Talk:History of the United States

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January 19, 2004 Refreshing brilliant prose Not kept
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Accessdate format[edit]

Until this 2013-JUL-01 edit, the accessdates in this article were predominantly or entirely YYYY-MM-DD. MOS:DATEUNIFY & WP:STRONGNAT specifically permit YYYY-MM-DD in accessdates, exempting them from other parts of MOS:DATEUNIFY. WP:DATERET advises us to keep the established format - established by the first user or by later explicit consensus. Per WP:DATERET, this 2007-NOV-06 edit established the default accessdate format for this article. Having all the accessdates in a YYYY-MM-DD format is actually a benefit to readers & editors alike, making it clear at a glance which date is an accessdate & which is a publication date. I propose that the accessdates in this article all be restored to YMD--JimWae (talk) 04:11, 31 October 2013 (UTC)

Military/European format may be logical, but it is not standard for American articles. Student7 (talk) 18:44, 5 November 2013 (UTC)

slurs to describe all supporters of Reconstruction Era Southern Republicans[edit]

Since when is it NPOV to use slurs to describe all supporters of a political party? The sentence below is in the Reconstruction and the Gilded Age section and it stinks of POV and racism.

New Republican governments came to power based on a coalition of Freedmen made up of Carpetbaggers (new arrivals from the North), and Scalawags (native white Southerners).

All white southerners who supported reconstructions era Republican governments should be called scallywags? What kind of racist POV history is this?

"a coalition of freedmen made up of carpetbaggers" That doesn't even make any sense. The newly freed slaves were "carpetbaggers"? Is it appropriate to use these slurs in this way in a wikipedia article?Lance Friedman (talk) 04:25, 7 November 2013 (UTC)

the statement should read: "New Republican governments came to power based on a coalition of Freedmen, Carpetbaggers (new arrivals from the North), and Scalawags (native white Southerners)" -- a typo that is easy to fix. These are the terms used by scholars in the 21st century. for example some recent book titles from university presses: Bryant, Emma Spaulding. Emma Spaulding Bryant: Civil War Bride, Carpetbagger's Wife, Ardent Feminist; Letters and Diaries, 1860–1900 Fordham University Press, 2004; Twitchell, Marshall Harvey. Carpetbagger from Vermont: The Autobiography of Marshall Harvey Twitchell. ed by Ted Tunnell; Louisiana State University Press, 1989; Wiggins, Sarah Woolfolk; The Scalawag in Alabama Politics, 1865–1881. University of Alabama Press, 1991. Rjensen (talk) 06:23, 7 November 2013 (UTC)

Reversion of 11/7 3:30[edit]

See reversion. If the original editor accepts this, so do I. But I think rather the original editor was rather trying to summarize the paragraph than anything nefarious. I can't see that anything critical was omitted. IMO. Student7 (talk) 18:29, 11 November 2013 (UTC)

Insatiable?[edit]

New material refers to "insatiable" demand for cotton, outside of a quote. I agree that the original material may have used that word. But the word is journalistic, not really suitable for an encyclopedia. It is an eye-catching word, but preposterous for an encyclopedia, dealing as we do, with facts. The current "demand" for illegal drugs may be high, but hardly "insatiable." A lot of people are doing what they can to "satisfy" the demand, regardless of what some reporter may have written. Student7 (talk) 19:11, 15 December 2013 (UTC)

This unencyclopedic terminology has been removed from the lead altogether. Thank you for bringing it up. Cadiomals (talk) 21:30, 17 December 2013 (UTC)

I am going to be trimming down the lead[edit]

It has been months since my last post to this talk page and no one has done a thing to shorten the excessive lead. In fact, only more has been added to it, so I will be taking it upon myself to cut it down paragraph by paragraph to remove the least salient details. The current length is in blatant violation of WP:LEAD and this will be abundantly obvious to anyone with a basic idea of WP guidelines. In the end I will be cutting it down by about half, to only 5 or 6 substantial paragraphs which WP suggests to be the absolute upper limit. This is just a heads up to anyone who might read this. Cadiomals (talk) 20:58, 17 December 2013 (UTC)

Great idea, thanks. -- Ypnypn (talk) 02:58, 30 January 2014 (UTC)

Introduction Suggestion[edit]

This is a very odd introduction for the first sentence. Referring to schools and universities doesn't quite sound right. Any suggestions? Leoesb1032 (talk) 20:05, 14 March 2014 (UTC)

I think the reason schools and universities are mentioned in the lead is because there is a certain ambiguity in referring to "American history" considering the US as a nation is relatively young, mostly to what extent we discuss the thousands of years of (disparate and not well known) indigenous history before the arrival of Europeans. So mentioning how it is typically taught may give some clarification. Cadiomals (talk) 21:52, 14 March 2014 (UTC)
yes, it also references the horde of standardized textbooks available. and it indicates that the teaching has changed its chronological scope to include prehistory (ie the Indians). Rjensen (talk) 03:51, 15 March 2014 (UTC)
Rm pov basis. Histories either start one way or another. Why do we have to say who reads them? This is not about readership. It is, or should be, about reality.
"The history of the electron begins in the university with the size of the Planck diameter or the findings of Ernest B. Rutherford." I mean, really! Student7 (talk) 20:29, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
the fact that most university textbooks have changed the starting date is important when Wiki editors choose their starting date for the article. We are telling readers a fact: the starting date has changed. Rjensen (talk) 21:21, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
There is no such thing as a "formal history" of the United States. Wiki rules say we rely on the reliable sources, and the textbooks are designed to reflect the consensus of historians. That is especially true on issues of when to start. Note that students do not choose textbooks, only history professors do that and we rely on the profs' judgments. Rjensen (talk) 01:50, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
Is this only true for national histories? Or all histories?
If true for national histories, then we should say, for Tibet (or whatever), "The history of Tibet typically starts, for school children, with the discovery by XXX, or the passage of natives whose bones have been found by archaeologists."
This seems like an odd, parochial start. Is there then no objective stance for national histories? Must it all be "relative to" someone curricula? Student7 (talk) 19:46, 30 March 2014 (UTC)
Can we just agree to remove that sentence altogether and start with the second paragraph "indigenous peoples..."? Cadiomals (talk) 20:02, 30 March 2014 (UTC)
No -- the issue is how historians date the topic, and we tell readers this is how professors (using textbooks) date it. There are other ways to date it (as reflected in old textbooks = 1492 with a big emphasis on european background, or 1600 with emphasis on American frontier). The dating is contested territory and changes over time. The newer dating system emphasizes Indians and downgrades Europe & the frontier. Rjensen (talk) 00:05, 31 March 2014 (UTC)

Copyright problem removed[edit]

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RfC: Is the U.S. founded as a new nation in 1776 or not?[edit]

Closing per a WP:ANRFC request.
There is a clear consensus that the Declaration of Independence in 1776 established an independent nation. Armbrust The Homunculus 06:46, 7 July 2014 (UTC)

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Should “History of the United States” restore narrative describing the Declaration of Independence as establishing an independent nation? TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 07:50, 2 June 2014 (UTC)

Survey[edit]

  • Support The break from consensus is unsourced, but echoes Lost Cause analysis by Jefferson Davis that the present United States of America began at the Constitution, not before. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 07:50, 2 June 2014 (UTC)
  • Support That was the entire purpose of the document, AFAIK. MjolnirPants Tell me all about it. 16:30, 20 June 2014 (UTC)
  • The Declaration of Independence did not establish a new nation. Just because one declares themselves to be independent does not mean that they are, in fact, independent: that came later. Arfæst Ealdwrítere (talk) 13:29, 23 June 2014 (UTC)
  • Support Ealdwrítere makes the good point that independence has to be "in fact independent" --so when did that fact happen? It happened in spring 1776 when all 13 colonies/states had in fact thrown off royal control. The British later did take control of some cities and much of Georgia and (for a while) much of South Carolina. But at all times after July 1776 over 80% of the population (and usually over 90%) was under American control. That seems pretty decisive by Ealdwrítere's criterion. Rjensen (talk) 13:49, 23 June 2014 (UTC)

Threaded discussion[edit]

  • Rmay307 gives us a new edit, overturning the consensus here that the Founding Fathers established a new nation at the Declaration of Independence, --- that is, the dating found in the “fourscore and seven years ago” of the Gettysburg Address. He did this without discussion here, objecting that there was no political union formed between the states by the Declaration, then took it upon himself to strike “nation” in several places to conform to his unsourced POV and made additional edit supposing the ‘national' government was a ‘central' one, additional mistakes which should be corrected. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 07:50, 2 June 2014 (UTC)
Cite for 1776. "By issuing the Declaration of Independence, [and…] declaring themselves an independent nation, the American colonists were able to conclude an official alliance with the government of France”. —U.S. Dept. of State, Office of the Historian, Milestones: 1776-1783, The Declaration of Independence, 1776. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 16:27, 3 June 2014 (UTC)
Lincoln set it well at Gettysburg: in 1776 the fathers "brought forth a new nation" It behaved like a nation (diplomacy treaty armies, loans) and was treated like a nation by France & Britain etc. In this part of the country (Montana) We still celebrate July 4 as the official birthday --What date should be celebrated? Rjensen (talk) 12:08, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
Cite for 1776 From Gordon S. Wood, “The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787” (1972). The nationalistic sentiments in 1776, a “feeling of oneness” assumed institutional form in Congress, which exercised "an extraordinary degree of political, military, and economic power over the colonists." (p.355). By the next year, Congress had made the league of states "as cohesive and strong as any similar sort of republican confederation in history — stronger in fact than some Americans had expected.” (p.359). TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 08:15, 5 June 2014 (UTC)
Cite for 1776 From Richard B. Morris, President, American Historical Association, Presidential Address AHA December 28, 1976. "In adopting the Declaration of Independence, an act of paramount, sovereign authority, Congress acted for the people rather than for thirteen separate states, since only four state governments, three of them provisional, had been formed prior to its passage...Congress alone possessed those attributes of external sovereignty which entitled it to be called a state in the international sense, while the separate states, exercising a limited or internal sovereignty, may rightly be considered a creation of the Continental Congress, which preceded them and brought them into being." TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 12:36, 6 June 2014 (UTC)
As pointed out above, only a few state legislatures/burgesses met that might not have been under the Royal Governor watchful eye. So the US had a National Congress meeting, tiny recognition from abroad, no President, no integrated judicial system. Essentially just local town/city council meetings with careful attention to British "occupation." Tories really predominated in NYC and certainly had huge pockets of support in the South. Still operating as part of the British Empire as far as most other countries were concerned. pov that US was "an independent nation." Took eight years to hammer out that point! Kind of like the "Free French" in WWII. France was occupied and hardly free but with a government that claimed to represent it outside the country in their case. Inside the country in America. Ran like crazy when the British came close. Student7 (talk) 18:13, 8 June 2014 (UTC)
The free-French government in exile could not hold free elections in every province of France as the American Congress directed, nor could they obtain revenues from taxes paid by citizenry in France. A nation-state must control territory and population. I suppose by your analysis, Britain chose Indian empire over American, it all rested within the whim of the syphillitically mad king, people and parliaments representative of them are of no consequence. The historical record does not seem to bear out this unsourced pov.
Reference for 1776. From Gordon S. Wood, “The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787” (1972). Beginning in 1777, the substantial Congressional powers in Article 9 “made the league of states as cohesive and strong as any similar sort of republican confederation in history." (p.359). It sort of depends upon whether you believe a) U.S. independence occurs when representatives of the sovereign people declare independence, or whether you believe b) independence occurs when their sovereign king officially relinquishes control. What is the source which supports a date other than --- July 4, 1776 --- as the U.S. birthday, or is this just a bit of original research by unsourced fringe pov editors?
What is the alternative date to be celebrated and who endorses the out-of-the-mainstream date proposed, what historical associations countenance an alternative history, and why should WP be fringe for these sources, unnamed as they remain to date? TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 15:36, 16 June 2014 (UTC)
  • Support per TheVirginiaHistorian. A "nation" in the broad sense of the term can exist apart from a constitution or federal law. Upon the declaration of independence a nation of Americans existed insubordinate to the Crown. Chris Troutman (talk) 00:26, 18 June 2014 (UTC)
Ealdwrítere above in his Oppose at the Survey echoes the objection of Student7, making the point as paraphrased and answered by Rjensen above, that independence has to be "in fact independent” — which was met by the Spring 1776 by the loss of royal control for 80-90% of the U.S. population for the duration of the war under the leadership of the Congress. Mostly British influence extended around a few occupied port cities. A declaration of independence is historically considered as de facto only if it is related to an independent state's national government with its controlling territory and population, sustained over time. The Declaration meets that criteria.
Since the independence of royal rule was substantially secured by thirteen states at the time of their unanimous declaration in Congress, even before permanent state governments were established, the declaration of the victors is counted — in this case, as July 4 by an unanimous act of Congress, cemented in “perpetual union” with the Articles of Confederation, and made a “more perfect” Union by the Constitution, it is still the United States of America in territory and population to the present. No alternative beginning date is proposed in a reliable source. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 15:36, 23 June 2014 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.


Intro Declaration paragraph[edit]

To conform introduction to historical chronology and article narrative, I propose the following rewrite:

FROM the existing inaccurate:

"All 13 colonies united in a Congress that led to armed conflict in April 1775. The Patriots drove the royal officials out of every colony and set up state governments. On July 4, 1776, the Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence drafted by Thomas Jefferson."

TO the proposed sourced:

The First Continental Congress petitioned for redress of grievances and reconciliation. The Second Continental Congress initiated state governments representing the people to replace royal governments and met with the authority from the people of the colonies to create an independent nation, which it did by the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.[n]

  • Note: Morris, Richard B., President, American Historical Association, Presidential Address AHA December 28, 1976. Viewed June 6, 2014.

I’d like to hear from other editors before WP:BOLD. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 13:26, 6 June 2014 (UTC)

I think the first text is accurate. The second one is dubious -- "with the authority from the people of the colonies" what does 'authority' refer to?? They were in July 1776 states not colonies. Perhaps rewrite the last sentence of version 1 to read:

"All 13 colonies united in a Congress that led to armed conflict in April 1775. The Patriots drove the royal officials out of every colony and set up state governments. In July 1776, the unanimous Congress declared independence and issued the Declaration of Independence drafted chiefly by Thomas Jefferson, thereby creating an independent nation, the United States of America."

I don't see the Morris essay as bearing on these alternative paragraphs one way or the other, except that he emphasizes the Patriots. Our first version emphasizes the aggressive action on the street of the Patriots while the second one ignores them entirely. Rjensen (talk) 16:27, 16 June 2014 (UTC)
Congress proposed to the colonial legislatures that they reconstitute themselves as states, four had complied by July 1776, three of them provisionally. The phrase “and set up state governments” is not in chronological order according to Morris. “Patriots” implies logically, “all patriots” which is not 1/13 of them as of July 1776, the statement as written is misleading.

"All 13 colonies united in a Congress that initiated replacing colonial governments with state governments. Although armed conflict began in Massachusetts, Patriots drove the royal officials out of every colony and assembled in mass meetings and conventions. These empowered delegates to Congress to unanimously declare independence in July 1776. Congress representing the people in every state created an independent nation, the United States of America."

Maier also has a lot to say about urban people in the streets effecting the independence movement. They should not be omitted; this latest draft does not omit them. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 09:28, 18 June 2014 (UTC)

Congress represented the 13 colonies/states, NOT "the people in every state" so I would recommend:

"All 13 colonies united in a Congress that called on the colonies to write new state constitutions. After armed conflict began in Massachusetts, Patriots drove the royal officials out of every colony and assembled in mass meetings and conventions. The 13 colonies/states unanimously empowered their delegates to Congress to declare independence. In July 1776, Congress created an independent nation, the United States of America."

Rjensen (talk) 21:58, 1 July 2014 (UTC)

I think we are pretty close to agreement, only at the Declaration, there were not states (governments) according to Richard Morris the historian, who references two Supreme Court cases. The mass meetings and conventions in the states (places) had not yet constituted themselves into states (permanent governments), save one. So the people in the places acted to empower their delegates in Congress.
a) The people in the states (places) empowered their delegates, and they in turn self-reported themselves as acting on the "Authority of the good People of these Colonies," the "one people" who must dissolve the political connection with Great Britain. b) The people's representatives in the States (governments) ratified the perpetual union in the Articles, and still later c) the people again, "We the people" in state (place) conventions ratified the Constitution into a "more perfect Union" than the earlier perpetual one. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 04:31, 2 July 2014 (UTC)
let's just say the "Patriot governments in the colonies" --there were no cases of people at large voting on independence. Morse I think can be misleading here. Rjensen (talk) 05:08, 2 July 2014 (UTC)
Good solution. Thanks. BTW also like your work at Ronald Reagan introduction. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 11:39, 2 July 2014 (UTC)

Swede addition[edit]

Swedes, Finns at Wilmington, DE

The edit adding information about the Swedish colonization was removed without explanation. Here is a 1938 stamp commemorating their 1638 founding of New Sweden. They are the source of the log cabin. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 11:00, 17 July 2014 (UTC)

yes they were there but it's hard to make a case for including them. we have VERY limited space in this article. Rjensen (talk) 11:24, 17 July 2014 (UTC)
That's the explanation the good faith IP contributor deserves. The reverting editor left a message on the IP talk page saying the contributor was disruptive. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 13:02, 17 July 2014 (UTC)