US History Timeline


Underground Railroad


A network of houses and places that abolitionists used to help slaves escape to northern states or Canada.

The Bessemer Process

1850 - 1880

A steel-making process, where carbon, silicon, and other flaws are removed from molten iron by oxidation

Compromise of 1850


One of the legislative bills that were passed as part of the Compromise of 1850 was a new version of the Fugitive Slave Act

Kansas-Nebraska Act


It allowed people in the territories of Kansas and Nebraska to decide for themselves whether or not to allow slavery within their borders.

Dred Scott Decision


A ruling made by the Supreme Court, shortly before the Civil War. Dred Scott, a slave, wanted to be declared a free man on the basis that he had lived for a time in a “free” territory with his master.

Election of 1860


Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States this year.

Fort Sumter

April 12, 1861

Where the first battle of the Civil War began on April 12, 1861 in Charleston, South Carolina.

Morrill Act


This gave each state 30,000 acres of Federal land for each member in their Congressional delegation.

Homestead Act


Said that any citizen who had never went against the U.S. government could have 160 acres of surveyed government land.


September 17, 1862

The bloodiest battle of the Civil War.

Emancipation Proclamation

January 1, 1863

An executive order issued by President Lincoln freeing slaves in all parts of the United States not then under Union control

Credit Mobilier


This was a joint-stock company organized in 1863 and reorganized in 1867 to build the Union Pacific Railroad.

Massacre of Sand Creek


700 members of the Colorado Territory militia attacked the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indian villages.

Thirteenth Amendment


This amendment abolished slavery in the United States

Schools for Children

1865 - 1895

During this time there was a high rate of children going to school after school's openings for an education.

Freedmen's Bueau


A U.S. federal government agency to aid freed slaves in the South during the Reconstruction era of the United States

Alaska's Statehood


The United States purchased Alaska from Russia for a price of $7.2 million.

The Grange


This was a farmers' association that sponsored social activities, community service, and political lobbying.

Treaty of Fort Laramie


This guaranteed the Lakota ownership of the Black Hills, and further land and hunting rights in South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana.

Fourteenth Amendment

July 9, 1868

This amendment defined national citizenship and forbid the states to restrict the basic rights of citizens or other people.

Transcontinental Railroad

May 10 1869

A train route across the United States, finished in 1869. It was the project of two railroad companies: the Union Pacific built from the east, and the Central Pacific built from the west.

Jim Crow Laws

1870 - 1880

These are the former practices of segregating black people in the US

Fifteenth Amendment

February 3, 1870

This amendment granted the freedom to vote regardless of race, color or previous condition of servitude.

The Great Chicago Fire

Oct 8, 1871 - Oct 10, 1871

This destroyed thousands of buildings, killed an estimated 300 people and caused an estimated $200 million in damages.

The Power of Electricity

1876 - 1890

In November 1879, Edison filed a patent for an electric lamp with a carbon filament.

Munn vs Illinois


This case was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court upheld the power of government to regulate private industries.

The Great Strike of 1877


This strike happened after the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O) cut wages for the third time in a year.

Chinese Exclusion Act

May 6, 1882

This was United States federal law signed by President Chester A. Arthur. It was a restriction on free immigration, prohibiting all immigration of Chinese laborers.

Pendleton Civil Service Act


A United States federal law, which established that positions within the federal government should be awarded on the basis of merit instead of political affiliation.

Pearl Harbor Naval Base


A treaty granted the United States the use of the harbor as a coaling and repair station, but work didn't begin until after 1898, when the Spanish-American War indicated its value as a Pacific base.

Interstate Commerce Act

February 4, 1887

A United States federal law that was designed to regulate the railroad industry.

Dawes Act

February 8, 1887

A federal law created to turn Native Americans into farmers and landowners by giving cooperating families 160 acres of reservation land for farming or 320 acres for grazing.

Sherman Anti Trust Act


A federal law passed in 1890 that committed the American government to opposing monopolies. The law prohibits contracts, combinations, or conspiracies “in the restraint of trade or commerce.”



National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) was to work for women's suffrage in the United States. It was created by the merging of two existing organizations, the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) and the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA).

Battle of Wounded Knee

December 28, 1890

This resulted in the deaths of roughly 300 Sioux men, women, and children. The massacre at Wounded Knee was the last major battle of the Indian Wars of the late 19th century.

Ellis Island

1892 - 1924

This island in New York served as the main immigration station of the country. About twelve million immigrants passed through it at the time.

The Panic of 1893

February, 1893

This panic was an economic depression in the United States.It was marked by the collapse of railroad overbuilding and unstable railroad financing which set off many bank failures.

Plessy vs Ferguson


The Supreme Court case which upheld the constitutionality of “separate, but equal facilities” based on race.



National Association of Colored Women. It adopted the motto "Lifting as we climb", to say "an ignorant and suspicious world that our aims and interests are identical with those of all good aspiring women."

Rural Free Delivery


This is a service to deliver mail directly to rural farm families.

De Lome Letter


This letter was stolen and leaked into the newspapers. It made McKinley seem weak as a president.

U.S.S. Maine Explosion


This battleship mysteriously exploded and sank in the harbor of Havana, Cuba. Stirred up by the yellow press, the American public blamed the sinking on Spain.

Treaty of Paris


This treaty ended the American Revolutionary War.

Open Door Policy


This was a term in foreign affairs previously used to refer to the United States policy established in the late 19th century and the early 20th century

Boxer Rebellion

August, 1900

A Chinese secret organization called the Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fists led an uprising in northern China against the spread of Western and Japanese influence there.

Platt Amendment


This created seven conditions for the removal of United States troops remaining in Cuba at the end of the Spanish–American War, and an eighth condition that Cuba sign a treaty accepting these seven conditions.

Nation Reclamation Act


This was a United States federal law that funded irrigation projects for the arid lands of 20 states in the American West.

Roosevelt Corollary


This asserted that the U.S. might step into the affairs of an American republic threatened with intervention by a European country.

Niagara Movement


This was a black civil rights organization founded in 1905 by a group led by W. E. B. Du Bois and William Monroe Trotter.

Pure Food and Drug Act


This act was for preventing the manufacture, sale, or transportation of misbranded or poisonous foods, drugs, medicines, and liquors.

Meat Inspection Act


This is an American law that makes it a crime to misbrand meat and meat products being sold as food, and makes sure that meat and meat products are created under sanitary conditions.

The San Francisco Earthquake

April 18, 1906

About 3,000 people died in this earthquake and over 80% of the city of San Francisco was destroyed. The events are remembered as one of the worst and deadliest natural disasters in the history of the United States.

Gentlemen's Agreement


This was an arrangement/understanding with Japan which was based upon the trust of both parties, rather than being legally binding.



National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, is a civil rights organization founded to fight prejudice, lynching, and Jim Crow segregation, and to work for the betterment of "people of color."

Angel Island

1910 - 1940

This was an immigration station in the San Francisco Bay where immigrants entering the United States were detained and interrogated.

Seventeenth Amendement


This amendment established the popular election of United States Senators by the people of the states.

Clayton Antitrust Act


This is an amendment passed by U.S. Congress that provides clarification to the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 on things such as price discrimination, price fixing and unfair business practices.

Federal Trade Commission


The act says that "unfair methods of competition ... and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce, are hereby declared unlawful."

Panama Canal

August 15, 1914

Waterway across Panama. The canal connects the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.

Nineteenth Amendment


This stopped any United States citizen from being denied the right to vote on the basis of sex/gender.

Federal Reserve System


This is the central banking system of the United States.