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The first humans to inhabit the land that was
to become the United States were the
ancestors of today's Native Americans. Most
theories suggest that they migrated across a
landbridge between Asia and America more than
10,000 years ago, when sea levels were much
lower. Once in the Americas, they gradually
spread south, forming many different tribes.
European colonization of this land began with the
voyage of the Italian-born, Spanish navigator,
Christopher Columbus, who landed in the
Caribbean in 1492. By the 17th century, people
from Spain, France, England and the Netherlands
had colonized large areas of this ‘New World`.
THE WAR OF INDEPENDENCE
By 1763, Britain controlled Canada and all of
North America east of the Mississippi River.
However, many of the people living in Britain s
American colonies had begun to question their
treatment by the British government. The
colonists were expected to feed and house British
troops in the colonies, which was a heavy drain
on their incomes. Britain levied heavy taxes on
the colonists, including taxes on many goods tha
needed to be imported such as sugar, coffee tea
and wine. Many colonists resented paying these
taxes, particularly as they had no representation
in the British Parliament in return. The War of
Independence began in 1775 when many colonists decided to break tree from British rule.
During this war, the Declaration of
Independence was drawn up and signed by
representatives o f the 13 British colonies on 4 July
1776, now regarded as the founding date o f the
United States of America. The British sent troops
to prevent the colonies enacting this declaration,
but the British eventually lost the war,
surrendering in Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781.
Thanksgiving, held every year in the United
States on the fourth Thursday in November, has
its origins in the festival to give thanks for the
safe gathering of the harvest by early English
setders in North America.