trial to decide whether or not the President, Vice President, or other appointed federal official should be removed from office.
II. The Monarchy: A King of the United States was established who would serve as Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States. The first King would be nominated by the Congress of the United States. Once nominated, a national referendum would be held and the people would have a chance to vote yea or nay on the new King, with a two-thirds vote being necessary to confirm the election. If the new King was not approved by the people, the Congress would nominate a new candidate and the process would be repeated until a King was elected. The monarchy would be a hereditary monarchy, with the heir to the throne being required to have their accession to the throne confirmed by a vote of the people. If the ascension was not confirmed, or if the reigning monarch died without an heir, the Congress would nominate a new King to be elected by the people.
III. The Executive: A President of the United States was established who would serve as Head of Government. Two candidates would be selected by the members of the House of Representatives from among their members to run for President, and two candidates would be selected by the members of the Senate from among their members to run for Vice President. A national election would be held and the candidates to receive a simple majority of the vote would be declared the winners and would be invited by the monarch to form a government. The winning candidate would have to resign their seats in their respective chambers, and would be serve for a term of four years. The President of the United States would form a government and, in consultation with the monarch, appoint representatives to head the various departments of the government created by the congress, with the representatives appointed confirmed by the Senate. The President, in consultation with the monarch, has the power to veto legislation passed by the congress. The Vice President would serve as President of the Senate.
IV. The Judiciary: A Supreme Court of the United States was established that would serve as a judicial body to settle disputes between the several states. Justices of the Supreme Court and any smaller federal courts created by the Congress would are appointed by the President of the United States, in consultation with the Monarch, and confirmed by the United States Senate.
Coronation of George I
[List of Kings of the United States ]
By April of 1789, all thirteen of the original states had approved the new Constitution, the Congress of the United States was in place in the temporary national capital of New York, President John Adams and Vice President Thomas Jefferson were in place and preparing for the coronation of the man nominated by the Congress and unanimously confirmed by a vote of the people. George Washington, the hero of the Revolutionary War and the President of the Constitutional Convention, had reluctantly agreed to be crowned as the first King of the United States of America.
While called a coronation, they ceremony lacked the religious connotation that the ceremony for the King of England held. The various representatives of the United States Government each participated in the ceremony, each pledging their loyalty to the King. The Mace of Liberty was first presented to the King by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Frederick A.C. Muhlenberg pledging the loyalty of the peoples elected Representatives. Next, the Orb of the New World was presented to the King by the President of the Senate, Vice President Thomas Jefferson, pledging the loyalty of the states representatives in the Senate. Next, the Sword of State was presented and the crown placed on his head by the President of the United States, John Adams, pledging the loyalty of the government and vowing to Preserve, Protect and Defend the Monarchy against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Finally, George proclaimed his oath of the people of the United States;
I, George, with the consent of the governed, King of the United States of America, do solemnly swear, to faithfully execute the powers of the Monarchy of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend, the peoples and Constitution of the United States, so help be God.