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The continent's first elected legislative assembly, Virginia's House of Burgesses created in 1619, the Mayflower Compact, signed by the Pilgrims before disembarking, and the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, established precedents for the pattern of representative self-government and constitutionalism that would develop throughout the American colonies.Most settlers in every colony were small farmers, but other industries developed within a few decades as varied as the settlements. Extraction industries grew up in furs, fishing and lumber.English colonists were supplemented by waves of Scotch-Irish and other groups.As coastal land grew more expensive, freed indentured servants pushed further west.

During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union competed in the Space Race, culminating with the 1969 moon landing. "Columbia", a name popular in poetry and songs of the late 18th century, derives its origin from Christopher Columbus; it appears in the name "District of Columbia".

Spanish set up the first settlements in Florida and New Mexico such as Saint Augustine and Santa Fe.

The French established their own as well along the Mississippi River.

Despite continuing new arrivals, the rate of natural increase was such that by the 1770s only a small minority of Americans had been born overseas.

In 1774 the Spanish Navy ship Santiago, under Juan Pérez had entered and anchored in the inlet at Nootka Sound.