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Old November 23rd, 2012, 03:04 PM   #11

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Originally Posted by amberroberts09 View Post
  1. Death of Osama bin Laden
I wouldn't put this anywhere near top fifty even
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 03:59 PM   #12

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In Order of Importance:

10) Victory in WW2 and the beginnings of the Cold War. Prior to 1945, America was very much an isolationist nation and one could probably count the number of times it had engaged foriegn powers on foriegn soil on one hand. Even after America's economy began to overtake all of the European powers in the late 1800s and early 1900s, America stayed out of European and Asian affairs. After 1945, however, America not only took its place on the world stage, it has acted as a world leader... a role that it still largely fills to this day.

9) The Louisiana Purchace. Prior to this purchace US territory was limited only to the territories allotted to the US following the American Revolution. In addition, the President at the time was part of a political group that had criticized the portion of the US Constitution that enabled the purchase to be made, the "elastic clause." After purchasing it, Jefferson had opened up the pathways that would see to the US going from being restricted to territories east of the Mississippi river to a nation that would go from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

8) The development of the two Party System. While it has ushered intense divisiveness, as recent elections have shown, the formation of political parties in the US has actually helped forward a great deal of stability in American politics when harnessed to the measures taken by the Founders in the Consitution. Beginning with Adams and Jefferson with the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans, and later continuing with Jacksonian Democrats and the Whigs, and finally the modern incarnations of the Democratic and Republican Parties, the system has proved remarkably stable and isn't likely to dissappear anytime soon.

7) Washington's rejecting power. George Washington is probably one of America's most "popular" figures in his day. The only President to elected unanimously, Washington's popularity as the "leader" of the Revolution gave him the opportunity to declare himself "King George I" and face no opposition for it. Yet time and again, Washington turned down power. He refused to lead a military coup, he refused to be a King, and despite the fact that he could have been elected President until he died, he stepped down after two terms in office. It has set a remarkable example that following the death of FDR and the loss of the large like minded majority that had backed him for four terms, America would pass and accept a constitutional ammendment that limited any President to two terms. Other nations and peoples have had great leaders that have done well for their people on some level such as Caesar or Napoleon, but in most cases, these men TOOK power. Washington rejected it.

6) The Progressive Era reforms. The reforms begun under Teddy Roosevelt and continuing under Woodrow Wilson, and some could even argue for resuming under FDR are a major turning point in American history. Prior to this, the American government had little to do with American business. The result was not generally good. Workers were paid poorly and forced to work long hours in unsafe conditions. Markets were monopolized to cut down on competition between businesses and thus maximize profits. In addition, many times the goods produced were incredibly shoddy. There are stories during the American Civil War of profiteers selling extremely poor quality goods to the army, including clothing that melted in the rain or shoes that fell apart after a few minutes marching. The reforms of the Progressive Era were designed to fix these problems. To put in regulations that would demand higher quality goods, greater competition between businesses (ending the monopolies), and giving American workers a much better working conditions. Within the US this has worked very well, but there are those that would wish to repeal the Progressive Era reforms, and they are also part of the reason why American jobs have been going overseas so that businesses could get around these reforms.

5) Landing on the moon. While the space race began over political perceptions and fears over the Soviet Union overtaking the US, it would be a triumph of exploration and scientific advancement and discovery. The organization created to land on the moon, NASA, is still in existence, and through their exploration of science, technology, and space we may one day see a time when humanity is able to colonize planets/moons besides Earth. All thanks to the success of the efforts to land on the moon.

4) The framing of the Constitution. It has been the framework of our government for creating a stable and democratic republic that can effectively govern large numbers of people over a large area. In this it was a first. No prior Republic achieved such success, not even the Romans, as their government, while a republic, was not democratic, and was constantly attacked by rebels and in the end by military strongmen. The US Constitution has created a far more succesful model that has required little real alteration. Compare that with France which has gone through 5 seperate republics, two empires, a line of constitutional monarchies, and one "fascist" dictatorship, and it's clear that America's government as modeled in the Constitution is incredibly stable. And the most important part is that it was founded on compromise. Groups in favor of one idea didn't die on their sword for that idea. The worked with those on their opposing side to put together a practical framework.

3) The election of Barack Obama in 2008. While not not everyone likes or supports him, but he is still America's first African American President. The fact that the US could elect a person from a minority group President after 200+ years of electing white men to the highest office in the land represents just how far we have come as a nation in terms of facing our worst "sins," slavery and racism.

2) The signing of the Civil Rights Act. It would put an end to the legal prejudices that had ruled much of the country, and especially the South since the American Civil War. While it did not end racism, it would help allow the US to move forward toward a future where our nation would be what we've always claimed it to be. A land where all are equal.

1) The American Civil War. It was America's greatest single internal crisis in its history. Prior to the war, European nations had little faith in the survivability of the US and the nation was referred to grammatically as "the United States are." And when the Southern states seceded after Lincoln's election in 1860, many expected that America would shatter apart, as they had predicted. Begun over the issue of slavery with other issues such as state's rights being tied to it, it would be America's bloodiest war and a major shaping issue for America's character. It would settle the question of who was more powerful, the states or the Federal government. It would end the institution of slavery in the US (beginning with the Emancipation Proclamation and finishing with the 13th Amendment). And after the war, America was referred to grammatically as: "The United States is."
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 06:24 PM   #13

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Originally Posted by Mike McClure View Post
Very Good But I would substitute the Great Depression for the Spanish-American War.
I thought about that one as well, and of course, it was a whopper.
But I tried to keep it to ten and when that happens, something has
to be left on the floor.
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Old November 24th, 2012, 02:05 AM   #14

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Originally Posted by Sam-Nary View Post
In Order of Importance:

Good post! Thanks for taking the time to explain your reasoning rather than simply posting a forgettable list. It makes the world of difference, imo.
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Old November 24th, 2012, 08:42 PM   #15
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The Mayflower Compact, it started the tradition of self rule and a rough equality.

The restoration of the Monarchy, this event was important to US history because it caused a great migration of Englishmen to these shores, and enlarged the American Dream from the passive mode of the Pilgrims, of being able to live according to their conscience, to a dream of setting up a power that would be safe from Europeon Monocrats.

The French and Indian war, this war was a sort of baptism of the colonies into military matters, and trained many of the officers who led the revolution soon afterwards.

The rejection of Monarchy by Washington, sole power was offered him, he chose to set up a republic where Liberty would reign not men.

The Rise of Jefferson, the Louisiana Purchase, the beginnings of partisan politics, his major failure was to stop industrialization, which was probably good that he failed in that aim.

Andy Jackson and the Battle of New Orleans, the victory that salvaged an embarrassing war and restored American confidence in arms.

Andy Jackson and the refusal to recharter the second national bank, this move helped to make Americans independant from large banking cartels which had a history of fomenting and financing wars.

The Irish potato famine, this event brought millions of Irish to these shores, it changed the mainly protestant makeup of the country, and Irish distrust of Ingland helped america to not become an economic satellite of the British Empire.

Abe Lincoln, his policy of preserving the Union, protecting american industry, and laying the transcontinental railroad helped to cement Manifest Destiny.

The tenth and final event, was the presidency of William McKinley, he was able to continue and fine tune economic policies, and tempered the expansionist imperial spirit of the age, which wanted to emulate Europeon imperialism.
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Old November 24th, 2012, 10:17 PM   #16

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1. The Revolution/ constitutional convention

2.The Civil War/ Lincoln assassination/ Reconstruction

3. Pearl Harbor/WW2/ dropping the bomb

4. 911

5. War of 1812

6. Nixon Presidency and all of its consequences

7. The Great Depression

8. The creation of the Federal Reserve and fiat money

9.The 1960s(civil rights, women's lib, hippies, etc.)

10. The assassination of JFK
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Old November 24th, 2012, 10:59 PM   #17

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Originally Posted by Sam-Nary View Post
9) The Louisiana Purchace. Prior to this purchace US territory was limited only to the territories allotted to the US following the American Revolution. In addition, the President at the time was part of a political group that had criticized the portion of the US Constitution that enabled the purchase to be made, the "elastic clause." After purchasing it, Jefferson had opened up the pathways that would see to the US going from being restricted to territories east of the Mississippi river to a nation that would go from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
Jefferson worried about the legal, Constitutional power he had to acquire
foreign territory. He at first wanted an amendment to the Constitution, even
personally drafted one, but then abandoned the idea when word from
Madison and Robert Livingston that France might kill the deal if it wasn't
made in a hurry. Jefferson had to act and "Our business is to march straight
forward to the object which has occupied us for eight and twenty years,
without either turning to the right or left."

[1] John Meacham, Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power (New York: Random House, 2012), 392.
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Old November 25th, 2012, 03:47 AM   #18

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Here's my admittedly biased list chronologically.
  1. The American Revolution-A no brainer.
  2. Ratification of the Constitution and specifically the Bill of Rights-Codified the ideals to which we aspire.
  3. The Nullification Crisis/Compromise of 1850/Bloody Kansas etc-While arguably meriting their own entry, all of these events embody the two big failures of the Constitutional convention. Slavery and Federalism (does power lie with the individual states or the federal government.)
  4. The American Civil War-The single bloodiest event in our history, the ACW also represented a change from a more loosely (and locally) governed American society to a more tightly (and federally) governed one.
  5. Pearl Harbor-Aside from the obvious immediate tragedy of the death and destruction in Oahu, PH was a sea change in American culture. Before PH, we still believed in the Jeffersonian view of limited American foreign policy and isolationism. After PH the die was cast for a more interventionist American foreign policy.
  6. Hiroshima-Right or wrong aside, the use of the atomic bomb represents an elevation of the US to the status of most powerful nation on the planet. Likewise, it symbolically ended the war.
  7. Cuban Missile Crisis-The closest we've ever been to a nuclear holocaust.
  8. Vietnam-The most divisive event in American history since the ACW.
  9. Watergate-Arguably the greatest Constitutional crisis in American history.
  10. 9/11-Again, a no-brainer.
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Old November 25th, 2012, 05:35 AM   #19

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What is the 'failure' of the Constitutional Convention that you mention regarding federalism?
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Old November 25th, 2012, 11:51 AM   #20

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Originally Posted by avon View Post
Good post! Thanks for taking the time to explain your reasoning rather than simply posting a forgettable list. It makes the world of difference, imo.
Point taken

1) Manifest Destiny (by which I mean all territorial expansions and attendant wars 1800-1900)

Basically, if the nascent United States hadn't expanded to fill the continent, we'd be living in a very different world these days. There might be an extant Native American state, there would probably be a larger and stronger Mexico, a larger Canada, and possibly even a Chinese, Japanese or even Russian state on part of the continent.

2) The Revolution

Or Great Britain might be the only global superpower.

2) The Civil War

Union victory preserved the State and denied the right of individual states to secede. Massively important else we might be back in my speculative 1) scenario. The war also brought the spectre of industrial scale death to the continet which has surely had a galvinising effect on post-civil war America.

3) The Emancipation/Civil Rights Movement (taken together)

I believe the Emancipation Declaration was only half a job; the Reconstruction and Jim Crow period meant that it took another 100 years or more to effectively enfranchise the 40 million or so African-Americans within the United States. Probably not America's proudest period but they got there in the end.

4) Pearl Harbour

Even though it happened thousands of miles from the US mainland, I believe the fact that American territory could be vulnerable to attack from a non-neighbouring country came as quite a surprise to many. It also obviously brought the US into the War and saved Europe from the double threat of either Nazi or State Capitalist domination.

5) Dropping the bomb

Possibly one of the greatest moral failures in modern human history, but also a statement to the rest of the world; not only do we have the Bomb, but it works and we're not afraid to use it. And ended the war in the Pacific which might have dragged on years longer even after VE Day.

6. Cuban Missile Crisis

I don't know how close to Nuclear Holocaust the world really was during those thirteen days, but we've surely never been closer. However, the fact that both sides backed down without ending the world was obviously critically important and surely influenced Cold War policy in both countries for the next 30 years.

7) The Great Depression and the New Deal

A realisation that constant economic boom isn't possible even in the most developed economy ever known, and a realisation that sometimes governments do need to interfere in economics.

8) September 11

Similar to Pearl Harbour in its effect on American complacency, and created a new enemy in the post Cold War era. The effects of September 11 and the response will be felt for at least the next 100 years.

9) Apollo 1 - Challenger explosion inclusive

Or in other words, the Space Race. Obviously the greatest achievement was putting men on the moon (and bringing them back) but ultimately the feat was as pointless as it was epic. After Challenger, it feels like human expansion into space has felt far less inevitable, and especially in the post Cold War era, more collaborative than ever before.

10) Perestoikra

Hang on, isn't that Russian history? Well, yes, but it directly caused the collapse of the USSR and the end of the Cold War, and left the United States as the undisputed superpower, invulnerable until 8) above and unchallenged at least until China got/gets its act together.
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