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American History: a Brief Summary

American life in the twentieth century has been characterized more by continuity than by change. Since the beginning of the republic Americans have defined progress by continuity. Settlers from all over the world came to America looking for the same thing—a new world. Although these newcomers had different ideas and their share of disagreement, for the most part, everyone wanted the same thing. Americans agreed that it was time for a government and it was time to stop immigration and develop a country. [1] This development depended upon the support and hard work of many people with a common goal.

Wars were fought with one thought in mind—the preservation of America. A huge Navy was established and became victors of the sea. On land the United States Army was definitely a force to be reckoned with. Together Americans supported the expansion of American culture and the American reputation. Americans began traveling around the world spreading knowledge of America and the world noticed. After fighting in World War I, America began working on allies to keep America on top and produce healthy relationships with other countries. To think that all was perfect and that there were no problems would be insane.

However, progress was being made. America had become the superpower of the world and though change played its part, continuity made it happen. During the hard times Americans still stuck together. The depression of the 1930s definitely took its toll. Banks were losing investments and the economy was crashing, however America stood strong. [2] Thru Germany’s rise to power with Hitler, and the attacks at Pearl Harbor, America still managed to pull thru and benefit from the peril. America’s perseverance, determination, and above all, continuity made surviving these catastrophes possible.

The church in America also followed the same plan. The church was established by people who wanted the same thing. After the doctrine was established it was then carried out all over the world so everyone else could see what Americans saw. America pushed its religion just like it pushed its government. [3] Wars were fought on the basis of religion and laws were designed with the church in mind. Continuity, again, is the key. Continuity is not always a good thing. Vietnam was one of America’s largest embarrassments and most costly wars.

Many American lives were lost in this war and many Americans lost faith in the American government during the Vietnam Era. However, this war makes American continuity evident. The United States fights for what it believes in—always has, always will. American life has been influenced more by foreign events in the twentieth century than by domestic events. The first laws were put into play to keep foreigners out of America. [4] Until America’s victory over Spain, European enemies were definitely a priority. America could not start influencing the rest of the world until it had allies.

Following World War I the peace treaties were signed in Paris, France. The League of Nations was developed causing the beginnings of World War II. During the depression Germans turned to extremist groups; namely the Nazis. Europe’s economy was falling apart. America was shipping troops the Europe to fight in the largest war ever fought. This war was not domestic, it was foreign. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was another foreign event that changed America forever. Following World War II came the Cold War with the USSR. This would be another life changing event for America. 5] Following the Cold War came Vietnam, one of the turning points in American history. Although much of American influence was domestic, the majority was definitely foreign. American government was influenced by the Europeans. Christianity was brought by the Europeans. Wars were fought in all parts of the world. However, most of all, the people of America came from all over the world. Without foreign influence America would not be what America is today. Throughout American history many events have truly been significant. However, many events have also been simply sound and fury. [6] Both types of events have definitely been beneficial.

It would be hard to say that a single event is just sound and fury because no one knows would have happened otherwise. A perfect example of that would be the Cold War. The Cold War lasted for more than five years. Following World War II and the USSR’s entrance to the Japanese war, the Soviet’s ego became outraged. The USSR only had one enemy following the defeat of the Germans and Japanese. With the fall of the French and British Empires, the Americans were the only ones who stood in the way of world power for the USSR. As the Soviets took control over much of Eastern Europe the view to the west became inevitable.

The United States stated that an attack on that part of Europe would be the equivalent of an attack on the US itself. [7] This is what made the Cold War so significant. This could have well been the third World War. However, it never happened. Not one shot was ever fired. Does this signify anything? Who knows? Had NSC68 not been put into play there is not telling what could have happened. However, it was, and a war was possibly prevented. Another event that is most definitely not sound and fury and very significant was Applied Christianity. Liberal Christians definitely wanted everyone to know about the gospel of Christ.

Missions were set up all around the world to help save souls, improve health care, and educate people who would otherwise not be educated. [8] These missions also pushed Christianity were it was not invited. International peace was the plan of the progressive Christians and they were willing to do whatever was necessary to make it happen. From 1914 to 1917 God “perfected the world” with the European war. Other events that were significant in twentieth century America include World War II, the attack at Pearl Harbor, and the Vietnam War. Domestic events were significant as well.

The Great Depression and the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy also impacted the United States during the twentieth century. One of the greatest events in the United States was the civil rights movement. Two great leaders of civil rights and racial equality were Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. Although these two men had different ideas and different ways of how they presented them, they both had a common goal. While Malcolm X was pushing separation from whites and the “whatever it takes” attitude,[9] Martin Luther King, Jr. was pushing for the support of equality thru nonviolent means and integration.

After working together, these two men made voting rights for Black Americans possible. This event was definitely significant to American history. The isolationist decade was definitely sound and fury. It was not a very political era for the United States. The number of voters decreased and political sarcasm was at an all time high. [10] American football became more important that foreign affairs and church memberships were higher than ever. All in all, the 1920s did not do much for America. What the isolationist era did do for America was set up the stage for the Great Depression.

The Great Depression was another significant event in twentieth century American history. During the 1920s America began to invest much more money into international product. Investments of this sort place part of the American economy in the hands of other countries. When the European economy fell apart that part of American investment also fell apart. [11] With the money gone and no way to make up for it, American banks lost confidence in their money. With no money to back up those lost investments the banks went under forcing a depression. This depression forced people out of their jobs and out of their homes.

American pride was the only that held the US together during this horrible time in financial history. American life has been characterized by both change and continuity. However, these examples show that continuity outweighs change. Life in America has also been influenced by domestic events and foreign events. Though many domestic events helped shape America, foreign affair has defined America in the twentieth century. Many of the events were not significant and could be said to be a waste of time, but for the most part, America has not wasted much time.

The United States has achieved in one century what other countries and empires still have not achieved. Significance is what America is all about and pride is what makes it happen. Hopefully the twenty-first century will entail as much perseverance and accomplishment as the twentieth century brought for this great country—America. ———————– [1] Lukacs, John. 2004. [2] Lukacs, John. 2004. [3] Gamble, Richard. 2003. [4] Lukacs, John. 2004. [5] May, Ernest. 1993. [6] Busick, Sean. 2007. [7] May, Ernest. 1993. [8] Gamble, Richard. 2003. [9] Howard-Pitney, David, ed. 2004. [10] Lukacs, John. 2004 [11] Lukacs, John. 2004.

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