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U.S. History 

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.


The issue of slavery divided the nation into the abolitionist North and slave-holding South. The divide eventually resulted in the South seceding from the Union to create the Confederate States of America in 1861. This resulted in the U.S. Civil War, which ended four years later with the North victorious and slavery abolished. Though they were now freed, African Americans would endure institutional racial discrimination and segregation for another 100 years, until the civil rights movement of the 1960s would force social change.

During the 20th century, the United States gained influence and status internationally as it became both an economic and military powerhouse. Its entrance into World War I (1914–1918) and World War II (1939–1945) proved decisive in both conflicts, and it emerged from the latter as the world’s sole superpower. The Soviet Union soon challenged the United States for global supremacy, and much of the last half of the 20th century was marked by the Cold War between the two nations. Several conflicts, including the Korean War (1950–1953) and the Vietnam War (1957–1975), can be traced to the Cold War. Although the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 ended the Cold War, the Americans and the Russians remained at odds into the 21st century.

In the 21st century, the United States assumed a leadership position in a global “war on terror” that began in earnest following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, that destroyed the World Trade Center in New York City and significantly damaged the Pentagon. U.S.-led invasions of Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003) resulted in an extended period of U.S. military presence in the Middle East and Central Asia. Tiring of military conflicts that appear unwinnable, a segment of the U.S. population favored pulling the United States back from its leadership position on the world stage to focus on internal issues like health care, immigration, and the opioid epidemic.

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U.S. History Resources

Gale provides scholarly resources to advance the study of U.S. history, including databasesprimary source archives, and eBooks.


Gale databases offer researchers access to credible, historical content, including full-text articles covering many U.S. history topics and American history topics from newspapers, articles, journals, much more aligned with lesson plans for teaching and guides for additional research.

Primary Source Archives

Gale Primary Sources contains full-text archives and digitized collections that provide researchers with firsthand content, including American editorials, news, and reports, that can be used to examine and analyze U.S. history over time. 

Gale eBooks

Gale offers a variety of eBooks covering a wide range of U.S. history topics, including the Civil War, suffrage, slavery, and more. Users can add  Gale eBooks to a customized collection and cross-search to pinpoint relevant content. Workflow tools help users easily share, save, and download content.

  • American Civil War: Interpreting Conflict through Primary Documents, 1st Edition

    American Civil War: Interpreting Conflict through Primary Documents, 1st Edition

    ABC-CLIO | 2019 | ISBN-13: 9781440856310

    This meticulously curated collection of primary source documents covers every aspect of the American Civil War, from its origins to its bloody engagements all the way through the Reconstruction period. With approximately 300 primary sources, this comprehensive set includes orders and reports of significant battles, political debates and speeches, legislation, court cases, and literary works from the Civil War era. The documents provide insight into the thinking of all participants, drawing upon a vast range of sources that offer both a Northern and Southern perspective. The book gives equal treatment to Eastern and Western Theaters and Union and Confederate sources, and sources are presented chronologically so readers can compare and contrast documents as key events unfold. Each primary source begins with an introduction that sets the document in its proper context and concludes with an analysis of the document that will help students to understand the document’s significance.

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  • Defining Documents in American History: Slavery, 1st Edition

    Defining Documents in American History: Slavery, 1st Edition

    Salem Press | 2019 | ISBN-13: 9781642652826

    This title delves into the extremely long and violent history of the titular subject. These volumes discuss slavery in multiple contexts, from ancient times to the slave trade during colonial America and from the abolitionist movement to issues of slavery in the modern era. Slavery was not universally endorsed, but it became a part of the economic fabric of the nation. Riots and rebellions alarmed owners and strengthened the resolve of those who worked toward the abolition of slavery and the emancipation of the men, women, and children deemed property and valued as only three-fifths of a human. It took a civil war to achieve the goal of freedom for all, and decades of work that continues to this day, to gain and defend it.

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  • Opponents in American History: Suffragists and Those Who Opposed Them, 1st Edition

    Opponents in American History: Suffragists and Those Who Opposed Them, 1st Edition

    Powerkids Press | 2019 | ISBN-13: 9781538344118

    Although Thomas Jefferson wrote that all men are created equal in the Declaration of Independence in 1776, women wouldn’t be allowed to vote in the United States until many years later. Suffragists, the women who fought for the vote, faced great opposition from several forces, even other groups of women. In 1848, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and numerous other pioneering suffragists met in Seneca Falls, New York, for the first women’s rights convention held in the United States. It wasn’t until 1920, however, that all U.S. women gained the right to vote through the 19th Amendment. Readers will learn about the American women’s suffrage movement from its earliest years and into the 20th century.

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