American history has many different stories to it. The most important thing about the United States is that Americans come from all over the world. Throughout the history of the United States, people have come to the land looking for a new life in a new place. American culture is what it is because of this mixing. We call it a melting pot, which means that many different things came to one place and mixed together to make a new thing out it all. American history is the story of these people coming together to make a country together.
The first people who lived on the land are called Native Americans. There are many different groups of Native Americans, and they had different languages and ways of life for the different environments where they lived—forests, coasts, mountains, plains, warm and cold places, dry and wet places. We aren’t exactly sure how they came to this part of the world, but we think they walked from Siberia. Thousands of years ago America and Asia were connected by a land bridge, and people and animals both walked across. You can visit some places where Native Americans used to live to see what life was like in America before any European immigrants came.
In 1620, the first Europeans came to America in a boat called the Mayflower. It took more than two months for them to arrive! We call these people pilgrims, and we celebrate them every fall at Thanksgiving. Over the next few hundred years, more and more people came—many from England, but also from Germany, France, Netherlands, and other places. They lived on farms, built cities, and journeyed deeper into the new continent.
In 1776, the settlers decided that they wanted to be independent of Great Britain, who ruled the land. They declared independence on July 4, which is now the national holiday of the United States. At the time there were 13 states—Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia—but the country kept growing. Now the US has 50 states. Alaska and Hawaii were the last two states. Both joined in 1959. The flag of the United States has one star for each state, so it started with 13 stars and they had to keep adding stars each time a new state joined.
The United States is known for a spirit of adventure and invention. When the first immigrants came to America, they lived mostly on the east coast of the US. The west was unknown wilderness. People moved west to seek adventure and fortune. Some people started large farms on the rich land they found. In California, they found gold.
Some people loved exploration and made maps and wrote about the things they saw. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark are the most famous explorers. They explored the entire west of America over two years.
There are many famous inventors also. Thomas Edison is one of the most famous inventors. Two of his inventions are the light bulb and the first movie camera. Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.
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