Ⅰ. Geography • 1).The Geographical Characteristics of the United States • Vast area: The United States is bigger in area than the whole of Europe, spreading from the Pacific coast to the Atlantic coast. Diversity of land features: The United States comprehends land features like forest, desert, swamp, mountains, plains and one of the world’s largest river systems. • 2).The Mississippi River • The Mississippi River, often called the “Father of Waters”, is the most important and largest river in America. It flows for 6,400 kilometers. 3) The Growth of the Union Since Its Foundation in the 1780s • At the time of its foundation, the original Union consisted of thirteen states along the eastern seaboard. As settlement spread westwards and stable population capable of self-government developed new areas, so new states were allowed to join the Union. Arizona in 1912 was the forty-eight continental state joining the Union. In 1959, separate territories of Hawaii and Alaska joined the Union. Thus the list of fifty states of the United States was complete. 4). New England • New England refers to the northeastern six states: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, a area running from the Canadian shore to New York. This area resembles old England in many ways. Some of the earliest settlement in America history was in this area. In general, this part of the country is small-scale, long established and urban. 5). New York City • It is the commercial capital of the United States. It is at the southernmost tip of the New York State. It is composed of five boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Richmond, and Queen’s, with Manhattan Island as its center. It is well known for such places as Wall Street, the Empire State Building, Harlem and Central Park. 6). Manhattan Island • It is at southeast part of New York City. It is the centre of the city and includes things that are famous to the world: Wall Street, Fifth Avenue, Broadway, the Empire State Building. Rockefeller Centre, the United Nation’s Building, Central Park, Harlem and so on. 7). The South • It refers to the area across the Potomac River and southwards down the Atlantic coast. This was slave-owning area before the Civil War and mainly produced tobacco and cotton. Economically these states are notoriously backward, but more recently there has been an industrial development, helped by federal plans and hydroelectric power. 9). The Middle West • It describes the northeastern part of the central plain, or the northeastern quarter of the United States except for the states close to the Atlantic. In terms of political geography, it refers to these states: Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio and so on. First developed for farming, these states include huge, sparsely populated open spaces. Chicago and Detroit are two of the big industrial cities in this area. 10). The search for the California dream • California is blessed with attractive scenery and mild climate. It has the fertile land for the growing of oranges and grapes. And more important still are the electronics industry, aero plane factories, defense plants of many kinds, and a whole new industrial complex in this area. Therefore, California is the Promised Land by many people to fulfill their goals. 8). The Appalachian Mountains • The range of the Appalachian Mountains runs behind and through the eastern states, beginning for south in Georgia and continuing northwards to Vermont and Canada. Sections of the range have different names, but rounded hills and forests are the main feature. The mountains place a barrier to early westward movement in American history. • 11). Great Basin • Great Basin refers to the part between the Colorado and Columbia Plateaus. • 12). Great Central Plain • Great Central Plain refers to the landmass between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachians. • 13). Great Plain • Great Plain refers to the western part of the central plain. • 14). The Five Great Lakes • The Five Great Lakes refers to Lake Michigan, Superior, Erie, Huron and Ontario. Ⅱ. History • 1). He was a 15th century mariner from Italy believed that he could reach the Far East by sailing west from Europe. 2). In 1492, he persuaded the king and queen of Spain to finance his voyage to the East. 3). Instead of reaching Asia, he landed on one of the Bahama Island in the Caribbean Sea and explore most of the Caribbean area. 4). After his discovery, Europeans began to explore and colonize the New World. 2. The Europeans’ colonization of the New World. • 1). After Columbia’s discovery, European countries established settlements in the New World to claim as much territory as possible. 2). Spanish priests wanted to convert the indigenous inhabitants of the Americas to Christianity. 3). European religious and political dissenters needed a refuge from persecution in their homelands. 4). Some individuals thirsted for adventure. 3. The Pilgrims • 1). In England, there had been a group of people called Puritans who had broken away from the Church of England and formed their own churches in order to purify the Church of England. Later they fled to Holland to escape the persecution in their native land. 2) Several years passed when they were again threatened by religious suppression, they thought of moving, and this time to America. 3). They began to call themselves Pilgrims because of their wanderings in search of religious freedom. 4). In 1620, they crossed the Atlantic in the ship Mayflower and settled at Plymouth, Massachusetts. 4. Mayflower • 1). It is the name of a ship first bringing the Pilgrims to New England. 2). It started in September of 1620 carrying 102 passengers. 3). It landed out of plan in Provincetown Harbor, Massachusetts. 4). It was on this ship that the first governor was chosen and the historic Mayflower Compact was signed. 5). It finally anchored in Plymouth Harbor where the Pilgrims had a permanent settlement. 5. Mayflower Compact • 1). In order to survive, the Pilgrims on the Mayflower needed a means of establishing and enforcing proper rules of conduct. Also they wanted to protect themselves from rebels within their own ranks, so they signed the Mayflower Compact. 2). It was the first formal agreement for self- government in America. 3) It was signed on the Mayflower, choosing the first governor. 6. Boston Tea Party • 1). In the years following the French and Indian War, British government enforced several acts, which were bitterly opposed by colonists. 2). In order to ease tensions, British government removed all the new taxes except that on tea. 3) In 1773, a group of patriots responded to the tea tax by staging the Boston Tea Party: Disguised as Indians, they boarded British merchant ships and tossed 342 crates of tea into Boston harbor. 4). British parliament then passed the Intolerable Acts, and in response to this the First Continental Congress was held in September 1774. 7. The First Continental Congress • 1). In response to the Intolerable Acts passed by British parliament, the First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia in September 1774. 2). This was a meeting of colonial leaders opposed to what they perceived to be British oppression in the colonies. They urged Americans to disobey the Intolerable Acts and to boycott British trade. 3). After this, colonists began to organized militias and to collect and store weapons and ammunition. 8). The Second Continental Congress • 1). After the first shot of the American War of Independence was fired at Lexington on April 19,1775, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia in May 1775. 2). It began to assume the functions of a national government. It founded a Continental Army and Navy under the command of George Washington, and began to print paper money and opened diplomatic relations with foreign powers. It adopted on July 4,1776 the Declarations of Independence, which was drafted by Thomas Jefferson. 9. The Declaration of Independence • 1). It held that men have a natural right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”; that government can rule only with “the consent of the governor”; that any government may be dissolved when it fails to protect the rights of the people. 2). This theory of politics came from the British philosopher John Locke. And it is central to the Anglo-Saxon political tradition. 10. The American War of Independence • 1). After British parliament passed the Intolerable Acts, tensions were again created between colonists and British government. 2). On April 19,1775, the first shot was fired at Lexington and the American War of Independence began. 3). In May 1775, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and began to assume the functions of a national government. It founded a Continental Army and Navy under the command of George Washington and declared independence on July 4,1776. 4). In 1781, British General Cornwallis surrendered at York-town, Virginia and soon British government asked for peace. 5). The Treaty of Paris, signed in September 1783, recognized the independence of the United States. 11. The Constitutional Convention • 1). Since 1781, the 13 states had been governed by the Articles of Confederation, which set up a very weak central government. 2). In May 1787, the Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia with instructions to revise the Articles of Confederation. 3). Three of the delegates, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and James Madison drafted a new and more workable Constitution. 4). After much debate, the Constitution was accepted in 1788. 12. George Washington • 1). He was a Virginia planter and veteran of the French and Indian War. 2). In 1775, he became the commander of the Continental Army in the American War of Independence. 3). He was one of the three delegates who drafted the Constitution in the Constitutional Convention in 1787. 4). He was the first president of the United States and governed in a Federalist style. He put down the “Whiskey Rebellion” during his administration. 13. The Alien and Sedition Acts • 1). During John Adam’s administration, the US was involved in an undeclared naval war with France. In an atmosphere of war hysteria, the Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798. 2). These measures permitted the deportation or arrest of “ dangerous” aliens, and prescribed fines or imprisonment for publishing attacks on the government. 3). Ten Republican editors were convicted under these acts. 4). The repression occurred under the Alien and Sedition Acts ended in 1801 with Thomas Jefferson becoming the president. 14. Thomas Jefferson • 1). He was a Virginia lawyer and author of the Declaration of Independence. 2). He spoke against the operation of the Alien and Sedition Acts and ended the repression under these acts in 1801, when he was elected president. 3). As a Republican president, he exercised his power vigorously. He purchased Louisiana territory from France in 1803. 15. The Industrial Revolution in America • 1). After the War of 1812, the United States enjoyed a period of rapid economic expansion. The Industrial Revolution had reached America. 2). A national network of roads and canals was built, and the first steam railroad opened in Baltimore in 1830. 3). There were textile mills in New England; iron foundries in Pennsylvania. And by the 1850s, factories were producing various goods. 16. Andrew Jackson • 1). He was the first man born into a poor family and born in the west to be elected president in 1828. 2). He and his democratic party promoted popular democracy and appealed to the humble members of society. He rewarded inexperienced but loyal supporters with government jobs. 3). He broke the power of the Bank of the United States. 4). He made land available to western settlers by forcing Indian tribes to move west of the Mississippi. 17. Monroe Doctrine • President Monroe put it forward in 1823. Main points: the European countries ought not to start any new colonies in North or South America, not to interfere with the newly-established South American republics, and the United States ought not to interfere in the affairs of European countries. Monroe doctrine was an important symbol of American expansionism. 18. The American Civil War • 1) In 19th- century America, the issue of slavery had become the central point of contention in politics, economics and cultural life.2). After Lincoln won the election in 1861,11 Southern and border states seceded from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America. The American Civil War began. 3). Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1,1863. Southern General Lee surrendered to General Grant in April 1865 and all other Confederate forces soon surrendered. Lincoln was assassinated on April 14,1865. • 4). The Civil War was the most traumatic episode in American history. It devastated the South and subjected that region to military occupation. America lost more soldiers in this war than in any other. 5). The war resolved two fundamental questions. It put an end of slavery, which was legally abolished by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in 1865. It also assured the integrity of the United States as an indivisible nation. 19. The Ku Klux Klan • 1). After the Civil War, some Southern whites formed the Ku Klux Klan. 2). It was a violent secret society that hoped to protect white interests and advantages by terrorizing blacks and preventing them from making social advances. 3). By 1872, the federal government had suppressed the Klan, but it revived several times in later history. 20. The Situation of Blacks After the Civil War • 1). Though the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in 1865 had legally abolished slavery, it did not ensure equality in fact for former slaves. 2). Southern blacks were “second-class citizens”. They were not allowed to vote, were threatened by the Ku Klux Klan, and their freedom was restricted by the black codes. 3). Toward the end of the 19th century, the segregation and oppression of blacks grew far more rigid: Southern laws enforced strict segregation in many public places; most blacks had to continue to work as tenant farmers. 4). Although blacks were legally free, they lived and were treated very much like slaves. 21. Reconstruction • 1). After the Civil War, the US Congress put forward the program of Reconstruction, or reform, of the Southern states. 2). The program was bitterly opposed by most Southern whites. 3). It ended in 1877, when new constitutions had been ratified in all Southern states and all federal troops were withdrawn from the south. 22. The Westward Movement • 1). The Westward Movement began following the end of the Civil War.2). Miners searching gold and silver went to the Rocky Mountain region. Farmers settled in Minnesota and the Dakotas. Cowboys managed cattle on the plains of Texas and other western states. 3). As settlers kept moving west, they fought with Indians and forced them from their land. 23. Cowboys • 1). During the Westward Movement, cowboys, or hired horsemen managed cattle on the plains of Texas and other western states. 2). Most of them were former Southern soldiers or former slaves. 3). They were America’s proletarian heroes, and were not so violent as movies later represented them to be. 4). They had become most celebrated and romanticized figures in American culture. 24. The Great Depression • 1). On October 24, 1929----“Black Thursday”----a wave of panic selling of stocks swept the New York Stock Exchange. Share and other security prices collapsed.2) By 1932, thousands of banks and businesses had failed. Industrial production was cut in half. Farm income had fallen by more than half. Wages had decreased 60 percent. New investment was down 90 percent. As a result one out of every four workers was unemployed. 3). Franklin D. Roosevelt won the 1932 election and carried out the New Deal to improve the economy. 4) Full recovery from the Depression was brought about by the defense buildup prior to America’s entering the WW Ⅱ. 25. The New Deal • 1). To deal with the Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt rushed through Congress a great number of laws within the historic “ Hundred Days”. 2). Some of the famous ones in this New Deal program were the WPA, AAA and the Social Security Act. 3). The New Deal program did not end the Depression, but the economy improved as a result of this program of government intervention. Ⅲ. Politics and Government • 1. Political Parties in the United States • 1). Soon after the Union was established, political parties developed. The first two political parties in American history were the Federalists and the Republicans. 2). At present, two parties, Democrats and Republicans, dominate the political scene. 3). The two parties are very complex in their aims and in their basis of popular support. But in the long run, they do provide means of keeping government close to the people. 2. Separation of Powers • Influenced by Montesquieu’s theory of division of powers, the US Constitution ruled that political structures should share out political power between legislative, executive and judicial authorities, and that these authorities should exercise checks against each other. 3. Government at Various Levels • 1). The Federal government has three branches---- executive (the President), legislature( Congress) and judicial. The three elements are checked and balanced by one another. 2).In each state government, power is also divided among three agencies--- legislature (usually the two houses, elected for fixed terms), executive (the governor) and judges of the State Supreme Court. 3). Each state is divided into countries, which have their own powers. 4). Within the countries the towns have their own local governments, mainly as cities. These city governments, with elected mayor, council and judges, reproduce the state pattern on a smaller scale. 4. The Role of the US Congress • 1). It is the law-making body. 2). No federal taxes can be collected or money spent without the approval of both Houses. 3) If the President refuses to sign the laws, his veto can be over-ridden by a two-thirds majority in both House. 4) All treaties and all the President’s appointments to high offices, are subject to the Senate’s approval. 5. Elections for the Two Houses • 1). Elections for both Houses are held in November each even-numbered year. 2). The whole House of Representatives is elected to serve for only two years. Each state has one seat in the House of Representatives for every 1/435 share that it has of the Whole US population. 3). Senators are elected in rotation for six years with each state’s two senators elected at separate elections. 4). If a senator or representative dies or resigns, a special election is held to fill his place for the remainder of this term. 6. Federalism • 1). The states give up their rights to conduct separate relations with each other and with the outside world, but each state kept the basic powers of government for itself within its own territory. 2). The Federal government should have only the powers, which are necessary for providing for the matters, which are of common interest to them all. 7. The US Federal Constitution • 1). It is the supreme law in the United States, and is the main expression of the American ideal. 2). It is a short document, which embodies laws and principles for the form of the US government. Some of the most famous articles in this Constitution are the First, the Second, the third and the Fifth. And the first ten amendments----the Bill of Rights----are very important. 3). Some of it is vague and uncertain in meaning, and therefore involves much difficulty in interpretation. 4) It is the oldest written constitution in the world and has inspired dozens of other countries seeking political reform. Ⅳ. Education • 1. Day Care Centers • 1). They provide care for preschool children of working mothers who need a place to leave their children all day, five days a week. 2). Free, high- quality day care is essential for women if they are to participate fully in society. 3). The need for more day care centers is acute because about 30 percent of mothers with children under age six are in the labor force and the number of working mothers with preschool children is still increasing. 2. Nursery Schools • 1). Nursery schools accept children from three to five years old for half-day sessions ranging from twice a week to five days a week. 2). The typical nursery school classroom is equipped much like a kindergarten, plus an outdoor playground. 3). A youngster who has no playmates his age living nearby may greatly benefit from attending nursery school. 4). Nursery schools usually charge tuition, though some are subsidized and some offer scholarship. 3. Kindergarten • 1). In most area, free public education begins with kindergarten classes for five-year-olds. 2) Through these half-day sessions, the child becomes accustomed to being separate from Mommy, playing and sharing with other children, and following the directions of a teacher. 3). He is also introduced to skills and information that will help him later with academic work. 4). This early childhood education is very beneficial to children. 4. Grammar School • 1). In the United States, classes of students are divided into twelve academic levels called grades. 2). The first academic institution that a child attends is called grammar school/ 3). In some school systems, it includes grades one through eight and in other school systems, one through six. 4). Grammar schools teach reading , arithmetic, language and some other subjects. 5. Higher Education • 1). It refers to American education on the college level. 2). American higher education is provide by more than 3,000 institutions. 3). Some are supported privately and some by local or state governments. Most are coeducational. Some are called colleges, and others are universities. 4). After WW Ⅱ, colleges and universities have expanded tremendously. This huge expansion reflects the trend toward democratizing higher education. Ⅴ. Race and Ethnic Groups • 1. The Melting Pot • 1). This phrase comes from the play The Melting Pot. 2) It holds that America is the great Melting Pot where all the races of Europe are melting and re-forming. 3). The US is a heterogeneous society where diverse races and cultures are blended. 4). Recently, some people think America should be called “ a salad bowl”. • 2 . WASP • It stands for the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. It is the dominant group in the US controlling economic assets and political power. 3. Slavery in the US • 1). It started in mid-seventeenth century. 2). The demand for cheap labor led to a massive slave trade. 3). The myth of racial inferiority of blacks was propagated as a justification for their continued subjugation. 4). The institution of slavery was finally ended by the Civil War, Lincoln’s emancipation of slaves in 1863. and the thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1865. 4. Segregation Laws • 1). After the abolition of slavery wholesale discrimination was practiced against black Americans. 2). Many states passes segregation laws to keep the races apart in school, housing, restaurants, and other public facilities. 3) Segregation laws continued to be enforced in Southern States until the 1950s. 5. Martin Luther King, Jr. • 1). He was a black leader of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and the 1960s. 2). He attained national prominence by advocating a policy of non-violent resistance to segregation. 3). In 1964, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. 4). In 1968 he was assassinated by a white man. The assassination touched off a coast-to-coast wave of the most violent protest and demonstrations against racial discrimination in the US. 6. Montgomery Bus Boycott • On December 1, 1955, when Mrs. Rosa Parks, an active member of the NAACP (the national association for the advancement of colored people), refused to give up her seat to a white man on a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama, she got arrested. Under the leadership of Martin Luther King, black people in Montgomery decided to organize a bus boycott for one day. With unflinching determination, the black people in Montgomery eventually forced the company to back down from its discriminatory position. 7. The Civil Right Act of 1964 • This Act outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, not only in public accommodations but also in employment. It also authorized the government to withhold funds public agencies that discriminated on the basis of race, and it empowered the attorney general to guarantee voting rights and end school segregation. 8. The Black Underclass • 1). They live in the urban ghettos. 2). They consist of habitually unemployed or underemployed black people. 3). Many members are young and unskilled. 4). This “underclass” continues to persist and offers an explosive potential for the future. 9. The Reservation • 1). It was established by the US government for the Indians after the Civil War, segregation the Indians from the national life. 2). In 1871 Congress decided that no Indian tribe would ever be recognized ad an independent political entity again and made all Indians wards of the federal government, without any rights of citizenship. 3). Not until 1924 was the right of American citizenship extended to the original inhabitants of the land. 10. Hispanics • 1). It is a general name for Spanish-speaking population of the US. 2). The Hispanic population is a large, diverse and rapidly growing one. 3). It contains Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, Cubans and other people from various Spanish-speaking nations of Central and South America. 4). The Hispanic population is growing so rapidly because of three factors: relative youth; cultural reluctance to practice family planning; constant inflow of new immigrants mostly over the Mexican border. • 5). The diverse groups within the Hispanic population share a common predicament as a primarily poor, Catholic, Spanish- speaking people in a predominantly affluent, Protestant, English-speaking country. 6). Most Hispanics have relatively low levels of education and income and they are an overwhelmingly urban population. 11. Chicanos • 1). They are Mexican Americans. 2). They have been regarded as aliens on American soil since the mid-19th century. 3). It is only in recent years that the Chicanos have come to be generally recognized as a genuinely American minority. 4). They are regarded as sojourners in the US who can “go back home” if they are not satisfied. 5). Urban Chicanos are concentrated in ethnic neighborhoods. 6). The Chicano population is a relatively poor one with relatively low educational achievement. 7). Chicano farm workers have experienced severe economic exploitation. 8). Chicano leaders are demanding entry into mainstream America without assimilation into the “Anglo” culture. 12. The Chinatowns • 1). Chinese Americans, because of their own choice and discrimination, have kept to their own urban communities----the Chinatowns. 2). Despite the thriving appearance, the Chinatowns contain an array of social problems----most notably overcrowding and extensive poverty. 3). The Chinese have retained a great deal of cultural heritage, including language, cuisine and organizations. 13. Jewish American • 1). Three percent of all Americans are Jews, most of them originally from Eastern Europe, including Russia. 2). They tended to be concentrated in the eastern area, particularly New York. 3). Their political status is rather similar to the Catholics, and it is still considered unlikely for a Jew to be elected President. 4). Many of them have been successful in seeking economic prosperity in American condition. 5). They are predominantly liberal, and inclined to be expressed in politics through the Democratic Party.
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