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    Icelandic Vikings sailing under Leif Rescan discovered the American continent first around the year 1000.

    Five hundreds year later in 1492 Christopher Columbus, originally an Italian, sailed on an economic mission. When he landed on an island in the Caribbean, he believed that he had reached the shores of India and thus named the natives "Indians".

    The first colony was founded in Virginia in 1607. In 1620 the ship named Mayflower brought to northeastern region where they found the colony called Plymouth. They were Puritans - members of a religious sect which wanted to reform the Church of England. They called themselves the Pilgrim Fathers and wanted to build up a colony based on their own religious ideals. The winter was cold and about half of them died. In spring they planted corn and other plants (with help and advice from the Indians with whom they lived in peace). In October 1621 they celebrated good harvest and held a feast with much food. They called this day their day of Thanksgiving.

    Next event was when British government started to charge new taxes on sugar, coffee, textiles etc. to cover the costs of the war against France. The colonists refused to pay taxes and so British soldiers were sent to Boston. In 1773 a group of patriots dressed as Indians, threw a cargo of British tea into the Boston Harbour. This event is known as the Boston Tea Party.

    On July 4th in 1776 rose an independent state. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence.

    Civil War 1861 - 1865 - Economic and political differences grew between the Northern and Southern states. In the south, the economy was based on agriculture and slavery. In contrast, the northern states were more industrial and slavery was illegal. These differences created great tensions between the two halves of the country. In 1860 and 1861, eleven southern states seceded from the Union and attempted to form their own government. This caused the beginning of the Civil War. The North was victorious in the war and slavery was abolished.

    Throughout the twentieth century, the US grew as a world power. Victorious in the two World Wars, the US became known for its military strength. The "Cold War" period after WWII saw increasing mistrust between the US and the Soviet Union. There were several wars conflicts e.g. Korean War.


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