Talk:United States

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Former good articleUnited States was one of the Geography and places good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
Did You KnowOn this day... Article milestones
DateProcessResult
December 15, 2005Good article nomineeListed
May 7, 2006Featured article candidateNot promoted
May 8, 2006Featured article candidateNot promoted
May 18, 2006Peer reviewReviewed
July 3, 2006Featured article candidateNot promoted
September 21, 2006Peer reviewReviewed
October 19, 2006Featured article candidateNot promoted
June 19, 2007Featured article candidateNot promoted
July 9, 2008Good article reassessmentKept
June 27, 2009Featured article candidateNot promoted
September 6, 2009Peer reviewReviewed
January 19, 2011Peer reviewReviewed
March 18, 2012Good article reassessmentDelisted
August 10, 2012Good article nomineeNot listed
January 21, 2015Good article nomineeListed
February 22, 2020Good article reassessmentDelisted
December 19, 2020Peer reviewReviewed
Did You Know A fact from this article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page in the "Did you know?" column on February 3, 2015.
The text of the entry was: Did you know ... that the United States accounts for 37% of all global military spending?
On this day... A fact from this article was featured on Wikipedia's Main Page in the "On this day..." column on July 4, 2008.
Current status: Delisted good article

Frequently asked questions

Q1. How did the article get the way it is?
Detailed discussions which led to the current consensus can be found in the archives of Talk:United States. Several topical talk archives are identified in the infobox to the right. A complete list of talk archives can be found at the top of the Talk:United States page.
Q2. Why is the article's name "United States" and not "United States of America"?
Isn't United States of America the official name of the U.S.? I would think that United States should redirect to United States of America, not vice versa as is the current case.
This has been discussed many times. Please review the summary points below and the discussion archived at the Talk:United States/Name page. The most major discussion showed a lack of consensus to either change the name or leave it as the same, so the name was kept as "United States".
If, after reading the following summary points and all the discussion, you wish to ask a question or contribute your opinion to the discussion, then please do so at Talk:United States. The only way that we can be sure of ongoing consensus is if people contribute.
Reasons and counterpoints for the article title of "United States":
  • "United States" is in compliance with the Wikipedia "Naming conventions (common names)" guideline portion of the Wikipedia naming conventions policy. The guideline expresses a preference for the most commonly used name, and "United States" is the most commonly used name for the country in television programs (particularly news), newspapers, magazines, books, and legal documents, including the Constitution of the United States.
    • Exceptions to guidelines are allowed.
  • If we used "United States of America", then to be consistent we would have to rename all similar articles. For example, by renaming "United Kingdom" to "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" or Mexico to "United Mexican States".
    • Exceptions to guidelines are allowed. Articles are independent from one another. No rule says articles have to copy each other.
    • This argument would be valid only if "United States of America" was a particularly uncommon name for the country.
  • With the reliability, legitimacy, and reputation of all Wikimedia Foundation projects under constant attack, Wikipedia should not hand a weapon to its critics by deviating from the "common name" policy traditionally used by encyclopedias in the English-speaking world.
    • Wikipedia is supposed to be more than just another encyclopedia.
Reasons and counterpoints for the article title of "United States of America":
  • It is the country's official name.
    • The country's name is not explicitly defined as such in the Constitution or in the law. The words "United States of America" only appear three times in the Constitution. "United States" appears 51 times by itself, including in the presidential oath or affirmation. The phrase "of America" is arguably just a prepositional phrase that describes the location of the United States and is not actually part of the country's name.
  • The Articles of Confederation explicitly name the country "The United States of America" in article one. While this is no longer binding law, the articles provide clear intent of the founders of the nation to use the name "The United States of America."
  • The whole purpose of the common naming convention is to ease access to the articles through search engines. For this purpose the article name "United States of America" is advantageous over "United States" because it contains the strings "United States of America" and "United States." In this regard, "The United States of America" would be even better as it contains the strings "United States," The United States," "United States of America," and "The United States of America."
    • The purpose of containing more strings is to increase exposure to Wikipedia articles by increasing search rank for more terms. Although "The United States of America" would give you four times more commonly used terms for the United States, the United States article on Wikipedia is already the first result in queries for United States of America, The United States of America, The United States, and of course United States.
Q3. Is the United States really the oldest constitutional republic in the world?
1. Isn't San Marino older?
Yes. San Marino was founded before the United States and did adopt its basic law on 8 October 1600. (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sm.html) Full democracy was attained there with various new electoral laws in the 20th century which augmented rather than amended the existing constitution.

2. How about Switzerland?

Yes, but not continuously. The first "constitution" within Switzerland is believed to be the Federal Charter of 1291 and most of modern Switzerland was republican by 1600. After Napoleon and a later civil war, the current constitution was adopted in 1848.

Many people in the United States are told it is the oldest republic and has the oldest constitution, however one must use a narrow definition of constitution. Within Wikipedia articles it may be appropriate to add a modifier such as "oldest continuous, federal ..." however it is more useful to explain the strength and influence of the US constitution and political system both domestically and globally. One must also be careful using the word "democratic" due to the limited franchise in early US history and better explain the pioneering expansion of the democractic system and subsequent influence.

The component states of the Swiss confederation were mostly oligarchies in the eighteenth century, however, being much more oligarchical than most of the United States, with the exceptions of Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Connecticut.
Q4. Isn't St. Augustine, Florida the first European settlement in the United States?
Technically, yes. However, Florida was not one of the original 13 colonies that formed the United States and thus the article mentions Jamestown and not St. Augustine.
This decision has been disputed and no explicit consensus has ever been formed on this question.
If you wish to challenge this decision, please do so on the Talk:United States page.
Q5. Why are the Speaker of the House and Chief Justice listed as leaders in the infobox? Shouldn't it just be the President and Vice President?
The President, Vice President, Speaker of The House of Representatives, and Chief Justice are stated within the United States Constitution as leaders of their respective branches of government. As the three branches of government are equal, all four leaders get mentioned under the "Government" heading in the infobox.
Q6. What is the motto of the United States?
There was no de jure motto of the United States until 1956, when "In God We Trust" was made such. Various other unofficial mottos existed before that, most notably "E Pluribus Unum". The debate continues on what "E Pluribus Unum"'s current status is (de facto motto, traditional motto, etc.) but it has been determined that it never was an official motto of the United States.
Q7. Is the U.S. really the world's largest economy?
Yes. The United States has been the world's largest national economy since the Gilded Age and the world's largest economy since 2014, when it surpassed the European Union.
Q8. Isn't it incorrect to refer to it as "America" or its people as "American"?
In English, America (when not preceded by "North", "Central", or "South") almost always refers to the United States. The large super-continent is called the Americas.
Q9. Why isn't the treatment of Native Americans given more weight?
The article is written in summary style and the independence and expansion section summarizes the situation.
Q10. The United States is not a democracy!
Consult the archives of this talk page for discussions of the United States' government before adding any content that makes the suggestion. See WP:DUE

RFC: Manifest destiny in US history

Should the United States article mention the term "manifest destiny" as one of the justifications for territorial expansion? Andre🚐 15:18, 1 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • Support, proposer, this a standard American history topic in most textbooks, and also appears frequently in reliable sources, some of which are already used in the article. this one for example, is already cited in the history section, and a cursory search reveals many more descriptions of this topic. Andre🚐 16:10, 1 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Oppose. "Standard history" can be mentioned without the bizarre digression about one political party, some of whose members were imbued by a cultural idea. As it now reads (U.S. territorial expansion and imperialism was a controversial topic, justified by some such as Jacksonian Democrats, by the concept of manifest destiny. Lincoln Republicans and anti-imperialists did not support manifest destiny), it fails any encyclopedic test. Mason.Jones (talk) 18:19, 1 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support at least some mention somewhere. It was a major part of US history, has overwhelming coverage, and therefore deserves at least a brief mention here. I don't understand the objection that it is a "bizarre digression about one political party" - it's a basic, core part of American history, not a digression. As a note, the text is longstanding and was only removed a few days ago. It had previously been present in some form for about eight months. -Aquillion (talk) 18:42, 1 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support inclusion. I don't know if "justification" is the right term, but it was a concept widely recognized and debated in the nineteenth century. Not everyone agreed with it. A brief mention and link to Manifest destiny article would be appropriate. Glendoremus (talk) 18:57, 1 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Comment This RfC follows a discussion about the following insertion of text: Beginning in the late 18th century, American settlers began to expand westward with the ideology of manifest destiny, prompting a long series of American Indian Wars.[1] There was no objection to mentioning manifest destiny, just its insertion into this sentence. There are a lot of problems with the wording, such as the fact that Manifest Destiny was not developed until the 19th century. So basically, this RfC will accomplish nothing and should be closed. TFD (talk) 19:43, 1 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    False, TFD. @Dhtwiki stated above, "manifest destiny" doesn't belong in the article, in addition to Mason's commentary above. Furthermore, as Aquillion notes, the text was removed by KlayCax on August 24. Previously, it had probably always been in the article, or at least for a while, since it's a basic core concept in American History. If all disputants agree that it should be included, I will close the RFC. Andre🚐 19:52, 1 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I stand corrected. One editor objected to its inclusion. But what happens if this RfC results in "Include?" Then we go back to the discvussion and you still have to explain what should be said and where it goes. Why not figure that out before inviting the community to comment? TFD (talk) 20:36, 1 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    If we all agree it should be included, we could snow close the RFC and move on to the workshopping of how to include it. It's hard to workshop the text if people are going to be arguing that it shouldn't be in at all, which is apparently Mason's position in this RFC, but in the prior section he also made some rather grandiose objections. So let's get this out of the way. An uninvolved editor may come snow close this RFC in favor of inclusion, that'd be great. Andre🚐 20:42, 1 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support A page that gets half a million page views a year and is considered high importance at WikiProject U.S. history should be included in one form or another. Besides, 366,000 results on Google Scholar is certainly nothing to scoff at. It appears to be a significantly discussed topic and should be included.
  • Unclear wording of RfC/strongly oppose in lead I'm uncertain on whether this RfC is referring a mention of "Manifest Destiny" in the lead or body of the article. It would be objectively wrong to reinstate the previous wording: which stated/implied Manifest Destiny was the sole — or even primary — reason for the country's territorial expansion. As the article on the topic states (see citations on the article): Historians have emphasized that "manifest destiny" was always contested —Democrats endorsed the idea but the large majority of Whigs and many prominent Americans (such as Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant) rejected the concept. Historian Daniel Walker Howe writes, "American imperialism did not represent an American consensus; it provoked bitter dissent within the national polity while the Whigs saw America's moral mission as one of democratic example rather than conquest. The term was used by Democrats in the 1840s to justify the Mexican–American War and it was also used to negotiate the Oregon boundary dispute. Historian Frederick Merk says manifest destiny always limped along because of its internal limitations and the issue of slavery, and never became a national priority of the United States. By 1843, former U.S. President John Quincy Adams, originally a major supporter of the concept underlying manifest destiny, had changed his mind and repudiated expansionism because it meant the expansion of slavery in Texas. Although it would WP: Due if contextualized as a dispute between the Whigs and expansionist Democrats. KlayCax (talk) 20:20, 1 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    The RFC is clear, this is about whether or not to mention manifest destiny in the article at all, since it is not mentioned right now, and we don't all agree that it should be. Andre🚐 20:25, 1 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I support inclusion in the body: as long as the dispute between the American Whigs and Democrats is (quickly) contextualized. KlayCax (talk) 20:28, 1 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Sounds good, thank you! Andre🚐 20:35, 1 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
No problem! :) KlayCax (talk) 20:45, 1 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
No one opposes "a mention of manifest destiny," including me. That doesn't mean Andrevan's current sentence is acceptable history; it's also very poor English. The WP article manifest destiny can't be summed up by such an outtake about some politicians of one political party. As for the earlier sentence ("American settlers began to expand westward with the ideology of manifest destiny"), that's utter hogwash. Yes to contexualization. Mason.Jones (talk) 20:54, 1 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The RFC was not proposed about my specific sentence, I proposed several constructive sentences, and you weren't playing ball. You grandstanded and accused me of "a moral crusade that relies on sowing doubt and innuendo." Maybe it's your turn to propose a constructive sentence. If you do not oppose mentioning manifest destiny, you shouldn't oppose as you did above. Andre🚐 21:09, 1 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
All I had to go on was your sentence, which you offered up as some sort of succinct history. It was badly worded, didn't do justice to the WP article, and was rather ideological. I also thought it was unsalvageable. Mason.Jones (talk) 21:20, 1 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Mason, this RFC was declared to determine affirmatively that manifest destiny must be present in this article. If we can agree on that, I suggest you propose how and where it should be included. Andre🚐 21:22, 1 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support - (Summoned by bot) It does seem to be WP:DUE in the context of the expansion of the United States, especially if it can be contextualized in the prose appropriately. - Aoidh (talk) 00:37, 2 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Agree with above; context is everything in this case.Mwinog2777 (talk) 01:36, 2 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Oppose – as undue, especially for the lead, but as well as for the article as presently written. It's a phrase, hinted at by Jackson in an 1824 speech, that implied that the US should extend its population and democratic ways from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Canada to Mexico, a phrase that became tied to the much-contested question of annexing Texas. It was just a slogan, one that was extended to cover more purely colonialistic ventures – such as the annexations after the Spanish–American War, where settlement and eventual admittance to the Union wasn't an aim – a usage that diluted what it originally stood for. It's not a coherent philosophy that motivated all expansionist impulses, although it may have come to have seemed so; and I don't find mention of it in books that I have where I would expect full treatments of it. Dhtwiki (talk) 05:09, 2 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Dhtwiki: It will not stand if it's presented as a doctrine or governmental philosophy or significant impulse for westward expansion. The WP article on MD says no such thing; it was a cultural idea and so it's not significant enough for the lead. If mentioned in the body, it will match the WP link, with no ideological hype or spin. Mason.Jones (talk) 15:02, 2 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Only aware of Canadian POV....but in our text books we talk about "manifest destiny" as a reason for the war of 1812. Ameranc source ...says somthing odd ... "The United States fended off the British for a second straight time" ...that is odd as Canada felt it was invaded not the other way around. Moxy-Maple Leaf (Pantone).svg 17:34, 2 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support there should definetely be content about and a wikilink to Manifest destiny, and it is obvious that it should be in the context of territorial expansion. ––FormalDude (talk) 11:04, 3 September 2022 (UTC) (Summoned by bot)Reply[reply]
  • Support. I mean of course. I've probably heard or read this phrase like 10,000 times in my life. It's basically the first term you think of when you think of America's expansion. I have no idea how you want to handle it. "Manifest Destiny was term given to genocidal imperialism" or whatever. "Manifest Destiny is term not used at the time but is now an idiom". "Manifest Destiny was a term used by a handful of lawless fringe settlers, but is now common because [reasons]". But something. If it's an entirely misleading term and has nothing to with anything that people actually did or gave as an excuse, say that. Herostratus (talk) 08:20, 5 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • In principle support per Glendoremus, however this doesn't mean just crowbar it in anywhere, and I'm not particularly enamored with any of the actual textual examples suggested so far. CMD (talk) 09:42, 5 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Herostratus: The passage will be "some thing", but not any ridiculous thing. @Chipmunkdavis: The previous mention of MD in the lead was worse than a crowbar. The editor who removed it deserves a barnstar. Mason.Jones (talk) 16:01, 5 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Right, that's all I was saying. I don't watch this article or know much about the subject... it's up to you all to decide the details of how it's presented. Herostratus (talk) 03:31, 6 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support — This is a commonly accepted fact by U.S. and foreign historians and the scholarly sources provided by others will reflect such. Wikipedia should not be sugarcoated like a 20th century American high school textbook. Yue🌙 19:36, 6 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support including manifest destiny in the article with appropriate explanation, placement, and context. Oppose its inclusion in the specific sentence cited by TFD. I suspect the real issue is just what counts as appropriate explanation, placement and context. Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:43, 21 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

IP's table about the government

I lack the motivation to do something about this, but yeah, someone should probably tell them to stop. --Golbez (talk) 18:42, 8 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'll second it. Please stop! Mason.Jones (talk) 22:42, 8 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The article is protected again, the two IP sockpuppets have been blocked, and all of their edits should have been removed. My apologies for your edit about the death penalty that got swept away in the revert. 🙁 Bgsu98 (talk) 23:42, 8 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

First documented European arrival

I would suggest that this sentence in the article needs review: “The first documented arrival of Europeans in the continental United States is that of Spanish conquistadors such as Juan Ponce de León”. The “such as” really doesn’t fly in a sentence like this - if it’s the first documented arrival, either state who it was, or state that it isn’t known, and why? MapReader (talk) 02:03, 11 September 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]