America: The Land of Chance and Luck

Nobody planned for America to become what it is; not even Christopher Columbus, the iconic “discoverer of America,” or even the Natives who inhabited this land before us knew what would happen. Chance, mixed in with a plethora of luck, has made America the prosperous place it is.

    Christopher Columbus was never looking for a new land, but rather a shortcut to the fabled Indies. When he ran into the huge land mass that is Hispaniola he opened the metaphorical floodgates for American’s ecological evolution. The arguably most important effect of the mingling of the Old and New Worlds was the spread of diseases between the worlds. The Native Americans suffered the most from this intermingling; American Pageant claims that 90-95% of Native Americans died during the post-Columbus century. This concoction of diseases was much less serious on the Europeans. The only serious disease the Europeans got from the New World was syphilis, which turned out to be more of a historical annoyance rather than an actual population-changing disease.

   After dodging an infested bullet, the next stop on the America’s path of luck was how persistent the Europeans were to establish America into a valuable colony. After the first attempts, the British could have given up in their colonization efforts, but we now see how lucky modern Americans are because of this costly persistence.

     The last, but most likely the most important bit of luck the early Americans had, was the experimentation of the Continental Congresses and the Founding Fathers. David McCullough in his book, 1776, wrote, “To those who had been with Washington and who knew what a close call it was at the beginning … the outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” The revolution was one of the biggest gambles in history. However, the Americans still managed to pull through the odds (This came with a bunch of consequences, such as a loss of an entire percent of the colonial population (McCullough)). Almost immediately after the Revolutionary War was won, the Founding Fathers took America’s previous gambling spoils and pooled it again when they scrapped the Articles and wrote the Constitution. The Constitution was more of a social experiment, in my amateur opinion, that yielded exceptional results. Neither of this revolutionary happenings were ever planned, luck and chance made them as monumental as they are seen today.

    The foundation of America was never meant to happen. No colonial American knew that his country would overthrow its monarch and gain its complete autonomy. America would not be what it is now, if it wasn’t for the blind luck and a bunch of events happening by chance.


Sources: Bailey, Thomas A. The American Pageant. 11th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998. Print.

Kiger, Patrick J. What if America had Lost the Revolution. HowStuffWorks: Science. Web.

McCullough, David. 1776. 1st ed. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2005. Print.

Image: Jansz, Pieter. Soldiers Gambling with Dice. Oil on Canvas. Web.

3 thoughts on “America: The Land of Chance and Luck

  1. I think your points about the revolution and the constitution being remarkable results of chance to be very good, but there are a few things I disagree with:

    “the next stop on the America’s path of luck was how persistent the Europeans were to establish America into a valuable colony”
    I think it is unlikely that the English would simply give up and accept defeat, while Spain was getting richer with every minute they had a colony. I think it was inevitable that the English would keep trying because they wanted to get in on some of the wealth that Spain was amassing from their colonies.

    “This concoction of diseases was much less serious on the Europeans.”
    This is true because the Europeans had domesticated animals and the Native Americans had not. It was a lack of diseases that had been passed from animals to humans that spared the Europeans from sickness. Although, I guess it could be said that the Europeans were lucky because the natives had not domesticated animals, but it was not simple chance that dictated that the Native Americans.

    Besides those two points I really liked your blog post.

  2. I agree with the comment above this one about those two points in your post, but other than those two, I really enjoyed this article. I always find it interesting how if certain parts of history happened differently, even in a small way, that the world and nation we know could be radically different. Lots of America was founded the way it was merely by chance, so I really liked this post. Well done!

  3. I find it very interesting to analyze the causes a of an event and then wonder what would have happened if these causes had not occurred as chaos theory, especially the butterfly effect, intrigues I really enjoyed your thorough synthesis of indirect causes of the founding of America. Attribution of these happenings to luck is interesting because generally there is a cause for everything.

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