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Featured United States Story | The Birth of the United States
"I am embarked on a wide ocean, on which, perhaps, no safe harbor is to be found."
The birth of the United States was an agonizing ordeal—a protracted labor of many stages, throughout which survival was always far from certain. Even the father of his country had his doubts. At the onset of the American Revolution, Washington wrote: "I am embarked on a wide ocean, on which, perhaps, no safe harbor is to be found." The seemingly insurmountable difficulties in establishing the new nation went all the way back to the very beginning, when just settling North America proved to be an almost overwhelming prospect. The first English colony of Roanoke (off the coast of North Carolina) was a disaster, culminating in the mysterious disappearance of all its inhabitants. A second attempt at Jamestown seemed destined to fail as well. Disease took an enormous toll on the first settlers, as did regular attacks by the native Algonquin Indians. But it was the brutal winter of 1609-10, known as the Starving Time, that nearly doomed the colony.
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