USA (National Flag)
The flag was officially introduced in 1960. The first United States flag from 1775 was the then British trunk flag; however, the red field was split into 13 red and white stripes, one for each of the original states of the Union. In 1777, Union Jack in the corner was replaced by a blue field with thirteen white stars. Thus, the first Stars and Stripes was created. It was the first time stars were seen in a national flag. In 1795 it was decided that the number of stars and stripes should correspond to the number of states. Since 1818, only the number of stars has changed and one went back to the 13 stripes. The flag currently has 50 stars.
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The history of the United States
The British colonies
According to a2zgov, The British colonies on the North American continent were founded over a long period from 1607 (Virginia) to 1732 (Georgia). Mutual communication between them was limited, but differences in climate, economy, and population involved significant contradictions. To the north of New England, viz. Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and later New Hampshire and Maine, a Protestant English population, in addition to corn, cultivated the common northern European crops in English-style villages. Along the coast, trade and crafts, fishing and shipbuilding thrived. In the Middle Colonies extensive New York and Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, populated by many Dutch, Scottish-Irish and Germans, were dominated by family farming. With centers in New York and Philadelphia, significant commercial interests developed. To the south in the colonies of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and South Carolina and Georgia, the population was characterized by many Scots and especially by a large African touch. Production was export-oriented with tobacco, cotton and rice as the main goods (see triangle trade).
Also in terms of religion and political culture, there were big differences. In New England, the colonists sought to maintain far-reaching local self-determination, which resulted in city meetings. The Puritan religion was influential and was assured by priests whom the colonies themselves educated at Harvard and Yale universities. In the Middle Colonies, the British Crown dominated. Many Protestant currents were represented along with the Anglican Church, and the result was widespread tolerance. To the south, the political structures of the plantation owners, in Maryland, were marked by a strong Catholic touch.
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Individually, one colony resembled its neighboring colony, but when it came to the extremes, such as Connecticut to South Carolina, there were few similarities. The similarities were, firstly, the language, which was English. In addition, there were the political institutions, which from the 1720’s were streamlined according to English models.
The American Revolution
The independence of the United States was not a “natural” development. Research in recent decades has strongly emphasized that the key to the revolution cannot be found in notions of a distinct “national identity”, but must be sought in the colonists’ strong sense of a position as British equals. Differences between the colonies, as well as similarities that bound them to the mother country, made it a late and sudden demand that one should abandon negotiation and seek a total secession from the British Crown. Both south and north of the United States were British possessions, namely the West Indies and Canada, who did not want to join the United States.
The prelude to the revolution lay in the Franco-Indian War 1754-1763. The war, which brought colonists and the British government into closer contact than at any time before, ended with the conquest of Canada. London embarked on a reorganization of the colonies, which immediately brought Parliament into conflict with leading circles in America. The British Parliament did not seize the opportunity to play the colonies against each other; seen from London, the American colonies looked like a whole that could be suspected of secession dreams. The colonists, for their part, insisted on fighting for their rights as British citizens, not as Americans.
In North America, a number of tax orders and customs laws from 1765 were met with demonstrations, a boycott of English goods and a growing awareness of the need to coordinate reluctance (see Stamp Act). The long crisis raised a new generation of young, ambitious and talented politicians who were to dominate American politics until the 1820’s. The same colonies, which in 1754 at a congress in Albany had rejected all talk of closer co-operation, convened a new congress in 1774, and again the following year a congress (see Continental Congress), when acts of war had taken place at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts. Congress appointed George Washington from Virginia to Commander-in-Chief of an army that barely existed yet.
However, the initiative for a final break with Britain did not come until about six months later. It was expressed by a newly arrived English writer, Thomas Paine, who in a pamphlet, Common Sense of January 1776, demanded full independence. A few months later, the demand came up at the Philadelphia Congress, which on July 4 decided to cut all ties to the British Empire with the Declaration of Independence, which was essentially written by Thomas Jefferson. The following year, the Confederate Articles of Association, the first constitution of the United States, were presented, but it was not until 1781 that the last colony ratified the treaty.
The war, the War of Independence, with Britain became long and bloody. The American retaliation against British world power consisted of organizing the Continental Army under Washington’s command and in local militias or Home Guard, and as envoy to Paris, Benjamin Franklin secured significant economic and military support from France. After a scorching defeat in Yorktown, Virginia in 1781, the British Parliament decided to begin peace talks, which ended with the Paris Peace of 1783, in which Britain recognized the independence of the United States.
The constitutional struggle
Although the revolution did not have its origins in popular forces, it came to mobilize ordinary citizens to an unprecedented extent. The new group of leading revolutionary politicians discovered that many of the counters that separated citizens from politicians had been broken down. Respect for the authorities was undermined, and James Madison, a prominent Virginia politician, believed that the republic was threatened by democratic chaos.
|1||1789-97||George Washington (F)|
|2||1797-1801||John Adams (F)|
|3||1801-1809||Thomas Jefferson (A)|
|4||1809-1817||James Madison (A)|
|5||1817-1825||James Monroe (A)|
|6||1825-1829||John Quincy Adams (A)|
|7||1829-1837||Andrew Jackson (D)|
|8||1837-1841||Martin Van Buren (D)|
|9||1841||William Henry Harrison (W)|
|10||1841-1845||John Tyler (W)|
|11||1845-1849||James K. Polk (D)|
|12||1849-1850||Zachary Taylor (W)|
|13||1850-1853||Millard Fillmore (W)|
|14||1853-1857||Franklin Pierce (D)|
|15||1857-1861||James Buchanan (D)|
|16||1861-1865||Abraham Lincoln (R)|
|17||1865-1869||Andrew Johnson (R)|
|18||1869-1877||Ulysses S. Grant (R)|
|19||1877-1881||Rutherford B. Hayes (R)|
|20||1881||James A. Garfield (R)|
|21||1881-1885||Chester A. Arthur (R)|
|22||1885-1889||Grover Cleveland (D)|
|23||1889-1893||Benjamin Harrison (R)|
|24||1893-1897||Grover Cleveland (D)|
|25||1897-1901||William McKinley (R)|
|26||1901-1909||Theodore Roosevelt (R)|
|27||1909-1913||William Howard Taft (R)|
|28||1913-1921||Woodrow Wilson (D)|
|29||1921-1923||Warren G. Harding (R)|
|30||1923-1929||Calvin Coolidge (R)|
|31||1929-1933||Herbert Hoover (R)|
|32||1933-1945||Franklin D. Roosevelt (D)|
|33||1945-1953||Harry S. Truman (D)|
|34||1953-1961||Dwight D. Eisenhower (R)|
|35||1961-1963||John F. Kennedy (D)|
|36||1963-1969||Lyndon B. Johnson (D)|
|37||1969-1974||Richard M. Nixon (R)|
|38||1974-1977||Gerald Ford (R)|
|39||1977-1981||Jimmy Carter (D)|
|40||1981-1989||Ronald Reagan (R)|
|41||1989-1993||George Bush (R)|
|42||1993-2001||Bill Clinton (D)|
|43||2001-2009||George W. Bush (R)|
|44||2009-2017||Barack Obama (D)|
|45||2017-||Donald J. Trump (R)|
The Confederate articles did not describe the United States as a nation, but as a “friendship alliance” of independent states, each with extensive autonomy. The articles prescribed a legislative assembly that was to act as an executive at the same time. It had no independent tax authority and no authority to compel the individual state to comply with the decisions that had to be made by consensus. Economic difficulties after the end of the war caused the alliance to crack. A minor uprising of indebted farmers in Massachusetts (see Shay’s uprising) seemed to threaten political stability; in particular, among the affluent groups, there were fears that the legislative assemblies of individual states would experiment with legislation that could threaten private property rights. In 1787, a Philadelphia assembly was convened to strengthen the government. When the assembly finally became quorate, it decided on its own to abandon a constitutional revision and instead write a completely new draft constitution. Leading figures were James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, who had served as adjutant to Washington.
The draft constitution laid the foundations for a stronger central power, now modeled on the British model, with a lower house of elected representatives (House of Representatives) and an upper house (Senate), appointed by individual legislative assemblies. The executive power lay with a president, who was originally elected indirectly by electors in each state. Finally, a Supreme Court was created, the role of which was only defined over the coming decades. The unifying idea was to preserve the popular element, but at the same time split the “majority” so that it could not simultaneously control the entire government structure. The principle was the separation of powers through a threefold division of power, “checks and balances”, combined with the division of power between the federal government and the individual states.
The proposal triggered a constitutional struggle involving broad groups. Proponents of the new proposal called themselves federalists, while opponents who simply wanted a revision of the existing constitution came to be called anti-federalists. The essential problem of giving authority to the new constitution at the expense of the old constitution was solved by prescribing that the proposal should be adopted by the people themselves, namely, through elected assemblies in each state. Once nine states had adopted the proposal, it went into effect. It happened in 1788 with a narrow majority in crucial states like New York and Virginia. In April 1789, George Washington was installed as the first president of the United States. During the constitutional struggle, a promise was made for a special safeguard of the rights of individual states,Bill of Rights, which was added to the Constitution in 1791.
Alexander Hamilton came as Treasury Secretary in the Washington Government 1789-1797 to exert great influence on the shaping of the new political system in the wake of the constitutional struggle. Hamilton argued that a stronger state power could be built on an economic basis in the form of a common market, which would gradually create a comprehensive exchange of goods between states and regions. The federal government should concentrate on fostering prosperity, supporting the building of a national transportation system, encouraging regional specialization, securing new industry through tariff walls, and guaranteeing a stable monetary system through a central bank. Securing the value of money meant that the new state could from the beginning be supported by the most affluent groups.
The Early Republic, 1800-1830
The result was a state power which surprised European observers by its moderate office and in particular by the almost religious worship which was quickly attached to the “Constitution”, the early code word for state power. The American central power survived, not least because it made every effort not to come into conflict with the individual states. To replace the passionate debate of the revolution and the constitutional struggle, the Constitution turned the political discussion towards the practically feasible; questions that could be put in relation to economic advantages and disadvantages, ie. converted into dollars was easier to compromise. Even the issue of slavery was predominantly discussed in Congress not as a moral principle, but as a question of the inviolability of property rights.
It was thus economic rather than political vitality that came to characterize the republic. The experiences of the revolution, the discovery of popular political creativity, manifested themselves on the fringes of the political system, for example in the form of self-organized settler communities in the west, in the movement for the abolition of slavery, in numerous local reform movements, in the creation of peasant associations and in a labor movement from the 1820’s. until the Depression in the late 1830’s. In contrast, the political parties, which gained national character from the late 1820’s, quickly became part of the constitutional system.
The Democratic Party, organized by President Andrew Jackson 1829-1837, was loosely tied to principles such as local self-government, which had been taken over by the anti-federalists. The Federalists, who wanted a stronger central power, remained in the Whig Party, which was replaced by the Republican Party after an explosion as a result of the slavery issue.until 1854. Until slavery began to evoke irreconcilable passion in the Southern States in the 1850’s, organized politics in each state was a reflection of the balance of power between competing groups, who mastered the line-up procedure and could mobilize broad crowds on election day with party and colors, horn music and processions. . After the election, the victorious party was able to expand its position of power by supporting economic projects that came to shape the development of the individual states. Political influence could easily be translated into economic benefits, just as a position of economic power was seldom without secure access to political decisions when there was calm and peace after an election.
The Republic in Growing
The growth potential of the republic had many sources of energy that mutually influenced each other. A strong population increase was offset by huge land expansions, and a transport revolution was offset by a series of technical breakthroughs in early industry and by stronger regional specialization of agriculture. Compared to the old world, the United States stood as a dynamic society, a maelstrom of enterprise and with a population that was self-assured and without the social respect and reverence for established institutions that formed a central part of European political culture.
Behind the cliché about the United States as the land of opportunity hid a significant political insight. Politics in the United States was not about securing property rights, but about expanding it and using it as an instrument of government. While agricultural areas in the north and west have long maintained a more even social distribution, urban development and the steady growth of immigration meant a strong social polarization, often supported by ethnic prejudices. In the big cities that sprouted on the east coast and in the northwestern United States, large fortunes were created. One percent of the population is estimated to have owned half of the values in the cities approximately 1850. The vast majority of cities owned little or nothing. American democracy, however, was not stimulated by notions of redistribution of the goods of society, but by ideas of political ligation,
Where state power in Europe seemed to stand above civil society and suppress it, state power in America was at the disposal of civil society, ie. the strongest groups that could exert continuous influence. As late as the 1830’s, the Frenchman Alexis Tocqueville couldin enthusiastic terms describe local associations that worked for specific common purposes, eg bridge building or school teaching. From approximately By 1850, it was clear that the strongest political factor in the future would be organizations based on a lasting private purpose, namely economic accumulation of power. The new corporations, ie. large firms, such as the railways, could organize tens of thousands of workers over a vast area, the older, spontaneous, purpose-bound, and voluntary associations were far superior. The state that consolidated, therefore, often had a surprisingly private imprint.
Population growth was formidable by European standards. As a result of lower child mortality, longer life expectancy, and continued immigration, the population increased by up to 30 percent every decade; from approximately 4 mio. in 1790 to approximately 23 mio. in 1850 and approximately 76 million in 1900. In the first half of the 19th century, immigration was dominated by English, Irish and Germans. Scandinavian immigration to the Midwest picked up speed after 1862, when the Homestead Act offered free land; it was overtaken from the 1880’s by southern and eastern European immigration, which sought almost exclusively for the cities.
The United States of the Revolution was closely tied to the coastline in terms of transportation. The inner continent was opened in a series of phases. At the conclusion of the peace in Paris, the territory of the United States was expanded by approximately 70 percent, taking over the area south and west of the Great Lakes. The Louisiana Purchase of 1803, which doubled U.S. land, gave the United States control of the Mississippi River throughout its extent. A few years later, steam-powered riverboats made their entrance, and soon the entire north-south stretch, from the Great Lakes to New Orleans, was open as an alternative to coastal traffic. In 1825, the Eriekanalen was completed, which connected the Hudson River with Lake Erie; thereby, the United States was also bound together from east to west. Other canals followed, but were soon overtaken by the railway construction, which had an almost explosive growth, from just over a few hundred kilometers in 1833 to 20,000 km in 1850 and approximately 60,000 km in 1860. An area as large as Louisiana was conquered from Mexico 1845-1848, and at the same time the Oregon Territory was given in a treaty with Great Britain; in 1867 Alaska was acquired by a trade with the Russian emperor. In 1869, it succeeded in completing the railroad connection all the way across the American continent.
Internal colonization and civil war
An empire was created with modest European casualties. The bloodiest chapters dealt with internal colonization, which was about Indians and African Americans culminating in the American Civil War of 1861-65. From the beginning, the American tradition of war had the character of a people’s war, not between trained soldiers, but between sections of the population fighting for total social domination. Since colonial times, the form of struggle was often directed at the civilian population. During and after the revolution, approximately 60,000-80,000 loyalists displaced, and their property confiscated; the majority sought refuge in Canada.
The wars against the Indians were marked by long-term pressure on the eastern tribes, who were forced westward and therefore came in opposition to new Native American groups. Great cultural, linguistic and geographical spread between the many tribes and a mutual distrust, which could be sharpened by means of forced relocations, made an overall defense impossible. The Revolutionary War and the American-English War1812-14 involved a number of tribes on the British side and thus gave the expulsion of Indians a certain patriotic tinge. Andrew Jackson had gained a national reputation as an irreconcilable enemy of the Indians, and as president (1829-1837) he initiated ethnic cleansing of Indians in the Southern States. Relocations to inhospitable areas, scattered Native American ambushes, and subsequent massacres of Native American settlements continued during and after the Civil War, until the native population approximately 1900 was close to extinction.
The contrast with the indigenous people gave the white population a certain common character, while slavery by virtue of its concentration in the Southern States was able to threaten the life of the republic. First of all, the issue of slavery had to be encapsulated in mutual agreements. The Constitution of 1787 had secured the South the right to import slaves until 1808, and also had the Confederacy had an over-representation in the House of Representatives, as the slaves were counted in the census as 3/5 white. However, the hope that slavery would abolish itself as economically unprofitable was undermined by the invention of the cotton gin, a simple machine that could remove the seed pods from the cotton. American cotton production became the major supplier to the English textile industry. Slavery thus not only became a good business, but stabilized the culture and social structure of the Southern States and was supplemented in the 19th century by a comprehensive ideological defense, while plantation owners fantasized about imitating low-lying notions of honor and defending (white) women’s virtues.
Both territorial and economic expansion exacerbated the issue of slavery. The accession of new states threatened to upset the balance in the Senate between free states and slave states. In 1820, the so-called Missouri Compromise was concluded, which meant that a new free state had to be matched by the accession of a slave state. Slavery, in turn, could be ruled out in the territory north of an extended border between Missouri and Arkansas. The agreement came under pressure after the great conquests in the south and southwest of the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848. In addition, the transverse continental lines of the transportation system bound the Northern and Central States closer to the Western states and threatened to isolate the Southern States.
However, it was the federal Supreme Court that dropped a bomb during the Missouri compromise. The court declared in 1857 in the Dred Scott case that the constitution did not allow the restriction of the right to property (namely, to slaves) in territorial areas not yet occupied as states. The decision split the Democratic Party in the Northern States, so that the new Republican Party won the presidency in 1860. Even before Abraham Lincoln took office, South Carolina withdrew from the Union. A few months later, seven southern states formed the Confederate States of America with Jefferson Davis as president. Then the federal Fort Sumter in Charlestonsport was bombed by southern state troops, civil war broke out (see also American Civil War), and four more states, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas, joined the Confederacy.
The Civil War was waged by the Northern States as a struggle for the preservation of the Union and by the Southern States as a struggle for the right of individual states to self-determination. The war was closely followed in Europe and was seen as a battle between two social systems, an aristocratic and authoritarian system and a popular form of government based on the majority. Was loyalty to the “Constitution”, a political constitution with abstract ideas, capable of making ordinary citizens risk their lives? From the beginning, it looked as if the Northern States had to fight a war of aggression, while the Southern States could concentrate on defense. The picture changed with a series of defeats for Lincoln, who instead took advantage of the population and industrial superiority of the Northern States. The war became a social and economic struggle of exhaustion, which forced the Southern States to climb and attack to cover up internal divisions. When the Southern States offensive was repulsed byAntietam in 1862, Lincoln from 1863 could proclaim the liberation of slaves in the Southern States.
The release of the slaves and the adoption of the 14th Constitutional Amendment (1868), which gave African Americans equal political rights, did not solve the accumulated damage that centuries of slavery had inflicted on American society. After a few years of more radical attempts to restructure the social and political conditions in the South, however, the whole issue was driven out of federal politics and left to the individual Southern states, which from 1877 to the early 1890’s deprived blacks of the right to vote. The Supreme Court even accepted racial segregation as a principle in 1896 (see Plessy versus Ferguson case).
From union to world power, 1865-1920
The period was dominated by the Republican Party, which could claim to have saved the Union, liberated the slaves and ensured industrial progress. The Democratic Party became a regional party, which, however, transformed the Southern states into an area with a one-party system that could keep poor whites at bay by guaranteeing that blacks were without social and political influence. Federal government was essentially reduced to assisting the large corporations, corporations that built networks that, in scope and efficiency, came to overshadow the postal service, the only nationwide public organization.
The large corporations and trust formations such as John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil and JP Morgan’s US Steel Corporation already accounted for approximately 1900 for approximately half of industrial production. They controlled a large proportion of the smaller suppliers and performed many functions that were governmental in Europe: the disciplined workers, trained immigrants, controlled the local wage level, created welfare systems for the employees and expanded the higher education system with special emphasis on science and technology. Financial capital ensured on several occasions the economic stability through rapid intervention in economic crises. When the Danish journalist Henrik Cavling visited the United States shortly before the turn of the century, it struck him that the president sat rather isolated inThe White House with a few individual secretaries; he had plenty of time to talk. The first man in the steel industry, Andrew Carnegie, on the other hand, was speeding up and surrounded himself with the symbols of power and authority that belonged to a prince. By virtue of its wealth and influence, Carnegie was able to pursue an independent cultural policy, which laid the foundation for the public libraries.
Popular politics found expression on the edge of the state system through a series of movements whose energy was sought to be contained by the parties. The most important were the populist movement, the workers’ movement and the progressive movement. The populists originated in cooperative movements in the Southern and Midwest in the 1880’s. They formed a People’s Party, which demanded regulation of the corporations, political control of the financial capital and direct election of the senators. In 1896, the party supported Democratic candidate William Jennings Bryan, who lost the election, but populist ideas played a role in federal politics until World War I. The American labor movement formed the 1886 AFL, American Federation of Labor, which organized skilled workers. But many unskilled people, supported by large immigrant groups, organized themselves more militantly, and the 1890’s were marked by bloody labor struggles. The Socialist Party of America, led by Eugene Debs, became a factor in American urban politics until World War I. The progressive movement, which is particularly associated with the Republican Theodore Roosevelt (President 1901-1909) and the Democrat Woodrow Wilson(President 1913-1921), had its roots among more affluent farmers and in the middle class of the cities, among functionaries and among the higher educated. The movement took over part of the populist program, but wanted to build administration and politics on the new political science rather than on popular currents. Many progressives moved towards a modern social liberalism.
The progressive movement placed its trust in a continuous and competent bureaucracy combined with a stronger foreign policy marking of US interests. Ever since the days of George Washington, the United States had espoused an principle of isolation, but had nevertheless become involved in the European Napoleonic Wars as an opponent of Britain. Until about 1900, the Monroe Doctrine of 1823 was hailed. This doctrine marked distance from the European great power rivalry, but at the same time maintained the Western Hemisphere as an American sphere of influence. It was not until 1898 that this principle was broken in the Spanish-American War, which gave the United States control of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines., where the United States soon found itself in a bloody showdown with Philippine nationalism. With numerous interventions in the Caribbean, including the purchase of the Panama Canal project in 1903 and its completion in 1914, the United States now marked itself as an international superpower. Although President Woodrow Wilson tried to keep the United States neutral during World War I, widespread sympathy for the Allies soon brought the United States into hostile relations with Germany. The United States’ entry into the war on April 2, 1917, and the rapid equipment and shipment of significant troop forces had a decisive influence on the outcome of the war. After the war, Wilson was a unifying figure at the Versailles Conference, and his proposal for the formation of the League of Nations was adopted.
The post-war period, 1920-1929
Participation in World War I gave a foretaste of America’s international impact. However, the Senate rejected the Treaty of Versailles, in particular President Woodrow Wilson’s proposal for a League of Nations, which would oblige the United States to guarantee the borders of the peace treaty. It was thus clear that the US Constitution was not suitable for a comprehensive and permanent foreign policy engagement. The composition of the Congress reflected local circumstances, which could hardly be reconciled in a long-term policy once the first patriotic intoxication of enthusiasm had subsided. The question, therefore, was whether the Constitution was flexible enough to accommodate a new, strong presidency with control over foreign policy.
The main headline of 1920’s politics was nostalgic, a demand to return to normalcy, Back to normalcy. After a few years, it turned out to have an ironic tone, because the government apparatus was shaken by a series of corruption scandals, which were to become a recurring pattern towards the end of the century. In fact, the normal had been given new and wide limits. Normality in the intense competition of the 20th century for the exploitation of organizational and technological resources became identical with a state power in a continuous crisis and war preparedness. Gradually, the constitutional interpretation changed. The primary purpose of the Constitution was no longer to set limits on governmental power, but to ensure the conditions for effective decisions.
Depression and the New Deal, 1929-1941
The stock market crash on Wall Street in October 1929 halved the value of the leading stocks. A few years later, the value had dropped to a quarter. There followed an endless reduction in production and an unemployment rate of about a quarter of the workforce. Wages were halved. For the time being, the crisis was peculiar because it apparently did not spring from scarcity, but from surplus production. Unlike Europe, where the rulers for centuries had preached austerity and scarcity to the many, the American elite had since 1789 built its political special position on continued economic prosperity for broad groups. From here were only the blacks, where economic hopelessness had been the lot of life for generations. Therefore, there were no public support schemes that could mitigate some of the financial shock.
In the 1932 election, Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt won, a patrician from one of New York’s oldest families, over Republican Herbert Hoover, who was made responsible for the sorrow that was spreading among the population. In 1921, Roosevelt had interrupted his political career due to polio. At his inauguration in the midst of a banking crisis that threatened to destroy the entire financial system, he stated: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. The next day he declared a kind of financial emergency and closed the banks on his own. With a typical stroke of indomitable optimism, it was called “banking holiday” with an assurance that healthy banks would reopen soon. When it happened a little over a week later, confidence in the system was restored and deposits exceeded account closures. In the following years, a number of reforms followed, including a federal guarantee for ordinary small savers. Here, as in many other legislative matters, Roosevelt emerged as the one who provided the average American with the same federal privileges that one of the fathers of the Constitution, Alexander Hamilton, had once secured for the upper class, who in the following years referred to Roosevelt as “the person in The White House “, while ordinary people called him FDR.
The collective term for the reforms was New Deal. The political message was that most Americans at least had a share in government power – not in a divided legislature or conservative Supreme Court, but rather in the presidency. Roosevelt did not encourage democratic rethinking, but his example transformed the presidency into a kind of popularly elected kingdom. The FDR was elected president four times in a row. In the following years, he expanded the administrative apparatus, coordinated federal regulatory bodies, and built welfare functions into economic policy. In the years leading up to and during World War II, military functions expanded.
From March to June 1933, the first hundred days, Congress passed everything Roosevelt proposed, almost without debate. In addition to a wide range of emergency assistance programs that met immediate needs, legislation was created that helped ordinary homeowners who were in need of the term. The Tennessee Valley Authority was a large-scale embankment and electrification project under federal control, followed in 1935 by federal technical assistance to small farms in the form of cheap electricity. Public Works was created millions of unemployed, and a forest improvement program dedicated 2 1/2mio. young men for extended periods. Later followed a labor market pension, which laid the foundation for the American welfare state. Two programs were to prove particularly controversial because they involved the federal state directly in the decision-making processes of capitalism. One was the AAA (Agricultural Adjustment Administration), which was to limit overproduction and thus counteract falling prices in agriculture, the other was the NRA (National Recovery Administration), which was to try the same in industrial production and at the same time ensure the workers’ right to collective agreements. Both programs quickly proved to be of greatest benefit to the better-off farms and the strongest corporations. However, the Conservative Supreme Court declared them unconstitutional in 1935 before the administrative failure was clear.
In the 1936 election, Roosevelt thus faced a more united opposition from the right. But his popular support was also threatened by a number of movements that, with flourishing rhetoric and simple proposals, sought to exploit the new means of political communication, radio, which the FDR itself mastered with its fireplace passers-by. However, it succeeded in securing the support of the trade union movement through the Wagner Act (see National Labor Relations Board)), which guaranteed collective bargaining rights. Following his re-election, which brought together farmers, workers and ethnic groups, including African-American voters in the North States behind the Democratic Party, Roosevelt sought to neutralize the Supreme Court by proposing an increase in the number of judges. Simultaneously with a severe economic downturn, this brought him into strong headwinds in Congress. Within a short time, however, a number of judges withdrew, and in the following years Roosevelt gave the Supreme Court a liberal composition. New Deal’s economic policy, however, was not secured by Congress or by the Supreme Court, but by the rising foreign policy tensions that necessitated a vigorous rearmament in the late 1930’s.
New Deal in War
Strong isolationist currents in Congress limited Roosevelt’s foreign policy to reciprocal trade agreements, and it was not until October 1937 that he began to shape public opinion by warning against the dictators of Germany and Italy. After the outbreak of war in Europe, in March 1941 he secured the Western powers the opportunity to borrow or rent American weapons (see Lend-Lease Act). The Japanese expansion in China and Indochina weakened the domestic isolationists and enabled an oil blockade against Japan. On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked the U.S. Navy at anchor in Pearl Harborin Hawaii. When Hitler declared war on the United States immediately after, Roosevelt stood with the best opportunities to unite the nation and give the fight against the most dangerous opponent, Germany, a strategic first priority.
The rapid mobilization of America’s enormous resources changed the political landscape in Washington, DC. retrieved from the executive offices of the large groups. The result was a gigantic planned economy experiment that tied the military and large-scale industry together as the state’s power base. Large federal investments in science and technology, eg in the development of nuclear weapons, marked a new role for scientific education and research under the auspices of the government. The organized trade union movement became a reluctant co-player, who soon found himself outmaneuvered with orders for wage restraint and the abolition of the right to strike.
The equipment of approximately 15 mio. soldiers created entirely new industries and great demand for labor. Two groups, women and African American workers, who had played a marginal role in the New Deal programs in the 1930’s, now gained a foothold in the labor market. approximately 1.2 million black farm workers flocked from the South to the industrial centers of the northeastern and western United States, and under threat of launching a March to Washingtonthey enforced a ban on racial discrimination in industries that worked for the government. Just over 900,000 blacks came during the war in uniform and began to be confronted with ingrained discrimination in the armed forces. The federal bureaucracy tripled to 3.4 million. salaried employees. At the same time, however, the political balance in Congress swung to the right, and Roosevelt won a more modest election victory in 1944.
The United States waged World War II as an industrial war of attrition that, through extensive bombardment of areas behind the front, was to weaken opponents’ production capacity and supply lines. This strategy, which can be traced back to the American Civil War (1861-1865), inflicted heavy losses on the German and Japanese civilian populations before the land troops were deployed. American troops landed in Morocco in November 1942, in Sicily in July 1943, and General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Roosevelt’s favorite general, led the Invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. The Japanese connecting lines by sea were far more vulnerable to attack than the European railway network, and after the Japanese advance had stopped at the Battle of Midwayin 1942, the U.S. Navy secured in combat from island to island in the western Pacific a number of airfields from which the Japanese mainland could soon be bombed. The technological superiority of the United States forced Japan to surrender after the use of two atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively. August 6 and 9, 1945.
Roosevelt’s successors, 1945-1968
Roosevelt’s death in April 1945 gave Vice President Harry S. Truman the enormous responsibility of ending a war effort with which he had only limited experience. Already at the Potsdam Conference in July and August 1945, it was clear that confrontation rather than cooperation would shape post-war relations with the USSR. The concept of the Cold War became a common term for containment, i.e. a political containment of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe and after 1949 of China. The tense situation narrowed the gap between the two major parties, the Democrats and the Republicans. New Deals’ combination of regulation, welfare, and military readiness to pursue global security interests required strong federal state power. Both Truman’s presidency 1945-1953 and the Republican, former General Eisenhowers (1953-1961) consolidated the framework laid out by Roosevelt. Presidents John F. Kennedy (1961-1963) and Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969) each sought in their own way to expand the New Deal framework.
Roosevelt’s plan for a supranational organization, the United Nations, which combined a General Assembly of private nations with a strong executive consisting of great powers (the Security Council), was quickly weakened by the ideological and military confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union. With the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan, which promised military and economic support to European countries considered threatened by the USSR, Truman and later Eisenhower sought to pursue Roosevelt’s plans in an alternative form. Without leaving the UN, the United States built a number of military organizations, NATO (1949) for Western Europe, SEATO(1954-1977) for Southeast Asia and the OAS (1948) for states in North, South and Central America, alliances that were essentially under the control of the President. These alliances, which committed the United States to security policy guarantees for large parts of the globe, were combined with the breaking down of trade barriers and guarantees for US corporations. The policy of containment united the free world under the military, economic, and ideological leadership of the United States.
The construction of a foreign policy treaty system, dominated by the presidency with its unifying diplomatic and military functions, had far-reaching consequences for the traditional federal state and its relations with the Länder. The southern states, which maintained sharp racial segregation, backed by intimidation and terror, became an obvious burden for a superpower that fought for human rights and freedom elsewhere in the world. A number of cultural and social norms kept the region in economic stagnation. Here, the Federal Supreme Court, rather than the President or Congress, where the Southern states could systematically block racial legislation, came to play a crucial role. Preliminary steps for racial integration were taken during World War II and followed by Truman’s integration of the armed forces.
Under the chairmanship of Earl Warren, Eisenhower’s newly appointed Supreme Court president, the court declared in 1954 that racial segregation in the school system was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court ordered the presidency, if necessary, by force to enforce profound changes in the Southern States. The legal basis for this overthrow of the federal system was a change in the understanding of the first ten constitutional amendments in the light of the 14th Constitutional Amendment, which after the Civil War guaranteed all citizens regardless of race equal legal conditions and equal political conditions. The Federal Constitution thus became the protection of citizens against discrimination in the Länder. The Supreme Court’s protection of the individual was extended in several directions, eg to legal certainty for the accused (Miranda vs. Arizona, 1966, see Miranda warning), the prohibition of prayer in public schools (1963) and the right of women to abortion (Roe vs. Wade, 1973) as an extension of the right to privacy (Griswold vs. Connecticut, 1965).
The New Deal experience of a broader popular reform program, which was partially overridden by military mobilization, was repeated twice. Truman’s domestic policy program, the Fair Deal, which was to ensure full employment, public health insurance and greater federal aid for school and education, was overthrown by the Korean War (1950-1953). Eisenhower’s successor, President John F. Kennedy (1961-1963) of the Democratic Party, launched the New Frontier, which had both a domestic and a foreign policy side. The United States supported a failed counter-revolution in Cuba, later the confrontation with the USSR followed during the Cuba crisis, and finally began a space race that in 1969 brought the first man to the Moon. Following the assassination of Kennedy in 1963, President Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969) launched the Great Society program, which initiated significant expansions of the New Deal framework for social policy, including health care reform for the elderly and a war on poverty, along with equal rights legislation, which finally opened the polling stations in the South for African American citizens. However, Johnson’s social reform programs were soon politically engulfed and economically exploited by the Vietnam War (1964-1975).
Against this background, new political movements emerged on the fringes of or outside the political party system. The labor movement, which had played an active role in the 1930’s, was stifled by the Taft-Hartley Labor Relations Act (1947), which introduced federal regulation of the labor movement. The two movements that had the greatest impact were based on protest rather than reform. They came from the least favored group, namely black Americans, and from the most favored group, young students, who, by virtue of the technologicalization and economic development of society, were destined to occupy privileged positions as middle leaders in the new world power.
There was a significant correlation between the two movements. Many students who in 1964 demonstrated for Free speech at Berkeley University in San Francisco had participated in the work to combat racial oppression in the Southern States. Students who staged sit-in strikes in protest of the Vietnam War had learned from black college students who, in 1960 in Greensboro, North Carolina, had refused to move from the cafeteria counter before being served. The whole form of action, civil disobedience, whose idea was openly challenging power and authorities in the name of political rights, was inspired by black culture of resistance, whose best-known advocate was Martin Luther King. The protest movements reflected a democratization that recalled the revolution’s struggle against British state power. Protest was a project that opened the political space for new actors, new forms of action and new ways of experiencing politics.
The State System in Crisis, 1968-1980
1968 came to stand as a dramatic opposite to 1929. Where the economic collapse of 1929 triggered a political crisis, the crisis of 1968 was triggered by a military foreplay, a large-scale attack on U.S. bases throughout South Vietnam. The attack, which was largely filmed and televised worldwide, turned World War II image coverage upside down. Ordinary American soldiers no longer appeared as liberators, but as oppressors in a distant land with a foreign culture that fought with deathly contempt for the enormous technological superiority of the United States.
The entire military-industrial and high-tech complex and its close connection with the universities, for example through research projects and the recruitment of reserve officers, were drawn into the political critique of the Vietnam War. African-American relations were also linked to US repression of third-world national self-determination. Massive riots at many universities were followed by bloody ghetto uprisings when Martin Luther King was assassinated on April 4, 1968. Shortly afterwards, Robert F. Kennedy, who was critical of a continuation of the Vietnam War, was assassinated like his brother five years earlier. During the Democratic Party convention in Chicago, a police showdown with protesters in the streets was broadcast alongside clips from the congressional hearings.
The election brought Republican Former Vice President Richard M. Nixon to power. Nixon, along with California Gov. Ronald Reagan, realized that the polarization of American politics could be used to consolidate control of the Southern States and to cut into the workers’ voices in the cities of the Northern States. The government sought an active policy of confrontation with the students of the higher education institutions, who in the spring of 1970 protested against the expansion of the Vietnam War with invasion of Cambodia and in 1971 with the invasion of Laos.
1968-1980 was the crisis year of the presidency, marked by a systematic popular humiliation of incumbent presidents. Since the days of Franklin D. Roosevelt, a sitting president had seemed certain of re-election. Johnson, however, was forced to give up defending his Vietnam policy in 1968. Nixon was re-elected by a large majority in 1972, but had already compromised deeply during the election campaign. In August 1974, he resigned after the extensive Watergate case that exposed political corruption and cynicism in the White House of unprecedented proportions. Nixon’s successor, Gerald Ford, was ousted by voters in 1976, and Democrat Jimmy Carter was humiliated in 1980 by Republican Ronald Reagan., a pattern that could be interpreted as a ritual sacrifice of the republic’s highest symbol of power. In addition, there was a large trade deficit, high inflation, unemployment of up to 10 percent, rising social spending and a large budget deficit. A nuclear accident on Three Mile Island called into question the entire high-tech apparatus, a humiliating hostage affair in Tehran that stretched from November 1979 to January 1981 created uncertainty among conservatives as to whether the United States had the political backbone to meet its international obligations.
The Reagan Revolution, 1981-1989
The crisis was presented systematically and urgently through the media as a matter of saving not democracy, not even a popular form of government, but an active state. Republican Ronald Reagan led his election campaign in 1980 as a matter of relieving the state of the many obligations imposed on it by welfare programs, labor market regulation, and environmental legislation. The economic problems were due to over-taxation and public spending. Reagan argued that a stronger state power could be built on free initiative and a government kept on short leash. “The government,” he argued, “is not part of the solution, but part of the problem” for the United States.
With this, Reagan and his successor, George Bush, introduced a new form of conservatism that quickly gained ground not only in the Republican and Democratic Party, but also in the news media that brought together the political news media in the 1980’s and 1990’s and – interpretation on fewer and fewer hands. Historically, conservatism had been skeptical of dramatic societal changes that threatened inherited privileges, religious beliefs, habits, and reverence for established institutions; reaganism proved capable of combining nostalgic references to a pre-industrial America with a confession to intensive and capital-intensive technological change processes.
In both domestic and foreign policy, it looked as if the state was in the process of strengthening its power of action by electing new allies, such as the higher income groups instead of the lower ones, business leaders instead of trade unions and technological progress instead of broad education reforms.. A new federalism aimed to leave many social programs to the individual states while linking large corporations and strong national interest groups closer to the state. The outward symbol of this was the creation of thousands of representations and lobbying firms in Washington, DC The purpose of this was to put influential firms and groups in more personal contact with government officials and members of Congress. Where the liberal culture of the United States had previously placed the emphasis on open and publicfor action, the new practice can be described as an increasing confidence in during action in informal networks, possibly. supplemented with the support of PR agencies, which proved able to raise waves in the opinion polls. Rules for supporting parties and candidates were changed in 1974 due to the illegalities of the Nixon administration. The new rules enabled a more systematic and cash investment in election campaigns. In reality, therefore, it was not necessarily the state power that chose new allies, but the strongest and best organized groups in civil society that chose a new state.
Such a pattern could also be observed in US foreign policy, where rebuilding military prestige and capabilities became a major concern after the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. The Reagan administration, like Nixon, was prepared to cut ties with burdensome client states. The decision to send troops to Lebanon in 1983 to stabilize the situation was quickly reversed after a terrorist attack that killed 260 marines. Instead, an overwhelming force was sent to Grenada, a small Caribbean island whose government was suspected of being under Cuban influence. As made clear during the Iran-contra affair, a key word for foreign policy planning was now credible deniability, the ability to credibly deny a secret effort in violation of public statements and public law. The simple ideological confrontation between freedom and tyranny that had been a major theme during the Cold War was being replaced by far more complex and conflicting considerations.
The dissolution of the Soviet Union further strengthened the role of the military. Reagan’s successor, President George Bush (1989-1993), intervened in Panama in 1989, and the 1991 Gulf War underscored the United States’ ability to unite both European and Arab countries against Iraq, which had invaded the oil-rich Kuwait in 1990. The result was a triumph for high-tech warfare. Despite the victory over Iraq, Bush lost the 1992 election to the Democratic governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton, who made the Bush years’ weakening of the economy the main theme of the election. The election result did not reflect a shift in the political climate, but, as in 1912, the presence of a third candidate, the independent H. Ross Perot, which secured 19 percent of the vote, most presumably sourced from the Republican Party. Clinton was a new Democrat who had both media coverage and an organization that had learned a lot from Republicans’ use of new election campaign techniques, media control (spin) and campaign fundraising among business interests. Clinton himself and his vice president, Al Gore, stood politically close to the heaviest interest groups, while Clinton’s wife, Hillary Clinton, marked a closer connection to grassroots movements and organized minority groups with roots back in the 1960’s.
|ca. 60,000-35,000 fvt||the ancestors of the Indians immigrated from Northeast Asia|
|approx. 700 fvt-500 evt||Adena and Hopewell cultures prevalent in eastern and midwestern North America|
|approx. 300 fvt-1350 evt||The Hohokam culture in the southwest is developing an irrigation farm; The Mogollon culture prevalent in the mountainous region of present-day New Mexico and Arizona|
|approx. 100 fvt-1300 evt||Anasazikulturen; agricultural culture and later urban culture in southwestern North America; hopi and the pueblo indians are considered their descendants today|
|approx. 1000||Leif the Happy arrives from Greenland to Newfoundland|
|1500’s||Spain establishes itself in Mexico and Central America|
|17th century||the southwestern parts of North America come under Spanish rule; English and French colonization in the eastern part of North America|
|1607||in Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent British colony is established in North America|
|1754-1763||The Franco-Indian War; British rule in North America expanded with the French colonies east of the Mississippi and Canada|
|1775-1783||The American Revolution; Britain recognized the independence of the United States at the Peace of Paris in 1783|
|1776||declaration of independence of the 13 British colonies; the following year, the Confederate Articles, the first constitution of the United States, are drafted|
|1789||the current constitution is created; George Washington is installed as the first president of the United States|
|1791||The Bill of Rights is added to the Constitution|
|1803||with the Louisiana purchase from France, US territory doubled|
|1804||slavery is abolished in the Northern States|
|1812-1814||The American-English War|
|1819||The United States buys Florida from Spain|
|1820||The Missouri compromise is adopted|
|1823||The monroe doctrine is formulated; The United States declares North and South America its sphere of influence|
|1845||Texas is incorporated as the 28th state|
|1846-1848||The Mexican-American War; Mexico cedes California, Arizona and Nevada and most of New Mexico to the United States|
|1861-1865||The American Civil War; 1863 Lincoln proclaims the release of slaves in the Southern States; Lincoln was assassinated in 1865|
|1862||The Homestead Act is passed|
|1867||The United States buys Alaska from Russia|
|1898||The Spanish-American War; The United States acquires the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico; Cuba comes under US domination|
|1900||Hawaii becomes American territory|
|1917||The USA buys the Danish West Indies for DKK 25 million. dollars; The United States enters World War I.|
|1929||the stock market crash usher in the depression of the 1930’s|
|1933||The New Deal reform program is launched|
|1941||The Lend-Lease Act is adopted; The United States renounces its neutrality; The United States enters World War II after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7|
|1945||US atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki; The United States becomes a founding member of the United Nations|
|1947||The Truman doctrine is formulated; The Marshall Plan is published as an economic reconstruction program for Europe|
|1949||The United States is participating in the creation of NATO|
|1950-1953||Korean War; The United States is formally leading the UN operation against North Korea|
|1954||The Supreme Court declares racial segregation in the school system unconstitutional|
|1962||The Cuban Missile Crisis|
|1963||on November 22, John F. Kennedy is shot in Dallas, Texas|
|1964||The Great Society Reform Program Launches; The United States launches hostilities in Vietnam following the Tonkin Bay Resolution|
|1968||Martin Luther King is shot on April 4 in Memphis, Tennessee; on June 5, Robert Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles|
|1969||The United States completes its first manned lunar landing|
|1970-1971||The United States expands the Vietnam War by invading Cambodia and Laos|
|1973||for the United States, the Vietnam War ends in January with the peace agreement in Paris; two months later, the last American soldier leaves Vietnam|
|1974||President Richard M. Nixon resigns as a result of the Watergate scandal|
|1983||The United States invades Grenada|
|1986||The Iran-contra affair|
|1987||The United States and the Soviet Union sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty|
|1989||The United States invades Panama|
|1991||The United States is leading the international forces in the Gulf War|
|1998||President Bill Clinton is acquitted in the federal lawsuit against him|
|1999||The United States is taking part in the NATO bombing of Kosovo|
|2000||In the presidential election on November 7, 2000, for the first time since 1888, a president was nominated, Republican George W. Bush, who had received fewer votes than his opponent, Democrat Al Gore. The reason for this was the United States’ special electoral system|
|2001||terrorist attacks on September 11 at the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, DC. A US-led coalition attacks Afghanistan and forces the Taliban regime out of power|
|2003||The United States is invading Iraq|
|2008||Barack Obama is the first African-American to win a US presidential election|
|2010||the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) health reform is implemented|
|2016||building king and reality TV star Donald Trump wins presidential election|
Clinton was also a strong presidential candidate in 1996, but as head of government, he often confused traditional Democratic electorate with his attacks on welfare legislation, while welding his opponents together. Led by the religious Republican right, Clinton was portrayed as a diabolical symbol of immorality and pleasure-seeking, an embodiment of the 1960’s in which the people had betrayed state power. Clinton’s opponents even found it difficult to forgive him for his long and steady economic progress, which coincided with the economic downturn of economic competitors such as Germany and Japan. Unemployment fell sharply, and for the first time in a generation, it led to a surplus in the state budget and the settlement of the huge government debt that had been accumulated under Reagan.
Clinton’s presidency convincingly demonstrated that the state power planned by Nixon, introduced by Reagan and consolidated by Bush, could now also exist under a Democratic president. Clinton pursued a foreign policy that continued a high level of preparedness and large investments in new military technology. He continued the bombing of Iraq and hesitated to involve US troops in long-term engagements. He quickly withdrew from Somalia in 1993, but expanded NATO and tied US troops in Bosnia in 1996 and Kosovo in 1999.
Domestic policy was marked by bitterness that was even capable of paralyzing government. Clinton’s most important reform plan was a proposal for health insurance that would guarantee medical care to all citizens by combining private health insurance with federal price controls. Although the major insurance companies initially supported the idea, a counter-agitation soon began, which animated Republican core interests. The result was a humiliating defeat, recorded in the 1994 midterm elections, when Republicans gained a majority in both houses of Congress through a comprehensive privatization program, Contract with America.
The second episode followed around the turn of the year 1995. The Republican majority, disciplined by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich (b. 1943), felt strong enough to refuse the adoption of the 1996 state budget, an unprecedented event. Gingrich proclaimed a temporary closure of the government, a telling contrast to Franklin Roosevelt’s bank holiday some 60 years earlier. Budget balance became a conservative watchword for cutting public social benefits that the New Deal had institutionalized.
The third paralysis took the form of interrogation by the president for lying about his relationship with a secretary, Monica Lewinsky (b. 1973). The case, which predictably ended with the president’s acquittal, took place shortly after the 1998 midterm elections, when Republicans, despite minor setbacks, retained the majority in Congress. All three events, however, went far beyond party political screenings. They were led by a Republican right wing that described itself as a revolution aimed at the New Deal policy’s involvement of broad groups – the poor, minorities and education seekers.
The new state, whose main pillars were a competitive economy, a strong military and a centralized media structure, stood at the turn of the millennium with undisputed global leadership. The United States rightly saw itself as the most important defender of liberal governance in the 20th century and a free market against totalitarian regimes. However, the new basis of power did not hold much room for popular participation, and the representative political system changed from election campaigns with intensive use of cheap or voluntary labor to capital-intensive media campaigns. Despite easier access to election registration and despite large investments in television ads in the 1990’s, only approximately half of the voters it worthwhile to participate in the presidential election, and just over 1/3 to participate in the midterm elections.
Terror and war
Though despised and demonized by his political opponents, after eight years in the presidency, Bill Clinton was able to leave the White House with good opinion polls. The successor, George W. Bush, who in one of the most controversial elections in American history had defeated Clinton’s vice president, Al Gore, had presented himself to voters as a center-right Republican politician. However, it soon became apparent that the new president was ideologically on the right wing of his party. Bush put together a government dominated by former directors, several of whom – like the president himself – came from the oil industry. Extensive tax cuts, increased energy supply, easing of environmental legislation and other state control of business and a school reform were at the top of the domestic policy agenda, while the construction of a so-called missile shield, SDI, and a restriction of US international obligations dominated the government’s foreign policy. The latter objective manifested itself in rejection of a number of international conventions on climate and arms control. As relations with a number of traditional allies, including the other NATO countries, became more tense, the United States forged stronger ties with new strategic partners, primarily Russia. Following a unilateral US denunciation of the ABM Treaty in December 2001, the Presidents of the two countries agreed in May 2002 on a major reduction in nuclear arsenals.
On September 11, 2001, the United States was hit by the world’s bloodiest terrorist act to date. It suddenly changed the political agenda in the United States. The Bush administration now made the fight against international terrorism and the strengthening of national security its main political objectives. The defense budget, which was originally supposed to have been cut, was instead greatly increased. The military part of the fight against terrorism began the following month, when the United States, along with a number of allies, attacked targets in Afghanistan, where the fundamentalist Taliban regime housed the al-Qaeda network. See also Afghanistan.
Following the defeat of the Taliban regime, the US government turned its attention to Iraq, which it accused of continuing to manufacture weapons of mass destruction and complicity in terrorism. The attempt to create broad international support for a possible military attacks on the country did not succeed, however, although a number of countries, including Britain, Spain, Poland and Denmark, backed the hard US line against Iraq and the possibility of a US-British attack.
The revelations of serious negligence on the part of the FBI and the CIA leading up to the terrorist attack contributed to President Bush in the summer of 2002 presenting plans for the largest restructuring of the federal bureaucracy since the beginning of the Cold War. A large number of public authorities with approximately 170,000 employees would in future work under a new Ministry of Security, Department of Homeland Security. However, this did not apply to the CIA and the FBI, which should have increased powers of surveillance and interception.
The post-2001 economic recession and the financial scandals of some of the country’s largest companies were supplemented in the public debate by cases from President and Vice President Dick Cheney’s past as business leaders. Although President Bush in the summer of 2002 continued to have strong support in the polls, the economic downturn and a heated debate about ethics among the leaders of the major US corporations began to erode popularity.
After a very active effort by President Bush, in November 2002, his party, the Republican Party, succeeded in winning a majority in both houses of Congress. The US economy remained weak, which would normally call for a decline in the president’s party, but the “war on terror” remained the dominant theme on the political agenda, and George W. Bush effectively used his status as “war president” for to strengthen his party. The conquest of Congress, in turn, paved the way for the president’s conservative reforms, including several major tax cuts.
In foreign policy, the desire to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq remained a key goal of the Bush administration. Despite serious divisions between the United States and a number of its traditional allies in Europe, and despite a lack of mandate from the UN Security Council, US-led forces attacked Iraq on March 20, 2003. On May 1, the president declared the actual fighting over.
However, securing peace in Iraq should prove far more difficult. The ensuing chaos, continued American losses, and the fact that no weapons of mass destruction were found in the country gradually undermined support for the war among the American people. Three years later, there were still about 150,000 American soldiers in Iraq, the violence had not yet subsided, and the danger of a real civil war between the country’s various ethnic and religious groups was imminent.
When the Americans went to the presidential election in November 2004, the political fronts had been pulled up hard. President Bush’s Democratic counterpart was Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts. Questions about the role of religion in political life, the country’s economic course, environmental issues, and not least the role and reputation of the United States in the international community, gave both the major parties and their voters a sense that much was at stake. Never before have so many Americans voted in an election.
In the end, the dominant questions about the conduct of national security President George W. Bush secured a narrow victory and thus four more years in the White House. He saw the victory as a mandate for a number of major domestic policy reforms, first and foremost a partial privatization of the National Pension (Social Security). Opposition to this reform, however, proved to be massive. The defeat was the beginning of a long period of burdensome political cases, including abuse of office among some of the president’s closest associates and the NSA’s intelligence services.illegal wiretapping of US citizens. At the same time, President Bush had to see a steadily declining curve in his polls. Among the events that eroded the popularity the most was the federal authorities’ fumbling handling of the violent consequences of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.
In the autumn of 2008, it became clear that the United States was also in a serious economic crisis. Falling house prices and bad loans led to a financial crisis, in which several of the big banks on Wall Street succumbed and the state had to step in with a subsidy of 700 billion. dollars to save the banking sector. Many companies went bankrupt and unemployment began to rise sharply. Serious questions have been asked about the economic policy pursued so far. The crisis intensified dissatisfaction with the Bush administration, and in the November 2008 election, Democratic candidate Barack Obama won convincingly over Republican candidate John McCain.. Obama thus became the first African American to win a US presidential election. At his inauguration in January 2008, Obama faced colossal challenges: two unfinished wars and the most serious economic crisis since World War II.
The Obama years
After his inauguration, President Obama passed legislation that would further stimulate the troubled US economy and save jobs, among other things. in the hard-pressed car industry. Here alone, public loans (all of which were later repaid) managed to save about 1.5 million jobs. However, getting the US economy back on track was a long tough move. By the time of Obama’s inauguration, the United States had lost about 800,000 jobs a month, and by the time this negative spiral was reversed, about 8 million Americans had lost their jobs. Many also had to see their savings shrink, and millions had to admit that their house was worth less than the debt they had in it. Therefore, it also aroused particular anger among many that the financial sector, where the crisis had begun, got out of it the fastest with the help of the federal government. As developments reversed, the United States experienced 83 months of uninterrupted economic growth under President Obama. It was the longest period of growth so far in the history of the nation, although growth was modest. For the majority of Americans, it was not until the last few years of Obama’s tenure that their real wages rose sharply again.
The Obama years were – as in previous years – marked by a strong political polarization. Despite President Obama expressing a desire to bring the parties together, the Republican opposition became rather radicalized after his inauguration. A particularly marked new phenomenon on the right wing was the so-called Tea Party movement, who protested against what it considered excessive state interference in the economy. The movement went especially after center-right Republicans in Congress, thus helping to push the party further to the right. One of the consequences was a series of confrontations between the president and Republicans in Congress that refused to raise the so-called debt ceiling so that the United States could pay its creditors unless they in turn received sharp cuts in a number of public spending. This unusual political gambling because of money that Congress itself had granted and used resulted, among other things, in downgrading the creditworthiness of the United States.
Despite the Republican leader in the Senate declaring that his primary political goal was to prevent President Obama’s re-election, he nevertheless defeated Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in November 2012. However, the battle between the president and the Republican opposition in Congress continued unabated.. In October 2013, the federal government had to partially shut down for nearly two weeks when Republicans refused to raise the debt ceiling and allocate funds for its continued operation. However, the blackmail of the president failed, and Republicans subsequently had to accept some tax increases for the richest Americans.
Among Republicans, the Tea Party movement remained a political factor, but also on the left, the financial crisis created a new political movement in the Obama years. It called itself Occupy Wall Street and claimed to represent “the 99 percent” of Americans against the one richest percent who in those years accounted for most of the prosperity increase. When the declared Democratic Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders up for the 2016 presidential election successfully challenged Hillary Clinton, who was otherwise a clear favorite to become the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, it was largely the energy that the Occupy Wall Street movement had created that he channeled into the election campaign. In particular, many young progressive voters felt that Hillary Clinton, as a former New York senator, was too center-right and too close to Wall Street, and they wanted to push the party to the left.
As for President Obama’s domestic policy program, despite fierce political opposition, the president has succeeded in creating significant political results. The most important milestone remained The Affordable Care Act, adopted in 2010, and quickly known as “Obamacare”. Conservative opposition to the law continued throughout Obama’s years as president, and even after he left the White House on January 20, 2017. Many Republican politicians made the promise of abolishing “Obamacare” their top priority. As many as 60 times Republicans in the House of Representatives voted for the abolition of the law, but without success. Not even after Republicans won a slim majority in the Senate in the 2014 midterm elections did they succeed in repealing the law. The law’s order that all citizens must buy health insurance if they do not have it, but in return can not be rejected by the insurance companies and can also receive subsidies from the state, was also tried along the way by the Supreme Court. In June 2015, the latter ruled that the law was in accordance with the Constitution.
The right to health insurance was not the only area in which a Supreme Court ruling became crucial. Also in June 2015, a ruling by the Supreme Court secured the constitutional right of homosexuals to marry in all 50 states. Three other issues that left a marked mark on the public debate in the Obama years were immigration, free access to firearms, and the challenge of global climate change. None of these problems were new. In both parties, there were politicians who believed that the illegal immigrants, many of whom had lived most of their lives in the United States, should have a path to legal status, but the idea also spawned fierce opposition. The debate over possible restrictions on access to firearms – or at least greater control over who owned them – was brought up several times by tragic mass shootings, in several cases committed by the mentally ill. A large majority of the American people supported better registration of weapons or restrictions on access to certain types of weapons and ammunition, but opponents of such restrictions were well-organized and managed, to President Obama’s great frustration, to curb all such measures.
As for climate and the environment, it proved impossible for President Obama to get legislation passed in Congress. In return, he succeeded in implementing comprehensive environmental regulation by means of presidential decrees (executive orders), as well as by having the Ministry of the Environment (Environmental Protection Agency) tighten the environmental requirements for the individual states. President Obama also made extensive use of the opportunity to conserve large areas of nature and support the development and spread of renewable energy. At the same time, new major discoveries of natural gas helped reduce US dependence on oil. The president could also take some of the credit for the international climate agreement, of which both the United States and the world’s second largest economy, China, co – signed in December 2015.
Conflicts between national security and individual freedoms, including privacy, also left a clear mark on the public debate in the Obama years – not least when a former employee of one of the US security services, Edward Snowden, revealed in June 2013 that the government collected comprehensive data on ordinary American telephone conversations. Other documents published by WikiLeaks also came to dominate the debate – not least during the 2016 presidential campaign, where thousands of pages from, among others, the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s campaign leader were published – allegedly with the help of Russia, which intervened in the election campaign.
Barack Obama had taken over the presidency in 2009 with promises to end US engagement in Afghanistan and Iraq. It was the intention of the Obama administration to use more of its foreign policy resources in the Pacific, which also accounted for an increasing share of U.S. trade, and fewer economic and military in the Middle East. It turned out to be unexpectedly difficult. Admittedly, the United States withdrew its combat troops from Iraq in December 2011, and efforts in Afghanistan were sharply downplayed, but this led to new conflicts and security threats, of which the emergence of Islamic State (ISIS) was the largest.
An important symbolic victory in the United States’ “war on terror” took place with the killing of American elite troops on Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011. Efforts against suspected terrorists were increasingly carried out with drones, so-called drones. Drone attacks were carried out in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. However, the attacks were criticized for also causing civilian casualties and helped stimulate anti-American sentiment in the countries affected.
The NATO intervention that in 2011 removed Muammar Gaddafifrom power in Libya, got far from the aftermath that President Obama and the leaders of the other participating countries had expected. The US president considered it a serious foreign policy mistake that the aftermath had not been better prepared. It was also a contributing factor to his hesitation as the devastating human costs of the civil war in Syria in the summer of 2013 prompted many to urge the US government to intervene militarily. The direct cause was the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, and President Obama himself had declared the year before that such use constituted a “red line” which, if crossed, would trigger a US military response. The president hesitated, also because he could not get support from Congress or from the United States’ close ally Britain.
The US international role also became a major theme during the long election campaign leading up to the 2016 presidential election. In perhaps the most surprising development in any US election campaign, businessman and reality star Donald J. Trumpthe presidential candidate of the Republican Party. The Democratic Party’s candidate was former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton. While representing a view of the United States ‘role as a leading power in a world order characterized by liberal international organizations, Donald Trump advocated a foreign policy that narrowed the United States’ international role and defined its economic and security interests more narrowly, including: through increased protectionism. Trump reused the isolationist slogan from before the United States entered World War II: “America First.”
Hillary Clinton was the big favorite to win the presidential election on November 8, 2016, but the most unusual election campaign in American history also ended in the most surprising election result: Donald J. Trump became the 45th president of the United States. Admittedly, Hillary Clinton got 3.1 million. more votes than him, but Trump won a majority of the so-called electoral votes that decide U.S. presidential elections (304 against 232). Every change of president offers both new opportunities and unexpected problems, but with Donald J. Trump in the White House, the United States moved even more than in previous changes of power into unknown waters.