American History

  • 12,000 BCE

    by 12,000 B.C. Humans have migrated to the Americas, most of them from Siberia

  • 1492

    Columbus, sailing for Spain, makes first voyage of discovery

  • 1497

    John Cabot explores Newfoundland

  • 1503

    First Africans are brought to the Americas

  • 1513

    Juan Ponce de León explores Florida

  • Period: 1517 to

    Protestant Reformation spurs religious conflict between Catholics and Protestants

  • 1519

    Hernán Cortés begins the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire

  • 1531

    Francisco Pizarro subdues the Incas of Peru

  • 1541

    Jacques Cartier, sailing for France, explores the St. Lawrence River

  • Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English colony, is established

  • Samuel de Champlain founds Quebec

  • Pocahontas marries John Rolfe

  • First Africans arrive in English America

  • First Africans arrive at Jamestown

  • Plymouth colony is founded; Pilgrims agree to the Mayflower Compact

  • Indian uprising in Virginia

  • Massachusetts Bay Colony is founded

  • Settlement of Maryland begins

  • Harvard College is established

  • Pequot War

  • Period: to

    English Civil War

  • Restoration of the Stuart monarchy—King Charles II

  • Restoration of the English monarchy

  • Puritans initiate the “Half-Way Covenant”

  • Virginia enacts law declaring that children of slave women are slaves

  • The French explore the Mississippi River valley from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico

  • Period: to

    King Philip’s War

  • Bacon’s Rebellion in Virginia

  • Pennsylvania is established

  • Dominion of New England is established

  • Glorious Revolution

  • Royal charter for Massachusetts is established

  • Salem witchcraft trials

  • Period: to

    Great Awakening

  • Georgia is founded

  • John Peter Zenger is tried for seditious libel

  • Stono Uprising

  • George Whitefield preaches his first sermon in America, in Philadelphia

  • Jonathan Edward preaches “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”

  • Albany Congress adopts Plan of Union

  • Period: to

    French and Indian War

  • Pontiac’s Rebellion

  • Parliament passes the Revenue (Sugar) Act

  • Parliament repeals the Stamp Act and passes the Declaratory Act

  • Parliament levies the Townshend duties

  • Boston Massacre

  • Colonists stage the Boston Tea Party

  • Parliament passes the Coercive Acts; colonists hold First Continental Congress

  • Battles of Lexington and Concord

  • Colonists hold Second Continental Congress

  • Thomas Paine’s Common Sense is published; Declaration of Independence is signed

  • General Washington’s troops cross the Delaware River; Battle of Trenton

  • Period: to

    Washington’s troops winter at Morristown, New Jersey

  • Battle of Saratoga; General Burgoyne surrenders

  • Period: to

    Washington’s troops winter at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania

  • Americans and French form an alliance

  • Battles of Cowpens and Guilford Courthouse

  • General Cornwallis surrenders at Yorktown, Virginia

  • Articles of Confederation are ratified

  • Articles of Confederation take effect

  • Treaty of Paris is signed

  • General Washington puts an end to the Newburgh Conspiracy

  • Treaty of Fort Stanwix forces the Iroquois to give up land in New York and Pennsylvania

  • Land Ordinance outlines a plan for surveying and selling government lands

  • Virginia adopts the Statute of Religious Freedom

  • Delegates decide to call for a constitutional convention

  • Period: to

    Shays’s Rebellion

  • Northwest Ordinance outlines a detailed plan for organizing western territories

  • The Constitutional Convention is held in Philadelphia

  • Period: to

    The Federalist Papers are published

  • Confederation government is phased out

  • President George Washington is inaugurated

  • French Revolution begins

  • Rhode Island becomes the last state to ratify the Constitution

  • Bill of Rights is ratified

  • 1791 Bank of the United States is created

  • Slave revolt in Santo Domingo (Haiti)

  • Washington issues a proclamation of neutrality

  • Eli Whitney invents the cotton gin

  • Jay’s Treaty is negotiated with England

  • 1794 Whiskey Rebellion

  • Philadelphia-Lancaster Turnpike is completed

  • By the Treaty of Greenville, the United States purchases western lands from Native Americans

  • Pinckney’s Treaty is negotiated with Spain

  • Wilderness Road opens

  • President Washington delivers his farewell address

  • XYZ affair

  • 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts are passed

  • Thomas Jefferson is elected president

  • Gabriel conspiracy in Richmond, VA

  • Marbury v. Madison

  • 1803 Louisiana Purchase

  • Period: to

    Lewis and Clark expedition

  • 1807 Chesapeake affair

  • Embargo Act is passed

  • Clermont, the first successful steamboat, sails to Albany

  • 1808 International slave trade is outlawed

  • Participation in the international slave trade is outlawed

  • Supreme Court issues Fletcher v. Peck decision

  • 1811 Battle of Tippecanoe

  • Charles Deslondes Revolt in Louisiana

  • 1814 Battle of Horseshoe Bend

  • 1814 Treaty of Ghent

  • Hartford Convention

  • Battle of New Orleans

  • Construction of the National Road begins

  • Second Bank of the United States is established

  • First protective tariff goes into effect

  • American Colonization Society is founded

  • Supreme Court issues McCulloch v. Maryland decision

  • United States and Spain agree to the Transcontinental (AdamsOnís) Treaty

  • Tallmadge Amendment

  • Florida becomes a territory

  • Missouri becomes a state

  • Mexico gains independence from Spain

  • Denmark Vesey conspiracy is discovered in Charleston, South Carolina

  • President Monroe enunciates the principles of the Monroe Doctrine

  • Supreme Court issues Gibbons v. Ogden decision

  • John Quincy Adams wins the presidential election by what some critics claim is a “corrupt bargain” with Henry Clay

  • Erie Canal opens

  • Ministers organize the American Society for the Promotion of Temperance

  • John C. Calhoun publishes the South Carolina Exposition and Protest

  • Andrew Jackson wins presidential election

  • “Tariff of Abominations” goes into effect

  • Congress passes the Indian Removal Act

  • Andrew Jackson vetoes the Maysville Road Bill

  • Joseph Smith reveals the Book of Mormon

  • Period: to

    Charles G. Finney begins preaching in upstate New York

  • Cyrus McCormick invents a mechanical reaper

  • Supreme Court issues Cherokee Nation v. Georgia decision

  • 1831 Nat Turner leads slave insurrection in Virginia

  • William Lloyd Garrison begins publication of The Liberator

  • South Carolina issues ordinance of nullification

  • Supreme Court issues Worcester v. Georgia decision

  • Andrew Jackson vetoes the Bank Recharter Bill

  • Congress passes Henry Clay’s compromise tariff

  • American Anti-Slavery Society is founded

  • National Trades’ Union is organized

  • Martin Van Buren is elected president

  • Transcendental Club holds its first meeting

  • Americans are defeated at the Alamo

  • John Deere invents the steel plow

  • Financial panic follows a drop in the price of cotton

  • Period: to

    Eastern Indians are forced west on the Trail of Tears

  • William Henry Harrison, a Whig, is elected president

  • Abolitionists form the Liberty party

  • John Tyler becomes president

  • Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issues Commonwealth v. Hunt decision

  • Americans and British agree to the Webster-Ashburton Treaty

  • Rainbow, the first clipper ship, is launched

  • Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is published

  • United States annexes Texas

  • Mexican War begins

  • Elias Howe invents the sewing machine

  • Mormons, led by Brigham Young, undertake trek to Utah

  • Most members of the Donner party die en route to California

  • California gold rush begins

  • At the Seneca Falls Convention, women issue the Declaration of Sentiments

  • Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ends the Mexican War

  • Free-Soil party is organized

  • California gold rush begins

  • California gold rush begins

  • Sojourner Truth delivers her famous speech Ain’t I a Woman?

  • Plains Indians agree to the Fort Laramie Treaty

  • Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin is published

  • With the Gadsden Purchase, the United States acquires thirty thousand square miles from Mexico

  • Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, or Life in the Woods is published

  • Congress passes the Kansas-Nebraska Act

  • The Republican party is founded

  • Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass is published

  • Bessemer converter process allows steel to be made quickly and inexpensively

  • A pro-slavery mob sacks Lawrence, Kansas; John Brown stages the Pottawatomie Massacre in retaliation

  • Charles Sumner of Massachusetts is caned and seriously injured by a pro-slavery congressman in the U.S. Senate

  • U.S. Supreme Court issues the Dred Scott decision

  • Lecompton Constitution declares that slavery will be allowed in Kansas

  • Abraham Lincoln debates Stephen A. Douglas during the 1858 Illinois Senate race

  • Construction of New York’s Central Park begins

  • John Brown and his followers stage raid at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, in an attempt to incite a massive slave insurrection

  • First oil well is struck in Titusville, Pennsylvania

  • Darwin’s On the Origin of Species is published

  • Comstock Lode is discovered

  • South Carolina secedes from the Union

  • Crittenden Compromise is proposed

  • Fort Sumter falls to Confederate forces; Lincoln issues call to arms

  • First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas)

  • The Trent affair commences when a Union warship stops a British ship on the high seas and takes two Confederate agents into custody

  • Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated president

  • Congress passes the Morrill Land Grant Act

  • Congress guarantees the construction of a transcontinental railroad

  • Congress passes the Homestead Act

  • Congress passes the Homestead Act

  • Period: to

    Peninsular campaign

  • Period: to

    Battles of Shiloh, Second Bull Run, and Antietam

  • Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation

  • Period: to

    Siege of Vicksburg, Battles of Gettysburg and Chattanooga

  • Lincoln refuses to sign the Wade-Davis Bill

  • Sand Creek Massacre

  • Thirteenth Amendment is ratified

  • Congress sets up the Freedmen’s Bureau

  • Robert E. Lee surrenders at Appomattox Court House

  • Lincoln is assassinated

  • Ku Klux Klan is organized

  • Congress passes the Civil Rights Act

  • Congress passes the Military Reconstruction Act

  • Congress passes the Tenure of Office Act

  • Fourteenth Amendment is ratified

  • Congress impeaches President Andrew Johnson; the Senate fails to convict him

  • First transcontinental railroad is completed at Promontory, Utah

  • Joseph Glidden invents barbed wire

  • Thomas A. Edison makes the first successful incandescent lightbulb

  • Alexander Graham Bell patents his telephone

  • Battle of Little Bighorn

  • Compromise of 1877 ends Reconstruction

  • Great Railroad Strike

  • Rutherford B. Hayes is inaugurated president

  • Supreme Court issues Munn v. Illinois decision

  • James A. Garfield is assassinated

  • John D. Rockefeller organizes the Standard Oil Trust

  • Congress passes the Chinese Exclusion Act

  • Congress passes the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act

  • Surrender of Geronimo marks the end of the Indian wars

  • Supreme Court issues Wabash, St. Louis, and Pacific Railroad Company v. Illinois decision

  • In the Haymarket incident, a bomb set off at a Chicago labor rally kills and wounds police officers

  • American Federation of Labor is organized

  • Congress passes the Severalty Act

  • Interstate Commerce Commission is created

  • Otis Elevator Company installs the first electric elevator

  • Hull-House, a settlement house, opens in Chicago

  • Mississippi Plan resegregates public facilities by race

  • Battle of Wounded Knee

  • Basketball is invented

  • Ellis Island, a federal center for processing immigrants, opens

  • People’s party drafts its Omaha platform

  • Homestead Strike

  • Economic depression affects a substantial proportion of the population

  • Frederick J. Turner’s “frontier thesis”

  • Pullman Strike

  • Republic of Hawaii is proclaimed

  • Cuban insurrection breaks out against Spanish rule

  • Booker T. Washington delivers his Atlanta Compromise speech

  • Supreme Court issues Plessy v. Ferguson decision

  • U.S. battleship Maine explodes in Havana Harbor

  • War of 1898

  • United States annexes Hawaii

  • U.S. Senate ratifies the Treaty of Paris, ending the War of 1898

  • Period: to

    Filipino insurgents resist U.S. domination

  • International alliance quells the Boxer Rebellion

  • Baseball’s National League is formed

  • Army Yellow Fever Commission confirms the cause of yellow fever

  • J. Pierpont Morgan creates the U.S. Steel Corporation

  • Theodore Roosevelt attempts to arbitrate the coal strike

  • Justice Department breaks up Northern Securities Company

  • Panamanians revolt against Colombia

  • Ford Motor Company is founded

  • Congress passes the Elkins Act

  • Wright Brothers fly the first airplane

  • Russo-Japanese War

  • First movie house opens

  • Congress passes the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act

  • Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle is published

  • Great White Fleet circumnavigates the globe in a demonstration of America’s rise to world-power status

  • Great White Fleet circumnavigates the globe in a demonstration of America’s rise to world-power status

  • Supreme Court issues Muller v. Oregon decision

  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is created

  • William Taft is inaugurated president

  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is founded

  • Congress passes the Mann-Elkins Act

  • Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire

  • Congress passes the Federal Reserve Act

  • Panama Canal opens

  • Congress passes the Clayton Anti-Trust Act

  • United States intervenes in Mexico

  • World War I begins in Europe

  • British liner Lusitania, with Americans aboard, is torpedoed without warning by a German submarine

  • Congress passes the National Defense Act

  • Marcus Garvey brings to New York the Universal Negro Improvement Association

  • Louis Brandeis is nominated to fill a seat on the Supreme Court

  • Zimmermann telegram reveals that Germany is attempting to incite Mexico to enter the war against the United States

  • United States enters the Great War

  • Woodrow Wilson delivers his Fourteen Points speech

  • Representatives of warring nations sign armistice

  • Race riots break out in Chicago

  • U.S. attorney general launches Red Scare

  • Treaty of Versailles is presented to the Germans

  • Supreme Court issues Schenck v. United States decision

  • Prohibition begins

  • F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise is published

  • Nineteenth Amendment, guaranteeing women’s suffrage, is ratified

  • Joint resolution of Congress officially ends the war among the United States, Germany, and Austria-Hungary

  • Representatives of the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy, and Japan attend the Washington Naval Conference

  • Albert Einstein receives the Nobel Prize in physics

  • Congress passes the Emergency Immigration Act

  • First radio commercial is aired

  • United States begins sending observers to the League of Nations

  • Benito Mussolini comes to power in Italy

  • T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land is published

  • President Warren G. Harding dies in office

  • Scopes “monkey trial” tests the teaching of evolution in Tennessee public schools

  • Charles Lindbergh Jr. makes first solo transatlantic flight

  • Herbert Hoover is elected president

  • More than sixty nations sign the Kellogg-Briand Pact pledging not to go to war with one another, except in matters of self-defense

  • Stock market crashes

  • Congress passes the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

  • Congress sets up the Reconstruction Finance Corporation

  • Congress passes the Glass-Steagall Act

  • Bonus Expeditionary Force converges on Washington to demand payment of bonuses promised to war veterans

  • Congress passes the Emergency Banking Relief Act

  • Congress passes the Beer-Wine Revenue Act

  • Congress establishes the Civilian Conservation Corps

  • Congress creates the Tennessee Valley Authority

  • Congress establishes the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

  • Congress creates the Civil Works Administration

  • Adolf Hitler becomes chancellor of Germany

  • President Roosevelt creates the Works Progress Administration

  • Congress passes the Wagner Act

  • Social Security goes into effect

  • Panay incident

  • Hitler forces the Anschluss (union) of Austria and Germany

  • John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath is published

  • Soviet Union agrees to a nonaggression pact with Germany

  • German troops invade Poland

  • Richard Wright’s Native Son is published

  • Battle of Britain

  • Germany, Italy, and Japan sign the Tripartite Pact

  • Japanese launch surprise attack at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

  • Battle of Midway

  • Roosevelt, Churchill, and the Combined Chiefs of Staff meet at Casablanca

  • Allied forces land on Sicily

  • Roosevelt and Churchill meet Stalin, in Tehran

  • Congress passes the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act (GI Bill of Rights)

  • Congress passes the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act (GI Bill of Rights)

  • D-day

  • Yalta Conference

  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt dies; Hitler commits suicide

  • Atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

  • Fifty nations at war with the Axis Powers sign the United Nations Charter

  • V-E day

  • Japanese surrender

  • Congress passes the Taft-Hartley Labor Act

  • National Security Council (NSC) is established

  • Israel is proclaimed an independent nation

  • Truman issues an executive order ending segregation in the U.S. armed forces October

  • Allied forces begin airlifting supplies to West Berlin

  • Truman defeats Dewey in the presidential election

  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is created

  • China “falls” to communism

  • United States and other UN members go to war in Korea

  • Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man is published

  • Ethel and Julius Rosenberg are executed

  • Armistice is reached in Korea

  • Supreme Court issues ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas

  • Geneva Accords adopted

  • Period: to

    Army-McCarthy hearings are televised

  • Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott begins

  • In Suez War, Israel, Britain, and France attack Egypt

  • Hungarian revolt against the Warsaw Pact is quickly suppressed

  • Federal troops ordered to protect students attempting to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas

  • Soviet Union launches Sputnik 1

  • Jack Kerouac’s On the Road is published

  • Baby boom peaks

  • U-2 incident reveals that the United States is flying spy planes over the Soviet Union