July 4, 2008
Every year July 4 is being celebrated with great enthusiasm and pomp as the Independence Day by the people of the United States. On this day in 1776, thirteen English colonies on the eastern Atlantic seaboard of North America declared their independence from their mother country, England and emerged as the United States of America.
The economic exploitation of the colonies by England and denial of basic political rights led the colonists to raise the cry of "No taxation without representation" against England. The colonists manifested their protest against the oppressive economic policies of England in various ways.
The most memorable protest staged by the rebel colonists against the British economic policies was known as the 'Boston Tea Party' in which the rebels disguised as port labourers entered the ships belonging to the East India Company at the Boston port and dumped the boxes of tea into the harbour. This was a symbolic action on the part of the colonists to defy the right claimed by the British Parliament to tax the colonies.
The suppression of the colonists by the British troops eventually led to the American Revolution also known as the American War of Independence that lasted from 1775 to 1783.
As the American Revolution was in progress, the representatives of the thirteen colonies in a Congress at Philadelphia adopted the 'Declaration of American Independence' on July 4, 1776.
The Declaration of American Independence is a document of immense importance and became a guiding spirit to oppressed nationalities around the world. The essence of the declaration runs thus, "… We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal... that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…"
Boson Tea Party
Under the able leadership of George Washington, the colonial troops won a number of victories against the British troops. There was immense loss of life on both sides. Ultimately, conceding defeat, England recognized the independence of the thirteen colonies by the Treaty of Paris (1783). Thus, the new nation of the United States of America was born. However, Americans celebrate their independence day on 4th July, the day on which the delegates of the thirteen colonies at Philadelphia had adopted the Declaration of American Independence.
The Constitution of the United States adopted the Federal and Presidential system of government. George Washington was elected as the first President of the United States.
Within a century and half of its birth, the United States emerged as a great nation through territorial expansion, economic growth and military might. Over the years, people from almost every part of the world, including India, continued to settle in the United States. They came seeking the golden opportunities that had become part of the American way of life. Owing to this immigration, the United States has one of the world's most varied populations and has been often been called 'a nation of immigrants'.
The United States had to face some serious challenges such as the issue of Negro Slavery leading to the Civil War (1860-65), two World Wars, the Great Depression (1929), racial conflicts and more recently international terrorism. Out of these challenges the United States has emerged as a stronger and unified nation.
The United States had played an important role during the two World Wars and the 'Cold War' era that followed the Second World War. Even after the end of the 'Cold War' in 1980s, the United States has been playing a dominant role in an increasingly uni-polar world.
The foreign policy of the United States, especially during the Cold War was aimed at 'containing the spread of communism' in Western Europe, Asia and Africa. With this view, though a model democracy, the United States propped up autocratic regimes in different parts of the world including in Pakistan, India's neighbour. The fear of the spread of communist influence prompted the United States to build up strategic military alliances such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) and the South-East Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO). American participation in the Korean War (1950s) and the Vietnam War (1960s and 1970s) with the same aim resulted in the loss of thousands of lives and misery to millions of people in the war affected zones.
With the collapse of communism in Russia and Eastern Europe in the 1980s, the United States has emerged as the paramount economic and military power in the world. Presently, the United States is embroiled in a different kind of containment, that is containing international terrorism. The American military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq has been a matter of grave concern for the world in general and the American people in particular.
The American society has been undergoing a lot of change. With family bonds becoming weaker, divorces and promiscuity increasing, crime and violence becoming rampant, gay marriages and live-in relationships becoming common, the future direction of the American society has become quite unpredictable.
In spite of its short-comings, the United States is the leading nation in science and technology. Be it transport and communication, education and literature, standard of living and health-care, space exploration and aviation, sports and entertainment, the United States has maintained its lead over the other nations of the world.
The fundamentally sound democracy and mature political system has been the hallmark of the American nation. With the two party system and Presidential form of government, the constitution of the United States has guaranteed political and administrative stability which few countries can boast of. As witnessed recently, both the Republican and Democratic parties choose their presidential candidates through a process known as 'primaries'. Once the candidate for the presidential election is chosen, the entire party rallies behind its candidate to win the presidential election.
The presidential election to be held in November this year will be unique in the political history of the United States. Barrack Obama, the black presidential candidate of the Democratic Party may create history by being elected as the 44th and first black President of the United States, thus manifesting the progressive outlook and political maturity of the people of the United States.
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