United states of America: geography, history, culture

Physical Geography and climate of the USA. The civil and liberation wars in the USA. Causes of The Great depression and industrial revolution of USA. "Cold war" is in the United States: reasons and consequences. Public Holidays and Arts in the USA.

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Washington now began the campaign that was to seal his reputation and effectively end the war. He had hoped to launch an attack on New York, and in May Rochambeau had agreed to move his troops from Newport to aid this attack. However, although some activity took place around New York in July, the British position was too strong and little came of the plans. Since June Washington had know that Admiral Grasse was heading for America from Brest in France, but his actual destination, and the effect he would have, was unknown. On 14 August, news arrived that Grasse was sailing for the Chesapeake, with twenty-nine ships and three thousand men. Combined with Washington's own army, and Rochambeau's army and fleet, it would be possible for the allies to gain a decisive advantage in the Chesapeake for long enough to defeat Cornwallis.

The British made an attempt to defeat the French fleet. De Grasse sailed from Saint Domingue with twenty-eight ships on the line on 5 August, reaching the Chesapeake on 30 August. The next day Admiral Graves in command of the combined British fleet sailed from New York. The two fleets came together on 5 September (battle of the Capes). In a two hour battle neither side lost a ship, but both suffered serious damage, and the British were forced from the area, leaving Cornwallis isolated by sea. Clinton had also failed to warn him that Washington may be marching south, still convinced an attack on New York was imminent. Cornwallis thus decided against an attempt to fight his way out. However, Washington had started to move his men south in mid-August, and by the middle of September Washington, Rochambeau, Lafayette and de Grasse were all concentrated against Cornwallis. Cut off by the French fleet, he now found himself surrounded by 16,000 American and French troops. Starting on the evening of 28 September and all day on 29 September the allies moved into position around Cornwallis.

Overnight on 29 September Cornwallis abandoned his outer positions, and moved his force into the inner defences. This move has since been criticised, but Cornwallis had good reasons to make it. His force was massively outnumbered, and the inner defences would be much easier to defend. Clinton had assured him that relief was on the way. Finally, the American and French siege guns did not arrive until 6 October. For the first week of the siege the British guns were able to cause the allies some discomfort, but there were not enough of them. Once the allied guns arrived the situation changed. On 9 October Washington himself fired the first shot of a massive artillery bombardment, which soon reduced the British defenders to a wretched state. After nearly two weeks of constant bombardment and with no sign of relief from Clinton Cornwallis finally gave up. On 17 October Cornwallis offered to surrender, and after two days of negotiation the surrender agreement was signed on 19 October. At two in the afternoon, to the sound of mournful music, the British marched into captivity.

Although the fighting was not entirely over, Yorktown marked the end of any serious British hopes. What followed was a series of withdrawals from the remaining British posts. British troops left Savannah on 11 July 1782, Charleston on 18 December 1782 and finally New York on 25 November 1783. The remaining Loyalists were left with two choices - come to terms with the new conditions in America or leave, with most who did leave going to Canada or the Caribbean. British military efforts turned to resisting the French and Spanish.

The End of the War

When news of the surrender at Yorktown reached London, it struck a final blow to British willingness to fight their rebellious colonials. Substantial British forces still existed in America, while the war against France and Spain continued. However, the war was lost in Parliament. On hearing of the defeat for the first time Lord North declared 'O God! It is all over' and although both George III and Lord Germain wanted to fight on, the mood of the country was against them. A series of votes against the war were held, at first with comfortable government majorities. However, on 22 February 1782 the government survived by only one vote, and finally on 27 February the government was defeated by nineteen votes. The next day Lord North offered to resign, but George III refused to let him. Despite the king's best efforts, Lord North finally resigned on 20 March, pre-empting an attempt to remove him in Parliament. The new government of Lord Rockingham was determined to make peace. Informal talks began in Paris in April. Initially, the American negotiators were meant to consult their French allies, and even follow their advice. The British aim was to retain their colonial territories outside the thirteen colonies, and if possible split the Americans from their French allies.

The same month saw the French fleet defeated at the battle of the Saints (12 April 1782). This secured British naval superiority in the Caribbean and weakened the French position. Meanwhile in England Rockingham was succeeded by Shelburne, who saw a chance to gain some advantage out of the defeat in America. His plan was to give the Americans just about everything they wanted, in return for a trade agreement that would be to the advantage of both sides. The Anglo-American treaty was announced on 30 November 1782. The French were only informed of it by their American allies hours before the public announcement. The treaty acknowledged American independence, and gave them both of their main territorial desires - a western border on the Mississippi, and control of the old North West, an area south of the Great Lakes that Canada also had a good claim to. The Americans were also given fishing rights off Newfoundland and the right to land on the coast to process the catch. The only concession to their French allies was that the treaty was not to come into force until peace had been made between Britain and France. The treaty made possible a friendly relationship between Great Britain and the new United States, but ironically it was unpopular in Britain, where it was seen as a surrender, and Shelburne soon lost power.

In many ways the French were the main losers in the war. Effectively abandoned by their American allies, the French made peace on 20 January 1783. The French had hoped to gain a new client state in America, as well as to make gains in the Caribbean and regain lands lost in India. Instead, France had to be content with Senegal, Tobago and a small area around Pondicherry in India. Peace with Spain was agreed on the same day with Britain keeping Gibraltar while Spain gained East and West Florida. While Anglo-American trade revived after the war, the French were to be disappointed in their hopes of a prosperous relationship with America. Instead the cost of the war helped bankrupt the French government and contributed to the crisis of 1787-9 and to the French Revolution after that. Many of the Frenchmen who had fought for American liberty were to find the struggle for French liberty to be a very uncomfortable experience. By a final irony, the improvements to the navy forced on the British by French aid to the Americans left the Royal Navy in a far better position to defend Britain at the start of the revolutionary wars.

6. The Civil War in the USA

The Blockage

One of the great ironies of the American Civil War was the Union blockade of Southern ports. In previous conflicts, the United States had stood firmly against the right of belligerent parties to impose a blockade on neutral shipping. The issue had even played a part in the outbreak of the War of 1812.

Now it was the United States that wanted to impose a blockade. President Lincoln very quickly declared a blockade against the main Confederate ports. To be a legal blockade (under the terms of an international treaty that the United States had not signed!), this blockade simply had to present a risk to shipping trying to enter those ports. This was fortunate for the Union, as when war broke out the United States navy was just as small as the army, and its ships were scattered around the world. Of those ships in American waters, ten were destroyed (or partially destroyed) to prevent them falling into Confederate hands when Virginian seceded, taking the Norfolk naval base with it.

Confederate diplomats spent much of their time attempting to convince European powers, especially Great Britain, to declare the blockade illegal. Their hope was that British industries dependence on Southern cotton would force the hands of the British government. In 1861 they were so convinced of the power of `King Cotton' that the south imposed a cotton embargo, voluntarily cutting off its own best supply of money!

Ironically, the determined Confederate attempts to get Britain to declare against the blockade played a part in convincing her that the blockade was indeed effective. If it had been as leaky as the Confederates were claiming, then why make so much fuss? Great Britain was perfectly happy to declare the Union blockade legal - the inconvenience to British trade was more than balanced by the invaluable precedent thus created.

The blockade of 1861 was indeed very leaky. Estimates suggest that only one in ten ships attempting to trade with the South was captured in the first year of the war. However, as the war progressed and the Union navy increased in size, the blockade became increasingly effective. By 1864 one in three ships were being captured, although even that ratio still left a good chance of profit for the owner of a blockade runner.

Despite claims to the contrary then and since, the blockade was effective. The number of ships entering southern ports was reduced by two thirds. Many of those ships were custom built blockade runners, capable of carrying much smaller cargos that their pre-war equivalents, so the actual amount of cargo carried must have been even smaller. The outgoing figures for cotton exports support this idea. In the three years before the war, ten million bales of cotton were exported from the south. In the three wartime years after the South lifted its own cotton embargo only half a million bales got out. While some of this was probably due to the disruption of the South's poor transport network and the capture by the Union of ports such as New Orleans, it does demonstrate the effectiveness of the blockade.

Of course the best way to close a Southern port was to capture it. The United States Navy retained command of the seas around the Confederacy, despite repeated Confederate efforts to break that control (see below for the battle of the Ironclads). This meant that the Union could launch attacks on any Southern port that was not protected by a major Confederate army.

At the start of the war, the Confederate states contained eight major ports capable of conducting a significant amount of trade. On the east coast were Norfolk, Wilmington, Charleston and Savannah and on the Gulf coast Pensacola, Mobile, New Orleans and Galveston.

Battle of the Ironclads

The most famous naval clash of the war was the Battle of Hampton Roads. Steam power was already in the process of revolutionizing war at sea. Exploding shells were replacing solid shot. The world's main navies had been experimenting with iron armour. The Crimean War had seen the French navy use armoured floating gun batteries and exploding shells to devastating effect against the wooden Russian ships.

The first ironclad warship was the French Gloire of 1859, followed quickly by the British H.M.S. Warrior. The United States navy had been watching these developments, but had not yet moved towards building their own ironclads when the civil war broke out. In the first few months of the war experiment warships naturally moved to the bottom of the U.S Navy's list of priorities.

In contrast, the newly formed Confederate navy needed some way to overcome the vastly superior Union numbers. They looked to the new ironclads for their answer. If the south could build a functioning ironclad warship before the Union, they hoped that they could smash the Union blockade and impose their own blockade in turn.

When the Union navy abandoned Norfolk, Virginia, they attempted to destroy the ships stationed there. One of those ships was the frigate U.S.S. Merrimac. In the summer of 1861, the Confederates raised the sunken frigate, and began work converting it into an ironclad warship, the C.S.S. Virginia. Their plans were dramatic. The 264-foot long frigate was cut down to the berth-deck. This deck would be just under water in normal circumstances, with armour plating covering the top three feet of the hull. On top of this was built a 170 foot long pent-house, with sloped armoured sides, containing 7-inch pivot guns to front and rear as well as four guns in each broadside.

Unfortunately for their plans, news of their work reached the north. Two conventional designs were initially approved, but they would not have been ready in time to counter the Confederate ship. A third plan, designed by the inventor John Ericsson, was adopted in October 1861. His design was revolutionary. The U.S.S. Monitor resembled an armoured raft, 172 feet long, with a deck only just above water level. What made the Monitor so revolutionary was that all of her firepower came from two eleven inch guns in a revolving turret.

The two ships would turn out to be very well matched. The C.S.S Virginia got her chance first. On 8 March 1862 she steamed out of Norfolk to attack the Union blockading fleet. Her ten guns were opposed to 219 Union guns on five ships, but the Union ships didn't stand a chance. First to go was the U.S.S. Cumberland (24 guns), rammed and sunk. The only serious damage inflicted to the Virginiawas that her ram broke off and remained stuck in the Cumberland.

Next, the Virginia turned on the U.S.S. Congress, a fifty gun sail frigate. Her wooden sides were of no use against modern guns. She caught fire and sank. The Virginia returned to harbour, expecting to finish the job the next day. The U.S.S. Minnesota, a new steam frigate, ran aground during the encounter and unless help came quickly would certainly be sunk on the following day.

That help did arrive. Overnight the U.S.S. Monitor had arrived from New York. The next day the two ships engaged in the first duel between ironclad warships. The fighting on 9 March was a tactical draw. Neither ironclad could inflict significant damage on the other. Eventually, the Monitor pulled back into shallower water than the Virginia could enter. While the Monitor was unable to sink the Virginia, the Confederate ship could not damage the remaining Union ships. The Union navy would be able to maintain her blockade.

The battle of the ironclads sent shockwaves around the world's navies. The Times of London announced that the Royal Navy had been reduced from one hundred and forty nine to only two first class warships. Britain and France were both forced to almost totally rebuild their navies. Every wooden warship in the world became obsolete overnight.

The area west of the Mississippi fell into three broad categories in 1861. On the west coast were the states of California and Oregon, isolated enclaves of American life. California had only recently been added to the Union, as a result of the Mexican War of the 1840s. Along the western bank of the Mississippi were a series of border states, from Minnesota in the north to Louisiana in the south, which with Texas contained the bulk of the trans-Mississippi population. Between them was a vast third area of unsettled land, stretching from the Mississippi to the Rocky Mountains, which included vast areas conquered from Mexico and large areas of `Indian Country', where the original inhabitants of North America still maintained a precarious independence. Dotted across the map were tiny areas of American settlement, most famous of which was the Mormon settlement of Salt Lake City.

The Civil War in this vast area also falls into three rough categories. The most important of these concerns the Union campaigns along the Mississippi herself. When these campaigns ended in success, the western Confederacy was cut off, and forced to survive on its own resources. These campaigns have been dealt with already. The second category contains Union attempts to invade the three Confederate states west of the Mississippi - Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. These campaigns were to have limited success. The western Confederacy was the last area to surrender in 1865. Finally, in the first years of the war the Confederacy cast its eyes west, into New Mexico, Arizona, southern California and northern Mexico.

The Union won the American Civil War in the west. While successive Union generals attempted to capture Richmond, the western Confederacy was dismantled, state by state, city by city, until Sherman's army was able to march through the heart of the Confederacy and threaten Richmond from the south.

In some ways the Virginia front of 1864 foreshadowed the Western Front. However, while the battle between Grant's Army of the Potomac and Lee's Army of Northern Virginia saw prolonged periods of fighting, often against well entrenched positions and with heavy casualties on both sides, Grant's attacks were concentrated against relatively small sections of the thirty miles of fortifications around Richmond and Petersburg. The deadlock came because Lee was able to move his troops around within the defences to deal with Grant's attacks. Only when Lee's army was exhausted at the start of 1865 was Grant willing to launch an attack on a wide front.

More Americans died in the Civil War than in all other American wars combined. Combined casualties came to at least 620,000 dead, with over a million casualties in all. In the Second World War, a similar number of casualties included 407,316 deaths (due largely to a massive increase in the ability of battlefield medicine to save the wounded).

These high casualty figures are in part due to the nature of a civil war - all the casualties are suffered by the same country (although even taken separately the 360,000 Union dead come close to the Second World War figure) - and partly due to the particularly lethal nature of the Civil War battlefield. The rifled musket had greatly increased the killing power of the infantryman, especially on the defensive, making it much harder to achieve a decisive victory. An incredibly high percentage of all available men of military age served during the civil war - some three and a quarter million men in all, representing about one in four of all white men in the south, and not a much lower population of the male population of the north (not to mention a good many men from the black and white populations of the south who fought for the Union).

Perhaps most importantly, the Civil War freed around four million slaves across the United States. Just how long an independent Confederacy would have been able to maintain slavery against near universal international condemnation is impossible to say, but it is hard to imagine any post-war Confederate leader being willing to voluntarily dismantle the institution that the south had gone to war for. The American Civil War is thus one of the few wars that can clearly be seen to having achieved something worthwhile. The 360,000 Union dead died for a good cause.

7. Great Depression in the USA

The Great Depression took place from 1930 to 1939. During this time the prices of stock fell 40%. 9,000 banks went out of business and 9 million savings accounts were wiped out. 86,00 businesses failed, and wages were decreased by an average of 60%. The unemployment rate went from 9% all the way to 25%, about 15 million jobless people.

Causes of The Great depression of USA. 1930

* Unequal distribution of wealth

* High Tariffs and war debts

* Over production in industry and agriculture

* Stock market crash and financial panic

Effects of The Great depression

* Widespread hunger, poverty, and unemployment

* Worldwide economic crisis

* Democratic victory in 1232 election

* FDR's New Deal

It was appropriate that the terrible economic slump of the 1930s started in the United States, to which Europe seemed to have surrendered economic leadership during the Great War and on which she had been dependent ever since.

Stock Market Crash of 1929

The stock market crash that began on a black Friday in October 1929 and deepened in the ensuing months had immediate repercussion in Europe. Indeed, even before this, the superheated boom in stock prices that marked the bull market of 1928 siphoned money from Europe. The pricking of the bubble sent shock waves throughout the world.

Large exports of American capital had helped sustain Europe, besides providing an outlet for American surpluses of capital, during the 1920s. Investment in European bonds now contracted sharply and swiftly, as banks that were "caught short" with too many of their assets invested in securities desperately tried to raise money. By June 1930, the price of securities on Wall Street was about 20 percent, on average, of what it had been prior to the crash; between 1929 and 1932 the Dow-Jones average of industrial stock prices fell from a high of 381 to a low of 41!

The American market for European imports also dropped sharply as the entire American economy went into shock; and, to compound trouble, congress insisted on passing a high tariff law in 1930, against the advice of almost all economists. Effective operation of the international economy required that the United States import goods to allow foreign governments to pay for American loans. Moreover, the raising of tariffs set off a chain reaction as every government tried to protect itself against an adverse trade balance leading to currency deterioration. The result was a drying up of world trade that further fueled the economic downturn.

These exceptions may seem more numerous than the rule, but the United States and most parts of Europe did enjoy relatively favorable economic conditions between 1924 and 1930. But it turned out that this prosperity rested on American loans and American markets, which now almost vanished. A European economy still recovering from the trauma of the war and its aftermath was too frail to weather this storm.

One of the most punishing features of the depression had been the drastic fall in agricultural prices, together with other primary products. The years from 1925 to 1928 brought good harvests all over the world, the latter a record in wheat. The price of grain tumbled just as the industrial and financial slump hit, compounding the crisis. Loss of urban and international markets afflicted farmers already in trouble from overproduction and, frequently, from a burden of debt incurred in expanding production and buying agricultural machinery. With unemployed workers suffering from hunger, the sight of farmers refusing to harvest crops because the price was too low to make it worthwhile drove home the bitter lesson of poverty in the midst of plenty, the curse of Midas fallen on man. But by 1936 agricultural prices had risen somewhat.

8. Industrial revolution in the USA:

Its affects and consequences.

In the last part of the 18th century, a new revolution gripped the world that we were not ready for. This revolution was not a political one, but it would lead to many implications later in its existance. Neither was this a social or cultural revolution. This revolution was an economic one.

The Industrial Revolution, as it know called by historians, changed the ways by how the world produced its goods. It also changed our societies from a mainly agricultural society to one that in which industry and manufacturing was in control.

The industrial revolution first got its start in Great Britian, during the 18th century, which at the time was the most powerful empire on the planet. So, it ws inevitable that the country with the most wealth would led in this revolution. After it adoption in England, other countries such as Germany, the United States and France joined in this revolution.

During this time there were also many new technological advancements, socioeconomic and cultural problems that arised.

On the technology front, the biggest advancements were in steam power. New fuels such as coal and petroleum, were incorporated into new steam engines. This revolutionized many industries including textiles and manufacturing. Also, a new communication medium was invented called the telegraph. This made communicating across the ocean much faster.

But, along with this great leap in technology, there was an overall downfall in the socioeconomic and cultural situation of the people. Growth of cities were one of the major consequences of the Industrial Revolution. Many people were driven to the cities to look for work, in turn the ended living in the cities that could not support them. With the new industrial age, a new qauntitative and materialistic view of the world took place. This caused the need for people to consume as much as they could. This still happens today. Living on small wages that required small children to work in factories for long days.

Also, during this time much international strife was occuring at this time. The American Revolution was occuring in the beginning part of the Industrial Revolution. The French Revolution was in the process at the turn of the 19th century. This was a great time, but resulted in newly found democratic rights that spread through Europe and North America.

The Industrial Revolution, was not a good revolution for the planet. From the time of its start, the factories and industry has increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by two-folds. Also in our drive for consumerism, our planets natural resources are being depleted at an alarming rate. Pollution by nuclear waste, pesticides and other chemicals are also the result of the Industrial Revolution.

9. The Cold War in USA

For more than 40 years - 1945-1989 - the USSR was in conflict with the West. But that conflict never came to open warfare (`hot war'). Why? It was mainly because the existence of nuclear weapons made hot war MAD (`mutually assured destruction'). That was why the conflict stayed a `cold war'; both sides tried to undermine and destroy each other, but they dared not let it go to actual fighting - that would have destroyed them.

What was the Cold War

Why did the USA and USSR become rivals in the period 1945 to 1949?

When you are thinking about the causes of the Cold War, the most important thing is to separate in your mind the long term underlying factors from the series of clashes and misunderstandings which actually triggered the breakdown in relations.

The USSR and the USA were separated by a huge ideological gulf. So the only thing that held the allies together was the need to destroy Hitler's Nazis. Given their underlying differences - when Hitler was finally defeated in 1945 - a Cold War was perhaps inevitable. The USA was a capitalist democracy; the USSR was a communist dictatorship. Both sides believed that they held the key to the future happiness of the human race. Neither was conflict new to the two sides. Stalin could not forgive Britain and America for helping the Whites against the Bolsheviks in the Civil Wars (1918-1921), and he believed that they had delayed D-Day in the hope that the Nazis would destroy Russia. In the meantime, Britain and America blamed the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939 for starting the Second World War. Also, the two sides' aims for Germany were different - Stalin wanted Germany to be ruined by reparations, and he wanted a buffer of friendly states round Russia to prevent a repeat of the Nazi invasion of 1941. Britain and America wanted a democratic and capitalist Germany as a world trading partner, strong enough to stop the spread of Communism westwards.

It is impossible to identify a time when the Cold War `broke out'. After 1945, a series of clashes and misunderstandings meant that the ideological differences widened more and more into open hostility.

Why did the USA and USSR become rivals

Yalta and Potsdam

Even at the Yalta Conference of February 1945 there were signs of conflict. The war was still going on, but it was clear that Hitler was going to be defeated, so the allies met to decide how they would organise Europe after the war. It was easy to agree to bring Nazi war-criminals to trial, admit Russia into the United Nations, and divide Germany into four `zones', occupied by Britain, France, the USA and the USSR. But there was tension about two things: firstly, the kind of governments that would be set up in eastern Europe, particularly Poland (in the end the allies published a Declaration of Liberated Europe agreeing to set up `democratic and self-governing countries' and to `the holding of free elections as soon as possible'; the fact that `democracy' and `free elections' meant different things to the two sides was passed over). The second source of conflict - reparations - was postponed by agreeing to set up a commission to look into the matter.

When the three met at Potsdam (July 1945), Hitler had been defeated. Also Roosevelt (who had liked Stalin) had died and been replaced as US President by Truman, who was aggressively anti-Communist, and who had the atomic bomb (when Russia did not). Most of all, Stalin had recently ordered the non-communist leaders in Poland arrested. So at Potsdam, the tensions below the surface at Yalta - about eastern Europe and reparations - came out into open disagreement. The Protocols agreed at Potsdam merely repeated the agreements at Yalta, except that Russia was allowed to take reparations from the Soviet Zone, and also 10% of the industrial equipment of the western zones as reparations.

Yalta and Potsdam

Salami tactics and the Fulton Speech

During the war, Stalin had trained eastern European Communists in Russia, and after Potsdam they returned to their own countries and began to take over. They took part in elections, and became government ministers, but then packed the army and police with communists, got non-communists discredited and arrested, and so took total control bit by bit - as Rakosi said in Hungary, `like slicing salami'.

By 1946, observers in the west were becoming alarmed. George Kennan, an American embassy official in Moscow, sent a `Long Telegram' saying that the Soviets had to be stopped. On 5 March 1946, Winston Churchill gave a speech in Fulton in America in which he said that eastern Europe was cut off from the free world by `an iron curtain', and was `subject to Soviet influence . . . totalitarian control [and] police governments'. The message was so clear that Stalin claimed that Churchill's speech was a declaration of war.

Salami tactics and the Fulton speech

The Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan

Stalin had promised not to try to take over Greece, and he kept his word, but that did no stop Greek Communists trying to take over the government by force. A unit of British soldiers was stopping them, but in February 1947, the British informed Truman that they were pulling out. Truman acted. He sent American soldiers to Greece, and on 12 March 1947 he told Congress that it was America's duty to preserve freedom and democracy in Europe. The key basis to what became known as the `Truman Doctrine' was `containment' - the decision to stop any further expansion of communism.

In June 1947, the American General George Marshall went to Europe to see what was needed to stop the expansion of Communism. He returned with the impression that people were was so poor that all Europe was about to turn Communist. Rather than a military option to stop Russia, Marshall recommended an injection of $17 billion cash for aid, and to get the European economy going again. Prosperous, free people, he argued, would not turn Communist. At first, Congress hesitated to agree to send the money, but then - in February 1948 - Czechoslovakia turned Communist. The Czech Prime Minister, Masaryk, mysteriously `fell' out of a window and hard-line Stalinists took over. In March 1948, Congress voted Marshall Aid to Europe.

In the west, the Cold War is often represented as America moving to defend freedom against Stalin's aggression. This is only partly true, and you will need to understand that Russian historians saw things very differently. Stalin did want a `buffer' of states around Russia, but this had been tacitly agreed at Yalta, and it was Truman, at Potsdam, who adopted a new aggressive stance against Stalin. Russia did not send her army once into ANY eastern European state to turn it Communist - they all turned Communist of their own accord. Indeed, Stalin had promised to leave Greece alone, and he did so - it was America who intervened militarily in Greece. And Russia saw the Fulton speech as a declaration of war, and Marshall Aid as an act of war. All Russia did during this time was to set up Comintern (1947), a meeting of Communist eastern European states.

By 1948, the USA and the USSR were involved in the `Cold War'.

Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan

The Berlin Blockade

If the opening conflicts in the Cold War were about eastern Europe, the first direct confrontation of the Cold War arose out the other source of disagreement between the allies - the treatment of Germany. During 1945-1948, Britain and the USA were trying to restore Germany. In January 1947, they joined their two zones together (called Bi-zonia: `two zones'). On 1 June 1948, they announced that they wanted to create the new country of West Germany. And on 23 June 1948 they introduced a new currency into `Bizonia' and west Berlin.

By contrast, during 1945-1948 Russia had been stripping the factories of east Germany of machinery to take as reparations. Western efforts to restore Germany were seen by Stalin as a direct attack. Berlin (like Germany) was divided into four sectors, but it was deep in the Russian sector of eastern Germany. On 24 June the Russians stopped all road and rail traffic into Berlin. Stalin said he was defending the east German economy against the new currency, which was ruining it. The western powers said he was trying to starve west Berlin into surrender.

Truman ignored General Clay, who wanted to invade east Germany (Truman did not want a `hot war'). Instead, for 318 days, the Americans supplied West Berlin by air. More than a quarter of million flights carried 1.5 million tons of supplies. Stalin could have shot down the American planes, but he did not want to cause a hot war either. On 12 May 1949, he admitted defeat and reopened the borders.

In April 1949, the western Allies set up NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) as a defensive alliance against Russia, and in May 1949, America, Britain and France united their zones into the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). In October 1949, Stalin set up the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).

Berlin Blockade

How did the Cold War develop in the period 1949 to 1963?

After the Berlin Blockade, the pattern of foreign relations as a `Cold War' was set: the USA and the USSR acted as rivals in a competition for world domination.


The Korean War

The Korean War was another conflict which was part of the Cold War, and which - although very different in nature from the Berlin Blockade - was still `war without war'. In the Korean War, Russia and America fought through other people - `at arms length' - and thus avoided direct armed conflict.

Communism was growing in the far east, as well as in Europe, and after the Second World War both Korea and Vietnam were divided between Communists and non-Communists. The peacemakers solved both problems by simply drawing a line across both countries, giving the northern area to the Communists, and the southern part to the non-Communists. Korean was thus split at the 38th parallel.

In 1949, Kim Il Sung - the leader of north Korea, approached Stalin and Mao Zedong (the leader of China, which had turned Communist in 1949), and persuaded them to allow him to attack South Korea. When Syngman Rhee (the leader of South Korea) boasted that he would attack North Korea, the North Koreans attacked (25 June 1950). They easily defeated the South Korean army and by September 1950 had conquered all South Korea apart from a small area around Pusan in the south.

Truman was not prepared to see South Korea fall to Communism. Americans at this time held to the `domino theory' - the idea that if one country fell to communism the rest would follow. In addition, in April 1950, American foreign policy had changed and become more aggressive - the American National Security Council had issued a report (NSC 68) recommending that America abandon `containment' and start `rolling back' Communism. But Truman did not attack directly; on 27 June he went to the United Nations and persuaded them to oppose the North Korean invasion. The UN forces, led by the American General MacArthur, landed in Pusan and Inchon in September 1950 and by October 1950 had pushed back the North Koreans almost to the Chinese border.

At this point, the Chinese got involved, and drove back the Americans. A front line was eventually established around the 38th parallel (where it had all began), although the war went on for another three years. Truman refused MacArthur's advice to use the atomic bomb. Russian troops went to help the communists, but they went as `advisers' and dressed like North Koreans. In this way, Russia and America avoided direct war.

Korean War

Eisenhower and Khrushchev

In 1953 Ike Eisenhower became President of America. He was well-known for saying that `jaw-jaw [ie talking] is better than war, war'. He brought the Korean War to an end by threatening to use the atomic bomb if China did not stop fighting. The Chinese agree to a truce, which was signed on 27 July 1953.

In 1953 also, Stalin died. After a power struggle in Russia, he was replaced by Nikita Khrushchev. Khrushchev declared that the Cold War had to end, and be replaced by `peaceful co-existence', and in 1956 he shocked the world by declaring that he wanted to destalinise the communist bloc, because Stalin had been a murderer and a tyrant.

Surely these two men, people hoped, could bring in a period of peace? In fact, the Cold War got worse. Khrushchev was still an ardent communist, and by `peaceful co-existence' it soon became clear that he meant `peaceful competition'. Khrushchev visited countries like Afghanistan and Burma and gave them economic aid if they supported Russia, and in 1955 he set up the Warsaw Pact (a military alliance of Communist countries) to rival NATO. Russia began an `arms race' (in 1953, Russia developed the hydrogen bomb) and a `space race' with America (in 1957 Russia launched Sputnik, the first satellite, and in 1961 Yuri Gagarin became the first astronaut to orbit the earth).

America too were becoming more aggressive. America joined the `arms race' with Russia - in 1955, NATO set up a West German Army of Ѕ million men (this led to the formation of the Warsaw Pact). The Americans used U2 planes to spy on Russia. Inside America, Senator McCarthy led a `witch-hunt' for `Communists' (e.g. Charlie Chaplin was accused of being a Communist).

Eisenhower and Khrushchev

Poland and Hungary, 1956

Khrushchev worsened the Cold War in another way, too. By criticising Stalin, he destabilised the Soviet-bloc governments Stalin had set up in eastern Europe. There were riots in Poland in 1956, and Khrushchev had to send in Russian troops to help the Polish government put them down.

Worse was to follow in Hungary. There, in October 1956, students rioted and smashed statues of Stalin, and Imre Nagy became Prime Minister. From 29 October to 3 November 1956, the new government brought in democracy, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion. The Hungarians were encouraged by words of support from America. Finally, Nagy announced that Hungary was going to leave the Warsaw Pact. Khrushchev may have believed in peaceful co-existence, but he was not prepared to allow freedom to the Soviet bloc countries. At dawn on 4 November 1956, 1000 Russian tanks rolled into Budapest and re-established Soviet rule. At the time, it was thought that the Russian had killed 30,000 Hungarians, though it seems that a figure of 4000 is nearer the truth. Nevertheless, western Europe was horrified, and western leaders became even more determined to stop Communism.

As a result, 1955-1963 was the time of GREATEST tension in the Cold War.

Poland and Hungary

The U2 Crisis and the Berlin Wall

Tension remained high throughout the late 1950s. The America and British presence in West Berlin was a huge problem for the Russians - particularly because hundreds of thousands of eastern Berliners were fleeing every month into West Berlin (this was an embarrassment for the Communists, never mind the large numbers of skilled workers they were losing). A Summit Meeting was arranged in Paris for 14 May 1960 to discuss Berlin and the arms race.

Nine days before the meeting, however, the Soviets shot down an American U2 spy plane. Although they claimed at first it was an off-course weather plane, the Americans had to admit it was a spy plane when the Russians produced the pilot, Gary Powers. As a result, the first thing Khrushchev did at the summit was to demand an apology from President Eisenhower. When Eisenhower refused, Khrushchev went home, and the summit collapsed. It was a very frightening time. If the two sides resorted to all-out nuclear war, their stockpiles of nuclear weapons guaranteed that all life on earth would be wiped out.

By 1961, nearly 2,000 East Germans were fleeing into West Berlin every day. At the Vienna summit of June 1961, Khrushchev again demanded that the Americans leave West Berlin. Kennedy refused - and on 25 July he increased America's spending on weapons. On 13 August, Khrushchev closed the border between East and West Berlin - and built a wall. The Berlin Wall became a symbol of the Cold War.

U2 Crisis and the Berlin Wall

How close to war did the world come over Cuba in 1962?

Meanwhile, the Americans were becoming more aggressive. In 1959, the Communist leader Fidel Castro took power in Cuba. Since Cuba was only 100 miles away from Florida, this was as much a problem for them as West Berlin was for the Russians. In 1961, the Americans elected a new President, John F Kennedy, who promised to get tough on Communism.

Initially, Kennedy's attempts to get tough went wrong. His actions at the Vienna summit had merely caused the Berlin Wall. When Castro made a trade agreement with Russia, the Americans stopped trading with Cuba; in retaliation, Cuba nationalised all American-owned companies. Then in April 1961 the CIA supported an attempted invasion of Cuba by anti-Castro Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs; it failed miserably, greatly embarrassing Kennedy. Even worse, as a result, in September 1961, Castro asked Russia for - and was publicly promised - weapons to defend Cuba against America. On 14 October 1962 an American U2 spy-plane took pictures of a nuclear missile base being built on Cuba.

Kennedy's advisers told him he had 10 days before Cuba could fire the missiles at targets in America. For the next fortnight, the world stood on the brink of global nuclear war. Fearing a military strike would lead to hot war, Kennedy decided to blockade Cuba. The Russian ships thought to be carrying missiles only turned back at the last minute. Most people in the West thought the end of the world was nigh.

Then (in the words of one US adviser) `the other guy blinked': Khrushchev sent two telegrams - the first (26 October) offering to dismantle the sites if Kennedy would agree not to invade Cuba, and a second (27 October) demanding that American missile sites in Turkey be dismantled. Just at this moment, a U2 plane was shot down in Cuba, but Kennedy decided to ignore the incident.

Kennedy publicly agreed not to invade Cuba (and secretly agreed to dismantle the sites in Turkey). Later, because of this, Khrushchev claimed that he won the crisis. At the time, however, Kennedy appeared to be the victor, because the Russians had dismantled the Cuba sites. Soon after, Khrushchev fell from power.

Both leaders had had a fright. Kennedy and Khrushchev set up a telephone `hotline' to talk directly in a crisis. In 1963, they agreed a Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Although it took another 27 years, the Cuba crisis marked the beginning of the end of the Cold War.

Cuba Crisis

10. Population of USA. Migration

At the time of the first federal census, in 1790, the population of the United States was 3,929,214. Between 1800 and 1850, the population almost quadrupled; between 1850 and 1900, it tripled; and between 1900 and 1950, it almost doubled. During the 1960s and 1970s, however, the growth rate slowed steadily, declining from 2.9% annually in 1960 to 2% in 1969 and to less than 1% in the 1980s. The population was estimated at 263,064,000 in mid-1995. The median age of the population increased from 16.7 years in 1820 to 22.9 years in 1900 and to 34.3 years in 1995.

The population of United States in 2003 was estimated by the United Nations at 294,043,000, which placed it as number 3 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In that year approximately 13% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 21% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 97 males for every 100 females in the country in 2003. According to the UN, the annual population growth rate for 2000-2005 is 1.03%, with the projected population for the year 2015 at 329,669,000. The population density in 2002 was 30 per sq km (77 per sq mi). The major population concentrations are along the northeast Atlantic coast and the southwest Pacific coast. The population is most dense between New York City and Washington, D.C.

It was estimated by the Population Reference Bureau that 77% of the population lived in urban areas in 2001. Suburbs have absorbed most of the shift in population distribution since 1950. The capital city, Washington, D.C., had a population of 3,888,000 in that year. Other major metropolitan areas include the following: New York, 16,626,000; Los Angeles, 13,129,000; Chicago, 6,945,000; Dallas, 3,912,000; Houston, 3,365,000; Philadelphia, 2,607,000; San Diego, 2,983,000; and Phoenix, 2,607,000. Major cities can be found throughout the United States. According to the United Nations, the urban population growth rate for 2000-2005 was 1.0%.

11. Public Holidays in the USA

Below are listed Public Holidays for the January 2011-December 2012 period.

January 01 New Year's Day,

January 17 Martin Luther King Day

February 21 Presidents' Day

May 30 Memorial Day

July 04 Independence Day

September 05 Labor Day

October 10 Columbus Day

November 11 Veterans' Day

November 24 Thanksgiving Day

December 25 Christmas Day

12. Duties of the President and Vice President

The President is the head of the executive branch and plays a large role in making America's laws.

His job is to approve the laws that Congress creates. When the Senate and the House approve a bill, they send it to the President. If he agrees with the law, he signs it and the law goes into effect. If the President does not like a bill, he can refuse to sign it. When he does this, it is called a veto.

If the President vetoes a bill, it will most likely never become a law. Congress can override a veto, but to do so two-thirds of the Members of Congress must vote against the President.

Despite all of his power, the President cannot write bills. He can propose a bill, but a member of Congress must submit it for him. In addition to playing a key role in the lawmaking process, the President has several duties. He serves as the American Head of State, meaning that he meets with the leaders of other countries and can make treaties with them. However, the Senate must approve any treaty before it becomes official.

The President is also the Chief of the Government. That means that he is technically the boss of every government worker. Also, the President is the official head of the U.S. military. He can authorize the use of troops overseas without declaring war. To officially declare war, though, he must get the approval of the Congress.

The President and the Vice-President are the only officials chosen by the entire country. Not just anyone can be President, though. In order to be elected, one must be at least 35 years old. Also, each candidate must be a natural-born U.S. citizen and have lived in the U.S. for at least 14 years. When elected, the President serves a term of four years. The most one President can serve is two terms, for a total of eight years.

Before 1951, the President could serve for as many terms as he wanted. However, no one had tried. After two terms as President, George Washington chose not to run again. All other Presidents followed his example until Franklin D. Roosevelt. Roosevelt successfully ran for office four times. Early in his fourth term, he died, in 1945.

Six years later, Congress passed the 22nd Amendment, which limits Presidents to two terms.

George Washington was the first president under the US constitution of 1789. However, the US was an independent nation for 13 years before the Constitution was signed. For one year during this time John Hanson served as “President of the US in Congress assembled.” Technically, he was the first president of the United States. Washington's vice president was John Adams, the first Vice President of the United States.

The Vice President of the United States has only two primary official duties: 1) to preside over the Senate and to cast tie-breaking votes there, 2) and to preside over and certify the official vote count of the United States Electoral College. The Vice President's salary is $400,000 per year.

In order of succession, the Vice President is followed by the Speaker of the House, then the President pro tempor (highest ranking senator), follow by the Secretary of State.

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