The transcendentalists, led by Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, established the first major American philosophical movement. After the Civil War, Charles Sanders Peirce and then William James and John Dewey were leaders in the development of pragmatism. In the 20th century, the work of W. V. O. Quine and Richard Rorty, and later Noam Chomsky, brought analytic philosophy to the fore of American philosophical academia. John Rawls and Robert Nozick also led a revival of political philosophy.
In 2017, out of the U.S. foreign-born population, some 45% (20.7 million) were naturalized citizens, 27% (12.3 million) were lawful permanent residents (including many eligible to become citizens), 6% (2.2 million) were temporary lawful residents, and 23% (10.5 million) were unauthorized immigrants. Among current living immigrants to the U.S., the top five countries of birth are Mexico, China, India, the Philippines and El Salvador. Until 2017 and 2018, the United States led the world in refugee resettlement for decades, admitting more refugees than the rest of the world combined.More Info
The United States has operated under a two-party system for most of its history which is in stark contrast to its Canadian neighbor. For elective offices at most levels, state-administered primary elections choose the major party nominees for subsequent general elections. Since the general election of 1856, the major parties have been the Democratic Party, founded in 1824, and the Republican Party, founded in 1854. Since the Civil War, only one third-party presidential candidate—former president Theodore Roosevelt, running as a Progressive in 1912—has won as much as 20% of the popular vote. The president and vice president are elected by the Electoral College.More Info
Government policy designed to promote affordable housing, widespread failures in corporate and regulatory governance, and historically low interest rates set by the Federal Reserve led to the mid-2000s housing bubble, which culminated with the 2008 financial crisis, the nation's largest economic contraction since the Great Depression. Barack Obama, the first African-American and multiracial president, was elected in 2008 amid the crisis, and subsequently passed stimulus measures and the Dodd–Frank Act in an attempt to mitigate its negative effects and ensure there would not be a repeat of the crisis. In 2010, the Obama administration passed the Affordable Care Act, which made the most sweeping reforms to the nation's healthcare system in nearly five decades, including mandates, subsidies and insurance exchanges.More Info
At home, the U.S. experienced sustained economic expansion and a rapid growth of its population and middle class. Construction of an Interstate Highway System transformed the nation's infrastructure over the following decades. Millions moved from farms and inner cities to large suburban housing developments. In 1959 Hawaii became the 50th and last U.S. state added to the country. The growing Civil Rights Movement used nonviolence to confront segregation and discrimination, with Martin Luther King Jr. becoming a prominent leader and figurehead. A combination of court decisions and legislation, culminating in the Civil Rights Act of 1968, sought to end racial discrimination. Meanwhile, a counterculture movement grew which was fueled by opposition to the Vietnam war, black nationalism, and the sexual revolution.More Info
In the 18th and early 19th centuries, American art and literature took most of its cues from Europe. Writers such as Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, and Henry David Thoreau established a distinctive American literary voice by the middle of the 19th century. Mark Twain and poet Walt Whitman were major figures in the century's second half; Emily Dickinson, virtually unknown during her lifetime, is now recognized as an essential American poet. A work seen as capturing fundamental aspects of the national experience and character—such as Herman Melville's Moby-Dick (1851), Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (1925) and Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird (1960)—may be dubbed the "Great American Novel."More Info
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