The first documentary evidence of the phrase "United States of America" was in an anonymously written essay published in the Virginia Gazette newspaper in Williamsburg, Virginia on April 6, 1776. In June 1776, Thomas Jefferson included the phrase "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" in all capitalized letters in the headline of his "original Rough draught" of the Declaration of Independence. In the final Fourth of July version of the Declaration, the pertinent section of the title was changed to read, "The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America".
In 1777 the Articles of Confederation announced, "The Stile of this Confederacy shall be 'The United States of America'".
The short form "United States" is also standard. Other common forms include the "U.S.", the "USA", and "America". Colloquial names include the "U.S. of A." and, internationally, the "States". "Columbia", a name popular in poetry and songs of the late 1700s, derives its origin from Christopher Columbus; it appears in the name "District of Columbia".
The standard way to refer to a citizen of the United States is as an "American". "United States", "American" and "U.S." are used to refer to the country adjectivally ("American values", "U.S. forces"). "American" is rarely used in English to refer to subjects not connected with the United States.
The phrase "United States" was originally treated as plural, a description of a collection of independent states—e.g., "the United States are"—including in the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1865. It became common to treat it as singular, a single unit—e.g., "the United States is"—after the end of the Civil War. The singular form is now standard; the plural form is retained in the idiom "these United States". The difference has been described as more significant than one of usage, but reflecting the difference between a collection of states and a unit.
In non-English languages, the name is frequently translated as the translation of either the "United States" or "United States of America", and colloquially as "America". In addition, an initialism is sometimes used.
Main article: History of the United States
Native American and European settlement
The indigenous peoples of the U.S. mainland, migrated from Asia, beginning between 40,000 and 12,000 years ago. Some, such as the pre-Columbian Mississippian culture, developed advanced agriculture, grand architecture, and state-level societies. After European explorers and traders made the first contacts, many millions died from epidemics of imported diseases such as smallpox. New England's Mayflower Compact placed London ex-cons and Separatist men on an equal footing in the new land 1620. Culture-clash. Native American gift-giving obligated the giver, for Europeans, the receiver.
The first Spanish explorers landed in "La Florida" in 1513. Spain set up settlements in California, Florida, and New Mexico that were eventually merged into the United States. There were also some French settlements along the Mississippi River.
The English settlements up and down the Atlantic coast were by far the most important in shaping the history of the United States. The Virginia Colony began 1607 and the Pilgrims' Plymouth Colony in 1620. Some 100,000 Puritans came to New England, especially the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Beginning in 1614, the Dutch settled in modern New York State; their colony of New Netherland, which had earlier conquered New Sweden, was taken over by England in 1674, but a strong Dutch influence persisted in the Hudson Valley north of New York City for generations. Many new immigrants, especially to the South, were indentured servants—some…