American History 1955 - 1975

  • Eisenhower Signs Minimum Wage Act

    Eisenhower signs the Minimum Wage Act, raising the minimum wage from $.75 to $1.00 per hour.
  • Polio Vaccine

    The Salk polio vaccine to be effective is released. Mass inoculations will follow and the disease, which has been a serious threat for generations, will virtually disappear.
  • Eisenhower's Heart Attack

    Eisenhower suffers a heart attack and remained in the hospital until November 11th.
  • Rosa Parks and Boycott

    In the rise of Civil Rights era, Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a city bus to a white man and is arrested, in Montgomery, Alabama. The ensuing boycott, coordinated by a young Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., will mark an important turning point in the African-American freedom struggle.
  • Highway Systems

    President Eisenhower signs the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, which will create the Interstate Highway system, one of the biggest public works projects in U.S. history.
  • President Eisenhower Re-Elected

    President Eisenhower is re-elected for a second term.
  • Soviets Announce Missile

    Officials of the Soviet Union announced that they have launched the first intercontinental ballistic missile.
  • Satellite Launched by Soviets

    The Soviets launch Sputnik, the first manmade satellite. The achievement shocks Americans, who begin to fear that the Russians are pulling ahead in technology.
  • First Nuclear Power Plant - PA

    The first full-scale nuclear power plant begins operation in Shippingport, Pennsylvania, supplying electricity to Pittsburgh.
  • Transatlantic Air Travel Begins

    The British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) begins the first regular jet airline service across the Atlantic Ocean.
  • US Launches Their First Satellite

    The U.S. launches its first satellite, Explorer I. This marks U.S. entry into the "space race" with the Russians.
  • Lunch Counter Sit-Ins

    Sit-in demonstrations begin in Charlotte, North Carolina as Black students protest segregation at a Woolworth's lunch counter. The movement spreads across the South in the weeks that follow.
  • American U-2 Shot Down

    An American U-2 spy plane is shot down over the Soviet Union. Pilot Gary Powers survives the crash and admits spying. The incident sours U.S.-Soviet relations and dooms the Paris summit conference later in the month.
  • JFK Becomes President

    John F. Kennedy becomes the youngest elected president.
  • First US Combat Death

    An American serviceman dies in Vietnam, the first combat death reported. For many Americans, the death will mark the beginning of the Vietnam War.
  • President Kennedy Killed

    President John F. Kennedy is shot and killed. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson assumes the presidency.
  • Bombing In North Vietnam

    The USS Maddox reports a second assault by North Vietnamese gunboats, though evidence of such an attack is inconclusive. President Lyndon B. Johnson orders retaliatory strikes. The U.S. bombs North Vietnam for the first time.
  • LBJ Wins in Landslide

    Lyndon B. Johnson wins the presidential election in a tremendous landslide.
  • US Arrives in Vietnam

    The first U.S. combat units arrive in Vietnam.
  • More Troops

    By the end of 1966, American troops stationed in Vietnam number 389,000. More than 6,000 Americans have been killed and 30,000 wounded in 1966 alone.
  • MLK Demonstrates Against War

    Martin Luther King, Jr. leads thousands of demonstrators to the United Nations building in New York, where he delivers a speech attacking U.S. foreign policy in Vietnam. Over 100,000 people attend the rally.
  • Pentagon March against War

    Thousands march to the Pentagon to demonstrate against the war in Vietnam.
  • Vietnam - US's Longest War

    The war in Vietnam—its beginning marked by the first death of an American serviceman reported on December 22nd, 1961. Vietnam War becomes the longest war in American history.
  • President Declines Reelection

    President Johnson states in a nationwide television broadcast, "We are prepared to move immediately toward peace through negotiations. He also announces that he will not seek reelection in 1968.
  • President Johnson Looks to End War

    President Johnson meets with his military advisors who urge him to find a way to end the war in Vietnam.
  • MLK Assassinated

  • Nixon Elected as President

    Republican Richard Nixon is elected President of the United States.
  • Vietnam Peak

    The number of U.S. troops in Vietnam peaks at 543,000. President Richard Nixon announces his plan for "Vietnamization" of the war—that is, training and transitioning South Vietnamese troops to assume the roles that have been fulfilled by American troops—and promises to withdraw 25,000 American soldiers.
  • President Nixon Promises to Withdraw Troops

    President Nixon promises to withdraw 35,000 additional troops from the war in Vietnam.
  • The 26th Amendment is Ratified

    The 26th Amendment is ratified, lowering the national voting age from 21 to 18.
  • Troops Withdrawn by Congress Vote

    The House and the Senate vote to withdraw all U.S. troops in Vietnam by year's end.
  • Nixon Reelected

  • Watergate

    Five men are caught burglarizing the headquarters for the Democratic National Committee, located at the Watergate hotel in Washington, D.C. Their arrests will set into motion the events that will eventually result in President Nixon's resignation.
  • Vietnam Ceasefire Signed

    Reps from South Vietnam, North Vietnam, and the United States sign a peace agreement to ceasefire. The U.S. agrees to withdraw combat troops, and the government of South Vietnam promises to hold free elections to allow its people to decide their future.
  • Vietnam War Officially Ends

    The Vietnam War is officially over for the United States. The last U.S. combat soldier leaves Vietnam, but military advisors and some Marines remain. Over 3 million Americans have served in the war, nearly 60,000 are dead, some 150,000 are wounded, and at least 1,000 are missing in action.
  • President Nixon Resigns

    President Nixon resigns amidst the Watergate scandal; his vice president Gerald Ford takes office.
  • Saigon Falls

    The North Vietnamese take Saigon; the war in Vietnam ends.