APUSH Final: Timeline 1600-1980

  • Founding of Jamestown

    Founding of Jamestown
    120 male settlers leave England and land in Virginia, hoping to find precious materials like pearls and gold. Instead, they found only a harsh winter, food insecurity, and hostile indigenous tribes. Death by disease and starvation was common. Governor John Smith was indispensable in organizing the colony, telling the men they could either work or starve. The colony settlement became profitable when John Rolfe found a strain of tobacco, a cash crop, that grew well in the Virginian soil.
  • Creation of the General Assembly

    Creation of the General Assembly
    In April 1619, the Virginia Company, which financed the colony, voted to allow the colonists to create a legislature. It was the first of its kind in the colonies. Later, it became a bicameral legislature by adding the House of Burgesses. White men with property could elect these representatives. The Crown still held the final stay, but the creation of the assembly was a vital step in self-governance. It created an independent attitude that would bring the colonies to revolution.
  • First Enslaved Africans Arrive in Jamestown

    First Enslaved Africans Arrive in Jamestown
    A trans-Atlantic economy had formed among the European powers and their colonies. As trade between them increased, so did the demand for goods like Virginian Tobacco. Seeing the need, Portuguese slave traders brought around 20 enslaved Africans to the colony as "indentured servants." Europeans who came to the colonies often entered indentured servitude to pay their way, but the Africans were forced into it. This was the beginning of hundreds of years of human suffering and ill-gotten gains.
  • Landing at Plymouth Rock and Founding of Massachusetts Bay

    Landing at Plymouth Rock and Founding of Massachusetts Bay
    The Pilgrims were a religious group that sought to separate from the Anglican Church, finding it wholly corrupt. They wanted to found a settlement where they could practice their religion freely, and in 1620, they landed in Plymouth, Mass. A decade later, the Puritans, who believed in reforming the Church, followed. They instituted a theocratic government with strict moral rules for all citizens. Note that where Jamestown was founded for profit, Mass. Bay was founded for moral reasons.
  • Navigation Acts

    Navigation Acts
    Following the philosophy of mercantilism, Britain limited its colonies trade with other European countries. The 1651 act required goods to be carried on English ships, and the 1660 acts dictated that the colonies could only export sugar and tobacco to Britain and could only important European goods via British ports. The acts were widely ignored by planters and merchants, reflecting the spirit of civil disobedience that would come back to haunt Britain more than a century later.
  • England Captures New Netherland

    England Captures New Netherland
    The Dutch began to settle present-day New York City in 1626, christening in "New Amsterdam." Though it had strategic importance as a port city, only around 9,000 people lived there at its peak. Britain fought a series of naval wars between 1652 and 1674 to conquer the colony. King Charles II gave the land to his brother, the Duke of York, from which it got its present name of New York. The city would become a major port, population center, and cultural hub for the United States.
  • Bacon's Rebellion

    Bacon's Rebellion
    In the 1670s, Virginia society was highly stratified by class. Most power was in the hands of wealthy plantation owners. Freed indentured servants found land too expensive, and men without property couldn't vote. Many wanted to expand West into Native territory, where land was cheap and abundant. Nathaniel Bacon led these small farmers in a violent rebellion against Governor Berkeley and other leaders, forcing them to accommodate the yeomen. It wouldn't be the end of class tensions in the South.
  • Two Treatises of Government Published

    Two Treatises of Government Published
    John Locke was an English Enlightenment philosopher. Before the Enlightenment, it was generally thought that God had invested the power to rule in monarchs, and therefore to question their authority was blasphemous. In this volume, Locke argued that social compacts to protect life, liberty, and property were the basis of government. Citizens should have the right to influence government policies. These ideas directly undermined the British Crown's authority in the eyes of the colonists.
  • Robert Walpole Becomes Leader of the House of Commons

    Robert Walpole Becomes Leader of the House of Commons
    Walpole was a largely corrupt politician who awarded his supporters with patronage in the form of jobs and salaries. To the colonists, this undermined the legitimacy of the British government. Further, his salutary neglect policy left them to create more colonial assemblies and other systems of self-government. Trade regulations were loosely enforced, and colonists grew accustomed to running their own affairs. This heightened colonial sensitivity to the taxes and tariffs that would follow.
  • Passage of the Molasses Act

    Passage of the Molasses Act
    Competition was fierce between the British and French Caribbean colonies. When Britain realized that merchants were saving money buying French molasses, Parliament retaliated by placing such a high tax on French molasses that trading it wouldn't be profitable. Colonists' protests were ignored, so they disobeyed the act, bribing customs officials to ensure smooth bootlegging operations. Americans were becoming increasingly disillusioned with Britain's mercantilist policies.
  • George Whitefield Travels to America

    George Whitefield Travels to America
    Whitefield was a Methodist minister living in England who brought his message to the colonies. He attracted huge crowds all across the Eastern Seaboard. The converts, called New Lights, emphasized a personal relationship with God that was looked down upon by those outside the Pietist movement. This unique philosophy undermined preachers' authority, and church and state became increasingly separated. The Great Awakening permanently altered American religious ideas and institutions.
  • Albany Congress

    Albany Congress
    During the Seven Years' War, representatives from seven colonies met with Iroquois chiefs with the hopes of forming an alliance against the French. Benjamin Franklin knew the mission was doomed, but he had another plan: the colonies should pool their militias and resources and stand together as one against the French. The proposal failed spectacularly, but it raised the idea of unity: Americans, not Virginians or Georgians. It also put the future Founding Fathers into contact.
  • Period: to

    Seven Years' War

  • Proclamation of 1763

    Proclamation of 1763
    Britain won the Ohio River Valley in the Seven Years' War, but passed a proclamation banning settlement past the Appalachians to avoid Native American aggression. This angered the colonists, many of whom had hoped to settle the cheap, productive farmland. Some took matters into their own hands and moved West anyway, forsaking the protection of the British Crown. The proclamation, combined with economic sanctions, increased colonial hostility toward the British.
  • Passage of the Sugar Act

    Passage of the Sugar Act
    Seeking to increase revenue, George Greenville passed the Sugar Act. Though the tariffs were lower than with the Molasses Act, colonists continued to ignore it. They began to argue that they shouldn't have to pay taxes to Britain until they were given adequate representation in Parliament -- a suggestion the British fiercely argued against. It also represented the beginning of the end for salutary neglect as Britain sought to exert more political and economic control over the colonies.
  • Stamp Act Congress

    Stamp Act Congress
    A year after the Sugar Act, Parliament passed a Stamp Act levying duties on all paper products. Nine state assemblies sent delegates to the Stamp Act Congress, where they challenged the constitutionality of both acts on the grounds that only elected officials could create taxes. Some delegates were less radical, and instead petitioned the king to repeal the acts. Others took action by boycotting British goods. It is in this civil disobedience that we see the Revolution begin.
  • The Boston Massacre

    The Boston Massacre
    Following widespread protests over the wide-reaching Townshend Acts, thousands of troops were sent to the colonies. In Boston, they comprised 10% of the population, and conflict was abundant between them and the locals. On the night of the massacre, nine British soldiers fired into a crowd of townspeople, killing five of them. They were later found not guilty, but the meaning of the attack was poignant, especially to independence-minded colonists. The attack would only strengthen their resolve.
  • Boston Tea Party

    Boston Tea Party
    In 1773, Parliament passed the Tea Act. It lowered taxes on East India Company Tea, and some Patriots viewed this as bribery to get them to forsake their slogan of taxation without representation. Members of the Sons of Liberty boarded three ships. They threw the modern equivalent of $900,000 worth of tea overboard. King George III and those loyal to him were outraged at what they saw as direct defiance of the Crown.
  • First Continental Congress

    First Continental Congress
    As punishment for the Boston Tea Party, Britain instituted the Intolerable Acts. It closed down the Boston Port and dissolved colonial assemblies, among other things. Delegates from all colonies but Georgia met in Philadelphia to agree on a response. The radicals wanted to declare war and fight for independence; conservatives wanted to try reconciliation. The latter won out, and they sent the King the Olive Branch Petition asking for representation. The King was furious and sternly refused.
  • Battle of Lexington and Concord

    Battle of Lexington and Concord
    Patriots had started to build up weapon stashes should it come to armed rebellion against the Crown. The British tried to seize a cache in Concord, but the intelligence fell into the hands of Paul Revere and others. Minutemen rushed out to face the Redcoats. 77 minutemen assembled on the Lexington town green against 700 Redcoats. The minutemen were told to stand down. It's unknown which side fired the "shot heard 'round the world," but whoever did it marked the start of the American Revolution.
  • Period: to

    Revolutionary War

  • Common Sense Published

    Common Sense Published
    By 1776, the colonies had met in the Second Continental Congress and were organized for war. Public opinion was still widely divided on the matter of revolution, however. Thomas Paine's pamphlet offered pointed, concise arguments in favor of American Independence. It was a true overnight sensation, read by people from all levels of society. For many colonists who were undecided on the matter, Common Sense was the push needed to get them to take up cause with the Patriots.
  • Independence Declared

    Independence Declared
    By June 1776, Loyalists and anti-Revolution delegates had been soundly defeated in the Continental Congress. The Declaration of Independence was drawn up mainly by Thomas Jefferson, and it emphasized a range of Enlightenment ideas such as the equality of men and the idea of popular sovereignty. It also laid out to King George III each and every grievance the colonists held. After some revisions, the Congress approved the Declaration. 'Murica had officially arrived on the scene.
  • Battle of Saratoga

    Battle of Saratoga
    British General John Burgoyne was part of a three-pronged campaign to cut off New England. They scored some victories at first by attacking quickly, but then their pace slowed as Burgoyne had them stop to pitch tents and eat a fancy dinner. American Patriots from several neighboring states engaged in a guerrilla attack against Burgoyne and his soldiers. The victory at Saratoga was critical in securing financial support, alliances, and reinforcements from other countries.
  • Articles of Confederation Ratified

    Articles of Confederation Ratified
    In Nov. 1777, all states approved the Articles of Confederation in the Continental Congress. It created a loose association of states, with each retaining a high degree of independence. The federal government was weak: it couldn't create taxes, maintain an army, or have a chief executive. Each state was viewed as an equal member of the union and given one vote in the Congress. The plan sounded good on paper, but its shortcomings would soon be clear, especially regarding financial matters.
  • Treaty of Alliance

    Treaty of Alliance
    American diplomats had been working since the beginning of the war to secure an agreement with France, a natural ally against Britain. Initially, the French worried that the war wasn't feasible, but the American victory at the Battle of Saratoga convinced them otherwise. The Treaty of Alliance recognized the US's sovereignty and agreed that neither party would pursue a separate peace without US independence. French reinforcements and military training were crucial to the war's outcome.
  • Battle of Yorktown

    Battle of Yorktown
    British General Cornwallis was a famous strategist. He planned to let Washington push him back to Yorktown, a fortified city where the British would be able to winter in comfort while Washington's army suffered. However, Washington knew the British Navy had been defeated and replaced by the French Navy. Cornwallis was surrounded on both sides and forced to surrender. However, he refused to do so in the customary way -- a sign of disrespect toward Washington and an indicator of British sentiment.
  • Treaty of Paris (1783)

    Treaty of Paris (1783)
    Following the defeat at Yorktown, Britain, France, and America began to negotiate a treaty. It took years to come up with agreeable terms because France and Spain hoped to acquire other territory from Britain. Finally, American diplomats were able to secure very favorable terms in 1783. Britain recognized America as an independent nation spanning from the Atlantic coast to the Mississippi River. The Declaration of Independence had come to fruition.
  • Shays Rebellion

    Shays Rebellion
    Daniel Shays was a volunteer in the Continental Army during the war. However, he was not paid for his service, and his farm went into foreclosure. Many other farmers were in the same boat; they launched a rebellion, burning down courthouses to prevent foreclosure and recruiting thousands to their cause in the process. There was no standing army, so the government couldn't do anything -- revealing a key weakness of the Articles. The wealthy had to raise a private army to put it down.
  • Connecticut Compromise

    Connecticut Compromise
    Debate raged in the Constitutional Congress over state representation. Smaller states approved the New Jersey plan, where representation was equal; larger states approved the Virginia Plan, where it was proportional. To reach a compromised, it was agreed to create a bicameral legislature. The House would be proportional, and the Senate would be equal, striking a delicate balance. The system is still in place today, though the Senate and House have grown as new states joined.
  • Federalist No. 1 Published

    Federalist No. 1 Published
    Federalist No. 1 was the first in a series of 85 essays written anonymously by Federalist politicians Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. They argued in favor of the 1787 Constitution and challenged the view that a centralized government was bound to lead to tyranny. The papers were instrumental in promoting the Federalist point of view against anti-Federalist leaders like Thomas Jefferson. Without them, the Constitution very well never may have been ratified.
  • Constitution Ratified

    Constitution Ratified
    An arduous battle between Federalists, who supported ratification, and ant-Federalists, who opposed it, ensued. The anti-Federalists feared the government would devolve into tyranny. They were eventually placated by the Bill of Rights, which established a list of protections for every citizen. It passed in a close vote, 187 to 168, but most Americans were willing to give it a chance. It created an ideal balance between federal government and state government, and it governs the country today.
  • Inauguration of George Washington

    Inauguration of George Washington
    General George Washington had retired after leading the Continental Army to victory, but the delegates persuaded him to become the first US president. He was appointed rather than elected to establish trust in the federal government. He established many presidential customs, such as the title "Mr. President," the Cabinet, and the two-term presidency. He despised the party system and did not identify, but he largely followed the Federalist philosophy.
  • Period: to

    Washington Administration

  • Cotton Gin Patented

    Cotton Gin Patented
    Separating cotton from its seeds was a laborious process that crippled the profitability of the crop. Eli Whitney's cotton gin made the process much more efficient and the growing of cotton much more profitable, to the extent that it became the South's primary crop. It had the bleak side effect of driving up demand for slaves, as the cultivation and tending of the crop was also a delicate, intensive process. The South would get rich off of King Cotton, but millions of slaves were left to suffer.
  • Period: to

    Adams Administration

  • Alien and Sedition Acts

    Alien and Sedition Acts
    Passed under John Adams' administration, the Alien Act gave the president authority to deport any alien considered dangerous, and the Sedition Act made it illegal to publish materials critical of the president or Congress. It was set to expire after the election but before the inauguration, leading many to believe it was a ploy to prevent Jefferson from campaigning. Despite the censure, Jefferson won, but the question of states' rights to nullify unfair laws wasn't completely resolved.
  • Period: to

    Jefferson Administration

  • Marbury v. Madison

    Marbury v. Madison
    As Jefferson assumed power, Madison had appointed several Federalist judges to the national courts. Jefferson didn't want to appoint them, so he took the case to the newly-formed Supreme Court. Chief Justice Marshall ruled that the judges had the right to the position, but it was unable to be enforced. Most importantly, it established judicial review, meaning the Supreme Court had the power to declare a law unconstitutional, enhancing the system of checks and balances.
  • Louisiana Purchase

    Louisiana Purchase
    Concerned with the fate of the Mississippi River, Jefferson began negotiations with Napoleon to purchase Louisiana. The French emperor wasn't interested unless he wanted to buy the entire Louisiana territory, but he offered Jefferson a bargain. The president wrestled with the decision; he didn't think the federal government had the power to make such a big purchase. He decided it would be best to go through with the purchase, acquiring 828,000 acres of land and securing the Mississippi.
  • Haitian Independence

    Haitian Independence
    Life in France's St-Domingue plantation colony was brutal for slaves. 500,000 slaves were dominated by only 40,000 free whites. Starting in 1791, a fierce civil war began on the island as both free Blacks and slaves battled for their independence. When it was finally won in 1804, the newly free colony took the name Haiti. It was the first Black republic in the New World. Southern slave owners were terrified that slaves in America would do the same.
  • Embargo of 1807

    Embargo of 1807
    France and Britain were at war (again), but the US had established trade with both countries. Jefferson wanted to remain neutral, but trading with one would invoke the wrath of the other. The embargo tanked the economy, but American manufacturing and industry prospered from the lack of foreign competition. When the embargo was lifted in 1809, American businesses were ready to compete on the international stage. It was a boon to American production.
  • Period: to

    Madison Administration

  • War Declared on Britain

    War Declared on Britain
    Britain and France had been at war since the turn of the century, and the former was adamant that the United States shouldn't trade with the latter. Britain also had a nasty habit of kidnapping US sailors and forcing them into service, a practice known as impressment. It had also begun to arm the Native Americans, which many Americans interpreted as an act of aggression. A deeply divided Congress ultimately decided to go to war. Victory would be key to the survival of the young nation.
  • Period: to

    War of 1812

  • Treaty of Ghent

    Treaty of Ghent
    After two years of fighting, Britain was ready to put the War of 1812 to rest. Terms were not favorable to either side; the terms retained the conditions and boundaries prior to the war. The effects on America ran much deeper, however. A sense of national pride swept the country as people identified more as Americans and less as members of their own state. It also represented the increasing respect for America on the world stage -- a seat at the adult table of world politics.
  • American Colonization Society Founded

    American Colonization Society Founded
    A group of prominent Americans, including politician and vampire Henry Clay, founded the society with the goal of freeing slaves and then resettling them in Africa or elsewhere. However, the vast majority of free Blacks opposed the idea; they viewed themselves as Americans, not Africans. Only 6,000 Blacks were settled in Liberia, the colony the society created. Nevertheless, the movement reframed white American thought on slavery from an unshakable institution to a problem to be fixed.
  • Period: to

    Monroe Administration

  • Missouri Compromise

    Missouri Compromise
    Regional tensions had been mounting for decades. When Missouri applied to enter the Union as a slave state, Congress debated whether the practice should be allowed to spread west of the Mississippi. Senator Henry Clay had a compromise: Missouri would enter as a slave state and Maine as a free state, to preserve the balance. In addition, states north of the 20th parallel would be free (except Missouri) and those south of it would be slave. The compromise held off the issue for three more decades.
  • "Monroe Doctrine" Declared

    "Monroe Doctrine" Declared
    Diplomat and future president John Quincy Adams convinced President Monroe to outline American foreign policy toward the Western Hemisphere. Monroe announced in a speech that the United States expected European powers not to interfere with new countries in Latin America. In exchange, the US would stay out of European countries' internal affairs. In announcing this, Monroe asserted the United States as the leader of the West.
  • Period: to

    Quincy Adams Administration

  • Erie Canal Opens

    Erie Canal Opens
    As the Market Revolution began to gain steam, a problem became clear: it was next to impossible to ship goods overland to the western part of the country, thanks to the Appalachians. In 1817, New York agreed to finance the Erie Canal. It connected Manhattan to the Great Lakes, allowing fast shipping to the Midwest. Towns sprang up all along the canal and along waterways connected to it. The canal and others like it connected the country like it never had been before.
  • Andrew Jackson Elected

    Andrew Jackson Elected
    As more states began to extend the franchise to all white men regardless of property, populist politicians like Jackson fared very well at the polls. Jackson rose to prominence in the War of 1812, where he won a stunning victory at New Orleans. His policies of emphasized the role of the common man, and his detractors accused him of seizing too much power and catering to "King Mob." Whether hero or villain, Jackson's election underscored the democratization of the country.
  • Period: to

    Jackson Administration

  • Indian Removal Act

    Indian Removal Act
    Heavily endorsed by Jackson, the act created Native American reserves on land west of the Mississippi and offered compensation to tribes that moved onto them. However, when some groups, such as the Cherokee in Georgia, refused, Jackson and his successors compelled them off their land by force. The act was a part of Jackson's Indian removal policy, which lead to tragedies like the Trail of Tears, in which Natives were forced off their land into unfamiliar territory.
  • The Liberator Published

    The Liberator Published
    William Lloyd Garrison was a Massachusetts abolitionist who held deep convictions about the depravity of slavery. He founded the Liberator, which would become one of the most prominent voices of the abolitionist movement. It criticized the views of the gradual emancipation and colonization movements, instead arguing for immediate emancipation. Southern planters hated the newspaper for attacking their "way of life." Its mission fulfilled, the Liberator stopped publishing issues in 1866.
  • Nat Turner's Rebellion

    Nat Turner's Rebellion
    Nat Turner was a Virginian slave who taught himself to read and hoped he would be freed, but instead faced increasingly harsh treatment by several masters. He came to believe God had sent him to end slavery by leading a rebellion -- 55 men, women, and children were killed. Turner was hanged, but the planters were deeply disturbed. The Virginia Assembly considered a gradual emancipation law, but it lost by 73 to 58. The idea that planters would end slavery willingly was dead.
  • South Carolina's Ordinance of Nullification

    South Carolina's Ordinance of Nullification
    South Carolina was enraged at the so-called Tariff of Abominations, which placed a high tax on their cotton. They took an extreme states' rights approach to the Constitution. If a state felt that a law was unfair, they could declare it null and void. Jackson was enraged and threatened military action if the state tried to secede. Clay was able to engineer a lower tariff, and the ordinance was repealed. However, it was a grave bit of foreshadowing 29 years before the state did secede.
  • Whig Party Founded

    Whig Party Founded
    The Whigs were formed in opposition to the Democrats, taking their name from the English Whigs, who opposed the King's power. They were similar to Federalists, but they valued social achievement by merit, not by birth. Most of their support came from Northerners and Southern farmers who disliked Democratic policies. Key leaders were Senators Webster, Clay, and Calhoun. The party found great success in the election of 1834, gaining control of the House of Representatives.
  • Battle of the Alamo

    Battle of the Alamo
    After winning independence, Mexico welcomed Americans to settle in the sparsely populated Texas region. This backfired, and way too many Americans came over. The country adopted a new constitution with stricter immigration rules. A War Party formed to fight for an independent Republic of Texas. Mexican president Santa Anna led his troops to put down a rebellion at the Alamo fort. No US soldiers survived. "Remember the Alamo" became a key war cry in the quest for Texan independence.
  • Period: to

    Van Buren Administration

  • Period: to

    Tyler Administration

  • "Manifest Destiny" Coined

    "Manifest Destiny" Coined
    John O'Sullivan was a Jacksonian Democrat who coined the term "manifest destiny," used to describe the cultural belief that it was America's fate to expand from coast to coast. O'Sullivan first use the term when advocating the annexation of Texas. Many Americans believed expansion was necessary to secure enough land for the rapidly expanding population. Texan Independence, the mad dash along the Oregon Trail, and the Gold Rush in California would be justified with the term.
  • Period: to

    Polk Administration

  • Period: to

    Mexican-American War

  • Gold Rush to California

    Gold Rush to California
    In January 1848, workers constructing a milldam discovered gold flecks in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Hopefuls poured in not only from the Eastern US, but from China, Australia, Mexico, and Chile. Most were sorely disappointed, but several decided to settle down in California. The population grew rapidly, putting California on track for statehood.
  • Seneca Falls Convention

    Seneca Falls Convention
    Two prominent women's rights activists, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, hosted the convention in Seneca Falls, NY. Seventy men and thirty women attended and agreed upon a Declaration of Sentiments, outlining the goals of the movement. They sought to end the idea that women were naturally inferior to men and give them greater freedoms, including more job opportunities and the right to vote. It was a landmark event for the women's rights movement.
  • Period: to

    Taylor Administration

  • Compromise of 1850

    Compromise of 1850
    California was ready to enter the Union, but it lay on both sides of the 36th parallel. It wanted to enter as a free state, but Southerners feared this would disrupt the delicate regional balance. Henry Clay engineered a compromise: 1) California would be a free state 2) Slave trade abolished in DC 3) Strict fugitive slave laws enacted nationwide 4) New territories applying for statehood would decide to be free or slave via popular sovereignty.
  • Period: to

    Fillmore Administration

  • Period: to

    Pierce Administration

  • Bleeding Kansas

    Bleeding Kansas
    As Kansas was set to vote on the issue of slavery, droves of pro-slavery men from Missouri entered the state and threw the election. Though fraud was obvious, Congress did not vote to redo the election; Kansas would be a slave state. Several different bursts of violence occurred between abolitionists and pro-slavery border ruffians. Most dramatically, John Brown killed five of them in the Pottawatomie Massacre. Tensions over slavery were beginning to reach a head nationwide.
  • Period: to

    Buchanan Administration

  • Dred Scott v. Sanford

    Dred Scott v. Sanford
    Dred Scott was a slave living in the free state of Minnesota. He sued for his freedom on the grounds that Illinois was a free state, so his master had no right to keep him in bondage. It took a decade before the case made it to the Supreme Court. It ruled that there was essentially no such thing as a free state; it was allowed in all states. Further, Chief Justice Taney wrote that "Blacks have no rights that white men are bound to respect." It was a devastating blow to the abolitionist movement.
  • Lincoln Elected

    Lincoln Elected
    Abraham Lincoln was a Republican from Illinois. Personally, he wanted slavery to be abolished, but he didn't believe the president had the authority to do so. As a result, emancipation was not the focus of his presidency, but preserving the Union at all costs was. Nevertheless, his election provoked outrage among many Southerners who feared he would come after their slaves. South Carolina seceded from the Union even before Lincoln went in to office, reflecting how feared he was in the South.
  • Period: to

    Lincoln Administration

  • Battle of Fort Sumter

    Battle of Fort Sumter
    The fort was located in Charleston, South Carolina, which had announced its secession four months prior. Lincoln sent unarmed Union ships to resupply the fort, and Confederate General Beauregard bombarded it. Union forces put up a noble fight, but were forced to surrender when they ran out of ammunition. The Union had lost the first battle, prompting Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee to join the Confederacy and Lincoln to call for volunteer soldiers from the Union.
  • Period: to

    Civil War

  • Homestead Act Passed

    Homestead Act Passed
    By the 1860s, Northeastern cities were becoming overcrowded, and land in rural areas was becoming more expensive. Meanwhile, the vast territory in the West was lying economically unproductive. The Homestead Act offered 160 acres of free land in the West to any head of household who wanted to claim it, provided they lived there for five years and were productive. This attracted a range of people to settle the West, from immigrants to widows to people looking for opportunity.
  • Battle of Antietam

    Battle of Antietam
    Confederate General Lee made a bold march into Union territory, but he was careless in one regard: a copy of his battle plan fell into Union General McClellan's hands. Ever too cautious, McClellan failed to exploit the advantage when he met Lee's army near Antietam Creek in Maryland. What followed was the bloodiest single day in US military history, with heavy casualties on each side. Lincoln claimed a victory, but he was enraged at McClellan's incompetence.
  • Emancipation Proclamation

    Emancipation Proclamation
    Lincoln seized the victory at Antietam as a politically savvy time to announce the Emancipation Proclamation, which didn't actually do much. It freed slaves in the South, but this couldn't be enforced until Union troops invaded the region. Slavery was allowed to remain in border states like Kentucky and Confederate areas occupied by Union soldiers. Not one slave was freed, but many slaves brought themselves to freedom by escaping to Union camps, where they were considered spoils of war.
  • Siege of Vicksburg

    Siege of Vicksburg
    Vicksburg was a town located right against the Mississippi River, making it of high strategic importance to the Confederacy. General Ulysses S. Grant led the months long siege. By the end, the Union had assumed complete control of the river, making the Anaconda Plan proposed two years earlier a reality. In addition, almost 30,000 Confederate soldiers were captured - a large proportion of the force. Grant would capture Lincoln;s attention at this battle and later be promoted.
  • Sherman's Campaign

    Sherman's Campaign
    William Sherman was a Union General who readily embraced the concept of total war. He and his army razed Atlanta, a key Southern city, but they didn't stop there; Sherman launched a three hundred mile Odyssey to Savannah that became known as Sherman's March to the Sea. His soldiers destroyed everything in their path, from barns to railroad lines. He also issued an order granting 400,000 acres of prime land for newly freed slaves. It was the beginning of the end of the Confederacy.
  • Surrender at Appomattox

    Surrender at Appomattox
    General Lee's army was crippled after Gettysburg, but Grant viciously pursued him. Lee was desperately low on supplies, so he decided to go to an armory in Lynchburg, VA. Grant's troops diverged to slow Lee down while the others marched ahead. When Lee arrived in Appomattox, he was left surrounded with no choice but to surrender. As a sign of respect, Grant did not make Lee give up his sword. It was the end of the Civil War, and Lincoln's plan to preserve the Union had succeeded.
  • President Lincoln Assassinated

    President Lincoln Assassinated
    Despite fears that he would not, Lincoln easily won the election of 1864. He set to work on devising strategies for post-war Reconstruction, including the 10% Plan. The Radical Republicans proposed a harsher plan, and they were negotiating it when Lincoln was assassinated a Confederate fanatic John Wilkes Booth. As the Union mourned the Great Emancipator, plans for Reconstruction were thrown into a lurch. Johnson would not live up to Lincoln's quality of leadership.
  • Period: to

    Johnson Administration

  • 13th Amendment Ratified

    13th Amendment Ratified
    After the Civil War's end, Congress was made of a Republican majority. They wanted to permanently put an end to slavery, so that the South couldn't try to pass any law allowing it. They had the majority required to add an amendment to the Constitution, and at the end of 1865, it was passed. Confederate states that wanted to join the Union were required to ratify it as well. After centuries of suffering, slavery was over.
  • Ku Klux Klan Founded

    Ku Klux Klan Founded
    Many ex-Confederates were not willing to let freedmen gain equal rights. The group originated in Tennessee. It committed many acts of terrorism, such as burning freedmen’s schools, lynching Black citizens, and murdering political opponents. The group became so prominent that it was largely synonymous with the Democratic Party. Klan violence made many freedmen too intimidated to vote or try to agitate for political action, creating fear that would last into the next century.
  • Reconstruction Act of 1867 Passed

    Reconstruction Act of 1867 Passed
    Radical Republicans were able to engineer a comprehensive Reconstruction plan. It divided the former Confederacy into 5 regions, each overseen by a Union general. States had to give freedmen the vote, disenfranchise ex-Confederates, and pass the 14th Amendment establishing birthright citizenship. Johnson vetoed it, but Congress was able to override the veto. At last, a framework for lifting up freedmen and punishing the South had emerged.
  • Andrew Johnson Impeached

    Andrew Johnson Impeached
    Most Republicans in Congress abhorred Andrew Jackson. He granted personal pardons to many prominent ex-Confederates and ex-slaveholders, and he seemed bent on using the veto on every piece of Reconstruction legislation that landed on his desk. The tipping point came when he tried to fire the Secretary of War without Congressional approval. He was impeached in the House, but the Senate was one vote short. This marked the de facto end of his power and was the first time a president was impeached.
  • Period: to

    Grant Administration

  • Transcontinental Railroad Completed

    Transcontinental Railroad Completed
    In 1862, Congress provided funding for a transcontinental railroad. They hired two competing companies: Union Pacific, which started in Omaha and built West, and Central Pacific, which started in Sacramento and built East. They were also given a parcel of land for every mile completed, and towns began to pop up along the railroad. When it was completed in 1869, the US was capable of convenient trade with both Europe and Asia. Settlers were also connected to the East, making life easier.
  • 15th Amendment Ratified

    15th Amendment Ratified
    Congress recognized the importance of securing civil rights for freedmen, and it took several steps to do so. First, it passed the 14th Amendment, granting slaves full citizenship; soon, though, they began to worry that it wouldn't offer enough protection against Southern Black Codes. The 15th Amendment was passed to protect citizens' rights to vote, regardless of race. It had a fatal flaw: it made no provisions regarding poll taxes and literacy tests, foreshadowing Jim Crow laws.
  • Liberal Republican Party Founded

    Liberal Republican Party Founded
    A new party arose under the principles of small government, low property taxes, limited voting rights, and laissez-faire economics. It put Horace Greeley up for election in 1872; they got a crushing defeat. However, the philosophy had broad appeal to both Republicans and Democrats who were unhappy with governmental intervention. They were vital in turning the Northern public against Reconstruction, and their ideas endure even today
  • Minor v. Happersett

    Minor v. Happersett
    Suffrage activists decided to test the new Constitutional amendments. IN theory, they should now have the right to vote due to 14th and 15th amendment protections. Virginia Minor tried to vote in Missouri and argued that her rights had been violated when the ballot was rejected. The Supreme Court ruled that voting rights were not inherent in citizenship, and that states had the right to deny women the vote. It was a devestating blow to the movement.
  • U.S v. Cruikshank

    U.S v. Cruikshank
    In Colfax, LA, a group of freed farmers was massacred by ex-Confederates, who then staged a Democratic coup. The court ruled that the 14th amendment only offered trivial voting protections to citizens. These rights could only be defended if a state violated them; there were no protections from the Ku Klux Klan or other ex-Confederate vigilantes. This opened the way for violent groups to intimidate freedmen out of voting and was the beginning of a series of cases that eroded Black voting rights.
  • Invention of Telephone (S2)

    Invention of Telephone (S2)
    When Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, he also created a new industry. People could now communicate faster than ever before, and information could now travel at unprecedented speeds. To accommodate the demand, switchboard stations were created. When a person made a call, they talked to the operator and asked to be connected to a certain number; the operator would then plug a cable into that number. Most of these operators were women who had access to relatively high pay for the era.
  • Battle of Little Bighorn

    Battle of Little Bighorn
    The US government had signed a treaty with the Lakota Sioux that ensured their land rights to the Black Hills. When they violated the treaty after gold was discovered and tried to force the Lakota onto reservations, the tribe fought back. Under the leadership of Chief Sitting Bull, they killed General Custer and the 210 men who had accompanied him to take them to a reservation. It was a glorious victory, but the white public used it as an example of Native "savagery."
  • Rutherford B. Hayes Inaugurated

    Rutherford B. Hayes Inaugurated
    The 1876 election was between Hayes and Tilden, a Democratic lawyer. The electoral vote count came to 184 to 165 in Tilden’s favor, but Republicans were able to argue corruption on the Democrats’ behalf. The case went to Congress, which formed a committee of 7 Republicans, 7 Democrats, and a Republican justice. They voted for Hayes. Shortly after his inauguration, he withdrew all remaining Union troops from the South, heralding the end of Reconstruction.
  • Period: to

    Hayes Administration

  • Great Railroad Strike (S2)

    Great Railroad Strike (S2)
    Industrialization and new technologies brought wealth and luxury to ordinary Americans, but conditions for workers were often abysmal. The Great Railroad Strike was a huge uprising against exploitative working conditions. The aftermath included $40 million in damaged property and the creation of the National Guard to maintain order. More broadly, however, it heralded the influence of labor unions and movements for better working conditions that would maintain influence for decades to come.
  • Period: to

    Arthur Administration

  • Trusts Created (S2)

    Trusts Created (S2)
    John D. Rockefeller was a powerful businessman who owned the Standard Oil Company, which controlled 95% of the nation's oil in the 1880s. His lawyers created a new legal entity called a trust. Boards of trustees held stock from several different companies but managed them as a single entity. This allowed Standard Oil to take control of its smaller competitors and eliminate competition. In reaction, several pieces of legislation were passed to limit trusts' influence.
  • Chinese Exclusion Act (S2)

    Chinese Exclusion Act (S2)
    In the late 19th century, America experienced a wave of "New Immigrants" from Europe. While they often faced discrimination and nativist attitudes, they were mainly allowed to emigrate without restrictions. On the other hand, discrimination against Chinese immigrants was institutionalized with this 1882 law, which enjoyed popular support. It was renewed each year until 1943. Similar Anti-Asian sentiment persisted well into the next century, exemplified by unjust Japanese internment camps.
  • Period: to

    Cleveland Administration

  • Haymarket Square Riot (S2)

    Haymarket Square Riot (S2)
    A strike on the McCormick reaper factory in Chicago soon turned violent as the protesters clashed with police. The strike had been organized by the Knights of Labor, but the crowd in Haymarket Square was infiltrated by anarchists. Someone threw a bomb, killing several officers. The Knights of Labor caught the blame for this, despite having nothing to do with it. The riot was a significant blow not only to the Knights but to the labor movement as a whole.
  • Period: to

    Harrison Administration

  • Hull House Opens (S2)

    Hull House Opens (S2)
    Progressive reformers sought to address the needs of the rising population of urban poor Americans. Chicago's Hull House was one of the first social settlements, community centers that offered services such as shelters, kitchens, day care, and job services. These charitable institutions contradicted the Victorian idea of social Darwinism because at their core was the belief that the poor were just as capable of success as everyone else when given the proper resources.
  • NAWSA Founded (S2)

    NAWSA Founded (S2)
    The women's rights movement experienced a schism during the Reconstruction era, but it came back together in 1890 with the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Activists were able to get the ballot at the state level several Western states, including Colorado, Idaho, and Utah, but the issue remained controversial in the national Congress. The suffragettes' tireless work would finally be rewarded almost 30 years later with the 19th Amendment.
  • Wounded Knee Massacre

    Wounded Knee Massacre
    Ghost Dance was a religious movement among Native Americans living on reservations. Combining traditional beliefs with Christianity, adherents believed that a proper lifestyle and ceremonial dances would restore the days before white settlement. A group of Lakota on the Pine Ridge Reservation was practicing the dance, and the US Army attacked them because they misinterpreted the movement. An estimated 150-300 innocent people were slaughtered in a tragic and needless show of violence.
  • Omaha Platform Published

    Omaha Platform Published
    At a convention in Nebraska, the nascent Populist Party agreed on a set of policies they wanted to pursue. These included public ownership of infrastructure, a graduated income tax, free silver, bank regulations, and a secret ballot. Above all, they believed the government should serve the needs of ordinary Americans, not big businesses. Though the party would peter out a few years later, its policies greatly influenced Democratic politics for the coming decades.
  • Period: to

    Cleveland Administration

  • Plessy v. Ferguson (S2)

    Plessy v. Ferguson (S2)
    In the South, Black Americans often faced discrimination on trains. Homer Plessy was a New Orleans man who was 1/8 Black. He was ordered to move from the first class car he had booked to the "colored" car. He refused and was arrested. Civil rights advocates brought his case to the Supreme Court, where it was decided that segregation was legal as long as equal facilities were provided. This decision gave legal backing to Jim Crow laws and would not be repealed until 1954.
  • Period: to

    McKinley Administration

  • First Subway in the US Opens (S2)

    First Subway in the US Opens (S2)
    As rapid industrial growth fostered urban development, city planners began to look for solutions to transportation problems. Huge crowds of people had to be moved across dense city blocks. Mass rail transit seemed to be the answer. In the prior decade, many cities had installed trolley systems. Boston became the first city to take this concept and move it underground to bypass street traffic with a short subway line. Later, in 1904, the technology was fully applied in Manhattan.
  • Williams v Mississippi

    Williams v Mississippi
    Henry Williams believed that Mississippi's voting laws were discriminatory toward Black citizens. The state's constitution allowed for literacy tests, poll taxes, and the grandfather clause, so that a man whose grandfather couldn't vote was disenfranchised. The court ruled that these restrictions were constitutional, and any discrimination came from individual poll officers. Jim Crow would be allowed to live on in the South for decades to come, depriving Black voters of their voice.
  • Spain Declares War on US

    Spain Declares War on US
    Ever since a rebellion against Spanish rule broke out in Cuba, there had been bad blood against it and the US. Things came to a head when the USS Maine, an American battleship, exploded in a Havana harbor. Many observers believed Spain had planted a mine to destroy the ship, and war was declared soon after. The US overpowered Spain with advanced battleships. At war's end, Spain ceded Puerto Rico, Cuba, Guam, and the Philippines, which came into the American sphere of influence.
  • US Annexes the Philippines

    US Annexes the Philippines
    As the War of 1898 came to an end, the US turned to the Philippines, a Spanish holding, and its valuable port at Manila. It purchased the entire archipelago from Spain for $20 million and began preparations to colonize the island. However, they encountered strong resistance from Filipinos, who wanted their own sovereignty. This led to brutal actions on the part of the Americans, who burned villages and imprisoned civilians. The war ended in 1902 with the US grip on the country complete.
  • Tenement House Law of 1901

    Tenement House Law of 1901
    As immigrants arrived to take advantage of economic opportunities, they needed to live near their jobs and in affordable housing. Cramped and dangerous tenement buildings presented appalling living conditions, but for many urban poor families and immigrants, they were the only option. The activism of Progressive Era reformers led to the creation of this law, which mandated indoor toilets, interior courtyards, and fire escapes for new tenement buildings.
  • Period: to

    Roosevelt Administration

  • The Shame of the Cities Published

    The Shame of the Cities Published
    In the Gilded Age, several of the country's largest cities were controlled by corrupt machine governments led by "bosses." They stole millions of dollars from taxpayers through fraud and committed serial voter fraud. Archetypal was Boss Tweed of New York's Tammany Hall, who inflated the cost of a courthouse by orders of magnitude and kept the difference for himself and his goons. Muckracker Lincoln Steffens exposed corruption in cities across the country with this scathing expose.
  • NAACP Founded

    NAACP Founded
    Civil rights for Black Americans were grim, but there was also the constant threat of lynching and other targeted violence. 1908 saw a brutal race riot in Springfield, IL, in which a mob of 5,000 attacked the city's Black residents. Progressive leaders, including W. E. B. Du Bois and Ida B. Wells, came together to decide a strong response. This resulted in the foundation of the NAACP, which became a vital part of the civil rights movement throughout the twentieth century.
  • Period: to

    Taft Administration

  • Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

    Triangle Shirtwaist Fire
    Gilded Age factories remained unsafe working environments despite decades of labor activism. In Manhattan, a fire broke out at the ten-story-tall Triangle Shirtwaist factory. Panicked workers, most of whom were women, tried to escape but found they had been locked in to prevent theft. 146 faced the bleak choice of jumping out or burning to death. The tragedy spurred public outrage. New York State created a factory commission to enforce 56 new labor safety laws in response.
  • Period: to

    Wilson Administration

  • Ford's Assembly Line

    Ford's Assembly Line
    While the beginnings of mass production could be seen in the 19th century, things really got rolling with Henry Ford's assembly line. It moved automobiles along to each stage of the manufacturing process and drastically reduced the time needed to create a car from 12 hours to 1 hour and 33 minutes. Other companies soon followed suit, giving America a massive industrial output and lowering the cost of goods so that ordinary people could better afford luxury items.
  • War Declared on Germany

    War Declared on Germany
    While WWI had officially started in 1914, most Americans, including President Wilson, were determined to stay out of the conflict. However, with German U-Boats indiscriminately attacking American ships and German diplomats holding designs on making an ally of Mexico, the government soon came to believe that neutrality was no longer possible. Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war, and he got it, but the decision was still controversial in Congress. The US had entered the Great War.
  • Sedition Act Passed

    Sedition Act Passed
    Public support for the war was thought to be vital for an allied victory. However, many dissidents remained vocal about their opposition; they included pacifists and socialists, among others. The Sedition Act banned speech and behavior that could incite resistance to the war effort or encourage support for the enemies. It had teeth, too: two 1919 Supreme Court cases upheld the convictions of people who had been prosecuted under the law, raising tough questions about the limits of free speech.
  • Armistice Ends WWI

    Armistice Ends WWI
    By 1918, the World War had lasted for four years in Europe and had led to widespread devastation of both troops and civilians. Germany soon found itself in a bleak place: all of its allies had signed armistices with the Allies, and the German Army was on the brink of defeat. They found themselves with no choice but to start peace negotiations. The armistice took effect at 11:11 on 11/11/18. It marked the end of armed combat in WWI and signaled that the troops would soon return home.
  • Treaty of Versailles Signed

    Treaty of Versailles Signed
    While Congress never approved the treaty, its allies did, and the decision would prove to be monumental for the US in the coming decades. The treaty blamed Germany as the war's instigator and set harsh sanctions on the country: it forced it to accept guilt for the war, severely limited military forces, loss of territory, and expensive reparations to allied countries. Germans had been humiliated on the world stage, and the brutal terms of the treaty would lead to another catastrophic world war.
  • Prohibition Takes Effect

    Prohibition Takes Effect
    Since the 19th century, temperance activists had promoted a blanket ban on liquor. They argued that it was the root of several societal ills, including poverty, crime, and domestic abuse, among others. This prohibition amendment banned the sale, production, and consumption of alcohol, but Americans came up with crafty ways to circumvent the rules. It led to a thriving gang scene, and mob bosses like Al Capone became wealthy bootleggers. Seeing their error, Congress repealed it in 1933.
  • 19th Amendment Ratified

    19th Amendment Ratified
    Since the early 19th century, women's rights activists had been fighting to achieve political equality with men. Several Western states allowed women to vote, but there was no guarantee of the right on a national level. WWI sparked a change in the way women were perceived as many had made great contributions to the war effort and women were being given the vote in many European countries. However, while the 19th Amendment was a significant step, it only ensured the vote to white women.
  • Period: to

    Harding Administration

  • Tulsa Race Massacre

    Tulsa Race Massacre
    Military needs during WWI created thousands of desirable factory jobs in the North. In what was called the Great Migration, millions of Black Americans left poverty and segregation in the South and headed North and West. However, they were often resented by white residents. Tulsa had an affluent Black community that was a crucible of this resentment. The massacre left hundreds dead or injured and destroyed the affluent Black neighborhood of Greenwood.
  • Period: to

    Coolidge Administration

  • National Origins Act Enacted

    National Origins Act Enacted
    The late 19th and early 20th century saw waves of "New Immigrants" from Southern and Eastern Europe. Many Anglos did not take kindly to them, as many were not Protestant and did not speak fluent English. Nativism also increased following WWI. The act limited the number of immigrants by setting a quota of 2% of the nationality's 1890 population, when the nationalities' presence in the US was still small. However, groups from Latin America had no quota, and many came to the US in search of jobs.
  • Scopes Trial

    Scopes Trial
    Biologist Charles Darwin's theory of evolution revolutionized his field, but not all were receptive: Tennessee passed a law in 1925 that made it illegal for schools to teach anything but creationism. John Scopes was a high school teacher who taught the theory to his biology class. In the trial, he was represented by the ACLU and prominent lawyer Charles Darrow. The jury found him guilty. The state's Supreme Court later overturned the ruling, but the debate persists even today.
  • Period: to

    Hoover Administration

  • Stock Market Crashes

    Stock Market Crashes
    America flourished during the 1920s. With consumer confidence at a peak, people began to make questionable economic decisions. To take advantage of new technology such as cars and appliances, they bought items on credit. They also bought stock on margin, a risky practice that would prove disastrous when the market crashed. A country that had grown accustomed to high wages and economic security was thrust into the Great Depression; the coming decade would be the opposite of the 1920s.
  • Bonus Army March on Washington

    Bonus Army March on Washington
    As the Great Depression entered its second year, veterans began to demand government action. Soldiers from WWI were promised pensions, or bonuses, to be paid around 1940. As the economic hardship set in, veterans marched to Washington to demand immediate payment. Some stayed on the White House lawn long after the others had left, and Hoover ordered the military to force them out. The public backlash was severe, and Hoover's reputation took a further hit.
  • Hitler Becomes Chancellor of Germany

    Hitler Becomes Chancellor of Germany
    As Germans felt the economic effects of the harsh Treaty of Versailles, they found what seemed like a solution. Adolf Hitler, leader of the Nazi Party, sold them on an image of a powerful Germany that was once again the envy of Europe. He would unite German-speaking countries and exterminate "undesirables." He was the impetus for both the genocidal Holocaust and the brutal fighting of WWII, which the US would join nine years later following German ally Japan's bombing of Pearl Harbor.
  • Period: to

    FDR Administration

  • FDR's First Hundred Days End

    FDR's First Hundred Days End
    During the election of 1932, FDR promised the American public that he would take immediate action against the Depression once in office. He held true to his word, passing massive New Deal legislation. Some of the programs created in the first 100 days included the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, and the National Industry Recovery Act. While reactions to the New Deal were mixed, FDR did stick to his promise of speedy action.
  • Black Sunday

    Black Sunday
    A severe drought struck Oklahoma and surrounding regions in 1930. Combined with wind storms the following year, a massive ecological disaster called the Dust Bowl displaced 2.5 million people in the midst of the Depression. The most severe dust storm blew three million tons of topsoil from Oklahoma's panhandle towards the East. The effects could be seen as far away as New York City. All told, the Dust Bowl lasted six years and wreaked environmental and economic havoc on the region.
  • Social Security Act

    Social Security Act
    The original goal of the Social Security Act was to ensure that older Americans had a pension to retire on. It was intended as a supplement, not a full retirement plan. The act established a hybrid federal and private unemployment payment system saw that widows and disabled people would be provided for. The act was controversial when it was passed and remains so to this day, from critics on both the right and the left. Nevertheless, it held up in the Supreme Court.
  • WWII Begins

    WWII Begins
    On his quest to expand Germany, Hitler took control of Austria in 1938. Later that year, he met with the leaders of France and Britain to announce his intention to annex part of Czechoslovakia. They agreed, but only as long as he would promise to stop taking over new territories. On Sep. 1, 1939, the German Army invaded Poland with the aim of conquering Danzig. WWII had officially started in Europe. In the early years, the US maintained neutrality, but most people supported the Allies.
  • Executive Order 8802

    Executive Order 8802
    The anti-Semitic discrimination of Nazi Germany revealed uncomfortable parallels with the treatment of Black Americans at home, as pointed out by rights leaders like W. E. B. Du Bois. Especially important was better labor opportunities. Facing pressure from Black labor groups, FDR signed Executive Order 8802 banning racial discrimination in the defense industry. This unprecedented support encouraged the growing membership of civil rights groups like the NAACP and the CORE.
  • Atlantic Charter Meeting

    Atlantic Charter Meeting
    In August 1941, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and FDR held a secretive meeting in an undisclosed location. There, they discussed the fates of their two countries after WWII. They agreed that the countries would not try to expand their power and that they would promote self-determination, global cooperation, the eradication of poverty, among other agreements. The ideology decided there would form the basis of several organizations, including NATO and the UN in the post-war years.
  • Bombing of Pearl Harbor

    Bombing of Pearl Harbor
    In the early morning hours of Dec. 7, Japan, an Axis power that was allied with Germany, launched a surprise attack on the US naval base Pearl Harbor. The unprovoked aggression came from anger at US aid to Britain, an Allied country, and pressure to Japan to stop expanding its military force in the Pacific. The attack killed 2,335 servicemen and destroyed 188 aircraft and 4 battleships. The next day, FDR gave his Day of Infamy speech and Congress declared war on Japan, entering WWII.
  • War Production Board Formed

    War Production Board Formed
    After entering the war, the US had a huge need for military supplies. To take advantage of the country's massive industrial capabilities, FDR signed Executive Order 9024 creating the Board. It gave the government significant control over the industrial output, shifting production away from consumer goods to wartime necessities. It formed profitable contracts with corporations, and together with the new need for labor, lifted the US out of the Great Depression and gave it an edge in the war.
  • Executive Order 9066 Begins Japanese Internment

    Executive Order 9066 Begins Japanese Internment
    Thousands of Japanese Americans were forced to temporarily relocate into internment camps during the WWII. Many people feared espionage and sabotage on the part of Japanese Americans, even though many had lived in the US throughout their lives and were legal citizens. At the start of 1942, FDR signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the War Department to hold Japanese Americans in isolated camps for the war’s duration. The Supreme Court justified it as a matter of wartime necessity.
  • D-Day Invasion

    D-Day Invasion
    On D-Day, American, British, and Canadian forces invaded Nazi-occupied France. Casualties were heavy, but the Allies were able to capture the beach of Normandy. 1.5 million soldiers and lots of equipment entered France. This faced Germany to fight on two fronts, Eastern and Western; only ⅓ of the military fought against the invasion because the rest were busy fighting in the Soviet Union. It was the largest land-sea military operation ever, and it set the conditions for a German surrender.
  • Servicemen's Readjustment Act

    Servicemen's Readjustment Act
    As WWII drew to a close, a bipartisan effort to compensate soldiers for their service and lost time developed. Commonly known as the G.I bill, the act paid for veterans' college or trade school education, gave low-interest business loans and mortgages, and provided them with free healthcare in VA hospitals. With 16 million Americans serving in WWII, the bill had a sweeping impact on society. It contributed to post-war prosperity, suburbanization, and the value placed on college education.
  • Period: to

    Truman Administration

  • Germany Surrenders: Victory in Europe

    Germany Surrenders: Victory in Europe
    The German High Command agreed to the unconditional surrender of all German troops, in the Eastern and the Western front, after the capital city of Berlin was surrounded by Soviet troops. With Italy defeated and Hitler having committed suicide a week earlier, the Germans had little choice but to surrender or be taken prisoners of war. The next day, May 8, is celebrated as V-E Day, meaning Victory in Europe. The US was still at war with Japan in the eastern theater, however.
  • Potsdam Conference

    Potsdam Conference
    The topics discussed at Potsdam were similar to those at Yalta, with the biggest difference being that Germany had surrendered and actions would be more immediate. The leaders of the US, the UK, and the USSR decided that, in the process of reconstruction and de-Nazification, Germany should be split into six parts, with half under Soviet control and one-sixth each in the West to France, the UK, and the US. The same would be done with Berlin, creating the conditions for Cold War tensions.
  • Atomic Bomb Dropped on Hiroshima

    Atomic Bomb Dropped on Hiroshima
    Throughout the war, the top secret, $2 billion Manhattan project had been working to develop an atomic bomb. The first successful bomb was tested on July 16, 1945 in New Mexico. Three weeks later, Truman ordered two bombs to be dropped on two Japanese cities: Hiroshima on August 6 and Nagasaki on August 9. Truman feared that Japan’s leaders would never surrender unless national ruin struck their country. Shortly after on Sept. 2, Japan surrendered unconditionally, lifting the US out of war.
  • First Levittown Built

    First Levittown Built
    Levittowns made the dream of low-density housing accessible to the middle class by creating a new model for developments. Each Levittown would have a set number of floor plans available. Prospective residents could choose one, visiting model houses to get an idea of their future homes. Because each house was no longer being custom built, they could be built much faster and at much lower costs. In the post-war conditions, suburbs like these grew rapidly thanks to the economy and the GI bill.
  • Truman Doctrine Proposed

    Truman Doctrine Proposed
    Just a few years after WWII, Truman addressed Congress with the hopes of persuading them to approve aid to the governments of Greece and Turkey, who were being threatened by communist insurgencies. In his speech, he laid out the principles of what would become known as the Truman Doctrine: the strategy of containing communism's impact by assisting any country threatened by communist uprisings with military and financial aid. The doctrine continued to guide foreign policy throughout the Cold War.
  • Marshall Plan Takes Effect

    Marshall Plan Takes Effect
    Post-war Europe was full of strife and economic hardship. US officials feared that the West would turn to communism to provide relief from the turmoil. To combat this, the Marshall Plan delegated billions of dollars in foreign aid to help Europe rebuild its factories, infrastructure, buildings, transport, etc. Aid was offered to Eastern Bloc countries but rejected under Stalin's influence. Domestically, the plan was controversial, but it was invaluable to reconstruction in Europe.
  • NATO Founded

    NATO Founded
    Fearing war instigated by the Eastern Bloc, several Western European countries, as well as the US and Canada, formed a defensive alliance called NATO. A crucial part of the alliance was Article 5, stating that an attack on any member nation would be an attack on all of them. By 1960, most Western Bloc countries had joined. In retaliation, the Eastern Bloc formed an alliance of its own, called the Warsaw Pact encompassing all but Yugoslavia and Albania. It was a further sign of Cold War division.
  • USSR Detonates A-Bomb

    USSR Detonates A-Bomb
    Just four years after the US, scientists in the USSR developed and tested the destructive, nuclear atomic bomb. It had roughly the same strength as the American bomb, meaning it could raze entire cities. A spy plane detected the radiation from the blast four days after the detonation, and that September Truman told the public that the Soviets had the bomb. What followed was forty years of Cold War tensions as Americans feared escalation into a devastating nuclear war.
  • Senator McCarthy's Wheeling Speech

    Senator McCarthy's Wheeling Speech
    As the Cold War was well on its way, a second Red Scare gripped America. In a notorious speech, Senator McCarthy claimed to have a list of over 200 communists working in the State Department, prompting widespread hysteria and national security concerns. During the scare, institutions like the HUAC deprived accused communists of due process, and free speech came under fire as people feared arising suspicion. Little, if any, espionage was actually present, but the Scare affected thousands.
  • US Enters the Korean War

    US Enters the Korean War
    After WWII, Korea was split into Northern and Southern regions. Communist leader Kim Il-Sung came to power in the North and launched an invasion into the capitalist South. Following its containment policy, the US sent in troops under the guidance of the famous General MacArthur. They were successful until China sent in troops on behalf of the North. By 1953, a tenuous peace agreement was set, placing the border at the 38th parallel with the North becoming a communist state.
  • Period: to

    Eisenhower Administration

  • Brown v. Board of Education

    Brown v. Board of Education
    Linda Brown was a Black student who was barred from attending a white school much closer to her house. The NAACP, with Thurgood Marshall as Brown's lawyer, took the case to court. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously to overturn the precedent in Plessy v. Ferguson that segregation is legal if facilities are equal. Schools across the country were ordered to desegregate in a timely matter, and though students faced staunch resistance, the case was a major source of hope to the Black community.
  • Montgomery Bus Boycott

    Montgomery Bus Boycott
    Working with the NAACP, Rosa Parks called attention to segregation on city buses by refusing to give up her seat to a white man. What followed was a 382-day-long boycott that would both prove the efficacy of nonviolent direct action and send MLK to national prominence. The bus companies pushed the segregation law to be overturned, as the boycott had slashed its profits. Similar nonviolent tactics, including sit-ins, marches, and legal action would form the cornerstones of the movement.
  • Eisnehower Interstate Highway Act

    Eisnehower Interstate Highway Act
    America’s roadways were due for a major overhaul. While deployed during WWII, Eisenhower saw the benefits of Germany's autobahn system. He signed the Act in 1956, providing federal aid for 41,000 miles of new interstate roads. Not only would they make travel and commerce easier, they could be useful in the event of a Cold War nuclear meltdown. Their construction also helped the rise of suburbanization and devastated small towns that had prospered from the highway running through them.
  • Students for a Democratic Society Founded

    Students for a Democratic Society Founded
    The Post-WWII generation earned a reputation for rebellion and questioning the status quo. SDS was founded in Michigan to organize college students to work for social changes. They opposed Cold War foreign policy, the war in Vietnam, consumerism, and wealth inequality. These tenets were outlined in the Port Huron statement, and the movement as a whole was christened the "New Left." Student protests around the country led to controversy between both generations and political factions.
  • Period: to

    Kennedy Administration

  • Freedom Rides

    Freedom Rides
    College students were a key group in the civil rights fight. CORE organized a series of bus rides to the South to test whether or not recent desegregation legislation was being obeyed. The students, both white and Black, were often met with brutal violence from mobs. In Alabama, one bus was firebombed and its passengers were beaten. Though rights were expanding on paper, the Freedom Rides exposed their persistence in the real world and the need for continued protections against discrimination.
  • Cuban Missile Crisis

    Cuban Missile Crisis
    After the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, Castro turned to the Soviet Union to ensure Cuba's safety under the threat of US aggression. US recon was able to identify the missiles while the launch sites were still under construction. This launched a diplomatic crisis lasting two weeks in which Americans were living under the very possible threat of nuclear war. JFK was able to reach a deal in which he promised the US would not invade if the weapons were removed. Cold War tensions continued to rise.
  • 1963 Equal Pay Act

    1963 Equal Pay Act
    For over a century, working women could be legally paid much less than their male coworkers for the same work. With the rise of civil rights legislation and the feminist movement in general, enough support was raised for the Equal Pay Act as an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act. In the following decades, women would make significant progress in closing the wage gap, entering jobs that were once off limits, and attaining a more equal status within society.
  • March on Washington

    March on Washington
    In his campaign, JFK had promised to pass a strong civil rights bill. However, he didn't have the support in Congress. 250,000 people would march to the Lincoln Memorial, from which Martin Luther King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. The march had a very positive impact on public support for the cause as people everywhere were moved by the march's size and the justice of its cause. Congress, however, held fast, and the bill didn't pass until after JFK's assassination.
  • JFK Assassinated

    JFK Assassinated
    While visiting Dallas, TX, JFK was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald. The governor of Texas was also shot, but his wounds were not fatal. JFK passed away an hour after the shooting at Parkland Hospital, shocking the nation and launching LBJ immediately into the presidency. The assassination compounded the feeling of turbulence in the 1960s, which saw the civil rights movement, the start of war in Vietnam, Cold War tensions, and the assassination of MLK and Robert Kennedy.
  • Period: to

    Johnson Administration

  • 1964 Civil Rights Act

    1964 Civil Rights Act
    Though JFK had long promised a civil rights bill, he was killed before it became a reality. Johnson was able to finish the job for him. The act outlawed employment discrimination based on race, guaranteed equal access to public schools and facilities, and gave new enforcement powers against employment discrimination. After a decade of activism, a strong bill with real teeth at the federal level had finally arrived, offering significant protections to Black Americans.
  • Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

    Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
    A US destroyer stationed in the Gulf of Tonkin, on the North side of Vietnam, was fired on by North Vietnamese torpedoes -- or so LBJ thought. Really, it was a single bullet hole. Nonetheless, LBJ believed escalation was unavoidable. Congress issued the Resolution, giving LBJ the power to act as he saw fit in Vietnam. The next several years would see turmoil both in the US and for the Vietnamese people as the US became involved in an unwinnable, unpopular, and ultimately fruitless war.
  • Medicare Passes

    Medicare Passes
    LBJ's Great Society was meant to mirror the social policy of FDR's New Deal legislation. The Medicare Act acted as a sort of extension of the SSA, providing free health insurance to elderly Americans, with 19 million people enrolling. Later, it would expand to include people under 65 with certain disabilities. In the more conservative decades, and especially with the rise of Reagan, Medicare became even more controversial as people rallied for lower taxes, a debate that continues to this day.
  • 1965 Voting Rights Act

    1965 Voting Rights Act
    The SCLC organized a march on Selma, Alabama, to push for greater voting rights protections and protest the murder of an activist. They were met with tear gas from law enforcement, a scene that the entire country saw on television. A few months later, the Act was passed, banning literacy tests and sending in election officials to register voters in counties where less than 50% were registered. It was a long overdue step in securing democracy for all people, a massive victory.
  • Tet Offensive

    Tet Offensive
    Coinciding with the Vietnamese New Year, Vietcong guerrilla troops launched campaigns against 36 provincial capitals and six major cities, as well as nearly overtaking the American embassy. Significantly, it turned public opinion largely against the war. The carnage was shown on TV, and Americans were in disbelief that they were being routed by the supposedly uncoordinated Vietcong troops. Before, 56% of Americans supported the war; now, only 41% did.
  • My Lai Massacre

    My Lai Massacre
    In 1968, US Army troops had executed over five hundred civilians in the South Vietnam village of My Lai. It was kept under wraps until 1969, when photos of the massacre were leaked to Life magazine. The public was outraged at both the cover-up and the brutality with which the forces had acted. Protests against the war, even among veterans, escalated. President Nixon began looking into ways to de-escalate the war, but he was unwilling to hurt America's image by doing so dishonorably.
  • Period: to

    Nixon Administration

  • Stonewall Inn Riot

    Stonewall Inn Riot
    Life for gay men and lesbians was difficult -- they had to choose between staying closeted, coming out and facing discrimination and harassment, or compromise and visit underground bars like the Stonewall Inn. When the Greenwich Village bar was raided by police, the patrons rioted: it was common for the names of patrons to be published to be ostracized. Gay liberation became another of the civil rights movements of the era, although progress was very slow.
  • EPA Founded

    EPA Founded
    The environmentalist movement took off amid an energy crisis that sent gas prices through the roof, the growing public awareness of the pollution effects of industry, and the milestone Silent Spring, calling into attention the use of the pesticide DDT. Directly following a horrific oil spill, a bipartisan bill founded the EPA, requiring new developments to file assessments of the environmental effects of their projects. More legislation, such as the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, followed.
  • Roe v Wade

    Roe v Wade
    In one of the most controversial Supreme Court decisions of all time, the right to abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy was granted to women of all states. For women's lib activists, it was a major victory for feminism and women's rights to reproductive healthcare; for conservatives, especially Christians, it was a state sanctioning of murder. Abortion would galvanize politics for the decades to come, and it continues to be a wedge issue today.
  • Paris Peace Accords

    Paris Peace Accords
    As the war became increasingly unpopular at home and strategically untenable, Nixon began negotiating a peace. Once the accords were signed, Nixon hoped that he would be able to help capitalist South Vietnam with US aid while still withdrawing troops. This didn't work, and South Vietnam was captured in 1975. All told, 58,000 US soldiers died, 300,000 were wounded, and $150 billion had been spent to execute the needless war.
  • Nixon Ordered to Release Watergate Tapes

    Nixon Ordered to Release Watergate Tapes
    Facing re-election, Nixon turned to dubious tactics such as political espionage, burglarizing the DNC headquarters, and giving himself an electoral advantage. When the informant "Deepthroat" came forward, Nixon denied any wrongdoing and refused to release the unedited tapes. In 1974, the Supreme Court ordered them to be released, revealing the full extent of Nixon's involvement. A week later, Nixon resigned the office, humiliated and desperate to avoid an impeachment.
  • Period: to

    Ford Administration

  • Period: to

    Carter Administration

  • Period: to

    Reagan Administration