A fake but accurate account
PART 1: THE EARLY DAYS, which lasted centuries actually
The first people in the New World came across a land bridge from Asia. When exactly is unclear, there are no written records since nomadic hunter-gatherer types didn't use datebooks as most days are pretty much the same as the day before. With or without a plan, they spread across the Americas starting civilizations and cultures and that sort of thing. They domesticated wild llamas into pack animals, though they never broke them of their unsociable habit of spitting. They also tamed wild maize turning it into corn tortillas. Some of these people were the Mayans, Aztecs, Incas, Lakotas and others whose names are lost in antiquity or somewhere in the vast wilderness which was everywhere back then.
Later, rather recently in historical terms, Columbus stopped by and discovered they were Indians, despite thinking he landed at an outpost of Japan which would have been populated by Japanese and not Indians. What can I say, history doesn't always make sense. This version of history makes less sense than most.
Around 1500 Europeans began showing up on waves in ships as the land bridges where all closed. One of these was Amerigo Vespucci who sailed up and down the South American coast and figured out something that big wasn't Japan. Though, if he'd just have asked the natives he could have saved a lot of bother. He wrote up his travels and published a best seller even though most Europeans were illiterate back then. For the non-reading public printers made maps because a picture is worth a thousand words and were affordable to the many-headed because talk is cheap. Some enterprising mapmakers dubbed the new continent America after the Latinized name Americus Vespuccia, and it stuck for lack of any alternative. They didn't go with the last name to keep relations between the Old and New World on a first-name basis. Maybe.
People of the age were empire builders. Since most of Europe was spoken for they decided to build some empires in the New World, after first breaking up any inconvenient empires in the way. There were basically two methods, turn the willing, or unwilling, people there into subjects of the empire, or send your own willing people as colonists. Both systems weren't without flaws as willing and unwilling are things you can't really rely on, people being fickle as they are. Nevertheless, empires were carved out by the seagoing powers of the age, Portugal, Spain, England, Holland and France. These would be respectively Brazil, New Spain, New England, New Holland and New France. Seems only the Portuguese had any original ideas for naming places.
English America Begins
The English subscribed to the bring your own people school of empire building. At least when dealing with American Indians. For the India Indians they had a different tack, more or less turning the whole thing into a giant business corporation called Raj, Inc. a division of the East India Company. They tried something similar in America beginning in Virginia, but they couldn't keep out the riff-raff who came on their own. These would be the Pilgrims, who were Puritans, a type of Protestant who left England to escape religious persecution so they could freely persecute each other instead. So they broke into bits and kept founding new settlements up and down the northeastern seaboard.
While religious zealots were dotting the map up north with colonies, English businessmen were investing in ventures down south. None of this investment paid off too well because despite being the land of milk and honey neither were very profitable to export. Then they discovered selling tobacco to Europeans back home was just the ticket to riches. This is one of the great marketing schemes of all time, like selling people bottled water for 100 times the price it costs to drink from the tap. How they convinced people that inhaling the smoke from burning leaves was the cat's pajamas, is a something of a mystery. As is why cats would ever wear pajamas.
While tobacco money flowed into England, the flow to America was something else. It was African slaves to work the tobacco plantations. Now this didn't much please either the Indians or the Africans, but money was being made by the English and the Muslim slavers so this was glossed over. This also upset the Puritans, but they were rather preoccupied with troubles of their own. Like infestations of witches, apostates and such, as well as trying to find a profit center where tobacco doesn't grow to keep themselves in Bibles to thump and buckles for their shoes and hats. Their hats needed to be buckled on tight to keep their heads from swelling, pride being strictly a no-no for Puritans.
The idea behind the whole colony business was you could get things much cheaper overseas than at home. Sort-of the first outsourcing. This was supposed to be especially lucrative since everything was free for the taking. The natives might object, but they didn't have any recorded deeds or lawyers. Had they known they could plant a flag and declare total ownership perhaps they'd have done so, but it was a trade secret the Europeans sprung on them unawares. This came under the then recognized legal concept, veni vidi ownum, which roughly translates to "finders keepers." By the time the natives got up to speed on how all this worked it was too late.
Just to make things more of a muddle of this colonial messing about, the French and Dutch were busy meddling in the area, too. The Dutch founded New York, which they mistakenly called New Amsterdam. They settled in Manhattan which they named after the natives they paid off to go away and not come back.
Meanwhile, the Spanish followed some ponce named De Leon into Florida to find the fountain of youth. If you've ever been to geriatric-filled Florida, you know they never found it. Or if they did it's run dry long ago. Still, it was a pretty half-hearted attempt to Spanishify Florida. I suppose because it was half swamp, and full of alligators and mosquitos. What they really needed was a fountain of air conditioning.
The French settled in Quebec where they traded in beaver pelts, which really filled out a wallet. Beavers, they found, make good hats. The beavers themselves didn't make the hats, their fur made for good felt. The hats were fashioned by hatters who eventually went mad from the chemicals used in felt making. There aren't so many mad hatters these days, not too many folks wear felt hats anymore. Which is a great relief to beavers, I'm sure.
Friction and Hot Tempers
As you can imagine there was a lot of animosity among all the various factions vying for elbow room. You might suppose there was plenty of elbow room back then, urban sprawl having not been invented yet, but remember the place was choked with trees. So all the wide open spaces were wide, but not so open. This was solved with axes, cutting down trees to build houses jump starting urbanization, and exporting logs and tar back to England to use as masts and tar pitch for ships. This way the Royal Navy could power their sailing ships without relying on the Baltic states who ran the tree cartel. Basically, this was an early attempt at energy independence by the British.
Despite what horse racing fans will tell you, the real sport of kings back in the day was war. Europeans would go to war at the drop of a hat, or in one case over an ear. The ear in question belonged to this Jenkins fellow, or it did until some Spaniard cut it off. Queen Anne, having both ears intact, heard about this and it knocked her socks off. Doffing hats or socks, the results are the same, war was declared. So the Georgians invaded Florida because they wanted to cut down trees in Honduras, or something like that. All this led to a fight over who would inherit the crown of Austria. How all this fits together is hard to explain, especially since I have no clue.
Having had enough of beating up on Spaniards, the English next went to war against their favorite whipping boys, the French. This was the Seven Years War, which stateside was called the French and Indian War. This was the fight where George Washington made his bones by losing a battle on a trip to see his land holdings in Ohio, though these were actually held by Indians. In the end the French lost the war and the English took control of French Canada, but they never got the Quebecers to stop being French. They eventually were able to teach them to play hockey, which is something of an accomplishment when you think about it.
England's America Ends
Generally speaking, Americans don't like tea or taxes. While this might not excite people to war nowadays, back before Fascism and Communism were concocted this wasn't the case. Towards the end of the 18th century a lot of the English in America had never even seen England and didn't much care what the English English thought how the place should be run. This riled the radicals and firebrands, who are always easily riled, to do away with English taxes and tea opting to drink coffee instead. How much all this caffeine consumption played into their excitability is hard to figure.
Some Bostonians dressed up like Indians and dumped tea into the harbor thinking the British would blame the Indians and wander off into the wilderness in hot pursuit and leave the place to them. This didn't work so they set up Committees of Correspondence to send mail without proper stamps to badmouth the English and generally stir things up. King George couldn't tolerate this sort of thing and sent some troops over to stamp it out. This Intolerable Stamp Act agitated the agitators who put together a volunteer force of Minutemen in response. These were so called because one minute was their term of enlistment thinking beating back the British would be the work of a minute. Ever optimistic the Americans.
The rebels gathered on Breed's Hill to fight the Battle of Bunker Hill for reason's that are unclear. The British decided to fight walking in ranks straight up the hill rather than use any type of flanking maneuver, also for reason's that are unclear. The rebels shot for between the whites of the British eyes despite the smooth-bore firearms of the day being wildly inaccurate. Still, these guns were deadly enough and the Redcoats were cut down in droves, though organized in battalions. This went on a while until they eventually drove the Yanks from the heights with bayonettes. Both sides declared victory, a practice which continues to this day.
War never goes according to plan, the enemy have plans of their own which very rarely are the same as yours. Furthermore, commanders on the same side have different plans, toss in foreign allies with designs of their own and you can see how messed up it can all get. So, the whole thing grew out of control and before you could say "Jenkins' ear" there was fighting all over the place. At this point some delegates decided to gather at a convention in Philadelphia to figure out what they were fighting for. This was before conventions were an excuse for drinking, eating, driving around in tiny cars wearing silly hats and generally making a nuisance of yourself on an expense account.
This was called the First Continental Congress as they assumed they'd probably need more later. The delegates decided rather than hang separately they'd hang together and declare independence. A clever move that in an instant turned treason into patriotism. They drew up a Declaration of Independence and all affixed their John Hancocks, except John Hancock who just signed his name. They dubbed their creation the United States of America. Here began America's first go at nation building.
Congress put George Washington in charge of the army since he already had a proper officer's uniform, and sent the Continental Army to defend New York even though it was undefendable. But politics dictated it should be tried anyway as a show of force. This show closed pretty quickly and the English took over New York and settled in for the duration. The rebels retired to New Jersey to plan a comeback for Christmas. This revival they sprung on a bunch of drunken Germans at Trenton to rave reviews in France, of all places.
In the Spring a gentleman named John Burgoyne attacked from Canada but needed support from New York and asked General Howe, who replied "why?" The offensive ground to a halt at Saratoga where Burgoyne surrendered. At this, the French sniffed opportunity in the air, one case when opportunity smelled instead of knocked, and decided to join the war against England. So they sent a fleet to the Caribbean where the weather is more pleasant for battle, despite there being no American interests there. That's what it's like having France for an ally.
For the most part the British marched about from battle victory to victory which didn't much convince the rebels they were losing. The American cause wallowed in defeat and debt, still the Congress continued providing moral support but no actual money support. The "buy now, pay later" tradition of Congress was thus established. The main war effort was shifted to the south where Lord Cornwallis was beating and chasing rebel forces around the Carolinas and ultimately up into Virginia. The British eventually punched themselves out and went to Yorktown for resupply or evacuation and maybe a little R and R. Then a miracle happened.
Washington's Continental Army sneaking off from the north, Nathaniel Greene's southern forces, and some French troops lead by Comte de Rochambeau along with a French naval force under Comte De Grasse all converged on Yorktown at just the right moment. This in an age when waving little square flags, mud ruts, and reliance on wind direction were the state of the art in communication and travel. As the British had no counter-miracle of their own Cornwallis decided his goose was cooked and surrendered.
This pretty much decided the American campaign, but the British kept fighting for appearances sake as the war now included Spain and Holland and had spread to Gibraltar, the English Channel, Africa and India as well as in the Caribbean. This made it a world war though they weren't attaching Roman numerals to them as such until the 20th century. When it was all over a few years later a treaty was signed by all the parties and the United States was officially recognized, backdated to July 4th, 1776.