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.
The United States fought Indian Wars west of the Mississippi River from 1810 to at least 1890. Most of these conflicts ended with the cession of Native American territory and their confinement to Indian reservations. This further expanded acreage under mechanical cultivation, increasing surpluses for international markets. Mainland expansion also included the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867. In 1893, pro-American elements in Hawaii overthrew the monarchy and formed the Republic of Hawaii, which the U.S. annexed in 1898. Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines were ceded by Spain in the same year, following the Spanish–American War. American Samoa was acquired by the United States in 1900 after the end of the Second Samoan Civil War. The U.S. Virgin Islands were purchased from Denmark in 1917.More Info
The Rocky Mountains, west of the Great Plains, extend north to south across the country, peaking around 14,000 feet (4,300 m) in Colorado. Farther west are the rocky Great Basin and deserts such as the Chihuahua and Mojave. The Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges run close to the Pacific coast, both ranges reaching altitudes higher than 14,000 feet (4,300 m). The lowest and highest points in the contiguous United States are in the state of California, and only about 84 miles (135 km) apart. At an elevation of 20,310 feet (6,190.5 m), Alaska's Denali is the highest peak in the country and in North America. Active volcanoes are common throughout Alaska's Alexander and Aleutian Islands, and Hawaii consists of volcanic islands. The supervolcano underlying Yellowstone National Park in the Rockies is the continent's largest volcanic feature.More Info
The United States is a federal republic of 50 states, a federal district, five territories and several uninhabited island possessions. It is the world's oldest surviving federation. It is a federal republic and a representative democracy, "in which majority rule is tempered by minority rights protected by law." For 2018, the U.S. ranked 25th on the Democracy Index. On Transparency International's 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index its public sector position deteriorated from a score of 76 in 2015 to 69 in 2019.More Info
Wealth, like income and taxes, is highly concentrated; the richest 10% of the adult population possess 72% of the country's household wealth, while the bottom half claim only 2%. According to a September 2017 report by the Federal Reserve, the top 1% controlled 38.6% of the country's wealth in 2016. According to a 2018 study by the OECD, the United States has a larger percentage of low-income workers than almost any other developed nation. This is largely because at-risk workers get almost no government support and are further set back by a very weak collective bargaining system. The top one percent of income-earners accounted for 52 percent of the income gains from 2009 to 2015, where income is defined as market income excluding government transfers. In 2018, U.S. income inequality reached the highest level ever recorded by the Census Bureau.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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