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United States History Is One of Peaceful Progress

If you read the book of Judges in the Bible, you get a sense that ancient Israel was constantly at war with its neighbors or between the tribes. Chapter after chapter describe the battles Israel fought. Only when one realizes that this period lasted for hundreds of years does one realize that Israel spent most of its time at peace, only occasionally getting involved in military conflicts.

The history of the United States is much the same. If you read a US history book, you will spend much of your time reading about wars. The American Revolution, War of 1812, Mexican-American War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan against the Soviets, Iraq I, Somalia, Afghanistan against the Taliban, Iraq II, and many other smaller engagements. While the US has been involved in its fair share of war, especially in recent history, the vast majority of time the US enjoyed peace.

The real history of the United States is one of peaceful economic progress. Free from the expense of large military undertakings and with low taxes and limited government, for most of its history, the US economy grew faster for a longer period time of time than any other country in the world. People today marvel at the economic growth of China, which has been growing quite remarkably since the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976. Over the last 34 years, China’s economy has grown more than any other. But compare that to the US. From 1789 to 1929, 140 years, the US economy grew quite consistently. Yes, the US had panics, recessions, and depressions during that time, but growth was quite consistent until the Great Depression. As John Steele Gordon calls it, the US is An Empire of Wealth.

In 1925, Calvin Coolidge remarked, “After all, the chief business of the American people is business.” Of course, this sentiment has been attacked by many on the left. But Coolidge is correct. Historically, the history of America is one of invention, entrepreneurship, and economic growth. When one looks at the histories of other countries, one does not see this. The history of ancient Rome was one of military conquest. The history of France is one of rises and falls, of kings, aristocrats, and revolution. The history of Russia is one of expansion and enslavement. The history of England comes closest with its leadership during the industrial revolution and granting of rights to its citizens, but it still has a history of kings, rebellions, and empire. Only America’s history is one primarily of “business.” As a result, the US has created more wealth for more people than any other country in history. Though the history books may overlook this achievement in favor of focusing on military conflicts, the people of the United States and the entire benefit more from this wealth creation and the freedom that enabled it to occur than any other achievement in world history.