Battle of Germantown
The Battle of Germantown was a major engagement in the Philadelphia campaign of the American Revolutionary War. It was fought on October 4, 1777, at Germantown, between the British Army led by Sir William Howe, the American Continental Army, with the 2nd Canadian Regiment, under George Washington. After defeating the Continental Army at the Battle of Brandywine on September 11, the Battle of Paoli on September 20, Howe outmaneuvered Washington, seizing Philadelphia, the capital of the United States, on September 26. Howe left a garrison of some 3,000 troops in Philadelphia, while moving the bulk of his force to Germantown an outlying community to the city. Learning of the division, Washington determined to engage the British, his plan called for four separate columns to converge on the British position at Germantown. The two flanking columns were composed of 3,000 militia, while the centre-left, under Nathanael Greene, the centre-right under John Sullivan, the reserve under Lord Stirling were made up of regular troops.
The ambition behind the plan was to surprise and destroy the British force, much in the same way as Washington had surprised and decisively defeated the Hessians at Trenton. In Germantown, Howe had the 40th Foot spread across his front as pickets. In the main camp, Wilhelm von Knyphausen commanded the British left, while Howe himself led the British right. A heavy fog caused a great deal of confusion among the approaching Americans. After a sharp contest, Sullivan's column routed the British pickets. Unseen in the fog, around 120 men of the British 40th Foot barricaded the Chew Mansion; when the American reserve moved forward, Washington made the erroneous decision to launch repeated assaults on the position, all of which failed with heavy casualties. Penetrating several hundred yards beyond the mansion, Sullivan's wing became dispirited, running low on ammunition and hearing cannon fire behind them; as they withdrew, Anthony Wayne's division collided with part of Greene's late-arriving wing in the fog.
Mistaking each other for the enemy, they opened fire, both units retreated. Meanwhile, Greene's left-centre column threw back the British right. With Sullivan's column repulsed, the British left outflanked Greene's column; the two militia columns had only succeeded in diverting the attention of the British, had made no progress before they withdrew. Despite the defeat, France impressed by the American success at Saratoga, decided to lend greater aid to the Americans. Howe did not vigorously pursue the defeated Americans, instead turning his attention to clearing the Delaware River of obstacles at Red Bank and Fort Mifflin. After unsuccessfully attempting to draw Washington into combat at White Marsh, Howe withdrew to Philadelphia. Washington, his army intact, withdrew to Valley Forge, where he re-trained his forces; the Philadelphia campaign had begun badly for the Americans. Washington's Continental Army suffered a string of defeats at Cooch's Bridge and Paoli. After inflicting a stinging defeat on Anthony Wayne's division at Paoli on September 20, the British army marched north to Valley Forge west to the French Creek bridge.
At this point, Howe's right wing faced Fatland Ford on the Schuylkill River near Valley Forge while the left wing was opposite Gordon's Ford at French Creek and the left center faced Richardson's Ford. The American army defended all these Schuylkill crossings, plus one farther downstream at Swede's Ford near Norristown. On September 22, a small British force under Sir William Erskine feinted north and another force mounted a demonstration at Gordon's Ford. Howe's moves convinced Washington that the Britisher was trying to seize his supply base at Reading and turn his right flank. Washington moved north, they crossed the Schuylkill at Fatland and Richardson's Fords without opposition, after a brief rest, headed downstream toward Swede's Ford where the American militia abandoned three cannons. Charles Cornwallis subsequently seized Philadelphia for the British on September 26, dealing a blow to the revolutionary cause. Howe left a garrison of 3,462 men to defend the city, moving the bulk of his force north, some 9,728 men, to the outlying community of Germantown.
With the campaigning season drawing to a close, Howe determined to locate and destroy the main American army. Howe established his headquarters at the former country home of James Logan. Despite having suffered successive defeats, Washington saw an opportunity to entrap and decisively defeat the divided British army, he resolved to attack the Germantown garrison, as the last effort of the year before entering winter quarters. His plan called for a ambitious assault. Washington's hope was that the British would be surprised and overwhelmed much how the Hessians were at Trenton. Germantown was a hamlet of stone houses, spreading from what is now known as Mount Airy on the north, to what is now Market Square in the south. Extending southwest from Market Square was Schoolhouse Lane, running 1.5 miles to the point where Wissahickon Creek emptied from a steep gorge, into the Schuylkill River. Howe had established his main camp along the high ground of Church lanes; the western wing of the camp, under the command of Hessian general Wilhelm von Knyphausen, had a picket of two Jäger battalions, positioned on the high ground above the mouth of the Wissahickon to the far left.
A brigade of Hessians, two brigades of British regulars camped along Market Square. East of the Square, two British brigades under the command
Blueskin was a gray horse ridden by George Washington. He was one of Washington's two primary mounts during the American Revolutionary War; the horse was a half-Arabian, sired by the stallion "Ranger" known as "Lindsay's Arabian", said to have been obtained from the Sultan of Morocco. Blueskin was a gift to Washington from Colonel Benjamin Tasker Dulany of Maryland. Dulany married Elizabeth French, a ward of Washington's, who gave her away at her wedding to Dulany on February 10, 1773. Blueskin, due to his white hair coat, was the horse most portrayed in artwork depicting Washington on a horse. Washington's other primary riding horse was Nelson, a chestnut gelding said to be calmer under fire than Blueskin. Both horses were retired after the Revolutionary War. Blueskin lived at Mount Vernon, until he was returned to Mrs. Dulany in November 1785 with the following note: General Washington presents his best respects to Mrs Dulany with the horse blueskin. Marks of antiquity have supplied the place of those beauties with which this horse abounded—in his better days.
Nothing but the recollection of which, & of his having been the favourite of Mr Dulany in the days of his Court ship, can reconcile her to the meagre appearance he now makes. In addition to being the nation's first President and his leadership during the Revolutionary War, George Washington was known for initiating Presidential pets. From the outset, George Washington valued his country home, his dogs and livestock, he loved his fine horses and took to speed contests. Before the Revolution, Washington attended various social events held at the races in Annapolis. Horses have become a valuable asset throughout military history. Trained war horses became formidable enough to match the deadliness of their riders. In addition to physicality, they had considerable psychological impact on soldiers by boosting morale and courage, or instilling fear in the enemy; the impact of horses boosted the efficiency of their strategies. While horses are ignored in accounts of famous battles, they were a critical contribution to success, such as that of the American Revolution.
Washington's ability as a horseman allowed him to strengthen his cavalry's capabilities and heighten the image of the Americans. During the Revolutionary War, the colonists were underestimated and dismissed by their mother country; the British perceived the rebels as a restive mob of people without agency and "certainly not gentlemen of breeding." However, George Washington utterly transformed this preconceived notion of the colonists with his persona as a gentleman and gallant leader. His ability to command horses conveyed this impression further, was described by British officers that "he was a impressive figure, both on horseback and off." Blueskin was a favorite of George Washington. However, Washington preferred to ride his other horse, Nelson, in battle since Blueskin was prone to skittishness around gunfire and cannon blasts while Nelson was more composed in those circumstances. Though Blueskin did not see as much battle as Nelson, he is the horse who appears most in paintings of George Washington as a general in the Revolution.
Blueskin was preferred for portraits because of his white hair coat, as opposed to Nelson's chestnut coat. Grays are born darker, but adult hair coat becomes pure white, their skin is black, which can appear bluish in sunlight, it is uncertain whether any contemporary portraitists who painted George Washington with Blueskin had the horse standing as a subject. These portraits are unlikely accurate representations of Blueskin. Judging from the Roman nose and rounded croup with a low tail set illustrated in these paintings, the horse modeled was of Andalusian descent; this would fit with Blueskin's pedigree as a descendant of a Moroccan sire, because the barb horses of northwestern Africa are very to be descended not from "Arabians" but from Spanish horses
George Washington in the French and Indian War
George Washington's military experience began in the French and Indian War with a commission as a major in the militia of the British Province of Virginia. In 1753 Washington was sent as an ambassador from the British crown to the French officials and Indians as far north as present-day Erie, Pennsylvania; the following year he led another expedition to the area to assist in the construction of a fort at present-day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Before reaching that point, he and some of his men, ambushed a French scouting party, its leader was killed. This peacetime act of aggression is seen as one of the first military steps leading to the global Seven Years' War; the French responded by attacking fortifications Washington erected following the ambush, forcing his surrender. Released on parole and his troops returned to Virginia. In 1755 he participated as a volunteer aide in the ill-fated expedition of General Edward Braddock, where he distinguished himself in the retreat following the climactic Battle of Monongahela.
He served from 1755 until 1758 as colonel and commander of the Virginia Regiment, directing the provincial defenses against French and Indian raids and building the regiment into one of the best-trained provincial militias of the time. He led the regiment as part of the 1758 expedition of General John Forbes that drove the French from Fort Duquesne, during which he and some of his companies were involved in a friendly fire incident. Unable to get a commission in the British Army, Washington resigned from the provincial militia and took up the life of a Virginia plantation owner. Washington gained valuable military skills during the war, acquiring tactical and logistical military experience, he acquired important political skills in his dealings with the British military establishment and the provincial government. His military exploits, although they included some notable failures, made his military reputation in the colonies such that he became a natural selection as the commander in chief of the Continental Army following the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War in 1775.
His successes in military and political spheres during that conflict led to his election as the first President of the United States of America. Born into a well-to-do Virginia family in Bridges Creek near Fredericksburg in 1732, Washington was schooled locally until the age of 15, his father's sudden death occurred. This eliminated the possibility of schooling in England, his mother rejected attempts to place him in the Royal Navy. Thanks to the connection by marriage of his half-brother Lawrence to the wealthy Fairfax family, Washington was appointed surveyor of Culpeper County in 1749. Washington's brother had purchased an interest in the Ohio Company, a land acquisition and settlement company whose objective was the settlement of Virginia's frontier areas, including the Ohio Country, territory north and west of the Ohio River, its investors included Virginia's Royal Governor, Robert Dinwiddie, who appointed Washington a major in the provincial militia in February 1753. The Ohio Country was occupied by a variety of Indian tribes that were nominally under the suzerainty of the Iroquois Confederacy based in what is now northwestern New York.
The area was the subject of several conflicting claims by British and French colonies. The British provinces of Virginia and Pennsylvania both claimed the area, traders from Pennsylvania had been trading with the Indians at least since the early 1740s. In 1752, representatives of the Ohio Company reached an agreement with the local Indian leaders allowing the construction of a fort and a small settlement at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers, for the establishment of some settlements south of the Ohio River; the French were alarmed by these developments, in 1753 began the construction of a series of fortifications in the uppermost headwaters of the Ohio River, intending to extend the line of forts downriver and deny British traders and settlers access to the territory. When news of this reached Virginia, Governor Dinwiddie sought advice from the British government in London, he received orders to send a messenger to the French, reiterating British claims and demanding that they stop construction of their forts and quit the territory.
Governor Dinwiddie chose Major Washington 21 years old, for the trek into the Ohio Country to assess the French military situation, to deliver the British demands. He was a good choice despite his youth because he was familiar with the frontier from survey work, had good health, both government and Ohio Company leaders trusted Washington. Although he had no frontier warfare experience, neither did most other Virginians. Washington departed from Williamsburg at the end of October 1753. In Fredericksburg he picked up Jacob Van Braam, a family friend who spoke French, before heading into the Virginia highlands. There he was joined by Christopher Gist, an Ohio Company agent, familiar with the territory, a few backwoodsmen to assist with expedition logistics; when the expedition arrived at the site of the proposed fort, Washington noted that the site was well chosen, having "the entire Command of the Monongahela". The expedition proceeded on to Logstown, a large Indian settlement a short way down the Ohio River.
After parleying with the Indians, the Mingo "Half King" Tanacharison and three of his men agreed to accompany the British expedition to meet with the French. Washington learned that many of the Ohio tribes were as unhappy about the British plans for settli
New York and New Jersey campaign
The New York and New Jersey campaign was a series of battles in 1776 and the winter months of 1777 for control of New York City and the state of New Jersey during the American Revolutionary War between British forces under General Sir William Howe and the Continental Army under General George Washington. Howe was successful in driving Washington out of New York City, but overextended his reach into New Jersey, ended the active campaign season in January 1777 with only a few outposts near the city; the British held New York harbor for the rest of the war, using it as a base for expeditions against other targets. First landing unopposed on Staten Island on July 3, 1776, Howe assembled an army composed of elements, withdrawn from Boston in March following their failure to hold that city, combined with additional British troops, as well as Hessian troops hired from several German principalities. Washington had New England soldiers as well as regiments from states as far south as Virginia. Landing on Long Island in August, Howe defeated Washington in the largest battle of the war, but the Continental Army was able to make an orderly retreat to Manhattan under cover of darkness and fog.
Washington suffered a series of further defeats in Manhattan, with the exception of the skirmish at Harlem Heights, withdrew to White Plains, New York. At that point Howe returned to Manhattan to capture forces Washington had left in the north of the island. Washington and much of his army crossed the Hudson River into New Jersey, retreated all the way across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania, shrinking due to ending enlistment periods and poor morale. Howe ordered his troops into winter quarters in December, establishing a chain of outposts from New York to Burlington, New Jersey. Washington, in a tremendous boost to American morale, launched a successful strike against the Trenton garrison after crossing the icy Delaware River, prompting Howe to withdraw his chain of outposts back to New Brunswick and the coast near New York, while Washington established his winter camp at Morristown. During the remaining winter months, both sides skirmished as the British sought forage and provisions.
Britain maintained control of New York City and some of the surrounding territory until the war ended in 1783, using it as a base for operations elsewhere in North America. In 1777, General Howe launched a campaign to capture Philadelphia, leaving General Sir Henry Clinton in command of the New York area, while General John Burgoyne led an attempt to gain control of the Hudson River valley, moving south from Quebec and failed at Saratoga. Northern New Jersey was the scene of skirmishing between the opposing forces for the rest of the war; when the American Revolutionary War broke out in April 1775, British troops were under siege in Boston. They defeated Patriot forces in the Battle of Bunker Hill, suffering high casualties; when news of this expensive British victory reached London, General William Howe and Lord George Germain, the British official responsible, determined that a "decisive action" should be taken against New York City using forces recruited from throughout the British Empire as well as troops hired from small German states.
General George Washington named by the Second Continental Congress as the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, echoed the sentiments of others that New York was "a post of infinite importance", began the task of organizing military companies in the New York area when he stopped there on his way to take command of the siege of Boston. In January 1776, Washington ordered Charles Lee to raise troops and take command of New York's defenses. Lee had made some progress on the city's defenses when word arrived in late March 1776 that the British army had left Boston after Washington threatened them from heights south of the city. Concerned that General Howe was sailing directly to New York, Washington hurried regiments from Boston, including General Israel Putnam, who commanded the troops until Washington himself arrived in mid-April. At the end of April, Washington dispatched General John Sullivan with six regiments to the north to bolster the faltering Quebec campaign. General Howe, rather than moving against New York, withdrew his army to Halifax, Nova Scotia, regrouped while transports full of British troops, shipped from bases around Europe and intended for New York, began gathering at Halifax.
In June, he set sail for New York with the 9,000 men assembled there, before all of the transports arrived. German troops from Hesse-Kassel, as well as British troops from Henry Clinton's unsuccessful expedition to the Carolinas, were to meet with Howe's fleet when it reached New York. General Howe's brother, Admiral Lord Howe, arrived at Halifax with further transports after the general sailed, followed; when General Howe arrived in the outer harbor of New York, the ships began sailing up the undefended Narrows between Staten Island and Long Island on July 2, started landing troops on the undefended shores of Staten Island that day. Washington learned from prisoners taken that Howe had landed 10,000 men, but was awaiting the arrival of another 15,000. General Washington, with a smaller army of about 19,000 effective troops, lacked significant intelligence on the British force and plans, was uncertain where in the New York area the Howes intended to strike, he split the Continental Army between fortified positions on Long Island and mainland locations, established a "Flying Camp" in northern New Jersey.
This was intended as a reserve force that could support operations anywhere along the New Jersey side of the Hudson. The Howe brothers had been granted authority as peace commissioners by Parliament, with limite
Joseph A. Bailly
Joseph Alexis Bailly was a French-born American sculptor who spent most of his career in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He taught at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, which has a collection of his sculpture, his most famous work is the statue of George Washington in front of Independence Hall. The son of a Parisian cabinetmaker, Bailly attended the École des Beaux-Arts before being drafted into the Army during the Revolution of 1848, he assaulted an officer and fled to England where he studied under the sculptor Edward Hodges Baily. After traveling to the United States and Argentina, he settled in Philadelphia in 1850. Bailly worked as a furniture carver before establishing a sculpture studio with Charles Bushor in 1854, their first major commission was for the interior ornament and furniture of the New Masonic Hall at 713-21 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. This included 5 life-sized wood statues illustrating the female Masonic virtues; that was followed by the commission for the interior ornament of Philadelphia's opera house, the Academy of Music.
At the U. S. Capitol, Bailly designed the Monumental Clock for the United States House of Representatives Chamber and carved its wooden case. Sculptor William Henry Rinehart designed the flanking bronze figures of the Backwoodsman and the Indian. Furniture makers Bembe & Kimbel manufactured the clock, gilded the whole piece, it was removed from the House Chamber in 1950, is now on display in the Capitol's Crypt. One of his most accomplished works is the marble sculpture group Paradise Lost, depicting Adam and Eve ruminating on their expulsion from the Garden of Eden, its companion piece, First Prayer, shows Eve teaching their small children and Abel. Both works were commissioned by Henry C. Gibson, are at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, his giant bronze of Benjamin Franklin was installed on the corner of the Public Ledger Building's facade and, 250 feet away, his marble statue of George Washington stood before Independence Hall. Bailly carved a number of funerary memorials, including that of the artist William Emlen Cresson, at Laurel Hill Cemetery, which showed the young painter holding his brush and palette.
In the 1870s, the United States Mint in Philadelphia commissioned him to carve coin dies for U. S. Trade Dollars — coins with a higher silver content than regular U. S. silver dollars for use in international trade with China and Korea. The surviving coin dies are unsigned, but design and/or carving of at least three of them are attributed to Bailly, he exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts beginning in 1851, was elected an Academician by PAFA in 1860, taught there during the American Civil War. Hired to teach at PAFA in 1876, he resigned two years in a salary dispute, Thomas Eakins took over his modeling class. Among his students were Howard Roberts, John J. Boyle, Alexander Milne Calder, he exhibited several works at the 1876 Centennial Exposition, including the plaster model for an equestrian statue of Venezuela's president, Antonio Guzmán Blanco. Bailly died in Philadelphia in 1883, he was buried at Mount Peace Cemetery. Sideboard, with carving attributed to Bailly, Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio.
New Masonic Hall, interior ornament and furniture, Pennsylvania. The Gothic Room furniture survives at the current Philadelphia Masonic Temple. Beauty, Faith, Charity, Philadelphia Masonic Temple. Academy of Music, interior ornament, Pennsylvania. U. S. Capitol, Monumental Clock, House of Representatives Chamber, Washington, D. C.. Paradise Lost, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Pennsylvania. First Prayer, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Pennsylvania. Bust of Abraham Lincoln, metal alloy, mass-produced after his assassination. Benjamin Franklin, Public Ledger Building facade, Pennsylvania. Now on display in the current Public Ledger Building's lobby. General Francis E. Patterson Memorial, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Pennsylvania. George Washington, Independence Hall, Pennsylvania; this was replaced by a bronze replica in 1910. William Emlen Cresson Memorial, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Pennsylvania. William F. Hughes Memorial, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Pennsylvania. General John A. Rawlins, Rawlins Park, 18th & E Streets NW, Washington, D.
C. Equestrian statue of President Antonio Guzmán Blanco, installed in Caracas, Venezuela in 1880. Reverend John Witherspoon, West Fairmount Park, Pennsylvania. Bust of Benjamin Hallowell, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D. C. June 18, 1883, New York Times obituary "Joseph A. Bailly". Find a Grave. Retrieved 2009-12-06. U. S. Trade Dollar coins attributed to Bailly Joseph Alexis Bailly from Philadelphia Public Art. Joseph A. Bailly in American public collections, on the French Sculpture Census website
Founding Fathers of the United States
The Founding Fathers of the United States, or the Founding Fathers, were a group of philosophers and writers who led the American Revolution against the Kingdom of Great Britain. Most were descendants of colonists settled in the Thirteen Colonies in North America. Historian Richard B. Morris in 1973 identified the following seven figures as the key Founding Fathers: Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison. Adams and Franklin were members of the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence. Hamilton and Jay were authors of The Federalist Papers, advocating ratification of the Constitution; the constitutions drafted by Jay and Adams for their respective states of New York and Massachusetts were relied upon when creating language for the U. S. Constitution. Jay and Franklin negotiated the Treaty of Paris that would end the American Revolutionary War. Washington was Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army and was President of the Constitutional Convention.
All held additional important roles in the early government of the United States, with Washington, Adams and Madison serving as President. Jay was the nation's first Chief Justice, Hamilton was the first Secretary of the Treasury, Franklin was America's most senior diplomat, the governmental leader of Pennsylvania; the term Founding Fathers is sometimes used to refer to the Signers of the embossed version of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Signers should not be confused with the term Framers. Of the 55 Framers, only 39 were signers of the Constitution. Two further groupings of Founding Fathers include: 1) those who signed the Continental Association, a trade ban and one of the colonists' first collective volleys protesting British control and the Intolerable Acts in 1774, or 2) those who signed the Articles of Confederation, the first U. S. constitutional document. The phrase "Founding Fathers" is a 20th-century appellation, coined by Warren G. Harding in 1916. Prior to, during the 19th century, they were referred to as the "Fathers".
The term has been used to describe first settlers of the original royal colonies. The First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1774, consisting of 56 delegates from all thirteen American colonies except Georgia. Among them was George Washington, who would soon be drawn out of military retirement to command the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. In attendance was Patrick Henry, John Adams, who like all delegates were elected by their respective colonial assemblies. Other delegates included Samuel Adams from Massachusetts, John Dickinson from Pennsylvania and New York's John Jay; this congress in addition to formulating appeals to the British crown, established the Continental Association to administer boycott actions against Britain. When the Second Continental Congress convened on May 10, 1775, it reconstituted the First Congress. Many of the same 56 delegates who attended the first meeting participated in the second. New arrivals included Benjamin Franklin and Robert Morris of Pennsylvania, John Hancock of Massachusetts, John Witherspoon of New Jersey.
Hancock was elected Congress President two weeks into the session when Peyton Randolph was recalled to Virginia to preside over the House of Burgesses. Thomas Jefferson replaced Randolph in the Virginia congressional delegation; the second Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. Witherspoon was the only active clergyman to sign the Declaration, he signed the Articles of Confederation and attended the New Jersey convention that ratified the Federal Constitution. The newly founded country of the United States had to create a new government to replace the British Parliament; the U. S. adopted the Articles of Confederation, a declaration that established a national government with a one-house legislature. Its ratification by all thirteen colonies gave the second Congress a new name: the Congress of the Confederation, which met from 1781 to 1789; the Constitutional Convention took place in Philadelphia. Although the Convention was called to revise the Articles of Confederation, the intention from the outset for some including James Madison and Alexander Hamilton was to create a new frame of government rather than amending the existing one.
The delegates elected George Washington to preside over the Convention. The result of the Convention was the United States Constitution and the replacement of the Continental Congress with the United States Congress; the Founding Fathers represented a cross-section of 18th-century U. S. leadership. According to a study of the biographies by Caroline Robbins: The Signers came for the most part from an educated elite, were residents of older settlements, belonged with a few exceptions to a moderately well-to-do class representing only a fraction of the population. Native or born overseas, they were of the Protestant faith. All of them were leaders in their communities. Many were prominent in national affairs; every one had taken part in the American Revolution. Scholars have examined the collective biography of them as well as the signers of the Declaration and the Constitution. Many of the Founding Fathers attended or held degrees from the colonial colleges, most notably Columbia known at the time as "King's College", Princeton or
The United States of America known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U. S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D. C. and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico; the State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean; the U. S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The diverse geography and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.
Paleo-Indians migrated from Siberia to the North American mainland at least 12,000 years ago. European colonization began in the 16th century; the United States emerged from the thirteen British colonies established along the East Coast. Numerous disputes between Great Britain and the colonies following the French and Indian War led to the American Revolution, which began in 1775, the subsequent Declaration of Independence in 1776; the war ended in 1783 with the United States becoming the first country to gain independence from a European power. The current constitution was adopted in 1788, with the first ten amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, being ratified in 1791 to guarantee many fundamental civil liberties; the United States embarked on a vigorous expansion across North America throughout the 19th century, acquiring new territories, displacing Native American tribes, admitting new states until it spanned the continent by 1848. During the second half of the 19th century, the Civil War led to the abolition of slavery.
By the end of the century, the United States had extended into the Pacific Ocean, its economy, driven in large part by the Industrial Revolution, began to soar. The Spanish–American War and World War I confirmed the country's status as a global military power; the United States emerged from World War II as a global superpower, the first country to develop nuclear weapons, the only country to use them in warfare, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Sweeping civil rights legislation, notably the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, outlawed discrimination based on race or color. During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union competed in the Space Race, culminating with the 1969 U. S. Moon landing; the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 left the United States as the world's sole superpower. The United States is the world's oldest surviving federation, it is a representative democracy.
The United States is a founding member of the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Organization of American States, other international organizations. The United States is a developed country, with the world's largest economy by nominal GDP and second-largest economy by PPP, accounting for a quarter of global GDP; the U. S. economy is post-industrial, characterized by the dominance of services and knowledge-based activities, although the manufacturing sector remains the second-largest in the world. The United States is the world's largest importer and the second largest exporter of goods, by value. Although its population is only 4.3% of the world total, the U. S. holds 31% of the total wealth in the world, the largest share of global wealth concentrated in a single country. Despite wide income and wealth disparities, the United States continues to rank high in measures of socioeconomic performance, including average wage, human development, per capita GDP, worker productivity.
The United States is the foremost military power in the world, making up a third of global military spending, is a leading political and scientific force internationally. In 1507, the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller produced a world map on which he named the lands of the Western Hemisphere America in honor of the Italian explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci; the first documentary evidence of the phrase "United States of America" is from a letter dated January 2, 1776, written by Stephen Moylan, Esq. to George Washington's aide-de-camp and Muster-Master General of the Continental Army, Lt. Col. Joseph Reed. Moylan expressed his wish to go "with full and ample powers from the United States of America to Spain" to seek assistance in the revolutionary war effort; the first known publication of the phrase "United States of America" was in an anonymous essay in The Virginia Gazette newspaper in Williamsburg, Virginia, on April 6, 1776. The second draft of the Articles of Confederation, prepared by John Dickinson and completed by June 17, 1776, at the latest, declared "The name of this Confederation shall be the'United States of America'".
The final version of the Articles sent to the states for ratification in late 1777 contains the sentence "The Stile of this Confederacy shall be'The United States of America'". In June 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote the phrase "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" in all capitalized letters in the headline of his "original Rough draught" of the Declaration of Independence; this draft of the document did not surface unti