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Which US Presidents travelled around the world?

Which US Presidents travelled around the world?

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Shortly after President Grant left office, he went on a round-the-world journey, with stops all over Europe, in Russia, through the Suez Canal, to China and Japan, arriving in San Francisco and then crossing the North American continent.

I believe he was the first US President (or former President) to do so. Please correct me if I am wrong.

I am guessing such journeys have become more common as travels have gotten easier and cheaper (Grant spent something like $25,000 for his journey).

Which other Presidents have made a round-the-world journey as a single trip?

My information about President Grant is from Jean Edward Smith's wonderful Grant.

Franklin Pierce beat Grant by a decade…

After Office…

  • in 1857 Franklin Pierce retired from the presidency and left on a grandiose vacation to Madeira, Portugal, Spain, France, Switzerland, and Rome, where he met up with his longtime buddy, Nathaniel Hawthorne.

  • In 1913 - four years after he left the Oval Office - Teddy Roosevelt took part in an expedition to South America, promising to hunt and bring back animal specimens for display in the American Museum of Natural History. He caught Malaria and nearly died.

In Office

  • Theodore Roosevelt was the first commander in chief to travel outside the U.S. on official business, when he sailed to Panama in November 1906.

Take a Look Inside These Six Presidential Homes

While 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. may be the most notable presidential address, it isn’t the only residence our past presidents have occupied. From quaint boyhood homes tucked away in the countryside to private getaways just steps from the beach, many of the homes and estates of former U.S. presidents are open to the public today, offering a glimpse into the lives of these men and their families when they stepped outside the public eye. Here are six presidential homes that you can now tour.

Harry S. Truman Little White House, Key West, Florida

As soon as the first hint of a winter chill swept through the nation’s capital each year, President Harry S. Truman and key members of his staff would pack their bags and head south to what has come to be known as the “Little White House.” Located a short distance from a local beach on Key West, Florida, Truman’s winter retreat was built in 1890 as officers’ quarters for the local naval base—but in 1911, it was converted into a private residence, serving for a time as a temporary home for inventor Thomas Edison while he conducted experiments during the First World War. From 1946 until 1952, Truman spent 175 days of his presidency at this southern getaway, and after his passing in 1972, the home played host as a respite for a number of subsequent presidents, including Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. It also served as the site of the international peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2011.

Today visitors can explore the bleached-white home, which houses nearly all of its original furnishings (including the famous “The Buck Stops Here” sign on Truman’s desk), read through the logs detailing the daily accounts of each of his visits, and stroll through the onsite botanical gardens. 

Eisenhower National Historic Site, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

A mere stone’s throw from the Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania, where one of the most significant battles of the American Civil War unfolded, you'll find former President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 189-acre farm and retreat. Eisenhower purchased the property in 1950 as a retirement home, some 30 years after he had been appointed commander of Camp Colt, a former military installation located near the legendary battlefield. His fond memories of the area are what drew him back with his wife, Mamie. But they wouldn’t stay in retirement for long. In 1953, the five-star general became the country’s 34th president, during which time the couple would only see their homestead on weekends and holidays, as well as a brief period in 1955 while Ike recuperated from a heart attack. He was fond of inviting fellow politicians and foreign dignitaries to the “Temporary White House” to show off his herd of Angus cattle and to relax on the front porch, saying that the informal conversations he had there allowed him “to get the other man’s equation.”

A herd of cattle still grazes at the historic site, and visitors today can take self-guided walking tours along the farm lanes and trails that meander throughout the property. The onsite museum houses a collection of approximately 48,000 artifacts that includes everything from military paraphernalia to awards for Ike's livestock, in addition to many photos.   

Lincoln Home National Historic Site, Springfield, Illinois

Abraham Lincoln’s former home has been a popular spot for visitors since it opened its doors to the public in 1887, a full 22 years after his assassination. While it was first built in 1839, Lincoln purchased the 12-room Greek revival, located 200 miles south of Chicago, in 1844 it was later restored in 1860. For 17 years, it served as his home, which he shared with his wife, Mary Todd, until their move to Washington, D.C. where Lincoln would serve as the country's 16th president.

Fast forward and today hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to this historic property each year, experiencing park ranger-led tours that explore the couple’s separate bedrooms, children’s rooms, kitchen, formal parlor, sitting rooms and various outbuildings.

Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site, St. Louis, Missouri

After graduating from the United States Military Academy (West Point) in 1843, the U.S. Army stationed Second Lieutenant Ulysses S. Grant to the Jefferson Barracks, located on the outskirts of St. Louis, Missouri. It was during his service there that he met Julia Dent, the sister of Frederick Dent, one of his former roommates. After a five-year engagement, the couple married in 1848. Over the course of the next four decades, White Haven, the Dent family’s homestead, would serve as the couple’s on-again-off-again home, where they resided until his death in 1885.

Now, more than 130 years after his passing, the green-clapboard main house, outbuildings, and stables remain a popular draw for visitors, while interpretative tours of the property, as well as a screening of the 22-minute film, Ulysses S. Grant: A Legacy of Freedom, are also available.

Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace, New York, New York

Living in New York City has been a rite of passage for many a U.S. president, but few can actually say they were born there. On Oct. 27, 1858, Theodore Roosevelt was born and raised at 28 E. 20th St. in Manhattan’s Gramercy Park neighborhood. In 1872, the family moved Uptown, and eventually the original brownstone was demolished as the neighborhood transitioned from residential to commercial. However, in 1919 the Women's Roosevelt Memorial Association purchased the lot and rebuilt a replica of the former home, which has served as a national historic site since 1962, when the National Park Service assumed management of the property. Today the home's rooms are decorated with period furnishings and family-owned possessions, and visitors will find ranger-guided tours available.  

Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, Johnson City, Texas

Located an hour’s drive west of Austin in the Texas Hill Country, spanning the central and southern regions of the state, sits Lyndon B. Johnson’s famed ranch, which the 36th president occupied with his family as a young boy beginning in 1913. At the time, many residents living in this rural corner of Texas didn’t have electricity or indoor plumbing in their homes, which later compelled Johnson to introduce programs designed to help fellow U.S. citizens who were living in similar circumstances this includes his famous "war on poverty" legislation, which he discussed during his State of the Union Address in 1964.

Visitors today can experience the 1,570-acre property in person, which includes Johnson's boyhood home, stockyards, farmhouse and the family gravesites for both LBJ and his wife and former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson.

About Jennifer Nalewicki

Jennifer Nalewicki is a Brooklyn-based journalist. Her articles have been published in The New York Times, Scientific American, Popular Mechanics, United Hemispheres and more. You can find more of her work at her website.

Nearly 20 American hostages languish around the world

On 'Special Report,' Jennifer Griffin on who is being held and why they have not yet come home.

It's been nearly 11 years since retired FBI agent Robert Levinson disappeared while investigating a cigarette smuggling ring on Kish Island off the coast of Iran in the Persian Gulf.

When the Obama administration negotiated the release of five American hostages in January 2016 coinciding with the implementation of the landmark nuclear deal, Levinson was not among them.

In 2011, his captors released a proof of life video.

"Please help me get home. 33 years of service to the United States deserves something. Please help me," pleaded Levinson.

One of Levinson’s sons wonders why his father was not among the Americans released two years ago.

“My father was left behind and in an agreement where there was a prisoner swap in the culmination and finalization of the Iran nuclear deal,” said David Levinson in an interview with Fox News.

His family had high hopes when President Trump announced that unless all the Americans were released from Iran the Islamic republic would face new sanctions.

“We are hoping that if President Trump, if he's listening, can apply the appropriate pressure because we know that if he makes this a priority, his skills in negotiation, his willingness to push for these issues can bring him home,” Levinson added.

In July days after the two-year anniversary of the nuclear deal with Iran, the White House issued a statement, “American Citizens Unjustly Detained in Iran.”

Levinson was named along with three other Americans, Xiyue Wang and Siamak and Baquer Namazi.

"President Trump is prepared to impose new and serious consequences on Iran unless all unjustly imprisoned American citizens are released and returned," according to the statement.

After testifying to Congress last year alongside the families of other American hostages, Levinson's wife, Christine, appealed directly to the Iranian government.

"Bob I will continue to do everything I can to bring you home alive so our family can be whole again. We love you and miss you every day," she said while seated next to her son, David Levinson, in a video for the Iranians. The family maintains a Facebook page urging anyone with information to come forward.

Robert Levinson is just one of nearly 20 known American hostages who remain in captivity or imprisoned by hostile regimes.

Siamak Namazi, an Iranian-American businessman, was nabbed while visiting his family in October 2015, three months after the Iran nuclear deal was signed.

His father, Baquer, a former UNICEF diplomat, was arrested in February 2016 after the Iranian authorities granted him permission to visit his son in the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran.

"My father, Baquer Namazi, was lured back to Iran from a brief trip abroad by the promise of seeing Siamak, but instead he was also detained," said another son, Babak, during congressional testimony last July.

Now both are behind bars. Namazi's father is 81 years old.

Iran also detained Xiyue Wang, an American grad student from Princeton who was conducting research for his Ph.D. dissertation. His wife, Hua Qu, and 4-year-old son live in New Jersey and are trying to remain strong thinking of him suffering in Iran's Evin Prison.

"He has done nothing wrong. He is completely innocent. This is a tragic mistake for him and my family," Qu said in an interview with Fox News from China. “He is a history nerd. He is not a spy."

“He was doing this research only because he grew a long standing respect for Islam and his love of history,” she added.

“I hope the U.S. government can bring Iran to a dialogue to resolve my husband’s case as quickly as possible to bring him home . before my son’s fifth birthday.”

Qu said she receives daily calls from prison, where he has been held for over 18 months. She said her husband complains of bed bugs and is deprived of sleep because of the “very poor” conditions.

More than a dozen others

There are more than a dozen other Americans held in North Korea, Turkey, Afghanistan, Syria, Mali, and Yemen and Venezuela.

Gholamrez "Reza" Shahini, Karan Vafadari and Nizar Zakka are three other Americans being held in Iran.

North Korea is still holding a 62-year old missionary from Virginia, Kim Dong Chul, and two American professors, Kim Sang-duk and Kim Hak Song, who were teaching inside the rogue communist regime.

In Turkey, American pastor Andrew Brunson of North Carolina is being held by the Turkish government along with a NASA scientist arrested on vacation, Serkan Golge, who was arrested in July 2016.

In Afghanistan, American University professor Kevin King is still being held by the Taliban. American writer Paul Overby was captured three years ago.

Journalist and former U.S. Marine Austin Tice is thought to be held by the Syrian regime. He's been missing nearly five years.

In Mali, aid worker Jeffry Woodke was taken hostage by Al-Qaeda in 2016.

And Danny Burch, an oil worker from East Texas, was abducted at gunpoint in Yemen in September.

Laurie Holt's son, Josh, a Morman missionary from Utah, is imprisoned by the Venezuelan government on trumped-up charges of weapons smuggling.

“I'm very dizzy and I can't think and my stomach hurts me, superbad, I really don't know what to do,” her son told his mother in a recorded telephone call.

Josh’s mother is pleading for help and made a video appeal to President Trump after he was elected.

"President Trump, my son's only crime was being an American citizen," she said.

Her 25-year old son went to Venezuela to get married. He and his wife have been held by the authorities as a political bargaining chip for more than a year.

His mother spoke recently to Fox News Channel’s Shannon Bream.

"Josh sounds like he's on his deathbed to me. That is not my Josh, it's his voice but he is pleading for help and I don't know how else to get him, I hope that to go to the public and put the pressure on our government to do something, do something more than what you have done so far, because obviously, it's not working," she said.

The case has the attention of Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.

"So far we've struck out we are doing everything we possibly can to get him out of there. His parents are wonderful, humble people. We're still working on it, but we've had a lack of success,” he told Fox News this week on Capitol Hill.

Data remain classified

The U.S. government will not publically disclose the number of American citizens being held hostage and the data remain classified over security concerns. Some of the cases have not been made public. The State Department says it has successfully aided the release of nearly 200 hostages since 2015.

“The U.S. government currently has less than 20 active cases that fall under the authority of PPD 30 (Presidential Policy Directive --Hostage Recovery Activities put in place in June 2015),” said State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert.

The Americans are being held by terrorist groups, criminal organizations, as well as regime states.

After James Foley was executed by ISIS in a gruesome video released to the public in August 2014, then-President Obama ordered a review of U.S. hostage policy, which led to the directive a year later.

But some officials working the hostage issue for years are frustrated that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has not named a new hostage envoy.

By Maintaining Lowest Refugee Admissions in United States Resettlement History, President Biden Turns His Back on Refugees Around the World

Responding to reports that President Biden will maintain the 15,000 person refugee cap, the lowest refugee numbers established during the 2020 presidential determination under Donald Trump, Joanne Lin, the National Director of Advocacy and Government Relations said:

“Today, President Biden is turning his back on tens of thousands of refugees around the world who have been approved to come to the United States. Communities across the United States, from local groups to faith-based institutions, are ready to welcome these refugees. As a presidential candidate, Joe Biden pledged to welcome 125,000 refugees during his first year in office. In February, Secretary Blinken notified Congress that the Biden administration planned to admit up to 62,500 refugees this fiscal year. Two months later, that number has been slashed.

“Amnesty International has advocated for refugees across the world. President Biden had the opportunity to fulfill his campaign pledge and to deliver on his promises to protect the rights of and well-being of refugees, to place human rights at the center of U.S. foreign policy, and to restore U.S. global leadership. He squandered that opportunity today. Our hearts are with the thousands of people now stranded around the world and with their families, friends, and communities waiting to receive their loved ones in this country.”

Background and context

There are over 100,000 refugees awaiting resettlement to the United States — including 35,000 refugees already approved to resettle in the United States, many who will be cut off from resettlement in FY21. In 2021 over 700 refugees have had their flights canceled at the last minute. Many had sold their belongings and moved out of their homes.

The Refugee Act of 1980 created the United States’ modern refugee program, which has resulted in over 3 million people resettled to a new home in the U.S. Since President Trump took office, the refugee admissions numbers have been at their lowest in decades: prior to 2018, the yearly refugee admissions goal since 1980 averaged 95,000 persons to be accepted per year.

There are 80 million people forcibly displaced around the world, with 1.4 people in need of resettlement this coming year according to the UN Refugee Agency, yet the United States is resettling fewer refugees than ever before. Amnesty International USA renews its call for the United States to admit at least 125,000 refugees in Biden’s first year as President.

Through the Longer Table Initiative, Amnesty International USA and its supporters all across the country have been working to welcome refugees through community sponsorship. Actions by the Longer Table Initiative have included writing letters, signing up communities to sponsor a refugee or a refugee family to live locally, incorporating refugee stories into a book club, and more. Amnesty International USA members have passed over one hundred “I Welcome” Refugees resolutions declaring support for refugees in cities and local communities.

The President's Apology Tour

President Barack Obama has finished the second leg of his international confession tour. In less than 100 days, he has apologized on three continents for what he views as the sins of America and his predecessors.

Mr. Obama told the French (the French!) that America "has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive" toward Europe. In Prague, he said America has "a moral responsibility to act" on arms control because only the U.S. had "used a nuclear weapon." In London, he said that decisions about the world financial system were no longer made by "just Roosevelt and Churchill sitting in a room with a brandy" -- as if that were a bad thing. And in Latin America, he said the U.S. had not "pursued and sustained engagement with our neighbors" because we "failed to see that our own progress is tied directly to progress throughout the Americas."

By confessing our nation's sins, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that Mr. Obama has "changed the image of America around the world" and made the U.S. "safer and stronger." As evidence, Mr. Gibbs pointed to the absence of protesters during the Summit of the Americas this past weekend.

That's now the test of success? Anti-American protesters are a remarkably unreliable indicator of a president's wisdom. Ronald Reagan drew hundreds of thousands of protesters by deploying Pershing and cruise missiles in Europe. Those missiles helped win the Cold War.

There is something ungracious in Mr. Obama criticizing his predecessors, including most recently John F. Kennedy. ("I'm grateful that President [Daniel] Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was three months old," Mr. Obama said after the Nicaraguan delivered a 52-minute anti-American tirade that touched on the Bay of Pigs.) Mr. Obama acts as if no past president -- except maybe Abraham Lincoln -- possesses his wisdom.

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James Monroe


James Monroe (April 28, 1758 to July 4, 1831) served from 1817 through 1825. He has the distinction of having run unopposed for his second term in office in 1820. He did not receive 100 percent of the electoral votes, however, because a New Hampshire elector just didn't like him and refused to vote for him. He died on the Fourth of July, as did Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, ​and Zachary Taylor.

  • OFFICIAL NAME: United States of America
  • FORM OF GOVERNMENT: Constitution-based federal republic
  • CAPITAL: Washington, D.C.
  • POPULATION: 330,175,936
  • LANGUAGES: English, Spanish (no official national language)
  • MONEY: U.S. dollar
  • AREA: 3,794,083 square miles (9,826,630 square kilometers)
  • MAJOR MOUNTAIN RANGES: Rocky Mountains, Appalachian Mountains
  • MAJOR RIVERS: Mississippi, Missouri, Colorado


The United States of America is the world's third largest country in size and nearly the third largest in terms of population. Located in North America, the country is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. Along the northern border is Canada and the southern border is Mexico. There are 50 states and the District of Columbia.

More than twice the size of the European Union, the United States has high mountains in the West and a vast central plain. The lowest point in the country is in Death Valley which is at -282 feet (-86 meters) and the highest peak is Denali (Mt. McKinley) at 20,320 feet (6,198 meters).

Map created by National Geographic Maps


Throughout its history, the United States has been a nation of immigrants. The population is diverse with people from all over the world seeking refuge and a better way of life.

The country is divided into six regions: New England, the mid-Atlantic, the South, the Midwest, the Southwest, and the West. European settlers came to New England in search of religious freedom. These states are Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

The mid-Atlantic region includes Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and the city of Washington, D.C. These industrial areas attracted millions of European immigrants and gave rise to some of the East Coast's largest cities: New York, Baltimore, and Philadelphia.

The Midwest is home to the country's agricultural base and is called the "nation's breadbasket." The region comprises the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

The Southwest is a beautiful stark landscape of prairie and desert. The states of Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas are considered the Southwest and are home to some of the world's great natural marvels, including the Grand Canyon and Carlsbad Caverns.

The American West, home of rolling plains and the cowboy, is a symbol of the pioneering spirit of the United States. The West is diverse, ranging from endless wilderness to barren desert, coral reefs to Arctic tundra, Hollywood to Yellowstone. The states of the West include Alaska, Colorado, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.


The landscape varies across the large country from tropical beaches in Florida to peaks in the Rocky Mountains, from rolling prairie lands and barren deserts in the West to dense wilderness areas in the Northeast and Northwest. Interspersed throughout are the Great Lakes, the Grand Canyon, the majestic Yosemite Valley, and the mighty Mississippi River.

The wildlife is as diverse as the landscape. Mammals such as bison once roamed freely across the plains, but now live only in preserves. Black bears, grizzlies, and polar bears are the largest carnivores. There are over 20,000 flower species and most came from Europe. There are more than 400 areas which are protected and maintained by the National Park Service, and many other parks in each state.

The bald eagle is the national bird and symbol of the United States and is a protected species.


Citizens over the age of 18 years old vote to elect the President and Vice President of United States every four years. The president lives in the White House in the capital city of Washington, D.C.

There are two houses of Congress: the Senate and the House of Representatives. There are 100 senators, two from each of the 50 states and each serves a six-year term. There are 435 representatives who must be elected every two years.

The Supreme Court is made up of nine justices who are picked by the president and must be approved by Congress.

For the first time in the nation's history an African American, Barack Obama, was elected President of the United States in 2008. He was reelected for a second term in 2012.

Advances in the past hundred years have established America as a world leader economically, militarily, and technologically. America has the largest coal reserves in the world.


For centuries native peoples lived across the vast expanse that would become the United States. Starting in the 16th century, settlers moved from Europe to the New World, established colonies, and displaced these native peoples.

Explorers arrived from Spain in 1565 at St. Augustine, Florida, and the British landed in 1587 to establish a colony in Roanoke, in present-day Virginia. In 1606 another British colony was established in what would become Jamestown, Virginia. From there, the French founded Quebec in 1608, then the Dutch started a colony in 1609 in present-day New York. Europeans continued to settle in the New World in ever-increasing numbers throughout the next couple of centuries.

Conflict with the Native Americans

While Native Americans resisted European efforts to gain land and power, they were often outnumbered and didn&rsquot have as powerful of weapons. The settlers also brought diseases that the native peoples had not faced before, and these illnesses sometimes had horrible effects. A 1616 epidemic killed an estimated 75 percent of the Native Americans in the New England region of North America.

During this time, fights between the settlers and Native Americans erupted often, particularly as more people claimed land where the Native Americans lived. The U.S. government signed nearly 400 peace treaties between the mid-18th century and the mid-19th century to try to show they wanted peace with the Indigenous tribes. But the government did not honor most of these treaties, and even sent military units to forcibly remove Native Americans from their lands.

For example, in 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, which granted land west of the Mississippi River to Native American tribes who agreed to give up their lands. But this broke with other treaties he had signed with Native American tribes in the Southeast. The removal was supposed to be voluntary, but Jackson used legal and military action to remove several tribes from their homelands and ended nearly 70 treaties during his presidency.

By the mid-19th century, most Native American tribes had been wiped out or moved to live on much smaller portions of land in the Midwest.

Declaring Independence

In 1776, colonists living in the New England area of the New World drafted the Declaration of Independence, a document that stated that the American colonies were tired of being ruled by Great Britain (now called the United Kingdom). The settlers fought for&mdashand won&mdashtheir independence and formed a union of states based on a new constitution. But despite stating that &ldquoall men are created equal&rdquo in the Declaration of Independence, the new country was home to millions of enslaved people.

Slavery in the United States

Enslaved Africans were brought to North America by boat as early as 1619. The trans-Atlantic slave trade saw more than 12.5 million people kidnapped from Africa and sold at ports throughout the Americas over the next couple of centuries.

By 1860, nearly four million enslaved people lived in the country. Most worked in the South, where their free labor allowed the sugar, cotton, and tobacco industries to flourish. Enslaved people even built the White House and the U.S. Capitol.

When Abraham Lincoln became president in 1861, the nation had been arguing for more than a hundred years about enslaving people and each state&rsquos right to allow it. Lincoln wanted to end slavery. Many people in the northern states agreed with him some people in the southern states, however, relied on enslaved people to farm their crops and did not want slavery to end. Eventually, 11 southern states formed the Confederate States of America to oppose the 23 northern states that remained in the Union. The Civil War began on April 12, 1861.

The Civil War was fought between abolitionists, or people who wanted to end slavery, and the pro-slavery Confederacy. Enslaved people weren&rsquot freed until Lincoln delivered his famous Emancipation Proclamation speech in 1863, midway through the war. Two years later, the Civil War ended with a Union victory.

That same year, the passage of the 13th Amendment officially abolished the practice of slavery and ended nearly 250 years of slavery in the country. But it did not end racism. Former enslaved people&mdashas well as their descendants&mdashstruggled with discrimination, and African-American heroes today are still fighting for equality.

Progress (and Wars) in the 20th Century

After the Civil War, the United States continued to expand westward until 1890, when the U.S. government declared the West fully explored. During this time of expansion, the population grew from about five million people in 1800 to nearly 80 million people in 1900.

The early 1900s were a time of progress in the United States. This in part was because of the number of immigrants coming to the country looking for opportunity. Between 1900 and 1915, 15 million immigrants arrived in the United States from countries such as Italy, Russia, and Poland. The new citizens worked in places such as gold mines and garment factories, and helped construct railroads and canals. These immigrants brought new ideas and culture to the young country.

The 20th century was also a time of industrial advancement. The development of the automobile and the airplane lead to an increase in factory jobs and marked a shift in more people moving to live and work in big cities instead of farming in small towns.

But there were tough times, too. The United States fought alongside Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy, Romania, and Japan against Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire (now the country of Turkey) in World War I, before the country suffered through what became known as the Great Depression, a time of economic crisis during the 1930s.

In the 1940s, then-president Franklin Delano Roosevelt steered the country out of the Depression before leading the country during the Second World War, alongside allies France, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union (now Russia), against Germany, Italy, and Japan.

The United States&rsquo reputation as a progressive country took hold after the two World Wars and the Great Depression. The &rsquo50s, &rsquo60s, and &rsquo70s were a time of innovation in the nation. In 1958, NASA&mdashthe National Aeronautics and Space Administration&mdashstarted exploring the possibility of space flight. By 1969, the agency landed the first human on the moon.

Throughout these three decades, the fight for civil rights in the country continued with Americans of all backgrounds fighting for equal rights for their fellow citizens. Civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.&rsquos &ldquoI Have a Dream&rdquo speech is perhaps the most famous speech associated with the civil rights movement. Historic firsts for people of color during these decades include Dalip Singh Saund becoming the first Asian American elected to the Congress in 1957 Thurgood Marshall becomingthe first African-American justice to serve on the Supreme Court in 1967 and Shirley Chisholm becoming the first African- American female elected to Congress in 1968.

The late 1900s saw the U.S. government get involved in several wars on different fronts, including the Vietnam War, a war between what was then the two separate countries of North and South Vietnam, in which the United States sided with South Vietnam the Cold War, a long period of non-violent tensions between the United States and the former Soviet Union, now Russia and the Gulf War, a war waged by 30-plus nations lead by the United States against the country of Iraq.

An Attack on America

Although the country was still a relatively young nation at the beginning of the 21st century, the United States had established itself as a global power. Some people saw this power as a threat.

On September 11, 2001, 19 terrorists who disagreed with the United States&rsquo involvement in world affairs hijacked four planes. Two of the planes were flown into the two 110-story skyscrapers that made up New York City&rsquos World Trade Center. Another crashed into the Pentagon outside of Washington, D.C. The fourth plane went down in a Pennsylvania field. Nearly 3,000 people died that day.

Then-president George W. Bush sent troops to Afghanistan after the events of 9/11. He hoped to capture those responsible for the attacks, including al Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. Bush also sent troops to Iraq in 2003, after rumors started that the country was hiding dangerous weapons that the president wanted to find and destroy.

While bin Laden was eventually located and killed in 2011, the United States is still fighting what&rsquos called &ldquothe war on terrorism&rdquo today.

Historic Firsts&mdashPlus, a Pandemic

The 21st century marked more progress for the United States, particularly at its highest levels of government. In 2008, Barack Obama became the first African American to be elected president of the United States. In 2020, Kamala Harris became the first Black and Indian American person and the first woman elected vice president.

Which US Presidents travelled around the world? - History

The original thirteen colonies of the United States were settled along the east coast of North America. For many years, few colonists went beyond the Appalachian Mountains. However, as the country gained independence and continued to grow, more land was needed. The country began to expand into the western frontier.

United States Expansion Map
from the National Atlas of the United States
Click picture for larger view

In 1700 there were around 250,000 colonists living in the American colonies. By 1775, this number had grown to 2.5 million. Many people wanted new land to farm and hunt. They began to move west of the Appalachians.

One of the first areas settled was the Northwest Territory. This area today makes up the states of Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Daniel Boone led settlers across the Cumberland Gap and into Kentucky.

In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson bought the Louisiana Territory from the French for $15 million. This was a huge area of land west of the Mississippi River. It nearly doubled the land size of the United States. President Jefferson sent explorers Lewis and Clark to learn more about this vast frontier.

Many people in the United States believed it was the country's destiny to expand westward all the way to the Pacific Ocean. This belief became known as the Manifest Destiny.

One tragic result of the westward expansion of the United States was the forced relocation of many Native American tribes. As the United States moved west, it took over lands once occupied by Native Americans. In many cases, Native Americans were ordered to relocate to new lands or reservations. Sometimes they were forced to leave existing lands by the military and marched at gunpoint to new lands (see the Trail of Tears). You can read more about the culture and plight of Native Americans during the westward expansion here.

The United States continued to expand westward and gain land. After a war with Mexico over the rights to Texas, the country gained much of the southwest including the land of California. They also gained the Oregon Territory in a treaty from Great Britain.

Pioneers and settlers moved out west for different reasons. Some of them wanted to claim free land for ranching and farming from the government through the Homestead Act. Others came to California during the gold rush to strike it rich. Even others, such as the Mormons, moved west to avoid persecution.

As the first settlers and pioneers moved into the west, there was little government. The law was the local sheriff and people had to look to protect themselves against bandits and outlaws. During this time, gunslingers of the west such as Wild Bill Hickok and Jesse James became famous.

In 1890, the US government announced that the west had been explored. The country now had 44 states. Only Utah, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Arizona had not been admitted as states from today's contiguous 48 states.

President Biden Invites 40 World Leaders to Leaders Summit on Climate

Today, President Biden invited 40 world leaders to the Leaders Summit on Climate he will host on April 22 and 23. The virtual Leaders Summit will be live streamed for public viewing.

President Biden took action his first day in office to return the United States to the Paris Agreement. Days later, on January 27, he announced that he would soon convene a leaders summit to galvanize efforts by the major economies to tackle the climate crisis.

The Leaders Summit on Climate will underscore the urgency – and the economic benefits – of stronger climate action. It will be a key milestone on the road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) this November in Glasgow.

In recent years, scientists have underscored the need to limit planetary warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in order to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. A key goal of both the Leaders Summit and COP26 will be to catalyze efforts that keep that 1.5-degree goal within reach. The Summit will also highlight examples of how enhanced climate ambition will create good paying jobs, advance innovative technologies, and help vulnerable countries adapt to climate impacts.

By the time of the Summit, the United States will announce an ambitious 2030 emissions target as its new Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement. In his invitation, the President urged leaders to use the Summit as an opportunity to outline how their countries also will contribute to stronger climate ambition.

The Summit will reconvene the U.S.-led Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, which brings together 17 countries responsible for approximately 80 percent of global emissions and global GDP. The President also invited the heads of other countries that are demonstrating strong climate leadership, are especially vulnerable to climate impacts, or are charting innovative pathways to a net-zero economy. A small number of business and civil society leaders will also participate in the Summit.

Key themes of the Summit will include:

  • Galvanizing efforts by the world’s major economies to reduce emissions during this critical decade to keep a limit to warming of 1.5 degree Celsius within reach.
  • Mobilizing public and private sector finance to drive the net-zero transition and to help vulnerable countries cope with climate impacts.
  • The economic benefits of climate action, with a strong emphasis on job creation, and the importance of ensuring all communities and workers benefit from the transition to a new clean energy economy.
  • Spurring transformational technologies that can help reduce emissions and adapt to climate change, while also creating enormous new economic opportunities and building the industries of the future.
  • Showcasing subnational and non-state actors that are committed to green recovery and an equitable vision for limiting warming to 1.5 degree Celsius, and are working closely with national governments to advance ambition and resilience.
  • Discussing opportunities to strengthen capacity to protect lives and livelihoods from the impacts of climate change, address the global security challenges posed by climate change and the impact on readiness, and address the role of nature-based solutions in achieving net zero by 2050 goals.

Further details on the Summit agenda, additional participants, media access, and public viewing will be provided in the coming weeks.

The President invited the following leaders to participate in the Summit:

25 Quick By-The-Numbers Facts about U.S. Ambassadors

American diplomacy is as old as the country itself. In 1776, Benjamin Franklin traveled to Paris to serve as a commissioner on behalf of his newly declared country and solicit the support of the French for the American Revolution. Today, a primary function of a United States Ambassador is to act as a representative for the President of the United States and maintain good relations with the country in which they are posted. Typically ambassadors are either appointed as political favors or they are career diplomats from the Foreign Service. Here are 25 facts about the ambassadorial world, broken down by numbers.

1. The rank of “Ambassador” was first awarded by the United States in 1893. Before this, the highest title was “Minister.”

2. About 7 million visas are granted by U.S. embassies around the world each year.

3. The United States has diplomatic relations with 180 countries.

4. Current United States diplomatic missions: 265.

5. The State Department created the Foreign Service in 1924.

6. Six U.S. Presidents have served as Foreign Minister:

John Adams (UK, Netherlands), William Henry Harrison (Colombia), James Monroe (France, UK), John Quincy Adams (UK, Netherlands, Russia, Germany), Thomas Jefferson (France), and Martin van Buren (United Kingdom). (Pictures Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.)

7. U.S. Presidents who served as Ambassador to another country: 0

8. Five nations don't have U.S. ambassadorial exchanges: Bhutan, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and the Republic of China (Taiwan).

9. In 1966, Hungary and Bulgaria became the two most recent nations to get full-fledged American embassies.

10. There are currently 27 vacant ambassador posts.

11. There are 10 possible diplomatic ranks at each post as dictated by bilateral diplomacy: Ambassador, Chargé d’affaires, Minister, Minister-Counselor, Counselor, First Secretary, Second Secretary, Third Secretary, Attaché, Assistant Attaché

12. Only one person—the President—can nominate ambassadors .

13. . but he can't do it by himself: one body of government—the Senate—is needed to approve an ambassadorial appointment. (A President can make a recess appointment, but the Senate will still vote when they return to session and can revoke the appointment.)

14. One 2012 Republican primary candidate held the position of Ambassador:

Wikimedia Commons
Jon Huntsman, Jr., who served as ambassador to Singapore and China.

15. Years of college required to become a U.S. Ambassador: 0

16. Publicly listed State Department salary for senior positions: $130,000 – $160,000

17. Approximate percentage of “political” appointees vs. career diplomats: 25% / 75%

18. The youngest American to lead a diplomatic mission was 24 year old Edward Rumsey Wing, who became Minister to Ecuador in 1869.

19. The shortest term served by an American ambassador was approximately 16 days. In 1976, Ambassador Francis E. Meloy Jr. was assassinated en route to presenting his credentials to the President of Lebanon.

20. Former child actress Shirley Temple served as a U.S. Ambassador to two countries: Ghana and Czechoslovakia.

Villa Petschek, in Prague, Czech Republic, where Shirley Temple Black lived as Ambassador. Photo Courtesy of

21. Diplomatic immunity laws were created in 1961 by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

22. Traffic fines Egyptian diplomats owed New York City as of 2007: $1.9 million.

23. Five U.S. Ambassadors were slain on the job by acts of terrorism.

24. Two American embassy employees have used diplomatic immunity to escape possible murder charges. In 1977, a U.S. diplomat was involved in a traffic accident in Canberra that resulted in the death of an Australian construction worker. He was allowed to return home without a trial or any prosecution.

Getty Images
In January 2011, Raymond Allen Davis was an employee of the CIA working in Lahore, Pakistan. Allegedly as self-defense, he shot and killed 2 young Pakistani men. To the outrage of Pakistan, the U.S. State Department invoked diplomatic immunity as he was technically an employee of the embassy. Davis returned to the U.S. in February that year, absolved of charges.

25. Number of times American diplomats have claimed immunity: Unknown—the State Department refuses to release that information.

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