A Brief Tour Through US History

Iplivecams invites you to travel back in time on our tour that starts in Jamestown and ends on the sands of Iwo Jima

A Brief Tour Through US History

Along the way, join our ancestors to conquer a new world, walk with our founding fathers as they birth a new nation, push back the frontier and battle Santa Anna at the Alamo, and cross the Atlantic with tens of thousands of "doughboys". Finally, struggle with the Marines to raise the American flag on the island of Iwo Jima.

To enhance your journey, you will then have the opportunity to view a full catalog of books, videos, games, puzzles, prints, and posters related to that time period. Everyone with a love of history will be fascinated with our wide variety of collectables, learning tools, and activities.

Learning history is more than memorizing dates. It’s the "Who’s", "What’s", "Where’s", "Why’s", and "How’s". Teachers, parents, and older children may use our products to supplement curriculum, or create school reports and projects. It is our hope that our products will make learning history fun—we want history to "Come Alive"!

The Early Settlers and Pioneers

On August 3, 1492, Christopher Columbus, an Italian navigator, left Spain with a fleet of three ships; the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. He hoped to sail to Japan and set up a trade route between the East and the West. He was looking for spices, especially pepper. In October 1492, Columbus landed on an island that he named San Salvador. Thinking he had arrived in the Indies, he named the island's inhabitants "Indians". (In that time, the "Indies" referred to India, China, the East Indies, and Japan.) Columbus died in Spain in 1506, but not before he sailed on three more voyages. He discovered areas we now know as Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Honduras, and the Isthmus of Panama.

The first English settlers traveled to the New World over 100 years after Columbus. Sir Walter Raleigh attempted twice to start a colony; but four or so years after the second attempt, an English ship found the colony deserted. In 1607, at Jamestown, in an area now known as Virginia, the English landed three small ships, the Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery. Approximately 100 wealthy English gentlemen attempted America's first and only Communistic form of government. All food and provisions were kept in a "common store." Which meant even if someone did not work, they were still able to go to the "common store" for food, thus living off the labors of their fellow men. By 1608, only a third of the original colonists were still alive. Captain John Smith arrived in late 1608 and declared, "He that does not work shall not eat." The "common store" system failed miserably and private enterprise was instituted. Hard work, as always, brought success.

Feeling like strangers in Holland, they heard of the English settlement in Jamestown, and in September of 1620, sailed the Mayflower on a 65 day voyage. Storms blew the Mayflower off course and instead of landing in Jamestown, the Pilgrims saw the shores of a wilderness land far north of their original destination. The land they saw we now know as Cape Cod in the Massachusetts Bay. In December of 1620, Captain Miles Standish sailed the Mayflower into the bay, and the Pilgrims began to clear land for their settlement, which they called Plymouth. By that next spring, half of the Pilgrims had died, but they remained confident God would help them.

And He did in the form of a friendly Wampanoag Indian. Squanto taught them how to hunt game and plant crops. But that summer was extremely dry, and the Pilgrims worried the crops would perish. They set aside a day of prayer and fasting, and for nine hours they prayed. Ten days of rain followed this day of prayer. Grateful for God's mercy, they planned a three day feast of deer and turkey, pumpkin, corn, and beans. 90 Indians joined the feast and listened as the Pilgrims read the Bible and raised special prayers of thanks to God. We celebrate this as our holiday of Thanksgiving.

Colonial Times & the American Revolution

For another century after Jamestown, people from all over Europe came and settled the Eastern seaboard of North America. These settlements became known as the 13 colonies. They ranged from as far north as New York, to as far south as Georgia. These colonies were English settlements and therefore under English rule.

With the end of the French and Indian war in 1763, England was the most powerful country in the world. Most American colonists were loyalists; proud to be Englishmen. This patriotic fervor soon evaporated when England imposed taxes on the colonists to pay the bills incurred in the war. The Stamp Act of 1765, the Townshend Duties, the Tea Act of 1773, the Coercive Acts, and the Quebec Act created outrage and eventually resistance. Because the colonists had no say in the English Parliament in the passing of these laws, "taxation without representation" became the rallying cry throughout the colonies.

They petitioned the King that their rights as Englishmen be respected. King George’s response was to send English warships and more troops to the colonies. The colonists finally said "enough" and started training as soldiers. Massachusetts’s colonists called themselves "Minutemen" because they could be ready in a minute’s notice.

In the spring of 1775, England learned the colonists had secretly stockpiled munitions in the town of Concord, and that some of the colonists’ leaders were hiding in Lexington. English troops made plans to march to Concord and Lexington.

Paul Revere and William Dawes, two patriots from Boston, learned of the English plan and rode through the night, alerting the Minutemen by shouting "The British are coming, the British are coming"! On April 19, 1775, the English soldiers reached Lexington and were met by a group of Minutemen. No one knows who fired "the shot heard round the world", but this first shot changed history. Although it would be another year before the American colonists formerly declared their independence from England, the War of Independence had begun.

The American Civil War

The American Civil War, or the War Between the States, took more American lives than every other war Americans were engaged in. Brother fought against brother, father against son. The battlefield stretched from the outskirts of Washington DC to the Gulf of Mexico, and from the harbors of the Carolinas to as far west as the territory of New Mexico.

Tensions over slavery between the North and the South dated back to the end of the Revolutionary War. Several events, starting with the invention of the cotton gin in 1793, accelerated this tension. To meet rising demand for cotton, Southern planters turned to buying slaves. The South was primarily an agricultural area, where the North was growing fast with a manufacturing base. The North bought the cotton it needed from the South, but it was actually cheaper for the South to import what it needed from England.

Many Southern states believed that each state had the right to make it’s own decisions and laws. They believed in strong states rights and a resistance to the centralization of power in the federal government. So they were especially upset when the federal government passed several tariff laws to aide Northern manufacturers. These tariffs would force the South to buy from the North. In their frustration, many Southern states began to talk about seceding from the Union. Also of great concern, was the abolitionist movement in the 1830’s in the North, and new territories admitted into the Union following the Mexican War. Would these new territories allow slavery?

The Northern intrusion of tariff laws, the Southern thinking that they would be unable to maintain their way of live without slaves, and the philosophy of states rights versus a powerful central government, all culminated in a terrible conclusion. War Department records disclose that 359,528 Union soldiers died during the war; 249,458 of accident and disease. The Southern losses are estimated at 258,000 killed by wounds, illness, and mishaps. The Civil War was possibly the most terrible war the American soldier has ever known.

The US army had several forts within Confederate territory and refused to surrender them. One of these, Ft Sumter, was at the entrance to the Charleston Harbor in South Carolina. In the pre-dawn hours on April 12, 1861, Confederate forces fired on Ft. Sumter.

The Old West

Although today we think of the West as CA, OR, and WA, in the early 1800’s, the West was any land that was still frontier land. Even before the Revolutionary War, pioneers had started moving westward.

In early 1775, KY was still considered "the west". Daniel Boone and thirty other men cleared a small path over the mountains through Cumberland Gap, which was later called the Wilderness Road. By the time the Revolutionary War had begun, pioneers had built the first settlement in KY and named it Boonesborough in honor of Daniel Boone.

From that small path started the beginning of Western Migration. In 1803, with the Louisiana Purchase, our country doubled in size. By the mid 1800’s, 300,000 people had rolled west along the Oregon-California Trail corridor. In 1848, gold was discovered in CA, and by 1849, the "CA Gold Rush" was on. More than 55,000 people migrated to CA. Under James K. Polk, our 11th president, "Manifest Destiny" completed the broad outlines of America’s geography. During his term, the United States pushed our boundaries to the Pacific, taking CA and the Southwest from Mexico, admitting TX to the Union and crowding England out of the Pacific Northwest. By 1890, the United States had bought, claimed or seized through war, territory that tripled its size. The Census Bureau declared the frontier was gone, we had conquered our land.

Settlers quickly found that the Great Plains was an ideal place to raise beef cattle. The men the rancher hired to care for his cattle were the American cowboys. The cowboys and their large herds roamed where they pleased, and ranches sprang up in WY, MT, CO, NE, and KS. These cowboys practically lived with the cattle, providing food, water, and protection, especially during the cattle drives to cow towns. There they would load the cattle onto trains for sale in the east. The life of a cowboy is often romanticized, but in reality it was a hard, lonely life.

Both as myth and reality, the legends of the West still play a premier role in today’s culture. From mountain men to cowboys, and homesteaders to cavalry men, stories involving their adventures and exploits have made their way into our hearts through print, films, and art. Heroes such as Buffalo Bill Cody, Kit Carson, and Daniel Boone, as well as Native Americans such as Sitting Bull and Geronimo are now known not only in the United States of America, but also all around the world.

Our migration west was not without sacrifice, however. The US government had made numerous promises to the Native American Indians, but few were kept. Little by little the Indians watched their land disappear. Many of them decided to fight and the Indian Wars followed. Both sides displayed great cruelty in this sad chapter of our country’s history. At it’s conclusion, tribe by tribe were moved, some by force, to reservations.

The Spanish American War

In January 1898, serious disorder in Havana, Cuba, led the US Consul General of Havana to ask that a US warship be sent to protect US citizens. The second-class battleship, the USS Maine was ordered to Havana.

William McKinley, our 25th President, had hoped to avoid war with Spain, but the national outrage over the Maine left him no choice. On April 11, 1898, he asked Congress for the authority to put an end to the fighting in Cuba. On April 19, Congress gave him that authority to intervene, and a declaration of war was announced on April 25.

On June 22, 1898, the US landed 17,000 troops southeast of Santiago de Cuba. Among these troops was a group of volunteers called the Rough Riders. These men had been raised by Lieutenant Colonel (and future US President) Teddy Roosevelt. Roosevelt led his men on a charge up Kettle Hill, which flanked a Spanish fortification on San Juan Hill. This charge made the Rough Riders famous, and Teddy Roosevelt called the day of the battle "the greatest day of my life." On July 17, the Spanish garrison at Santiago de Cuba surrendered. On July 25, US troops landed and took the island of Puerto Rico with almost no resistance.

During this same time, the US was also fighting in the Philippines. The US subdued the Spanish and gained their surrender by August 13, but unlike Cuba, the Filipinos didn’t want military rule by the US. Hostilities escalated and marked the beginning of a bloody war that lasted more than two years. The Filipinos waged effective guerilla warfare, even though they were armed with old equipment and badly outmatched in open combat.

The war finally ended in 1902, and in 1916, our Congress started a movement to give the Filipinos their independence. We continued to control the Philippines through WWII (1939-1945), but the islands gained their independence on July 4, 1946.

World War I

World War I started when the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Ferdinand, and his wife were assassinated at Sarajevo in Serbia (Bosnia-Herzegovina) on June 28, 1914.

This was really just an excuse for Germany to invade its neighbors, however. For two years prior, European nations had been preparing for war in response to Germany’s military buildup.

Alliances were formed; Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy were called the Central Powers, and Britain, France, and Russia were the Allied Powers. After the assassination, the German Kaiser Wilhelm II, encouraged Austria-Hungary to retaliate against Serbia. Russia, not yet communist, was ruled by the Czar and was Serbia’s "protector". The Kaiser assumed, wrongly, that Russia would not move to protect Serbia.

Germany used the Russian resistance as their reason to invade Russia’s ally, France, but the military was still not strong enough to invade France directly. They chose to march through neutral Belgium. It was this violation of Belgium neutrality that brought Britain into the conflict, definitely turning it into a World War.

One by one the countries of Europe declared war on each other, but for the first three years, President Woodrow Wilson, our 28th president, kept the US neutral. Our president, the Secretary of the Navy, and the Secretary of War were, if not pacifistic, at the very least, anti-war. We were the number one industrial power in the world, yet our army only ranked 17th in the world. Wilson attempted mediation, but without sufficient military might, European powers were unable to take his attempts seriously.

In May 1915, an English passenger liner, the Lusitania, left New York on its way to England. As the ship approached the Irish Sea, the German submarine, U-20, without warning, fired a torpedo into her side, sinking her. Over a thousand men, women, and children lost their lives, including over one hundred Americans. Yet, Wilson still kept us neutral while holding Germany to "strict accountability" for its submarine warfare. By the end of 1915, Germany controlled Central and Southeast Europe, and was concentrating on England. They blockaded England with submarines, and our ships carrying food and supplies to England came under attack. When submarines sank three American merchant ships, Wilson finally abandoned neutrality and decided to take us into the war.

In his war message of April 2, 1917, Wilson condemned the German submarine campaign as "warfare against mankind", and urged Americans to fight to make the world "safe for democracy". On April 6, Congress declared a state of war between the United States and Germany.

We defeated the German army, and the Great War concluded with the armistice on November 11, 1918.

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