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The first Europeans in the history of usa to reach North America were Icelandic Vikings, led by Leif Ericson, about the year 1000. Traces of their visit have been found in the Canadian province of Newfoundland, but the Vikings failed to establish a permanent settlement and soon lost contact with the new continent. Five centuries later, the demand for Asian spices, textiles, and dyes spurred European navigators to dream of shorter routes between East and West. Acting on behalf of the Spanish crown, in 1492 the Italian navigator Christopher Columbus sailed west from Europe creating a landmark in the history of USA and landed on one of the Bahama Islands in the Caribbean Sea. Within 40 years, Spanish adventurers had carved out a huge empire in Central and South America. The first successful English colony in the history of usa was founded at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607. A few years later, English Puritans came to America to escape religious persecution for their opposition to the Church of England. In 1620, the Puritans founded Plymouth Colony in what later became Massachusetts. Plymouth was the second permanent British settlement in North America and the first in New England. In the first quarter of the 19th century, the frontier of settlement moved west to the Mis sis sippi River and beyond. In 1828 Andrew Jackson became the first "outsider" in the history of usa elected president. Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, depriving America of a leader uniquely qualified by background and temperament to heal the wounds left by the Civil War. His successor, Andrew Johnson, was a southerner who had remained loyal to the Union during the war.

While Americans were venturing abroad, they were also taking a fresh look at social problems at home. Despite the signs of prosperity at that time in usa history, up to half of all industrial workers still lived in poverty. New York, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco could be proud of their museums, universities, and public libraries -- and ashamed of their slums. The prevailing economic dogma had been laissez faire: let the government interfere with commerce as little as possible. About 1900 the Progressive Movement in the usa history arose to reform society and individuals through government action. The movement's supporters were primarily economists, sociologists, technicians, and civil servants who sought scientific, cost-effective solutions to political problems. Social workers went into the slums to establish settlement houses, which provided the poor with health services and recreation.

As par the history of USA, when World War I erupted in Europe in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson urged a policy of strict American neutrality. Germany's declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare against all ships bound for Allied ports undermined that position. When Congress declared war on Germany in 1917, the American army was a force of only 200,000 soldiers. Millions of men had to be drafted, trained, and shipped across the submarine-infested Atlantic. A full year passed before the U.S. Army was ready to make a significant contribution to the war effort. Again neutrality was the initial American response to the outbreak of war in Europe in 1939 Although the economy was strong in the mid-1990s, two phenomena were troubling many Americans. Corporations were resorting more and more to a process known as downsizing: trimming the work force to cut costs despite the hardships this inflicted on workers. And in many industries the gap between the annual compensations of corporate executives and common laborers had become enormous. Even the majority of Americans who enjoy material comfort worry about a perceived decline in the quality of life, in the strength of the family, in neighborliness and civility. Americans probably remain the most optimistic people in the world, but with the century drawing to a close, opinion polls showed that trait in shorter supply than usual.

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