There are a few things that are common knowledge – there is more water than land on the Earth, the sun rises in the east and sets to the west, and there is nothing quite as spectacular as our country, the good ole US of A.
But as we prepare to celebrate Independence Day, you might be wondering how old is America exactly? The most straightforward answer is that the founding fathers sealed the Declaration of Independence, marking the official separation from Great Britain on July 4, 1776, following the Revolutionary War. So, our great country is 246 years old. However, history is more complicated than that. So, let’s rewind and find the right answer.
Early European Immigration
Long before July 4, 1776, pilgrims started the vast European colonization of America in search of a better life. Tribes of Native Americans had been living in both South and North America for thousands of years before the immigrants came. One of the first Europeans to see the American continent was Christopher Columbus. However, the Spanish were the first to establish settlements in the modern-day United States, doing so on the territories of modern-day Florida and New Mexico. Then, in the early 1600s, the number of immigrants coming to North America soared. In 1607, Jamestown, VA, became the first colony that established its own government with Edward Maria Winfields as the President.
The Beginning of New England
More than 10 years since the early European immigrants came to Jamestown, the famous Mayflower ship anchored at Plymouth, MA and marked the beginning of the process of forming New England. The majority of them were dissatisfied Separatists who left the Church of England after it failed to reform itself. The settlers befriended the Pokanokets tribe of Native Americans and together they celebrated the very first Thanksgiving in November 1621.
The Foundation of Pennsylvania
King James II of England was in debt with the wealthy English Quaker William Penn. As a way to repay his debt, he gave the Penn family a treaty for a site where they could settle. The land was located north of Newcastle, and the family called it the Province of Pennsylvania. The property proved very fertile, so they established the city of Philadelphia. The Penn family was friendly with the indigenous people. In fact, many others looking to flee the religious intolerance in Europe were drawn to Penn’s tolerance and religious freedom philosophy.
The Diverse Population of America
As of 1733, over 13 colonies were founded throughout the Atlantic Coast. People left their homes hoping to find the freedom they longed for and escape European political oppression. While most immigrants were English, there were also people from France, Portugal, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, and Spain. As a result, the US has an incredibly diverse population.
These days the population of the United States sits at over 330 million people. But 246 years ago, the population was only 2.5 million. In 250 years, the US population has grown 130 times its size and is now the third most populous country, behind only China (1.40 billion) and India (1.38 billion).
The Struggle for Independence
On July 4, 1776, the English colonies signed the Declaration of Independence to officially separate the UK and become an autonomous nation. This sparked the American Revolutionary War, which ended with the American soldiers called Patriots winning over the British soldiers and establishing the United States Constitution in 1787. This marked the official birth of the United States of America.
Final Words: How Old Is America?
We’re celebrating 246 years since the Declaration of Independence was signed this year. History, however, shows that the establishment of the country we know today goes further than that. The very first English colony was established in 1607 and soon after the settlers came to Plymouth Rock. Towards the latter half of the 17th century, the family of William Penn established the colony of Pennsylvania and founded Philadelphia. At the same time, numerous new settlements have been created along the Atlantic Coast.
The European citizens who settled in America have a significant role in forming the identity of the American country. Many came to America looking to escape the government and religious oppression. For them, America was the Land of Opportunity. The same philosophy stands true today. So, regardless of your background, everyone has a chance to succeed in America, the Land of the Free.