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United States of America

US flag 55 stars
Image from Milan Suvajac via Wikimedia Commons; see development notes for more details

Pre-Expulsion Earth superpower, occupying a major portion of the North American continent, as well as various islands in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and, later, off-world colonies in Solsys.

For thousands of years BT, the area was inhabited by a multitude of indigenous cultures. Settlers from various European monarchies began to arrive in the 1500s CE (400s BT). In 1776 CE (194 BT) 13 colonies belonging to Britain along North America's east coast declared independence, with the resulting American Revolutionary War ending in 1783 CE (186 BT). In 1789 CE (181 BT) the United States Constitution took effect, which remained in force for over 860 years, though amended 44 times. George Washington at this point began serving as the first President of the United States. 175 persons would eventually serve in this role.

America was one of the first nations founded on the ideals of the Enlightenment, a major memetic phase change that paved the way for all of Terragen civilization to follow. The Enlightenment upheld liberty, progress, tolerance, equal rights, and constitutional government. Though America, especially in the first few centuries, many times failed to follow these ideals, they provided a light to aim towards, and as time passed, progress was evident.

By 1853 CE (116 BT), by conquest and purchase, the territory of America expanded westward all the way across the continent, this area eventually being divided into 48 states. Other territories, many of them islands, continued to be acquired after this time. During the early 1860s CE (100s BT) several states in the South attempted to break away in order to preserve the slavery of those of African descent, causing the Civil War. Under the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, the South was defeated by the Union, and slavery was abolished and banned.

America began to develop a highly advanced social market economy. It emerged victorious in the two World Wars in the 1910s and 1940s CE (50s and 20s BT), becoming a superpower alongside the Soviet Union. It also achieved dominance in technological development, being where electrical lighting, powered heavier than air flight, nuclear energy and weapons, and more were first created. It also added two more states in this period - Alaska, in the northwestern corner of the continent, and Hawaii, an island chain in the Pacific Ocean. America and the Soviet Union engaged in the Space Race, culminating in America's successful landing of a man on Luna in the Sea of Tranquility in 1969 CE (day zero in the Tranquility Calendar). The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 CE (22 AT), leaving America as the only superpower for several decades, until the rise of China in the 21st century CE (1st century AT), and later other nations.

During the 21st century CE, American developed technologies, especially the Internet, made possible the Information Age. Due to continued immigration and population growth, America became an extremely diverse nation by the standards of the time, with populations from all major ethnic groups of baseline humanity. This century saw the election of the first African-American president and the first woman president, as well as the presidency of Bernard Domodo. President Domodo was known for working closely with the other nations of Earth to advance the common interests of humanity, while making sure that Americans benefited as well. This can be seen in his role in setting up UNORCA to regulate Antarctic colonization and resource extraction, as well as setting up America's Antarctic Territory. This century also saw a variety of political and economic reforms, via Constitutional amendments, that mandated ranked choice voting for federal elections, direct popular vote election of the President, and a right to education, healthcare, housing, and food. Another two states were added during this century - Puerto Rico, made up of the island territories in the Atlantic Ocean, and Pacifica, made up of the island territories in the Pacific Ocean.

In the 2120s CE (150s AT), the Great Downturn struck the world, and the United States was no exception. General AI, developed decades earlier, came into widespread use, shutting out from the economy large portions of the population who owned little, but depended on selling their labor to make a living. Even those who were well educated and formerly had a high income were affected. America's vast suburbs of single family homes fell into disrepair as many houses were abandoned, while others were rented out to multiple families by absentee landlords. Wealth redistribution, a taboo subject in earlier centuries, moved into the political mainstream. Though some localities had implemented basic income previously, promises of Social Security For Everyone, a federal universal basic income, resulted in a landslide in the 2128 presidential and congressional elections. The economy began to get moving again, but it would take over a century for suburban areas to shake off their bad reputation. As a result of the economic recovery, space settlement exploded in popularity, and America wasted no time in setting up surface and orbital territories across Solsys.


Aldrin flagUS Lunar Ter flag
Images from MacGregor
The flag of Aldrin, an early Lunar settlement partially run and financed by America, and the flag of America's Lunar Territory

Another factor that revived the economy was that megacorps, many of which descended from American companies, instituted what later came to be known as 'clientship,' whereby they would sell to customers at low prices the basic services traditionally provided by the state. This was sometimes done to get a pool of freely available labor to draw from, and other times done out of a sense of philanthropy and social responsibility. Clientship would typically involve moving to a 'company town,' ranging in size from villages to arcologies, scattered across the country. Megacorps thus became somewhat like distributed nation-states of their own. These entities proved to be just one of the many politically controversial developments of this century. Some states exempted megacorp cities from taxes, while others banned provision of things like law enforcement by any privately owned entity.

Genetic engineering, resulting in tweak clades such as Superiors and Merpeople, and AI rights were also extremely divisive. States again varied in their approaches. Some banned genetic engineering for any purpose besides disease prevention, while others went so far as to subsidize such research. Some states freely granted citizenship to AIs that passed a Turing Test, resulting in what were later revealed to be chatbots having rights, while others reserved them for baseline humans only, resulting in various outrages against tweak humans and sophont AIs. These matters were a subject of a multitude of court cases, laws, and even constitutional amendments in this time period, a notable example being Autolandscaper v. Wisconsin in 2155 CE (186 AT), in which the Supreme Court ruled that an entity demonstrating metacognition could not be legally restricted from having its own fully mobile body. This effectively legalized vecs in the entire United States, the first major nation to do so.

Yet another major upheaval of this century was the spread of New Regionalism. Automated manufacturing, agriculture, and fusion power generation meant that smaller localities could be a lot more independent economically than in times past. Cultural divisions that had developed over the last century, including divergent views on technology and on the creation of new types of minds, contributed in a large way to the mood for independence. Such movements existed nearly everywhere in America, with the two largest and most successful being the Second Republic Party in California and Cascadianism in the northwestern part of the country. Dissolution of the Union was being seriously discussed, but only 4 states were ultimately lost. California was granted independence in 2174 CE (205 AT), and Cascadia (made up of Washington, Oregon, and Alaska, and several former Canadian provinces) in 2179 CE (210 AT), via the 40th and 41st Amendments respectively. However, transitioning to independence proved to be very complicated, and the culture shifted enough towards favoring national unity so that the other regionalist movements faded into irrelevance.

Canada's losses over the years, both to new nations and now to Cascadia, resulted in a nation that was greatly reduced in size and separated into two discontinuous segments. In the 2190s CE (220s AT), suffering from major deficits as a result of past efforts to settle its far northern reaches, Canada voted to dissolve and join the United States. The states of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan were all admitted in this period, bringing the number of states to 53.

In the 2210s CE (240s AT), America's Antarctic and space territories were clamoring for greater integration and representation in Congress, or else independence. The Antarctic Territory opted to leave America's control and join the newly formed Antarctic Free States instead. For the space colonies, statehood won out, and two new states were admitted to the Union - New Plymouth, a chunk of Mars claimed for settlement, and Excelsior, made up of orbital, atmospheric, and surface habitats in all parts of Solsys. This brought the number of states to its final total of 55. These 'space states,' as they were called by those on Earth, though technically part of America, also had strong ties to supranational organizations on or near their respective planets, moons, and orbits. However, the furthest habitats, in practice, had significant local autonomy, due to their isolation.

In 2238 CE (269 AT), America founded the North American Community together with California, Cascadia, Mexico, and the various Canadian and Central American nations. This supranational union helped to bring greater integration and economic growth to its member states. Via this forum, a unified policy on provolution, for example, now becoming a major area of research, was developed. Each nation was free to decide whether or not to fund provolution research, and whether or not to grant provolves citizenship (which by this time included things like basic income and free healthcare, which was difficult to give to provolves), but each nation was obligated to respect some basic rights towards them.

This century also saw the election of the first president born off-Earth - Maria Navarro, from Sky Pioneer, Venus County, Excelsior - and the first non-biont president, a humanoid vec named John Adminis, from Harriman Arcology, New York.

Though centuries before America was the most powerful military in the world, this was no longer the case. In an attempt to recapture this lost dominance, in 2284 CE (315 AT), the nation constructed the USS Randolph, a powerful interplanetary military cruiser. However, this project ran far over budget, and was soon matched in power by the other major nations and organizations in Solsys. This disappointment, and continued efforts to exert authority over America by such entities as supranational organizations and Council of Earth-run ecoregion management zones, eventually resulted in a backlash in the mid-2300s CE (late 300s AT), known as the Cowboy movement. America was keen to avoid a rise in secessionist sentiment again, and as a result was willing to allow states to set up a few small so-called Free Zones where these groups could settle and run things their own way.

A growing population led to construction of many new arcologies across America, including a number of floating and underwater ocean settlements in Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Pacifica. Off-Earth settlement likewise continued growing in this period. New Plymouth, on Mars, contained America's fastest growing cities, especially Icaria, Newton Crater, Sirenum Mons, and Destiny. Excelsior financed new habitats at a rapid pace, including, with federal assistance, the ambitious settlement of Pluto. America was thus the first nation to set up a permanent habitation there, named Lowell, near the Tartarus Dorsa ridge, in 2350 CE (381 AT).

During this same era, nanotechnology began to enter widespread use. As usual, there was much debate in America over whether it should be subsidized, left alone, or taxed. Also, the North American Community itself became part of the much larger League of the Americas and Australasia, taking in nearly all of the Americas, Australia, and the Pacific island nations. Despite these changes, overall this era was relatively calm.

This was shattered in 2509 CE (540 AT), with the outbreak of the Technocalypse. America, like all nations, suffered extensively. As the century wore on, America played a part, along with many other nations, in the development of the Global Artificial Intelligence Array (GAIA). Over decades, GAIA was able to restore the environment to a remarkable degree. There was much optimism in America about the future growth of the Union. However, this was dashed in 2590 CE (621 AT) when GAIA ordered the Great Expulsion. The American government, after years of debate and controversy, managed to reform itself to continue to exist under these new circumstances for a while, but greatly reduced in population, as so many had abandoned ties to America because they were part of new societies being made at this time. Most states, except for New Plymouth and Excelsior, were merged into a handful of new states and continued to exist as collections of habitats in the Bracelet Band and around Luna, with the capital at New Washington habitat, part of the consolidated Atlantica state in the Band. However, as time passed in the new circumstances, most citizens no longer saw themselves as Americans so much as members of whatever habitat or planetary settlement they lived in, and maintaining this arrangement increasingly came to be seen as an unnecessary burden. As a result, the United States of America was legally dissolved in 2653 CE (684 AT).

Little trace remains of humanity's constructions in America's territory on Old Earth. A few sites have been preserved, evidently for historical reasons, by GAIA. These include the Capitol building, though now surrounded by boreal forest rather than a major city; the original headquarters of the United Nations on Manhattan Island; the chemical-rocket launch facilities at Cape Canaveral, where many of America's space missions departed, including the landing on Luna; and the first successful large arcology, Soleria, in the Appalachian Mountains.

America's heavy influence during this crucial period of Terragen history can be felt to this day. The widespread use of the Anglic language family is one such impact, as America was the largest English speaking nation, from which the Anglic languages are derived. American culture, eventually known as Americanism, typically included ideas such as individual liberty and initiative, unity with diversity, and 'creative destruction,' the notion that it is good to experiment and take risks, even if these may disrupt the status quo. Several of the oldest interstellar colonies were influenced strongly by America and Americanism, including Nova Terra, Pacifica, Atlantis, and New Brooklyn. Several districts on Metropolis Ring City are themed after America, or are even attempts at reconstructions of American cities. America also lives on, in a sense, in innumerable virchworlds set in or themed after America at various points in its history.

America, in its first few centuries, was very unusual for its time in that it was founded more on a unifying memetic or set of ideals rather than shared descent or linguistic or ethnic commonalities. Despite these ideals, the presence of slavery in its early history, and of prejudice toward different ethnic groups, and later, towards modified humans and non-humans, serves as an example of the complicated and often self-contradictory nature of societies. Nonetheless, for its focus on ideals, some scholars see parallels between America and later polities such as the First Federation, and even, to a small extent, with the Sephirotic Empires.

 
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Development Notes
Text by Crossroads
Original version by M. Alan Kazlev; updated 15 June 2018
Initially published on 10 September 2001.

First image, credit: Milan Suvajac, A possible flag of the United States of America displaying 55 stars (1), CC BY-SA 4.0
 
 
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