Important Events in American History

Important Events in American History

Right from its discovery to the election of the first African-American President, America's history is filled with events that have impacted world history on the whole, positively and negatively. We bring to you a list of such events.
Several events have influenced American history and made the country what it is today. Who discovered America? Why was the Civil War fought? And who killed Abraham Lincoln?

Understand how these events occurred and contributed to American history.

Discovery of America
The image depicts a stamp showing the arrival of Columbus in the United States.

Columbus
There's still a debate as to who discovered it: Amerigo Vespucci or Christopher Columbus. History states that Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci discovered a new land in 1497, and Martin Waldseemüller (famous map-maker) named it America after Vespucci. However, recent evidence suggests that Columbus had already discovered this unknown land in 1492. Many historians also believe that the famed Chinese explorer Cheng Ho might have discovered America almost 70 years before Columbus. There may be a huge debate on who discovered America and when, but one fact is pretty clear since its discovery: trade and navigation flourished, and several European powers came and made America their base.
Boston Tea Party
The image depicts Boston colonists posing as Indians and throwing tea in the sea at Boston port.

Boston Tea Party
The Boston Tea Party was a heroic event which took place on 17th December 1773 in Boston, Massachusetts. This act of defiance was executed to ban the Townshend Act. The Townshend Act was implemented in 1766 and allowed the British Parliament to tax American colonies on tea, paper, paint and various other items. American colonists rebelled and started boycotting all goods imported from England. To control the ongoing agitation, the government canceled taxes on all goods, except tea. This led to protests all over America and in this chaos, five Americans were shot by British soldiers in Boston. Local citizens were outraged and demanded strict action against the guilty. In addition to this chaos, the East India Company was suffering from bankruptcy due to corruption. To save the company, Parliament removed all import/export duties on goods to reduce cost prices and put locals out of business. This angered Americans even more and citizens of Boston didn't allow the unloading of goods on the port. On December 17th, a group of colonists dressed as Indians boarded a ship carrying tea in disguise and threw all the valuable tea shipment in the sea. The Boston Tea Party is one of the most popular events in the history of the nation and is considered a landmark in the American War of Independence against European colonies.
Independence from Great Britain
The image depicts a five-man party drafting the Declaration of Independence.

Declaration of Independence
On 4th July 1776, the Continental Congress (representing all the thirteen colonies) signed the Declaration of Independence. This meant freedom for all the thirteen colonies who were struggling for independence from Great Britain. The Declaration contained possible explanations on why the thirteen colonies deserved independence from British rule. While Thomas Jefferson is known as the author of the Declaration of Independence, there are others who were involved in the drafting: Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston, and John Adams. It was finally signed by 56 individuals representing the thirteen colonies.
American Civil War
The image depicts the First Battle of Bull Run in American Civil War.

Civil War
The American Civil War was fought between Confederate States of America (Southern Slave States) and the Union States a.k.a United States of America (All Free States). The primary causes of this war are still unknown; however, historians believe that differences between the states existed right from the start and then came a time when talks proved futile and violence gripped the entire nation. The split between the Southern States and the Union led to four years of intense war and bloodshed that killed millions. There were also many cultural differences, but the real motives behind the Civil War are still a secret.
Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
The image depicts a 2010 Abraham Lincoln coin.

An unforgettable American tragedy, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln is yet another important chapter in America's history. History states that the defeat of the Southern States by the Union Territories during the Civil War led to the cold-blooded murder of Lincoln (who was the commander of the Union Army). The man who assassinated Lincoln was obviously a Southern sympathizer, John Wilkes Booth - a stage actor. Booth considered Lincoln wholly responsible for the Southern destruction and the murder of his Southern brothers. He shot Lincoln on the back of the head with a .44 caliber Derringer, percussion-cap pistol at the Ford Theater on 11th April 1865 in Washington. After an intensive search for several days, Booth was finally killed in an encounter with the troops on April 26 1865.
Pioneering Aviation
The image depicts a stamp in the honor of the Wright Brothers.

The origin of the term 'Aeronautical Engineering' can be traced back to an event that occurred in a bicycle shop that the (Orville and Wilbur) Wright brothers owned. Both brothers had a keen passion for flying machines from a young age, and spent a great amount of time and effort studying everything related to it. After years of research, they designed a prototype, which took its first flight on December 17, 1903 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Orville climbed into the vintage cockpit and flew the model for 12 seconds. Four attempts to fly were made that day, and in the last one the prototype soared up to almost 800 feet and was in air for about a minute. Today, all of us are amazed at the Boeing 747 and the Airbus A380; but it is strange to know all these gigantic flying machines had a humble beginning in the 1900s by two geniuses. They are regarded as the pioneers of aviation.
World War I
The image depicts President Wilson addressing Congress regarding the entry of the US in World War I.

World War 1
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division,
photograph by Harris & Ewing
Hailed as the Great War, World War I is responsible for at least 3 million casualties. The US had maintained a neutral stand in the war. It was under the leadership of President Woodrow Wilson, who was a peace lover and wanted to avoid the war. However, Germany's constant submarine warfare on US passenger ships and its attempt to trigger the US-Mexico war again caused the former to declare war on Germany. Hence US inadvertently got involved in the Great War. To weaken the British, Germany started targeting all the cargo ships coming towards England with their U-Boats (submarines). Eventually, they started targeting any vessel that was heading towards England. In this warfare, it sank the British cruise ship Lusitania which killed 1198 passengers in which 128 were Americans. This incident was instrumental in pushing America to war.
Attack on Pearl Harbor: US Enters World War II
The image depicts the bombing of USS Shaw (Mahan-class destroyer) during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

World War 1
NPS/via Wikimedia Commons (PD)
The US was merely a spectator, or rather a secret supporter of Britain in World War II. However, the attack on Pearl Harbor changed its stance. On December 7, 1941, at least 353 Japanese war planes attacked Pearl Harbor causing grave damage and killing more than 2000 US officers. This incident was the last straw and it entered the World War II as an active member, thereby leading to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The World War II was bigger than any conflict that mankind had ever seen. It was one of the most disastrous battles and caused more deaths than World War I. It was the first time that the US was an active member and was the only country that used an atom bomb in the war. It was also the first time that President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Executive Order 8002 which meant a ban on racial discrimination. The US emerged a winner and a super power after the end of this war.
Equal Civil Rights
The image depicts the most popular African-American leader in history: Martin Luther King Jr.

Equal Rights
Library of Congress,
Prints & Photographs Division,
photograph by DeMarsico,
Dick, NYWT&S Collection
The 1900s was one of the most controversial times in the history of the United States. It was the time when African-Americans rose to gain equal rights in the country and marked the beginning of a movement that would abolish racial discrimination to a larger extent. Slavery was abolished in 1865, but in many states, African-Americans were still treated like slaves. To add to their misery, the state government implemented "Jim Crow" laws that barred African-Americans from attaining education in public schools, using public modes of transport and even entering hotels. There is no one movement that can be credited with eliminating racism against the African-Americans. The entire credit goes to the countless people who participated in this struggle and ensured that racism was abolished from the United States of America.
Attack on the Twin Towers
The image depicts the burning of the Twin Towers captured from a distance.

Attack on Twin Towers
U.S. Navy/Naval Historical Center/
via Wikimedia Commons (PD)
An incident America and the world will never forget, the falling of the World Trade Center was not just the fall of two tall buildings, it was the fall of humanity. On September 11, 2001, 19 Islamic extremists, on the orders of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, hijacked four passenger jets, and crashed two of them in the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center complex. The third jet was targeted at the Pentagon and the fourth one was crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The number of lives lost is still not clear; however, statistics say that almost 5000 innocent lives were lost. This incident triggered a decade long-war against terrorism, in which the United States invaded Afghanistan and demolished the rule of Taliban which was harboring al-Qaeda.

Other Important Events

1901
  • President McKinley is shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz on 6th Sept. After McKinley dies on 14th Sept, Theodore Roosevelt is sworn in as the 26th President of the United States.
  • J.P. Morgan starts his company United States Steel Co. which becomes the first billion dollar company in the world.
1902
  • Bureau of Census gets established.
1903
  • Ford Motors gets organized by Henry Ford.
  • The first intercontinental trip by an automobile. San Francisco to New York in 52 days.
1904
  • New York Subway opens.
  • Construction of Panama Canal begins.
1905
  • Train system improves and electric bulbs are introduced.
1906
  • San Francisco earthquake kills 500.
1907
  • Oklahoma is the 46th state of the US.
1909
  • The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) is formed.
1912
  • Titanic sinks.
  • New Mexico and Arizona are elected as the 47th and 48th US states.
1913
  • Woodrow Wilson is elected the 28th President of the country.
1914
  • Cleveland installs the first green and red traffic lights.
1915
  • Ford marks a record of 1 million sales.
1916
  • Congress passes a plan to expand armed forces.
1917
  • The US declares war on Germany.
1918
  • Daylight Saving Time begins.
1924
  • New York's Computer Tabulating Recording Company changes its name to IBM.
1925
  • Nellie Tayloe Ross becomes the first woman governor of the US state of Wyoming.
1929
  • The Great Economic Depression kills the US economy.
1939
  • World War II begins, the US declares National Emergency.
1943
  • Pentagon becomes the largest office building in the world.
1949
  • United States recognizes the Independent State of Israel.
1953
  • Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower is the 34th President of the United States.
1955
  • Vietnam War breaks out and the US plays an active role in the war preventing Vietnam from being a communist country.
1959
  • Alaska and Hawaii become the 49th and 50th states of the US.
1961
  • John F Kennedy is elected the 35th President of the nation.
1963
  • Kennedy is assassinated, Lyndon B. Johnson becomes the 36th President same day.
1968
  • Martin Luther King is assassinated.
1969
  • Richard Nixon is the 37th President of the United States.
  • Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr take first walk on the moon.
1970
  • Watergate Scandal breaks out and Richard Nixon resigns from the office in 1974 making him the only President to leave the office.
1974
  • Gerald Ford becomes the 38th US President.
1977
  • Jimmy Carter sworn in as the 39th US President.
  • Elvis Presley dies.
1981
  • Ronald Reagan elected becomes the 40th US President.
1983
  • Sally K. Ride becomes first US woman astronaut in space.
1989
  • George Walker Bush becomes the 41st President of the United States.
1998
  • President Clinton accused of White House sex scandal; denies allegations of affair with White House intern, Monica Lewinsky.
2001
  • George W. Bush becomes the 43rd President of the United States. He received a majority of the electoral votes, despite losing on popular votes.
  • The US declares War on Afghanistan (2001-Present) in relation to the bombing of the Twin Towers.
2002
  • The Department of Homeland Security was created to make the nation more secure and prepared against terror attacks which could occur on home soil.
2003
  • Concorde embarks on its final flight from New York to London.
  • The United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invade Iraq to destroy the weapons of mass destruction acquired by the Iraqi government, and to overthrow Saddam Hussein's oppressive rule, which eventually led to his capture near Baghdad.
2004
  • Condoleezza Rice becomes the first African-American woman to be named Secretary of State.
  • George W. Bush gets reelected.
  • Massachusetts becomes the first state to legalize gay marriages.
2005
  • Hurricane Katrina destroys coastlines of Louisiana and Alabama, killing almost 2000 and damages property worth $81 billion.
  • John Roberts gets sworn in as the 17th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He becomes the youngest candidate to held this position in more than 200 years.
2009
  • Barack Obama becomes the first African-American and the 44th President of the US.
  • Economic recession hits the US and many companies file for bankruptcy.
  • Thriller hit-maker Michael Jackson dies in his home due to medication overdose.
  • After the approval of Congress, Obama signs The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act - a $787 billion stimulus package for the economy.
2010
  • The Don't Ask Don't Tell Repeat Act of 2010, was made effective which ended the discrimination against homosexuals in the US military.
  • WikiLeaks began to release classified political documents to the world.
2011
  • Head of al-Qaeda; Osama bin Laden was killed by United States armed forces in Pakistan.

These are only a few from the infinite events that have shaped the United States of America, and have had the greatest impact worldwide.