Engage with the history of the United States of America, which declared its independence from its colonial power, Britain, in 1776. Based on its founding document, the Constitution, America’s founding fathers established a democracy that was based on three branches of government—the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary—which would keep any one branch from gaining too much power. The Constitution also outlined specific freedoms enjoyed by U.S. citizens, including the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion.
The young country developed quickly from its 13 original colonies on the eastern coast as settlers eager for land pushed westward to fulfill what was termed the “Manifest Destiny” of the nation. Believing that it was the country’s destiny to stretch all the way to the western coast, they ignored the land rights of Native American tribes and forced them onto reservations. As territories gained population, they were admitted to the union as states.