APUSH Timeline

By as2547
  • Period: 1491 to

    Period 1

    Colonization and Exploration of the Americas
  • 1492

    Christopher Columbus Arrives in the Americas

    This marks the beginning of the American colonies and the subjugation of countless Native Americans.
  • Period: 1492 to

    The Columbian Exchange

    The Columbian Exchange refers to the flow of goods between the Americas, Europe, and Africa that followed Columbus’s widely advertised “discovery” of the New World. People, animals, plants, and disease passed from continent to continent affecting virtually all aspects of the environment in all three.
  • 1512

    The Encomienda System

    Under the encomienda system, conquistadors received grants of a number of Indians, from whom they could exact “tribute” in the form of gold or labor. They were supposed to protect and Christianize the Indians granted to them, but they most often used the system to effectively enslave the Indians and take their lands.
  • 1525

    The Rise of the Atlantic Slave Trade

    The first record of a slave trade voyage direct from Africa to the Americas is for a ship that landed in Santo Domingo, on the island of Hispaniola.
  • Jamestown Founded

    The first English colonists settled in Jamestown, named after King James I. They sought gold and silver but instead found sickness and disease.
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    Period 2

    British Colonial Times
  • The Pilgrims Arrive and Sign the Mayflower Compact

    Pilgrims, or Separatists, seeking religious freedom arrived in New England aboard the Mayflower. On November 11, 1620, they signed the Mayflower Compact, the first governing document of the Plymouth Colony.
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    New Amsterdam is Founded

    The Dutch colonization of New Netherland (parts of present-day New York, Delaware, New Jersey, and Connecticut) began in the 1620s. From the outset, New Netherland was a multiethnic, multireligious society. In 1664, the future James II of England dispatched Colonel Richard Nicolls (or Nicholls) to seize the colony.
  • The City on the Hill

    Puritans left England to escape religious persecution. They hoped to establish a church free from worldly corruption and founded on voluntary agreement among congregants. John Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, famously desired these settlements to be a “A Model of Christian Charity”—a City on a Hill.
  • Anne Hutchinson Banished

    Anne Hutchinson (1591–1643) was an English-born Massachusetts Puritan who organized religious meetings for women and challenged the political authority of the clergy. As a result, Hutchinson was tried in 1637 for “traducing the ministers” of the church. John Winthrop, the governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, served as both prosecutor and judge in her trial. Hutchinson was declared “a woman not fit for our society” and excommunicated from the church and banished.
  • The Half-Way Covenant

    New England Puritans established an agreement extending partial church membership to church members’ children who had not yet experienced conversion.
  • King Phillip's War

    Metacomet, the Wampanoag leader called “Philip” by the English, led a war against New England settlers who wanted to subject the native New England population to colonial control. By August of 1676 over half of all the English towns in New England had been destroyed. In proportion to population, King Philip’s War was the most fatal war in American history.”
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    The Pueblo Revolt

    In present-day New Mexico, the Pueblo peoples coordinated an uprising against the Spanish at dozens of settlements scattered across hundreds of miles. They destroyed buildings and churches and killed 400+ Spaniards. They burned Sante Fe and drove the Spanish back to El Paso. It was the most successful effort by Natives to drive out European settlers from their lands, but the Spanish were back in twelve years.
  • Locke’s Two Treatises of Government Published

    John Locke's works were greatly influential in the formation of the American republic. He establishes the principle of natural rights (life, liberty and property). Important figures of the revolutionary generation (the Adams brother, Madison, Jefferson, Henry, and Franklin) were disciples of Locke. His writings shaped sermons in Revolutionary pulpits and editorials in Revolutionary newspapers. The Declaration of Independence was greatly influenced by it.
  • The Salem Witchtrials

    Accusations of witchcraft led to prosecution in Massachusetts Bay Colony. 18 men and women were found guilty and hanged.
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    Queen Anne's War

    Queen Anne’s War was the second of four great wars for land fought between France and England, each supported by Indian allies. The 1713 Treaty of Utrecht ended the conflict. In it France ceded Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and the French territory around Hudson Bay to England, and abandoned its claim to sovereignty over the Iroquois.
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    The Great Awakening

    The Great Awakening was ignited by Jonathan Edwards in colonial America. The revivals had weakened the hold of the established churches in colonial America, and large numbers of Christians joined new evangelical churches like those of the Baptists or Methodists. The Great Awakening also contributed to colonial religious liberty by changing the balance of religious power.
  • Indentured Servitude gained popularity

    Men would come to America for free in exchange for years of work. The terms of their service were spelled out in contracts called indentures.
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    Period 3

    The American Revolution
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    The French-Indian War

    Half a century of conflict between Britain and France over North America culminated in the Seven Years’ War in Europe. Fur traders and Virginia planters were interested in exploiting and developing the Ohio River valley. The French, determined to secure the territory against encroaching British and American traders and land speculators, built a chain of forts. The war cost a lot of money and led to increased taxes.
  • The Treaty of Paris of 1763

    The Treaty of Paris of 1763 ended the French and Indian War/Seven Years' War between Great Britain and France, as well as their respective allies. France gave up all its territories in mainland North America, effectively ending any foreign military threat to the British colonies there.
  • The Proclamation Line of 1763

    The Proclamation Line of 1763 preserved the lands west of the Appalachian Mountains for Natives and forbade white settlement. They restricted commerce with Natives to traders licensed by the British government, requiring settlers to “take out a License for carrying on such trade.
  • The Sugar Act

    To maintain the army and repay war debts, Parliament decided to impose duties on colonial trade. It passed the Sugar Act first. It imposed duties on foreign wines, coffee, textiles, and indigo imported into the colonies. That also expanded the customs service. Britain also required colonial vessels to fill out papers detailing their cargo and destination. The Royal Navy patrolled the coast to search for smugglers, who were tried in special courts without a jury.
  • The Quartering Act

    The Quartering Act of 1765 required the colonies to house British soldiers in barracks provided by the colonies. If the barracks were too small to house all the soldiers, then localities were to accommodate the soldiers in local inns, livery stables, ale houses, etc.
  • The Stamp Act

    Parliament passed the act to help pay for British troops stationed in the colonies during the war. It required colonists to pay a tax, represented by a stamp, on various forms of papers, documents, and playing cards. It had to be paid in British sterling, rather than colonial currency. Those accused of violation could be prosecuted in Vice-Admiralty Courts without juries anywhere in the British Empire. Colonists reacted with boycotts of British goods, riots, and attacks on the tax collectors.
  • Troops arrive in Boston

    After new duties on imports of glass, lead, paint, paper, and tea were imposed in July. The colonists became even more restive. Revenue from the acts paid for the salaries of colonial governors and judges, preventing colonial legislatures from exercising the power of the purse over those officials. In 1768, two regiments of British troops arrived in Boston to quell the nascent rebellion.
  • Purchase of Six Nations Land

    The British authorities hoped to prevent further conflicts between white settlers and American Indians by forbidding the continued migration of settlers and by paying the Indians for lands they had already occupied. After giving up their land, the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy dispersed, with some staying in western New York and others traveling north to Canada and west to Wisconsin.
  • The Boston Massacre

    By the beginning of 1770, there were 4,000 British soldiers in Boston (~15,000 inhabitants) and tensions were running high. On March 5, crowds of day laborers, apprentices, and merchant sailors began to pelt British soldiers with snowballs and rocks. A shot rang out, and then several soldiers fired their weapons. When it was over, five civilians lay dead or dying.
  • The Boston Tea Party

    To save the East India Company from bankruptcy, Parliament implemented the Tea Act, authorizing the company to sell a huge tea surplus directly to the public without payment of duty. In response, a group of people dressed as Natives and snuck onto a ship. They overturned 340 cases of tea, enraging the Crown.
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    The Intolerable Acts

    The British Parliament enacted the Port Act because of the Boston Tea Party in March 1774. It closed the Boston harbor to all shipping until payment for the destroyed tea was made. In May, two additional “Intolerable Acts” forbade public meetings in Massachusetts unless sanctioned by the royal governor and transferred any trial of a British official accused of a capital offense to England or another colony.
  • Battles of Lexington and Concord

    The American Revolutionary War began with the “shot heard ’round the world.” At the battles of Lexington and Concord, seventy-three British troops were killed and 200 were wounded or missing in action. The patriot losses were forty-nine dead and forty-six wounded or missing.
  • The Colonies Were Declared in Open Rebellion

  • King George III's Address to Parliment

    King George III addressed Parliament to declare that Great Britain would not give independence to the colonies. He spoke of the land's importance, the British commitment, the effort and money from GB.
  • Thomas Paine’s 'Common Sense' Published

    Thomas Paine argued in easy to understand, straightforward terms. This meant more people read and understood his points of independence from England and the creation of a democratic republic. He sold more than 100,000 copies in three months.
  • The Declaration of Independence

    On July 2, 1776, Congress declared independence from Great Britain and two days later adopted the Declaration of Independence. Copies of the Declaration were then sent out to the new "Free and Independent States" to print and distribute. It contained many principles of natural rights and was used to rally troops for the independence cause.
  • Valley Forge

    The American army claimed a major victory of the war at Saratoga when Continental forces trapped British General John Burgoyne’s army in October 1777. But just months later the situation took a turn for the worse. Washington made camp for the winter at Valley Forge where his army suffered incredible hardship through the winter, facing disease, cold, hunger, and lack of supplies. Washington pled for aid from the states.
  • Articles of Confedration

    The Second Continental Congress named a committee to make the federal government, the Articles of Confederation, to define the relationship among the thirteen new states. It created a weak federal government that ultimately failed but lasted 10 years. The members worked from June 1776 to November 1777, when they sent a draft to the states for ratification. Virginia was the first to ratify and Maryland was the last (March 1, 1781).
  • British Surrender

    In October 1781 American and French forces under General Lafayette attacked the British at Yorktown, Virginia. It was the last major battle of the Revolution. On October 19, 1781, British General Charles Cornwallis surrendered his army of some 8,000 men to General George Washington at Yorktown, giving up any chance of winning the Revolutionary War.
  • The Treaty of Paris of 1783

    The Treaty of Paris was signed by representatives of Great Britain and the United States. It recognized American Independence and established the borders.
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    Shay's Rebellion

    Massachusetts farmers faced high taxes, eviction, and imprisonment for debt due to the poor economy. Led by Shay, they attacked the Springfield arsenal. While the rebellion was eventually put down by state militia, it made clear the failure of the Articles and the need for a stronger central government capable of protecting democratic institutions.
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    Constitutional Convention

    The Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia met to address the problems of the weak central government that existed under the Articles of Confederation. They decided to scrape the articles completely and create a new more powerful central government.
  • Constitution is ratified

    After receiving the new US Constitution in September 1787, Congress sent it out to the states for ratification. Federalists and Anti-Federalists debated heavily (most contentiously in the key states of Virginia and New York). Copies of the Constitution were widely distributed following the document’s signing by the members of the Constitutional Convention on September 17, 1787.
  • The Northwest Ordinance

    Congress adopted the Northwest Ordinance, which modeled the organization of future territories. It gave Congress the power to divide the area into 3-5 separate territories. They'd appoint a governor, a secretary, and 3 judges to govern each territory. Once a territory had 60,000 free inhabitants, it could apply to be a state.The Ordinance guaranteed residents’ property rights plus other rights like trial by jury and freedom of religion. It also prohibited slavery in the Northwest Territory.
  • The Federalist Papers

    The first of the Federalist Papers was published. John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison attempted to explain the meaning of each clause in the Constitution and how it would be implemented. The purpose was to convince the states to ratify the Constitution.
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    George Washington becomes the first President

    Washington was chosen to be president after his service in the Revolution. He was very reluctant to accept. He served 2 terms, setting a precedent for all presidents to come until FDR and then the 22nd Amendment. In his inaugural address he stated: “The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.”
  • Judiciary Act of 1789

    Article III of the Constitution established a Supreme Court, but left the power to make lower federal courts, as needed, to Congress. The act established a three-part judiciary: district courts, circuit courts, and the Supreme Court. It also outlined the structure and jurisdiction of each branch.
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    The Whiskey Rebellion

    The Whiskey Rebellion was a revolt by farmers in western Pennsylvania who objected to a federal tax on whiskey. The "whiskey tax" was the first tax imposed on a domestic product by the newly formed federal government. It ended in 1794 during the presidency of Washington as he sent in troops under the command of Hamilton to quell the revolt. Hamilton wrote, to the Governor of Pennsylvania, about how many will follow duty but many others will choose violence and can only be controlled with force.
  • Bill of Rights

    The Federalists agreed to ratify the Constitution if there was an explicit list of their rights. Madison argued that this could end up being a limit of natural rights as something would inevitably be excluded. However, they insisted so many amendments were drafted. 10 ended up making ratification requirements and became the Bill of Rights. The measures were heavily influenced by the Virginia Declaration of Rights written by George Mason.
  • Democratic-Republicans and the resignation of Jefferson as Secretary of State

    In 1792, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson founded the Democratic Republicans in opposition to Hamilton and the Federalists. Concerned over Alexander Hamilton’s ideas about government and Washington’s proclamation of neutrality in the French Revolution, Thomas Jefferson resigned from his position as secretary of state at the end of 1793.
  • The Election of 1796

    The election of 1796 was the first where voters chose between competing political parties and the first test of whether power could transfer power through a contested election. The Federalists backed former VP John Adams while the Dem-Reps backed Jefferson. The Dem-Reps said Adams was “the champion of rank, titles, and hereditary distinctions.” The Federalists said that Jefferson was intent on undermining religion & morality. Adams won by 3 votes despite backstage maneuvering by Hamilton.
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    XYZ Affair & Quasi War

    In the XYZ Affair, French agents, referred to as X, Y, and Z, demanded a $10 million loan and bribes before France would negotiate a treaty with the U.S. The affair, and the decision of the US to terminate its treaties with France, spawned an unofficial war between the two known as the Quasi War. There were a series of conflicts at sea. The war ended with the Convention of 1800, which allowed for the end of the previous alliance between the two but asserted a firm peace and a sincere friendship.
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    John Adams becomes the 2nd President

    John Adams wins the presidency by 3 votes over Thomas Jefferson. This is despite behind-the-scenes manipulating by Alexander Hamilton. Jefferson becomes his vice-president.
  • Alien and Sedition Acts

    Fear of war with France led to the passage of four Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798. The Naturalization Act increased the waiting period for citizenship. The Alien Act gave the president the power to arrest & deport aliens. The Alien Enemy Act allowed the government to arrest & deport citizens of countries at war with the US. The Sedition Act stifled opposition to the government and promised to punish those who would defame or bring contempt, disrepute, or exercise hatred of the American people.
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    Period 4

    Jacksonian Democracy
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    Thomas Jefferson becomes the 3rd President

    Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson becomes the 3rd President beating Federalist John Adams for whom he had been the vice president. He made James Madison his vice-president.
  • Marbury v. Madison

    Marbury v. Madison led to the establishment of judicial review by John Marshall. The case went to the Supreme Court first due to the Judiciary Act of 1789. Marshall knew if he ruled against Madison he couldn't enforce it. So they ruled for Madison but said that they shouldn't have even heard the case as the Judiciary Act clause that gave them original jurisdiction was unconstitutional therefore establishing the power of judicial review for the courts as Hamilton created in Federalist 78.
  • Lewis & Clark Expedition

    Lewis and Clark begin their expedition across the portion of the country newly acquired from the Louisiana Purchase.
  • The Louisiana Purchase

    The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition of the territory of Louisiana (~828,000 square miles of land west of the Mississippi River) by the United States from the French. In return for fifteen million dollars (~18 dollars per square mile) the United States doubled its size.
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    Richard Nixon becomes the 37th President

    He had been vice president under Eisenhower and was beaten by JFK in the 1960 election. He won in an incredibly narrow election after committing treason by colluding with South Vietnam to delay peace proceedings until he was president, promising more favorable terms for them. He resigned during his second term when those and other fraudulent actions were revealed.
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    Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr. becomes the 38th President

    Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr. became the 38th president of the United States after the resignation of Richard Nixon for whom he was vice-president. Ford would end up pardoning Nixon, destroying his reputation and chance for re-election. His term saw the curbing of presidential power.
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    Jimmy Carter becomes the 39th President

    He beat out Gerald Ford by campaigning for efficiency in government and the removal of racial barriers. During his term, inflation and interest rates were at near record highs, and efforts to reduce them caused a short recession. His attitude towards inflation led to his losing public approval.