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The End of the Colonial Era of the United States
(Конец колониальной эпохи США)

The first Europeans to reach North America were Icelandic Vikings, led by Leif Ericson, about the year 1000. Traces of their visit have been found in the Canadian province of Newfoundland, but the Vikings failed to establish a permanent settlement and soon lost contact with the new continent.

Five centuries later, the demand for Asian spices, textiles, and dyes spurred [побуждать] European navigators to dream of shorter routes between East and West. Acting on behalf of the Spanish crown, in 1492 the Italian navigator Christopher Columbus sailed west from Europe and landed on one of the Bahama Islands in the Caribbean Sea. Within 40 years, Spanish adventurers had carved out [создавать в результате упорного труда] a huge empire in Central and South America.

The first successful English colony was founded at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607. A few years later, English Puritans came to America to escape religious persecution for their opposition to the Church of England. In 1620, the Puritans founded Plymouth Colony in what later became Massachusetts. Plymouth was the second permanent British settlement in North America and the first in New England.

In New England the Puritans hoped to build a "city upon a hill" - an ideal community. Ever since, Americans have viewed their country as a great experiment, a model for other nations to follow. The Puritans believed that government should enforce God's morality, and they strictly punished heretics, adulterers and drunks. In 1636 an English clergyman named Roger Williams left Massachusetts and founded the colony of Rhode Island, based on the principles of religious freedom and separation of church and state, two ideals that were later adopted by framers of the U.S. Constitution.

Colonists arrived from other European countries, but the English were far better established in America. By 1733 English settlers had founded 13 colonies along the Atlantic Coast, from New Hampshire in the North to Georgia in the South. Elsewhere in North America, the French controlled Canada and Louisiana, which included the vast Mississippi River watershed [бассейн реки]. France and England fought several wars during the 18th century, with North America being drawn into every one. The end of the Seven Years' War in 1763 left England in control of Canada and all of North America east of the Mississippi.

Soon afterwards England and its colonies were in conflict. The mother country imposed new taxes, in part to defray [оплачивать] the cost of fighting the Seven Years' War, and expected Americans to lodge [обеспечивать временным жильем] British soldiers in their homes. The colonists resented [возмущаться] the taxes and resisted the quartering [квартировать] of soldiers. Insisting that they could be taxed only by their own colonial assemblies, the colonists rallied [собираться] behind the slogan "no taxation without representation."

All the taxes, except one on tea, were removed, but in 1773 a group of patriots responded by staging the Boston Tea Party. Disguised as Indians, they boarded British merchant ships and dumped [сваливать] 342 crates [ящик] of tea into Boston harbor. This provoked a crackdown [применение суровых мер] by the British Parliament, including the closing of Boston harbor to shipping. Colonial leaders convened [созывать] the First Continental Congress in 1774 to discuss the colonies' opposition to British rule. War broke out on April 19, 1775, when British soldiers confronted colonial rebels in Lexington, Massachusetts. On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress adopted a Declaration of Independence.

At first the Revolutionary War went badly for the Americans. With few provisions and little training, American troops generally fought well, but were outnumbered and overpowered by the British. The turning point in the war came in 1777 when American soldiers defeated the British Army at Saratoga, New York. France had secretly been aiding the Americans, but was reluctant to ally itself openly until they had proved themselves in battle. Following the Americans' victory at Saratoga, France and America signed treaties of alliance, and France provided the Americans with troops and warships.

The last major battle of the American Revolution took place at Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781. A combined force of American and French troops surrounded the British and forced their surrender. Fighting continued in some areas for two more years, and the war officially ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1783, by which England recognized American independence.


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