Winston S. Churchill, speaking at a dinner in his honor in New York on May 25, 1949, said that America had “arrived at the summit of the world.”
This 200 year-old plus nation is by far the richest and most powerful country on earth! Truly, America’s ascent to greatness has placed the United States at the very pinnacle of power and prosperity. How did this all come about?
How did the thirteen struggling colonies become the world’s super nation, with a GNP roughly double that of Russia? How could this latecomer on the world scene rise meteorically to such an unprecedented pinnacle of economic and military dominance, dwarfing all other nations? Is America’s success story primarily the result of cleverly engineered American bootstrap philosophy? Did American ingenuity produce all this wealth and power?
Or has an Unseen Hand guided this nation unerringly from its inception in 1607 – when the struggling Jamestown colonists from England barely managed to establish the first permanent English toehold in the New World?
How different the course of world history would have been had Spain, France, or Russia came to dominate North America!
In 1493, Pope Alexander VI assigned to Spain all the land which later become Canada and the United States. Subsequently, Spaniards claimed Florida, much of the southern part of the U. S., and all of western America as far north as Canada.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries Frenchmen explored much of North America and claimed vast territories for France. Later, Napoleon Bonaparte planned to establish a French Empire west of the Mississippi River – for the express purpose of counterbalancing the Anglo-Saxon dominated nation east of the Mississippi.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the Czars of Russia claimed Alaska and the western part of Canada. In 1812 the Russians even established a thriving colony in northern California. Russia, like Spain and France, coveted North America.
Holland and Sweden also made feeble attempts to create toeholds in North America in the early 1600s. But these Dutch and Swedish settlements were soon swallowed up by the English colonies. The Finns also began a trading station in North America during this period.
Spain, France and Russia all grasped for control and possession of North America, yet they all failed! But why?
Why did their attempts to gain control of this indescribably rich, virgin continent utterly collapse? How did it happen that the peoples of Britain, a tiny island nation of only 3 or 4 million people, gained possession of this fabulously wealthy land?
And did the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic descended British succeed in acquiring this rich continent because of their cleverness, foresightedness, skill and cunning? Or did these British-descended peoples succeed in spite of themselves?
The true history of America – the account of how we became the earth’s most affluent, most powerful nation-- is a fascinating chronicle. The real struggle for national dominance in North America is a most interesting, yet little known, story. Many of the thrilling highlights of this American story have been very sadly misunderstood.
It is imperative that Americans be given the facts of their national success story as we reflect on the highlights of our history.
As a nation, America is still young. But she is no longer an infant or even an adolescent nation. We have come of age. We have matured. Some would even say we are “aging.” They see in us many social wrinkles of injustice. Gray hairs of moral decadence, they say, are everywhere in evidence.
Some even go so far as to claim that this once virgin land – like its once virtuous peoples – has lost most of its virtue. Greedy Americans have ravished, despoiled and polluted their lovely land. Some radicals and extremists are even preparing to destroy America through the convulsive blows of a bloody revolution. To them our beloved country is sullied, corrupt and morally deformed beyond redemption!
Such gloom, and doom mongers believe national rigor mortis is already setting in. The undertaker is waiting impatiently. America’s funeral will, they think, soon become part of the dusty pages of history. But before we can speculate on America’s future “history,” we need to examine America’s past, and we also need to understand present-day America.
Look at America today. In spite of our social, economic and moral wrinkles, how greatly have we been blessed in comparison with the other nations of this earth!
We shall now take a critical look at these Untied States of America from three different perspectives: 1) the goodly heritage of this rich land of plenty, including our marvelous climate; 2) our thriving unparalleled economy; and 3) the U.S. military dominance in the world. Our national heritage, when rightly viewed, can only elicit open-mouthed astonishment, awe and wonderment. Truly, no nation or people have ever been so fortunate as the peoples of these United States of America.
President Abraham Lincoln aptly stated this when he proclaimed a day of fasting and prayer in 1863, The President said: “We find ourselves in the peaceful possession of the fairest portion of the earth, as regards fertility of soil, extent of territory, and salubrity of climate. We find ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings. We toiled not in the acquirement or the establishment of them.”
He continued: “We have been the recipients of the choicest blessings of heaven. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation ever has grown.”
Lincoln was right, but in the 149 years since his words were penned, we have been blessed even more. In size, the United States is the fourth largest nation, after Russia, China and Canada. We also have the 3rd largest nation (population over three hundred million) after China and India. Though we occupy only about 6% of the earth’s land surface, we possess 18% of the world’s croplands. Very few nations have as much “arable land” per capita as the U.S. with 3 acres per person. Russia has only 2.8, France has 1.2, India 0.9, Norway 0.6 (Canada, our sister country, has a whopping 6.7 acres per capita.)
These United States lie between the 26 degree and 55 degree N. latitude in the north temperate zone. As you go north of the U.S. border, the growing season is drastically reduced and the weather becomes harsh during much of the year. When you travel south of our border, quickly descend into humid heat and subtropical weather.
As a direct result of our being so abundantly blessed with one of the worlds most varied and enticing climates, and with our possession of the earth’s most productive land, America has become the “breadbasket “of the world.
In 1973 the U.S. exported over $17 billion worth of farm produce. This figures rose to about $20 billion in 1974: and burgeoning shipments of food continued in 1975. U.S. food exports will undoubtedly continue to climb higher in coming years as America tries to stave off famine in the world’s undernourished countries, as long as her own crops remain bountiful.
Notice the proportion (of all foodstuffs exported worldwide) which the U.S. exported in 1973; 89% of all soybeans, 74% of corn, 53% of wheat, 26% of all rice, and 18% of all cotton. The U.S. has quadrupled in size since 1790, when there were only 889,000 square miles in the nation. By 1890 we had grown to 3 million square miles.
While Canada occupies about half of North America (it has 3, 851, 809 miles), the United States possesses 3, 608, 787 square miles, and our southern neighbor, Mexico has 761,000 square miles.
It is interesting to note that the U.S.--Canadian border is the longest unfortified frontier in the world. Nearly 4,000 miles of border separate Canada and the 48 states to her south. And to this the 1500-mile border between Canada and the state of Alaska. Every year there are over 60 million crossings of the U.S,-Canadian border, and over 125 million crossings of the U.S.-Mexican border.
Furthermore, much of the U.S. is laced with rivers and streams, and there are many thousands of lakes, including the important Great Lakes which we share with Canada. The Mississippi-Missouri River is the 5th longest river in the world. The Indian word Mississippi means “Father of Waters.”
The entire world would be much poorer today if American had not been discovered and colonized. Few Americans realize how many important foods are indigenous to their continent. Here are only a few of them: Corn, potatoes, peanuts, squashes, pumpkins, avocados, peppers, pineapples, tomatoes, cacaos, cocoa, and many others.
The U.S. has been blessed with expansive tracts of productive croplands, large forests, a multitude of rivers, streams and lakes, and a varied but temperate climate. This new “Promised Land” is also rich in oil and other minerals. The U.S. possesses about one third of all the coal in the entire world. Once the technique of extracting and utilizing this vast resources in an economical manner is perfected, America should have enough of this abundant fuel to keep her going for many centuries.
Never before have the peoples of any nation been so blessed with material possessions! Nearly all U.S. families own refrigerators, TV sets, radios, computers, washing machines and dryers, telephones, and most people have two or more cars.
In 1971, 99.8% of American homes had radios; 94% had vacuum cleaners; 84% had electric food mixers; 91% had automatic coffeemakers. In 1973, Americans purchased 31 million major appliances, 8 million color TV sets, 11.5 million new autos, and were still able to contribute nearly 24.5 billion to charity. Those figures are no doubt much higher today.
It is certain that America has been blessed by Heaven with the “fattest land” in the whole earth – if one considers, as originally stated, the fertility of our soil, the abundance of our natural resources and the temperate climate with which we have been favored. But how did it all come about? Have all these great blessings come to us as a result of our own cleverness, brilliance, ingenuity? Is it merely by “chance” that we have received them? Were our forefathers especially gifted above other men, or more lucky? Or was this bounty fore-ordained by Providence? If you would like to know how America became so prominent send for our free series, “The Blessings of Abraham.”