1955-1975 DC American History

Timeline created by KaylaWylie
In History
  • Apr 4, 968

    RIP MLK Jr.

    Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee while standing on a motel balcony by James Earl Ray.
  • US trains Southern Vietnamese troops

    The United States government agrees to train South Vietnamese troops.
  • Public schools are integrated

    The Supreme Court of the United States orders that all public schools be integrated with deliberate speed.
  • The Happiest Place on Earth is built

    Disneyland, the brainchild of Walt Disney, whose father had worked at previous world's fairs and inspired his son to build the iconic Magic Castle and other exhibits opens in Anaheim, California, with the backing of the new television network, ABC. Disneyland California remains today as one of the greatest theme park capitals of the world and some say is second only to his second park built some years later on the other side of the country, Disney World Florida.
  • Rosa Parks & the Bus Boycotts

    Rosa Parks, an African American seamstress, refuses to give up her seat on the bus to a white man, prompting a boycott that would lead to the declaration that bus segregation laws were unconstitutional by a federal court.
  • The South protests against new integration laws

    Congressmen from Southern states call for massive resistance, the Southern Manifesto, to the Supreme Court ruling on desegregation.
  • The Federal-Aid Highway Act

    Interstate highway system begins with the signing of the Federal-Aid Highway Act.
  • The First Trans-Atlantic Telephone Cable

    The first transatlantic telephone cable begins operation.
  • Eisenhower & Khrushchev visit Gettysburg

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower hosts Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev at his farm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (I've been there, it was a beautiful area :D) during the first visit of any Soviet Union led to the United States.
  • Eisenhower is reelected for his 2nd term

    A repeat challenge in the presidential election between Eisenhower and Stevenson gains a similar outcome, with easy victory for the incumbent president by a 457 to 73 margin in the Electoral College vote.
  • President Eisenhower is inaugurated

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower is inaugurated for his second term in office.
  • Civil Rights Movement: the First Step!

    U.S. Congress approves the first civil rights bill since reconstruction with the additional protection of voting rights.
  • The Little Rock Nine

    National Guard called to duty by Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus to bar nine black students from attending previously all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. He withdrew the troops on September 21 and the students were allowed entrance to class two days later. A threat of violence caused President Eisenhower to dispatch federal troops to Little Rock on September 24 to enforce the edict.
  • Space Satellite Failure & the Space Race

    The first attempt by the United States to launch a satellite into space fails when it explodes on the launchpad.
  • First American Satellite is launched successfully

    Explorer I, the first U.S. space satellite, is launched by the Army at Cape Canaveral. It would discover the Van Allen radiation belt.
  • The First World Fair since WWII & the Mini Cold War

    The first major world's fair since the end of World War II opens in Brussels, Belgium and evokes a Cold War debate between the pavilions of the Soviet Union and the United States. Their competing visions of the world vie for the attention of the over 41 million visitors to the event, also noted for the Atomium atom molecular structure that stood as the fair's theme. The expo, sanctioned by the Bureau of International Exhibitions, closed on October 19, 1958.
  • The Lituya Bay Earthquake & Tsunami

    The Lituya Bay, Alaska earthquake registers 7.5 on the Richter scale, producing a landslide that caused a megatsunami with a 520-meter high wave (one of the tallest tsunami waves in history). Only two people were killed in the incident, due to the desolate nature of the area involved. The wave dissipated when reaching the open sea.
  • Commercial Air Traffic is a go!

    Jet airline passenger service is inaugurated in the United States by National Airlines with a flight between New York City and Miami, Florida.
  • Alaska becomes the 49th state

    Alaska is admitted to the United States as the 49th state.
  • The US recognizes the new Cuban government

    The United States recognizes the new Cuban government under rebel leader Fidel Castro. Castro becomes the Premier of Cuba on February 16.
  • NASA selects the Mercury Seven

    NASA selects the first seven military pilots to become the Mercury Seven, first astronauts of the United States. The Mercury Seven included John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, Gus Griscom, Wally Scare, Alan Shepard, and Deke Slayton.
  • Hawaii becomes the 50th state

    Hawaii is admitted to the United States as the 50th state.
  • The Sit-In Strikes

    Four black college students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College in Greensboro, North Carolina stage a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth lunch counter, protesting their denial of service. This action caused a national campaign, waged by seventy-thousand students, both white and black, over the next eight months, in sit-ins across the nation for Civil Rights.
  • Weather & Navigation Satellites are launched

    Tiros I, the first weather satellite, is launched by the United States. Twelve days later, the navigation satellite, Transat 1-b is launched.
  • The 1960 US Census

    The 1960 census includes a United States population of 179,323,175, an 18.5% increase since 1950. For the first time, two states, New York and California have over fifteen million people within their borders. The geographic center of the United States is located six and one half miles northwest of Centralia, Illinois.
  • The U2 Spy Plane Incident

    In the Soviet Union, a United States U-2 reconnaissance plane is shot done by Soviet forces, leading to the capture of U.S. pilot Gary Powers and the eventual cancellation of the Paris summit conference. On August 19, Powers is sentenced by the Soviet Union to ten years in prison for espionage. On February 10, 1962, he would be exchanged for a captured Soviet spy in Berlin.
  • The Star Spangle Banner: UPDATED! NOW HAS 50 STARS!

    The 50-star flag of the United States is debuted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, reflecting the admission of Hawaii into the union in 1959.
  • JFK is elected as President

    The presidential race to succeed President Dwight D. Eisenhower is won by Senator John F. Kennedy, the Democratic candidate from Massachusetts, over incumbent Vice President Richard M. Nixon. Kennedy was a narrow victor in the popular vote, by slightly more than 120,000 votes, but won a more substantial victory in the Electoral College tally, 303 to 219. 62.8% of the voting-age population took part in the contest.
  • US severs diplomatic relations with Cuba

    Disputes over the nationalization of United States businesses in Cuba cause the U.S. Government to sever diplomatic and consular relations with the Cuban government.
  • First EVER Manned Orbital Flight

    Vostok I flight with Yuri Gagarin becomes the first manned spaceflight into orbit.
  • The Bay of Pigs Invasion: FAIL

    The Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba is repulsed by Cuban forces in an attempt by Cuban exiles under the direction of the United States government to overthrow the regime of Fidel Castro.
  • The First Manned Sub-Orbital Flight

    The first U.S. manned sub-orbital space flight is completed with Commander Alan B. Shepard Jr. inside a Mercury capsule launched 116.5 miles above the earth from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
  • "We shall go to the moon by the end of this decade."

    President Kennedy announces his intention to place a man on the moon by the end of the decade.
  • The "Iron Curtain": The Berlin Wall

    The construction of the Berlin Wall begins by the Soviet bloc, segregating the German city, previously held in four sectors by Allied forces, including the United States. The wall would last for twenty-eight years.
  • Vietnam trouble ahead: Confirmed

    The first sign of a looming Vietnam conflict emerges when President Kennedy admits that the military advisors already in Vietnam would engage the enemy if fired upon.
  • The First AMERICAN Manned Orbit Flight

    Lt. Colonel John Glenn becomes the first U.S. astronaut in orbit in the Friendship 7 Mercury capsule. He would circle the earth three times before returning to earth, remaining aloft for four hours and fifty-five minutes.
  • The Seattle Century 21 Exposition

    The Seattle Century 21 Exposition, the first world's fair held in the United States since World War II, opens under the theme of space exploration. Over 9.6 million visitors would attend the exposition over 184 days in central Seattle, whose monorail still travels inside the city.
  • The First African American attends University

    Three thousand troops quell riots, allowing James Meredith to enter the University of Mississippi as the first black student under guard by Federal marshals.
  • The Cuban Missile Crisis begins

    The Cuban Missile Crises begins. In response to the Soviet Union building offensive missiles in Cuba, President John F. Kennedy orders a naval and air blockade of military equipment to the island. An agreement is eventually reached with Soviet Premier Khrushchev on the removal of the missiles, ending the potential conflict after thirty-eight days, in what many think was the closest the Cold War came to breaking into armed conflict.
  • Alcatraz is closed

    The last twenty-seven prisoners of Alcatraz, the island prison in San Francisco Bay, are ordered removed by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and the federal penitentiary is closed.
  • Worship is banned in public schools

    The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in the case of Abington School District vs. Schempp that laws requiring the recitation of the Lord's Prayer or Bible verses in public schools is unconstitutional. The vote was 8 to 1.
  • Nuclear Testing Control

    The United States, Soviet Union, and Great Britain agree to a limited nuclear test-ban treaty, barring all nuclear testing above ground.
  • "I Have A Dream" & the Washington March

    The Civil Rights march on Washington, D.C. for Jobs and Freedom culminates with Dr. Martin Luther King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Over 200,000 people participated in the march for equal rights.
  • The Chamizal Treaty

    A peaceful settlement to the land dispute between Mexico and the United States is enacted with the signing of the Chamizal Treaty, establishing the boundary in the El Paso Juarez Valley. The dispute, which had been ongoing for ninety-nine years, is now commemorated by the Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso, Texas.
  • RIP: JFK is assasinated

    In Dallas, Texas, during a motorcade through downtown, President John F. Kennedy is mortally wounded by assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson is sworn into office later that day. Two days later, Oswald was himself killed on live national television by Jack Ruby while being transported in police custody.
  • The Panama Canal Incident

    The Panama Canal incident occurs when Panamanian mobs engage United States troops, leading to the death of twenty-one Panama citizens and four U.S. troops.
  • Beatle-mania hits the US

    Beatle-mania hits the shores of the United States with the release of I Want to Hold Your Hand, which becomes the Liverpool group's first North American hit. One week later, their first U.S. album Meet the Beatles is released.
  • The New York World's Fair

    The New York World's Fair opens in Queens, New York on the site of the 1939 event. One of the largest world's fairs in United States history, it was not a sanctioned Bureau of International Exhibitions event, due to conflict over the dates of the Seattle fair of 1962. This world's fair would last for 2 seasons and included exhibits from 80 nations. Over 50 million visitors would attend. Its theme structure, the Unisphere, is still present, now seen each August outside the U.S. Tennis Open.
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964

    Legislation in the U.S. Congress on Civil Rights is passed. It banned discrimination in jobs, voting and accommodations.
  • The Tonkin Resolution

    The Tonkin Resolution is passed by the United States Congress, authorizing broad powers to the president to take action in Vietnam after North Vietnamese boats had attacked two United States destroyers five days earlier.
  • LBJ is elected (oh joy... I don't like this guy, Texan or not)

    President Lyndon B. Johnson wins his first presidential election with a victory over Barry M. Goldwater from Arizona. Johnson extended the Democratic victory by former running mate John F. Kennedy with a 486 to 52 thrashing of the Republican candidate in the Electoral College and over a 15 million surplus in the popular vote.
  • LBJ's obession with North Vietnam starts

    President Lyndon B. Johnson orders the continuous bombing of North Vietnam below the 20th parallel.
  • The Montgomery March

    Martin Luther King speaks at a civil rights rally on the courthouse steps of the Alabama State Capitol, ending the Selma to Montgomery, Alabama march for voting rights.
  • The Voting Rights Act of 1965

    The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Two significant portions of the act; the outlawing of the requirement of potential voters to take a literacy test in order to qualify and the provision of federal registration of voters in areas with less than 50% of all voters registered.
  • The Watts Race Riots

    The Watts race riots in Los Angeles begin a five-day siege, culminating in the death of thirty-four people and property destruction in excess of $200 million.
  • Vietnam War Draft Protest

    The first public burning of a draft card occurs in protest to the Vietnam War. It is coordinated by the anti-war group of students, National Coordinating Committee to End the War in Vietnam.
  • The Vietnam War heats up

    United States warplanes begin their bombing raids of Hanoi and Haiphong, North Vietnam. By December of this year, the United States had 385,300 troops stationed in South Vietnam with 60,000 additional troops offshore and 33,000 in Thailand.
  • Medicare is born

    Medicare, the government medical program for citizens over the age of 65, begins.
  • The National Historic Preservation Act

    The National Historic Preservation Act is made law. It expanded the National Register of Historic Places to include historic sites of regional, state, and local significance.
  • The First African American US Senator is elected in over 85 years

    The first black United States Senator in eighty-five years, Edward Brooke, is elected to Congress. Brooke was the Republican candidate from Massachusetts and former Attorney General of that state.
  • The Outer Space Treaty

    The Outer Space Treaty is signed into force by the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union, to take effect on October 10, 1967. It dictates that no nuclear weapons can be tested in space.
  • The New Jersey Summit

    A three-day summit between President Lyndon B. Johnson and Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin, held at Glassboro State College in New Jersey, culminates in a mutual declaration that no crises between them would lead to war.
  • Race Riots begin to explode in cities across the US

    Black riots plague U.S. cities. In Newark, New Jersey, twenty-six are killed, fifteen hundred injured and one thousand arrested from July 12 to 17. One week later, July 23 to 30, forty are killed, two thousand injured, and five thousand left homeless after rioting in Detroit, known as the 12th Street Riots, decimate a black ghetto. The riots are eventually stopped by over 12,500 Federal troopers and National Guardsmen.
  • The First African American becomes a Supreme Court Justice

    Thurgood Marshall is sworn into office as the first black Supreme Court Justice.
  • The U.S.S. Pueblo Incident

    The U.S.S. Pueblo incident occurs in the Sea of Japan when North Korea seizes the ship and its crew, accusing it of violating its territorial waters for the purpose of spying. They would release the prisoners on December 22, but North Korea still holds possession of the U.S.S. Pueblo to this day.
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  • Ford's Theatre Museum opens

    Ford's Theatre, the site of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865 in Washington, D.C., reopens to the public. It had been restored to its original appearance and use as a theatre, now comprising the Ford's Theatre National Historic Site.
  • LBJ gives up on Vietnam bombings & reelection

    President Johnson announces a slowing to the bombing of North Vietnam, and that he would not seek reelection as president. Peace talks would begin May 10 in Paris; all bombing of North Korea halted October 31.
  • RIP Robert F. Kennedy

    Presidential candidate, the Democratic Senator from New York, Robert F. Kennedy, is shot at a campaign victory celebration in Los Angeles by Sirhan Sirhan, a Jordanian, after primary victories, and dies one day later.
  • Nixon is reelected (yay... note the sarcasm)

    Richard M. Nixon recaptures the White House from the Democratic party with his victory of Hubert H. Humphrey and 3rd Party candidate George Wallace. Nixon captures 301 Electoral College Votes to 191 for Humphrey and 46 for Wallace.
  • Vietnam War Peace Talks begin

    Four-party Vietnam war peace talks begin. In April, U.S. troops in the war reached its zenith at 543,400 and would begin their withdrawal on July 8.
  • The Apollo Mission, the Moon Landing, & "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind"

    The Apollo program completes its mission. Neil Armstrong, United States astronaut, becomes the first man to set foot on the moon four days after launch from Cape Canaveral. His Apollo 11 colleague, Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr. accompanies him.
  • The Nixon Doctrine

    President Richard M. Nixon announces his new Vietnam policy, declaring the Nixon Doctrine that expected Asian allies to care for their own military defense. This policy, and all Vietnam war policies, would be heavily protested throughout the remainder of the year. On November 15, 1969, more than two hundred and fifty thousand anti-Vietnam war demonstrators marched on Washington, D.C. to peacefully protest the war.
  • THE AGE OF THE INTERNET: The birth of cat memes & all good things provided by our faithful friend, the Internet :)

    The Internet, called Arpanet during its initial development, is invented by the Advanced Research Projects Agency at the U.S. Department of Defense. The first operational packet switching network in the world was deployed connecting the IMP at UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute. By December 5, it included the entire four-node system, with the UCSB and the University of Utah.
  • The 1970 US Census

    For the first time, the 1970 census counted over 200 million people living in the United States. The 13.4% increase since the last census indicated that a 203,302,031 population now called the U.S.A. home. It had taken only fifty years to go from the first 100 million census in 1920 to the second. Once again, the geographic center of the United States population was in Illinois, five miles east southeast of Mascoutah.
  • The First Earth Day is celebrated

    The first Earth Day celebration is held with millions of Americans participating in anti-pollution demonstrations. These demonstrations included school children walking to school instead of riding the bus. (FUN FACT: We just celebrated our 50th Earth Day a few days ago :D)
  • The US Postal Service becoems independent

    The United States Postal Service is made independent in a postal reform measure for the first time in almost two centuries.
  • No more smoking ads! (AKA the First Wave of "No Smoking" Promotions)

    A ban on the television advertisement of cigarettes goes into affect in the United States.
  • The 26th Amendment

    The Senate approves a Constitutional Amendment, the 26th, that would lower the voting age from 21 to 18. House approval came on March 23. It was ratified by the states by June 30 and received certification by President Richard M. Nixon on July 5.
  • FREEDOM OF SPEECH: "Sorry, Pentagon, but our right to have knowlege outweighs country security :D"

    The United States Supreme Court upholds the right of the New York Times and the Washington Post to publish classified Pentagon papers about the Vietnam War, under the articles of the First Amendment to the Constitution. The New York Times had begun the publication of the Pentagon papers on June 13.
  • Disney World opens :D

    Walt Disney World opens in Orlando, Florida, expanding the Disney empire to the east coast of the United States.
  • Nixon visits China

    The journey for peace trip of the U.S. President to Peking, China begins. The eight-day journey by Richard M. Nixon and meetings with Mao Zedong, unprecedented at the time, began the process for normalization of relations with China.
  • Vietnam bombings start again

    The largest attacks by North Vietnam troops across the demilitarized zone in four years prompts bombing raids to begin again by United States forces against Hanoi and Haiphong on April 15, ending a four-year cessation of those raids.
  • Nixon visits Moscow

    President Richard M. Nixon makes the first trip of the U.S. President to Moscow. The week of summit discussions would lead to a strategic arms pact, SALT I that would be signed by Nixon and Premier Leonid Brezhnev on May 26. On July 8, the White House would announce the sale of American wheat to the Soviet Union.
  • The Watergate Scandal & Okinawa is returned to Japanese control

    The Watergate crisis begins when four men are arrested for breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate office building in Washington, D.C. on the same day that Okinawa is returned from U.S. control back to Japan.
  • Nixon gets reelected... again..... yay...

    In one of the most lopsided races in American Presidential election history, incumbent President Richard M. Nixon beat his Democratic challenger George S. McGovern, winning 520 Electoral College votes to McGovern's 17, and taking over 60% of the popular vote. This election, however, would be the beginning of the end for the presidency of Richard M. Nixon, once the Watergate affair brought the question into the tactics within the election process.
  • Abortion is legal now

    The United States Supreme Court rules in Roe vs. Wade that a woman can not be prevented by a state in having an abortion during the first six months of pregnancy.
  • Vietnam War draft & fighting ends

    Four-part Vietnam peace pacts, the Paris Peace Accords, were signed in Paris, France. The announcement of the military draft ending also occurred on that date. The last U.S. military troops would leave the war zone on March 29.
  • The Watergate Scandal: THE FALLOUT

    Two defendants in the Watergate break-in trial are convicted. The remaining five defendants had pleaded guilty to the crime two weeks earlier. On April 30, the Watergate affair widens when four members of the Nixon administration resign under suspicion of obstructing justice. During Senate hearings on June 25, Dean would admit that the administration had conspired to cover up facts about the case, leading to the refusal of the President to release tapes concerning Watergate.
  • Secretariat: the Legendary Racehorse

    In one of the most awesome displays of dominance in sports history, Secretariat, wins the Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths, winning the Triple Crown of United States Thoroughbred Racing for the first time since 1948.
  • At this point Nixon's career is doomed...

    Vice President Spiro T. Agnew resigns amid charges of tax evasion and is replaced by the appointment of Gerald R. Ford on October 12.
  • The Arab Oil Embargo

    Oil imports from Arab oil-producing nations are banned to the United States after the start of the Arab-Israeli war, creating the 1973 energy crisis. They would not resume until March 18, 1974.
  • And down goes Nixon

    Impeachment hearings are begun by the House Judiciary Committee against President Richard M. Nixon in the Watergate affair. On July 24, the United States Supreme Court rules that President Nixon must turn over the sixty-four tapes of White House conversations concerning the Watergate break-in.
  • Nixon is condemned

    The first of three articles of impeachment against President Richard M. Nixon is recommended in a 27-11 vote of the House Judiciary Committee, charging that Nixon had been part of a criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice in the Watergate affair.
  • Nixon finally makes a smart choice & resigns

    President Richard M. Nixon resigns the office of the presidency, avoiding the impeachment process and admitting his role in the Watergate affair. He was replaced by Vice President Gerald R. Ford, who, on September 8, 1974, pardoned Nixon for his role. Nixon was the first president to ever resign from office.
  • The Watergate Scandal's participants are condemned

    The Watergate cover-up trials of Mitchell, Haldeman, and Ehrlichman are completed; all are found guilty of the charges.
  • We lose the war in Vietnam

    Communist forces complete their takeover of South Vietnam, forcing the evacuation from Saigon of civilians from the United States and the unconditional surrender of South Vietnam.