Key Events in U.S History
Terms in this set (100)
North American Indian Cultures flourish.
Leif Ericsson lands in Newfoundland.
Columbus lands on Santo Domingo in the Caribbean.
Juan Ponce' De Leon lands in Florida.
St. Augustine Florida 1st European settlement in North America.
Jamestown 1st English colony in America.
House of Burgesses meets. First African slaves brought to Jamestown.
Pilgrims land on Plymouth Rock.
New Amsterdam becomes New York.
French and Indian War ends. England gains Canada and lands east of the Mississippi.
Boston Massacre. British kill protesting colonists.
Boston Tea Party. Colonists protesting British taxes dump tea into Boston Harbor.
Battle of Lexington and Concord begins American Revolution.
Declaration of Independence is signed.
British surrender at Yorktown.
Treaty of Paris is signed.
U.S. Constitution is written.
Washington becomes first President under current constitution
Bill of Rights is ratified.
Capital moves from Philadelphia to Washington D.C.
Jefferson becomes president in peaceful transition of power.
Marbury Vs. Madison establishes precedent of Judicial Review. Louisiana purchase.
Lewis and Clark expedition begins.
U.S. declares war on Britain.
Andrew Jackson defeats British at New Orleans. War of 1812 ends.
Spain cedes Florida to U.S. McColloch v. Maryland upholds the national bank's right to exist.
Maine (formerly part of Massachusetts) is admitted as a free state so that Missouri can be admitted as a slave state;
except for Missouri, slavery is prohibited in the Louisiana Purchase lands north of latitude 36°30'
President Monroe declares that the American continents are henceforth off-limits for further colonization by European powers
Gibbons v. Ogden broadly defines Congress's right to regulate interstate commerce
Erie Canal, linking the Hudson River to Lake Erie, is opened for traffic
President Jackson signs the Indian Removal Act, which authorizes the forced removal of Native Americans living in the
eastern part of the country to lands west of the Mississippi River
Nat Turner, an enslaved African American preacher, leads the most significant slave uprising in American history.
Texas declares its independence from Mexico
More than 15,000 Cherokee Indians are forced to march from Georgia to Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma.
Approximately 4,000 die from starvation and disease along the "Trail of Tears."
U.S. annexes Texas by joint resolution of Congress The term "manifest destiny" appears for the first time.
It expresses the belief held by many white Americans that the United States is destined to expand across the continent.
U.S. declares war on Mexico in effort to gain California and other territory in Southwest
Gold is discovered at Sutter's Mill in California
Compromise of 1850: California is admitted as a free state, Utah and New Mexico territories are left to be decided by
popular sovereignty, and the slave trade in Washington, DC, is prohibited.
Congress passes the Kansas-Nebraska Act, establishing the territories of Kansas and Nebraska (May 30).
The legislation repeals the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and renews tensions between anti- and proslavery factions.
Dred Scott v. Sanford: Landmark Supreme Court decision holds that Congress does not have the right to ban slavery in states and,
furthermore, that slaves are not citizens.
Abolitionist John Brown and 21 followers capture federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Va. (now W. Va.), in an attempt to spark
a slave revolt (Oct. 16).
South Carolina secedes from the Union
Confederates attack Ft. Sumter in Charleston, S.C., marking the start of the Civil War.
Emancipation Proclamation is issued, freeing slaves in the Confederate states
Lincoln is assassinated (April 14) by John Wilkes Booth in Washington, DC.
U.S. acquires Alaska from Russia for the sum of $7.2 million
Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads are joined at Promontory, Utah, creating first transcontinental railroad
Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, giving blacks the right to vote
Chicago fire kills 300 and leaves 90,000 people homeless
Lt. Col. George A. Custer's regiment is wiped out by Sioux Indians under Sitting Bull at the Little Big Horn River, Mont.
Statue of Liberty is dedicated (Oct. 28). American Federation of Labor is organized
Last major battle of the Indian Wars occurs at Wounded Knee in South Dakota The frontier is closed.
Plessy v. Ferguson: Landmark Supreme Court decision holds that racial segregation is constitutional,
paving the way for the repressive Jim Crow laws in the South
Spanish-American War: USS Maine is blown up in Havana harbor. U.S. declares war on Spain
(Spain gives up control of Cuba, which becomes an independent republic, and cedes Puerto Rico, Guam, and (for $20 million)
the Philippines to the U.S.
U.S. acquires Panama Canal Zone (treaty signed Nov. 17). Wright brothers make the first controlled, sustained flight in
heavier-than-air aircraft at Kitty Hawk, N.C.
World War I: begins in 1914 U.S. enters World War I in 1917. War ends in 1919
Jeannette Rankin of Montana is the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives
Worldwide influenza epidemic strikes; by 1920, nearly 20 million are dead. In U.S., 500,000 perish.
Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, granting women the right to vote
Tennessee passes a law against the teaching of evolution in public schools (March 23),
setting the stage for the Scopes Monkey Trial
Charles Lindbergh makes the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight in his plane The Spirit of St. Louis
Stock market crash precipitates the Great Depression
Social Security Act is passed
First minimum wage in the U.S. at 25 cents per hour
Japan attacks Hawaii, Guam, and the Philippines (Dec. 7, 1941). U.S. declares war on Japan (Dec. 8).
Germany and Italy declare war on the United States; U.S. reciprocates by declaring war on both countries
U.S. drops atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan (Aug. 6). U.S. drops atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan (Aug. 9).
Japan agrees to unconditional surrender
The Marshall Plan, which provides for European postwar recovery (April 2). Soviets begin blockade of Berlin
in the first major crisis of the cold war (June 24). In response, U.S. and Great Britain begin airlift of food and fuel to
West Berlin (June 26).
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is established
Korean War: Cold war conflict between Communist and non-Communist forces on Korean Peninsula.
North Korean communists invade South Korea
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are executed for passing secrets about U.S. atomic weapons to the Soviets.
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kans.: Landmark Supreme Court decision declares that racial segregation in
schools is unconstitutional.
President sends federal troops to Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., to enforce integration of black students.
Alaska becomes the 49th state (Jan. 3) and Hawaii becomes the 50th.
Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba fails.
Cuban Missile Crisis: President Kennedy denounces Soviet Union for secretly installing missile bases on
Cuba and initiates a naval blockade of the island.
President Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Tex. (Nov. 22). He is succeeded in office by
his vice president, Lyndon B. Johnson.
President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act.
Miranda v. Arizona: Landmark Supreme Court decision further defines due process clause of Fourteenth
Amendment and establishes Miranda rights.
North Vietnamese army and Viet Cong launch Tet Offensive, attacking Saigon and other
key cities in South Vietnam (Jan.-Feb. 1968). American soldiers kill 300 Vietnamese
villagers in My Lai massacre (March 16).
Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, Jr., become the first men to land on the Moon.
The Twenty-Sixth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, lowering the voting age from 21 to 18.
Roe v. Wade: Landmark Supreme Court decision legalizes abortion in first trimester of pregnancy.
House recommends that Nixon be impeached on grounds of obstruction of justice, abuse of power,
and contempt of Congress (July 27-30). Nixon resigns.
Iranian students storm U.S. embassy in Teheran and hold 66 people hostage.
Sandra Day O'Connor is sworn in as the first woman Supreme Court justice
Iran-Contra scandal breaks when White House is forced to reveal secret arms-for-hostages deals.
In a speech in Berlin, President Reagan challenges Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall" and
open Eastern Europe to political and economic reform (June 12). Reagan and Gorbachev sign INF treaty, the
first arms-control agreement to reduce the superpowers' nuclear weapons
Iraqi troops invade Kuwait, leading to the Persian Gulf War.
Following the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, President Bush and Russian president Boris Yeltsin meet and
formally declare an end to the cold war.
House of Representatives votes to impeach President Clinton on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.
NATO wages air campaign against Yugoslavia over killing and deportation of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo
No clear winner is declared in the close presidential election contest between Vice President Al Gore and Texas governor
George W. Bush. Bush formally accepts the presidency, having won a slim majority in the electoral college but not a
majority of the popular vote.
Two hijacked jetliners ram twin towers of World Trade Center in worst terrorist attack against U.S.;
a third hijacked plane flies into the Pentagon, and a fourth crashes in rural Pennsylvania. More than 3,000 people die
in the attacks
U.S. and Britain launch air attacks against targets in Afghanistan after Taliban government fails to hand over
Saudi terrorist Osama bin Laden, the suspected mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks.
President Bush signs legislation creating a new cabinet department of Homeland Security.
War waged by the U.S. and Britain against Iraq begins.
Hurricane Katrina wreaks catastrophic damage on Mississippi and Louisiana; 80% of New Orleans is flooded.
Barack Obama becomes first African American president of the United States
U.S. Naval forces kill terrorist leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
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Events for U.S. History