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The United States of America, commonly known as the United States, the Union, and abbreviated as the U.S.A. and the U.S., is a federation made up of 35 states.
In 1776, thirteen American colonies of the Kingdom of Great Britain declared their independence in the midst of a war over rights as citizens of the Empire. Seven years later, in 1783, their governing document, the Articles of Confederation, were revised to become the Constitution of the United States. Having proved itself capable, the nation became a republic of thirteen sovereign states at that point. The boundaries of the nation would expand to reach fully from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from Canada in the North to Mexico in the south. As of the divisive presidential election of 1960, there were a total of 33 declared states and several territories. The next territory up for statehood was Kansas, formerly a land peopled by American Indians (aka Native Americans). The question of slavery - or the right of territories to remain sovereign in choosing such by popular vote - lead to bloody confrontation in that territory. The election of Abraham Lincoln of Illinois (a member of the new Republican Party which had failed in a close election in 1856) over a divided Democratic party brought the nation to the brink of war.
Outgoing Democratic President James Buchanan presided over the admission of the Kansas as a state on January 9, 1861, after officially "losing" South Carolina to secession on December 20, 1860. In the weeks following, six more states would secede to officially become the Confederate States of America. After Abraham Lincoln became president on March 4, 1861, four more states would join the new nation - including the crucial state of Virginia, the loss of which assured the eventual stalemate that became known internationally as "the Two Americas." In the process of the ongoing war the Confederate States would pick up two of the four remaining "slave states," two territories, and territory ceded to them by Mexico. The United States would retain two "slave states" and gain a break-away state from part of what had been Virginia. After the war, the United States would begin annexing territories on the continent and acquire territory in the Pacific Ocean to finally reach the present total 35 states.