Page 1

United States of America


Contents General Information 4 History 6 Nature 22 People 34 Economy & Transportation


Culture 54

American personalities 57 George Washington


Abraham Lincoln


Thomas Jefferson


Benjamin Franklin


Elvis Presley


Martin Luther King Junior


Thomas Alva Edison


Michael Jackson


Michael Jordan


Bill Gates 92


American Cuisine 96 1. Cheeseburger


2. Macaroni & Cheese


3. Fried Chicken


4. Peanut Butter

& Jelly

5. Buffalo Wings

99 99

6. Hot-Dog


7. Barbecue Ribs


USA TRavel 105

8. American Pancakes


New York


9. Apple Pie


Washington D.C.


10. Pumpkin Pie




11. Jack Daniels 104

Florida 118 Other places


*We do not claim any ownership for the images that have been included in the creation of these articles. The images were used for the sole purpose of having a better understanding of the topic that the texts speak about, in a purely educational manner. If one may consider that we have abusively made use of their images, please notify us on our email address and we will remove them. Most of the images were taken from these sources:,,, goodfreephotos, *The texts are a compilation of information we gathered from various sources and translated them from many languages. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.


General Information The United States of America is a country located in North America. It is bordered by Canada to the north and to the east through the district of Alaska and by Mexico to the south. The US has access to both the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. The country also has access to the Gulf of California, Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, all located in the south of the country. The United States of America covers an area of 9.833.517 km2, has a density of 35 persons/km2 and its capital is located in the city of Washington D.C., which hosts a population of about 672.228 people. The country’s national anthem is called “The StarSpangled Banner”, which was written by Francis Scott Key. The music was made by John Stafford Smith. The motto of the United States of America is “In God we trust”. The country is organized as a federal presidential constitutional republic and is divided into 50 states, 1 federal district, 5 major territories (Guam, Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, United States Virgin Islands and United States Minor Outlying Islands) and various possessions. The total population of the United States is of about 324.100.000 people. Other important American citizens living abroad can be found in countries like: Mexico (between 738.000 and 1.000.000), Canada (between 316.000 and 1.000.000), the Philippines (between 220.000 and 600.000), Israel (200.000) or the United Kingdom (between 139.000 and 197.000). The official currency in the United States of America is the American Dollar (USD). The national day is celebrated on 4 July every year. The United States has an established structure of foreign relations. It is a permanent member of the

The US 100$ banknote

United Nations Security Council, and New York City is home to the United Nations Headquarters. It is a member of the G7, G20, and of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Almost all countries have embassies in Washington D.C., and many have consulates around the country. Likewise, nearly all nations host American diplomatic missions. However, Iran, North Korea, Bhutan, and the Republic of China (Taiwan) do not have formal diplomatic relations with the United States, although the U.S. still maintains relations with Taiwan and supplies it with military equipment. The United States has a “Special Relationship” with the United Kingdom and strong ties with Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Israel and several European Union countries, including France, Italy, Germany, and Spain. It works closely with fellow NATO members on military and security issues and with its neighbours through the Organization of American States and free trade agreements such as the trilateral North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. In 2008, the United States spent a net 25,4 billion $ on official development assistance, the most in the world. As a share of America’s large gross national income (GNI), however, the U.S. contribution of 0,18% ranked last among 22 donor states. By contrast, private overseas giving by Americans is relatively generous. The U.S. exercises full international defense authority and responsibility for three sovereign nations through the Compact of Free Association with Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau. These are Pacific island nations, once part of the U.S. administered Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands after World War II, which gained independence in subsequent years.



The American flag consists of 13 horizontal red and white stripes alternated (the first from above being red). In the upper quadrant, on the hoist side, there is a blue rectangle with 50 small white five-pointed stars arranged

in nine rows of six or five stars that alternate (the first row having six stars). The stars represent the 50 states of the Federated States and the 13 stripes represent the original thirteen colonies. It is commonly called “Stars and Stripes” or less commonly “Old Glory”, though technically this term refers to the version with 48 stars used from 1912 to 1959. The flag has undergone many changes since the 13 British colonies of North America adopted it for the first time. For the US citizens the flag contains a rich symbolism, in fact it represents the freedom and the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the Charter of Rights and it is a symbol of personal and individual freedom. The flag has flown in battle for the first time in “Cooch’s Bridge”, Maryland, on 3 September 1777, during the American Revolutionary War. Moreover, it is still the only one to be present on a celestial body other than the Earth, the Moon. The original flag had 13 stars and as more states were added to the Union, other stars, but the strips have always remained 13. An exception was the flag with 15 stars, which also had 15 stripes added. It was this flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write The Star-Spangled Banner, the US national anthem. When the flag has changed, the change always took place on 4 July in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as a result of the Flag Act of 4 April 1818. The 4th of July is the commemoration of the founding of the United States and also the Independence day. The most recent change, from 49 to 51 stars, took place in 1960, after Hawaii became a state. Prior to this, the admission of Alaska in 1959, made the debut of a 49-star flag that was short-lived. If it were to be 51 state created, the flag should be changed with the addition of a new star on 4 July.

June 1782. In 1841, the federal government decided to make a coin that was called the Websterian Great Seal in honor of Daniel Webster (1782-1852), then Secretary of State and commissioner. The Websterian Great Seal, used until 1885, had only 6 arrows, a few olives, 6 vertical bands on the shield and was constantly criticized. Although not specified by the founders, the coin also has 13 leaves and 13 olives. In 1935, both the right and the reverse of the crest appear on the back of the dollar bill, at the behest of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. On the coat of arms there is represented a whiteheaded eagle (also known as bald eagle), with open wings carrying on the chest a shield similar to the US flag, with a blue header (but without stars) at the top and with 13 alternating white and red vertical stripes. From the perspective of the eagle, it holds on its left claw 13 arrows and on the right claw an olive branch. The presence of both of these elements are intended to mean that the United States has a strong desire for peace (the olive branch), but will always be ready for war (the arrows). The number 13 is not accidental as it refers to the thirteen colonies that in 1776 proclaimed the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America. The eagle has its head turned towards the olive branch to symbolize the preference to peace and on its beak it holds a ribbon, on which it is written the national motto in Latin E Pluribus Unum (By many, one). Above the head of the eagle there appears a sort of a divine sign with 13 stars on a blue field arranged in such a way as to form a six-pointed star.

Coat of Arms

The coat of arms of the United States of America (Great Seal of the United States) is a crest used for the certification of documents published by the Federal Government of the United States of America, a country that does not possess a proper heraldic shield. Its final version, conceived by Charles Thomson, was approved by the Congress of the United States of America on 20 USA coat of arms


History American history began with the arrival of the first immigrants from Asia across the Bering Strait, about 14.000 years ago, following herds of animals for hunting in America. These Indian Americans have left traces of their existence through petroglyphs and other archaeological materials. It is estimated that 2,9 million people lived in the territory which today belongs to the United States of America, before their numerical decrease as a result of epidemics caused by infectious diseases, who arrived in America through European passengers (though there are doubts about their exact number). There were advanced societies, for example the Anasazi of the Southwest, or the Forest Indians (Woodland), who built the Cahokia center, located near Saint Louis, which had a population of 40 in 1.200 B.C. After about five centuries after the Vikings landed in America, then came the Spaniards. Italian Christopher Columbus was the first person leading a Spanish fleet to reach the Americas, but he actually never set foot on the actual US territory, but Juan Ponce de León is thought to have done it, yet nothing is sure.


Juan Ponce de León became the first governor of Puerto Rico

The Spanish expeditions reached quickly Appalachian Mountains, the Mississippi River, the Grand Canyon and the great plateaus. By 1540, Hernando de Soto undertook an expedition over the largest part of the US territories. In the same year, Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, together with 2.000 Spaniards and Mexicans, crossed the territory that is now known as Arizona and went to the heart of nowadays Kansas. Other Spanish explorers such as: Lucas Vásquez de Ayllón, Pánfilo de Narváez, Sebastián Vizcaíno, Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, Gaspar Portola, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Tristán de Luna y Arellano and Juan de Oñate, undertook expeditions in nowadays United States territory. The Spanish created the first European colonies in these territories: Saint Augustine in Florida in about 1565 but it did not attract too many settlers. Then, they successively founded Santa Fe in New Mexico, San Antonio, Tucson, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Most of these settlements were created along the Californian coast and the River Santa Fe in New Mexico. The explored territories at the end of 1535 have been annexed under the Viceroyalty of New Spain, with its capital in Mexico City, expanding gradually in the southern and central portions of the nowadays United States. Foreign visitors have arrived in the past, but only after Christopher Columbus’s travels from the 15th and 16th centuries, European nations began to explore and create permanent dwellings on this continent. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Spaniards occupied the southwest of the United States and Florida. The first English colony that was successful was at Jamestown in Virginia in 1607. During the following decades, there were some Dutch colonies, as New Amsterdam – Nieuw Amsterdam (predecessor of New York City), on the territory now occupied by New York and New Jersey. In 1637, the Swedes have created a colony named Christina (Delaware), but had to cede the colony in 1655 to Holland. Also, the salutary neglect was practiced, meaning the “salutary neglect of the colonies”, the idea of British Prime Minister, Robert Walpole on to a more lax implementation of the decisions of the English Parliament in order to obtain an economic boom in the colonies. More than half of the immigrants who arrived during that period came on contract. These events were followed by intensive colonization of the east coast by the United Kingdom. Colonizers from Britain were left alone by their country

Vikings led by Leif Erikson are said to have discovered America 500 years before the Spaniards

Christopher Columbus thought that he discovered America but instead landed on the Caribbean islands

The original 13 colonies


White Cloud, head of the Iowa Indians

Original Constitution of the USA

of origin until the Seven Years War, when France ceded Canada and the Great Lakes region to the United Kingdom. Back then, the metropolis imposed taxes on the 13 colonies to raise funds for the war. Many settlers did not accept the taxes because they felt that they did not have adequate representation in Parliament.

Tensions between Britain and the settlers increased and the 13 colonies began a revolution against the British control. In 1776, the 13 colonies declared their independence from Britain, bursting the American Revolution (1775-1783) which created the United States.


The Boston Tea Party of 1773

Thomas Jefferson was the man who wrote the American Constitution

The Monroe Doctrine made it clear that “America is for the Americans”

The initial administrative structure of the country was a confederation, founded in 1777 (in 1781, its base being ratified) by the Articles of Confederation. After lengthy debate, the document was replaced by the United States Constitution in 1789 that created a more centralized political system. In September-October 1774, at the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, the delegates of the 13 American colonies decided not to accept any taxes without direct representation in the Parliament and called to the restoration of the Massachusetts constitution. The breach between the American colonies and the metropolis was produced in London, when the Parliament introduced new taxes and trade restrictions, despite opposition from the colonies. The fatal decision was taken in 1773 when the settlers were asked to buy tea only from the East India Company and pay a small fee on direct sales of tea in America. So it came to the Boston Tea Party of 16 December 1773, when a group of men disguised as Mohawk Indians boarded three vessels in the Boston harbor and threw their cargo of tea into the ocean. Consequently, the port of Boston was closed by the British and the population was forced to take care of the British troops and to pay the tea. This time, the settlers’ reaction was firmer. In 1774, a first congress of representatives of the

13 colonies took place in Philadelphia, which decided the boycott of the British products and the rejection of any authority of the Parliament from London. In response, London sent troops to restore the order in the colonies. After the first hostilities, the Second Congress of settlers decided in May 1775 to establish a mixed army, under the supreme command of George Washington, supported then by the Marquis de Lafayette of France and Prussian Baron von Steuben, who helped at the organization of a professional army. In the spring of 1775, the political crisis became more evident. Each of the 13 colonies formed revolutionary organizations and armed militias and Samuel Adams and John Hancock became the rebel leaders. In this context, the first armed clashes between the English army and the settlers began to occur. The first major battle between the settlers and the Metropolis was held in Bunker Hill, in 1775, ended with a victory for the English. The Independence was implemented in the meantime at the political level: on 4 July 1776, the 13 colonies (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia) adopted the Declaration of independence in Philadelphia, an agreement between the people and the government, 9

Battle of Alamo

an important victory in October 1777, forcing the surrender of the British troops in Saratoga. After this, the American ambassador to Paris, Benjamin Franklin, managed to negotiate an alliance with France in February 1778. With the help of French naval units, Washington finally defeated the British army in the south, forcing it to surrender in October 1781 at Yorktown. On 1 August 1783, the French drafted the Treaty of Paris that ended the war, with the settlers obtaining favorable terms. London was bound to recognize the independence of the US. The territory east of the Mississippi River, south to the Great Lakes (North America) and north of Florida belong to the newly founded nation. By the Articles of Confederation, ratified in 1781, the states unite in a relaxed league in which the individual states enjoyed a George Washington, the first US President broad autonomy. The situation changed in 1787, after emphasizing freedom and equality of all people. the adoption of the constitution, which strengthened Thereafter, the new states ratify a number of republican the federal government. After that, in 1789, George Washington became the first President of the United constitutions. Drafted by Thomas Jefferson, the American Constitution is based on the Enlightenment principles, affirming: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. It contains the idea that the King of England violated the social pact (governing), which needs to ensure the protection of human rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Since the king has violated the social pact, it is the duty of the people to remove the tyrannical government. The U.S. troops were poorly armed and poorly organized, but enthusiastic and, however, they obtained Mexican-American War 10

The Native Americans were brutally colonized and/or killed with “the Bible in one hand and with the gun in the other�

States. During the 19th century, the nation has expanded rapidly, adding many new countries within. Manifest Destiny was a philosophy that encouraged the westward expansion of the United States: because the people which was living in the east grew quite rapidly and new immigrants were coming into the country, many people continuously moved westward. In the early years, there was an intense controversy about the socio-political orientation of the young republic. The US involvement in European disputes, unfortunately led to the isolationist policy, formulated in 1832 by President James Monroe. Externally, the US was involved in the war between Napoleon and Great Britain, leading to a war against the British under President James Madison. The experience made James Madison (1817-1825) to proclaim the Monroe Doctrine on 2 December 1823, which stated that the US will not get involved in European conflicts and will not tolerate attempts of colonization by European powers in America. After the economic growth after the War of 1812, it followed the development of the central territories by farmers who seek new land. This led to endless conflicts with

Native American tribes who had been crammed north or moved to reservations. In 1819, Florida was bought from the Spaniards. From 1830, President Jackson pursued a tough policy. The Native Americans were expelled in the west in deserted territories, displaced or colonized in reservations because of the continuously permanent expansion. Texas declared its independence from Mexico in 1836. Mexico has send troops immediately in order to restore their authority. After a series of defeats, which included massacres of American colonists by Mexican troops at the Battle of the Alamo in San Antonio in March 1836, the Texans finally defeat the Mexican army at San Jacinto. This period ends with the arrival of President James K. Polk (1845-1849). Polk said that the destiny manifest of the US citizens is to live across the whole continent, proclaiming thus Texas as a state in the Congress of March 1845, knowingly causing a war with Mexico, which began in 1846 and ended with US victory. In February 1848, Mexico was obliged to conclude peace with the US, which annexed California and New Mexico. The US government signed the Oregon Treaty with Britain, which ensured its territory between the 11

Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia fighting the U.S. Army at Spotsylvania in 1864

Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery in the US

Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. The Canadian border was established at the 49 parallel. By 1848, the US territory doubled again and in California there were discovered gold mines. In the cities of West, the law of guns prevailed. Following this process, the US occupied the Native Americans territories. These actions continue to have political implications today, as some tribes require these lands back. In some places, the indigenous populations were destroyed or seriously reduced due to infectious diseases brought by European colonizers and the US have seized these empty territories very easily. In other instances, American Indians were forcibly moved from their traditional territories being taken to some reservations. Although some claim that the United States was not a colonial power until it seized foreign territories in the Spanish-American War, the controlled lands from North America by the U.S., essentially were of colonial nature. The territories of some of the states that are part of the U.S. were bought from neighbours or from other colonial powers: Louisiana was purchased from France in 1803, Florida from Spain in 1809, and Alaska from Russia in 1867. During this period, the country 12

has become a great industrial power and a center for innovation and technological development. Since the colonial period, there was a shortage of workers, fact that encouraged slavery. By the mid19th century, conflicts over the states’ rights and slavery of blacks continued to increase in intensity and began to dominate the domestic politics of the United States. The northern states began to oppose slavery, but the southern states considered that this system was necessary for the successful continuation of their agriculture based on cotton and wanted to introduce slavery in the western territories. Some federal laws were passed through the Congress to alleviate the conflict (for example the Missouri Compromise and the Compromise of 1850). As a protest over the election of candidate Abraham Lincoln in 1860, a supporter of the abolition of slavery as US president, 11 southern states chose to leave the Union. Consequently, in 1861 a bloody civil war broke out. Unresolved issues about the slaves created a chasm between the states from the North, dominated by the trade oriented bourgeoisie and the patriarchal agrarian South.

Haymarket Rebellion

American President, Woodrow Wilson came up with the idea of the “14 points” after WWI

Native American Chief “Sitting Bull”

Slavery had been abolished in all states north of Maryland by the end of the 18th century, but in the South, where the economy was based on large plantations, slaves could not survive without the main labor. The dispute escalated again after the Mexican-American War of 1848, when newly acquired territories of California, New Mexico, Texas, were to be incorporated into the Union as states. The people from the North wanted to prohibit slavery in all states, while the Southerners disagreed, claiming that each Member State should have the power of individual decision. The dispute exploded into a crisis in 1861 when 7 southern states left the United States and formed the Confederate States of America, an action that started the American Civil War. Immediately after the beginning of the war, 4 more southern states have joined the confederation. In May 1864, at the Battle of Spotsylvania, Virginia, the unionists have achieved one of the greatest

victories. The Resistance of the Confederation crashed after Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses Grant at Appomattox on 9 April 1865. Following the war, killed more than 600 000 soldiers on both sides. During the war, Abraham Lincoln declared all slaves from the rebel states free, issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, although the complete emancipation of slaves took place only in 1865, after the end of the confederation, with the adoption of the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution. The Civil War answered the question about the right of states to leave the Union, and is considered a focal point in the country’s history, when the national government gained new and expanded powers. The wars with the Native Americans under the US government were over 40 in number. These wars have cost the lives of over 19.000 white men, women and children, including those killed in individual fighting, and the lives of over 30.000 Indians. After the buying of Louisiana and the crossing of the settlers beyond the Mississippi, many Native Americans were forced to settle in Oklahoma, and by 1820 they were no longer welcomed east of the 13

Unemployed people waiting outside a kitchen opened in Chicago for a soup

Mississippi. Gradually, Oklahoma and its territorial dimensions were reduced in 1854. The tribes who defended the territories were treated violently, even annihilated. Among the largest conflicts, there was the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876 where the Sioux Indians led by their captain, Sitting Bull destroyed the attacking expedition led by George Armstrong Custer. In 1890, there was an attempt to arrest Sitting Bull, during which he was killed. On 29 December 1890, the US Cavalry massacred 200 Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Between 1877 and 1897, the rapid development


American gangster Al Capone in 1935

Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor

Into the jaws of death – The landing at Omaha Beach

of cities in the US, produced by labor immigrants and industrial workers was accompanied by social and economic problems. In 1873, Andrew Carnegie started the construction of the steel industry. The rapid development of cities and the permanent increase in the number of needy immigrants from Europe and Asia led to the development of ethnic neighborhoods in large cities and a huge increase in the number of industrial workers. There were no regulations for working conditions. Unauthorized strikes and acts of violence were common, and unions were organized at a local level. The rebellion from the Haymarket market in May 1886 demonstrated the urgency of social solutions. During a mass demonstration, 12 people, including policemen, were killed after a bomb attack. Consequently, 4 anarchists were hanged, although there was no proof of their guilt. The events of Haymarket market directly inspired the celebration of the international labour day on 1 May. Republican William McKinley (18971901) was the first modern American president. He strengthened the personal authority of the presidency, imposed import duties, introduced the gold standard for the dollar, has strengthened the confidence in the

government of traders, industrialists and trade unions. In 1898, McKinley intervened in the Spanish-American war of liberation of Cuba from Spanish domination. The government’s interest was directed towards new markets and sources of raw materials from Latin America and from the Pacific region to the Far East. Cuba became a republic thanks to the Treaty of Paris and the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico were ceded to the US by Spain, which generated in 1899 the antiimperialist constitution league in the democratic circles.

The 101st Airborne Division capturing a Nazi flag after parachuting in Normandy


Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the American President during WWII

After McKinley’s assassination in September 1901, his successor, Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909), intensified the expansionist policy. Internally, he achieved a more efficient control of trusts and mediated conflicts between the workers. After WWI, the US withdrew from Europe. Technical progress and spectacular rates of development in turbulent 1920’s gave the impression that the state of prosperity will grow continuously. After a long period of hesitation, US President, Woodrow Wilson entered in 1917 in World War I in order to establish a lasting peace in Europe. After the victory over the Central Powers, Wilson established the League of Nations, designed to help to ensure a lasting peace in the world, according to the Treaty of Versailles. The US Senate was concerned about potential restrictions on the US foreign policy. Wilson, who had suffered a heart attack during the 1919 campaign to adopt the treaty, can’t avoid in 1920 the Senate’s refusal to ratify the Treaty of Versailles and thus, the United States entered the League of Nations. His successor, Warren G. Harding, signed separate peace agreements with the former enemies of war in 1921. By the late 1920’s, the US foreign policy is defined by the principle of non-intervention in European conflicts. In contrast, the intellectual climate was defined by social conservatism and xenophobia in rural America, the most visible expression of this 16

President John F. Kennedy was assassinated just 2 years after his presidency mandate

prohibition, representing a ban on the consumption and sale of alcohol, which became a federal law. As a consequence, it begins to develop the smuggling and illegal trade of alcohol distilled in private factories. Alcoholic beverages are sold in illegal bars, called speakeasies, and controlled by the Italian mafia, Cosa Nostra. Gangsters established illegal and discrete bars, where they sold smuggling drinks. Battles between rival gangs in daylight was common, and corruption of the institutions called to apply the law was generalized. Al Capone led a neighborhood band south of Chicago since 1925, dominating the city’s underworld and illegal trade in liquor smuggling and immoral activities. Finally, in 1931, Al Capone was jailed for tax evasion. As a result of the degree of increased corruption, the Prohibition Act was repealed in 1933 by the 21st Amendment. Racism practiced by the Ku Klux Klan gained popularity, especially in the south. The sudden collapse of the US stock market in 1929 gave rise to an unprecedented economic crisis. USA entered the Second World War against the Axis powers under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The great

American soldiers in Vietnam

Destroyed Tanks in Sinai, Egypt during the Suez Crisis


Richard Nixon and Zhou Enlai toasting

economic crisis has rapidly spread among European nations, because of the global nature of the economic fabric. Europe, which had become the main debtor of the US after the World War, had funded its own postwar economic growth with the help of American loans. This was not possible after 1929, therefore Europe suffered a lot, socially speaking and faced massive unemployment, especially in industrialized countries like Germany. The 20th century was sometimes called the “American century” because of the influence exerted by this country in the world. Its relative influence was great, especially because Europe, which previously was the most important center of influence, has suffered badly in both world wars. The United States of America fought in the First and Second World War on the Allies side. In the interwar period, the most important event was the Great Depression (1929 - 1939), the effect being intensified by the Dust Bowl, a severe drought. Like the rest of the developed world, the US has emerged from the economic crisis following the mobilization for World War II. After the outbreak of war in Europe in 1939, the US officially reaffirmed its neutrality. But since 1940, the country supports the UK with the delivery of weapons against the Axis Powers. In 1941, British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill and US President, Roosevelt signed the Atlantic Charter, a manifesto for the freedom of all people. After the Japanese attack on the American fleet at the naval base, Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, the US entered the war on the Allies side, taking the lead against the Axis, Dwight David Eisenhower being the Supreme Allied Commander. In 1943, at the conference in Teheran, Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin declared that both they and the United Nations had as a primary task the establishment of a lasting peace. Great Britain and the US began to 18

Gerald Ford

bomb the German cities and industry. In July, British and American forces landed in Sicily, and by September they had reached Italy, capturing Mussolini and removing the Italian Fascism. In D-Day, 6 June 1944, a second front was opened, when the Allies invaded Normandy, France. 1.200 warships and 4.100 amphibious ships brought ashore 132.000 soldiers, while 10.000 planes attacked the German positions. Because of the D-Day landing, the Allied troops were able to chase the Germans out of France. Up until 1945, the Allies crossed the Rhine after they stopped the German counteroffensive. Forces of US General, George S. Patton couldn’t reach to Berlin, which was already besieged by the Soviets. Truman claimed that the use of the atomic bombs will end the war swiftly, saving millions of lives from the ranks of the Allied troops. In late July 1945, the Allies gave Japan an ultimatum, threatening its complete destruction, if they were not to capitulate. There was no intention glimpsed from the Japanese capitulation. So, American bomber Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay, on 6 August 1945, launched the 5 tons atomic bomb called “Little Boy” on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The explosion killed 130.000 Japanese. Three days later, a second atomic bomb, “Fat Man”, was launched from

Jimmy Carter mediated the Camp David Accords of 1978 between Israel (Menachem Begin) and Egypt (Anwar Sadat)

a Superfortress Bockstar bomber to destroy the city of Nagasaki. The attack killed 75.000 Japanese. Thousands of people died later due to radiation that caused injuries and illnesses. Finally, the Japanese surrendered on 14 August. Japanese representatives signed the official declaration of surrender in the presence of General Douglas MacArthur, on the American battle ship USS Missouri on 2 September 1945. At the Conference in San Francisco, the representatives of the 50 Alliance members have drafted the Charter of the United Nations and thus was born the United Nations. Both externally and internally, the US focused their attention on the conflicts with the USSR in the 1950’s. Meanwhile, the civil rights movement recorded the first African American successes in the campaign. After the discovery of Soviet missiles in Cuba in 1962, the terrified world expected the triggering of a nuclear war. After this incident, Kennedy tried to reduce tensions between the US and USSR, with firmness, negotiating with Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev. It was created a hotline, a network of high-speed teleprinter, which united Washington to Moscow. USA, USSR and Britain

signed the agreement on the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in August 1963, which France and China refusing to sign it. In 1954, the US intervened in Guatemala. 1956, the Suez crisis and the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 increased tensions between the East and the West, without however causing an open conflict. In 1959, the US included Alaska and Hawaii as the 49th and 50th states of the country. In the same year, in the courtyard of America there is a crisis, the Communist revolution in Cuba. The assassination of Kennedy in Dallas on 22 November 1963, shocked the nation. The assassination author’s name is even nowadays controversial, amateur assassin and Communist sympathizer Lee Harvey Oswald being blamed for the incident, or there maybe was a government Inter policy conspiracy, Kennedy not being liked by the groups of interest and the mafia that dominated America at that time. Under the slogan “The Great Society”, Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, continued its social programs, spending more on education, health care, urban renewal, the eradication of poverty and corruption. 19

Ford became his successor. Ford tried to improve the faulty presidency image through a rigorous and correct administration. Congressional power has been increased and, since 1975, more secret operations of the Central Intelligence Agency came to be discussed by the public and media. In 1976, Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter won the presidential election. Carter boosted international efforts of the US in the sphere of human rights and civil rights, both of which are areas of concern for the Democratic Party, efforts especially visible in improved relations with the regimes in Latin America, although his approach was somewhat naïve and often had its confidence based on corrupt and bloody regimes. His greatest success on foreign policy was in 1979, when he mediated a peace agreement between Israel and Egypt. For the first time in history, the US had lost a war. The Vietnam war had cost the lives of 58.236 American soldiers and caused the apparition of Vietnam syndrome among war veterans. Nixon ably handled the distrust between the Soviet and Chinese to the advantage of the US, gaining cooperation of both parties and relaxation. After his re-election in 1984, Ronald Reagan took Ronald Reagan took part in many summits along advantage of the chance offered to him by the new USSR president, Mikhail Gorbachev political reforms introduced by the new Soviet general Internally, the march on Washington of African secretary, Mikhail Gorbachev. After several US-Soviet Americans who fought for civil rights have turned summits in 1987, a decisive step towards disarmament Martin Luther King into a symbol of the protest movements in the 1960’s. During a march for freedom, he delivered one of the most famous speeches: “I Have a Dream”. As a supporter of peaceful integration, he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Most of such laws, namely the “Civil Rights Act”, “Voting Rights Act”, were passed under President Lyndon B. Johnson. He worked to fight poverty and to stop the war in Vietnam. During the Nixon administration, on 20 July 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man to have stepped on the moon. Internationally, Nixon and his adviser, Henry Kissinger managed to improve relations with the communist states leaders. In 1972, Nixon was the first US president to visit China, meeting Mao Zedong and in the same year, negotiations on the Strategic Arms Limitation (SALT) with the Soviet Union, started 3 years earlier, resulted in an Interim Treaty. Under the Ford administration, the presidential institution was rehabilitated to a certain extent. Its successor’s mandate was overshadowed by the unfortunate involvement in international events. After Nixon’s resignation in 1974, Vice President Gerald Ronald Reagan took part in many summits along 20 USSR president, Mikhail Gorbachev

Barack Obama became the 1st black president of the United States of America and had 2 successful mandates

Donald J. Trump

is made. The war brought enormous damage to most of the participants at the rebound, but the USA suffered relatively little from the economic point of view. In 1950, more than half of the global GDP belonged to the USA. In the Cold War, the US was a key participant in the Korean War and Vietnam War, and besides USSR was considered one of the two superpowers. This period coincided with a major economic expansion. While the Soviet Union ceased to exist as a legal entity, the US has become a world center of economic and military weight. In the 1990-2000 decade, the United States took part in several missions of police and peacekeeping actions, like those in Kosovo, Haiti, Somalia, Liberia, and the Persian Gulf. After the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, executed on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon by terrorist organization, Al-Qaida, led by Osama bin Laden, the United States, together with other nations, declared war against terrorism, thing that included military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. On 10 February 2007, Barack Obama announced

his candidacy for President of the United States in front of the Capitol Springfield, Illinois, under the slogan “Yes, We Can�. Throughout the campaign, Obama emphasized with the issue of the war in Iraq and of the increasing energy independence. Also, he wanted to provide care for all, at one point identifying these as its main priorities. On 4 November 2008, Barack Obama defeated Republican John McCain in the general election and became the first African-American elected US president. In 2009, when Barack Obama became president, the US debt was 10,6 trillion $. By 2012, they increased by 50% to 16 trillion $. Unemployment, deficit, public debt and inflation rose in the first term, the US economy losing 780.000 jobs, the US currently having a deficit of more than 1,1 trillion $. Despite the major economic difficulties amid the devastation of New York and other American cities on the eastern coast by Hurricane Sandy in November 2012, Obama was re-elected for a second term, defeating Republican Mitt Romney. In 2016, Republican Donald J. Trump was elected as the new president of the United States of America. 21

Nature Landforms

The United States of America occupies the central part of North America, an area between the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west, and between Canada to the north and the Gulf of Mexico and Mexico to the south. It is an area of 9.372.614 km² (excluding the inland waters), which makes the United States of America the fourth nation in the world by area, after Russia, Canada and China. To the United States, it also belong some geographically isolated regions, such as Hawaii and Alaska. The United States of America Census Bureau divides the mainland in four major census regions grouping several states: The Northeast (in turn divided into New England and Mid-Atlantic), Midwest (divided into the central north-east and central north-west), The South (divided into the south Atlantic, Southeast Center and Southwest Center), and The West (divided into the Mountains Region and the Pacific Region). The states from the east coast are, from north to south: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont (which is not on the coast), Massachusetts, Rhode Island (the smallest of the states), Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania (which is near to the coast but whose western half is often considered to be part of the Midwest), New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. The last 5, starting from Virginia, are also counted as Southern states. Geographically, this area includes low and very old mountains, the Appalachians, having their general


Monument Valley in Utah

course from north-east to south-west, as well as many other local phenomena, including the north glacial phenomena, tectonic faults of the Hudson Valley, and the limestone areas (coral) of Florida. The course of the rivers is generally from west to east. The rivers tend to be of limited length but have a large and regular flow. Tides are often strong, especially in the north. Winters are cold in the north or moderate and humid in the south, the summers being equally humid. The Southern states include the aforementioned: Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and even West Virginia (often considered to be part of the Midwest, as it was from the North in the Civil War), Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas (often considered among the states in the south-west). This area includes the southern part and the highest peaks of the Appalachians, and further to the west the plateau of the Ozark Mountains. The rivers include the mouths of the Mississippi and the RĂ­o Grande. The biggest climatic influence comes from the Gulf of Mexico, and includes mild winters, humidity, and occasionally hurricanes.

Grand Canyon


The Midwestern states include: Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas. They have largely been agricultural and industrial,

including the “rust belt”, the industrial “rusty” zone in the 70’s and 80’s from competition, especially Japanese. In this area, it is cold in the winter, hot in the summer, has a humid climate towards east and a dry one to the

Mississippi River


Rocky Mountains in Wyoming

Sierra Nevada in the US


Mauna Kea

west. This is where there is the “heart” (“Heartland”) of the United States of America, and is considered a center of moral values (serious ​​ work, home and family, the pioneers on the prairie and so on) for the rest of the country. The states of the mountainous area include: Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. The last four are often considered the states of the south-west. Especially in the south, the area is dry, with many deserts (like the Sonorano desert) and it also includes the Rocky Mountains. To the north, there are very cold winters and mild summers, while to the south the winters are mild and the summers are warm. This is the least populated area of ​​the country and is the place where many of

the destinations of the United States are performing, for example, the Grand Canyon (in Arizona) and Yellowstone (in Wyoming). The geography of the west coast (Washington, Oregon, California) comprises high mountains, like the Sierra Nevada, various volcanoes, deserts, like the Death Valley, and very humid areas (the coast, especially in the north). The United States of America are entirely in the northern hemisphere: the 49 continental states are bathed by the Pacific Ocean to the west, by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and by the Gulf of Mexico to the south-east. The neighbouring countries are Canada to the north and Mexico to the south. Alaska is the largest state, while the islands aren’t lacking in the central Pacific. After Russia, Canada and China, the United States of America is on the 4th place as the largest country in the world. The ranking varies depending on the counting of the two territories disputed by China and India and the real area of ​​the United States: the CIA World Factbook reports that the total area of the United States of America is of about 9.826.630 km², the United Nations Statistics Division gives a number of 9.629.091 km², while the Encyclopedia Britannica shows us a number of 9.522.055 km². The United States also have in their possession different island territories scattered in the Pacific Ocean, such as Guam and the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, which are tied to the United States in an association called Commonwealth.

The Appalachian Mountains


Window Rock in Arizona

From the Atlantic coastal plain, moving towards inland, we can meet the deciduous forests and the rolling hills of the Piedmont. The Appalachian Mountains divide the eastern seaboard from the Great Lakes and the grasslands from the Midwest. The MississippiMissouri, the 4th longest river system in the world flows from north to south through the center of the country. The flat and fertile prairie of the Great Plains is stretching to the west and interrupted by a highland region in the southeast. The Rocky Mountains, from the western edge of the Great Plains are stretching from north to south across the country, reaching altitudes above 4.300 meters in Colorado. Further west, we meet the rocks of the Great Basin and deserts such as the Mojave. The mountain chains of the Sierra Nevada and the chains of the waterfalls are coming to a loose by now to the Pacific coast. With its 6.194 meters above sea level, Mount Denali in Alaska is the highest peak in the country. Active volcanoes are common and present throughout the coastal region, stretching from the 26

Alexander Archipelago to the Aleutian Islands, crossing the Alaskan Peninsula, as well as the archipelago of Hawaii. The present super volcano in Yellowstone National Park in the Rocky Mountains is the largest volcano in this part of continental United States of America. The main stream of the United States of America is the Mississippi, the largest river, with most tributaries. The U.S. rivers and lakes are huge. The river network is among the largest on Earth, fueled both by rain water, snow and glaciers of the high massifs. The draining of the rivers is directed by the relief in a few main directions. Mississippi is a huge river, which along with Missouri is 2 and a half times longer than the Danube, having a size of 3.950 km. It springs west of Lake Superior, at 518 meters altitude, and flows through all the U.S. from north to south and it empties into the Gulf of Mexico through a marshy delta. The Mississippi River basin covers 55 navigable tributaries. According to its water volume it ranks 3rd in the world.


The United States of America have in common a continental climate rather accentuated inside the country, but given the huge size of the territory, there can be noticed considerable differences between the various parts, especially if you are going from north to south with the meridian trends of the reliefs that don’t put any obstacles in front of the cold northern winds that come up in Texas and the warm tropical ones that come from the Gulf of Mexico if you take into consideration the two ocean shores. Nordic influences are also felt on the Atlantic coast, along which it descends the cold Labrador current that annuls the mitigating marine influence to the height of Cape Hatteras. New York averages are oscillating in January from 0 to -4°C and the average temperature in July is from 21 to 25°C. Along with the influence of western currents, they favour the winter raids. Also strong is the cold continental air-Canadian origin famous blizzard. So, in the east the climate ranges from a humid continental type in the north to a humid subtropical type in the south, with tropical climate in the southern tip of Florida and Hawaii. Further west, the Mid-West has a continental climate, the Great Plains from the west are generally semi-arid or arid in the Great Basin, in the Southwest there is a desert type climate, while Mediterranean climate can be noticed along the California coast. A temperate humid climate can be noticed along the Gulf of Mexico and the South, an oceanic climate is along the coastal side of Oregon, Washington and southern Alaska (most part of Alaska however, is located in the subarctic climate or even polar), and finally most of the mountainous regions of the West are characterized by an alpine climate. Extreme weather events are not uncommon, with the coastal regions along the Gulf

of Mexico being subject to hurricane risks in the fall season and the Great Plains being subject to storm and tornado lines where there can be seen the clash between the masses of cold dry air from the high latitudes and warm moist air masses of tropical origins, besides the aforementioned blizzard in the north of the east coast and in the Midwest. The climate is mostly temperate, for example temperate oceanic on the Atlantic Ocean shore, continental temperate in the center of the country and subtropical in Florida and California. In Alaska, the climate is cold subpolar, in Nevada it is temperate, while in Hawaii it is humid tropical. The temperature in July varies between 18°C in Seattle and 28°C in New Orleans, and in January from -10°C in Minneapolis to 13°C in Los Angeles. The amount of rainfall varies


Mount McKinley in Alaska, North America’s highest peak

from 100 cm on the east and south coast to 50 cm in the Mississippi River Basin and less than 25 cm in the mountainous areas in the West. Rainfall is very abundant near the Western coast, in Washington and Oregon, being of about 80 cm in the lowlands and 100 to 150 cm in the mountainous areas. Going down to California, the rainfall is becoming increasingly rare, reaching an average of 25 cm in Los Angeles.


The tundra is the predominant vegetation of northern Alaska. There, it grows a lot of small shrubs, lichens and mosses. The inland areas and to the south, the warm seasons are longer and it can be seen the presence of other tree species, such as conifers. In these areas, numerous fir trees stretch along a vast expanse of taiga, which extends up to the area of the ​​ Great Lakes and to the north to New England. The Alaskan coasts have less varied tree species, but they are in a continuous growth and expansion status. In the southern regions, always along the Great 28

Lakes, the states of the Middle Atlantic and New England, many forests keep growing, with a great variety of trees: birch, walnut, elm, maple, beech, sycamore and other deciduous trees, various pines and conifers. Further south, between North Carolina and Tennessee, you can meet a further variety of trees, specifically within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which are the record holder for the greatest diversity of tree species, more than in Europe. The states that are watered by the Gulf of Mexico show a prevalence of vegetation of pine forests, magnolia and tupelo (rubber trees). Cypress and mangroves inhabit the swampy coasts, maintaining themselves against the fury of the winds and water erosion, otherwise they would advocate the inexorable disappearance of coasts. Along the Mississippi Valley, towards the western side of the Appalachians, it develops thick hardwood forests. Toward the Great Plains, however, the forests become less dense, and then it transforms into limited areas of oak groves immersed in the prairie, that before the intensive cultivation, they occupied a much larger area than today, reaching up to Indiana

Heart leaf penstemon (Keckiella cordifolia) along the Backbone Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains

The rose is the national flower of USA

and the most eastern areas, through the Corn Belt (the largest grain growing area). Where the climate is more arid, in the west, the oaks make way to the dominating prairie vegetation shrubs, such as juniper, mesquite to the south and sagebrush to the north. The passage of flora varieties, from the colder habitats to the driest is interrupted by the presence of the Rocky Mountains and other reliefs, in which there is a widespread presence of trees with tall trunks. In these areas, junipers and pines are located at lower altitudes, while as you go up in altitude you will notice the growth of fir, aspen and poplar trees. In the states overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the dry areas are intermingled with the cooler and mountainous ones. In the first habitat, there is not a large vegetative proliferation, while in the mountains, there grow many forests. The desert areas are composed

of plants such as: yucca, mesquite and juniper. In the collective imagination there is the thought that the cactus forests are located in the desert areas, when in fact they are eminently present in the vicinity of the desert of Mojave and Sonora, mostly on small pads. In the arid Colorado, along the plateau, it grows pines of the ponderosa and piĂąon type. The temperate climate of southern California with mild, rainy winters and hot summers, helped to the development of the chaparral, a particular type of bushy oak. Proceeding towards the coasts of Sierra Nevada, in the north, the reliefs allow the proliferation of redwoods, thanks to the fact that the cold seasons are longer and the rains are more frequent. From Washington State to Oregon, the very moist habitats enabled the development of a dense forest, also important in the economy of forest resources, mainly

Saint Mary Lake in the Glacier National Park


Arches National Park

composed of a great variety of cedars, conifers and pine trees, many of which have a mammoth stature, like the Douglas fir. In Hawaii, the different climate from the continental one allowed a different growth of flora: the humidity generated by the mountains and by the trade winds favor the growth of guava trees, especially in the north east of the island, while in the mid-rise reliefs, a rich tropical forest grows, the Ohia, also fueled by the many rains. At the highest peaks there are found many species of shrubs, while on Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea there are also some tundra species of flora. The areas covered by the winds in the south east of the island, presents an arid habitat, characterized by thorny bushes of acacia Koa and Kauila, especially along the wettest reliefs.


In the tundra, especially in the mountainous and arctic areas, there can be found squirrels, marmots and bears, the latter only occasionally; large aquatic mammals such as seals and walruses, however, mostly are found along the coasts of Alaska. The tundra is populated in the summer by herds of elk and caribou, which in the harsh seasons are moving in the southernmost conifer forests. Along the Appalachians, the deciduous forests give shelter to several mammals such as foxes, deer, bear, skunk, raccoon and moose, as well as to a large variety of birds. The coasts of the Gulf of Mexico are home to 30

Alligators can often be encountered in the state of Florida

Yosemite National Park

protected species such as the flamingo, the cormorant island, even if some of them are almost extinct because and the kingfisher. In Florida, however, the wet marshy of habitat modification by humans. The only native habitat is the ideal place for the alligators. mammal present on the island is the bat. Although you think that the bison inhabits only the grasslands, before the brutal hunting of these animals by European settlers, they were present throughout Eastern America. Currently, they inhabit protected areas or are bred in captivity. The central regions of the continent are inhabited by prairie dogs, rabbits and turtles. Many large animals have escaped intensive hunting finding refuge along the western elevations, especially in the mountainous regions of Alaska: here, species such as the grizzly bear (present only in very remote areas), moose, pronghorn, the bighorn sheep, who lives mostly in the Rocky Mountains, the snow goat, the wolf and the deer are living free. The biggest carnivore (omnivore in fact) in North America, the Kodiak bear, known also as the brown bear, inhabits the lands of Alaska. In the western deserts, poisonous snakes and small animals such as lizards and kangaroo rats can be found. Birds of prey are also very numerous in these populated areas. Hawaii has a peculiar wildlife, with species found only on the Beaver


Grizzly Bear in the Denali National Park


The US Bison

A Bald Eagle, the US national symbol


People Language

Although the United States of America has never adopted an official language, English is the de facto national language. According to a 2003 survey, about 215 million people or 82% of the population, has the English language as their mother tongue. In addition to English, the most widely spoken languages, according to the 2000 census are: Spanish, regularly spoken by 28 million inhabitants, Chinese (spoken by about 2.000.000 inhabitants), French (1,6 million, if the Creole-French are included, then 1,9 million), German (1,4 million), Tagalog (1,2 million), Vietnamese (1,1 million), Italian (1 million). The aboriginal and Inuit languages are ​​ spoken by less than 0,5% of the population. Among these, the most widely spoken is the Navajo, with about 180.000 people who speak it in addition to English. From around 1600, the English colonization of North America resulted in the creation of a distinct American variety of English. Some English pronunciations and words “froze” when they reached America. In some ways, American English is more like the English of Shakespeare than modern British English is. Some expressions that the British call “Americanisms” are in fact original British expressions that were preserved in the colonies while lost for a time in Britain (for example trash for rubbish, loan as a verb instead of lend, and fall for autumn; another example, frameup, was re-imported into Britain through Hollywood gangster movies). Spanish also had an influence on American English (and subsequently British English), with words like canyon, ranch, stampede and vigilante being examples of Spanish words that entered English


The second most used languages in the USA (Red-Spanish; Blue-French; Green-German and Purple-Tagalog)

English Language distribution across the US

through the settlement of the American West. French words (through Louisiana) and West African words (through the slave trade) also influenced American English (and so, to an extent, British English). Today, American English is particularly influential, due to the USA’s dominance of cinema, television, popular music, trade and technology (including the Internet). But there are many other varieties of English around the world, including for example Australian English, New Zealand English, Canadian English, South African English, Indian English and Caribbean English. English is adopted in all the formal public documents, but is not official at the federal level. It is official in 28 of 50 states. Some states have as an official language, besides English, another language: French in Louisiana, Hawaiian in Hawaii, Spanish in New Mexico. On 18 May 2006, the Senate passed a resolution, proposed by Republican James Inhofe, with the help of which it was established that English is the language “common and unifying the United States”. To become official, however, it must also be voted by the House of Representatives and be approved by the President, who has the right of veto. While written American English is in general standardized across the country, there are several recognizable variations in the spoken language, both in pronunciation and in vernacular vocabulary. The regional sounds of present-day American English are reportedly engaged in a complex phenomenon of “both convergence and divergence”: some accents are homogenizing and levelling, while others are diversifying and deviating further away from one another. In 2010, William Labov summarized the current state of regional American accents as follows: Some regional American English has undergone “vigorous new sound changes” since the mid-19th century onwards, spawning relatively recent Mid-

Cherokee language distribution in USA

Atlantic (centered on Philadelphia and Baltimore), Western Pennsylvania (centered on Pittsburgh), Inland Northern (centered on Chicago, Detroit, and the Great Lakes region), Midland (centered on Indianapolis, Columbus, and Kansas City) and Western accents, all of which “are now more different from each other than they were fifty or a hundred years ago.” Meanwhile, the unique features of the Eastern New England, centered on Boston and New York City accents appear to be stable. “On the other hand, dialects of many smaller cities have receded in favor of the new regional patterns”. For example, the traditional accents of Charleston and Cincinnati have given way to the general Midland accent and the one of Saint Louis now approaches the sounds of the Inland Northern accent. At the same time, the Southern accent, despite its huge geographic coverage”, is on the whole slowly receding: “Younger speakers everywhere in the South are shifting away from the marked features of Southern speech.” Finally, the “Hoi Toider” dialect shows the paradox of receding among younger speakers in North Carolina’s Outer Banks islands, yet strengthening in the islands of the Chesapeake Bay.

Spanish speakers across the US

American English and British English often differ at levels of phonology, phonetics, vocabulary, and, to a much lesser extent, grammar and orthography. The first large American dictionary, “An American Dictionary of the English Language”, known as Webster’s Dictionary, was written by Noah Webster in 1828, codifying several of these spellings. Differences in grammar are relatively minor, and do not normally affect mutual intelligibility. These include: different use of some auxiliary verbs; formal, rather than notional, agreement with collective nouns; different preferences for the past forms of a few verbs (for example, American English/British English: learned/learnt, burned/burnt, snuck/sneaked, dove/ dived) although the purportedly “British” forms can occasionally be seen in American English writing as well; different prepositions and adverbs in certain contexts (for example, American English in school, British English at school); and whether or not a definite article is used, in very few cases (American English: to the hospital, British English: to hospital; contrast, however, American English: actress Elizabeth Taylor, British English: the actress Elizabeth Taylor). Often, these differences are a matter of relative preferences rather than absolute rules and most are not stable, since the two varieties are constantly influencing each other, and American English is not a standardized set of dialects. Differences in orthography are also minor. The main differences are that American English usually uses spellings such as “flavor” for the British “flavour”, “fiber” for “fibre”, “defense” for “defence”, “analyze” for “analyse”, “license” for “licence”, “catalog” for “catalogue” and “traveling” for “travelling”. Noah Webster popularized such spellings in America, but he did not invent most of them. Rather, “he chose already existing options on such grounds as simplicity, analogy or etymology”. Other differences are due to the francophile tastes of the 19th century Victorian era England (for example they preferred “programme” for “program”, “manoeuvre” for “maneuver”, “cheque” for “check”. American English almost always uses “-ize” in words like realize. British English prefers “-ise”, but also uses “–ize”. There are a few differences in punctuation rules. British English is more tolerant of run-on sentences, called “comma splices” in American English, and American English requires that periods and commas be placed inside closing quotation marks even in cases in which British rules would place them outside. American English also favours the double quotation mark over single. 35

Religion in the US


The United States of America is thought to have a strong varied religious spirit which is explained by referring to the country’s history and material constitution. In fact, we observe that numerous religious denominations arise constantly. The religious values are ​​ a very important part of Americans lives, as shown by the elections won by the Republican candidate George Bush, who focused on the family values ​​of the society. Christianity is present in the United States of America in all its major branches: mostly Protestant (51,3%), followed by Catholics (23,9%) and Orthodox Christians (1%). Mormons also have a large number of believers in the US. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion and forbids the Congress from passing laws respecting its establishment. Christianity is by far the most common religion practiced in the U.S., but other religions are followed, too. In a 2013 survey, 56% of Americans said that religion played a “very important role in their lives”, a far higher figure than that of any other wealthy nation. In a 2009 Gallup poll, 42% of Americans said that they attended church weekly or almost weekly. The figures ranged from a low of 23% in Vermont to a high of 63% in Mississippi. 36

Protestant confessions of major traditions are those of the Calvinist-Reformed tradition, such as Presbyterian, Congregationalist, and Baptists, as well as Episcopalians, the latter being a recent American branch of Anglicanism, which traditionally refers the upper classes. Actually it is the confession of the Bush family. The most widespread Protestant confessions are, according to the order of confessions made: the Baptist (17,2%), Methodist (7,2%), the faith embraced by President George W. Bush after the wedding, the Lutheran (4,9%), the Presbyterian (2,8%) and the Episcopalian (1,8%), as well as other evangelical churches, Pentecostal and other minor ones. The single most common is the Catholic Church, present since the colonial times (especially in Maryland, where one of the first governors, Carroll, who in 1776 was among the signers of the Declaration of Independence, was the brother of the first US Catholic Bishop). The US Catholics, predominantly white and European, have, however, seen to strengthen their presence with the help of Hispanic immigration from the last 30 years. There are also other religions in the United States, like Judaism (1,7%), Islam (0,6%), Buddhism (0,5%), Hinduism (0,4%), Sikhism, Shintoism, and Baha’i, thanks to the enormous variety of ethnic groups

Religion by state

in which every religion is represented. In recent decades it has developed the phenomenon of TV and Web Churches, guided by the so-called telepreachers of the Christian Coalition, among which it should be mentioned: William M. Branham, Billy Graham, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, leaders of the Christian Right, critical to the Ronald Reagan’s electoral victories of 1980 and 1984, as well as those of George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004, and also we must remember the controversial televangelist Benny Hinn (also widely known and followed even in Italy). In parallel, the so-called megachurches were born, huge non-denominational evangelical churches such as Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, which is the largest church in the United States, with more than 45.000 believers, followed by the Crystal Cathedral of Los Angeles that has 2.736 seats. It is located near Disneyland and was commissioned in 1980 by the televangelist Robert Schuller. Often religion is behind many issues and political controversies regarding racism (like the movement for the desegregation of blacks led by Martin Luther King, a Protestant pastor), pacifism (the same war in Iraq divided the religious landscape between those in favour

and those against, the death penalty (supported by the Protestant churches of evangelical mold and firmly challenged by Catholics), bioethics, homosexuality, the teaching of the theory of evolution and the neoDarwinism. A minority phenomenon, although strong is related to the growth of Neopaganism, whose many religions are all present in the United States. The US neo-pagans are mostly Wiccans, but there are also large communities of Heathenism, Celtic and Hellenic polytheists. In minority, there are the neo-pagan Romans. The neo-pagan religions have found, in the United States, the breeding ground for the establishment of countless organizations, called Churches in most cases, as provided by the religious policy. According to a religious affiliation poll made in 2014, religion in America is divided as following: Christianity dominates in terms of religion with almost 70,6% of the US inhabitants being Protestant (46,5%) – major protestant denominations being: Evangelical Protestant (25,4%), Mainline Protestant (14,7%) or Black Church (6,5%), while 20,8% of the total population being Roman Catholic. Other Christian Religions found on the US territory are Mormon (1,6%), Jehovah’s 37

Witnesses (0,8%), Eastern Orthodox (0,5%) or other type of Christianity (0,4%). In small numbers, there also can be found people belonging to the following religions: Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism or others. Irreligious people make up about 22,8% of the total American population, 15,8% of them believing in nothing in particular, 4% declaring themselves agnostics, while 3,1% being convinced atheists. The others didn’t know or refused to answer.

•San Antonio Missions •Statue of Liberty •Taos Pueblo Natural Objectives: •Carlsbad Caverns National Park •Everglades National Park •Grand Canyon National Park •Great Smoky Mountains National Park •Hawaii Volcanoes National Park •Kluane / Wrangell-Saint Elias / Glacier Bay / Tatshenshini-Alsek •Mammoth Cave National Park World Heritage On UNESCO’s list there can be found 10 cultural •Olympic National Park objectives, 12 natural objectives and 1 mixed objective •Redwood National and State Parks •Waterton Glacier International Peace Park in the United States of America: •Yellowstone National Park Cultural Objectives: •Yosemite National Park •Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site Mixed Objective: •Chaco Culture •Papahānaumokuākea •Independence Hall •La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site in Puerto Rico Demographics •Mesa Verde National Park With more than 316.700.000 people (according •Monticello and the University of Virginia in to the May 2012 Census), the United States is the 3rd Charlottesville country in the world by population, after China and •Monumental Earthworks of Poverty Point India. The most populated area of ​​the country is to the


Interior of Lakewood Church, the biggest church of USA

Native Americans in the Red Cliff Indian Reservation in Wisconsin

northeastern ancient urbanization. It has also expanded to the urban areas of the Pacific coast, especially in California. According to official estimates of 2013, 77% of the American population is white, including, however, also a 16% Hispanic or Latino population of European origin or mainly European, or the ‘’ white Hispanic”, 12,9% of the population is black or African

Old image of Mulberry Street in NYC in the Little Italy neighbourhood

American, 4,6% is Asian, and only 1% of the population is of Amerindian origin. The European Americans, but also Arabic and Turkish, not of Hispanic origin, or the “NonHispanic whites”, constituted approximately 61% of the population in 2012, but it decreased considerably and continues to fall, either as a percentage both in


absolute numbers, compared to 89% in 1960. According to the old official census of 2000, residents of German ancestry were 12,2% of the total population, those of British origin were 20,6% (of which 11,9% were Irish and 8,7% of English) . The residents of Italian ancestry accounted for 5,6% of the total population. The group commonly identified as WASP, White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant, while still owning the levers of political and economic power is no longer the majority population of the country. It was found, in the 2010 census, only 23% of the children under 15 have white parents. The whites of European origin, but also Arabic and Turkish, are defined by the term of “Non-Hispanic whites” in the official census, or “Whites of non-Latin American origin”, will be a minority by 2042, though continuing migratory trends and the low birth rate are among the whites. This projection of a future demographic scenario in which the white people, always at the top of the powers and the management of the State, will be in the minority, began to unleash strong debates about the identity of the USA in the near future and migration in


the political spectrum. In the government census of 2009, US Hispanics were about 48,5 million, an increase of nearly 3 million people in just two years. Native Americans are around 5 million. In the United States, the largest Roma community in the world continues to live, accounting for about 1 million people. The Hispanic immigration is the most numerous. Some states, like California, Arizona and Texas, are already predominantly Hispanic (called “Majority-minority” in the official census). It should however be noted that all these southeastern states were part of the Mexican Empire and before that, they were part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, and many Hispanics lived there already, historically speaking, well before the annexation to the US territories and mass immigration. It was also calculated that in the United States of America, there lives about 12 million illegal or unauthorized immigrants, mostly Mexicans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans or Filipinos. 223.553.265 million people are non-Hispanic whites subdivided in the following table:

Ancestry of the US citizens


37,5 to 59,2 million people (including English, Scots and Welsh people)


50,7 million


34,5 million


18 million


11,8 million


10,6 million


6,4 million


4,5 million


4,3 million


4,3 million


3,1 million


1,5 million


1,4 million


1,4 million


1,4 million


1,3 million

















About 42 million people are of African origins. 20 million persons are of Asian origins as it can be seen in the following table: Chinese Arabs Indians Filipinos North and South Koreans

3,7 million 3,5 million 3,4 million 3,5 million 2 million

Vietnamese Japanese Iranians Pakistanis Turks

1,5 million 1,3 million 400.000 300.000 200.000

Hispanic and Latino Population of the US in 2012


Lastly, 50,4 million people living the US are of Hispanic origins, as it can be seen:

The United States of America is divided into 50 states and 1 federal district as it can be seen in the following table:


34,5 million


5,1 million



Cubans Dominicans El Salvadorians

1,9 million 1,7 million 1,1 million

Alabama (AL)



Alaska (AK)




1 million

Colombians Hondurans Spanish

900.000 600.000 600.000

Arizona (AZ)



Arkansas (AR)

Little Rock

Little Rock



California (CA)


Los Angeles



Colorado (CO)



Connecticut (CT)



Delaware (DE)



District of Columbia (DC) – Federal District Florida (FL)

Washington DC

Washington DC



The top 20 largest cities from the United States of America can be seen in the following table:

Biggest City

Rank City




New York

New York



Lost Angeles











Georgia (GA)







Hawaii (HI)







Idaho (ID)




San Antonio




San Diego



Illinois (IL)







Indiana (IN)




San Jose



Iowa (IA)

Des Moines

Des Moines

11 12

Austin Jacksonville

Texas Florida

950,000 880,000

Kansas (KS)




San Francisco California


Kentucky (KY)











Louisiana (LA)

Baton Rouge

New Orleans


Fort Worth



Maine (ME)





North Carolina 830,000

Maryland (MD)














El Paso



Massachusetts (MA) Michigan (MI)




Minnesota (MN)

Saint Paul


Oregon (OR)



Mississippi (MS)



Pennsylvania (PA)



Missouri (MO)

Jefferson City

Kansas City

Rhode Island (RI)



Montana (MT)



Nebraska (NE)



Nevada (NV)

Carson City

Las Vegas

New Hampshire (NH) New Jersey (NJ)




New Mexico (NM)

South Carolina Columbia (SC) South Dakota (SD) Pierre


Tennessee (TN)



Texas (TX)




Utah (UT)

Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City

Santa Fe


Vermont (VT)



New York (NY)


New York

Virginia (VA)


North Carolina (NC) North Dakota (ND) Ohio (OH)



Washington (WA)


Virginia Beach Seattle







West Virginia (WV) Wisconsin (WI)



Oklahoma (OK)

Oklahoma City Oklahoma City

Wyoming (WY)



Sioux Falls

The 50 states of the United States of America


Economy & Transportation Economy

The United States of America has a capitalist economic system of mixed type, with a large contribution of private enterprises in the micro-economic decisions, however, regulated by the government's choices. Characterized by high productivity, fueled by abundant natural resources, and having a developed infrastructure network, according to the International Monetary Fund, the US economy generates an annual GDP of 16.245 trillion $, which is approximately 22% of the world gross domestic product in terms of market prices, and almost 20% of the world GDP in terms of purchasing power standards (PPS). It is the largest state economy of the world in terms of GDP (nominal), with about the same combined GDP of all EU countries to

US Export Treemap


US Import Treemap

PPA generated in 2012. The GDP per capita is the 10th in nominal terms and 6th in terms of purchasing power parity. The United States is the largest importer of goods and the 3rd largest exporter, though exports per capita are relatively low. Canada, China, Mexico, Japan and Germany are the main trading partners. The main export goods are electrical machinery, while vehicles constitute the main item of imports. The private sector makes up the bulk of the economy, while the government activities contribute to 12,4% of GDP. The economy is mostly postindustrial, with the service sector contributing to 67,8% of GDP. The main sector in terms of turnover is that of the wholesale and retail trade. In terms of net income is that of finance and insurance. The United States has had an economic collapse starting from 2009 and along it, most of the nations on this planet. The external debt of September 2012 amounted to 16 trillion dollars, the highest in the world. In 2013, the United States of America recorded an excellent economic recovery, in fact, since December 2013 it recorded the lowest unemployment rate in the world and the creation of new jobs thanks to the opening of new companies or factories for the unemployed as well as a significant GDP growth and a sharp increase in tourism. The United States is the world’s biggest economic and industrial superpower, with production in the chemical industry, the nuclear industry, in the electrical industry and the computer industry as well as throughout the technology industry. Also, the United States are very active in the field research so much that it now owns the primacy in industry and in all types of manufacturing. The New York Stock Exchange is the largest stock exchange in the world. The United States is the 3rd largest producer of oil in the world, as well as the largest importer of this commodity. It is the leader in power and nuclear power production, the extraction of natural gas, sulfur, phosphates, and salt. While agriculture makes up just under 1% of GDP, the United States is the world’s

Per Capita Income across the counties of the United States of America

leading producer of corn and soybeans. In 2005, the paid labor force amounted to 155 million people, of which 80% were full-time. According to estimates of 2009, the majority of the workforce, 77% of the total, was employed in the service sector. Thanks to the wealth of mineral resources, the US is a self-sufficient country in terms of most of the raw materials. The main mechanical engineering centers are located in Chicago and Detroit. In California, in addition to the film industry in Hollywood, it is a high concentration of companies specialized in the sector of new technologies and information technology. A thriving industry is tourism in the various areas of high natural interest and large city symbol. Among the natural areas symbol in addition to the many natural parks we can include: The Statue of Liberty, Route 66, The Great Lakes, The Appalachian and the Rocky Mountains, cities like New York, Las Vegas, Miami or Washington, the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore or the volcanoes Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. The United States of America are, together with South Africa and China, the only industrialized nation not to have an universal health coverage. This is due

to a strong debate in America about the possibility of expanding the health care to all people. On 25 March 2010, President Barack Obama signed the law of health care reform. Among the changes that were checked with the reform it can be included: the increasing the number of persons protected by the health system (by 32 million more), the reduction of government expenditure on health (equal to 4% of GDP in 2007, double the average of the nations participating in the OECD). In addition, it is estimated that half of individual bankruptcies are occasioned by

GDP comparison of the US states with other worldwide countries 45

The Financial Sector of New York

sudden medical expenses and not covered by insurance protection: this phenomenon should therefore be subject to a decrease. With about 15,5 million people, the health care and social assistance sector was the main sector of employment. About 12% of workers are unionized, compared to 30% in Western Europe. The World Bank ranks the United States in the 1st place to ease in the recruitment of workers. Between 1973 and 2003, the average working hours for an American worker grew by 199 hours. As a result, the United States maintains the highest labor productivity in the world, although not in terms of productivity per hour worked as until the early 1990’s: the workers in Norway, France, Belgium and Luxembourg are the best placed in this indicator. Compared to Europe, the United States taxes on property and corporate income tax are generally higher, while the affected workers have in general lower tax rates. According to the United States Census Bureau, the average gross income of US households in 2007 was 50.233 $, with averages ranging from 68.080 $ in Maryland to 36.338 $ in Mississippi. In terms of purchasing power average, it is similar to that of the more developed nations. Poverty rates, after falling sharply during the mid-20th century, have stabilized 46

since the early 1970’s, but have increased rapidly since the late 1990’s. Now poverty afflicts more than 30% of the population. The welfare state is now among the most austere in the developed world, but while it protects and reduces the weak end of the elderly population, in proportion little is done for the youngest groups. A 2007 UNICEF study on child well-being among the 21 most industrialized nations have put the United States on one of the last places. Despite strong increases in productivity, low unemployment and low inflation, income gains since the 1980’s have had a slower growth than in previous decades, in addition to being less widely shared, and accompanied by increased economic insecurity. Poverty mainly affects a part of African Americans and immigrants newly arrived (Mexican American, Albanians, Slavs arrived after the collapse of the Berlin Wall and Arabs). Over the years, the Federal Government has developed a number of initiatives and structures in the field of social solidarity, the most important of which is the “Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS),” a government agency in which, starting from 1993 it transferred through a process of gradual amalgamation complex, numerous and various humanitarian and internal welfare initiatives, including the AmeriCorps VISTA.

The New York Stock Exchange



In comparison to some parts of the Western world, the United States relies more heavily on its roads both for commercial and personal transit reasons. Car ownership is nearly universal except in the largest cities where extensive mass transit and railroad systems have been built. The Interstate system joined an existing National Highway System, a designation created for the legacy highway network in 1995, comprising 256.000 kilometers of roadway, a fraction of the total mileage of roads. The Interstate system serves nearly all major U.S. cities, often through the downtown areas, a point which triggered freeway and expressway revolts in the 1960’s and 1970’s. The distribution of virtually all goods and services involves Interstate highways at some point. Residents of American cities commonly use urban Interstates to travel to their places of work. The vast majority of long-distance travel, whether for vacation or business, is by the national road network. Of these trips, about one-third, by the total number of miles driven in the country in 2003 utilizes the Interstate system. In addition to the routes of the Interstate system, there are those of the U.S. highway system, not to be confused with the above-mentioned National Highway System. These networks are further supplemented by State Highways, and the local roads of counties, municipal streets, and federal agencies, such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs. There are approximately 6.552.000 km of roads in the United States, of which 4.310.000 km are


Route 50 in Virginia

paved and 2.243.000 km are unpaved. State highways are constructed by each state, but frequently maintained by county governments aided by funding from the state, where such counties exist as governing entities, mostly every state except the Northeastern. Counties construct and maintain all remaining roads outside cities, except in private communities. Local, unnumbered roads are often constructed by private contractors to local standards, then maintenance is assumed by the local government. All federal highways are maintained by state governments, although they receive federal aid to build and maintain freeways signed as part of the 75.000 km

The New York City famous yellow cab

The famous Route 66

Coach in the US

nationwide Interstate highway network. Changes by state initiative may be made with federal approval. A large number of expressways are actually government or privately operated toll roads in many East Coast and Midwestern states. West Coast freeways are generally free to users (“freeways”, no toll charged per use), although since the 1990’s there have been some small experiments with toll roads operated by private companies. Greyhound Lines is the largest intercity bus company in the United States, with routes in all parts of the continental U.S. There are also many smaller regional bus companies, many of which use the terminal and booking facilities provided by Greyhound. Intercity bus is, in most cases, the least expensive way to travel long distances in the United States. The trucking industry provides an essential service to the American economy by transporting large quantities of raw materials, works in process, and finished goods over land, typically from manufacturing

plants to retail distribution centers. Trucks are also important to the construction industry, as dump trucks and portable concrete mixers are necessary to move the large amounts of rocks, dirt, concrete, and other construction material. Trucks in America are responsible for the majority of freight movement over land, and are vital tools in the manufacturing, transportation, and warehousing industries. Large trucks and buses require a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate. Obtaining a CDL requires extra education and training dealing with the special knowledge requirements and handling characteristics of such a large vehicle. Drivers of CMV’s must adhere to the hours of service, which are regulations governing the driving hours of commercial drivers. These, and all other rules regarding the safety of interstate commercial driving, are issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The FMCSA is also a division of the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), which

Greyhound Lines Bus

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport


The trucking industry is huge in the US

governs all transportation-related industries such as trucking, shipping, railroads, and airlines. Some other issues are handled by another branch of the USDOT, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The United States has advanced air transportation infrastructure which utilizes approximately 5.000 paved runways. In terms of passengers, 17 of the world’s 30 busiest airports in 2004 were in the United States, including the world’s busiest, “Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport”. In terms of cargo, in the same year, 12 of the world’s 30 busiest airports were in the United States, including the world’s busiest, “Memphis International Airport”. Private aircraft are also used for medical emergencies, government agencies, large businesses, and individuals. There is no single national flag airline. Passenger airlines in the United States have always been privately owned. There are over 200 domestic passenger and cargo airlines and a number of international carriers. The major international carriers of the United States are Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United Airlines. Low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines operates few international routes, but has grown its domestic operations to a size comparable to the major international carriers. There is currently no government regulation of ticket pricing, although the federal government retains 50

jurisdiction over aircraft safety, pilot training, and accident investigations, through the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board. The Transportation Security Administration provides security at airports. Passenger trains were the dominant mode of transportation until the mid-20th century. The introduction of jet airplanes on major U.S. routes and the completion of the Interstate Highway system accelerated a decline in intercity rail passenger demand during the 1960’s, resulting in the sharp curtailment of passenger service by private railroads. This led to the

Memphis International Airport Control Tower

Detroit Metro

creation of National Railroad Passenger Corporation (branded as Amtrak) by the federal government in 1971 to maintain limited intercity rail passenger service in most parts of the country. Amtrak serves most major cities but, outside of the Northeast, California, and Illinois, often by only few trains per day. Amtrak does not serve several major destinations, including Las Vegas, Nevada, and Phoenix, Arizona. Frequent service is available in regional corridors between certain major cities, particularly the Northeast Corridor between Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City and Boston, between New York City and Albany, around Chicago, and in parts of California and the Pacific Northwest. The Alaska Railroad is the only other intercity passenger railroad still operating, and it has no connections with Amtrak. Nearly all railroad corridors (not including local transit rail systems) are owned by private companies that provide freight service. Amtrak pays these companies

for the right to use the tracks for passenger service. There are approximately 240.000 km of mainline track in the United States, the world’s longest national railroad network. Rail freight has a major national bottleneck in Chicago and the Midwest (about one-third of the nation’s freight trains pass through the region), which is the subject of a 1,5 billion $ infrastructure improvement project. The miles traveled by passenger vehicles in the United States fell by 3,6% in 2008, while the number of trips taken on mass transit increased by 4,0%. At least part of the drop in urban driving can be explained by the 4% increase in the use of public transportation. Most medium-sized cities have some sort of local public transportation, usually a network of fixed bus routes. Among larger cities many of the older cities also have metro rail systems, also known as heavy rail in the United States and/or extensive light rail systems, while the newer cities found in the Sun Belt either have 51

A cargo train in Washington, USA

modest light rail systems or have no Inter-city rail at all. Water transport is largely used for freight. Fishing and pleasure boats are numerous, and passenger service connects many of the nation’s islands and remote coastal areas, crosses lakes, rivers, and harbors, and provides alternative access to Alaska which bypasses Canada. Several major seaports in the United States include New York City on the east coast, New Orleans and Houston on the gulf coast, and Los Angeles on the west coast. The interior of the U.S. also has major shipping channels, via the Great Lakes Waterway, Saint Lawrence Seaway and the Mississippi River System. Freight on the Mississippi River system is carried on barges pushed by approximately 8.000 “towboats” and largely consists of bulk goods, such as petrochemicals, grain and cement. Many U.S. ports are served by cruise ships. Popular destinations include the Caribbean, the Mexican Riviera, Hawaii and the Inside Passage to Alaska. Automobile ferries operate in many locations where bridges are impractical and in congested metropolitan areas, including New York City and San Francisco Bay. 52

The United States has 41.009 km of navigable inland channels (rivers and canals), exclusive of the Great Lakes. Out of these, 19.322 km are used in commerce. About 24.000 km of the Mississippi River System are presently navigable, although not all of them are used for commerce. The Saint Lawrence Seaway of 3.769 km, including the Saint Lawrence River of 3.100 km, is shared with Canada.

High-Speed Train in the US

Oasis of the Seas Cruise Ship in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

High-Speed Train in the US

Port of Houston, USA’s most important port


Culture American Proverbs 1. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. 2. A miss is as good as a mile. 3. Necessity is the mother of invention. 4. There is no honor among thieves. 5. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. 6. Two's company, but three's a crowd. 7. The squeaking wheel gets the oil. 8. Don't put all your eggs in one basket. 9. The bigger they are, the harder they fall. 10. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. 11. The pen is mightier than the sword. 12. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. 13. It takes two to tango. 14. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. 15. Familiarity breeds contempt. 16. Birds of a feather flock together. 17. After the feast comes the reckoning. 18. Hindsight is better than foresight. 19. A leopard cannot change its spots. 20. Too many chiefs, not enough Indians American Holidays



New Year’s Day

1 January

Epiphany Day Martin Luther King Jr. Day

6 January 18 January

Groundhog Day

2 February

Chinese New Year

8 February

Mardi Gras

9 February

Ash Wednesday Lincoln’s Birthday Valentine’s Day Washington’s Day or President’s Day Saint Patrick’s Day

10 February 12 February 14 February 15 February

Palm Sunday Purim

20 March March


17 March

Good Friday Catholic Easter April Fool’s Day

Variable Variable 1 April

Pesach Orthodox Easter

Variable Variable

May Day Cinco de Mayo Ascension Day

1 May 5 May Variable


8 May

Mother’s Day

8 May

Pentecost Day

15 May

Memorial Day

30 May



Flag Day

14 June

First Day of Ramadan


Father’s Day Independence Day

19 June 4 July

Eid al-Fitr


Labor Day

5 September

Eid al-Adha




Rosh Hashanah


Columbus Day

10 October

Yom Kippur


Sukkot Shemini Atzeret Diwali

October October 30 October

Halloween All Saints Day

31 October 1 November

Election Day

8 November

Veterans Day

11 November

Thanksgiving First Day of Advent

4th Thursday of November 27 November

Mawlid al-Nabi





25 December


26 December

Thanksgiving is a traditional American Holiday

Traditional American Stereotype Picture

Native Americans

Buffalo and canoe were specific for Native Americans 55

The famous American cowboy became an icon worldwide


Slaves with their owner at an American farm in the 19th century

American personalities


George Washington George Washington (b. 22 February 1723 in Bridges Creek, Westmoreland County, Virginia, British America – d. 14 December 1799 in Mount Vernon, Virginia, USA) was the first President of the United States (1789-1997), the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He presided over the convention that drafted the United States Constitution and was called the "father of his country" during his lifetime. George Washington was born as the first child of Augustine Washington and his second wife, Mary Ball Washington on Pope’s Creek Estate, near present Colonial Beach in Westmoreland County, Virginia. His


George Washington

father had four children with his first wife, Jane Butler: two died in their childhood, and two sons survived (Lawrence, born around 1718 and Augustine, born about 1720), George becoming the third son, but much younger. He moved to Ferry Farm in Stafford County at the age of 6 years old and was educated at home by his father and by his older brother. The tobacco culture in Virginia was meant for sale at that time and it could be measured by the number of slaves available to cultivate it. At George Washington’s birth, the colony’s population was 50% black, mostly Africans or African-American slaves. In his youth, he worked as a topographer, thus gaining knowledge of his native land, Virginia, that later will prove invaluable for his life and career. His oldest brother’s marriage with the daughter of the powerful Fairfax family brought protection for young George by Thomas Fairfax, the 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, governor and landowner of the Northern Neck region that stretched on about 5 million acres. Towards the end of July 1749, immediately after the establishment of the town of Alexandria in Virginia, along the Potomac River, George, aged 17 years old, was named the first topographer of newly created land in the colony: Culpeper County, Virginia. George Washington started his career as a plantation owner, and owned 20 or more slaves. In 1748, he was invited to assist in the surveying of the land west of the Blue Ridge, a branch of the Appalachian Mountains. In 1749, he was appointed to his first public office as topographer of the newly created Culpeper County land. Through his half-brother Lawrence, Washington became interested in the Ohio Company, a company that aimed to exploit the land in West America. In 1751, George and his half-brother Lawrence travelled to Barbados, hoping for an improvement in Lawrence’s health who was suffering from tuberculosis. This was the only time George Washington traveled outside what is now known as the United States of America. After Lawrence’s death in 1752, George Washington inherited part of his land and took upon him some of his duties, such as adjutant of the colony, an officer leading role in the irregular troops. At the age of 21 years old, in Fredericksburg, Washington became a Master Mason in the Freemasonry, an organization modeled on the popular brotherhoods model, that would change his life. In December 1753, Washington was required by the governor of Virginia, Robert Dinwiddie to send an ultimatum to the French border, on the Ohio River. Washington assesses and learns the strength and intentions of the French and

Martha Dandridge Custis. The still preserved letters, suggests that he might have been in love at the time with Sally Fairfax, the wife of a friend. Some historians believe that George and Martha were distant relatives. However, George and Martha had a good marriage and together they raised two children from her previous marriage, John Parke Custis and Martha Parke Custis, affectionately spoiled by the Jackie and Patsie family. Later, the Washington family rose Mrs. Washington two grandchildren, Eleanor Parke Custis and George Washington Parke Custis. George and Martha Washington had no children together because George’s smallpox from his youth may have left him sterile. The newlywed couple moved to Mount Vernon where he took the path of a plantation owner and political figure. Washington’s marriage to Martha, a wealthy widow, has greatly increased both its wealth and social status. By marriage, he acquired a third of the 18.000 acres (73 km2) of the Custis plantation and managed the rest of it on behalf of Martha’s children. Washington lived an aristocratic lifestyle, fox hunting being his favorite activity. Like most plantation owners in Virginia, he imported luxury goods from England and paid for them

General George Washington at Trenton (picture by John Trumbull)

gives the message to them at Fort Le Boeuf in current Waterford, Pennsylvania. In 1754, Robert Dinwiddie delegates Washington, who was by then Lieutenant Colonel and orders him to lead a mission which had the objective to take the French out from Fort Duquesne. Together with his Indian allies led by Tanacharison, Washington and his troops ambushed a French reconnaissance detachment of about 30 soldiers led by Joseph Coulon of Jumonville. Washington and his troops were overwhelmed at Fort Necessity by a combined French and Indian force, numerically superior and better positioned. In that battle he suffered the only surrender of his career. In 1755, Washington became the adjutant of British General Edward Braddock the unfortunate expedition of Monongahela. This was a major effort to retake the Ohio area. While Braddock was killed and the expedition ended in a military disaster, Washington was distinguished as the hero of Monongahela. On 6 January 1759, Washington married widow Painting of George Washington with a slave boy


George Washington as the First President of the United States of America

by exporting from his tobacco harvest. The extravagant spending and the tobacco market fluctuations meant that many plantation owners contemporaries of Washington were constantly losing money. In May 1769, Washington introduced in the Parliament a proposal drafted by his friend, George Mason calling the people to boycott the British goods unless the laws imposed by the British weren’t withdrawn. The Parliament refused the Townsend adoption laws in 1770 and at least for Washington, the crisis had passed. However, Washington saw the successful adoption by the parliament of the “Intolerable Acts” of 1774 “as an invasion of our rights and privileges’’. In July 1774, George chaired a meeting where the Fairfax resolutions were adopted, demanding among other things, the creation of a Continental Congress. In August, Washington attended at the First Convention of Virginia, where he was elected as a delegate to the First Continental Congress. After the beginning of the fighting in April 1775, Washington appeared dressed in a military uniform at the Second Continental Congress, signaling that he is ready for war. Washington had the prestige, military experience and poise, charisma, reputation of being a patriot and was supported by the Southern 60

States, in particular by the state of Virginia. Although, he did not explicitly sought to take the command of the army and even asserted that he is not at the height of such an assignment, he had no serious competitor. The Congress created the Continental Army on 14 June 1775. Proposed by John Adams of Massachusetts, Washington is named Major General and chosen by the Congress to be the Supreme Commander. Washington took the command of the Continental Army on the field of Cambridge, Massachusetts in July 1775, during the siege of Boston. In August 1776, British General William Howe launched a massive naval and land campaign in order to occupy New York and proposed a negotiated agreement. Washington’s Continental Army engaged the British as their enemy for the first time since the US military recently declared their independence on 4 July 1776. The Battle of Long Island remained in history as it was the biggest battle of the whole war. In the summer of 1779, at the behest of Washington, General John Sullivan launched a decisive campaign of “scorched earth” that destroyed at least 40 settlements of the Iroquois Indians in the current central area and upper parts of the New York State, as a response to the Indian and loyalists attacks against the American settlements, some time ago. Washington gave the final blow to Britain in 1781, after a French naval victory allowed the Americans to encircle the British army in Virginia. The British surrendered at Yorktown in October 1781 and marked the end of most hostilities. Although known for his successes in the war, Washington has suffered many defeats in order to come out victorious from the war. In March 1783, Washington used its influence to disperse a group of officers who threatened to confront the Congress about the late payment of the soldier’s salary. Through The Treaty of Paris, signed in December of the same year, Britain recognized the independence of the United States. Washington dissolved his army on 2 November he addressed them an eloquent farewell speech. On 25 November, the British evacuated the city of New York and Washington took possession of it. The Electoral College unanimously elected George Washington as president in 1789 and then in the 1792 elections and until today, Washington remains the only president who took 100% of the electoral votes. At his inauguration, he insisted to be served Barbados rum. John Adams was elected as vice president. George Washington took his oaths as the first president under the constitution of the United States, in 30 April 1789

at the Federal Hall in New York, although at first, he didn’t want this function. The First US Congress voted to pay Washington a salary of 25.000 $ per year, a huge amount for 1789. Washington, already wealthy by that time, declined the wage proposal because he greatly valued his image as a selfless public servant. The Residence Act of 1790 signed by Washington, authorized the president to choose the permanent residence of the government, that will be chosen along the Potomac River. The Act authorized the President to designate three trustees to measure and acquire the property for this residence. Washington personally supervised this along his mandate. In 1791 these trustees named the government residence “City of Washington in the District of Columbia” in the honour of George Washington. In 1791, the Congress imposed an excise duty on spirits which lead to protests in the border districts, especially in Pennsylvania. In 1794, after Washington ordered the protesters to appear before the “US District Court”, the protests turned into widespread riots, known in history as the “Whiskey Rebellion”. After withdrawing from presidency in 1797, Washington retired to Mount Vernon with a profound sense of relief. He devoted most of his time to farming. In July 1798, Washington was empowered by President

George Washington resigning as Supreme Commander of the military forces (by John Trumbull)

John Adams to be Lieutenant General and supreme commander of the armies which were to be recruited in the event of a war with France. He served as the Chief of Staff of the US Army between 13 July 1798 and 14 December 1799. He participated to the provisional plans for a military entity that could intervene if necessary, but he did not participate at all in the field. On 12 December 1799, Washington spent a few hours on horseback inspecting his farms through snow, that later transformed into hail and sleet. Washington ate the dinner that evening without having his wet clothes changed. The next morning he woke up with a strong cold, fever and tonsillitis which turned into acute laryngitis and pneumonia. Washington died on the evening of 14 December 1799, at his home, aged 67 years old, watched over by Dr. James Craik, one of his closest friends, Dr. Gustavus Richard Brown, Elisha C. Dick and Dr. Tobias Lear V. Lear noted in his journal that his last words were “Tis well.” Doctors now believe that Washington died more because of the treatment, which included mercuric chloride and bloodletting, resulting in a combination of shock at the loss of more than two liters of blood, dehydration and asphyxiation. The remains of George Washington were buried at Mount Vernon on 18 December 1799. 61

Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln (b. 12 February 1809 in Hodgenville, Kentucky, U.S. – d. 15 April 1865 in Petersen House, Washington D.C., U.S.) was an American politician and lawyer who served as the 16th President of the United States from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. Lincoln led the United States through its Civil War, its bloodiest war and its greatest moral, constitutional, and political crisis. In doing so, he preserved the Union, abolished slavery, strengthened the federal government, and modernized the economy. In 1809, near Hodgenville, Kentucky, USA, it was born what will become the 16th US president, Abraham Lincoln, who preserved the Union during the American Civil War. Born into a region about 5 km south of Hodgenville, Kentucky, Lincoln was only two years old when he was taken to a neighbouring farm from the Knob Creek valley. He was the son of Thomas Lincoln, and had Nancy as his stepmother. Thomas and Nancy Lincoln had three children: Sarah, Abraham and Thomas. His stepmother undoubtedly encouraged


Abraham Lincoln

A beardless Abraham Lincoln in 1857

Lincoln’s taste for reading, but his desire to learn remained a true mystery. Both his parents were almost illiterate, but he received a little formal education. In December 1816, the Lincoln family faced a lawsuit process, challenging the title of his father’s farm in Kentucky. As a result, Abrahamd and his family moved in the southwest of the Indiana state. In March 1830, the Lincoln family undertook a second migration, this time in Illinois. Reaching the age of 21 years old, Abraham was thinking to start a life on his own. After his arrival in Illinois, having no desire to be a farmer, Lincoln tried his chance at a variety of occupations: rail splitter, warehouse responsible, inspector and others. Having already taught himself grammar and mathematics, he began studying law books. While living in New Salem, Lincoln met Ann Rutledge. Her premature death in 1835, at the age of only 22 years old, made Lincoln extremely sad because between them there had been a great love story. A year after the death of Rutledge, Lincoln reluctantly tried to court Mary Owens, who ultimately concluded his suffering and denied his proposals. In 1836, following an exam he successfully passed, Lincoln began to practice law. In 1837, Abraham

moved to Springfield, Illinois, the capital of the new state, which offered many more opportunities for a lawyer. At the beginning, Lincoln was a partner of John T. Stuart, then of Stephen T. Logan. In 1844, he becomes William H. Herndon’s partner. Within a few years, Lincoln came to win between 1.200 and 1.500 $ annually, at a time when the governor was receiving a salary of 1.200 $ and the judges were given only 750 $. He had to work hard to have these revenues. Before the election, Lincoln had served with the rank of captain in the Illinois militia during the War of the Black Hawk. Upon his return, Lincoln continued his campaign for the elections of 6 August for the Illinois General Assembly. Having 1.93 m, Lincoln was tall

Abraham Lincoln in his distinctive “stove pipe” silk hat at Antietam in 1862

and “strong enough to intimidate any rival”. In his first speech, when he saw a supporter of him being attacked, Lincoln grabbed the assailant “around the neck and trousers” and threw him. Lincoln finished 8th out of 13 candidates (the first four were declared elected), receiving 277 votes out of 300 in the polling station in New Salem. As he began to be noticed in national politics, 20 years after his career launch, Lincoln became one of the most distinguished and successful lawyers in Illinois. He was noted not only for his subtlety and practical common sense, which always allowed him to see into the heart of any legal case, but also for his invariable fairness 63

Abraham Lincoln as the United States President

and total honesty. On 4 November 1942, he married Mary Todd. The couple had four children, all of them boys: Edward Baker, William Wallace, Robert Todd and Lincoln’s favourite, Thomas (“Tad”). In 1847, Abraham Lincoln was elected to the US House of Representatives. During his unique mandate, he became known for both his opposition to the Mexican war and the institution of slavery. In 1856, Lincoln co-founded the Republican Party, leaving the US Senate against his old enemy, the “Little Giant”, Stephen A. Douglas. Lincoln drew national attention upon him because of his debates on the issue of slavery. Lincoln’s prestige was enhanced on 27 February 1860, when in New York City, in front of an influential audience, he had his brilliant speech, “Cooper Union”, in which he claimed the power of the governments to limit slavery in federal territories. The campaign for the Senate was centered on the Lincoln-Douglas debate of 1858, the most famous political debates in US history. The main participants appeared in sharp contrast to each other, both physically and politically. Lincoln warned that “The Slave Power” threatened the values ​​of republicanism and accused 64

Douglas of perverting the values of the Founding Fathers, who believed that all men are created equal, while Douglas emphasized the Freeport doctrine, according to the local settlers to be free to choose whether or not to allow slavery, and charged Lincoln that he would have joined the abolitionists. The debates had the atmosphere of a box final and drew thousands of spectators. Lincoln said that the theory of popular sovereignty promoted by Douglas was a threat to the morals of the nation and that Douglas supported a conspiracy to expand slavery into the other free states. Douglas said that Lincoln defied the authority of the US Supreme Court and the decision in the Dred Scott case. In July, the Republicans nominated him for the presidential elections at the third round of the Chicago Convention. The Democratic Party was divided into the North and South factions, each with their own presidential candidate. Lincoln’s election in November, over three other candidates, with only 40% of the popular vote, was unacceptable for the Southern politicians and became a pretext for South Carolina and 10 other states to quickly secede from the Union. By the time Lincoln arrived in Washington to be sworn in as president of the nation, on 4 March 1861, the Confederate States of America was already formed. In his first inaugural speech, Lincoln tried to draw back into the Union the states that broke from it. Lincoln did not recognize the secession. The Southerners tried to impose it by weapons. Thus it was unleashed a long and difficult civil war of secession between the northerners and southerners, which ended with the surrender of the Southerners in the spring of 1865. After the secession of Virginia, the northwestern counties of the state of Virginia decided to separate from it and to remain within the Union, as a new state, West Virginia. This state was admitted to the Union on 20 June 1863, after it fulfilled the condition of adopting a constitution which stipulated the gradual abolition of slavery. On 31 October 1864, Nevada was admitted as a free state and the third one in the far west of the continent. While the war continued, Lincoln ran for reelection in 1864. Lincoln was a skilled politician, and brought together all main factions of the Republican Party, and attracted to his side War Democrats such as Edwin M. Stanton and Andrew Johnson. Lincoln spent many hours a week talking to politicians across the country and using his powers of patronage, greatly expanded from those of peacetime, to keep the factions of the party united, to build support for his policies,

and to reject the efforts of the radicals to depose him from candidacy in 1864. At the 1864 convention, the Republican Party chose Johnson, a War Democrat of the southern state of Tennessee, as a candidate for vice president. To broaden the coalition by including the War Democrats and the Republicans, Lincoln ran for presidency under the name of the newly established Unionist Party. Lincoln is largely responsible for establishing the feast of Thanksgiving in the United States. Before Lincoln’s presidency, Thanksgiving Day was only a regional holiday in the New England area, as it was in the 18th century, although it had sporadic and irregular dates when it was proclaimed by the federal government. The last such proclamation took place during the presidency of James Madison, 50 years before. In 1863, Lincoln declared the last Thursday of November as the Thanksgiving Day of that year. In June 1864, Lincoln approved the Yosemite Grant, awarded by Congress, through which the natural range of what is today known as Yosemite National Park was put under an unprecedented level of protection. On 15 April 1865, 5 days after the war ended, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, a fanatic Southerner, while he was attending a theater spectacle. In 1864, Booth formulated a plan to kidnap Lincoln in exchange for the release of Confederate prisoners. After attending an 11 April 1865 speech in which Lincoln promoted voting rights for the blacks, an incensed Booth changed his plans and became determined to assassinate the president. Learning that the President and Grant would be attending Ford’s Theatre, Booth formulated a plan with his co-conspirators to assassinate Lincoln and Grant at the theater, as well as Vice President Johnson and Secretary of State Seward at their homes. Without his main bodyguard, Ward Hill Lamon, Lincoln left to attend the play “Our American Cousin” on 14 April. At the last minute, Grant decided to go to New Jersey to visit his children instead of attending the play. Lincoln’s bodyguard, John Parker, left Ford’s

Abraham Lincoln in 1864, just a year before his assassination

Theater during intermission to drink at the saloon next door. The now unguarded President sat in his state box in the balcony. Seizing the opportunity, Booth crept up from behind and at about 10:13 pm, aimed at the back of Lincoln’s head and fired at point-blank range, mortally wounding the President. Major Henry Rathbone momentarily grappled with Booth, but Booth stabbed him and escaped. After being on the run for 12 days, Booth was tracked down and found on a farm in Virginia, some 110 km south of Washington. After refusing to surrender to the Union troops, Booth was killed by Sergeant Boston Corbett on 26 April. Among other American heroes, Lincoln continues to have a unique appeal both for his countrymen and also for the people from other regions of the globe. This charm derives from his remarkable life story: he rose from humble origins, had a dramatic death and a distinct human personality, and had a decisive historical role as savior of the Union and emancipator of slaves. 65

Thomas Jefferson Thomas Jefferson (b. 13 April 1743 in Shadwell, Virginia, British America – d. 4 July 1826 in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S.) was an American Founding Father and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776). He was elected the second Vice President of the United States (17971801), serving under John Adams and was elected as the 3rd President (1801-1809) in 1800. Jefferson was a proponent of democracy, republicanism, and individual rights, which motivated American colonists to break from Great Britain and form a new nation. He produced formative documents and decisions at both the state and national level. On 13 April 1743, in Shadwell, Virginia, Thomas Jefferson was born as the son of a prosperous plantation owner and educated in law from Virginia. He was the main author of the Declaration of Independence, the first Secretary of State, the second vice president and the third president of the United States. His mother, Jane Randolph Jefferson, claimed to be a member of the famous Randolph clan, a descendant of Scottish


Thomas Jefferson

and English royal families. His father, Peter Jefferson, was a successful farmer, but also a skilled cartographer surveyor, who realized the first accurate map of the province of Virginia. Jefferson entered politics at the age of 26 years old, in 1769, becoming one of the first activists who fought against the British rule in the American colonies. He was elected in the Legislative Assembly in Virginia. One year later, he began the construction of his mansion, Monticello, in Charlottesville. Thomas Jefferson’s 1774 aggressive pamphlet: “A Summary View of the Rights of British America”, has designated him as the best choice for the elaboration of the Declaration of Independence draft of the rebels. Between 1779 and 1781, the governor mandate of his home state that he fulfilled during the War of Independence, was overshadowed by allegations of incompetence and cowardice coming from the defense’s leaders. Although he was later restored, the experience left him with a bitter taste. Starting from 1785 until 1789, Thomas Jefferson was the U.S. Ambassador in France. The duties of his position as ambassador to Paris prevented Jefferson to attend at the composition of the new nation’s constitution, lamenting that he failed to include a list of rights or a limitation of the number of mandates that a president could have. While being abroad, Jefferson hasn’t been very successful in promoting the American commerce, noticing that the Europeans ignored its potential. He managed to sign only one trade agreement, with Prussia. As a direct observer of the French Revolution, he wasn’t moved by the arbitrary cruelty and nor by the excessive violence, but paradoxically, he considered that France couldn’t have a republican form of government. He believed that the French would have to opt for a constitutional monarchy, the kind of one that existed at the time in England. Between the 1790 and 1793 years, Jefferson was the first secretary of state under Washington’s administration. Then, starting from 1796 to 1800, he was the Vice President of the U.S. under John Adams’ administration. He became the leader of the newly formed agrarian party, the Republican Party, which opposed the Federalists and Alexander Hamilton, that favoured the commerce and the interests of the townspeople. Since 1797, Jefferson was the President of the American Philosophical Society until 1815. On 4 March 1801, Thomas Jefferson was elected as the 3rd president of the United States, winning the election race against former president, John Adams. As president of the nation, Jefferson lived in a self-

Thomas Jefferson State Room Portrait 67

Another interesting painting of Thomas Jefferson

imposed austerity, reflected through the minimization of taxes and military spending. This period of austerity has ended when Jefferson began to believe in his vision of America as a continental power. In 1803, his vision made him send Lewis and Clark on a transcontinental expedition of exploration and the territory of Louisiana was eventually bought from Napoleonic France, an 68

acquisition which doubled the national territory. Jefferson easily won his second term in 1804. This mandate has proven to be more difficult, being less productive than the first one. He ordered a boycott over the foreign trade, to avoid the potential interference in the war that broke out between England and France. Very unpopular among merchants and those who

had interests in maritime trade, his embargo law was repealed in 1809, with the retirement of Jefferson from the leading role of the country. In 1825, he inaugurated the University of Virginia. He has enjoyed a long and peaceful old age, which he dedicated to satisfying his many cultural concerns, but mainly he concentrated upon the foundation of the University of Virginia, whose buildings and educational program were designed by him personally. In 1826, in the same year and the same day in which the former president John Adams died, exactly in the Independence Day of America, 4 July, Thomas Jefferson died at Monticello, his plantation in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA. Thomas Jefferson is considered to be among the most notable occupants of the chair of President of the United States and among the most prominent patriots of the American Revolution. For Jefferson, the total break from England meant not only the independence of his country, but also the path to create a new state, based on the principles of sovereignty and natural equality of people. A revolutionary aristocracy and learned scholar, Thomas Jefferson was a brilliant representative of Enlightenment in America. In 1943, Jefferson’s monument was inaugurated by Franklin D. Roosevelt in Washington, DC. In the epitaph that he wrote on his own, Thomas Jefferson said that he designed The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom and that he founded the University of Virginia, but failed to show that he was the U.S. president for two terms. Jefferson once said: “We are all determined to better die as free men than to live as slaves forever.” Upon receiving 49 Nobel Prize winners to the White House in 1962, President John F. Kennedy made a reference to Thomas Jefferson and those scholars saying: “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, That has been gathered ever at the White House, with the exception of possible when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.” It might be said that not Jefferson’s official actions but his attitudes rather have had the strongest impact on the United States. However, it is difficult to say to what extent Jefferson’s ideas were really accepted by the American people. Many people that honor the name of Jefferson are contrary to his political ideas however. For example, Jefferson believed strongly in what we call today “restricted government”. A characteristic phrase, taken from his inauguration speech is: “a wise and thrifty government, that will stop people hurting each other, which will allow them the freedom of appealing

Thomas Jefferson Memorial Statue

to ingenuity and desire to progress”. It might be possible that Jefferson’s vision could’ve been correct, but the last fifty years elections have shown that the majority of the American public was not persuaded by his words. A second example is Jefferson’s opposition to the idea that the last word in the matters of interpretation of the Constitution to belong to the Supreme Court, which could therefore declare a law unconstitutional, even if he it had passed through the Congress. He believed that this would violate the principles of the democratic governance. 69

Benjamin Franklin Benjamin Franklin (b. 17 January 1706 in Boston, Massachusetts Bay, British America –d. 17 April 1790 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Franklin was a renowned polymath and a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, freemason, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. As an inventor, he is known for the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin stove, among other inventions. He facilitated many civic organizations, including Philadelphia's fire department and The University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League institution. Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston, USA. His father, Josiah, was a producer of soap and candles. Benjamin Franklin’s portrait by Joseph Siffred Duplessis Benjamin is one of the most popular personalities in U.S. history, one of the founding fathers of the U.S.A., candles. Although he studied only two years at school, diplomat, scientist, inventor, philosopher, professor and he used to read a lot in his spare time. He also loved to politician. In 1716, at the age of 10 years old, Benjamin swim, one of his inventions being a device that helps began to help his father at the candles shop by slicing swim faster. At 12 years old, he went to work as an apprentice in the printing house of his brother, James. Every night, he used to study the classics and the writers of his time, but he also learned arithmetic, navigation and grammar. After a while, he became an expert in journalism and printing. He wrote a series of humor letters in secret, which he sent to the newspaper by the pen name of “Mrs. Silence Dogood”, in which he laughed off at the students of Harvard and the untalented poets. He became famous with the publication of “Poor Richard’s Almanac”, which was known throughout America and Europe, becoming as popular as the Bible. Benjamin first went to New York, which was then a smaller city than Boston, and found no work, and in October went to Philadelphia. Here he found a job at the printing shop of Samuel Keimer that paid him well due to his skills. The Governor of Pennsylvania was interested in the young Franklin and counseled him to open his own printing company. He sent him to London to buy a printing press, pledging that he would pay his spending, but he has not kept his promise and in 1724. Benjamin arrived in London without any money. He was employed as a printer, and in 1726, when he raised 70

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin in London in 1767

enough money, he returned to Philadelphia, where he was first a salesman and then returned to Keimer’s studio. When Franklin was 22 years old, he founded the first printing workshop with a partner, Hugh Meredith. The two published together a weekly called “The Pennsylvania Gazzette”. In 1730, he married Deborah Read, with whom he had three children. In 1752, Franklin realized that the lightning is just an electrical discharge from the clouds. With the help of his son, William, Franklin conducted an experiment, whereby he tested this phenomenon. They went into a field during a storm and rose a kite, then drew the electric charge with the help of a wrench. A year later,

he invented the lightning rod to protect buildings from lightning. Franklin developed the first general theory on electrical phenomena. He also introduced the noting of the electrified bodies with “+” and “-“, noting that there are only two types of electric charges. Another invention of Franklin is the electric wheel, which meant the discovery of the possibility of turning continuously the mechanical energy into electricity. He drew up a project to build boats moved by steam. In 1756, Benjamin Franklin was elected as a member in the Royal Society and received the “Copley Medal” after realizing several experiments and publishing a book about electricity. The principles of 71

Benjamin Franklin Drawing Electricity from the Sky (1816) at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, by Benjamin West

modern electricity are based on Franklin’s theory. He sent the experiments results to scientists from England and France, who were impressed, thus choosing him as a member of the society mentioned above. In 1773, he was chosen as one of the eight foreign associates of the Royal Academy of Sciences in Paris. He organized the first library in America, invented many things and amazed many scientists worldwide through his experiences with electricity. In France, he was an essential part of his country’s first formal recognition in the world and on 6 February 1778, he signed the Treaty of Paris in which France allied with the colonies against England. After this event, Franklin remained in France as a representative of the newly created entity, the United States, becoming the first ambassador of the American people on the “old continent”. In May 1779, he was elected Worshipful Master of the famous Neuf Soeurs lodge in Paris, whose 72

most important member was Voltaire. Franklin incited the Neuf Soeurs lodge by all means to support the American cause. Since 1781, Benjamin negotiated peace with Britain, which ended in 1783. He was one of those who signed the treaty of peace, concluded with the recognition of the United States by Great Britain, at the Treaty of Paris in 1783. Before his departure back in the U.S., Franklin has witnessed the first hot air balloon flight, without passengers, accomplished by the Montgolfier brothers. When he returned to Philadelphia on 14 September 1785, he found out that he was expected into a welcoming ceremony. Though Benjamin was old, having 79 years, he was the president of the City Council of Pennsylvania for 3 years, a post equal to that of governor. During this time, he was a member of the constitutional convention, which sometimes did not get along with each other, and Franklin used to calm the members. His plan of government with a singlechamber Parliament was rejected, but he was one of the signers of the Constitution. Franklin spent the last five years of his life in Philadelphia. He invented a device that took books from the top shelves of the library, and sent letters to friends and political leaders: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and James Madison. He wrote articles and an autobiography. His last political act was to write a memo to abolish the slavery of black people. At that time he was also known in Europe, him being the one who persuaded the British to withdraw the “Stamp Act” and also convinced the French to intervene in the War of Independence. In the U.S., he contributed to the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Benjamin Franklin died in 1790 at the age of 84 years old, on 17 April and was buried with his wife in the Church of Christ cemetery in Philadelphia. Being a member of the Enlightenment movement, Franklin condemned slavery and demonstrated its economic anachronism. He was a hero of the struggle for USA’s independence and a militant for peace and progress. He criticized the fanaticism of religious sects. Another merit of him was that he negotiated an alliance with Louis XVI of France in 1777. He sustained the revolt of the French in Canada and set up the militia of American volunteers. He helped prepare people for the insurrection that erupted under General George Washington. In 1776, together with Thomas Jefferson and other leaders of the Congress, he proclaimed the independence of the American people.

Elvis Presley Elvis Presley (b. 8 January 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi, U.S. – d. 16 August 1977 in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.) was an American singer and actor. Regarded as one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century, he is often referred to as "the King of Rock and Roll", or simply, "the King". In a small town in Mississippi, in a modest house, in January 1935, Gladys Presley gave birth to twins. The first one, Jesse Garon was stillborn, but the second one, Elvis Aaron Presley was born without problems, becoming the only child of the family. The child grew up with his family and relatives who were living in the same area of ​​the city of Tupelo. Even though they were living in difficult conditions, Vernon and Gladys Presley struggled to provide the necessary things for Elvis, who had by then became the spotlight of the two. In Tupelo, Elvis had his first contacts with music. Since he was just a kid, Elvis used to sing in the church choir together with his family. The music and

Elvis Presley

A Young Elvis Aaron Presley

sermons gained deep roots in the musician’s way of thinking. Also in his hometown, for the first time he had the opportunity to listen to the blues-black mania that will have a great influence on the young man, along with the country music from the radio programs that the whole family listened to. His first appearance on the stage took place at the age of just 10 years old, when he sang “Old Shep” in a competition for young talents held in Tupelo, at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show, winning the second prize (five dollars and the possibility of entering free to all attractions of the fair). At this age, Elvis also received his first guitar, the parents being unable to afford the bike their son greatly desired. In 1948, during the celebration of the end of the school year, little Elvis played the guitar and sang “Leaf on a Tree”. After not a lot time, he moved to Memphis, his parents attempting to shape a better life. He worked in different places to financially support his family, while following high school and continuing to play the guitar. He grew long hair, compared to the standard of the time and let his sideburns grow, which made him distinguish from other teenagers. He participated in a talent contest, where, he played the guitar in a style considered harsh and aggressive, but got more applause than the rest, thus winning the first prize. After graduating from high school, he worked in different factories in the city, and in 1953, Elvis recorded his first demo at the Memphis Recording Service (later known as Sun Studio) for a sum of four dollars. It contains the “My Happiness” and “That’s 73

Elvis in 1958

When Your Heartaches Begin” songs and he gave it as a gift to his mother. At the beginning of 1954, Elvis Presley recorded a second demo in the same studio, and in the summer, at the suggestion of the owner, Sam Phillips, he recorded a series of five singles including the famous “That’s All Right” together with Scotty Moore (guitar) and Bill Black (bass). Together with these persons, he won contracts in the South, while continuing to work at Crown Electric. After being rejected at the preselection for the Grand Ole Opry, being advised by the organizers to return to his job as a truck driver, he is offered a contract for one year to sing every week in the Louisiana Hayride program, conducted by KWKH Radio, Grand Ole Opry’s main competitor. Here he met Tom Parker (who called himself “Colonel”), a promoter and manager with whom he will sign a contract in 1955. In November 1955, Elvis signed with RCA Records, Colonel Parker negotiating himself the sale of all recordings made at Sun Studio by the performer against the huge (in those days) amount of 40.000 $ plus a bonus of 5.000 $ for Presley. The five singles were relaunched by RCA, Elvis becoming the most publicized new interpreter of the music industry. On 10 January 74

1956, Elvis attended at a recording session in the RCA studio in Nashville, where among other songs, he will record “Heartbreak Hotel”. The “Heartbreak Hotel” / “I Was The One” single was promoted by RCA and sold over 300.000 copies only in the first three weeks and was the first single of Elvis that recorded sales of over one million copies, earning the interpreter his first golden record. On 28 January 1956 was his first appearance in a Stage Show telecast on CBS. In the same year, his first album appeared and Elvis Presley, who arrived quickly on the first position on the Billboard 200, stayed there for ten weeks. Elvis signed a contract for seven years with Paramount Pictures, appeared on “The Steve Allen Show” on NBC where he sang “Hound Dog”, continued to hold concerts throughout America, launched single after single and signed a contract for a series of three appearances on “Ed Sullivan Show” for the amount record at that time of 50.000 $. On 26 September, the Elvis Presley Day is proclaimed in his hometown, Tupelo and in mid-November, his first film has premiered: “Love Me Tender”. The film was a huge success, and Elvis got favorable reviews from critics. It was an extraordinary year for the wonder kid of America, the sales from the name of Elvis reaching to a total of 22 million $, let alone the momentum that his career took both musically and acting. The beginning of 1957 found him working on his second film: “Loving You”. In March, he bought Graceland, both for him and for his family and began working on the “Jailhouse Rock” movie. Elvis also played for the first time in Canada and Hawaii, filming “King Creole” in early 1958, then he was recruited in the U.S. Army for the military service. On 14 August 1958, Gladys Presley died of hepatitis, being just 46 years old. Elvis remained deeply grieved. In November 1959, Elvis met Priscilla Ann Beaulieu, the stepdaughter of Captain Joseph Beaulieu, who had just been transferred from Texas to Weisenbadem Air Force Base, where Elvis was assigned. The girl, aged 14 and a half years, would later become his wife. In early March 1960, he was discharged and began working on a new album “Elvis is Back!”. He began filming for “GI Blues” and later for “The Flaming Star” and “Wild in the Country”. At the beginning of 1969, Elvis Presley returned to Memphis and recorded two extraordinary albums: “From Elvis in Memphis” and “From Memphis to Vegas, From Vegas to Memphis”, which will contain among other songs, the great hits “In the Ghetto”, “Suspicious Minds”, “Don’t Cry Daddy” and “Kentucky Rain”. In

March 1969, Presley returned on the set for what will be his last film: “Change of Habit”. In August, in Las Vegas, he supported a series of performances that will set a new record in terms of concerts audience that took place in the city of casinos. In late 1969, he released the single “Suspicious Minds”, becoming his first single to reach number one on Billboard since “Good Luck Charm” in 1962. In February 1970, Elvis recorded a live album in Las Vegas named “On Stage”. In November the same year, the documentary “That’s The Way It Is” appeared and had a great success both in terms of revenue and critics. From that moment until August 1977, Elvis’s life turned into an endless series of concerts and tours, appearances on television shows, recording of albums and singles, both in the studio and live. In June 1972, he set a record audience, managing to sustain four consecutive gigs at the famous sold-out arena of

Elvis Presley with US President, Richard Nixon

Madison Square Garden. In January 1973, the show “Aloha from Hawaii” was transmitted by satellite, being watched live in 36 countries on all continents, the estimated audience reaching up to 1,5 billion viewers. The only notable thing of this period was his divorce from Priscilla in October 1973, which has moved shortly after it from Graceland, together with their daughter, Lisa Marie. The stress from the tournament and the lack of rest began to have their say, Elvis needing more hospitalizations. Around this time, he started to take energizing pills and all kinds of various other drugs. On 16 August 1977, freshly returned to Graceland, Elvis was preparing the last details about the show he had to support in Portland (Maine) the next day and then he retired to rest. Elvis Presley was found dead the next morning, following a heart attack. The news spread fast and the whole world was in shock. 75

Martin Luther King Junior Martin Luther King Junior (b. 15 January 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. – d. 4 April 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.) was an American Baptist minister and activist who was a leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using non-violent civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs. He led the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957, serving as its first president. With the SCLC, King led an unsuccessful 1962 struggle against segregation in Albany, Georgia (the Albany Movement), and helped organize the 1963 nonviolent protests in Birmingham, Alabama. King also helped to organize the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. There, he established his reputation as one of the greatest orators in American history. Martin Luther King Junior was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1929. He was a minister of the Baptist Church and the leader of the blacks in America. In 1950 and


1960, he led a peaceful movement to support civil rights with an almost magnetic eloquence, immortalized in four words from a speech: “I have a dream”. Both his father and grandfather were priests of the Baptist Church. Martin Luther King was precocious and took his degree in sociology at just 19 years old in early 1948. In the same year, he was ordained as priest of the Baptist church, while he was still in high school. He obtained his degree in theology in 1951, aged just 22 years old. In 1953, he married Coretta Scott, with whom he had four children. 2 years later, he obtained his doctorate at the Boston University, aged 26 years old. During the 19541959 period, Martin Luther King was a full-time priest at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, in the “deep south” of America, where racial discrimination against blacks was still institutionalized. In 1955, during the arrest of a woman of colour, because she didn’t want to get off the place “reserved for the whites” in a bus in Montgomery, would change King’s life forever. A battle for the emancipation of the blacks began, as King decided to follow his hero, Mahatma Gandhi, who knelt the British Empire and gained India’s independence through a peaceful protest. During the 1955-1956 period, King was elected president of the

Martin Luther King during his famous “I have a dream” speech

Martin Luther King Jr.

“Association for a better Montgomery”, an association that organized a boycott of the buses in Montgomery. The boycott lasted 381 days. The protesters were arrested and beaten, and King’s house was dynamited, but the protesters haven’t responded in any way, and thus the boycott ended with a total victory. The Supreme Court

outlawed the segregation and removed it from public transport. In 1956, King has distinguished during these protests as a central figure in the civil rights movement and was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. This election offered him a 77

Martin Luther King during one of his sermons

platform with national opening where he could speak out against discrimination against black people, which was quite prevalent at that time. He became an ardent supporter of this struggle, both domestically and abroad, while his speeches and sermons aroused the conscience of a nation and offered the blacks a new sense of identity and self-awareness. In 1959, the pressures to which he was subjected in the capacity of leader of the civil rights movement have forced King to give up the post of pastor, opting instead for the less queried position of pastor in the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where his father was also a pastor. In 1963, Martin Luther King organized a massive campaign for civil rights in Birmingham, Alabama, a campaign in which 3.300 protesters were arrested. He also led a historical march in Washington, on 28 August 1963. During this march he held his memorable “I have a dream” speech. He also militated against the war in Vietnam. Despite critics that demanded more intense 78

actions, King didn’t cease to turn the other cheek. He remained faithful to peaceful protests, meetings and protest marches. He was arrested for no less than thirty times, once in 1960, a few days before the presidential elections, but was released at the intervention of John F. Kennedy. This gesture brought Kennedy plenty of votes from the blacks. In 1964, Martin Luther King Jr. received the Nobel Peace Prize. Considered to be a masterpiece of oratory, Martin Luther King’s speech resembled the style of a sermon Baptist (even King was a Baptist priest). He appeals to iconic and respected sources such as the Bible and invokes the US Declaration of Independence, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the US Constitution. At the beginning of the speech, King alluded to the Gettysburg speech of Abraham Lincoln, saying “a hundred years ago” (“Five score years ago ...”). An example of allusion to the Bible is Psalm 3:5 in the second paragraph of the speech. He referred to the abolition of

slavery articulated in the Emancipation Proclamation, “He came in the morning gladness to end the long night of their captivity.” Another biblical allusion is found in the 10th paragraph of King’s speech: “No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice will flow like a river and righteousness like a wellspring”, alluding to Amos 5:24. King quoted from Isaiah 40:45 as well: “I have a dream that every valley shall be exalted ...” Moreover, King referred to the first verses of Shakespeare’s “Richard III” work, “this tormenting summer of the legitimate grievances of the blacks will not pass until there comes a refreshed autumn ...” On 4 April 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, USA. King was shot dead while sitting on the balcony of a motel in Memphis, Tennessee. A fire station was located across from the Lorraine Motel, next to the boarding house in which James Earl Ray was staying. Police officers were stationed in the fire station to keep King under surveillance. Agents were watching King at the time he was shot. Immediately following the shooting, officers rushed out of the station to the motel. Marrell McCollough, an undercover police officer, was the first person to administer first aid to King. The antagonism between King and the FBI, the lack of an all points bulletin to find the killer, and the police presence nearby led to speculation that the FBI was involved in the assassination. He and the ideals for which he fought are celebrated each year in the United States as a national holiday, on the third Monday in January. In the last homily he held, in the day before he was assassinated, he seemed to feel his close death. He said “I was in the mountaintop and seen the Promised Land.” Beginning since 1971, cities such as St. Louis, Missouri, and other states established annual holidays to honour King. At the White House Rose Garden on 2 November 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a

bill creating a federal holiday to honour King. Observed for the first time on 20 January 1986, the holiday is called Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Following President George H. W. Bush’s 1992 proclamation, the holiday was observed on the third Monday of January each year, near the time of King’s birthday. On 17 January 2000, for the first time, Martin Luther King Jr. Day was officially observed in all the fifty U.S. states. Arizona (1992), New Hampshire (1999) and Utah (2000) were the last three states to recognize the holiday. Utah previously celebrated the holiday at the same time but under the name of Human Rights Day.

Martin Luther King and US President, Lyndon B. Johnson


Thomas Alva Edison Thomas Alva Edison (b. 11 February 1847 in Milan, Ohio, U.S. – d. 18 October 1931 in West Orange, New Jersey, U.S.) was an American inventor and businessman. He developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and the long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. Dubbed "The Wizard of Menlo Park", he was one of the first inventors to apply the principles of mass production and largescale teamwork to the process of invention, and because of that, he is often credited with the creation of the first industrial research laboratory. Thomas Edison was born as one of Samuel Edison’s sons, in the town of Milan, in Ohio, USA. He was an important inventor, industrialist and US businessman from the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Edison was known as the “Wizard of Menlo Park” and was the most prolific inventor of its time through the practical application of his scientific discoveries. He was a self-taught, but this hasn’t prevented him to realize inventions in the electricity field (the filament bulb), telephony, transmission of multiple telegrams field, mechanical sound recording (phonograph) and cinema (the Kinetoscope). Because of economic reasons, Thomas’s parents moved in the city of Port Huron, Michigan State in 1854 and little Thomas was enrolled in a private elementary school. After two months, the schoolmaster refused to school him because he argued that Edison didn’t absorb any of the information taught in class. Until the age of 12 years old, his mother instructed him and he assimilated surprisingly enough knowledge for his age. In 1860, Edison became a telegraph operator. On 28 October 1868, he received his first patent for the machine which recorded votes electronically. In 1869, Edison tried his luck in New York and invented the telegraph, which directly printed things, as well as a mechanical recording device of the exchange rate. These two inventions brought him 40.000 $, with the help of which, he managed to build a workshoplaboratory in the neighborhood of Newark. 3 years later, Thomas invented and experienced the duplex telegraph system that transmitted simultaneously on the same wire, two telegrams in opposite directions. In 1873, 80

Edison as a boy

Edison has built in Menlo Park, near Newark, USA an “invention factory”, together with a group of specialists. In 1877, Thomas Edison invented the phonograph, the first device to record sounds and also to play them. He perfected the telephone invented by Alexander Graham Bell and in the following years he invented the gramophone. Alva Edison also invented the incandescent bulb. In 1880, he made the first distribution of electricity by installing a power plant on the transatlantic packet boat “Columbia”, the first electrically lighted ship. That same year, the already famous inventor proposed a project for the use of the electric traction on the railways. Edison also built the first power plant in the world, the “Edison Electric Light Company”. He used carbonized bamboo for the filament manufacturing and his new bulbs could already achieve a lifetime of 1.200 hours. The first public demonstration took place on the last day of the year 1879 and was a real success. The inventor has promised to all those present at the event that he will continue working in the field of electric lighting and bring substantial improvements: “We will make electricity so cheap that only the rich will light candles.” In 1883, Thomas Edison discovered the

Thomas Edison and his 2nd phonograph model


electronic thermal emission, known as the Edison effect. This phenomenon refers to the electron emissions by heated metals, known as the thermoelectric emission phenomenon. He discovered this phenomenon by accident: upon entering a small metal plate into a bulb, he observed that a galvanometer from the circuit indicated the passing of an electric current if the card was linked to the positive pole of the power source and remained at zero if the board was linked to negative pole power supply. Edison never gave any importance at the moment, but he noted the phenomenon however. The phenomenon has been studied and further developed 82

Thomas Alva Edison

by physicist John Ambrose Fleming, thus laying the foundations of electronics. In 1892, Edison invented a video camera for moving objects or people, which used a 35 mm celluloid strip of perforated edges. His first experiences, conducted in the laboratory, were executed by the pace of 15 frames per second, which momentarily gave no satisfactory results. He invent the Kinetoscope just 2 years later, the first machine that could play moving images, with a frequency of 46 images per second, but this machine

didn’t allow more than one person to watch a movie. The device used film strip perforated on the edges, where the images lit by transparency could be pursued through a lens. The first public “show” was held in a hall on Broadway, after which, the machine was built in massive quantities and sold. For his merits, in 1895, the American Academy of Arts and Science gave him the “Rumford Prize” for his work in electricity. In 1903, Edison invented a machine for the manufacture of cement. He also discovered a process for the construction of concrete houses. In 1912, Thomas invented the first type of cinema with voice, achieved by combining the cinema with the phonograph. The American inventor perfected the alkaline battery with nickel and iron plates placed in an aqueous substance of potassium hydroxide or sodium, or just as the electrolyte, invented by Waldemar Jungner in 1901. In 1915, he was awarded the “Franklin Medal” for his contributions to the welfare of humanity. On 18 October 1931, the great inventor Thomas Edison died of complications of diabetes. Thomas Edison advocated for the monetary reform in the United States. He ardently opposed to the

gold standard and the debt based money. In the New York Times, he was quoted as stating “Gold is a relic of Julius Caesar, and interest is an invention of Satan”. In the same article, he expounded upon the absurdity of a monetary system in which the taxpayer of the United States, in need of a loan, would be compelled to pay in return perhaps double of the principal, or even greater sums, due to interest. His basic point was that if the Government could produce debt based money, it could equally as well produce money that was a credit to the taxpayer. In May 1922, he published a proposal, entitled “A Proposed Amendment to the Federal Reserve Banking System”. He detailed an explanation of a commodity backed currency, in which the Federal Reserve would issue interest free currency to farmers, based on the value of the commodities they produced. During a publicity tour that he took with friend and fellow inventor, Henry Ford, he spoke publicly about his desire for monetary reform. For insight, he corresponded with prominent academic and banking professionals. In the end, however, Edison’s proposals failed to find support, and were eventually abandoned.

Portrait of Edison by Abraham Archibald Anderson (1890)


Michael Jackson Michael Jackson (b. 29 August 1958 in Gary, Indiana, USA – d. 25 June 2009 in Los Angeles, California, USA) was an American singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, actor and philanthropist. Called the "King of Pop", his contributions to music, dance, and fashion, along with his publicized personal life made him a global figure in the popular culture for over four decades. Michael Joseph Jackson was born in the city of Gary, Indiana (an industrial suburb of Chicago, Illinois) in a working-class family, as the son of Joseph Walter “Joe” and Katherine Esther (née Scruse), being the 7th of the couples nine children. His brothers were Rebbie, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, La Toya, Marlon, Randy and Janet. Joseph Jackson was an employee of a local steel factory and he often sang with his brother, Luther, in a R&B music band called “The Falcons”. Michael Jackson


Michael Jackson

was raised by his mother in conformity to the rules imposed by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and then there were rumours that he converted to Islam, but they were denied by his lawyer. From a young age, Michael Jackson was physically and emotionally abused by his father, was forced to endure hours of rehearsals without stopping, beatings and humiliation caused by curses. Child abuse affected him throughout his whole life. Marlon Jackson recalled how his father was holding Michael raised on one leg and “beat him again and again with his hand, hitting him.” Joseph was frequently in trouble and used to chastise his boys, by hitting them to the walls of his house. One night, while Michael was asleep, Joseph entered his room using the open window. Wearing a fright mask, Joseph screamed, wanting to teach their children not to leave the window open when they went to bed. Many years after this incident, Michael had nightmares related to the image of his father, dreaming that he was being kidnapped from his bedroom. Michael Jackson revealed his musical talent at the age of 5 years old in front of his classmates and others during a Christmas recital. In 1964, Michael and Marlon joined the Jackson Brothers, a musical group formed by brothers Jackie, Tito and Jermaine, at the beginning being just a backup musician. At the age of 8 years old, Michael and Jermaine became the main singers of the band, who took over at that time, the name of The Jackson 5. The band performed for several years in clubs and other known places in the Midwest like the Chitlin’ circuit, where they often opened striptease and other adult acts performances. Led by Michael, in 1966 they won an important contest with versions of the Motown brand like the famous James Brown’s song hit “I Got You (I Feel Good)”. Since 1972, Michael has released a total of four albums independently, being impresario by the Motown label, among the albums being “Got to Be There” and “Ben”. They were released as part of The Jackson 5 franchise, and produced successful singles such as “Got to Be There”, “Ben” and an alternate version of the song “Rockin’ Robin” by Bobby Day’s original. The popularity and the group’s sales were going down by the mid-1970’s. The band has also recorded several minor hits like “Dancing Machine” and “I Am Love” before signing a contract with Motown. The group Jackson 5 signed a new management contract with CBS Records in June 1975, joining the Philadelphia International Records Group, the current Epic Records company. As a result of legal proceedings,

Michael Jackson singing in his famous “Beat It” song

the group took the name of “The Jacksons”. After this change took place, the band continued to perform at the international level, releasing six studio albums between 1976 and 1984. In 1978, Michael played the Scarecrow in the musical “The Wiz”. The songs were orchestrated and arranged by Quincy Jones, who teamed up with Michael Jackson during the filming and agreed to produce the next album independently to the performer, entitled “Off the Wall”. In 1979, Michael broke his nose while repeating a complex choreography. Subsequent rhinoplasty surgery wasn’t as successful as expected, Michael having breathing difficulties, which affected his career. The interpreter was referred to Dr. Steven Hoefflin, which made him the second rhinoplasty and other beauty operations. In 1980, Michael Jackson won three awards at the “American Music Awards” gala for his efforts in his independent career, receiving titles for “the most popular Soul / R & B music album”, “Most Popular Soul / R & B musician” and “best single Soul / R & B music disc” (for “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough “). That same year, Michael won two prizes from the Billboard Music Awards in the categories “Best colour performer “ and “Best Album of a colour interpreter” and a Grammy for “Best R & B performance of a singer “(for “Don’t Stop

‘Til You Get Enough”). Thriller received the Double Diamond status in the United States, awarded by the RIAA, for the 28 million units sold. Currently, Thriller is the bestselling album of all time, with 110 million copies sold worldwide. Jackson’s representative, John Branca, stated that at the time, Jackson had the highest rate of copyrights in the music industry, about 2 $ for every album sold. He also obtained record revenues from the sale of CD’s and “The Making of Michael Jackson’s Thriller”, a documentary produced by Jackson and John Landis. Founded by MTV, the documentary sold over 350.000 copies in just a few months after its launch. On 14 May 1984, he was invited to the White House and honored by President Ronald Reagan for his charity actions that helped people to fight alcohol and drug use. Michael Jackson won eight Grammys that year. Unlike its successors, “Thriller” did not have an official tour to promote itself, but the 1984 Victory Tour showed the 2 million Americans who participated in the tournament, most singles of Michael Jackson. He donated 5 million $ earned from the tournament. Michael Jackson also composed in 1985, together with Lionel Richie, “We Are the World”, a charity song launched worldwide to fight poverty in Africa. It became 85

The Legend Continues”. During a trip to Africa, Jackson visited several countries, including Gabon and Egypt. At the first stop in Gabon, he was greeted by 100.000 people, some of them carrying signs that read “Welcome Home Michael”. On his first visit to the Ivory Coast, Jackson was crowned “King Sani” by a tribal chief. Among the most acclaimed Michael’s spectacles, we can include his performance held at the Super Bowl XXVII. One of the most spectacular moments in Jackson’s career was his catapulting on the stage in a shower of fireworks. Wearing a military black and gold outfit and sunglasses, Jackson landed on the stage, remaining motionless for several minutes in front of an ecstatic crowd. Thereafter, he slowly removed his glasses, threw them and began to sing and dance. The show consisted of four songs: “Jam”, “Billie Jean”, “Black or White” and “Heal the World”. The Michael Jackson taking pictures with fans just 2 show of the Super Bowl was watched by 135 million years after being detected with vitiligo Americans. His “Dangerous” album climbed into the one of best-selling singles of all time, with nearly 20 top by 90 positions. million copies sold and millions of dollars donated to Michael’s penultimate album of the 1990’s was fight hunger. originally planned as a collection of old hits, but as he Jackson’s skin was brown throughout his youth, gathered material, it became clear enough that he had but since the 1980’s it became increasingly lighter. parts for a double CD in which he could blend the old The change has given rise to rumors that claimed that with the new. On his second disc, Michael appeared Michael would have discolored his skin. According to J. Randy Taraborrelli’s 1986 biography, Jackson suffered from vitiligo and lupus. Vitiligo would have been the cause for Jackson’s skin discolouration, both diseases making him sensitive to sunlight. The treatment that he followed and the makeup used to mask the discolored spots made him look increasingly pale. His facial structure was also changed. Speculations arose that he carried out a series of plastic surgeries to his nose, chin and lips. In the early 1980’s, Michael lost weight because of his diet and the desire to have a “corps dancer.” Witnesses said that they suffer from anorexia. In 1986, he underwent a fourth operation on his nose and the first one on his chin. In 1988, Michael Jackson released his first autobiography, “Moon Walk”, which was written in four years. The book was sold in 200.000 copies. Jackson wrote about his childhood, about the Jackson 5 and the abuses he suffered. He also talked about the plastic surgery he suffered, noting that only two operations were made on his nose. “Moon Walk” reached the top position among New York Times, being the most sold book. Also in that year, Jackson appeared in the movie “Moonwalker” alongside Joe Pesci. The film remained on top for 22 weeks, being deposed by “Michael Jackson: 86

Michael Jackson in his last years

for the first time as an instrumentalist (keyboards, synthesizer, drums, guitar and percussion) and 12 of the 15 new songs were composed by him. Suggestively entitled “HIStory: Past, Present And Future - Book 1” album appeared in June 1995 and debuted as the No. 1 in the US, a notable achievement being quite expensive. However, the album stayed there for two weeks, the shortest period compared to the his other albums that occupied the same position. By June 1999, Jackson was involved in numerous charities. He has joined Luciano Pavarotti in a benefit concert in Modena, Italy. Following this show there were millions of dollars for the refugees from Kosovo, and for the children of Guatemala. At the end of that month, Michael Jackson organized a series of charity concerts called “Michael Jackson & Friends” in Germany and South Korea. Among the artists involved in those concerts, there can be mentioned: Slash, The Scorpions, Boyz II Men, Luther Vandross, Mariah Carey, A. R. Rahman, Prabhu Deva Sundaram, Shobana Chandrakumar, Andrea Bocelli and Luciano Pavarotti. Profits were directed to “Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund”, the Red Cross and UNESCO. Passing over this period, Michael recorded a new album, “Invincible”. It contained 16 songs and was released on 30 October 2001. The pieces extracted from the album were: “You rock my world”, “Cry” and “Butterflies”. The first piece extracted, “You rock my world” was the last piece for which Michael recorded the video and the last one in which he played. This video was made as a short film, also starring Chris Tucker. The second song, “Cry” had a video but because of the collapse of the twin towers incident, Michael did not want to appear in it. This was Michael’s last attempt to unify people and make a better world. The last extracted song remained without a video. The dispute with the record company, the lack of promotion and lack of a tournament were the reasons for which the “Invincible” album sold only 10 million copies worldwide, 8 million in the US and 2 million in Europe. This was the album with the fewest sales. On 21 November 2008, the newspapers published news that Jackson has converted to Islam and changed his name to “Mikaeel”. However, other sources have suggested that he converted earlier, in 2007 when his brother Jermaine, would have said that he would have converted to Islam. But one of Jackson’s lawyers, Londell McMillan, denied these rumors, stating them as “nonsense”. In March 2009, Jackson announced that starting from 8 July 2009, he will hold a tour consisting

in 10 concerts, the number reaching later at 50. The tour was entitled “This Is It”. The concerts were to take place in the 02 Arena in London. He explained: “I just want to say that these will be my last concerts in London. When I say the last, I’m serious,” adding that “the last curtain will fall.” On 25 June 2009, Michael Jackson fell unconscious while lying in bed at his rented mansion at 100 North Carolwood Drive in the Holmby Hills district of Los Angeles. Attempts at resuscitating him by Conrad Murray, his personal physician, were unsuccessful. Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics received a 911 call at 12:22 pm, arriving three minutes later. Jackson was reportedly not breathing and CPR was performed. Resuscitation efforts continued en route to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, and for more than an hour after arriving there at 1:13 pm. He was pronounced dead at 2:26 pm. His best-selling album was “Thriller”, which is in the first place on a list of the most sold albums of all time, followed in 2nd place by AC/DC’s “Back In Black”.

Michael Jackson’s wax statue at Madame Tussauds


Michael Jordan Michael Jordan (b. 17 February 1963 in Brooklyn, New York) is an American retired professional basketball player. He is also a businessman, and the principal owner and chairman of the Charlotte Hornets. Jordan played 15 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards. His biography on the NBA website states: "By acclamation, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time." Jordan was one of the most effectively marketed athletes of his generation and was considered instrumental in popularizing the NBA around the world in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Jordan went to Emsley A. Laney High School in Wilmington, where he anchored athletic careers by playing baseball, football and basketball. He tried to enter into the Varsity Basketball Team in his sophomore year, but having only 1,80 m in height, he was considered too short to play at this level. His taller friend, Harvest Leroy Smith was the only one who was chosen from the


sophomores to make the team. Driven to prove his true value, Jordan became the star of the junior team and was the top scorer in 40 games. The following summer, he grew up 10 cm in height, and by rigorously training, he won his place in the senior squad, gaining an average of about 20 points per game. As a senior, he was selected to the McDonald’s AllAmerican-Team, after the season ended with a triple double average: 29.2 points, 11.6 rebounds and 10.1 assists. In 1981, Jordan earned a basketball scholarship to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he majored in cultural geography. As a freshman in the team led by Dean Smith, he was named the ACC rookie of the year, with an average of 13.4 points per game (PPG) and an average of 53,4% ​​from field goal. He made the decisive basket in the 1982 NCAA championship finals against Georgetown, where his future NBA rival, Patrick Ewing played at the moment. During his three seasons at North Carolina, he averaged 17.7 points per game on 54,0% and added 5.0 rebounds per game (RPG). He was selected in the NCAA dream team both in 1982 and in 1983. After winning the Naismith Player of the Year award in 1984, Jordan declared for the NBA draft of 1984. Chicago

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan playing for the Chicago Bulls

Bulls selected him the third after Hakeem Olajuwon from Houston Rockets and Sam Bowie from Portland Trail Blazers. Jordan returned to North Carolina to complete his studies in 1986. In his first season in the NBA, Jordan has achieved an average of 28.2 PPM with 51,5% of throws. He quickly became a very popular player, even in rival teams arenas and appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated in the article “A Star Is Born”, just one month after beginning his professional career. Jordan was also voted by fans as a starter in the All-Star Game. In his second season, Jordan was injured at his left leg, causing him to lose 64 games. Despite the injury, Jordan made a record of 30-52, and the Bulls came into the playoffs. Jordan recovered in time to participate in the playoffs and behaved well upon his return. In the 1985-1986 season, against Boston Celtics, a team that is often considered one of the greatest in NBA history, Jordan has established a still-unbroken record for points in a game with 63 points in the second game. However Celtics managed to sweep the series. Jordan led the league in the new 1987-1988 season, averaging 35.0 PPG with 53.5% throws and

he won his first MVP award. He was also named the defensive player of the Year, averaging 3.16 blocks and 1.6 steals per game, the Bulls ending it with 50-32. Jordan’s team passed the first round of the playoffs for the first time in Jordan’s career, defeating Cleveland Cavaliers in five games. However, the Bulls lost in five games against the more experienced Detroit Pistons, who were led by Isiah Thomas and a group of players known as the “Bad Boys”. In a very short time, Jordan became one of the stars of American basketball, surprising the fans with his incredible developments. The fame of his “Air Jordan” nickname was awarded due to its magnificent skills to score slam dunks from the edge of the foul area. Although his game was predominantly offensive, he managed to win the title of the best defensive player in the NBA. After numerous records set and trophies won with his team, Chicago Bulls, during the years that followed, including all the three titles in the NBA, Michael Jordan decided to retire from basketball in 1993 to begin a career in baseball. He only resisted two years away from the sport that consecrated him and returned to Chicago Bulls. Another period of glory 89

Michael Jordan during an interview

arrives for the American basketballer, who managed to win three consecutive championships in 1996, 1997 and 1998. With Jordan in the field, Chicago Bulls established a new record of 72 matches won in a season, in as many as possible. In 1999, Jordan announced his withdrawal from basketball for the second time, but this time he returned for two more seasons in the jersey of the Washington Wizards, between 2001 and 2003. In 1999, the famous TV channel ESPN declared Michael Jordan as “The best athlete of the 20th century.” Jordan was one of the best marketed athletes of his generation and was a decisive factor in popularizing the NBA around the world. The popularity that he gained brought him attention from sportswear company, Nike, with the help of which he launched an entire line of equipment that bears his name, the famous sports shoes “Nike Air Jordan” that are recognized and appreciated even today in stores. After his third retirement, Jordan assumed that he will be able to return to his position as Director of Basketball Operations for the Wizards. But still, his director position has produced mixed results and 90

influenced the exchange of players between Richard “Rip” Hamilton and Jerry Stackhouse (although Jordan was not the director of basketball operations in 2002). In May 2003, the owner of “Washington Wizards”, Abe Pollin, fired Jordan from his position as director. Jordan later felt betrayed, and if he had known that he would be fired after his retirement, he would have never went back to play for the “Wizards”. As the years passed, Jordan kept himself in shape by playing golf in celebrity charity tournaments, spending more time with his family in Chicago and promoting his own clothing line and riding with his motorbike. Since 2004, Jordan held Michael Jordan Motorsports, a team of professional motorcycle riders on closed circuit who competed with two Suzuki in the first Superbike class established by the American Motorcyclist Association. Jordan and his wife then donated 5 million $ to the Hales Franciscan high school in Chicago and in 2006, Jordan brand has made a donation to Habitat for Humanity and to a branch of the club Boys & Girls Club of America from Louisiana. On 15 June 2006, Jordan bought a small number of actions at Charlotte Bobcats making him become the second

shareholder behind the group that owns the majority of the shares, led by Robert L. Johnson. As part of the contract, Jordan was called “management member of the basketball operations” with total control over the basket. Despite his previous success as an endorser, he made an attempt not to be included in the marketing campaign. In February 2010, Jordan sook the majority stake in the Bobcats. During February, it emerged that the counter-candidates for the possession of the team were Jordan and former Houston Rockets president team, George Postolos. On 27 February, the Bobcats announced that Johnson reached an agreement with Jordan and his group, MJ Basketball Holdings, to buy the team, awaiting thus for NBA’s response. On 17 March 2010, NBA leaders unanimously approved Jordan’s request, making him the first former NBA player to become the main holder of the French league. On 21 May 2013, Jordan filed papers to change the Bobcats’ name to the Hornets, effective with the 2014-2015 season. The Hornets name had become available when the original Hornets, who had moved to

New Orleans in 2002, changed their name to the New Orleans Pelicans for the 2013-2014 season. The NBA approved the change on 18 July 18. The name change became official on 20 May 2014. On the same day, the team announced that it had reclaimed the history and records of the original 1988-2002 Hornets.

James Worthy, Michael Jordan, and Dean Smith at a North Carolina Tar Heels men’s basketball game honoring the 1957 and 1982 men’s basketball teams.


Bill Gates Bill Gates (b. 28 October 1955 in Seattle, Washington, U.S.) is an American business magnate, investor, author and philanthropist. In 1975, Gates and Paul Allen co-founded Microsoft, which became the world's largest PC software company. During his career at Microsoft, Gates held the positions of chairman, CEO and chief software architect, and was the largest individual shareholder until May 2014. Gates has authored and co-authored several books. On 28 October, inventor William Henry Gates III was born in Seattle, Washington. Gates began to show an interest in computer programming at the age of 13 at the Lakeside School. He followed his passion in college. He launched together with his friend and business partner Paul Allen, a software company that would change the world. Gates found himself in the right place at the right time. Through technological


Bill Gates

innovation, the two have built the largest software company in the world, Microsoft. His business strategy and aggressive competitive tactics have made him one of the richest people in the world. In 1970, at the age of 15 years old, Bill Gates went into business with his friend, Paul Allen. They developed “Traf-o-Data”, a computer program that monitored the traffic in Seattle, and collected 20.000 $ for their efforts. Gates and Allen wanted to start their own company, but Gates’ parents wanted him to finish high school and go to college, where they hoped that he would become a lawyer. Bill Gates graduated from Lakeside in 1973. He signed up at the Harvard University in the fall, originally thinking about a career in law. In the first year, he spent most of his time rather in the computer lab than in the classroom. Gates wasn’t really a study regimen. Gates remained in contact with Paul Allen, who after attending the Washington State University for two years, he quitted and moved to Boston, Massachusetts. In the summer of 1974, Gates joined Allen at Honeywell. In 1975, Gates and Allen formed a partnership called “Micro-Soft”, a mixture of “micro-computer” and “software”. They gave birth to the MS-DOS operating system. In February 1976, Gates wrote an open letter to the computers enthusiasts, saying that the distribution and use of software without paying “prevented good software to be done.” In essence, the software piracy would discourage the developers to invest time and money in creating quality software. The letter was unpopular among the computer enthusiasts, but Gates remained decided in his convictions, using threats as means of defense when he was facing accusations of unfair trade practices. Three years later, Microsoft wrote softs in different formats for computers producing companies and, in the end, Gates moved his company’s operations in Bellevue, Washington, east of Seattle. Bill Gates was glad to be home again. All 25 employees of the young company had extensive responsibilities for all aspects of the operation, development of products, business development and marketing. With his acumen for software development and a keen business sense, Gates was placed as head of Microsoft, which grossed 2.5 million $ in 1978. Gates was only 23 years old by then. In the 1978-1981 period, the growth of Microsoft has exploded, and the staff increased from 25 to 128 employees. Revenues also grew from 4.000.000 $ to 16.000.000 $. Gates has been named president and chairman of the board. Allen was named executive vice

Bill Gates together with Steve Jobs during a TV show

president. In 1983, Microsoft went global with offices in the UK and Japan, with 30% of the world’s computers running on its software. Paul Allen was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. Although the cancer went into remission a year later, with intensive treatment, Allen resigned from the company in the same year. In early 1984, a computer company called VisiCorp developed a mouse system led by the computer that used a graphical interface to display the text and images on the screen. This differed greatly from the text and keyboard driven system of the MS-DOS system in which all text formatting looked on the screen as a code rather than what would actually be printed. Bill Gates quickly recognized the threat of this software and what it might imply for MS-DOS and Microsoft. Gates said in an advertising campaign that Microsoft was about to develop a new operating system that would use a graphical interface. It was to be called “Windows”, and would be compatible with all PC software developed on the MS-DOS system. The announcement was a bluff, because Microsoft had no such program under development. But using a marketing tactic, Gates was a genius because almost 30% of the market were computers which used the MS-DOS system, so they would wait for the Windows software, without changing to a new system. The interest of the people who were

willing to write programs for the VisiCorp system, lost their momentum by early 1985. In November 1985, Bill Gates launched Microsoft Windows, nearly two years after his announcement. Visually, the Windows system looked very similar to Apple Macintosh Computer Corporation, that was introduced almost two years earlier. Apple had full access to Microsoft’s technology, while working on making products for Microsoft, compatible with Apple computers. Gates had advised Apple to license their software but they have ignored his advice, being more interested in selling the computers. Once again, Gates took full advantage of the situation and created a software format that was strikingly similar to the Macintosh. Apple threatened to sue Microsoft. They tried to get their vengeance by saying that they will delay the transfer of Microsoft software compatible for the Macintosh users. Finally, Microsoft has prevailed in the courts because they could prove that although there were similarities in how the two software systems worked, each individual function was created differently. In 1986, Bill Gates took Microsoft with an IPO of 21 $ per share. Gates owned 45% of the company and became an instant millionaire at the age of 31 years old. In time, the company’s shares increased in value. He became a billionaire in 1987, when the stock was 93

Bill Gates together with his wife, Melinda

raised to 90.75 $ a share. Since then, Gates has been on top or near the upper part of Forbes’ list of 400 richest people in the world. However, Bill Gates has never felt completely safe on the status of his company. He always wanted to look over his shoulder to see on what stage is the competition. A story says that one of the workers came to work earlier one morning and he was very surprised when he found someone sleeping under a desk. On the brink of announcing the police, he noticed that it was actually Bill Gates. Bill Gates’ intelligence allowed him to have the ability to see all sides of the software development industry and corporate strategy. Outside the company, Bill Gates has earned a reputation of a ruthless competitor. Several tech companies led by IBM began to develop their own operating system called OS / 2 to replace MS-DOS. Gates brought improvements to the Windows software in its operation and expansion of uses. Microsoft introduced Microsoft Office in 1989, which included office applications, productivity ones, such as Microsoft Word or Excel in a system that was compatible with all Microsoft products. Applications were not as easily compatible with OS / 2. A new version of Windows Microsoft has sold 100.000 copies in just two weeks, and sales of OS / 2 soon faded. This 94

left Microsoft with a virtual monopoly on operating systems for the PC’s. Recently, the Federal Trade Commission began investigating Microsoft for unfair marketing practices. Microsoft was faced with a series of investigations from the Department of Justice. Some statements related to the fact that Microsoft made unfair offers to the computer makers to install Windows on their computers. Microsoft was forcing manufacturers to sell Microsoft Internet Explorer with the Windows operating system, along with their computers. Gates went on to lead the company during the time of the federal investigation. At 28 years old, the chief executive of Microsoft, Melinda French has caught the attention of Bill Gates. Over time, their relationship has grown and each other found theirselves in an intimate and intellectual connection. On 1 January 1994, Melinda and Bill were married in Hawaii. But a few months later, Bill Gates was hit by pain. His mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and died in June 1994, as a consequence, Gates was devastated. Gates and his wife founded the William H. Gates Foundation, which has been dedicated to supporting education, health and investment in lowincome communities. Bill and Melinda have taken some time off to travel to different countries to get a new perspective on life and the world.

In 1996, their daughter, Jennifer, was born. A year later, Gates moved with his family into a house of 55.000 m², which cost 54 million $, on Lake Washington. Although the house serves as a business center, it is said to be a very comfortable home for the couple and their three children. With the influence of his wife Melinda, Gates took an interest in completing his mother’s role as a civic leader. He began to realize that it is required to give more of his wealth to charity. Being a consummate student, Gates studied the philanthropic work of Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, the titans of the American Industrial Revolution. Gates’s fortune in 1999 exceeded 101 billion $. In 2000, the couple has combined several foundations to form the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They began by making a contribution of 28 billion $ to the foundation to initiate the plans. Bill Gates retired from daily operations at Microsoft. He positioned himself as chief software architect to be able to focus on what has always been to him the charming side of his life. He remained the chairman of the board. Over the next few years, his involvement in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has occupied much of his time and even more of his interest. In addition to all the distinctions of being one of the most successful businessmen and richest in history, Bill Gates has also received many awards for his philanthropic work. Time

magazine named Gates one of the most influential people of the 20th century. The magazine also named Bill and his wife, Melinda, along with U2 rock singer Bono as the 2005 Persons of the Year. Gates holds several honorary doctorates from universities around the world, being a Knight Commander of the British Empire, a distinction offered by Queen Elizabeth II. Gates announced in 2006 that he changed his schedule from full time job in order to devote more time to the foundation. Gates and his wife were awarded the Order of the Aztec Eagle by the Mexican government for their philanthropic work around the world in health and education problems. On 27 June 2008 it was his last full day at Microsoft. In a 2013 interview accorded to “The Telegraph,” Bill Gates said that he has nothing more to do with the money and decided to invest them all in medical research. Gates said that “money are no longer of any use to me. I buy food and clothes for myself and with the rest I want to help people.” “We want to act by helping poor people that have no means to vaccinate against polio”, said the billionaire. UN statistics show that seven million children died in 2011 because of polio, most of them being in poor countries. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, occupies the first place among the richest Americans for the 21st year in a row, with a fortune of 72 billion $.

Bill Gates with Bono, Queen Rania of Jordan, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, President Umaru Yar’Adua of Nigeria and others


American Cuisine


2. Macaroni & Cheese

1. Cheeseburger Ingredients: • • • • • • • • • • •


1 kg ground beef or beef-pork blend 1 egg 1 small onion (finely chopped) A big pickle (chopped) 2 teaspoons of mustard 2 tablespoons of ketchup 2 teaspoons of Worchester sauce 4 or 5 tablespoons of breadcrumbs 2 tablespoons of garlic powder 2 tablespoons of dried chives Salt and pepperOil


1. From all of the above ingredients, except for the oil, make the composition for the meatballs. Make some round balls which you would flatten later so they can have the dimensions of a meatball. 2. Put some oil in a hot grill pan, then fry the meat patties for about 3to 4 minutes per side or until the meat changes its color and everything is nicely browned. 3. Begin to assemble the Cheeseburger: cut each bread roll in half, put a little ketchup, a little Worchester sauce for the sandwiches and a generous handful of chopped lettuce strips. 4. Over the salad put the meat patties, a slice of cheddar cheese, a few slices of pickled cucumber, a little more sauce and you’re ready 5. Cover the cheeseburger with the other bread roll.


• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

375g Pasta 240g Cheddar 200g Mozzarella 100g Parmesan 100g Pancetta or Bacon 30g white flour 750 ml milk 55g unsalted butter 1 tablespoon salt 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 tablespoon thyme 1/4 tablespoon white pepper 1/4 tablespoon nutmeg 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 2 drops of Worchester Sauce Panko breadcrumbs

Macaroni 97 & Cheese


1. Prepare all the ingredients and portion them for the needed quantities. 2. Warm up the oven and put some water to boil for the pasta then add a tablespoon of sea salt. 3. Finely chop the Pancetta and put it in a pan to fry over low heat in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. 4. Briefly grate the cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan. The amount of parmesan is divided into two equal parts. One will be mixed with the other two cheese types while the other is kept. 5. Melt the butter in a pan and add the flour. Mix all this time. 6. Gradually add milk. Meanwhile, the pancetta must be ready and translucent, but it will be left under the cover to stay warm. 7. Add thyme, nutmeg, white pepper, 1 teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and two drops of Worchester sauce to spice the sauce very well. 8. Add the scraped cheese add continuously mix with a whisk or a wooden spoon over low heat until all the cheese is completely melted. Then we know that the Mac and Cheese sauce is ready. 9. Once the pasta was cooked, add it directly into the vessel that will go inside the oven. Attention! Do not rinse the pasta with cold water! In fact, do not rinse at all. 10. Add the pancetta over the cooked pasta. 11. Now is the time to add the cheese sauce and the milk, specific to the Mac and Cheese. After you finished pouring it all, with a large spoon mix the pasta with the sauce so that the sauce enters well in pasta. 12. Sprinkle with bread crumbs all over. 13. Before putting it in the oven, sprinkle the grated parmesan that you kept all over the surface. The original recipe involves baking the Mac and Cheese pasta so you should do the same. 14. Bake the pasta in the oven for 20 minutes at 175°C so that it will make a crust all over. 98

3. Fried Chicken Ingredients: • • • • • • • • •

Chicken breast, legs or chicken wings Kefir or yogurt Salt Ground pepper Sweet Boya Dehydrated onion Garlic flakes Chili powder Flour


1. Keep the chicken in cold water with salt (a tablespoon of salt per 500 ml of water) for at least 2 hours to 24 hours. 2. In a bowl put some kefir, as well as some hot sauce. In another bowl put flour and add spices. 3. Pass the meat through kefir first and then through flour. If you have larger pieces of chicken and you like the crust, you can repeat the kefir-flour process after which you can proceed to fry them. Peanut oil is recommended. 4. Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on what part of the chicken you fry, then place the meat on paper towels.

Fried Chicken

4. Peanut Butter & Jelly Ingredients:

Peanut Butter & Jelly

• • • •

1/2 cup melted butter 1/2 cup hot sauce 1 tablespoon of vinegar Oil

• Slices of black or rye bread • Peanut butter with chunks in it Steps: • Jam (apricot, strawberry, forest fruits, what ever you 1. Mix the flour, salt, garlic and chili in a zippered bag. like …) 2. Rinse thoroughly the wings, clean them and cut them in half. Put them in the bag with the flour Steps: mixture. Close the bag and mix well so that the 1. Brush the slices of bread with a thick layer of peanut wings could be completely covered with flour. butter, add an even thicker layer of jam on top and 3. Shake them a little to remove the excess flour and serve with a glass of milk or coffee with milk. place them in a pan lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper and put them to the refrigerator for about an hour. 4. Meanwhile, in another bag mix some melted butter, 5. Buffalo Wings the hot sauce and vinegar. After one hour has passed, take the chicken wings out of the refrigerator and Ingredients: put them in the bag with hot sauce. • 12 chicken wings 5. Mix well so that each wing can be fully covered • 60g flour with sauce. Pu them in the tray that was previously • 1 tablespoon garlic powder greased with a little oil (1-2 tablespoons) and put it • Salt (to taste) into the preheated oven at 200°C. • 1 spoonful of chili 6. Bake them for 20-25 minutes on each side. 99

6. Hot-Dog Ingredients: • • • • •

Sausages (as many as you want) 1 Onion Bread (whichever type you like) Ketchup Mustard


Buffalo Wings


1. Cut in strips a white or a red onion. Put them in a bowl of ceramics and pour a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, half a tablespoon of sugar, two tablespoons of celery seeds and a teaspoon of red pepper flakes. 2. Leave at room temperature for two to three hours. 3. When you take off the sausages from the grill or after you slightly fried them in a little oil, put some ketchup and mustard on them, and a tablespoon or two of this marinade.


7. Barbecue Ribs Ingredients: • • • • • • • • • •

800g pork ribs BBQ Sauce (180g) 2 tablespoons of soy sauce 1 tablespoon of mustard 300 ml beer 2 bay leaves 1 green chili 1 onion 4 garlic cloves 1 teaspoon peppercorn


1. In a baking dish put the washed and then dried with a tissue ribs. Sprinkle among them with the sliced peppers, the onion cut into 4 pieces, the cloves, bay leaves and the peppercorns. 2. Mix in a cup the beer with the BBQ sauce, mustard and soy sauce. Pour it over the ribs. Cover the dish with foil and bake at 200°C for about 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours. 3. When you decide to serve them, remove them from the marinade, place them in a platter and brush them on both sides with a spoon of BBQ sauce. 4. Put them in the oven at 200°C for 40 minutes, turning them occasionally and basting them with the marinade in which they boiled.

Barbecue 101 Ribs

American Pancakes

8. American Pancakes

4. The batter should have no lumps, silky and with a liquid consistency. If you like pancakes with thicker dough, you can leave the mixture for about half an Ingredients: hour in the refrigerator. • 1 liter milk 5. The next step is very important. To prepare the • 4-5 eggs pancakes, you’ll need a good or a special pan for • 15 tablespoons flour pancakes. • 2 tablespoons sugar 6. Heat the pan and grease it with a drop of oil or • 1 teaspoon salt butter. Do not use much oil or butter, otherwise • Vegetable oil the pancakes may come out greasy. Pour a bit of the batter into the hot pan. Steps: 7. Using your left hand rotate on the pan in a circle so 1. In a bowl, break the eggs, add 1 teaspoon of salt that the batter will evenly cover the entire surface of and 2 tablespoons sugar. Mix until you obtain a the pan. Then put the pan back on fire. homogeneous mass. 8. When the surface of the dough loses its luster, and 2. Gradually add one tablespoon of flour and stir the pancakes edges are golden, it's a sign that you continuously until you obtain a thick dough must turn them from side to side. Using a spatula, consistency. flip the pancakes on the other side. 3. After you add all the flour, gradually incorporate 9. Cook for a few seconds and remove from heat. the milk into the dough. It is important to mix 10. Repeat the process until you finish the batter. continuously to avoid the lumps. Finally, add a little With these ingredients, you should obtain 30 to 35 oil. pancakes. 102

9. Apple Pie Ingredients:

For the dough • 500g flour • 200g butter • 150 ml milk • 2 teaspoons salt • 3 teaspoons sugar For the filling • 150g brown sugar • 6 apples • 1 teaspoon cinnamon • 1 teaspoon lemon juice • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg • 50g butter • 1 egg


1. Preheat the oven to 220°C. 2. Mix the butter with flour, then add the salt, sugar

and heated milk. Mix the ingredients until smooth. 3. Divide the dough into 2 parts, of which one should be smaller than the other (1/4 of dough). 4. Place the dough in two plastic sheets and put them in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the apples. 5. Peel the apples, split them in 2 and remove the seeds and spine, then slice them. Mix the apples with sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and melted butter. 6. Remove the bigger dough from the refrigerator, stretch it with a rolling pin and place it in a round pan for tarts. Pour over the composition of apples. 7. Take the smaller dough out of the refrigerator, stretch it with a rolling pin and cut it into eight long strips. 8. Brush the dough from the edge of the tray with beaten eggs, then arrange the dough strips and stick them on the edges of the dough. 9. Brush the strips with egg and sprinkle brown sugar above. 10. Bake for 45-50 minutes until it becomes nicely browned on top.

Apple103 Pie

Pumpkin Pie

10. Pumpkin Pie Ingredients: • • • • • • • • •

1 large cup of pumpkin puree 2 eggs 230 ml milk 150g sugar (you can put even more if you like it very sweet) 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon nutmeg 2-3 cloves 1/2 teaspoon salt

and put it in the oven for about 30 minutes at 180°C. The tart is ready when it passes the toothpick test: if the toothpick comes out clean, the tart is ready!

11. Jack Daniels


1. Use 1/2 of a 2 kg pumpkin, which you must cut in half, clean the pits, then cut them into small pieces. 2. In a non-sticky pan, put the slices of pumpkin with the peeled part upside and put them into the oven, covered with foil, for 30 minutes, until the pumpkin becomes golden and soft. 3. Take the pumpkin crust away and crush the core with a vertical blender or a mixer. In this manner, you will obtain a mashed pumpkin. 4. Beat well the 2 eggs, then put the pumpkin and the sugar which you already mixed with all the spices and the milk. Don’t worry if you obtain a very liquid composition, it hardens in the oven. 5. Pour the mixture into a tart shell lined with dough 104

Jack Daniels

USA TRavel


New York

Statue of Liberty


New York City Panorama

Times Square


Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge

Grand Central Terminal

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral

Metropolitan Museum of Art

New York City Public Library


Empire State Building

Carnegie Hall

Fifth Avenue

Central Park


Washington D.C.


Washington Monument in the center of Washington DC

The White House

Thomas Jefferson Memorial


Abraham Lincoln Memorial

Veterans War Memorial


US Capitol Building in Washington DC

National Museum of American History




Los Angeles, California

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California

Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, California



Big Sur in California

Fisherman’s Wharf of San Francisco


Sea World

Pacific Coast Highway near Laguna Beach, California

Death Valley 117



Disneyland in Orlando, Florida

Orlando, Florida

Dry Tortugas National Park


Tampa Bay, Florida

Miami South Beach


Seven Miles Bridge in Florida

Fort Lauderdale Beach, Florida

Daytona 500


Other places


Willis Tower in Chicago, Illinois

Breakers Mansion on Rhode Island

Dodge City in Kansas

Taliesin in Wisconsin

Atlanta Botanical Garden

Atlantic City, New Jersey



Gateway Arch in Missouri


Wright Brothers Memorial

Fort McHenry in Maryland

Fenway Park in Boston

Taos Pueblo in Taos, New Mexico


Faneuil Hall in Boston, Massachusetts

Caesar Rodney Statue

Ryman Auditorium in Tennessee


Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia

Cathedral Basilica in Saint Louis

Alamo in San Antonio, Texas

Liberty Bell in Pennsylvania

Blues Trail in Mississippi


Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois

Richmond, Virginia

Space Needle in Seattle, Washington


Atlanta, Georgia

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Mystic Seaport in Connecticut

Fort Sumter in South Carolina

Old Faithful Geyser in Wyoming


Las Vegas Strip, Nevada

Las Vegas Sign


Las Vegas Boulevard at night

MGM Grand Hotel Casino in Las Vegas


Canyon Road in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Grand Prismatic Spring and Midway Geyser Basin in Wyoming

Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indiana

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland, Ohio

Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts


High Trestle Trail Bridge in Iowa

Kentucky Derby

Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama

Jefferson’s Monticello in Virginia

Oak Alley Plantation in Louisiana


Seattle, Columbia

Henry Ford Museum in Michigan

Mt. Washington Cog Railway in New Hampshire

Philadelphia City Hall


Portland Head Lighthouse in Maine

Salt Lake City Temple in Utah

West Virginia Grist Mill


Lake Tahoe

Crater Lake National Park in Oregon


Wild Goose Island in St. Mary Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana

Denali National Park in Alaska

Yosemite National Park

Chimney Rock in Nebraska

Everglades National Park


Grand Canyon

Bryce Canyon National Park

Camel’s Hump in Vermont


Coast of Kauai in Hawaii

Badlands National Park in South Dakota


Appalachian Mountains

Grand Teton National Park


Buffalo National River in Arkansas

Great Salt Lake, Utah

Headwaters of the Mississippi River at Lake Itacsa in Minnesota


Colorado National Monument

Havasupai Falls in Arizona


Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee

Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico

Arches National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado


Mount Rushmore in South Dakota


Kohala Coast in Hawaii

Sequoia National Park

Painted Canyon in North Dakota

Niagara Falls

Monument Valley National Park

Oahu Waterfall

Mount McKinley in Alaska


Vineyards in Napa Valley

Middle Fork of the Salmon River, Idaho

Chinaman’s Hat, Oahu, Hawaii


Moraine Lake in the Rocky Mountains 147

All About Countries - USA  

A Codex where you can find general information (history, nature, people, economy), top personalities, best recipes and at least 100 places t...

All About Countries - USA  

A Codex where you can find general information (history, nature, people, economy), top personalities, best recipes and at least 100 places t...