"How'd We Get Here?" begins with a few simple questions: How did the United States of America get to where it was in 1877? How did a rag-tag group of colonists carve out a niche in this corner of the world to call their own, achieve independence by beating the greatest military superpower since Rome, build the "freest" country in the world (albeit ironically on the backs of slaves), undergo a devastating civil war, and then, somehow, in someway, actually glue the entire mess back together? And how did America do all of this in just 100 years? The answer is pretty clear. In the words of Democratic strategist James "the Ragin' Cajun" Carville, "It's the economy, stupid!"
The development of the U.S. is immeasurably linked to money. Who has it... who wants it... and who do we have to befriend, kill, or enslave to get it? Quite simply, there would be no U.S. if there had been no revolution against England over high taxation. There would have been no high taxation if the French and Indian War had not drained the English treasury. There would have been no French and Indian War if England and France had not been competing for colonies in the "New World". There would have been no exploration and colonization in the "New World" if Christopher Columbus hadn't gotten lost and wound up on this side of the globe. Columbus wouldn't have been out-and-about if he hadn't been trying to find a water route to India and Asia. There wouldn't have been a need to find a water route to India and Asia if Muslims hadn't cut off trade along the Silk Road through the Middle East. Muslims wouldn't have cut off this trade if the Crusades hadn't become a horrific onslaught by European Christians. The Crusades wouldn't have become a horrific onslaught if greed hadn't driven the Pope to want more than retaking the Holy Land of Jerusalem. Muslims wouldn't have been able to capture the Holy Land if the Roman Empire hadn't fallen and disintegrated into warring feudal states. The Roman Empire wouldn't have fallen if it hadn't grown too large and been able to protect its borders. Rome's domination was based on a blueprint first established by the Ancient Greeks, Indians, Chinese, and Egyptians.
The role played by economics in the development, prosperity, decline, destruction, and warfare of civilizations from Ancient History until 1877 demonstrates how the economic history of the U.S. is connected to the development of Western civilization.