United States of America, the largest (next to Brazil) and most important republic of the world, embracing nearly one-half of the habitable area of the North American continent, and about seven-eighths of its inhabitants. Its area is more than three-fourths that of all Europe; including Alaska, it is almost equal to it; but its population is less than one-fifth of that of Europe. Alaska (q.v.) is rather a dependency than an integral part of the country, which, without it, occupies the central part of the continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, and from Canada on the north to Mexico on the south. It lies between the parallels 24° 30' and 49° N. lat., and between the meridians 67° and 124° W. long. Its greatest length, E. to W., is about 2700 miles, and its greatest width, N. to S., about 1600 miles. Its total area is, without Alaska, somewhat more than 2,900,000 sq. m. As compared with Europe the coast of the United States has few indenting bays or projecting peninsulas, though the Gulf of Mexico is of special climatic and commercial importance. Long Island Sound, Delaware and Chesapeake bays, Albemarle and Pamlico sounds, the harbours of Charleston and Savannah, though not great geographical features, are of commercial importance. On the Pacific, Puget Sound, the Bay of San Francisco, and the harbour of San Diego, are almost the only noticeable breaks. Long Island is the largest of the islands.
The two great mountain-systems of North America, one along the western, the other near the eastern border, form the framework or skeleton of the physical structure. In the east are the Appalachian (q.v.), from whose eastern base a coast-plain extends to the sea. Narrow In Maine, the system grows gradually wider, until in North Carolina it attains a width of 200 miles. The southern coast-region seldom exceeds 100 feet above the sea. It has a sandy soil, and many large swamps near the coast. The middle elevated region is diversified by hills and valleys, and has a productive soil. West of the Appalachian system and lying between it and the western highland is the Central Valley, forming part of the great continental depression which extends from the Arctic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. It is almost an absolute plain, rising gradually from the Gulf toward the chain of Great Lakes in the north, and toward the mountains on the east and west. The only important departure from the level is the ridge of the Ozark Mountains (500 to 2000 feet), running from S. Missouri through NW. Arkansas. This great valley occupies about one-half the entire area of the United States, and the fertile prairies and bottom-lands of the eastern and central portions make it the most important agricultural basin of the globe. From an irregular line west of the Mississippi River the land rises in an almost imperceptible slope till it reaches the base of the western plateau. Much of this region, known as the Great Plains, has a light rainfall, but affords admirable pasturage.
The western or Pacific system of mountains (see America) is a great plateau of 4000 to 10,000 feet surmounted by a complex system of ranges, in its widest part more than 1000 miles broad. Of this Cordilleran region the Rocky Mountains (q.v.) form the eastern and the Sierra Nevada (q.v.) and Cascade Mountains (q.v.) and the Coast Ranges the western border. In the ranges of central Colorado alone nearly forty of the summits have an altitude of more than 14,000 feet. In the Wind River Mountains, in Wyoming, are the head-waters of the Colorado, the Columbia, and the Mississippi, the three great river-systems of the United States. Between the Wahsatch Range and the lofty masses of mountains in Colorado is a region furrowed by canons or gorges, whose sides are nearly vertical; and the bed of the Colorado (q.v.) is in some places more than a mile and a quarter below the surface of the plateau. Between the Wahsatch Range and the Sierra Nevada lies the Great Basin (see Great Salt Lake), much of it an absolute desert. The Sierra Nevada and the Cascade Range (q.v.) are topographically continuous. Most of the peaks of the Sierras are, however, of granite and metamorphic rock, while those of the Cascade Range are volcanic. The greatest altitude is attained in Whitney (14,898 feet); the sublimity of the scenery is justly celebrated (see Yosemite). From 40° there extends northward one of the most remarkable groups of extinct or faintly active volcanoes to be found anywhere in the world; the lava overflows in this region cover an area of upwards of 200,000 sq. m. The passage of the Columbia River is a grand canon more than 3000 feet in depth. North of the Great Basin, between the Cascade Range and the Rocky Mountains, is the Northern or Columbian Plateau. The Shoshone Falls (q.v.) of the Snake River probably rank next to Niagara in grandeur. Between the Coast Ranges and the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Range is a series of broad valleys, in Oregon that of the Willamette, and in California those of the Sacramento and the San Joaquin.
Besides the chain of Great Lakes which forms a part of the northern boundary, there are thousands of lakes in the New England states and in New York, nearly ten thousand in Minnesota, and numerous mountain-lakes among the Cordilleras. The peculiar lacustrine character of the northern portion of the United States is undoubtedly a legacy of the glacial period. The drainage areas may be broadly classified as the Great Lake or St Lawrence, the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Great Basin or interior systems of drainage. The Atlantic system might be subdivided into two classes, one comprising the streams flowing directly to the sea, the other comprehending those of the Central Valley, which discharge their waters into the Gulf of Mexico. Among the rivers of the Atlantic slope are the Penobscot, Kennebec, Merrimac, Thames, and Connecticut in New England, the Hudson, Delaware, Susquehanna, Potomac, James, Roanoke, Neuse, Cape Fear, Great Pedee, Santee, Savannah, Altamaha, and St John's. The Mississippi-Missouri, with its tributaries the Ohio, Platte, Arkansas, and Red rivers, is the chief stream of the Central Valley, and in length and extent of navigable water it surpasses all other rivers of the world. East of the Mississippi are the Mobile and Appa-lachicola, and to the west the Sabine, Brazos, and Rio Grande. The Colorado, the Sacramento and San Joaquin, the Willamette, and the Columbia are the chief rivers emptying into the Pacific. With its great extent and its diversified topography of the United States, there is every variety of climate characteristic of the temperate zone. The annual isothermal lines, except where they are influenced by the two great mountain-systems, pursue a fairly uniform east and west course across the country. A marked difference is, however, observable in the disposition of these lines on maps representing respectively the summer and the winter temperatures. The influence of the oceans and of the Great Lakes is at once apparent, modifying both the heat of summer and the cold of winter, whereas in the interior and in the region of the Cordilleras the extremes of heat and cold are both abnormal. The warm ocean current of the Pacific, which bathes the western coast, produces a more uniform temperature than that of the Atlantic seaboard, along which flows a cold polar current. The annual range of temperature is very great. In winter there sometimes exists at the same instant between the northern and the southern borders a difference of 120°. In summer the diurnal variation of a single locality is in some instances from 40° to 50°. A narrow strip in the south, including the southern portions of Florida, New Mexico, and Arizona, has what may be called a tropical climate. Northern Florida, southern Louisiana, southern Texas, and portions of New Mexico, Arizona, and southern California have a subtropical climate. The sugar and rice regions have a mean annual temperature above 70°. The tobacco region lies between the isotherms of 50° and 60°. The annual temperature of the great cotton region ranges from 60° to 68°, and the prairie regions devoted to the raising of wheat and other hardy cereals seldom have an average temperature above 55°. The rainfall of the United States varies greatly in different sections, not only as to quantity, but as to distribution throughout the year. The eastern part of the country is well watered. The western portion, excepting the strip between the Sierras and the Cascade Range and the Pacific Ocean, and a few limited areas favoured by some peculiar features of topography, has an insufficient supply, and agriculture is dependent for success upon irrigation. Between the two regions is a belt, approximately following the meridian of longitude 100°, in which agriculture may sometimes be carried on without recourse to irrigation, but which in any season is liable to suffer from drought. For the rainfall of the Pacific Coast, see California. The eastern portion of the United States is in the main well wooded. Forests also occur in northern California, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, and Minnesota (the scene of great forest fires in 1894), and in northern Idaho and Montana. The Cordilleran region and the Great Plains are treeless, except upon high plateaus and mountains. The distribution of forests very closely follows the distribution of rainfall.
Besides Alaska, there are fifty political divisions. Of these forty-five are states enjoying the full privileges afforded by the federal constitution; three are organised territories not yet admitted to statehood; one is an unorganised territory set apart as a home for Indian tribes, and one is a special district containing the capital of the nation. Of the total population, 96 per cent. of the inhabitants live in that part of the country which is drained to the Atlantic Ocean, and more than one-half live in that drained by the Gulf of Mexico. The greatest density of population is in the region having a mean annual temperature of from 50° to 55°. From this maximum the density rapidly diminishes with the increase or decrease of temperature. There are three cities, New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia, with over 1,000,000 inhabitants. Three, St Louis, Boston, and Baltimore, have each more than 500,000. There are thirty-two cities having between 500,000 and 100,000; forty between 100,000 and 50,000; and eighty-one between 50,000 and 25,000 inhabitants.
Date of Admission.
Area in sq. m.
Pop. In 1900.
Pop. per sq. m.
Dist. of Columbia.....
New Mexico Ter.......
Oklahoma Ter. ........
* Including 129,518 Indians on Reservations outside of the Indian Territory, and 91,219 persons abroad in the service of the United States. The Hawaiian Islands Territory (154,001), Porto Rico (953,243), the Philippine Islands (8,500,000), Guam and Samoa (13,000), are also, more or less intimately, parts or dependencies of the United States. The census of 1900 does not, of course, recognise the incorporation of Indian Territory with Oklahoma (1905), or the (for a time debated) incorporation of New Mexico with Arizona, promoted to be a state (1905).
Coal, petroleum, and the burnable rock gases exist in remarkable quantities in the United States, particularly in the region to the east of the Mississippi River. The most important metallic resources of the United States are found in its iron ores, which exist in great quantities in various parts of its territory. Copper is also widely distributed, and so are lead ores, mainly in the form of galena. Oxide of manganese is found, and iron pyrites; ores of tin show at many points, but so far not of commercial value. Nickel has been mined in Pennsylvania and in Oregon. Platinum occurs, though it is not yet economically valuable. From the eastern face of the Rocky Mountains westward to the Pacific coast deposits of varied character containing silver and gold are extremely abundant. In fact this portion of the Cordilleran region appears to be the richest in precious metals of any equal area in the world. The silver of this district generally occurs in combination with galena, and has thus been won so cheaply and In such quantities as greatly to lower the price of the metal in the world's markets. The Comstock lode of Nevada is remarkable for its great width and the surprisingly rich though widely separated pockets of ores of gold and silver which it afforded. The building stones of the United States are abundant, and include granites, slates, marbles, limestone, sandstone; also clays, cements, and rich phos-phatic rocks (for manures). No valuable precious stones have been found in quantity. The mineral springs of the eastern States exhibit no great variety. Hot springs of much medicinal value occur at Little Rock, Arkansas. In the Cordil-leran district the number of mineral springs and hot springs is exceedingly great. The country at large has no national system of education. By the constitution of the United States only such powers are vested in the federal government as concern the whole people. Education is left to the states, though the central government has contributed greatly to the encouragement of schools and the integration of systems. The public school system now is practically co-extensive with the nation; elementary denominational schools are neither numerous nor largely attended. But of 506 colleges entitled to grant degrees 382 are avowedly denominational. There are also (approximately) 200 superior institutions, independent of both church and state, varying greatly as to quality of work, empowered to grant degrees. Of the eight colleges of the first class for women seven are private foundations, and enrol more than 2000 students. Of the 132 degree-giving institutions for women included in the second class 59 are private organisations, and have an attendance of about 9000 students. Of the 12 university foundations five are independent corporations having 0000 students. Sixty-one of the 384 colleges for men alone or for both sexes are private, and enrol 10,000 students. In addition to these still, there are 32 independent schools of science with 8000 students. The schools of all grades enrol approximately 18,000,000 pupils. Of this number nearly 16,500,000, or 90 per cent., belong to public institutions; the remaining 10 per cent. to denominational and private schools. Among the professions medicine ranks first in number of schools (281), theology second (150), and law last (100). The schools of theology have nearly 7600 students, of whom over 180 are women. In the schools of law are 13,600 students, and in medicine (including surgery, dentistry, pharmacy, and veterinary science) there are as many as 40,000 students. There are also 48 schools of technology, with 15,000 students; 132 colleges for women, with 23,750 students; and 448 schools for nurses, with 11,600 students. There are besides schools for deaf-mutes, the blind, the feeble-minded, and reform schools for the wayward. The total amount expended on elementary and secondary public schools, from all sources (from permanent endowments, property-tax, local or general, &c), is over $187,320,000; on the 472 universities and colleges, about $19,000,000; and on the 48 technical schools, $3,550,000. The number of teachers in common schools increased from 200,515 in 1S70 to 430,000 in the first years of the twentieth century.
The first census of the Union was taken in 1790, when it comprised thirteen states; in 1820 there were twenty-three states and three territories; in 1860 thirty-three states and five territories; in 1880 thirty-eight states and nine territories; in 1900 forty-five states and five territories, not including Alaska and island dependencies. The table shows the population of the republic till 1900 (see p. 717).
In 1900, 13.7 per cent. of the population was foreign-born, 26.9 per cent. of these being from the United Kingdom, and two-thirds of these again from Ireland. There is no state church in the United States. In 1890 the Roman Catholics claimed to have over 6,250,000 of the population; the Methodists, nearly 5,000,000; Baptists, 4,300,000; Presbyterians, 1,230,000; Lutherans, 1,086,000; Congregationalists, 492,000; and the Episcopal Church, 480,000. In 1900 there were 5,739,657 farms, which had a total acreage of 841,201,546. Over 165,000,000 acres were under maize, wheat, and oats in 1904, and the total production was 3,914,477,000 bushels. Potatoes, rye, barley, buckwheat, rice, sugar, cotton, tobacco, hemp, flax, hops, are other crops. In 1905 there were - cattle, 61,241,907; sheep, 45,170,423; swine, 47,320,511; horses, 17,057,702; mules, 2,888,710. The total value of farm animals exceeds 3000 million dollars. The total area under cotton exceeds 27,000,000 acres, and the value of the crop amounts to nearly $419,000,000. There are over 1,037,000 acres under tobacco, and the value of the crop is over $55,500,000. The census for 1900 shows an increase in the textile industries over that of 1890 amounting to nearly $200,000,000, the total value of the product being $931,494,566. The pig-iron industry, which in 1885 produced 4,044,526 tons, produced in 1903 18,009,252 tons; steel in the form of ingots and direct castings aggregated 14,947,250 tons in 1902, against 1,711,920 in 1885. The total value of the manufactured products of the United States in 1900 was over $13,000,000,000. The minerals (chiefly pig-iron and coal, followed by silver, anthracite, and building stone) have a value of $1,260,500,000. In 1903 there were in the United States over 2500 miles of canals; of railways, 207,977 miles; of telegraphs, 250,000 miles; and of telephones, 3,500,000 miles of wire. The value of lumber is about $600,000,000 a year; of the fisheries, $50,000,000. The imports in 1904-5 were of the value of $1,117,512,629, and on these duty to the amount of $262,060,528 was paid. The exports for the same years amounted to $1,518,561,720. The chief trade is with Great Britain, which receives more than one-third of all the exports, and supplies nearly a fourth of the imports. The leading exports are bread-stuffs, cotton, meat and dairy produce, mineral oils, animals, iron and steel and manufactures, wood and manufactures, tobacco, etc.; the principal imports, sugar, coffee, iron and steel manufactures, flax, hemp, jute, and their manufactures, chemicals, and woollen and cotton goods. Foreign commerce of recent years has been carried on largely in foreign bottoms, but efforts are now being made to increase the United States mercantile marine. In 1903 there were registered 12,836 sailing-vessels of 1,965,924 tons, and 8054 steam-vessels of 3,408,08S tons; 888,776 tons was the burthen of all ships engaged in the foreign trade, The navy has been to a great extent reorganised, and in 1905 comprised, besides old vessels, etc, 13 battle-ships, 22 cruisers of all kinds, with torpedo boats and destroyers and submarines, and 85 vessels of all classes building, with 1254 officers and 41,532 men, including marines. The standing army limit was raised in 1901 to 100,000 men. The militia is supposed to comprise all men in each state, from eighteen to forty-five, capable of bearing arms; the returns show only 9376 officers and 115,627 men. The federal revenue in 1904-5 was $097,101,270 (an increase of $12,886,896 on the previous year). In the same year the expenditure was $720,105,498. The gold, including reserve and trust funds, amounted to $739,89S,600, and the outstanding principal of the public debt was $895,158,340.
The head of the executive of the United States is a president, who is commander-in-chief of the army, navy, and militia, and exercises a veto on the decisions of Congress. President and vice-president are chosen, for four years, by electors appointed by the several states of the Union. The president chooses a cabinet of eight members, each having charge of an administrative department, but none of them having a seat in Congress; the senate must approve the president's choice. The legislative power belongs to the Congress, which comprises a Senate and a House of Representatives. Senators are chosen, two from each state, by the several state legislatures, and hold office for six years. The Senate has the power of confirming or rejecting treaties with foreign powers. The House of Representatives is composed of members elected biennially by the several states, the franchise not being precisely similar in all the states. Usually the electors are all male citizens of 21 years of age. Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, and Utah give women the privilege. The number of representatives for each state is proportional to population (after the census of 1900, in the proportion of one for 194,000 inhabitants). The territories send delegates who may speak but do not vote. Senators and representatives have a salary of $5000, with travelling expenses. Each state in the Union has its own constitution, which provides for a governor, legislature of two houses, and distinct judicial system. The details vary considerably in the various states, but are analogous to the constitution of the Union. The state legislature is supreme in all matters except those reserved for the Federal government.
The first settlements in North America north of Mexico were made by the Spaniards in Florida and the French on the banks of the St Lawrence. In 1607 the Virginia Company settled the first permanent English colony at Jamestown in Virginia. The Pilgrim Fathers arrived at New Plymouth in 1620; ten years later the colony of Massachusetts was established; and in 1643 Massachusetts, New Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven constituted the United Colonies of New England. Maryland, Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania were formed; and when in 1732 Georgia was founded, the coast was pretty well occupied by English colonies. The English area was enormously increased after the great struggle with France (1690-1763), when in 1763, by the peace of Paris, France gave up all her claims to Canada and all lands east of the Mississippi and north of Florida. Spain also ceded most of her holdings. In the great revolutionary struggle which followed on the Declaration of Independence (1776) there were thirteen states. the western boundary of the colonies being practically the Alleghanies; by the peace of 1783 the United States acquired all the land westwards to the Mississippi. In 1803, by the ' Louisiana Purchase,' the western part of the basin of the Mississippi passed to the republic. In 1819 Florida became part of the national territory. Texas was annexed in 1845; New Mexico, part of Arizona, and California were added in 1848. In 1787 it had been fixed that no states north of the Ohio should be slave-holding states. At all extensions of area there had arisen fierce struggles between those favourable and those hostile to the increase of the slave-holding area. The great question was finally settled by the civil war of 1861-65, when the southern states of Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, were overcome by the Union. In 1867 the United States purchased Alaska from Russia, and the boundary dispute with Britain was settled in 1903. The war with Spain in 1888-89 resulted in the loss to Spain of Cuba, and in the Philippine Islands, Porto Rico, and Guam (Caroline Islands) being made dependencies of the States; the Hawaiian Islands (1889) and Samoa (1900) have also been added.
See America and the articles on the several states; the U.S. census reports; North America in 'stanford's Compendium,' by Hayden and Sel-wyn; Shaler's Geography of North America; works on the resources and industries of the U.S., by Bishop (1864), Bolles (1881), Patton (1888); works on the constitution, by Story, Kent, Wharton, Curtis, Cooley, De Tocqueville, and Bryce; histories of the literature, by Tyler (1878), Nichol (1882), Richardson (1888); and general histories by Gay, Bryant, Macmaster, Hildreth, Doyle, Payne, Goldwin Smith (1894), and others.