Today when the United States celebrates its 236th Independence Day — a celebration of its past, present and future — we take a look at 10 events that changed history
American War of Independence
The war against British tyranny, and the decision of 13 colonies in North America to come together to form their own governance formed the crux of the American War of Independence in the late 18th century. It is also called the Revolutionary War. The American revolt was met with a harsh response by the British who sent troops in order to suppress the revolution. What followed was a war that began in 1775 and lasted until 1781, and ended with a treaty between America and Britain, called the Treaty of Paris in 1783, by which the French ceded territory to Britain in North America and elsewhere.
John F Kennedy assassination
The 35th President of the United States was probably one of the most illustrious presidents of America. He was assassinated in 1963, by a man we know as Lee Harvey Oswald. However, the truth behind Kennedy’s death is still a mystery as Oswald met the same fate a few days later. A cover-up? Most likely. His death plunged the American government into a crisis of confidence whose effects are still visible 50 years later.
Pearl Harbor bombing
A surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy on the American Naval Base at Hawaii in 1941 took the world by surprise. The reason of the attack was to prevent the United States from interfering in the military actions of Japan. Japan’s aim was to expand aggressively in Asia, but the strict American embargo on Japan got more restrictive than it could handle. The attack at Pearl Harbor so outraged Americans that the US abandoned its policy of isolation and declared war on Japan the following day — officially bringing it into World War II.
Assassination of Martin Luther King
The man that fought vociferously for the American civil rights, Martin Luther King’s role in shaping the ethos of the American culture cannot be dismissed. Inspired by the non-violence preaching of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, King received the Nobel Peace prize in 1964, making him the youngest ever to be conferred one. The Montgomery bus boycott is one of the most remembered of King’s fight against racial discrimination, which went on for a year, put an end to racial discrimination in public buses. And how can one forget his famous ‘I have a dream’ speech which was ranked the top American speech of the 20th century.
The Great Depression
The Great Depression began in the 1930s and lasted for the longest time ever. It was the longest and most severe depression ever experienced by the industrialised Western world. Interestingly the Depression is said to have changed the dynamics of the family system. A drop in marriage rates, heightened divorce rates, lack of self-esteem in men due to lack of jobs, and the rise of women forced to find work, paving way for emancipation were all the cultural repercussions of the depression. Another result of it was the deportation of a large number of Mexican-Americans back to South America to better the chances of jobs for the North Americans.
Henry Ford and the automobile industry
At the beginning of the 20th century the automobile was a plaything for the rich. Most models were complicated machines that required a chauffeur conversant with its individual mechanical nuances to drive it. Henry Ford was determined to build a simple, reliable and affordable car; a car the average American worker could afford. Out of this determination came the Model T and the assembly line —two innovations that revolutionised American society and moulded the world we live in today.
Thomas Alva Edison and his scientific contributions
With only three months of formal education he became one of the greatest inventors and industrial leaders in history. Edison obtained 1,093 United States patents, the most issued to any individual. Edison’s greatest contribution was the first practical electric lighting. He not only invented the first successful electric light bulb, but also set up the first electrical power distribution company. Edison invented the phonograph, and made improvements to the telegraph, telephone and motion picture technology. He also founded the first modern research laboratory.
The Gold Rush
James William Marshall started it all in America. A carpenter by profession, his chance discovery of gold in the American River in California led to the California Gold Rush in the late 1940s. Everyone wanted to get a piece of the American gold, and make it big, that led to the them all to California. What could have otherwise been a gradual settlement that includes the native Americans and Indians changed with the way the west ‘developed’ after the discovery of the gold, changing the course of the American history.
September 11, 2001
Al Qaeda’s series of attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001 got the attention of the world, like never before. The world witnessed the collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the attacks was a rude awakening to the Americans. Economic impact on the global markets was the immediate repercussion of the tragic incident, not to mention the loss of lives and the broken morales of the Americans and the rest of the world. The government’s policies towards terrorism, and national security changed aggressively to enable a safer America.
The cultural impact too was not to be ignored with an undercurrent of suspicion towards Islamic countries. A decade later, the impact of the attack is still clear and evident.
Cuban Missile Crisis
It could have been the beginning of a World War III. After an unsuccessful attempt by the United States to overthrow the Cuban regime, the 13-day confrontation between. United States and Cuba took an ugly turn when Cuba secretly liaised with the. Soviet Union to build missiles that have the capacity to destroy most of America. When a photographic evidence was gathered on the development of the secret ‘friendship’ between the two countries, the United States warned of severe consequences. Later, with the intervention of the United Nations, the Kennedy administration and Kruschev, a major crisis was averted. The Soviet Union withdrew all its weapons from Cuba, and the United States dismantled all its missiles from Turkey and Italy.