American History

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Roanoke Colony

1585 - 1590

The Roanoke Colony on Roanoke Island in Dare County, present-day North Carolina, United States, was a late 16th-century attempt by Queen Elizabeth I to establish a permanent English settlement. The enterprise was financed and organized originally by Sir Humphrey Gilbert, who drowned in 1583 during an aborted attempt to colonize St. John's, Newfoundland. Sir Humphrey Gilbert's half brother Sir Walter Raleigh later gained his brother's charter from Queen Elizabeth I and subsequently executed the details of the charter through his delegates Ralph Lane and Richard Grenville, Raleigh's distant cousin. The final group of colonists disappeared during the Anglo-Spanish War, three years after the last shipment of supplies from England. Their disappearance gave rise to the nickname "The Lost Colony". To this day there has been no conclusive evidence as to what happened to the colonists.

Jamestown

1607

Jamestown settlement in the Colony of Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in the Americas. Established by the Virginia Company of London as "James Fort" on May 4, 1607 (O.S., May 14, 1607 N.S.), and considered permanent after brief abandonment in 1610, it followed several earlier failed attempts, including the Lost Colony of Roanoke. Jamestown served as the capital of the colony for 83 years, from 1616 until 1699.

The settlement was located within the country of Tsenacommacah, which was administered by the Powhatan Confederacy, and specifically in that of the Paspahegh tribe. The natives initially welcomed and provided crucial provisions and support for the colonists, who were not agriculturally inclined. Relations with the newcomers soured fairly early on, leading to the total annihilation of the Paspahegh in warfare within 3 years. Mortality at Jamestown itself was very high due to disease and starvation, with over 80% of the colonists perishing in 1609-1610 in what became known as the "Starving Time".

United States Declaration of Independence

1776

The Declaration of Independence is the usual name of a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies, then at war with Great Britain, regarded themselves as 13 newly independent sovereign states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. Instead they formed a new nation—the United States of America. John Adams was a leader in pushing for independence, which was unanimously approved on July 2. A committee had already drafted the formal declaration, to be ready when Congress voted on independence. The term "Declaration of Independence" is not used in the document itself.

Valley Forge

1777 - 1778

Valley Forge in Pennsylvania was the site of the military camp of the American Continental Army over the winter of 1777–1778 during the American Revolutionary War. It is approximately 20 miles northwest of Philadelphia. Starvation, disease, and exposure killed nearly 2,500 American soldiers by the end of February 1778.
With winter almost setting in, and with the prospects for campaigning greatly diminishing, General George Washington sought quarters for his men. Washington and his troops had fought what was to be the last major engagement of 1777 at the Battle of White Marsh (or Edge Hill) in early December. He devised to pull his troops from their present encampment in the White Marsh area (now Fort Washington State Park) and move to a more secure location for the coming winter.

Articles of Confederation

1777

The Articles of Confederation, formally the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, was an agreement among the 13 founding states that established the United States of America as a confederation of sovereign states and served as its first constitution. Its drafting by the Continental Congress began in mid-1776, and an approved version was sent to the states for ratification in late 1777. The formal ratification by all 13 states was completed in early 1781. Even when not yet ratified, the Articles provided domestic and international legitimacy for the Continental Congress to direct the American Revolutionary War, conduct diplomacy with Europe and deal with territorial issues and Native American relations. Nevertheless, the weakness of the government created by the Articles became a matter of concern for key nationalists. On March 4, 1789, general government under the Articles was replaced with the federal government under the U.S. Constitution. The new Constitution provided for a much stronger federal government with a chief executive (the president), courts, and taxing powers.

United States Bill of Rights

1789

The Bill of Rights is the collective name for the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. Proposed to assuage the fears of Anti-Federalists who had opposed Constitutional ratification, these amendments guarantee a number of personal freedoms, limit the government's power in judicial and other proceedings, and reserve some powers to the states and the public. While originally the amendments applied only to the federal government, most of their provisions have since been extended to the states by way of the Fourteenth Amendment, a process known as incorporation. The amendments were introduced by James Madison to the 1st United States Congress as a series of legislative articles. They were adopted by the House of Representatives on August 21, 1789, formally proposed by joint resolution of Congress on September 25, 1789, and came into effect as Constitutional Amendments on December 15, 1791, through the process of ratification by three-fourths of the states. While twelve amendments were proposed by Congress, only ten were originally ratified by the states. Of the remaining two, one was adopted 203 years later as the Twenty-seventh Amendment, and the other technically remains pending before the states.

U.S. Constitution

1789

The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America.[1] The Constitution, originally comprising seven articles, delineates the national frame of government. Its first three articles entrench the doctrine of the separation of powers, whereby the federal government is divided into three branches: the legislative, consisting of the bicameral Congress; the executive, consisting of the President; and the judicial, consisting of the Supreme Court and other federal courts. Articles Four, Five and Six entrench concepts of federalism, describing the rights and responsibilities of state governments and of the states in relationship to the federal government. Article Seven establishes the procedure subsequently used by the thirteen States to ratify it.

Structure of the U.S.Government

1789

The outline of the government of the United States is laid out in the Constitution. The government was formed in 1789, making the United States one of the world's first, if not the first, modern national constitutional republic. The United States government is based on the principle of federalism, in which power is shared between the federal government and state governments. The details of American federalism, including what powers the federal government should have and how those powers can be exercised, have been debated ever since the adoption of the Constitution. Some make the case for expansive federal powers while others argue for a more limited role for the central government in relation to individuals, the states or other recognized entities. Since the U.S. Civil War, the powers of the federal government have generally expanded greatly, although there have been periods since that time of legislative branch dominance (e.g., the decades immediately following the Civil War) or when states' rights proponents have succeeded in limiting federal power through legislative action, executive prerogative or by constitutional interpretation by the courts. One of the theoretical pillars of the United States Constitution is the idea of "checks and balances" among the powers and responsibilities of the three branches of American government: the executive, the legislative and the judiciary. For example, while the legislative (Congress) has the power to create law, the executive (President) can veto any legislation—an act which, in turn, can be overridden by Congress. The President nominates judges to the nation's highest judiciary authority (Supreme Court), but those nominees must be approved by Congress. The Supreme Court, in its turn, has the power to invalidate as "unconstitutional" any law passed by the Congress.

Sectionalism

1800 - 1850

Sectionalism in 1800s America refers to the different life styles, social structures, customs, and political values of the North, South and West.[2][3] It increased steadily in 1800–1850 as the North, industrialized, urbanized and built prosperous factories, while the deep South concentrated on plantation agriculture based on slave labor, together with subsistence farming for the poor whites. Southerners defended slavery in part by claiming that Northern factory workers toiled under worse conditions and were not cared for by their employers. Defenders of slavery referred to factory workers as the “white slaves of the North.”

Lewis and Clark Expedition

1804 - 1806

The Lewis and Clark Expedition, also known as the Corps of Discovery Expedition, was the first American expedition to cross what is now the western portion of the United States, departing in May, 1804 from St. Louis on the Mississippi River, making their way westward through the continental divide to the Pacific coast. The expedition was commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson shortly after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, consisting of a select group of U.S. Army volunteers under the command of Captain Meriwether Lewis and his close friend Second Lieutenant William Clark. Their perilous journey lasted from May 1804 to September 1806. The primary objective was to explore and map the newly acquired territory, find a practical route across the Western half of the continent, and establish an American presence in this territory before Britain and other European powers tried to claim it. The campaign's secondary objectives were scientific and economic: to study the area's plants, animal life, and geography, and establish trade with local Indian tribes. With maps, sketches and journals in hand, the expedition returned to St. Louis to report their findings to Jefferson.

Underground Railroad

1810 - 1850

The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses used by 19th-century slaves of African descent in the United States to escape to free states and Canada with the aid of abolitionists and allies who were sympathetic to their cause. The term is also applied to the abolitionists, both black and white, free and enslaved, who aided the fugitives. Various other routes led to Mexico or overseas. An "Underground Railroad" running south toward Florida, then a Spanish possession, existed from the late 17th century until shortly after the American Revolution. But, the network now generally known as the Underground Railroad was formed in the early 19th century, and reached its height between 1850 and 1860. One estimate suggests that by 1850, 100,000 slaves had escaped via the "Railroad". British North America (present-day Canada), where slavery was prohibited, was a popular destination, as its long border gave many points of access. Most former slaves settled in Ontario. More than 30,000 people were said to have escaped there via the network during its 20-year peak period, although U.S. Census figures account for only 6,000. Numerous fugitives' stories are documented in the 1872 book The Underground Railroad Records by William Still, an abolitionist operating in Philadelphia.

Monroe Doctrine

1823

The Monroe Doctrine was a US foreign policy regarding Latin American countries in the early 19th century. It stated that further efforts by European nations to colonize land or interfere with states in North or South America would be viewed as acts of aggression, requiring U.S. intervention.[1] At the same time, the doctrine noted that the United States would neither interfere with existing European colonies nor meddle in the internal concerns of European countries. The Doctrine was issued at a time when nearly all Latin American colonies of Spain and Portugal had achieved or were at the point of gaining independence from the Portuguese and Spanish Empires; Peru consolidated its independence in 1824, and Bolivia would become independent in 1825, leaving only Cuba and Puerto Rico under Spanish rule. The United States, working in agreement with Britain, wanted to guarantee that no European power would move in.

Corrupt Bargain

1824

In the 1824 election, no outright majority was attained and the process required resolution in the House of Representatives, whose Speaker and candidate in his own right, Henry Clay, gave his support to John Quincy Adams, and was then selected to be his Secretary of State. In the 1876 election, accusations of corruption stemmed from officials involved in counting the necessary and hotly contested electoral votes of both sides, in which Rutherford B. Hayes was elected by a congressional commission. The most recent incident widely described as a "corrupt bargain" was Gerald Ford's 1974 pardon of Richard Nixon, following the resignation of the disgraced former president. The critics claim that Ford's pardon was a quid pro quo for Nixon's resignation, which a elevated Ford to the presidency.

Trail of Tears

1831

The Trail of Tears is a name given to the ethnic cleansing and forced relocation of Native American nations from southeastern parts of the United States following the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The removal included many members of the Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek), Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations, among others in the United States, from their homelands to Indian Territory in eastern sections of the present-day state of Oklahoma. The phrase originated from a description of the removal of the Choctaw Nation in 1831.

Manifest destiny

1845

In the 19th century, Manifest Destiny was the widely held belief in the United States that American settlers were destined to expand throughout the continent. Historians have for the most part agreed that there are three basic themes to Manifest Destiny: The special virtues of the American people and their institutions; America's mission to redeem and remake the west in the image of agrarian America; An irresistible destiny to accomplish this essential duty. Historian Frederick Merk says this concept was born out of "A sense of mission to redeem the Old World by high example...generated by the potentialities of a new earth for building a new heaven".

Peculiar institution

1850

"(Our) peculiar institution" was a euphemism for slavery.

Reconstruction Era

1863 - 1877

In the history of the United States, the term Reconstruction Era has two senses: the first covers the complete history of the entire country from 1865 to 1877 following the Civil War; the second sense focuses on the transformation of the Southern United States from 1863 to 1877, as directed by Congress, with the reconstruction of state and society. From 1863 to 1865, Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson took moderate positions designed to bring the South back to normal as quickly as possible, while the Radical Republicans (as they called themselves) used Congress to block their moderate approaches, impose harsh terms, and upgrade the rights of the freedmen (former slaves). Klose and Lader argue that Johnson "favored a moderate policy ... He proceeded, therefore, to carry out a policy very similar to Lincoln's."

Gettysburg Address

1863

The Gettysburg Address is a speech by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, one of the best-known in American history. It was delivered by Lincoln during the American Civil War, on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, four and a half months after the Union armies defeated those of the Confederacy at the Battle of Gettysburg. Abraham Lincoln's carefully crafted address, secondary to other presentations that day, came to be regarded as one of the greatest speeches in American history. In just over two minutes, Lincoln reiterated the principles of human equality espoused by the Declaration of Independence and proclaimed the Civil War as a struggle for the preservation of the Union sundered by the secession crisis, with "a new birth of freedom", that would bring true equality to all of its citizens. Lincoln also redefined the Civil War as a struggle not just for the Union, but also for the principle of human equality.

Emancipation Proclamation

1863

The Emancipation Proclamation was a presidential proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, as a war measure during the American Civil War, directed to all of the areas in rebellion and all segments of the Executive branch (including the Army and Navy) of the United States. It proclaimed the freedom of slaves in the ten states that were still in rebellion, thus applying to 3 million of the 4 million slaves in the U.S. at the time.

Battle of Gettysburg

1863

The Battle of Gettysburg was fought July 1–3, 1863, in and around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania between Union and Confederate forces during the American Civil War. The battle involved the largest number of casualties of the entire war and is often described as the war's turning point. Union Maj. Gen. George Meade's Army of the Potomac defeated attacks by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, ending Lee's attempt to invade the North. After his success at Chancellorsville in Virginia in May 1863, Lee led his army through the Shenandoah Valley to begin his second invasion of the North—the Gettysburg Campaign. With his army in high spirits, Lee intended to shift the focus of the summer campaign from war-ravaged northern Virginia and hoped to influence Northern politicians to give up their prosecution of the war by penetrating as far as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, or even Philadelphia. Prodded by President Abraham Lincoln, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker moved his army in pursuit, but was relieved just three days before the battle and replaced by Meade.

Abolitionism

1865

The historian James M. McPherson defines an abolitionist "as one who before the Civil War had agitated for the immediate, unconditional, and total abolition of slavery in the United States." He does not include antislavery activists such as Abraham Lincoln or the Republican Party, which called for the gradual ending of slavery. The first attempts to end slavery in the British/American colonies came from Thomas Jefferson and some of his contemporaries. Despite the fact that Jefferson was a lifelong slaveholder, he included strong anti-slavery language in the original draft of the Declaration of Independence, but other delegates took it out.[19] Benjamin Franklin, also a slaveholder for most of his life, was a leading member of the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery, the first recognized organization for abolitionists in the United States. Following the Revolutionary War, Northern states abolished slavery, beginning with the 1777 constitution of Vermont, followed by Pennsylvania's gradual emancipation act in 1780. Other states with more of an economic interest in slaves, such as New York and New Jersey, also passed gradual emancipation laws, but by 1804, all the northern states had abolished it. Some slaves continued in servitude for two more decades but most were freed.

Alaska Purchase

1867

The Alaska Purchase was the acquisition of Russian America by the United States from the Russian Empire in the year 1867 by a treaty ratified by the U.S. Senate. Russia wanted to sell its Alaskan territory, fearing that it might be seized if war broke out with Britain. Russia's primary activity in the territory had been fur trade and missionary work among the Native Alaskans. With the purchase of Alaska, the United States added 586,412 square miles (1,518,800 km2) of new territory. Reactions to the purchase in the United States were mixed, with opponents calling it "Seward's Folly", feeling that U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward, the primary American negotiator, got the worst of the bargain.

Plessy v. Ferguson

1896

Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) is a landmark United States Supreme Court decision in the jurisprudence of the United States, upholding the constitutionality of state laws requiring racial segregation in public facilities under the doctrine of "separate but equal".[1]

The decision was handed down by a vote of 7 to 1 with the majority opinion written by Justice Henry Billings Brown and the dissent written by Justice John Marshall Harlan. "Separate but equal" remained standard doctrine in U.S. law until its repudiation in the 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education. After the Supreme Court ruling, the New Orleans Comité des Citoyens (Committee of Citizens), which had brought the suit and had arranged for Homer Plessy's arrest, in an act of civil disobedience in order to challenge Louisiana's segregation law, replied, "We, as freemen, still believe that we were right and our cause is sacred."

On June 7, 1892, Plessy bought a first class ticket at the Press Street Depot and boarded a "whites only" car of the East Louisiana Railroad in New Orleans, Louisiana, bound for Covington, Louisiana. The railroad company, which opposed the law on the grounds that it would require the purchase of more railcars, had been previously informed of Plessy's racial lineage, and the intent to challenge the law. Additionally, the committee hired a private detective with arrest powers to detain Plessy, to ensure he was charged for violating the Separate Car Act, as opposed to a vagrancy or some other offense. After Plessy took a seat in the whites-only railway car, he was asked to vacate it, and sit instead in the blacks-only car. Plessy refused and was arrested immediately by the detective. As planned, the train was stopped, and Plessy was taken off the train at Press and Royal streets. Plessy was remanded for trial in Orleans Parish.

Spanish–American War

1898

The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, the result of American intervention in the Cuban War of Independence. American attacks on Spain's Pacific possessions led to involvement in the Philippine Revolution and ultimately to the Philippine–American War. Revolts against Spanish rule had occurred for some years in Cuba. There had been war scares before, as in the Virginius Affair in 1873. In the late 1890s, American public opinion was agitated by anti-Spanish propaganda led by journalists such as Joseph Pulitzer and William Hearst which used yellow journalism to criticize Spanish administration of Cuba. After the mysterious sinking of the American battleship Maine in Havana harbor, political pressures from the Democratic Party and certain industrialists pushed the administration of Republican President William McKinley into a war he had wished to avoid. Compromise was sought by Spain, but rejected by the United States which sent an ultimatum to Spain demanding it surrender control of Cuba. First Madrid, then Washington, formally declared war.

Yellow journalism

1898

Yellow journalism, or the yellow press, is a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers. Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism. By extension, the term yellow journalism is used today as a pejorative to decry any journalism that treats news in an unprofessional or unethical fashion.

Roosevelt Corollary

1904

The Roosevelt Corollary is a corollary to the Monroe Doctrine that was articulated by President Theodore Roosevelt in his State of the Union Address in 1904 after the Venezuela Crisis of 1902–03. The corollary states that the United States will intervene in conflicts between European countries and Latin American countries to enforce legitimate claims of the European powers, rather than having the Europeans press their claims directly. Roosevelt tied his policy to the Monroe Doctrine, and it was also consistent with his foreign policy of “speak softly, and carry a big stick”. Roosevelt stated that in keeping with the Monroe Doctrine, the United States was justified in exercising "international police power" to put an end to chronic unrest or wrongdoing in the Western Hemisphere. Ironically, the Roosevelt Corollary justified American intervention throughout the hemisphere while the Monroe Doctrine had sought to prevent European intervention. In 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt renounced interventionism and established his Good Neighbor policy within the Western Hemisphere.

World War I

1914 - 1918

World War I, also known as the First World War, was a global war centered in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918. From the time of its occurrence until the approach of World War II, it was called simply the World War or the Great War, and thereafter the First World War or World War I. In America, it was initially called the European War. More than 9 million combatants were killed; a casualty rate exacerbated by the belligerents' technological and industrial sophistication, and tactical stalemate. It was one of the deadliest conflicts in history, paving the way for major political changes, including revolutions in many of the nations involved.

Treaty of Versailles

1919

The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of World War I were dealt with in separate treaties. Although the armistice, signed on 11 November 1918, ended the actual fighting, it took six months of negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference to conclude the peace treaty. The treaty was registered by the Secretariat of the League of Nations on 21 October 1919, and was printed in The League of Nations Treaty Series.

Prohibition

1920 - 1933

Prohibition focused on the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages; however, exceptions were made for medicinal and religious uses. Alcohol consumption was never illegal under federal law. Nationwide prohibition did not begin in the United States until 1920, when the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution went into effect, and was repealed in 1933, with the ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment. Concern over excessive alcohol consumption began during the American colonial era, when fines were imposed for drunken behavior and for selling liquor without a license. In the eighteenth century, when drinking was a part of everyday American life, Protestant religious groups, especially the Methodists, and health reformers, including Benjamin Rush and others, urged Americans to curb their drinking habits for moral and health reasons. By the 1840s the temperance movement was actively encouraging individuals to reduce alcohol consumption. Many took a pledge of total abstinence (teetotalism) from drinking distilled liquor as well as beer and wine. Prohibition remained a major reform movement from the 1840s until the 1920s, when nationwide prohibition went into effect, and was supported by evangelical Protestant churches, especially the Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Disciples of Christ, and Congregationalists. Kansas and Maine were early adopters of statewide prohibition. Following passage of the Maine law, Delaware, Ohio, Illinois, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and New York, among others, soon passed statewide prohibition legislation; however, a number of these laws were overturned.

Great depression

1929 - 1939

The depression originated in the U.S., after the fall in stock prices that began around September 4, 1929, and became worldwide news with the stock market crash of October 29, 1929 (known as Black Tuesday). The Great Depression had devastating effects in countries rich and poor. Personal income, tax revenue, profits and prices dropped, while international trade plunged by more than 50%. Unemployment in the U.S. rose to 25%, and in some countries rose as high as 33%. Cities all around the world were hit hard, especially those dependent on heavy industry. Construction was virtually halted in many countries. Farming and rural areas suffered as crop prices fell by approximately 60%. Facing plummeting demand with few alternate sources of jobs, areas dependent on primary sector industries such as cash cropping, mining and logging suffered the most.

Dust Bowl

1930 - 1940

The Dust Bowl, also known as the Dirty Thirties, was a period of severe dust storms that greatly damaged the ecology and agriculture of the US and Canadian prairies during the 1930s; severe drought and a failure to apply dryland farming methods to prevent wind erosion (the Aeolian processes) caused the phenomenon.[1] Extensive deep plowing of the virgin topsoil of the Great Plains during the previous decade had displaced the native, deep-rooted grasses that normally trapped soil and moisture even during periods of drought and high winds. Rapid mechanization of farm implements, especially small gasoline tractors and widespread use of the combine harvester, significantly impacted decisions to convert arid grassland (much of which received no more than 10 inches (250 mm) of precipitation per year) to cultivated cropland.

New Deal

1933 - 1936

The New Deal was a series of domestic programs enacted in the United States between 1933 and 1936, and a few that came later. They included both laws passed by Congress as well as presidential executive orders during the first term (1933–37) of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The programs were in response to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call the "3 Rs": Relief, Recovery, and Reform. That is Relief for the unemployed and poor; Recovery of the economy to normal levels; and Reform of the financial system to prevent a repeat depression.

World War II

1939 - 1945

World War II (WWII or WW2), also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945, though some related conflicts in Asia began before 1939. It involved the vast majority of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. It was the most widespread war in history, and directly involved more than 100 million people, from more than 30 different countries. In a state of "total war", the major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, erasing the distinction between civilian and military resources. Marked by mass deaths of civilians, including the Holocaust, the Three Alls Policy, the strategic bombing of enemy industrial and/or population centers, and the first use of nuclear weapons in combat, it resulted in an estimated 50 million to 85 million fatalities. These made World War II the deadliest conflict in human history.

Attack on Pearl Harbor

1941

The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941 (December 8 in Japan). The attack led to the United States' entry into World War II. The attack was intended as a preventive action in order to keep the U.S. Pacific Fleet from interfering with military actions the Empire of Japan was planning in Southeast Asia against overseas territories of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States. There were simultaneous Japanese attacks on the U.S.-held Philippines and on the British Empire in Malaya, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

Manhattan Project

1942 - 1946

The Manhattan Project was a research and development project that produced the first atomic bombs during World War II. It was led by the United States with the support of the United Kingdom and Canada. From 1942 to 1946, the project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Army component of the project was designated the Manhattan District; "Manhattan" gradually superseded the official codename, Development of Substitute Materials, for the entire project. Along the way, the project absorbed its earlier British counterpart, Tube Alloys. The Manhattan Project began modestly in 1939, but grew to employ more than 130,000 people and cost nearly US$2 billion (about $26 billion in 2014[1] dollars). Over 90% of the cost was for building factories and producing the fissile materials, with less than 10% for development and production of the weapons. Research and production took place at more than 30 sites across the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada.

Truman Doctrine

1947

The Truman Doctrine was an international relations policy set forth by the U.S. President Harry Truman in a speech on March 12, 1947, which stated that the U.S. would support Greece and Turkey with economic and military aid to prevent them from joining the Soviet sphere. Historians often consider it as the start of the Cold War, and the start of the containment policy to stop Soviet expansion. Truman pledged the US to contain in Europe and elsewhere and impelled the US to support any nation with both military and economic aid if its stability was threatened by communism or the Soviet Union. The Truman Doctrine became the foundation of the president's foreign policy and placed the U.S. in the role of global policeman.

Cold War

1947 - 1985

The Cold War was a sustained state of political and military tension between powers in the Western Bloc (the United States with NATO and others) and powers in the Eastern Bloc (the Soviet Union and its allies in Warsaw Pact). Historians have not fully agreed on the dates, but 1947–1991 is common. It was "cold" because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two sides, although there were major regional wars in Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan that the two sides supported. The Cold War split the temporary wartime alliance against Nazi Germany, leaving the USSR and the US as two superpowers with profound economic and political differences over totalitarian communism and capitalist democracy. A deliberately neutral grouping arose with the Non-Aligned Movement founded by Egypt, India, and Yugoslavia; this faction rejected association with either the US-led West or the Soviet-led East.

Marshall Plan

1948 - 1952

The Marshall Plan was the American initiative to aid Europe, in which the United States gave economic support to help rebuild European economies after the end of World War II in order to prevent the spread of Soviet Communism. The plan was in operation for four years beginning in April 1948. The goals of the United States were to rebuild war-devastated regions, remove trade barriers, modernize industry, and make Europe prosperous again. The phrase "equivalent of the Marshall Plan" is often used to describe a proposed large-scale rescue program.

McCarthyism

1948 - 1956

McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence. It also means "the practice of making unfair allegations or using unfair investigative techniques, especially in order to restrict dissent or political criticism." The term has its origins in the period in the United States known as the Second Red Scare, lasting roughly from 1950 to 1956 and characterized by heightened political repression against communists, as well as a fear campaign spreading paranoia of their influence on American institutions and espionage by Soviet agents. Originally coined to criticize the anti-communist pursuits of U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, "McCarthyism" soon took on a broader meaning, describing the excesses of similar efforts. The term is also now used more generally to describe reckless, unsubstantiated accusations, as well as demagogic attacks on the character or patriotism of political adversaries.

Berlin Blockade

1948 - 1949

The Berlin blockade was one of the first major international crises of the Cold War. During the multinational occupation of post–World War II Germany, the Soviet Union blocked the Western Allies' railway, road, and canal access to the sectors of Berlin under allied control. Their aim was to force the western powers to allow the Soviet zone to start supplying Berlin with food, fuel, and aid, thereby giving the Soviets practical control over the entire city. In response, the Western Allies organized the Berlin airlift to carry supplies to the people in West Berlin. Aircrews from the United States Air Force, the British Royal Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal New Zealand Air Force, and the South African Air Force :338 flew over 200,000 flights in one year, providing up to 4700 tons of necessities daily, such as fuel and food, to the Berliners.

Korean War

1950 - 1953

The Korean War was a war between the Republic of Korea (South Korea), supported by the United Nations, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), at one time supported by China and the Soviet Union. It was primarily the result of the political division of Korea by an agreement of the victorious Allies at the conclusion of the Pacific War at the end of World War II. The Korean Peninsula was ruled by the Empire of Japan from 1910 until the end of World War II. Following the surrender of the Empire of Japan in September 1945, American administrators divided the peninsula along the 38th parallel, with U.S. military forces occupying the southern half and Soviet military forces occupying the northern half.

Domino theory

1954

The domino theory was a theory prominent from the 1950s to the 1980s, that speculated that if one state in a region came under the influence of communism, then the surrounding countries would follow in a domino effect. The domino theory was used by successive United States administrations during the Cold War to justify the need for American intervention around the world. Though he never directly used the term "domino theory", U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower put the theory into words during an April 7, 1954 news conference, when referring to communism in Indochina: Finally, you have broader considerations that might follow what you would call the "falling domino" principle. You have a row of dominoes set up, you knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly. So you could have a beginning of a disintegration that would have the most profound influences.

Brown v. Board of Education

1954

Brown v. Board of Education, was a landmark United States Supreme Court case in which the Court declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students to be unconstitutional. The decision overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896, which allowed state-sponsored segregation, insofar as it applied to public education. Handed down on May 17, 1954, the Warren Court's unanimous (9–0) decision stated that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." As a result, de jure racial segregation was ruled a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. This ruling paved the way for integration and was a major victory of the civil rights movement.

Bay of Pigs Invasion

1961

The Bay of Pigs Invasion, known in Latin America as Invasión de Bahía de Cochinos , was a failed military invasion of Cuba undertaken by the CIA-sponsored paramilitary group Brigade 2506 on 17 April 1961. A counter-revolutionary military, trained and funded by the United States government's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Brigade 2506 fronted the armed wing of the Democratic Revolutionary Front (DRF) and intended to overthrow the revolutionary left-wing government of Fidel Castro. Launched from Guatemala, the invading force was defeated within three days by the Cuban armed forces, under the direct command of Prime Minister Fidel Castro.

Cuban Missile Crisis

1962

The Cuban missile crisis—known as the October Crisis or The Missile Scare in Cuba and the Caribbean Crisis in the former USSR—was a 13-day confrontation in October 1962 between the Soviet Union and Cuba on one side and the United States on the other side. The crisis is generally regarded as the moment in which the Cold War came closest to turning into a nuclear conflict and is also the first documented instance of mutual assured destruction being discussed as a determining factor in a major international arms agreement.

Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

1964

The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution or the Southeast Asia Resolution, enacted August 10, 1964, was a joint resolution that the United States Congress passed on August 7, 1964, in response to the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. It is of historical significance because it gave U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson authorization, without a formal declaration of war by Congress, for the use of "conventional'' military force in Southeast Asia. Specifically, the resolution authorized the President to do whatever necessary in order to assist "any member or protocol state of the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty". This included involving armed forces. It was opposed in the Senate only by Senators Wayne Morse and Ernest Gruening. Senator Gruening objected to "sending our American boys into combat in a war in which we have no business, which is not our war, into which we have been misguidedly drawn, which is steadily being escalated". (Tonkin Gulf debate 1964) The Johnson administration subsequently relied upon the resolution to begin its rapid escalation of U.S. military involvement in South Vietnam and open warfare between North Vietnam and the United States.

Civil Rights Act of 1964

1964

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a landmark piece of civil rights legislation in the United States that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public (known as "public accommodations").

Watergate Scandal

1972 - 1974

The Watergate scandal was a major political scandal that occurred in the United States in the 1970s as a result of the June 17, 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C., and the Nixon administration's attempted cover-up of its involvement. When the conspiracy was discovered and investigated by the US Congress, the Nixon administration's resistance to its probes led to a constitutional crisis. The term Watergate has come to encompass an array of clandestine and often illegal activities undertaken by members of the Nixon administration. Those activities included "dirty tricks" such as bugging the offices of political opponents and people of whom Nixon or his officials were suspicious. Nixon and his close aides ordered harassment of activist groups and political figures, using the FBI, CIA, and the Internal Revenue Service. The scandal led to the discovery of multiple abuses of power by the Nixon administration, articles of impeachment, and the resignation of Richard Nixon, the President of the United States, on August 9, 1974—the only resignation of a U.S. president to date. The scandal also resulted in the indictment, trial, conviction, and incarceration of 43 people, dozens of whom were Nixon's top administration officials.