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summaries and important events by decade (ish)


-Contact and Settlement Era
-With Columbus "discovery" of America in 1492 came the beginning of an era of exploration and settlement.
-Many groups came to the Americas seeking God, gold and glory but ended up finding harsh environments and, some, even death.

Important Dates

1430: Portuguese start voyages down the west coast of Africa
1492: Columbus arrives in Western Hemisphere
1509-1547: Henry VII rules England and Protestant reformation begins in England
1558-1603: Reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Ireland conquered by England.
1607: Jamestown founded
1612: Tobacco made a profitable in Virginia
1619: Virginia House of Burgesses convenes in Jamestown. Slavery begins in Colonial America; First group of blacks brought to Virginia
First legislative assembly meets in Virginia
1620: Mayflower lands at Cape Cod, Mass, Mayflower Compact signed
1629: Great Puritan migration to Massachusetts Bay
1630: Boston established
1634: Maryland established
1676: Bacon's Rebellion
1681: Pennsylvania founded by William Penn


-Colonial Era
-by 1700 colonists had established their presence in America.
-Early cities began to develop and immigrants began to aquire an American identity.
-By 1775 colonials banded together to fight what they saw as English tyranny

Important Dates

1700: 250,000 settlers in English colonies
1704: First colonial newspaper
1720s: Colonial economic life quickens
1739-1744: Great Awakening
1756-1763: French and Indian War
1763: Proclamation Line established
1763-1764: Pontiac's Rebellion
1764-1765: Sugar Act and Stamp Act Controversies
1766: Declaratory Act
1767: Townshend Act, New York Assembly suspended
1770: Boston Massacre
1772: Committees of Correspondence formed
1773: Boston Tea Party
1774: Coercive Acts, First Continental Congress convenes
1775: Revolution begins with fighting at Lexington and Concord


-The Revolution and Early Government Era
-An army, made up of, mostly, the common man defeated and expelled a professional army from America's borders.
-American then lived through the beginnings of two forms of government.

Important Dates

1776: Declaration of Independence
1781: Articles of Confederation ratified and Battle of Yorktown
1783: Treaty of Paris (between Britain and Colonies)
1784-1787: Northwest Ordinance of 1784, 1785, and 1787
1786: Shays' Rebellion
1787: Constitutional Convention
1788: Constitution ratified and Federalist Papers written
1789: George Washington Elected (1789-1792) and French Revolution begins
1791: Bill of Rights ratified
1794: Whiskey Rebellion and Indians defeated at Fallen Timbers
1796: John Adams Elected (1796-1800)
1798: French XYZ affair and Alien and Sedation Acts
1800: Jefferson Elected (1800-1804)


-Jeffersonian Democracy Era
-In this time period, a raging debate between the federalists and anti-federalists occurred over how the constitution should be interpreted.
-America began to establish itself in the world.
-1800 = Second Great Awakening

Important Dates

1800: Jefferson Elected
1801: Judiciary Act
1803: Louisiana Purchase and Marbury v. Madison
1804: Jefferson RE-elected
1804-1806: Lewis and Clark expedition
1807-1809: Embargo Act
1808: James Madison Elected (1808-1812) and Slave trade ended
1809: Non-intercourse Act replaces Embargo Act
1812: War of 1812 with England and James Madison RE-elected
1814: Treaty of Ghent
1816: James Monroe Elected (1816-1820)
1818: Treaty of 1818 with Britain
1819: McCulloch v Maryland and Dartmouth College v Woodward
1820: Missouri Compromise and Land Act
1820s: First labor unions formed
Romanticism flourished in America
1823: Monroe Doctrine
1814: John Quincy Adams Elected (1824-1828)


-Jacksonian Democracy Era
-After nearly 35 years of government run by the upper crust of society, America was ready for a government of the common man.
-Jacksonian period is characterized as a time by and for the common man.

Important Dates

1825: Leasing of Land to Indians (native americans)
1828: Andrew Jackson Elected
1830: Homestead Act and Indian Removal Act
1830s: Railroad era begins
1834: Whig party formed
1835: Texas Revolution, Republic of Texas established
1840s: Manifest Destiny and Telegraph and railroads create a Communications Revolution


-Manifest Destiny Era
-American spread from the Atlantic to the Pacific displacing hundreds of native people in their wake.
-They believed that, because they inherited a firm belief in God, they had the right to the new lands they acquired.

Important Dates

1840: William Harrison Elected (1840-1844) but Tyler takes of after Harrison dies 4 weeks into presidency.
1844: James Polk Elected (1844-1848)
1846: Mexican War begins
1848: Treaty of Guadeloupe Hidalgo ended Mexican War. U. S. acquires California and territory of New Mexico which includes present-day Nevada, Utah, Arizona, new Mexico, and part of Colorado.
1848: Zachary Taylor Elected
1849: Gold Rush: Gold discovered in California
1850 : Compromise of 1850 California admitted to the unionFugitive Slave Law strengthened
1852: Franklin Pierce Elected
1853: Gadsden Purchase
1854: Kansas-Nebraska Act and Republican Party formed.


-Disunity and Civil War Era
-Differences between the North and the South began to cause conflicts and, by 1854, split the nation in half.
-A bloody war left 800,000 dead

Important Dates

1858: Lincoln-Douglas Debates
1859: John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry
1860: Democratic Party splits apart,
Abraham Lincoln Elected (1860-1864)
Lower South secedes
Homestead Act passes but vetoed by Buchanan
1861: Civil War begins at Fort Sumter
Upper South secedes
North is defeated at the first battle of Bull Run
1862: Battle of Antietam
Morill Tariff
Homestead Act
Emancipation Proclamation issued (effective January 1, 1863)
1864: Abraham Lincoln RE-elected (1864-1868)
1865: Thirteenth Amendment abolishes slavery
Lincoln assassinated
Andrew Johnson becomes President
KKK formed


-Reconstruction Era
-A time for the North and South to reunite and find peace.
-South needed to rebuild and emancipate slaves faced racism.

Important Dates

1866: Congress passes Civil Rights Bill over Johnson;s veto. Congress also passes the 14th Amendment
1867: First Reconstruction Act launches Radical Reconstruction and Alaska purchased.
1868: Fourteenth Amendment guarantees Civil Rights
and Johnson impeached.
Ulysses Grant Elected (1868-1872)
1870: Fifteenth Amendment forbids denial of vote on racial grounds
1870-71: Force Acts
1872: Ulysses Grant RE-elected (1872-1876)
1870s: Terrorism against blacks in South, flourishing of Darwinism and ideas of racial inferiority
1876: End of Reconstruction
Battle of Little Big Horn
Rutherford B. Hayes Elected
1877: Compromise of 1877
Munn v. Illinois: Court rules states may regulate warehouse rates


-Gilded Age and Populist Era
-A period of time that looked wonderful but, underneath, this was problematic.
-Beginning of more radical groups.

Important Dates

1869: First Transcontinental Railroad Completed
1870: Standard Oil Company incorporated
1872: Ulysses Grant RE-elected
1875: Tariff Act of 1875
1876: Rutherford B. Hayes Elected (1876-1880)
1877: Compromise of 1877
1879: Stand Oil Trust formed
1882: Chinese Exclusion Act
1883: Railroad companies divide nation into 4 time zones and Pendleton Civil Service Act
1887: Davies Act


-Empire and World Stage Era
-This era was a time of growing military power and influence.

Important Dates

1890: Sherman Anti-Trust Act
McKinley Tariff Act
Massacre at Wounded Knee
1992: Grover Cleveland Elected (1892-1896)
1893: Repeal of Sherman Silver Purchase Act
1895: Pollock v Farmers
1896: William McKinley Elected (1896-1900)
1898: Spanish -American War
1899: Peace with Spain, U. S. receives Philippines, Samoa, Guam, and Puerto Rico
1900: William McKinley RE-Elected (1900-1904)


-Progressive Era
-Progressives were primarily middle class men and women who wanted to wage war on the evils of the world: monopolies, corruption, inefficiency, and social injustice.
-Muckrakers played an active role in exposing corruption and scandal.

Important Dates

1900: Gold Standard Act
1901: McKinley assassinated, Theodore Roosevelt becomes President
1904: Roosevelt Corollary to Monroe Doctrine
1904-1914: Panama Canal built
1905: Roosevelt mediates Russo-Japanese Peace Treaty
Lochner v. New York
1906: U.S. Marines occupy Cuba (1906-1909)
1908: Muller v. Oregon
1910: NAACP founded
1912: Woodrow Wilson Elected (1912-1916)
1913: Sixteen Amendment authorizing income tax ratified
Seventeenth Amendment providing for direct elections of Senators ratified
Federal Reserve System begun
Wilson broadens segregation in civil service


-Wilson and WWI Era
-European War broke out in 1914. US nueatral at first but got involved in 1917.
-War provided job opportunities for women and migration from the South to the North.
-War ended in 1919 leaving America weary of war and PRO-isolationism.

Important Dates

1913: Underwood Tariff Act, 16th Amendment, Federal Reserve Act, 17th Amendment
1914: World War I begins, U. S. troops occupy Vera Cruz, Clayton Anti-Trust Act
1915: U. S. troops sent to Haiti, KKK revived
1916: Wilson RE-Elected (1916-1920)
1917: U. S. enters WWI, Espionage Act of 1917
1918: WWI ends
1919:Treaty of Versailles, 18th Amendment prohibits alcoholic beverages, Volstead Act, Red Scare
1920: 19th Amendment gives women the right to vote, Warren G Harding Elected (1920-1924)


-The "Roaring" Twenties
-Economic boom post WWI
-People stopped worrying and started living again.
-Excess of everything: social events, alcohol, sex and jazz.

Important Dates

1921: Washington Naval "Disarmament" Conference
1923: ERA: Equal Rights Amendment Proposed
1923: Calvin Coolidge takes over after Harding dies.
1924: Immigration Act, Dawes Plan
1925: "Monkey Trial"/ Scopes Trial
1927: Lindbergh flies across the Atlantic
1928: Herbert Hoover Elected (1928-1932)
1929: Stock market crashes, the Great Depression begins.


-The Depression Era
-With the 1929 stock market crash, American in state of depression with unemployment rates sky high. Many families living in poverty.

Important Dates

Herbert Hoover President
1930-1936: Hoover Dam
1930: Hawley-Smoot Tariff
1932: Franklin Roosevelt Elected (1932-1936)
1933: Bank holiday, "Hundred Days"
NRA, AAA, FDIC, TVA, FERA, CCC, 20th Amendment changes inauguration day to January, 21st Amendment repeals prohibition AND Hitler comes to power in Germany.
1934: Indian Reorganization Act, Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act
1935: Social Security Act, WPA, NLRA, CIO formed,
U. S. Neutrality Act formed
1936: US Neutrality Act adopted, FDR Re-Elected (1936-1940), Spanish Civil War (1936-1939)
1937: FDR attempts to pack Supreme Court, Japan invades China
1939: World War II begins, Hatch Act


-Overlapping with the Depression Era, was WWII Europe and the Pacific.
-War started after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
-Americans wanted revenge for all the lost American lives.
-US dropping the bomb on Hiroshiam causes Japan to surrender and end the war.

Important Dates

1933: FDR's Good Neighbor Policy, Germany leaves League of Nations
1934: Hitler becomes Fuhrer of Germany
1935: US Neutrality Act
1936: Spanish Civil War begins
1937: 2nd US Neutrality Act
1939: WWII begins, France and Britain declare War, 3rd US Neutrality Act
1940: FDR Re-Elected (1940-1944)
1942: German-Soviet War begins, Attack on Pearl Harbor, US and Britain declare War on Japan, US joins War against Germany.
1944: FDR Re-Elected (1944-1948), D-Day invasion of France, Battle of the Bulge
1945: FDR dies, Truman takes over, Germany surrenders, Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs dropped, Japan surrenders and WWII ends.


-The Cold War Era
-Still getting over WWII, Americans begin having trouble with their ally the Soviet Union.
-Fear of Nuclear war lead to the Cold War

Important Dates

1945: Start of Cold War, Yalta Conference, FDR Dies and Truman takes over. A-bomb dropped, United Nations established.
1946: U. S. - USSR relations worsen, "Iron Curtain" speech
1947: "Containment Doctrine", Marshall Plan
1948: Harry Truman Elected (1948-1952)
1949: NATO Created
1950: McCarthy's Red Hunt, Korean War (1950-1953)
1952: US explodes 1st hydrogen bomb, Dwight Eisenhower Elected (1952-1956)
1955: Warsaw Pact


-At the same time as the Cold War Era, it was the fifties.
-Scuffle between democracy and communism throughout the world began.
-Civil Rights Act passed

Important Dates

Harry Truman in power at start
1950: Economy begins postwar boom, McCarthy Red Hunt
1950-1953: Korean War
1952: Eisenhower Elected (1952-1956)
1954: Brown v. Board of Ed
1955: Montgomery bus boycott, emergence of Martin Luther King, Jr.
1956: Eisenhower RE-Elected (1956-1960)
1957: Little Rock School crisis, Civil Rights Act, Eisenhower Doctrine, Baby Boom
1958-1959: Berlin Crisis
1959: Castro leads Cuban Revolution, Landrum-Griffin Act


-JFK and the Sixties Era
-A time of controversy as we moved past the Cuban Crisis and into Civil Rights Movement

Important Dates

1960: John F. Kennedy Elected (1960-1964), Non-violent protests against segregation begin.
1961: Freedom rides, 23rd Amendment gives District of Columbia the right to vote for President, Berlin crisis, Bay of Pigs, 16,000 in Vietnam
1962: Trade Expansion Act, Cuban Missile Crisis
1963: Civil Rights march on Washington, JFK assassinated
and Lyndon Johnson takes over presidency.
1964: 24th Amendment outlaws the poll tax, War on Poverty, Civil Rights Act, Lyndon Johnson Elected (1964-1968), Gulf of Tonkin
1965: Great Society begins (Medicaid, Medicare, Project Head Start, etc.), Immigration and Nationality Act, Voting Rights Act,
Malcolm X assassinated.
1965-1968: Race Riots, Vietnam War escalates
1966: N. O. W. formed
1967: Six-Day War (Israel v. Egypt), Peace movement in the U. S.
1968: Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Assassinated,
Richard Nixon Elected (1968-1972)
1969: Vietnamization, First man on the moon, Nixon proposed New Federalism


-Nixon, Nam and Carter Era
-A time of turmoil and distrust of the government.
-Vietnam War: longest conflict in US history - 40,000 killed/250,000 wounded.

Important Dates

1970: Vietnam War, Massacre at Kent State, EPA established
Cambodian invasion creates anti-war turbulence, SALT talks begin, Cost of Living TRIPLES
1971: Griggs v. Duke Power Co., Nixon enforces 90-day wage and price freeze, Pentagon Papers, 26th Amendment, Reed v. Reed.
1972: Intensive bombing of North Vietnam, Watergate, Nixon RE-elected (1972-1976), ERA Approved by Congress, Title IX of the Education Amendments passed, Wounded Knee
1973: Cease-fire in Vietnam, U. S. forces withdraw, Spiro Agnew resigns Ford appointed to VP, Roe v. Wade, War Powers Act, Frontiero v. Richardson
1974: Watergate tapes, Nixon resigns/impeached, Ford takes over presidency, Serious inflation and recession
1975: S. Vietnam falls to N. Vietnam, US troop evacuated, 44% of married women employed
1976: Bicentennial, Jimmy Carter Elected (1976-1980)
1977: Human rights
1978: US v. Wheeler
1979: SALT 2 completed but never ratified, American Embassy in Iran occupied, USSR invaded Afghanistan
1979-1980: Iranian hostage crisis


-The Eighties
-Economic Boom, aided, in part by Reaganomics. Lead to a generation of materialism.
-Fall of communism and America's rising as the world's police.

Important Dates

1980: Ronald Reagan Elected (1980-1984)
1981: 52 Captives of Iran released, Assassination attempt on Regan by John Hinkley
1982: Equal Rights Amendment dies, CIA Organizes contra war against Nicaragua's Sandinista government, Recession hits.
1983: 239 U.S. Marines die in Beirut terrorist attack
U.S. Invasion of Grenada, Reagan proposes Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars)
1984: Geraldine Ferraro chosen as vice presidential running mate on Democratic ticket, Reagan defeats Walter Mondale and RE-Elected (1984-1988),Congress bars military aid to contras
1986: William Rehnquist becomes chief justice of the Supreme Court, Antonin Scalia joins the Supreme Court, Iran-Contra Scandal revealed, Challenger explodes - 7 deaths
1988: Oliver North, John Poindexter, and other Iran-contra figures indicted, Reagan signs INF Treaty in Moscow, George H. W. Bush elected (1988-1992), Anthony Kennedy joins the Supreme Court
1989: Oliver North convicted of Iran-contra role, U.S. Invasion of Panama, Fall of the Berlin Wall

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