American History to 1877


Jamestown founded

May 14, 1607

A settlement that became the quintessential example of a settlement founded on economic principles.

Plymouth Colony founded

December 17, 1620

Plymouth became the quintessential example of a colony founded on religious principles. Plymouth also became the start of what was to become the industrial Northeast.

Roger Williams banished

October 1635

After being banished from Salem, Williams would go on to found Rhode Island and expand the idea of religious tolerance.

Pennsylvania founded

February 28, 1681

WIlliam Penn founded the colony which would become a safe haven for the religiously oppressed.

Treaty of Paris

February 10, 1763

Marking the end of the Seven Years' War (French and Indian War as it was called in the colonies), Britain was left dominant in North American and deep in debt.

Stamp Act of 1765

March 22, 1765

A way to raise revenue for the Seven Years' War, this act infuriated the colonies and was eventually repealed.

Boston Massacre

March 5, 1770

A minor rebellion which resulted in a media firestorm that persuaded many to consider opposing British rule.

Boston Tea Party

December 16, 1773

An impulsive act which lead to several legislative actions from Parliament which would push the American colonies further toward war.

Intolerable Acts

April 22, 1774

A series of legislative responses by Parliament to the Boston Tea Party which enraged colonists and was a catalyst to the American Revolution.

Declaration of Independence signed

July 4, 1776

With the signing of this document, American colonies were declaring themselves a separate nation.

Surrender of Yorktown

October 19, 1781

Lord Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington after a long siege at Yorktown. This victory marked the beginning of the end of the American Revolution.

US Constitution signed

September 17, 1787

The constitution (ratified June 21, 1788) gave the federal government greater powers and formed the base of what is our modern political system

Cotton Gin patent approved

March 14, 1794

While slavery had been on the decline and its future questionable, the advent of the cotton gin made slavery profitable again.

Election of 1800

December 3, 1800

The first time Congress decided the outcome of the presidential election when no majority was reached in the electoral college. This would lead to the creation and ratification of the Twelfth Amendment.

Louisiana Purchase

July 4, 1803

This was the greatest single expansion of U.S. territory. The purchase from France expanded the frontier and the desire to immigrate there.

Battle of New Orleans

January 8, 1815

Although fought after the Treaty of Ghent was signed, the battle proved to be the most successful land offensive of the war for the Americans and further asserted authority in North America.

Missouri Compromise

March 5, 1820

A measure trying to balance the control in Congress of slave and free states, the law entered Missouri as a slave state, Maine as free, and drew a latitudinal line dividing future slave and free states. The Compromise simply delayed the inevitable war for thirty years.

Monroe Doctrine introduced

December 2, 1823

The policy stated that Europe should not interfere with territories in the Americas. This furthered the idea that the United States alone should expand across the continent.

Compromise of 1850

September 1850

The Compromise saw California enter the Union as a free state and declared that the territories would settle their slave issues by popular sovereignty. The Compromise merely delayed the Civil War by ten years.

Dred Scott v Sandford

March 6, 1857

The Supreme Court decision not only affirmed the condition of slaves as property, but declared the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional.

Battle of Fort Sumpter

April 12, 1861

Marked as the beginning of the American Civil War, Sumpter was located in Charleston, the hub of secession.

Surrender at Appomattox

April 9, 1865

Although not the official end to the American Civil War; with General Lee defeated, the Confederacy was all but vanquished.

Abraham Lincoln is Assassinated

April 15, 1865

With Lincoln dead, reconstruction is left to an unprepared Andrew Johnson.

Alaska Purchased

October 18, 1867

Thought to be Seward's biggest political blunder, Alaska proved a valuable investment; rich in minerals, resources, and oil.

First Transcontinental Railroad

May 10, 1869

The joining of the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific reduced the travel time from 6 weeks to 6 days hastening expansion.