Understanding US history

Early settlers in the United States came from number of countries. There were varieties of compelling reasons for these people to colonize in the United States. Those reasons included freedom, new opportunities, flee unfair treatment, and so on.

Prior to United States becoming an independent nation, it was made up of thirteen colonies, ruled by Great Britain. Under the rule, people were required to pay taxes without any say in the government operations. This phenomenon is referred to as "taxation without representation."

What were the thirteen colonies? Table 1 lists the original thirteen colonies by the order were founded and alphabetically.

Table 1 original thirteen colonies in the United States
By order founded By alphabetical order
  • Virginia
  • Massachusetts
  • Maryland
  • Connecticut
  • Rhode Island
  • Delaware
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Georgia
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Virginia

Without any say in which laws were passed, the colonists felt this was an unfair practice. Consequently, they felt a need to form new government. To carry-out this objective, the representatives from the colonies issued a document called Declaration of Independence. The document basically declared the colonies were independent and free from the Great Britain’s rule. The author of the document (and third president) was Thomas Jefferson.

Important note

On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence document was signed. This is referred to as the Independence Day or US’s birthday. This is the reason why every year July 4th is celebrated.

The Declaration of Independence document alone did not give the independence to the colonies; it was rather due to wining of the Revolutionary War. In a sense, the declaration basically was invitation for a war with Great Britain. The colonies military forces were led by General George Washington (first president of the United States). After defeating Great Britain in the Revolutionary War, colonies became states.

So now the task for the new states was to form a new government. The new government had to unite the states into a single nation.

Drafting of the U.S. Constitution

After the American Revolution, it was realized joining together the states was essential. It was sought a stronger central government as the central government at the time was considered too weak. In 1787, a Constitutional Convention meeting was held to form new central government. The meeting was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and representatives from each state gathered to debate ideas.

This meeting resulted in a document called the U.S. Constitution, described the organization of the new government, how government official are to be chosen, and so on. Later Bill of Rights (a list of individual rights guaranteed by the federal government to its citizens) was added, as 10 amendments (an amendment is a change in a constitution) to the Constitution.

Winning of the approval of the thirteen states on the newly formed Constitution, established the new government and states became a single nation, United States.

Important note

There are now 50 states in the United States. In addition, United States has: District of Columbia, the commonwealths of the Puerto Rico and Northern Mariana Islands, and the territories of Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The US flag has been change over time. Presently, it has:

  • 13 stripes to represent original thirteen American colonies
  • 50 stars, one for each state
Posted on 3/21/2008
28,584 views
by Raj Singh