History of the US I CLEP Test

Timeline of important events from the late 1400s to 1877.


The Treaty of Tordesillas


moved the "Line of Demarcation" that divided America with the east being for Portugal and the west for Spain.

John Cabot


first European (since the Viking voyages) to reach the mainland of North America

Vasco Nunez de Balboa


first European to see the Pacific Ocean

Juan Ponce de Leon


sought to find gold and the Fountain of Youth in modern-day Florida and claimed Florida for Spain

Hernando Cortes


destroyed the Aztec empire and won enormous riches

Ferdinand Magellan


first to circumnavigate the world

Panfilio de Narvaez


led a disastrous expedition through the Gulf Coast region from which only four of the original 400 men returned

Jaques Cartier

1534 - 1542

mounted three expeditions to the area of the St. Lawrence River (which he believed might be the hoped for Northwest Passage)

Hernando de Soto

1539 - 1541

led a 600-man expedition penetrating as far west as Oklahoma and discovering the Mississippi River

Fransisco Vasquez de Coronado

1540 - 1542

led an expedition from Mexico, north across the Rio Grande and through New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas

Virginia Dare


first English child born in America

Spain attacks England

1588 - 1604

Instead of conquering England, the Spanish Armada was greatly damaged by storms and defeated by the English navy. The war between Spain and England ended in 1604 with England as the victor.

John White


returned to find the settlement of Roanoke deserted



first permanent English settlement in North America

John Smith

1608 - 1609

leads the settlement of Jamestown (keeps the colony from collapsing)

Henry Hudson


searched for a Northwest Passage

Rolfe discovers tobacco crop


House of Burgesses founded


the first representative assembly in America

Pilgrims on the Mayflower


Indian Massacre in Virginia


Native Americans killed 347 settlers

Virginia made a royal colony


Roger Wiliams


and his followers (dissidents of the Puritan faith) founded the colony of Providence

Thomas Hooker


and a group of settlers founded Hartford

Anne Hutchinson


and her followers (dissidents of the Puritan faith) founded the colony of Portsmouth

The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut


are drawn up (the first written constitution in America)

2nd Indian Massacre in Virginia


Native Americans killed about 300 settlers

The Act of Religious Toleration


approved by George Calvert to protect the Catholic minority

The "Half-Way Covenant"


provided a sort of half-way church membership for the children of members

The colony of Carolina


rewarded to eight of the noblemen who helped Charles II regain the crown

New Amsterdam becomes New York


Jacques Marquette


explored the Mississippi Valley

King Philip's War


a Wampanoag chief led a war to exterminate the whites

Bacon's Rebellion


an uprising in which poor white farmers and poor black indentured servants united against Virginia’s Governor Berkley in an attempt to demand that Native Americans be driven out of Virginia

William Penn


receives a grant of land in America from Charles II

King William's War

1689 - 1697

Salem Witch Trials


Queen Anne's War

1702 - 1713

The Great Awakening

1720 - 1740

a series of religious revivals



becomes a colony under General James Oglethorpe

King George's War


The Currency Act


The French and Indian War


also called the Seven Years' War

The Sugar Act


The Quartering Act


The Stamp Act


The Declaratory Act


Britain claimed power to tax or make laws for the Americans "in all cases whatsoever"

The Boston Massacre

March 1770

British troops, acting somewhat in self-defense over a brawl with civilians, shot into a crowd and killed five Bostonians. Sons of Liberty named it "The Boston Massacre" to stir up anger against the British.

The Tea Act


The Revolutionary War

1775 - 1783

Shots fired at Lexington

April 19, 1775

The Second Continental Congress

May 1775

met in Philadelphia in order to deal with the difficulties the colonies were facing with Britain, placed George Washington in command of the New England army, and adopted a “Declaration of the Causes and Necessity for Taking up Arms.”

American forces take Fort Ticonderoga

May 10, 1775

The Battle of Bunker Hill

June 17, 1775

the British forces under William Howe suffered tremendous losses as they attempted to take the Charleston peninsula from the colonists

"Common Sense" by Thomas Paine


The Battle of Long Island


the British (newly rallied after dispersing from Boston) defeat the Americans

The Articles of Confederation


created by Congress as a framework for national government

Declaration of Independence

July 4, 1776

The Battle of Cowpens


through the strategy of Daniel Morgan, the American sustained a decisive defeat of the British

British surrender Yorktown

October 19, 1781

Cornwallis (British general) is trapped by American and French forces and has no choice but to surrender

The Treaty of Paris


final agreement of peace between Britain and America

Constitutional Convention


The Northwest Ordinance


created organized territories south of the Great Lakes, west of the Ohio River, and east of the Mississippi River and, overall, established a precedent by which the US would expand westward across North America through the admittance of new states.

Washington's Presidency

1789 - 1797

Jay-Gardoqui Treaty Rejected


Treaty between Spain and the US granted Spain exclusive rights to navigate the Mississippi River for 30 years and also allowed American shipping in Spain’s European and West Indian seaports. The treaty was never ratified under the Articles of Confederation.

The Second Great Awakening

1790 - 1800

Washington's Proclamation of Neutrality for the US


While various European powers, including Great Britain and revolutionary France, were at war, President Washington made a Proclamation of in 1793 in which he stated his intention for America to remain neutral and continue to trade with both Britain and France. (which changed with the Embargo Act)

The Whiskey Rebellion


was a rebellion led by disgruntled Pennsylvania farmers who refused to pay taxes on whiskey as outlined in Hamilton’s revenue program.

Eli Whitney invents the cotton gin


The Yazoo Land Controversy


a scheme by which Georgia legislators were bribed in 1795 to sell most of the land now making up the state of Mississippi (then a part of Georgia's western claims) to four land companies for the sum of $500,000, far below its potential market value

The Pinckney Treaty


established U.S. navigation rights on the Mississippi River, defined the borders of Spanish colonies, and implied an intention of friendship between the U.S. and Spain.

Adams' Presidency

1797 - 1801

The Quasi-War

1798 - 1799

between the French and the Americans over the XYZ affair

Jefferson's Presidency

1801 - 1809

The Louisiana Purchase


Alexander Hamilton's death in a duel with Aaron Burr


Lewis and Clark's Expedition

1804 - 1806

The Embargo Act


America stopped trade with France and Britain while they were violating America's neutrality

Importation of Slaves Stopped


Madison's Presidency

1809 - 1817

Fletcher vs. Peck


was the first Supreme Court case in which the Court declared a state law to be unconstitutional.

The War of 1812

1812 - 1814

longstanding unrest and resentment toward Britain lead to this war

The Hartford Convention

December 1814

was an event in the U.S. in December 1814 in which Federalist delegates from New England became so dissatisfied with the War of 1812 that they discussed secession of the New England states from the U.S.

The Barbary Wars


were between the U.S. and pirates from city-states in North Africa; as a result of the wars, America gained free access to the Mediterranean Basin.

First Protective Tariffs in the US


in order to slow inexpensive British goods from flooding into the U.S

Monroe's Presidency

1817 - 1825

The Rush-Bagot Treaty


in which the British agreed to stop keeping an armed fleet on the Great Lakes.

First Depression in the US


The Adams-Onis Treaty


Spain agreed to surrender the remainder of the Florida territory to the U.S. and established the Pacific Ocean as the western boundary of Mexico

The Missouri Compromise


was an agreement passed in 1820 between anti-slavery and pro-slavery groups in the U.S. that was primarily aimed at regulating slavery in the U.S.’s western territories. (Maine was brought into the Union as a non-slave state and Missouri was brought in as a slave state.)

First prison built with rehabilitation goals


The Monroe Doctrine

December 1823

proclaimed the U.S.’s belief that European nations should not continue with any further colonization efforts in the Americas or interfere with any sovereign nations in the Americas, such as with U.S. or Mexico.

Gibbons vs. Ogden


was a case in which the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution gives Congress power to regulate commerce among states, including interstate navigation.

J. Q. Adams' Presidency

1825 - 1829

The American Society for Promotion of Temperance


strongly supported by Protestants, but strongly opposed by Catholics

First Organized Strike


Jackson's Presidency

1829 - 1837

Mormonism begins


Joseph Smith received the "sacred" writings in New York state and organized the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They were not popular with neighbors (especially because of their practice of polygamy) and were forced to move about (first to Missouri, then to Illinois, and when their leader was killed, to Salt Lake, Utah).

The Indian Removal Act


Jackson supported the removal of all Indian tribes to west of the Mississippi River. This act provided for federal enforcement of that process.

Rejection of Worcester v. Georgia


This supreme court decision said that the Cherokee nation should be allowed to stay within the boundaries of Georgia. President Jackson refused to enforce the court's decision and this caused the Trail of Tears (thousands of Cherokees were forced to march West)

Oberlin College in Ohio


nation's first co-educational college

Texas Proclaims Independence


Mexicans are defeated

April 23, 1836

Sam Houston defeated Santa Anna's forces at San Jacinto and Anna was forced to let Texas go its way.

The Caroline Affair


involved an American ship, the "Caroline", that had been carrying supplies to Canadian rebels. It was burned by Canadian loyalists who crossed the U.S. border in order to do so.

Van Buren's Presidency

1837 - 1841

The "Aroostook War"


The Canada-Maine boundary in the area of the Aroostook Valley was disputed. British efforts to build a military road through the disputed area led to reaction by the Maine military in a bloodless confrontation.

Troy Female Seminary in New York


the first state-supported school for women

Tyler's Presidency

1841 - 1845

Harrison's Presidency (31 days)


The Creole Incident


Slaves took over an American ship, the "Creole" and sailed to British-owned Bahamas. Britain declined to return the escaped slaves.

The Preemption Act


President John Tyler approved this act that allowed settlers who had squatted on unsurveyed federal lands the first chance to buy the land once it was put on the market.

The Webster-Ashburton Treaty


cleared up all of the problems between Britain and America (The Carolina Incident, The Creole Incident, and the Canada-Maine boundary)

Polk's Presidency

1845 - 1849

Texas admitted into the Union


The Bear Flag Revolt


was an informal revolt of American settlers aided by an army exploring party under the leadership of John Frémont. The settlers revolted against weak Mexican rule in California in order to declare California a free republic from Mexico.

The Oregon Treaty


a compromise solution between Britain and the US over Oregon. The U.S. was given part of it and Britain kept the rest.

The Mexican War begins

May 13, 1846

Beginning of the Modern Feminist Movement


In Seneca Falls, New York women met and made the "Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions"

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo


was a peace treaty that ended the Mexican-American War and provided for the Mexican Cession.

Taylor's Presidency

1849 - 1850

The Compromise of 1850


was created to compromise the various matters of contention between the North and South. For the North, California was admitted as a free state, the land in dispute between Texas and New Mexico would go to New Mexico, NM and UT territories slavery status would be decided by the state itself, and slave trade would be abolished in Washington DC. For the South, a tougher Fugitive Slave Law was enacted, the federal government paid Texas' 10 million dollar pre-annexation debt, Congress declared that it did not have jurisdiction over the interstate slave trade, and Congress promised not to abolish slavery itself in Washington DC.

Fillmore's Presidency

1850 - 1853

Pierce's Presidency

1853 - 1857

The Gadsden Purchase


acquisition of part of southwest New Mexico and southern Arizona, was signed by President Franklin Pierce in 1853; this purchase was to allow the U.S. to construct a transcontinental railroad.

Commodore Matthew Perry in Japan


to open it to American diplomacy and commerce

The Reciprocity Treaty


President Pierce succeeded in opening Canada to greater U.S. trade through this treaty.

The Kansas-Nebraska Act


Senator Stephen A. Douglas proposed that the land west of Missouri and Iowa should be organized into Kansas and Nebraska and that the Missouri Compromise should be ignored in this situation and that the issue of slavery should be decided by popular sovereignty in the new states. President Pierce and his Southern-dominated administration passed and signed the Kansas-Nebraska Act into law (even though Northern Democrats and a majority of the remaining Whigs opposed it).

"Bleeding Kansas"


a full-scale guerilla war between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery governments in Kansas. 200 people died in the months of guerilla war. The Sack of Lawrence was when pro-slavery people attacked the free-soil town of Lawrence (killing two, destroying homes, businesses, and printing presses). The Pottawatomie Massacre was when antislavery zealots killed and mutilated five unarmed pro-slavery men and boys in retaliation to the Sack of Lawrence.

Dred Scott v. Sanford


Dred Scott was suing his owner for keeping him a slave even when they lived in free states. The court ruled that Scott had no standing to sue in federal court, that temporary residence in a free state did not make a slave free, and that the Missouri Compromise had been unconstitutional all along because Congress did not have the authority to exclude slavery from any territory whatsoever. The Dred Scott case only made the sectional conflict worse. (when Buchanan had hoped it would resolve the slavery problem)

Buchanan's Presidency

1857 - 1861

The Panic of 1857


the country was struck by a short but severe depression

The Kansas Lecompton Constitution


was proposed by the territory of Kansas protected the rights of slave-holders, allowed the existence of slavery in the proposed state, and allowed voters the option voting on a referendum to allow additional slaves into the territory.

The "Mormon War"


The public was outraged that Mormons were allowed to practice polygamy. President Buchanan was forced to take Brigham Young's position as governor of the community and give it to someone else. The Mormons responded to this by blocking the passes through which the government's army would have to advance. It was resolved when the Mormons accepted the new governor and Buchanan issued a general pardon.

Lincoln-Douglas Debates


Debates over senatorial campaign between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas. Douglas won re-election to the Senate, but hurt himself for the coming presidential campaign. Lincoln, on the other hand, prepared himself for a good presidential future.

John Brown is hanged

December 2, 1859

for treason and various other crimes in Virginia

SC secedes from the Union

December 20, 1860

Lincoln's Presidency

1861 - 1865

Kansas admitted as a free state


AL, GA, FL, MS, LA, and TX seceded from the Union

February 1, 1861

Fort Sumter

April 12, 1861

surrenders to the Confederate army

The First Battle of Bull Run

July 21, 1861

Lincoln ordered General Irvin McDowell to advance on Richmond with his army. At a creek called Bull Run, near the town of Manassas Junction, Virginia, they met a Confederate force and the Union army was forced to retreat in confusion back to Washington.

The Morrill Land Grant Act


offered large amounts of the federal government's land to states that would establish "agricultural and mechanical" colleges.

The Homestead Act


granted 160 acres of government land free of charge to any person who would farm it for at least five years.

The Emancipation Proclamation

September 17, 1863

declared free all slaves in areas still in rebellion

Johnson's Presidency

1865 - 1869

Abraham Lincoln Assassinated

April 14, 1865

Grant's Presidency

1869 - 1877

"The Salary Grab Act"


Congress voted a 100 percent pay raise for the president and a 50 percent increase for itself and made both retroactive two years back. Public outrage led to a Democratic victory and the law was repealed.

Hayes' Presidency

1877 - 1881

Compromise of 1877


Hayes promised to show consideration for Southern interests, end Reconstruction, and withdraw the remaining federal troops from the South in exchange for Democratic acquiescence in his election.