America: the Accidental Superpower The Modern era is almost exclusively controlled by the United States. The international economy revolves around America’s economy. The majority of the world’s job incentive comes from America. Ultimately, the decisions of America determine the actions of the rest of the world, in addition to the benefits or consequences of these decisions. But not until recent did this become reality. In fact, only 234 years ago, America did not exist; and not until around 100 years ago was it considered a superpower.
How then, is it now the foremost nation in the world? Ironically, America began as a humble extension of a nation. England wanted a piece of the newly discovered Americas, and countries like Spain and France had already scoured a good portion of its challenging, yet often bountiful terrain. Conflicts with other countries had prevented prior exploring, but England was determined to attain its share of this famous new land. After a few failed attempts, England’s dream was realized in 1607, when a privateer by the name of Christopher Newport led and founded the colony of Jamestown.
By the end of the 18th century, English America was flourishing, and commodities from the new world provided England with newfound riches, expanding its influence and power. However, the mistreatment of Colonial England by their homeland caused tensions, until in 1776; they declared independence, resulting in war between what was to be known as the United States of America and England. Following America’s victory, the country enjoyed great economic success, but the use of slaves in the southern portion of the United States for plantation labor caused a civil war in 1861 between the southern and northern regions.
The war resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and fully outlawed slavery in the south, however the increase in military strength required for the war proved America a leading world power. Ten years later, the industrial revolution began to take full effect, and America’s expansion west was complete. The turn of the century brought about numerous technological advances, all of which only increased the power and influence of America.
Inventions such as the steam engine and railways significantly improved travel speed and decreased the cost to ship goods, while the internal combustion engine now used in automobiles was just around the corner. The world experienced a period of rapid growth and prosperity, and America began to emerge near the top. However, one particular development in 1929 would negatively affect America so profoundly, that unemployment rates would soar to 25% and the U. S. currency would almost become worthless. It began when common United States citizens started to become involved in the Stock Market.
Utilizing new ideas like margin, or purchasing stock on credit, the everyday layperson could compete with the economic juggernauts. The result was what seemed to be an indefinitely high plateau of stock prices. But on “Black Tuesday” October 29, people began to sell. The fall continued for a month, and spread like a virus to the other countries. The world experienced its first Great Depression. In 1939, just as America was beginning to recover, war broke out in Europe when Germany invaded Poland under the rule of Adolf Hitler. Conflict escalated until Japan attacked the U. S. aval base in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, resulting in American involvement in the war. For four years, America and the allied forces battered at Germany in valiant storms of soldiers and gunfire from all sides, fighting for the upper hand, until the European Axis forces surrendered. Japan, however, continued to resist. But the vigorous spending and labor required for the war had caused enormous growth once again in America, and the newly completed research on nuclear weaponry was ready. After the Atomic bombing of the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan surrendered, marking the end of the war.
The development of nuclear weapons defined America’s position as the supreme world power, and along with the Soviet Union, the only nation with nuclear capabilities. Ultimately, the collapse of the Soviet Union left America as the standalone superpower. Now, America ranks highest in nominal GDP, Research and Development, and incarceration rate; highest in development, charitable contributions, and legal drinking age. It’s here to stay, and it has no sign of slowing down, so bid your prosperity well. They’ll be under America’s control for a long time to come.