Shaping the Late 20th and Early 21st Centuries

  • Period: to

    First Indochina War

    In this first phase of fighting, which lasted from 1946 to 1954, Ho Chi Minh led Viet Minh insurgents in the struggle to end French rule in Vietnam.
  • Sputnik 1 Launched

    Sputnik 1 Launched
    Kennedy’s New Frontier focused on reviving the economy, winning the space race, building the nation’s defenses, and aiding developing countries.
  • NASA formed

    NASA formed
    In 1961, Kennedy pledged to put an American on the moon by the end of the decade. In 1969, NASA achieved this bold goal.
  • Period: to

    The Vietnam War

    Regular troops of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) joined forces with Viet Cong insurgents. The United States trained the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) to defend South Vietnam.
  • Period: to

    Bay of Pigs Invasion

    Kennedy’s first foreign policy initiative, the Bay of Pigs invasion, was an attempt to remove Fidel Castro from power in Cuba. It failed miserably.
  • Peace Corps Act Passed

    Peace Corps Act Passed
    Kennedy’s Peace Corps gave thousands of American volunteers the chance to help people in developing nations improve their lives.
  • Silent Spring published

    Silent Spring published
    This influential book sparked a new interest in environmentalism. As a result, Congress passed several environmental laws.
  • Period: to

    Cuban Missile Crisis

    One of the most frightening confrontations of the Cold War occurred when the United States discovered Soviet nuclear missile sites in Cuba. The crisis ended peacefully, partly due to Kennedy’s measured response and a willingness to take the nation to the brink of war.
  • Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Signed

    Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Signed
    Kennedy and Khrushchev, both determined to reduce Cold War tensions, signed a treaty banning nuclear weapons tests in the atmosphere.
  • President John F. Kennedy Assassinated

    President John F. Kennedy Assassinated
    During his brief time as president, John F. Kennedy faced many domestic and foreign challenges. His presidency began with great optimism and ended in tragedy, leaving many of his goals unfulfilled.
  • "War on Poverty"

    "War on Poverty"
    Johnson’s Great Society grew out of the liberal tradition of the Progressive and New Deal eras. Its centerpiece was an ambitious War on Poverty.
  • Immigration Act of 1965

    Immigration Act of 1965
    This measure ended the national origins quota system begun in the 1920s. Entry to the United States was now based on criteria such as skills and family ties.
  • Miranda vs. Arizona

    Miranda vs. Arizona
    The Supreme Court found that Ernesto Arturo Miranda's rights had been infringed upon. Te Supreme Court then set guidlies for police to use to read their rights to the person they are arresting and make sure they understand them. These became known as Miranda Rights, or the Miranda Warning, and are still in use today.
  • First Earth Day

    First Earth Day
    The first Earth Day celebration in 1970 signaled the emergence of a new environmental movement. Followers worked to clean up and protect the environment locally and globally. Congress passed antipollution laws such as the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act.
  • Kent State Shooting

    Kent State Shooting
    The invasion of Cambodia in April 1970 sparked an increase in antiwar protests. The most violent one occurred the following month at Kent State University in Ohio, where National Guard troops fired into an angry crowd, killing four students.
  • Environmental Protection Agency begins operating

    Environmental Protection Agency begins operating
    Another new agency, the EPA, was created to protect Americans’ health and the natural environment.
  • Occupational Saftey and Health Administration formed

    Occupational Saftey and Health Administration formed
    Despite his promise to shrink the federal government, Nixon created OSHA, which works to improve health and safety in the workplace.
  • Pentagon Papers leaked

    Pentagon Papers leaked
    In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg leaked to the press a top-secret study of the U.S. role in Indochina. This study, the Pentagon Papers, revealed secrecy and deceit on the part of U.S. presidents.
  • Watergate Scandal

    Watergate Scandal
    In 1972, burglars broke into Democratic headquarters in the Watergate building. The scandal over the cover-up that followed the break-in led to Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974.
  • War Powers Resolution passed by Congress

    War Powers Resolution passed by Congress
    Congress reacted to Nixon’s activities in Cambodia by passing the War Powers Resolution. This resolution limits a president’s ability to send armed forces into combat.
  • Three Mile Island accident

    Three Mile Island accident
    An accident at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in 1978 highlighted the potential dangers of nuclear energy.
  • Period: to

    Reagan Revolution (Ronald Reagan's Presidency)

    Reagan helped spark a conservative revolution in American politics. He worked to shrink government, promote free enterprise, and reduce spending on social programs. He also called for fewer regulations related to business and the environment.
  • Reagan Doctrine announced

    Reagan Doctrine announced
    The president backed anticommunist movements around the world as part of the Reagan Doctrine. He gave aid to rebels like the Contras, who were fighting to overthrow the Sandinista government of Nicaragua.
  • Period: to

    Iran-Contra Affair

    The Reagan administration faced a scandal over arms sales to Iran and the diversion of funds to the Contras. Several top officials were convicted of illegal actions in the Iran-Contra Affair.
  • Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty ratified

    Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty ratified
    Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, reducing nuclear missiles in Europe. U.S. pressure, along with economic and political problems at home, eventually caused the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.
  • Fall of Berlin Wall

    Fall of Berlin Wall
    In 1961, the concrete barrier dividing communist East Berlin from noncommunist West Berlin was a symbol of the deepening Cold War divide.
  • Period: to

    Persian Gulf War 

    The United States fought alongside other nations to force Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait.
  • North American Free Trade Agreement formed

    North American Free Trade Agreement formed
    The United States promoted free trade as part of a growing trend toward economic globalization. The North American Free Trade Agreement linked Mexico, Canada, and the United States.
  • Contract with America

    Contract with America
    In the 1994 midterm elections, Republicans won control of Congress with their 10-point Contract with America.
  • Bill Clinton Impeached

    Bill Clinton Impeached
    As a moderate New Democrat, Clinton breathed new life into the Democratic coalition. One of his main legacies is welfare reform. Clinton failed to enact universal health care, however. In his second term, Clinton was impeached but not removed from office.
  • Bush vs. Gore: Supreme Court Decision

    Bush vs. Gore: Supreme Court Decision
    In the 2000 election, Al Gore led George W. Bush in the popular vote by a very thin margin. The Supreme Court decided the outcome, denying Gore’s demand for a recount in Florida.
  • George W. Bush elected

    George W. Bush elected
    As a candidate, Bush reached out to moderates with his compassionate conservatism. One of his main legacies is education reform. However, Bush failed to reform the Social Security system.
  • September 11th Attacks

    September 11th Attacks
    The al Qaeda terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, prompted the United States to declare a war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq.
  • Patriot Act enacted

    Patriot Act enacted
    Congress enacted the Patriot Act after 9/11 to help government agencies track down terrorists. The act sparked a long debate over what some saw as assaults on privacy rights.
  • Department of Homeland Defense formed

    Department of Homeland Defense formed
    Congress created the Department of Homeland Security to improve the ability of U.S. security agencies to keep the country safe from terrorists. DHS worked to improve communication among its agencies and the public and otherwise secure Americans’ liberty.
  • Barack Obama elected

    Barack Obama elected
    Faced with a slow-growing economy and high unemployment, Obama pushed an economic stimulus package through Congress. However, his jobs bill faced tough Republican opposition, as did his comprehensive health-care reform law.
  • Occupy Wall Street protest

    Occupy Wall Street protest
    After 9/11, Americans debated these questions: Should all airline passengers be treated equally? Or should those fitting the profile of the 9/11 terrorists face special scrutiny? The nation chose equality over racial profiling, but racial profiling persists. The Occupy Wall Street protests pointed out another equality issue—the income gap between rich and poor.