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In this unit you’re going to learn about a turning point in American history, but there are lots of famous dates in the history of the USA. Match the date to the important event.
Read a short article about the United States of America. Then match the words in bold to the definitions.
The USA is a federation of 50 states. The United States’ flag is called the “Stars and Stripes”. It has thirteen red and white stripes and fifty white stars on a blue square. One star is for each state of the United States now, and the stripes are for the first thirteen states of the union.
The biggest river in the United States is the Mississippi. The largest lakes are the Great Lakes, five in number. The highest mountain chains are the Appalachians in the east and Cordilleras in the west.
On the whole USA has a continental climate but every part of the country is different, from Alaska in the north, covered with snow and ice, to the tropical Florida in the south. It is at the same time one of the hottest and of the coldest countries; one of the wettest and one of the driest.
The USA is a highly developed industrial and agricultural country. Heavy industry prevails in the USA, including mining, metallurgical, machine-building and chemical industries. Being well developed light industry includes textile, leather, footwear and food industries.
The capital of the USA is the city of Washington; New York is a centre of finance, of shipping, of fun; New Orleans deals in cotton; Chicago is famous for wheatand cattle; Detroit is a centre of the car industry.
Match the opposites.
Copy the chart in Ex.4, p.4 and complete it with information from the text. Then speak about the USA.
5. Read the article about the United States of America and translate it, using a dictionary. Then try to remember the words in bold.
The United States of America (II)
In 1776, the thirteen weak British colonies in America came together, stood up, and told that from now on they would be free and independent states.
A bitter six-year war followed (1776-82) and a new republic was founded, turning into reality the dreams and ideals of a few political philosophers. It’s hard to appreciate today, over two centuries later, what a revolutionary act this was.
Americans broke with age-old tradition; they decided that it was their right to choose their own form of government. At that time, the statement that governments should receive their powers only “from the consent of the governed” was radical indeed. Something new was under the sun: a system of government, in Lincoln’s words, “of the people, by the people, for the people”.
The former colonies, now “the United States of America”, first operated under an agreement called the Articles of Confederation (1781). It was soon clear that this loose agreementamong the states was not working well. The central, federal government was too weak, with too few powers for defence, trade and taxation.
In 1787, therefore, delegates from the states met in Philadelphia. They wanted to revise the Articles, but they did much more than that. They wrote a completely new document - the Constitution, which after much argument, debate, and compromise was finished in the same year and officially adopted by the thirteen states by 1790.
The Constitution sets the basic form of government: three separate branches, each one having powers (“checks and balances”) over the others. It specifies the powers and duties of each federal branch of government, with all other powers and duties belonging to the states.
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