Age 237 and Counting

Belated birthday greetings USA!

Across the continent, north in Alaska, and in the island state of Hawaii, the celebrations continue through this weekend. Will you attend a parade? Eat at a picnic? Listen to a concert? Or watch a fireworks display?

Do you know how and when your hometown became part of the fabric of America?

Many of our east coast port cities and towns were settled before the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Other areas, just across the first ridge of mountains, was wild country, the realm of explorers, Native Americans, and a few hardy settlers turning forest into farms. More settlements, French and Spanish, clung to the banks of the Mississippi River.

St. Louis, my current home, marks 1764 as their founding by French traders. Sitting on the west bank of the river, they did not become part of the new nation at the end of the war. They would join a growing United States later, in a peaceful transfer as part of the Louisiana Purchase.

My birth place, a small town in western Wisconsin, celebrates a founding after statehood. They began with a sawmill along a creek. Many such settlements vanished after a few years. But others survived, added businesses, and became small trading centers for the farmers claiming land in the spring watered valleys and on the rolling hills.

The United States expanded to present borders by many means. Great swaths of land were gained by purchase or peaceful treaty with other nations. Some was gained by treaty after armed conflict.

Which sort of area do you consider home? Who were the first to build settlements near you?

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