American system of manufacturing

The American system of manufacturing was a set of manufacturing methods that evolved in the 19th century. The two notable features were the extensive use of interchangeable parts and mechanization for production, which resulted in more efficient use of labor compared to hand methods. The system was also known as armory practice because it was first fully developed in armories, namely, the United States Armories at Springfield in Massachusetts and Harpers Ferry in Virginia (later West Virginia),[1] inside contractors to supply the United States Armed Forces, and various private armories. The name "American system" came not from any aspect of the system that is unique to the American national character, but simply from the fact that for a time in the 19th century it was strongly associated with the American companies who first successfully implemented it, and how their methods contrasted (at that time) with those of British and continental European companies. In the 1850s, the "American system" was contrasted to the British factory system which had evolved over the previous century. Within a few decades, manufacturing technology had evolved further, and the ideas behind the "American" system were in use worldwide. Therefore, in manufacturing today, which is global in the scope of its methods, there is no longer any such distinction.

The American system involved semi-skilled labor using machine tools and jigs to make standardized, identical, interchangeable parts, manufactured to a tolerance, which could be assembled with a minimum of time and skill, requiring little to no fitting.

Since the parts are interchangeable, it was also possible to separate manufacture from assembly, and repair—an example of the division of labor. This meant that all three functions could be carried out by semi-skilled labor: manufacture in smaller factories up the supply chain, assembly on an assembly line in a main factory, and repair in small specialized shops or in the field. The result is that more things could be made, more cheaply, and with higher quality, and those things also could be distributed further, and lasted longer, because repairs were also easier and cheaper. In the case of each function, the system of interchangeable parts typically involved substituting specialized machinery to replace hand tools.

Interchangeability of parts was finally achieved by combining a number of innovations and improvements in machining operations and machine tools, which were developed primarily for making textile machinery. These innovations included the invention of new machine tools and jigs (in both cases, for guiding the cutting tool), fixtures for holding the work in the proper position, and blocks and gauges to check the accuracy of the finished parts.[1]

Use of machinery

English machine tool manufacturer Joseph Whitworth was appointed as a British commissioner for the New York International Exhibition. Accompanied by another British commissioner, he traveled around several states visiting various manufacturers, and as a result published a highly influential report on American manufacturing, from which he is quoted:

The laboring classes are comparatively few in number, but this is counterbalanced by, and indeed, may be one of the causes of the eagerness by which they call in the use of machinery in almost every department of industry. Wherever it can be applied as a substitute for manual labor, it is universally and willingly resorted to ... It is this condition of the labor market, and this eager resort to machinery wherever it can be applied, to which, under the guidance of superior education and intelligence, the remarkable prosperity of the United States is due.[2]

— Joseph Whitworth, 1854

Other characteristics

The American system contributed to efficiency gains through division of labor. Division of labor helped manufacturing transition from small artisan's shops to early factories. Key pieces of evidence supporting efficiency gains include increase in firm size, evidence of returns to scale, and an increase in non-specialized labor. The need for firms to train uneducated people to perform only one thing in the productivity chain allowed for the use of non-specialized labor. Women and children were employed more frequently within larger firms, especially those producing furniture and clothing..

History

In the late 18th century, French General Jean Baptiste Vaquette de Gribeauval suggested that muskets could be manufactured faster and more economically if they were made from interchangeable parts. This system would also make field repairs easier to carry out under battle conditions. He provided patronage to Honoré Blanc, who attempted to implement the Système Gribeauval, but never succeeded.[1] Until then, under the British factory system, skilled machinists were required to produce parts from a design. But however skilled the machinist, parts were never identical, and each part had to be manufactured separately to fit its counterpart—almost always by one person who produced each completed item from start to finish.

Mass production using interchangeable parts was first achieved in 1803 by Marc Isambard Brunel in cooperation with Henry Maudslay, and Simon Goodrich, under the management of (with contributions by) Brigadier-General Sir Samuel Bentham, the Inspector General of Naval Works at Portsmouth Block Mills at Portsmouth Dockyard, for the British Royal Navy during the Napoleonic War. By 1808 annual production had reached 130,000 sailing blocks.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12] This method of working did not catch on in general manufacturing in Britain for many decades, and when it did it was imported from America, becoming known as the American System of Manufacturing, even though it originated in England.

The Lowell system is also related to the American system during this time. It emphasized procuring, training, and providing housing and other living necessities for the workforce, as well as using semi-automated machines in a centralized factory building or complex.

Gribeauval's idea was conveyed to the US by two routes. First, Blanc's friend Thomas Jefferson championed it, sending copies of Blanc's memoirs and papers describing his work to Secretary of War Henry Knox. Second, artillery officer Louis de Tousard (who had served with Lafayette) was an enthusiast of Gribeauval's ideas. Tousard wrote two influential documents after the American Revolution; one was used as the blueprint for West Point, and the other became the officer's training manual.[1]

The War Department, which included officers trained at West Point on Tousard's manual, established the armories at Springfield and Harper's Ferry and tasked them with solving the problem of interchangeability. The task was finally accomplished in the 1820s. Historian David A. Hounshell believes that this was done by Captain John H. Hall, an inside contractor at Harper's Ferry.[1] In a letter dated 1822 Hall makes the claim he achieved interchangeability in 1822.[13] But historian Diana Muir argues that it is more probable that it was Simeon North, a Connecticut arms contractor manufacturing guns for the US Army. North, not Hall, was the inventor of the crucial milling machine in 1816, and had an advantage over Hall in that he worked closely with the first industry that mass-produced complex machines from mass-produced interchangeable parts, the Connecticut clock-making industry.[14] By 1815 the idea of interchangeability was well established in the US government system of procurement; Congressional contracts stipulated this quality in muskets, rifles and pistols ordered after that date.[15] Interchangeability of firearms parts at the U.S. armories was found to have been in use for a number of years by the time of the 1853 British Parliamentary Commissions Committee on Small Arms inquiry.[1]

A critical factor in making interchangeable metal parts was the invention of several machine tools, such as the slide rest lathe, screw cutting lathe, turret lathe, milling machine and metal planer. One of the most important and versatile of these machine tools was David Wilkinson's lathe, for which he received a $10,000 award from the government of the United States.[16]

Eli Whitney is generally credited with the idea and the practical application, but both are incorrect attributions. Based on his reputation as the inventor of the cotton gin, the US government gave him a contract in 1798 for 10,000 muskets to be produced within two years. It actually took eight years to deliver the order, as Whitney perfected and developed new techniques and machines. In a letter to Treasury Secretary Oliver Wolcott apologizing for the delays, Whitney wrote:

One of my primary objectives it to form tools so the tools themselves shall fashion the work and give to every part its just proportion – which when once accomplished, will give expedition, uniformity, and exactness to the whole... In short, the tools which I contemplate are similar to engraving on a copper plate from which may be taken a great number of impressions, perfectly alike.[13]

Whitney did use machinery; however, there is no evidence that he produced any new type of metalworking machinery.[13] After completing the initial contract, Whitney went on to produce another 15,000 muskets within the following two years. Whitney never actually expressed any interest in interchangeability until 1800, when Treasury Secretary Wolcott exposed him to the memoirs of Blanc,[1] but he spent far more time and energy promoting the idea than developing it.

In order to spread knowledge of manufacturing techniques, the War Department made contractors open their shops to other manufacturers and competitors. The armories also openly shared manufacturing techniques with private industry.[16] Additionally, the idea migrated from the armories to industry as machinists trained in the armory system were hired by other manufacturers. Skilled engineers and machinists thus influenced American clockmakers and sewing machine manufacturers Wilcox and Gibbs and Wheeler and Wilson, who used interchangeable parts before 1860.[1][17] Late to adopt the interchangeable system were Singer Corporation sewing machine (1870s), reaper manufacturer McCormick Harvesting Machine Company (1870s–80s)[1] and several large steam engine manufacturers such as Corliss (mid-1880s)[18] as well as locomotive makers. Large scale of production of bicycles in the 1880s used the interchangeable system.[1]

The idea would also help lead to the American "Golden Age" of manufacturing when Henry Ford mass-produced the automobile. Mastering true interchangeability on the assembly line, the Ford plant produced standard model cars. These efficient production strategies allowed these automobiles to be affordable for the middle class.

Pre-Industrial Revolution

The idea of interchangeable parts and the separate assembly line was not new, though it was little used. The idea was first developed in East Asia during the Warring States period and later the Qin Dynasty over 2200 years ago – bronze crossbow triggers and locking mechanisms were mass-produced and made to be interchangeable. Venice during the late Middle Ages had ships that were produced using pre-manufactured parts, assembly lines, and mass production. The Venetian Arsenal apparently produced nearly one ship every day, in what was effectively the world's first factory.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Hounshell, David A. (1984), From the American System to Mass Production, 1800-1932: The Development of Manufacturing Technology in the United States, Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press, ISBN 978-0-8018-2975-8, LCCN 83016269
  2. ^ Roe, Joseph Wickham (1916), English and American Tool Builders, New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, LCCN 16011753. Reprinted by McGraw-Hill, New York and London, 1926 (LCCN 27-24075); and by Lindsay Publications, Inc., Bradley, Illinois, (ISBN 978-0-917914-73-7).. Report of the British Commissioners to the New York Industrial Exhibition, London, 1854.
  3. ^ Enlightenment & measurement, UK: Making the modern world, archived from the original on 2017-04-05, retrieved 2010-06-23.
  4. ^ Portsmouth dockyard, UK.
  5. ^ "Block", Collections (exhiblet), UK: Science museum.
  6. ^ Gilbert, KR (1965), The Portsmouth Block-making Machinery, London.
  7. ^ Cooper, CC (1982), "The Production Line at Portsmouth Block Mill", Industrial Archaeology Review, VI: 28–44.
  8. ^ Cooper, CC (1984), "The Portsmouth System of Manufacture", Technology and Culture, 25: 182–225.
  9. ^ Coad, Jonathan (1989), The Royal Dockyards 1690–1850, Aldershot.
  10. ^ Coad, Jonathan (2005), The Portsmouth Block Mills : Bentham, Brunel and the start of the Royal Navy's Industrial Revolution, ISBN 1-873592-87-6.
  11. ^ Wilkin, Susan (1999), The application of emerging new technologies by Portsmouth Dockyard, 1790–1815 (PhD Thesis), The Open University (copies available from the British Thesis service of the British Library).
  12. ^ Cantrell, J; Cookson, G, eds. (2002), Henry Maudslay and the Pioneers of the Machine Age, Stroud.
  13. ^ a b c Cowan, Ruth Schwartz (1997). A Social History of American Technology. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 7–8. ISBN 0-19-504606-4.
  14. ^ Muir, Diana, Reflections in Bullough's Pond, University Press of New England.
  15. ^ Burke, James (1995) [1978], Connections, Little, Brown & Co, p. 151, ISBN 0-316-11672-6.
  16. ^ a b Thompson, Ross (2009). Structures of Change in the Mechanical Age: Technological Invention in the United States 1790–1865. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-9141-0.
  17. ^ Thomson, Ross (1989). The Path to Mechanized Shoe Production in the United States. University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0-80781867-1.
  18. ^ Hunter, Louis C. (1985). A History of Industrial Power in the United States, 1730–1930. 2: Steam Power. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia.
1799

1799 (MDCCXCIX)

was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar, the 1799th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 799th year of the 2nd millennium, the 99th year of the 18th century, and the 10th and last year of the 1790s decade. As of the start of 1799, the Gregorian calendar was

11 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

1799 in science

The year 1799 in science and technology involved many significant events, listed below.

1799 in the United States

Events from the year 1799 in the United States.

American System

American System may refer to:

American system of manufacturing, a system of manufacturing developed in America

American School, the Hamiltonian economic system

American System, an economic program of Henry Clay and the Whig Party, based upon the Hamiltonian school

United States customary units, a system of measurement used in the United States

American system of watch manufacturing

The American system of watch manufacturing is a set of manufacturing techniques and best-practices to be used in the manufacture of watches and timepieces. It is derived from the American system of manufacturing techniques (also called "armory practices"), a set of general techniques and guidelines for manufacturing that was developed in the 19th century. The system calls for using interchangeable parts, which is made possible by a strict system of organization, the extensive use of the machine shop, and quality control systems utilizing gauges to ensure precise and uniform dimensions. It was developed by Aaron Lufkin Dennison, a watch repairman who was inspired by the manufacturing techniques of the United States Armory at Springfield, Massachusetts, which manufactured identical parts, allowing rapid assembly of the final products. He proposed using similar techniques for the manufacture of watches. Before the American system of watch manufacturing was developed, watchmaking was primarily a European business. It involved making certain parts under the roof of a factory while obtaining other parts from piece workers who used their own cottages as workshops.

Eli Whitney

Eli Whitney (December 8, 1765 – January 8, 1825) was an American inventor best known for inventing the cotton gin. This was one of the key inventions of the Industrial Revolution and shaped the economy of the Antebellum South. Whitney's invention made upland short cotton into a profitable crop, which strengthened the economic foundation of slavery in the United States. Despite the social and economic impact of his invention, Whitney lost many profits in legal battles over patent infringement for the cotton gin. Thereafter, he turned his attention into securing contracts with the government in the manufacture of muskets for the newly formed United States Army. He continued making arms and inventing until his death in 1825.

Factory system

The factory system is a method of manufacturing using machinery and division of labour. Because of the high capital cost of machinery and factory buildings, factories were typically privately owned by wealthy individuals who employed the operative labour. Use of machinery with the division of labour reduced the required skill level of workers and also increased the output per worker.

The factory system was first adopted in Britain at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century and later spread around the world. It replaced the putting-out system. The main characteristic of the factory system is the use of machinery, originally powered by water or steam and later by electricity. Other characteristics of the system mostly derive from the use of machinery or economies of scale, the centralization of factories, and standardization of interchangeable parts.

Habakkuk thesis

The Habakkuk thesis (proposed and named after British economist, Sir John Habakkuk,) is a theory that argued land abundance and labor scarcity led to high wages, which resulted in the search for labor-saving innovations in antebellum America. This ultimately stimulated the growth of machinery and the development of the American System of Manufacturing. Initially published in Habakkuk’s 1962 work, American and British Technology in the Nineteenth Century: The Search for Labor-Saving Inventions, the thesis garnered attention as the classical interpretation and explanation of American Industrialization. However, the thesis has undergone attack by many critics who argue that the thesis overlooks high interest rates, lack of machinery as capital, and scarce and expensive factors (e.g. labor and capital).

Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution, now also known as the First Industrial Revolution, was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Europe and the US, in the period from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840. This transition included going from hand production methods to machines, new chemical manufacturing and iron production processes, the increasing use of steam power and water power, the development of machine tools and the rise of the mechanized factory system. The Industrial Revolution also led to an unprecedented rise in the rate of population growth.

Textiles were the dominant industry of the Industrial Revolution in terms of employment, value of output and capital invested. The textile industry was also the first to use modern production methods.The Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain, and many of the technological innovations were of British origin. By the mid-18th century Britain was the world's leading commercial nation, controlling a global trading empire with colonies in North America and the Caribbean, and with some political influence on the Indian subcontinent, through the activities of the East India Company. The development of trade and the rise of business were major causes of the Industrial Revolution.The Industrial Revolution marks a major turning point in history; almost every aspect of daily life was influenced in some way. In particular, average income and population began to exhibit unprecedented sustained growth. Some economists say that the major impact of the Industrial Revolution was that the standard of living for the general population began to increase consistently for the first time in history, although others have said that it did not begin to meaningfully improve until the late 19th and 20th centuries.GDP per capita was broadly stable before the Industrial Revolution and the emergence of the modern capitalist economy, while the Industrial Revolution began an era of per-capita economic growth in capitalist economies. Economic historians are in agreement that the onset of the Industrial Revolution is the most important event in the history of humanity since the domestication of animals and plants.Although the structural change from agriculture to industry is widely associated with the Industrial Revolution, in the United Kingdom it was already almost complete by 1760.The precise start and end of the Industrial Revolution is still debated among historians, as is the pace of economic and social changes. Eric Hobsbawm held that the Industrial Revolution began in Britain in the 1780s and was not fully felt until the 1830s or 1840s, while T.S. Ashton held that it occurred roughly between 1760 and 1830. Rapid industrialization first began in Britain, starting with mechanized spinning in the 1780s, with high rates of growth in steam power and iron production occurring after 1800. Mechanized textile production spread from Great Britain to continental Europe and the United States in the early 19th century, with important centres of textiles, iron and coal emerging in Belgium and the United States and later textiles in France.An economic recession occurred from the late 1830s to the early 1840s when the adoption of the original innovations of the Industrial Revolution, such as mechanized spinning and weaving, slowed and their markets matured. Innovations developed late in the period, such as the increasing adoption of locomotives, steamboats and steamships, hot blast iron smelting and new technologies, such as the electrical telegraph, widely introduced in the 1840s and 1850s, were not powerful enough to drive high rates of growth. Rapid economic growth began to occur after 1870, springing from a new group of innovations in what has been called the Second Industrial Revolution. These new innovations included new steel making processes, mass-production, assembly lines, electrical grid systems, the large-scale manufacture of machine tools and the use of increasingly advanced machinery in steam-powered factories.

Inside contracting

Inside contracting is the practice of hiring contractors who work inside the proprietor's factory. It replaced the putting out system, where contractors worked in their own facilities. Inside contracting was the system favored by the Springfield and Harper's Ferry Armories. Since the manufacturing system developed in the armories also became popular (the American system of manufacturing), manufacturers in the early 19th century tended to hire people trained in the armories as managers. They brought with them the practice of inside contracting.

The manufacturer hired inside contractors and provided materials and machinery. Each inside contractor was expected to hire his own employees and meet certain production and quality goals, but everything else was left to him. As a result, the system rewarded ingenuity, but also rewarded local optimization. For example, it was to the inside contractor's benefit to allow machinery to deteriorate toward the end of his contract since maintenance was costly and he might not reap the long-term benefit if he didn't get another contract. The system was eventually replaced with the factory system, in which everyone was an employee of the manufacturer directly.

Interchangeable parts

Interchangeable parts are parts (components) that are, for practical purposes, identical. They are made to specifications that ensure that they are so nearly identical that they will fit into any assembly of the same type. One such part can freely replace another, without any custom fitting, such as filing. This interchangeability allows easy assembly of new devices, and easier repair of existing devices, while minimizing both the time and skill required of the person doing the assembly or repair.

The concept of interchangeability was crucial to the introduction of the assembly line at the beginning of the 20th century, and has become an important element of some modern manufacturing but is missing from other important industries.

Interchangeability of parts was achieved by combining a number of innovations and improvements in machining operations and the invention of several machine tools, such as the slide rest lathe, screw-cutting lathe, turret lathe, milling machine and metal planer. Additional innovations included jigs for guiding the machine tools, fixtures for holding the workpiece in the proper position, and blocks and gauges to check the accuracy of the finished parts. Electrification allowed individual machine tools to be powered by electric motors, eliminating line shaft drives from steam engines or water power and allowing higher speeds, making modern large scale manufacturing possible. Modern machine tools often have numerical control (NC) which evolved into CNC (computerized numeric control) when microprocessors became available.

Methods for industrial production of interchangeable parts in the United States were first developed in the nineteenth century. The term American system of manufacturing was sometimes applied to them at the time, in distinction from earlier methods. Within a few decades such methods were in use in various countries, so American system is now a term of historical reference rather than current industrial nomenclature.

John H. Hall

John H. Hall may refer to:

John H. Hall (gunsmith) (1781–1841), inventor who perfected the American system of manufacturing using interchangeable parts

John H. Hall (inventor) (1932–2014), American low-power CMOS pioneer and entrepreneur

John Herbert Hall, English First World War flying ace

John Hicklin Hall (1854–1937), politician and attorney in Oregon

John Hubert Hall (1899–1970), governor of Oregon

Manufacturing

Manufacturing is the production of products for use or sale using labour and machines, tools, chemical and biological processing, or formulation. The term may refer to a range of human activity, from handicraft to high tech, but is most commonly applied to industrial design, in which raw materials are transformed into finished goods on a large scale. Such finished goods may be sold to other manufacturers for the production of other, more complex products, such as aircraft, household appliances, furniture, sports equipment or automobiles, or sold to wholesalers, who in turn sell them to retailers, who then sell them to end users and consumers.

Manufacturing engineering or manufacturing process are the steps through which raw materials are transformed into a final product. The manufacturing process begins with the product design, and materials specification from which the product is made. These materials are then modified through manufacturing processes to become the required part.

Modern manufacturing includes all intermediate processes required in the production and integration of a product's components. Some industries, such as semiconductor and steel manufacturers use the term fabrication instead.

The manufacturing sector is closely connected with engineering and industrial design. Examples of major manufacturers in North America include General Motors Corporation, General Electric, Procter & Gamble, General Dynamics, Boeing, Pfizer, and Precision Castparts. Examples in Europe include Volkswagen Group, Siemens, FCA and Michelin. Examples in Asia include Toyota, Yamaha, Panasonic, LG, Samsung and Tata Motors.

Manufacturing in the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom, where the Industrial Revolution began in the late 18th century, has a long history of manufacturing, which contributed to Britain's early economic growth. During the second half of the 20th century, there was a steady decline in the importance of manufacturing and the economy of the United Kingdom shifted toward services. Manufacturing, however, remains important for overseas trade and accounted for 44% of goods exports in 2014. In June 2010, manufacturing in the United Kingdom accounted for 8.2% of the workforce and 12% of the country's national output. The East Midlands and West Midlands (at 12.6 and 11.8% respectively) were the regions with the highest proportion of employees in manufacturing. London had the lowest at 2.8%.

Mass production

Mass production, also known as flow production or continuous production, is the production of large amounts of standardized products, including and especially on assembly lines. Together with job production and batch production, it is one of the three main production methods.The term mass production was popularized by a 1926 article in the Encyclopædia Britannica supplement that was written based on correspondence with Ford Motor Company. The New York Times used the term in the title of an article that appeared before publication of the Britannica article.The concepts of mass production are applied to various kinds of products, from fluids and particulates handled in bulk (such as food, fuel, chemicals, and mined minerals) to discrete solid parts (such as fasteners) to assemblies of such parts (such as household appliances and automobiles).

Mass production is a diverse field, but it can generally be contrasted with craft production or distributed manufacturing. Some mass production techniques, such as standardized sizes and production lines, predate the Industrial Revolution by many centuries; however, it was not until the introduction of machine tools and techniques to produce interchangeable parts were developed in the mid 19th century that modern mass production was possible.

Outline of manufacturing

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to manufacturing:

Manufacturing – use of machines, tools and labor to produce goods for use or sale. Includes a range of human activity, from handicraft to high-tech, but most commonly refers to industrial production, where raw materials are transformed into finished goods on a large scale.

Piece work

Piece work (or piecework) is any type of employment in which a worker is paid a fixed piece rate for each unit produced or action performed regardless of time.

United States

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles (9.8 million km2), the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles (10.1 million km2). With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.Paleo-Indians migrated from Siberia to the North American mainland at least 12,000 years ago. European colonization began in the 16th century. The United States emerged from the thirteen British colonies established along the East Coast. Following the French and Indian War, numerous disputes between Great Britain and the colonies led to the American Revolution, which began in 1775, and the subsequent Declaration of Independence in 1776. The war ended in 1783 with the United States becoming the first country to gain independence from a European power. The current constitution was adopted in 1788, with the first ten amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, being ratified in 1791 to guarantee many fundamental civil liberties. The United States embarked on a vigorous expansion across North America throughout the 19th century, acquiring new territories, displacing Native American tribes, and gradually admitting new states until it spanned the continent by 1848.During the second half of the 19th century, the Civil War led to the abolition of slavery. By the end of the century, the United States had extended into the Pacific Ocean, and its economy, driven in large part by the Industrial Revolution, began to soar. The Spanish–American War and World War I confirmed the country's status as a global military power. The United States emerged from World War II as a global superpower, the first country to develop nuclear weapons, the only country to use them in warfare, and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Sweeping civil rights legislation, notably the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, outlawed discrimination based on race or color. During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union competed in the Space Race, culminating with the 1969 U.S. Moon landing. The end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 left the United States as the world's sole superpower.The United States is the world's oldest surviving federation. It is a federal republic and a representative democracy. The United States is a founding member of the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Organization of American States (OAS), and other international organizations. The United States is a highly developed country, with the world's largest economy by nominal GDP and second-largest economy by PPP, accounting for approximately a quarter of global GDP. The U.S. economy is largely post-industrial, characterized by the dominance of services and knowledge-based activities, although the manufacturing sector remains the second-largest in the world. The United States is the world's largest importer and the second largest exporter of goods, by value. Although its population is only 4.3% of the world total, the U.S. holds 31% of the total wealth in the world, the largest share of global wealth concentrated in a single country.Despite income and wealth disparities, the United States continues to rank very high in measures of socioeconomic performance, including average wage, human development, per capita GDP, and worker productivity. The United States is the foremost military power in the world, making up a third of global military spending, and is a leading political, cultural, and scientific force internationally.

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