At the beginning of the 20th century, the United States became
the largest economic power in the world. At the turn of the 19th
to the 20th century, the country's industrialization took place
at a very high speed, and the country's population increased
considerably with the entry of millions of immigrants.
The events of the First World War only reinforced this
position of the USA in the world economy, and the 1920s was a
period of great euphoria known as the Crazy Twenties. The
excitement of economic development gave rise to a bubble of
prosperity that ended up bursting dramatically in the 1929
Crisis, the biggest crisis in the history of capitalism.
The credit unregulated, coupled
with speculation financial and stagnation of wages, created a
false sense of prosperity that burst on Black Thursday, on 24
October 1929. On Monday, the 28th, more than 33 million shares
were to sale causing its value to plummet and billions of
dollars to disappear, resulting in the bankruptcy of the
The most critical period of this crisis was from 1929 to
1933, and the impacts on the American and world economy were
drastic. Millions of people lost their jobs and the American
economy did not recover until the Second World War.
- United States in World War II
The Second World War, which took place from 1939 to 1945, was
an event of extreme importance in the 20th century and had great
involvement by the United States. The United States entered the
war when the Japanese attacked the Pearl Harbor naval base on
December 7, 1941.
The next day, the Americans declared war on the Japanese and
the Axis, and the Americans' action in the war took place on two
fronts. In Europe and North Africa, they fought against the
forces of Italians and Germans, and in Asia and the Pacific,
they fought against Japanese forces. Americans' involvement
lasted from 1941 to 1945.
Relevant American actions in World War II took place in
battles such as the Battle of Midway, which took place in 1942
and resulted in the destruction of much of the Japanese Navy. In
Europe, the Americans played a crucial role on D-Day, the name
given to the landing of Allied troops in Normandy, on June 6,
A great controversy regarding the American participation in
the conflict originated with the launching of the atomic bombs
in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, on August 6 and 9, 1945. The launch
happened as a way to force Japanese surrender and to avoid the
need to promote the territorial invasion of Japan's main island.
Japanese surrender was made official on September 2, 1945.
- United States in the Cold War
Soon after the Second World War, the Cold War began, a
political-ideological conflict that took place, from 1947 to
1991, between the USA and the Soviet Union (USSR). In this
conflict, Americans and Soviets vied for international
supremacy , each based on its ideology. The speech
of Harry Truman, president of the USA, is considered to be the
beginning of the Cold War , affirming the need to contain the
advance of communism in Europe.
The Americans acted directly in the reconstruction of
Europe in the postwar period and financed the reconstruction of
these countries through the Marshall Plan . Throughout this
period, the United States invested heavily in arms
development and launched the space race , sending a manned
expedition to the Moon in 1969.
The most tense moment in American history during the Cold War
period occurred in the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. The
Americans demanded the withdrawal of the Soviet missiles that
were being installed in the Caribbean country. The threat of war
led to a climate of strong tension that resulted in the
withdrawal of the thrusters.
Other indirect or direct interferences of the Americans,
during the Cold War, were in the Chinese Revolution, in the
Indochina War, in the Korean War and in the Vietnam War. The
involvement of the United States in this last one was remarkable
in the history of the country and happened between 1965 and
1973, resulting in the death of approximately 60 thousand
American soldiers .
The Americans tried to contain the advances of the Communists
in the Asian country, but, over eight years of involvement in
the conflict, they were defeated and the troops removed from the
country by President Richard Nixon. This, in turn, was the
protagonist of the biggest political scandal in American
history: Watergate. In this scandal it was discovered that the
then president was coordinating a espionage scheme against
government opponents and activists. The investigations led
to Nixon's resignation in 1973.
In the 1980s, Americans were indirectly involved in
the Afghanistan War , which began in 1979, when the Soviets
invaded that country. The Americans began to finance and train
fundamentalist groups that resisted the Soviets. Shortly
thereafter, the USA emerged as winners of the Cold War after
the Soviet Union dissolved on December 26, 1991, the day after
the resignation of Mikhail Gorbachev , then its president.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, a movement began to gain
momentum in the United States: the African American civil rights
movement . Until then, that portion of American society was
highly segregated through the aforementioned Jim Crow
Laws. Especially in the South of the USA, there were laws that
created spaces that African Americans could not attend.
A series of movements and associations began to emerge
demanding and fighting for the civil rights of African
Americans, and big names also emerged from this
mobilization. The best known were Martin Luther
King , Rosa Parks and Malcolm X . Martin Luther King, for
example, was known for promoting this struggle in a peaceful way
and was immortalized with his speech I have a dream.
- United States and the American continent
Throughout the 20th century, the United States interfered
directly and indirectly in matters related to other American
countries. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Big Stick
policy set the tone for American ideology: it placed itself as a
protector of the continent, would interfere in neighboring
countries if necessary and would act against European influence
The American influence happened, mainly, in countries
of Central America and the Caribbean. Thus, in 1898, the
Americans fought against the Spaniards and promoted Cuba's
independence, transforming it into a kind of backyard of the
USA, by installing corrupt governments that served the economic
interests of the Americans.
When Cuban nationalists turned against the Americans in the
1950s, they isolated Cuba through a heavy economic embargo that
lasts until today. Isolated, the island allied with the Soviet
Union and became a communist nation.
The Americans also had a strong influence in countries
like Nicaragua, implanting an extremely corrupt
dictatorship there . When a guerrilla group turned against this
dictatorial government and imposed a government based on the
Soviet regime, the Americans began to influence
Other countries that suffered strong US interference during
the 20th century were Mexico and Panama, for example. In the
case of South America , the highlight to be made goes to the
1960s and 1970s, when the American governments supported
and financed corrupt and violent military dictatorships that
settled in countries like Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Argentina,
In the 1980s and 1990s, the war on drugs led Americans to
directly interfere in Colombian affairs, a country that has
become a major producer of cocaine. More recently, the country
at the center of American interests is Venezuela , which has the
largest oil reserves in the world and has been experiencing an
intense political, economic and humanitarian crisis since 2013.
United States in the 21st century
The United States entered the 21st century as the greatest
political, economic and military power in the world without
question. At that time, the power of the United States was
challenged by a new enemy: terrorism. On September 11, 2001, the
USA suffered terrorist attacks organized by al-Qaeda .
In this attack, the World Trade Center (the building ended up
collapsing), an important commercial building in New York, and
the Pentagon building in Washington were attacked . The attacks
took place with hijacked planes being launched at the two
buildings. The September 11 attacks resulted in the deaths of
some 3,000 people.
In retaliation, the USA launched the well-known
“War on Terror”. In 2001, Afghanistan was invaded with the aim
of putting an end to al-Qaeda's activities. Despite having
ousted the Taliban, the group still has a strong presence in
parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. In 2003, it was Iraq's turn
to be invaded, and the reasons for this invasion are still
More recently, the United States was involved in the
international coalition that acted against the Islamic State, a
terrorist group that emerged from the disorganization of Iraq
promoted by the Americans themselves.
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