According to the conventional view, the Cold War began in the waning months of World War II, but the roots of the superpower competition are centuries old, going back to the very infancy of the American nation. Both Russia and America were expansionist nations whose peoples each believed they possessed a special mission in history. While all nations, no doubt, see themselves as fulfilling a unique mission in history, the missions of the United States and Russia achieved global dimensions during the twentieth century.
Czarist Russia spread orthodox Christianity as well as Russian political, economic, and cultural hegemony across Asia to the Pacific Ocean, into South-Central Asia, and as far west into Central Europe as its powerful neighbors, particularly Germany, would permit. The United States, which began as an English settlement at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607, also has a history of expansionism. Americans saw their mission as one of spreading certain ideals, including democracy, free enterprise, and technological progress, across the vast North American continent and far beyond that.
Yet while republican and democratic America found the autocratic Russian monarchy repulsive, for most of the common history of the two nations -- with the exception of the disagreement over Alaska, which was resolved peacefully in 1867 -- Russian and American interests did not collide.