Back to Chronology, Supreme Court, and Military Affairs

United States Chronology

1492 Christopher Columbus, sailing under the Spanish flag, arrives in the Americas, 12 October.
1513 Ponce de Leon of Spain lands in Florida and gives that region its name.
1534 France sends Jacques Cartier to find a route to the Far East; he explores along the St. Lawrence River, and France lays claim to part of North America.
1541 Hernando de Soto of Spain sights the Mississippi River near the location of present-day Memphis.
1565 St. Augustine, the oldest permanent settlement In the US, is founded by Spaniards.
1587 A party under John White lands at Roanoke Island (now in North Carolina); when White returns three years later, the entire settlement has disappeared.
1607 The English make the first permanent settlement in the New World at Jamestown; Virginia be­comes the first of the 13 English colonies.
1619 The first representative assembly in America, the House of Burgesses, meets in Virginia.
1620 Pilgrims from the ship Mayflower found a settlement at Plymouth.
1649 The Act Concerning Religion passed by Maryland's legislature is the first law of religious toleration in the English colonies.
1682 The Sieur de La Salle explores the lower Mississippi valley and claims the entire region for France.
1733 Georgia, the 13th and last of the English colonies in America, is founded.
1754 The French and Indian War between France and England begins in America.
1763 The Treaty of Paris ends the French and Indian War; Florida is ceded to Britain.
1765 The Quartering Act and the Stamp Act anger Americans; nine colonies are represented at the Stamp Act Congress.
1770 British troops fire on a crowd, killing five people in the so-called Boston Massacre.
1773 The Boston Tea Party, the first action in a chain leading to war with Britain, takes place.
1774 The First Continental Congress meets at Philadelphia and protests the five Intolerable Acts.
1775 The battles of Lexington and Concord and Bunker Hill occur; the Second Continental Congress meets.
1776 The Declaration of Independence is adopted.
1778-79 Gen. George Rogers Clark leads a victorious expedition into the Northwest Territory.
1781 George Washington accepts the surrender of Charles Cornwallis at Yorktown VA: the Articles of Confederation become the government of the US.
1783 A treaty of peace with Great Britain is signed at Paris, formally ending the Revolutionary War.
1786-87 Shays's Rebellion in Massachusetts shows weaknesses of the Confederation government.
1787 The Northwest Territory is organized by Congress: a convention meets to draft a new constitution.
1788 The US Constitution is ratified by the necessary nine states to ensure adoption.
1789 The new US government goes into effect; Washington is inaugurated president; the first Congress meets In New York City.
1791 The Bill of Rights is added to the Constitution: Vermont is the first new state admitted to the Union.
1793 Eli Whitney invents the cotton gin. which leads to large-scale cotton growing in the South.
1800 The national capital is moved from Philadelphia to Washington DC.
1803 Louisiana is purchased from France: the Supreme Court makes its Marbury v. Madison decision, establishing judicial review; Congress halts the importation of slaves into the US after 1807.
1804-06 Meriwether Lewis and William Clark blaze an overland trail to the Pacific and return.
1807 Robert Fulton's steamboat makes a successful journey from New York City to Albany NY.
1812-14 The US maintains its independence In a conflict with Britain, the War of 1812.
1820 The Missouri Compromise settles the problem of slavery in new states for the next 30 years.
1823 The Monroe Doctrine warns European nations that the US will protect the Americas.
1825 The Erie Canal, from the Hudson River to the Great Lakes, becomes a great water highway to the Middle West.
1829 The inauguration of Pres. Andrew Jackson introduces the era of Jacksonian Democracy.
1836 Texas wins its independence from Mexico. 1843 The first migration begins on the Oregon Trail.
1845 Texas is annexed and admitted as a state.
1846 The Oregon boundary dispute is settled with Britain; the Mexican War begins.
1847 Brigham Young leads a party of Mormons into the Sail Lake valley. Utah.
1848 The Mexican War ends: the US gains possession of the California and New Mexico regions.
1849 The gold rush to California begins.
1850 The Compromise of 1850 admits California as a free state, postponing war between the North and South.
1853 The Gadsden Purchase adds 117,935 sq km (45,535 sq ml) to what is now the southwestern US.
1854 The Republican Party is organized in opposition lo slavery.
1857 The Dred Scott decision of the Supreme Court declares that the Missouri Compromise is Illegal.
1860 Abraham Lincoln is elected president; South Carolina secedes from the Union.
1861 The Confederate States of America is formed: the Civil War begins; telegraph links New York City with San Francisco.
1862 Gen. Ulysses S. Grant launches a Union attack in the West: the Confederate invasion of Maryland is halted at Antietam; the Homestead Act grants 160 acres to each settler.
1863 Federal forces win decisive battles at Gettysburg PA, Vicksburg MS. and Chattanooga TN; the Emancipation Proclamation is delivered.
1864 Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman captures Atlanta and marches across Georgia.
1865 Gen. Robert E. Lee surrenders to Grant at Ap­pomattox (VA) Court House, ending the Civil War; Lincoln is assassinated.
1867 Reconstruction acts impose military rule on the
South; Alaska is purchased from Russia.
1869 The first transcontinental railroad is completed as two lines meet at Promontory UT.
1876 The telephone is invented: the Centennial Ex­position in Philadelphia celebrates the 100th birthday to the US.
1877 The withdrawal to the last federal troops from the South ends the Reconstruction period.
1879 The first practical electric light is invented by Thomas A. Edison.
1884-85 The first skyscraper, the Home Insurance Building, is erected in Chicago.
1886 The American Federation of Labor (AFL) is organized; its first president is Samuel Gompers.
1877 The Interstate Commerce Act is adopted to control railroads that cross state lines.
1889-90 The first pan-American conference is held in Washington DC.
1890 The Sherman Anti-Trust Act is passed in an effort to curb the growth of monopolies.
1896 Henry Ford's first car is driven on the streets of Detroit.
1898 The US wins the Spanish-American War and gains the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam,
1903 The air age begins with the successful airplane flight by the Wright brothers.
1906 The Federal Food and Drug Act is passed to protect the public from impure food and drugs.
1913 Federal income tax is authorized by the 16th Amendment
1914 The Panama Canal is opened under the control of the US: World War I breaks out in Europe; Pres. Woodrow Wilson appeals for neutrality in the US.
1915 A German submarine sinks the British ship Lusitania with the loss of 124 American lives; a telephone line is established coast-to-coast.
1917 The US declares war against Germany.
1918 Pres. Wilson proposes "Fourteen Points" as the basis for peace; Americans fight at Chateau-Thierry. Belleau Wood, Saint-Mihiel, and Argonne Forest in France; an armistice ends the war.
1918-19 Pres. Wilson attends the Paris Peace Conference of victorious nations.
1919 The US Senate rejects the League of Nations; prohibition is established by the 18th Amendment.
1920 The right to vote is given to women by the 19th Amendment.
1921 National immigration quotas are introduced.
1921-22 The Washington Conference restricts warship construction among the chief naval powers.
1924 The army plane Chicago makes the first flight around the world.
1927 Charles A. Lindbergh makes the first nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic.
1928 The Kellogg Brand Pact outlaws war.
1929 The stock market reaches a new high and then crashes; the panic marks the beginning of the Great Depression; millions of workers are unemployed.
1932 Franklin Delano Roosevelt is elected president.
1933 The New Deal is launched; the gold standard is suspended; bank deposits are insured; the Tennessee Valley Authority is organized; the 21st Amendment repeals prohibition.
1934 Congress tightens control over securities, passes the first Reciprocal Trade Agreement Act. and launches the federal housing program.
1935 The National Labor Relations (Wagner) Act guarantees collective bargaining to labor; the Con­gress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) is founded; the Social Security Act is passed.
1936 The Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam) is completed across the Colorado River.
1938 The Fair Labor Standards Act provides a federal yardstick for wages and hours of workers.
1939 Germany invades Poland, beginning World War II.
1940 The US begins a huge rearmament program; the first peacetime draft takes effect: Roosevelt defies tradition and accepts the presidential nomination for a third term.
1941 The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Hawaii brings the US into World War II.
1942 Americans launch a counteroffensive in the Pacific; the Allies invade North Africa.
1943 The invasion of Italy is the Allies' first landing on the European continent.
1944 The Allies launch the greatest sea-to-land assault in history in the invasion of France; the Gl Bill of Rights is passed.
1945 Germany surrenders, 8 May: the US drops atomic bombs on Japan at Hiroshima, 6 August, and Nagasaki, 9 August: Japan surrenders. 2 September; the Cold War begins between the US and the Soviet Union.
1946 The Philippines is granted independence by the US; the Atomic Energy Commission is created.
1947 The Truman Doctrine, offering aid to counter communism in Greece and Turkey, is declared; the De­partment of Defense consolidates the army, navy, and air force.
1948 The European Recovery Program is enacted.
1949 The Fair Deal program of social reform is an­nounced; the US and its allies force the Soviet Union to lift the Berlin blockade; the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is founded.
1950 The US and several other members of the UN send military forces to the aid of the Republic of Korea; bitter war develops.
1951 A two-term limit is put on the presidency by ratification of the 22nd Amendment.
1952 The US and its allies end the occupation of West Germany; the election of Dwight D. Eisenhower ends 20 years of Democratic governance.
1953 The Korean War ends; the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare becomes the 10th cabinet post.
The Supreme Court declares 1954 racial segregation of public schools illegal.
1955 The two largest labor organizations merge into one group-the AFL-CIO; the Salk poliomyelitis vaccine is proved successful.
1956 Legislation is passed providing funding for the US Interstate Highway System.
1957 The Eisenhower Doctrine to strengthen the US position in the Middle East is adopted.
1958 The first US artificial Earth satellite is launched: the US joins the International Atomic Energy Agency.
1959 Alaska becomes the 49th state, Hawaii the 50th.
1960 A US spy plane is downed over the Soviet Union, leading to the capture of Francis Gary Powers.
1961 The CIA is involved in an unsuccessful invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs: Alan Shepard becomes the first American to make space flight; American troops are sent to defend West Berlin.
1962 The Cuban missile crisis erupts; the Soviets re move missiles from Cuba at the urging of the US.
1963 The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom takes place; Pres. John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas TX; a nuclear test-ban treaty is signed.
1964 The landmark Civil Rights Act is passed.
1965 US combat forces fight in Vietnam; the Medicare Act is signed; the Department of Housing and Urban Development becomes the 11th cabinet post.
1966 The Department of Transportation becomes the 12th cabinet post.
1967 The 25th Amendment to the Constitution provides for presidential succession.
1968 The assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy provoke riots.
1969 US astronauts land on the Moon.
1970 Four students at Kent State University in Ohio are killed by National Guard soldiers during anti-Vietnam War protests.
1971 The 26th Amendment to the Constitution gives 18-yearolds the right to vote in all elections.
1972 Pres. Richard M. Ninon visits China and the So­viet Union.
1973 The US withdraws its troops from Vietnam: gas prices soar as OPEC raises the price of oil 400%.
1974 The Watergate Scandal and the threat of im­peachment force Nixon to resign.
1977 The Department of Energy becomes a new cabinet post: a treaty is signed to return the Panama Canal to Panama by the year 2000.
1978 Pres. Jimmy Carter hosts the Camp David talks between Israel's Menachem Begin and Egypt's Anwar el-Sadat.
1979 The second Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT II) treaty is signed by the US and the Soviet Union: militants seize 66 American hostages in a takeover of the US embassy in Iran.
1980 The Department of Health. Education, and Welfare is separated into the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education.
1981 Sandra Day O'Connor is appointed the first woman Supreme Court justice.
1983 Pres. Ronald Reagan announces the Star Wars missile-defense program: the US invades Grenada.
1985 A summit between Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev is held in Genovn. Switzerland.
1986 The space shuttle Challenge explodes shortly after liftoff: the US bombs targets in Libya.
1987 The Iran Contra hearings are held; the stock market collapses: Reagan and Gorbachev sign the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
1988 The Department of Veterans Affairs is ap­proved as a cabinet post.
1989 The Exxon VaWez supertanker spills 10 million gallons of crude oil off the Alaskan coast; the US in­vades Panama; the Berlin Wall ceases to divide the two Germanys. signaling the end of the Cold War.
1990 US troops are sent to Saudi Arabia in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.
1991 An air and ground war leads to the Iraqi surrender and withdrawal from Kuwait; the Soviet Union comes apart.
1992 Riots erupt in Los Angeles after white policemen accused of beating African American Rodney King are acquitted: the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is signed by the US. Canada, and Mexico.
1993 Janet Reno becomes the first woman attorney general: the World Trade Center in New York City is bombed.
1995 Timothy McVeigh detonates a bomb in a terrorist attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people.
1998 Pres. Bill Clinton is impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice; he is acquitted by the Senate the following year.
2000 The results of the presidential election are challenged by Vice Pres. Al Gore; the US Supreme Court overrules the Florida Supreme Court's order for a statewide manual recount of ballots: George W. Bush wins the presidency.
2001 On 11 September, two hijacked airplanes demolish the World Trade Center in New York City, another crashes into the Pentagon outside Washington DC. and a fourth crashes in the southern Pennsylvania countryside: Pres. Bush calls tor a global "war on terror" and sends US troops into Afghanistan, eventually displacing Ihe Inliban regime.
2002 Republicans take control of both houses of Congress, holding both the legislative and executive branches of government for the first time since 1952.
2003 The US launches a war to depose the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq and takes control of the country after just weeks of fighting Congress passes a US$350 billion tax cut; the Department of Homeland Security is created as a cabinet post.
2004 Scandal erupts with the publication of photos of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq: the independent 9/11 Commission finds no credible evidence of a connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda's attacks of 11 Sep 2001; Bush is reelected president.
2005 Hurricane Katrina strikes The Gulf Coast, destroying much of New Orleans and killing more than 1.500 people.
2006 Conservative lawyer John G. Roberts. Jr.. is appointed to the Supreme Court as chief justice; Democrats gain control of both houses of Congress.
2007 In an effort to quell a persistent insurrection against the US backed government of Iraq. Pres. Bush orders a "surge" of 20,000 additional US troops.
2008 A crisis in the subprime mortgage industry, leading to foreclosures and failing home values, together with record-high prices of petroleum, pushes the US economy into recession.
2009 In a historic ceremony on 20 January, Barack Obama is sworn in as the first Alncan American president of the United States; two of the Big Three automobile manufacturers—Chrysler and General Motors-declare bankruptcy: American troops meet the 30 June deadline to withdraw from Iraqi cities under an agreement that calls for all American forces to leave Iraq by the end ot 2011.
2010 Soon alter the milestone of 1,000 US soldiers killed is passed, the war in Afghanistan becomes the longest in US history; a deep-water oil drilling platform explodes in US waters in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and causing a leak of as much as 2.5 million gallons of oil into the gulf per day, caviling one of the world's worst environmental disasters.