Important Dates in American History
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c1000: Vikings establish settlements in what is now L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, Canada.
1492: Christopher Columbus lands in what is now the Bahamas.
1493: Pope Alexander VI issues a papal bull, which divides the new world into Spanish and Portuguese possessions.
1507: The word “America” is first applied to the new world, named after Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci.
1513: Spanish found a colony at St. Augustine, Florida.
1519-1521: Spanish conquistadors conquer the Aztecs.
1542: Spanish explorer Juan Cabrillo explores the California coast.
1570: Five nations (later six) of Iroquois form a confederacy.
1580s: The slave trade begins as millions of Africans are shipped to the Americas.
1590: The English colony of Roanoke vanishes.
1604: French settlers begin to establish colonies in Canada.
1607: The English build a settlement in Jamestown, Virginia.
1607: Pocahontas saves the life of John Smith.
1620: Carrying English pilgrims, the Mayflower arrives in what is now Massachusetts.
1624: The Dutch settle in New Amsterdam, now called New York.
1675: King Philip’s War.
1682: William Penn founds the colony of Pennsylvania.
1692: Salem Witch Trials in Salem, Massachusetts.
1699: The French create the colony of Louisiana.
1733: The British have 13 American colonies.
1754: The French and Indian War.
1759: Benjamin Franklin invents the lightning conductor.
1759: British troops capture Quebec from the French.
1765: British Parliament passes the Stamp Act, taxing the colonists.
1770: The Bloody Massacre.
1773: The Boston Tea Party, angry colonists dressed as Indians dump English tea into Boston Harbor.
1775-1783: American Revolution.
July 1776: The 13 colonies sign the Declaration of Independence.
1778: France joins the Americans in their war against Britain.
1780: Benjamin Franklin invents bifocal lenses.
1781: The United States of America and France defeat Britain as General Cornwallis surrenders to General Washington.
1787: The U.S. Constitution is written.
1789: George Washington becomes the first president of the United States of America.
1792: Eli Whitney invents the cotton gin.
1793: Yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia.
1803: French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte agrees to sell 800,000 square miles of land to the United States for $15 million, this is known as the Louisiana Purchase.
1804: Slavery is made illegal in the northern states of the United States of America.
1806: Robert Fulton invents the steamboat.
1807: Meriwether Lewis and William Clark explore the Missouri Valley.
1812: War of 1812 is waged between the Americans and the British.
1820-1860: The Underground Railroad saves thousands of slaves from slavery.
1820: The Missouri Compromise admits Missouri and Maine to the union.
1823: The Monroe Doctrine discourages European colonialism in the Americas.
1825: The community of New Harmony is established.
1831: Nat Turner’s Rebellion.
1835: Samuel Colt introduces the first revolver.
1836: Battle of the Alamo leads to the independent Republic of Texas.
1838-1839: The forced removal of American Indians, especially Cherokees, from their homeland, the “Trail of Tears”.
1848: Mexican-American War leads to annexation of what is now the southwestern United States.
1848: The Seneca Falls Convention.
1848: Gold is found in California, setting off a massive influx of settlers.
1850: Congress passes the Compromise of 1850, temporarily keeping the union intact.
1852: Harriet Beecher Stowe writes Uncle Tom’s Cabin, galvanizing support for the abolitionists.
1859: The abolitionist John Brown leads a raid on Harpers Ferry.
1860: Abraham Lincoln becomes President of the United States.
1860-1890: Native Americans fight the U.S. army for land.
April 1861: Civil War breaks out.
1862: The Homestead Act encourages settling of the western territories.
1863: The Battle of Gettysburg.
1863-1865: Union armies destroy many southern towns.
1865: With the Emancipation Proclamation, slavery is made illegal throughout the United States.
April 9, 1865: General Lee surrenders at Appomattox. The Civil War ends one month later.
April 14, 1865: Lincoln is murdered; Andrew Johnson becomes president.
1868: Fighting over Reconstruction leads to the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson.
1869: The transcontinental railroad is completed.
1875: The Red River War.
1876: Native Americans defeat Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn.
1876: Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone.
1877: The Nez Perce War.
1879: Thomas Alva Edison perfects the electric light bulb.
1879: Construction begins on the Panama Canal.
1881: President James Garfield is assassinated; Chester Arthur becomes president.
1885: George Eastman introduces photographic film.
1886: Geronimo surrenders.
1890: Native Americans are defeated at Wounded Knee.
1892: Ellis Island becomes the new immigration-processing center, welcoming more than 12 million people to the United States.
1894: The Pullman Strike.
1898: Spanish-American War leads to the overseas expansion of the United States.
1901: President William McKinley is assassinated; Theodore Roosevelt becomes president.
1903: Boston beats Pittsburgh in the first ever World Series.
1903: Wright brothers invent the airplane.
1903: Panama Canal declared independence.
1903: First movie, The Great Train Robbery, is played.
1905: Construction begins on the Panama Canal.
1906: Theodore Roosevelt wins the Nobel Peace Prize for brokering a treaty between Russia and Japan.
1906: Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle raises awareness of the food industry.
1906: A large earthquake strikes San Francisco, more than 500 people die.
1906: “Typhoid Mary”, the most famous typhoid carrier, is discovered.
1908: Ford Model T mass-produced automobile is introduced.
1909: The NAACP is founded.
1911: A fire in the Asch Building kills 146 employees of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company.
1912: British ocean liner, The Titanic sinks in the North Atlantic.
1914: World War I, called the Great War, begins.
1914: Allied armies halt the Germans at the Battle of Marne.
1915: A German torpedo sinks the passenger ship The Lusitania.
1917: The United States joins World War I.
1918: After the Bolshevik revolution, Russia makes peace with Germany.
Nov 11, 1918: World War I ends as Germany signs the Treaty of Versailles.
1920: The first radio stations are set up in the United States.
1920: The 19th Amendment is ratified, giving women the right to vote.
1920-1933: The Prohibition makes alcohol illegal in the United States.
1925: Clarence Birdseye perfects the frozen food process.
1927: Charles Lindbergh flies across the Atlantic Ocean.
1927: The Jazz Singer is the first movie with sound.
1928: Jacob Schick invents the electric razor.
Oct 24, 1929: The Wall Street Crash, setting off the Great Depression.
1932: Franklin D. Roosevelt becomes president, a title he keeps until his death in 1945.
1933: Roosevelt launches the New Deal.
Sept. 3, 1939: World War II begins as Britain and France declare war on Germany after the invasion of Poland.
April-June 1940: Hitler occupies most of Western Europe.
June 22, 1941: Hitler invades the Soviet Union; U.S. issues $40 million in credit to the Soviet Union.
Dec 7, 1941: Japanese bombers attack US ships at Pearl Harbor.
1942: U.S. government forces 110,000 Californians of Japanese decent into remote interment camps.
1943: British and U.S. forces invade Italy.
June 6, 1944: D-Day, the greatest military invasion in history.
May 7, 1945: Germany surrenders.
July 16, 1945: Scientists in the Manhattan Project successfully detonate the world’s first atomic bomb.
Aug 6, 1945: Hiroshima is decimated by an atomic bomb. Two days later, a second atomic bomb is dropped on Nagasaki.
Aug 14, 1945: Japan surrenders, ending World War II.
1945: The United Nations is set up to encourage peace and to protect human rights.
1946: The ENIAC computer is built.
1947: The Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan are drawn up, attempting to limit the spread of communism.
1947: Jackie Robinson takes the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers, becomsing the first African-American to play in the major leagues.
1948: Israel is created.
1949: Germany is divided into democratic West Germany and communist East Germany.
1949: NATO is formed with twelve charter nations.
1950: The Korean War begins.
1951: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are sentenced to death for selling U.S. atomic secrets to the Soviet Union.
1953: “Crazy Man, Crazy” by Bill Haley becomes the first rock & roll hit song.
1953: The Korean War ends.
1954: The Supreme Court orders school desegregation.
1954: Vietnamese forces overwhelm French forces at Dien Bien Phu. The United States begins to send military advisors to Vietnam.
1955: Communist Eastern European countries and the Soviet Union sign the Warsaw Pact.
1955: Rosa Parks triggers the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
1956: Elvis croons his first hit song “Heartbreak Hotel.”
1957: Initiating the space race, the Soviet Union launches Sputnik I.
1958: Jack Kilby makes the first microchip at Texas Instruments laboratories.
1960: Theodore Maiman invents the laser.
1961: Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becomes the first person to travel in space.
1961: The Berlin Wall is built.
1962: James Meredith, accompanied by 3,000 federal troops, becomes the first black to attend the University of Mississippi.
1962: The Cuban Missile Crisis.
1962: The satellite Telstar sends a TV image across the Atlantic.
Nov. 22, 1963: President John F. Kennedy is assassinated; Lyndon Johnson becomes president.
1963: Spearheading the women’s rights movement, Betty Friedan publishes The Feminine Mystique.
1964-1965: Civil rights laws are passed in the United States.
1964: The Beatles arrive in America.
1965: Medicare goes into effect.
1965: Members of the Nation of Islam assassinate Malcolm X.
1966: Betty Friedan founds the National Organization for Women (NOW).
1966: Led by Cesar Chavez, the NFWA stages a farmworkers strike.
1967: Thurgood Marshall becomes the first black Supreme Court Justice.
1968: North Vietnamese launch the Tet Offensive, leading to widespread disapproval of the war in America.
1968: Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, TN.
1968: Presidential candidate Robert Kennedy is shot and killed in Los Angeles.
1968: Dennis Banks and Clyde Bellancourt found the American Indian Movement.
1969: The computer network ARPANET is set up, the precursor to the Internet.
July 20, 1969: Apollo 11 reaches the moon. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin make the first moon landing.
1969: Over 500,000 attend the Woodstock Music Festival.
1970: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is established.
1972: President Richard Nixon visits China to improve relations.
1973: Watergate hearings in Congress begin investigating Nixon and his staff.
1974: Nixon resigns. Gerald Ford becomes president.
1977: The first Apple II home computer is sold.
1979: A revolution in Iran leads the establishment of an Islamic theocracy under the Ayatollah Khomeini. 52 Americans are captured and held prisoner in Iran.
1980-1988: Iran-Iraq War kills tens of thousands on both sides but ends only in a stalemate.
1981: Sandra Day O’Connor becomes the first woman on the U.S. Supreme Court.
1981: Music Television (MTV) debuts with round-the-clock music programming.
1981: IBM launches the first personal computer.
1984: AIDS virus is discovered.
1986: The space shuttle Challenger explodes after lift-off, killing seven astronauts.
1989: The Cold War ends.
1991: The First Gulf War ensues as U.S. forces remove Iraqi troops from Kuwait.
1992: The verdict in the Rodney King beating case ignites riots in South Los Angeles.
1993: ATF agents storm the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas.
1993: Middle East Peace Accord signed by Israel and the PLO.
1994: An earthquake measuring 6.7 rocks Southern California, killing fifty-five people.
1995: A truck bomb destroys the Alfred Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people.
1998: Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski is sentenced to life in prison.
1998: More than 45 million people are “connected” to the Internet, confirming what many consider to be the Internet Revolution.
1999: President Clinton keeps his job as the U.S. Senate votes against impeachment.
1999: In the worst school killing in U.S. history, two students at Columbine High School in Colorado kill thirteen before taking their own lives.
1999: Scientists succeed in cloning the first human embryo.
Dec 12, 2000: Republican candidate George W. Bush becomes the forty-third president, receiving a majority of the electoral votes despite losing the popular vote..
Sept. 11, 2001: Four hijacked airliners are used by terrorists to destroy the World Trade Center in New York, and damage the Pentagon in the worst terrorist act in world history.
2002: SARS epidemic (severe acute respiratory syndrome) began in China.
October 24, 2003: Final Concorde Flight from New York to London.
2004: Condoleezza Rice named Secretary of State.
2005: Hurricane Katrina
2005: Rosa Parks dies in October
2005: The long-secret identity of Deep Throat was revealed.
2005: John Roberts was sworn in as the 17th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the youngest to occupy the post in more than 200 years.
2006: Sago Mine disaster
2006: Saddam Hussein verdict
2007: iPhone became available on June 29, 2007.
2007: NTSB: Design flaw led to Minnesota bridge collapse
2007: Virginia Tech Massacre
2008: First African-American president of the United States elected.
August 17, 2008: Michael Phelps, the United States swimmer from Baltimore, wins his 8th Gold Medal of the Beijing Summer Olympic Games, surpassing the record of seven won by Mark Spitz.
June 25, 2009: King of Pop, Michael Jackson Died.
January 27, 2010: Apple Unveils iPad.
March 15, 2010: Chicago O’Hare Airport begins full-body scans.
July 25, 2010: Wikileaks releases war documents online.
Popular Songs in American History