What if the Texas Revolution never happened
A new country
Around the year 1000, a group of Icelandic Vikings led by Leif Ericson sailed as far as the eastern coast of North America. They called their landing place Vinland. Remnants of a Viking settlement have been discovered in the Canadian province of Newfoundland. Vikings may also enter Nova Scotia and New England, but they did not establish permanent settlements and soon lost contact with the new continent.
Five hundred years later, the need for trade expansion and a navigational error led to another meeting between Europe and America. In the late 15th century there was a great demand for spices, textiles and dyes from Asia. Christopher Columbus, an Italian navigator, mistakenly believed he could reach the Far East if he sailed 6,400 kilometers west from Europe. In 1492 he convinced the Spanish royal couple to finance such a trip. Columbus sailed west, but did not reach Asia, but landed on one of the Bahamas islands in the Caribbean.
Columbus ultimately explored much of the Caribbean. He never reached the Far East, however, but returned home with some gold, and within 40 years Spanish treasure hunters had a huge empire in South and Central America. Some of the earliest North American settlements were founded by Spaniards - St. Augustine, Florida (1565), Santa Fe, New Mexico (1609), and San Diego, California (1769).
Originally, Europeans came to the new world in search of wealth. When Columbus and subsequent Spanish explorers returned to Europe with stories of rich gold deposits in the Americas, the European rulers rushed to claim as much territory as possible in the New World - along with all the riches that could be extracted from it.
These claims could only be enforced and reinforced with the help of European settlements in the corresponding areas. This need, combined with the eagerness of Spanish priests to convert the Native Americans to Christianity, the need for European religious and political dissenters for refuge from persecution in their homeland, and the adventurous spirit of some, fueled the effort to establish colonies.
The first successful English settlement in America was founded in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. It was financed by a London company that hoped to make a profit from it - which never happened. Of the first 105 colonists, 73 died of starvation and disease within 7 months of arrival. But the colony persisted and eventually began to grow and become wealthy. The people of Virginia discovered that growing tobacco, which they had been shipping to England since 1614, was a source of income.
English Puritans established several settlements in New England, the northeastern region of what is now the United States. They believed that the Anglican Church had adopted too many practices from the Roman Catholic Church. They came to America to avoid persecution at home and to shape a settlement according to their own religious ideals. A group of Puritans called "Pilgrims" crossed the Atlantic on the Mayflower and settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620. A much larger Puritan settlement was established in the Boston area in 1630. As early as 1635, some settlers migrated to neighboring Connecticut.
The Puritans sought to create an ideal community ("a city on the hill"). Since then, Americans have viewed their country as a great experiment, a worthy example for other nations. Another American tradition arose in New England: an often intolerant morality. The Puritans believed that governments should enforce God's morality. They severely punished drunks, adulterers, people who did not honor the Sabbath and heretics. Only parishioners had the right to vote in their settlements, and pastors were paid out of taxpayers' money.
The Puritan Roger Williams opposed these decisions by the churches. He was of the opinion that the state should not interfere with religion. After he was then forced to leave Massachusetts in 1635, he founded the neighboring colony of Rhode Island, in which religious freedom and the separation of church and state were guaranteed. The colonies of Maryland, settled in 1634 as a refuge for Catholics, and Pennsylvania, founded in 1681 by the Quaker leader William Penn, were also characterized by religious tolerance. They in turn moved other groups of settlers to the New World.
Over the years, more and more settlers came to the British colonies of North America from countries other than England. German farmers settled in Pennsylvania, Sweden founded the Delaware colony and in 1619 African slaves came to Virginia for the first time. In 1626 Dutch settlers bought Manhattan Island from Native Americans and built the city of New Amsterdam. It was captured by the English in 1664 and renamed New York.
To foreign visitors, America has always appeared less as a single culture and more as a mixture of different cultures. This mixture of opposing traditions was already evident in the colonial era. The narrow-minded idealism of Massachusetts stood alongside the more tolerant idealism of Pennsylvania and the purposeful, commercial agriculture of Virginia. Most of the American colonists worked on small farms. In the southern colonies of Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, landowners established large tobacco and rice plantations in river valleys. These were worked by Africans, the system of slavery had developed slowly since 1619, or by free Englishmen who had committed themselves to unpaid work for several years in return for the costs of the crossing.
By 1770, several small but growing urban centers had developed, with newspapers, shops, traders and artisans. Philadelphia was the largest city with a population of 28,000, followed by New York, Boston and Charleston, South Carolina. Unlike other nations, the United States never developed a feudal aristocracy. In colonial America there was land in abundance and labor was in short supply. Every free man had the opportunity to achieve economic independence, if not necessarily prosperity.
All colonies shared the tradition of the representative constitution. The English king appointed numerous governors for the colonies, all of whom had to work with an elected assembly. Only white landowners had the right to vote, but most white men owned enough land to vote. Britain, however, could not exercise direct control over the colonies because London was too far away and the colonists were too independent in their attitudes.
In 1733, English settlers inhabited 13 colonies along the Atlantic coast, from New Hampshire in the north to Georgia in the south. The French controlled Canada and Louisiana, whose territory spanned the entire Mississippi watershed - a vast, sparsely populated empire. Several wars broke out between France and Britain between 1689 and 1815, and North America was drawn into each of these conflicts. Until 1756, England and France waged the Seven Years' War, known in America as the "French and Indian War". British Prime Minister William Pitt invested soldiers and money in North America and won an empire. British troops captured the Canadian branches of Louisburg (1758), Quebec (1759) and Montreal (1760). The Treaty of Paris, signed in 1763, gave Britain legal rights to Canada and all areas of North America east of the Mississippi.
Britain's victory led to conflict with its American colonies. In order to avoid fighting with the natives, who were known to the Europeans as Indians, a royal declaration forbade the colonists to settle west of the Appalachians. The British government began punishing smugglers and introduced new taxes on sugar, coffee, textiles and other imports. The Quartering Act forced the colonists to house and feed British soldiers. After the "Stamp Act" was introduced, special tax stamps had to be affixed to all newspapers, brochures, legal documents and licenses.
British politicians considered these measures to be fair, as they had raised large sums of money to defend the American colonies during and after the "French and Indian War". They argued that the colonists should bear some of these costs. But the Americans feared that the new taxes would hamper trade and that British troops stationed in the country would be used to destroy the civil liberties that the colonists had previously enjoyed. Overall, these fears were unfounded, but they were harbingers of now-entrenched traditions in American politics. Americans distrust the power of big governments, and after all, millions of immigrants came to this country just to escape political oppression. Americans have also always insisted on having at least some control over the taxation system that supports their government. As free-born Englishmen, Americans insisted that they could only be taxed through their own colonial assemblies. They invoked the principle of "no taxation without representation". In 1765 representatives from nine colonies met as the "Stamp Act Congress" and opposed this new tax. Merchants refused to sell English goods, mobs threatened the distributors of the tax stamps, and most of the colonists simply refused to use the stamps. The British Parliament had to overturn the Stamp Act, but it enforced the billing act, levied taxes on tea and other goods, and sent customs officers to Boston to collect the duties. The American colonists again refused to obey, and British soldiers were sent to Boston.
Tensions eased when the new UK Treasury Secretary, Lord North, abolished the new taxes, with the exception of the tea tax. In 1773, a group of patriots held the so-called "Boston Tea Party": disguised as Indians, they snuck onto British ships and threw 342 tea boxes into Boston harbor. The British Parliament then imposed the "Intolerable Acts". Independence from the Massachusetts colonial government was severely restricted and more British troops were relocated to Boston Harbor, which was now closed to maritime trade. In September 1774 the first continental congress met. Colonial leaders who opposed what they perceived to be British repression in the colonies met in Philadelphia. They urged Americans to disregard the "Intolerance Acts" and boycott British trade. The colonists began to organize militias and to collect and store weapons and ammunition.
On April 19, 1775, 700 British soldiers marched from Boston towards the nearby town of Concord. You should prevent a rebellion by digging a colonial weapons cache. At Lexington, they were confronted by 70 vigilantes. Someone, nobody knows exactly who, fired a shot, and the American Revolution had begun. The British quickly captured Lexington and Concord, but on their return to Boston they were harassed by hundreds of Massachusetts volunteers. By June 10,000 Americans had gathered to siege Boston, and in March 1776 the British had to evacuate the city.
In May 1775, a second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and slowly assumed the role of national government. He founded a Continental Army and Navy under the command of George Washington, a Virginia plantation owner and a veteran of the French and Indian Wars. Paper money was printed and diplomatic relations with other countries were established. On July 2, 1776, Congress resolved that "these united colonies are free and independent nations and should be by right." Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, with the assistance of a few others, wrote the Declaration of Independence, which was adopted by Congress on July 4, 1776.
This statement was a public defense of the American Revolution, and contained a longer list of complaints about the British King George III. She also stated, and this is one of the most important things, the philosophy behind the revolution - that people have a right to "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" that governments only have with "the." The consent of the governed "can prevail, and that any government can be dissolved if it does not protect the rights of its citizens. This political theory came from the British philosopher John Locke, and is a central point in Anglo-Saxon political tradition.
Initially, the war went badly for the Americans. The British took New York City in September 1776 and Philadelphia fell a year later. Events changed in October 1777 when the British Army under General John Burgyne surrendered at Saratoga, in northern New York. Encouraged by this victory, France seized the opportunity to humiliate her traditional enemy, Britain, and signed a French-American alliance in February 1778. American troops fought very well in general, despite few provisions and insufficient training, but might have lost the war if they had not received French financial aid and support from the powerful French navy.
After 1778 the fighting shifted south. In 1781, 8,000 British soldiers under the command of General George Cornwallis were trapped in Yorktown, Virginia by the French Navy and a joint Franco-American army under George Washington. Cornwallis surrendered and shortly afterwards the British government initiated peace negotiations. The Treaty of Paris, signed in September 1783, recognized the independence of the United States and granted the new nation all territories north of Florida, south of Canada, and east of the Mississippi.
The development of a constitution
The 13 colonies were now "free and independent states" - but not yet a united nation. Since 1781 they had been governed by the Articles of Confederation, a constitution that provided for a very weak central government.The American people had just rebelled against a parliament in distant London and did not want to replace it with a tyrannical central government at home. The Articles of Confederation did not allow the Congress, composed of representatives of the people, to legislate or raise taxes. There was no federal judiciary or permanent executive branch. The individual states were almost independent, and they could even raise their own tariffs.
In May 1787, a meeting in Philadelphia met to revise the Articles of Confederation. The envoys, including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and James Madison, expanded the mandate and developed a new and more workable constitution. It established a stronger central government with the right to raise taxes, conduct diplomacy, maintain armed forces, and regulate foreign trade and trade between states. It provided for a federal supreme court and other federal courts, and a president was given executive power. The most important development, however, was the introduction of the principle of the balance of power, which was to be maintained between the three branches of government - the executive, the legislative and the judiciary. With this principle, each branch was given the independent opportunity to control and balance the activities of the other branches. This guaranteed that no branch could exercise dictatorial power over government operations.
The constitution was adopted in 1788 after much discussion. Because many Americans feared that a strong central government would not respect their freedoms, 10 amendments - the Bill of Rights - were added to the constitution in 1791. This document guarantees freedom of religion, a free press, freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, protection against unlawful house searches, the right to a fair trial with a jury, and protection against "cruel and unusual punishment".
The Constitution and the Bill of Rights thus struck a balance between two opposing but fundamental aspects of American politics - the need for strong, efficient central authority and the need to protect individual rights. The first two political parties split along these lines. The federalists preferred a strong president and a central government. The Democratic Republicans defended the rights of the individual states because this seemed to guarantee more regional control and responsibility.
The New Nation
The first President of the United States, George Washington, ruled federalist style. When peasants in Pennsylvania refused to pay an alcohol tax, Washington mobilized 15,000 men to crush the so-called "Whiskey Rebellion". Under the direction of his finance minister, Alexander Hamilton, the federal government took over the debts of the individual states and set up a central bank.
In 1797 a federalist, John Adams, was elected president again, and in 1801 the Republican Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson bought extensive Louisiana territory from France in 1803 for $ 15 million. The United States now stretched as far as the Rocky Mountains.
The Supreme Court also asserted its authority. In 1803, Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that the court could overturn Congressional measures that were contrary to the Constitution. This introduced a principle of American constitutional law. The ultimate authority in interpreting the Constitution is the Supreme Court. If the judges declare a law unconstitutional, it can repeal that law, even if it has been enacted by Congress and signed by the President.
During the Napoleonic Wars, British and French warships harassed American merchant ships. Jefferson then banned American exports to Europe, but New England traders protested that the embargo was ruining their trade. Congress lifted the ban in 1809. In 1812, however, a war with Britain broke out under President James Madison for this reason.
During the War of 1812, American warships achieved some formidable victories, but the vastly superior British Navy blocked American ports. American attempts to conquer Canada failed miserably, and British troops captured Washington, the new capital, and burned it to the ground. In December 1814 Britain and the United States reached a compromise peace. Neither side made concessions.
The war was followed by a period of rapid economic growth in the United States. A nationwide network of roads and water canals was built, steamers rode the rivers, and in 1830 the first steam railway line opened in Baltimore, Maryland. The industrial revolution had reached America. There were spinning mills in New England and iron foundries in Pennsylvania. In the 1850s, factories produced sewing machines, shoes, clothing, farm implements, guns, watches, and rubber goods.
The settlement boundary shifted first to the west to the Mississippi, then even further to the west. In 1828, Andrew Jackson was the first man to become President. He came from a poor family and was born in the west, far removed from the cultural traditions of the Atlantic coast. He broke the power of the National Bank, which had dominated the economy, and opened up more areas for settlement. It did this mainly by forcing Indian tribes to migrate to areas west of the Mississippi.
The optimistic attitude of the Jackson era was clouded by the existence of a social contradiction. Slavery - increasingly recognized as a social evil - would ultimately divide the nation. The words of the Declaration of Independence - "all men are created equal" - had no meaning for 1.5 million slaves. Thomas Jefferson, himself a slave owner, recognized that the system was inhuman and attacked it in his draft constitution, but MPs from the South forced the relevant passages to be deleted. The importation of slaves was banned in 1808 and many northern states abolished slavery. The southern economy, however, was based mainly on large plantations, on which cotton, rice, tobacco and sugar were grown with the use of slaves. But also in some southern states there were small groups of free blacks who worked as artisans or traders.
In 1820, politicians from the north and south debated whether slavery should be allowed in the western territories. Congress agreed to a compromise: slavery would be allowed in the new state of Missouri and the Arkansas Territory, but prohibited in all other areas west and north of Missouri. But that did not end the subject. Organizations for the abolition of slavery emerged mainly in the north, while slavery was increasingly defended in the south. The nation also split on the issue of high tariffs protecting industry in the north and raising prices in the south.
Thousands of Americans had now settled in Texas, which was then still part of Mexico. The Texans found the Mexican rule under General Santa Anna increasingly repressive and rebelled in 1835. They defeated the Mexican army and founded the independent Republic of Texas. In 1845 the United States incorporated Texas. Mexico then suspended diplomatic relations. President James K. Polk has ordered American troops into disputed territory on the Mexican border. After a battle between Mexican and American soldiers in May 1846, Congress declared war on Mexico.
The American army landed near Vera in March 1847 and took Mexico City in September. In return for a payment of $ 15 million, Mexico had to cede a vast area - present-day California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado.
As early as 1846, after the end of a long-standing border dispute with British Canada, the United States had a clear legal claim to the southern half of the Oregon Country - today's states of Oregon, Washington and Idaho. America thus became a truly continental power, stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
The takeover of the new territories raised an old question: Should slavery be allowed in the new territories? In 1850, Congress approved another compromise. California should be a free state, and the residents of Utah and New Mexico should vote on the issue. Congress also passed the Fugitive Slave Act, which allowed the southern states to capture slaves who had fled to the free northern states. However, some northern states failed to enforce this law, and opponents of slavery continued to help fleeing slaves. Harriet Beecher Stowe of Massachusetts wrote "Uncle Tom's Cabin," a sentimental but impressive anti-slavery novel that turned many readers against slavery. Slavery has gradually become a major issue in American political, economic, and cultural life.
In 1854, Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas persuaded Congress to allow residents of the Kansas and Nebraska Territories to vote on slavery in their territory. This repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820. As a result, violent clashes broke out in Kansas between supporters and opponents of slavery. In 1857 the Supreme Court ruled that African Americans had no American civil rights and that Congress had no power to outlaw slavery in the Western Territories ("Dred Scott decision").
In the Senate election campaign of 1858, Abraham Lincoln ran against incumbent Democratic Senator Stephen Douglas from Illinois. In a series of historical debates with Douglas, Lincoln called for an end to the spread of slavery. He was ready to tolerate slavery in the southern states, but at the same time affirmed that "this government cannot last forever as half slave and half free."
Lincoln had lost the Senate battle, but he and Douglas faced each other again in 1860 - this time as Republican and Democratic candidates for the presidency. The tensions between the north and south had increased enormously in the meantime. In 1859 the staunch opponent of slavery, John Brown, tried to organize a slave revolt in Virginia by attacking an army ammunition depot. Brown was quickly caught, sentenced, and hanged. Numerous people in the north then saw him as a martyr. The whites living in the south, however, were now convinced that the north was ready to wage a bloody war to end slavery. Douglas urged the South Democrats to stay in the Union, but they ran their own candidate and threatened secession if the Republicans won.
In all southern states and all border states the majority voted against Lincoln, but the north supported him and he won the election. A few weeks later, South Carolina broke away from the Union, followed shortly after by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. These eleven states declared themselves a nation in their own right - the Confederate States of America - and the American Civil War broke out.
The southerners declared that they were not fighting exclusively for the preservation of slavery. After all, almost all Confederate soldiers are too poor to have slaves. The south is waging a war for independence - a second American revolution. The Confederates mostly had the advantage that they fought on home soil and that their morale was excellent. They had excellent soldiers, cavalrymen, and generals, but the Union (North) troops far outnumbered them. The railroad network and industry in the south could not support a modern war. The Union Navy quickly blocked the ports, creating severe shortages of war material and consumables in the Confederation. In order to be able to wage the war, both sides suspended some civil rights, printed huge amounts of paper money, and introduced military service.
Lincoln had two priorities: the United States as a Preserve land and abolish slavery. He realized that he could win support for the Union at home and overseas by turning the war into a fight against slavery. Accordingly, he issued the "Emancipation Proclamation" on January 1, 1863, which gave freedom to all slaves in the areas still held by the Confederates.
The Confederates saw some victories early in the war, but in the summer of 1863 their commander, General Robert E. Lee, marched north to Pennsylvania. He met the Union Army at Gettysburg, and the greatest battle ever fought on American soil ensued. After three days of desperate fighting, the Confederates were defeated. At the same time, the General of the Union Ulysses S. Grant took the strategically important city of Vicksburg on the Mississippi. Union forces now controlled the entire Mississippi Valley, geographically splitting the confederation in two.
In 1864, the Union Army under General William T. Sherman marched across Georgia, leaving scorched earth behind. In the meantime, General Grant had been fighting Lee's forces incessantly. On April 2, 1865, Lee had to give up the city of Richmond, capital of the Confederation. A week later he surrendered to Grant at the Appomattox courthouse, and soon all other Confederation units followed suit. On April 14th, Lincoln was murdered by actor John Wilkes Booth.
The Civil War was the most traumatic episode in American history. Even today the scars have not healed completely. All subsequent wars America was involved in would take place outside the country's borders, but that conflict devastated the south and brought the entire region under military rule. America lost more soldiers in this war than in any other - the total death toll was 635,000.
The war resolved two fundamental questions that had divided the United States since 1776. He ended slavery, which was abolished by the 13th Amendment to the 1865 Constitution. It was also established that America was not a collection of semi-independent states, but a single, indivisible nation.
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