U.S. History - Key Dates and Eras

The key dates and eras associated with TEKS 8.1 A and 8.1 C.

Key Eras

How historians divide the course into periods of time.

Exploration and Colonization

1492 - 1763

European countries like France, Spain, and Britain searched for new lands and competed for control of territory and resources.

First Great Awakening

1730 - 1740

A period of religious revival and evangelism especially in New England led by preachers like Jonathan Edwards. This movement challenged authority and placed salvation in the hands of people and their actions. Sermons argued that people were equal under God and that anyone could be saved.

Revolutionary Era

1763 - 1783

Due to increased resentment towards British policies, colonists begin to protest and revolt. 13 colonies declare they are free from British rule and fight a war for independence.

Drafting of the Declaration of Independence

06/11/1776 - 07/4/1776

In anticipation of a vote for independence, the 2nd Continental Congress on June 11 appointed Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston as a committee to draft a declaration of independence that would justify and explain why the United States should be free of British rule.
On July 4th 1776, the 2nd Continental Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence.

Creation and Ratification of the Constitution

1787 - 1789

Our nation established a plan of government based on 7 Key Principles: Limited Government, Separation of Powers, Checks and Balances, Republicanism, Federalism, Popular Sovereignty and Individual Rights.

The Early Republic

1789 - 1825

The early years of the United States when the new nation under the Constitution had to face issues such as maintaining national security, building a military, and creating a stable economic system. Different ideas for our nation's future arose and political parties began to form.


1800 - 1860

A growing division within the U.S. developed between North and South over economic differences, social divisions and the issue of slavery. These divisions became polarized with the growing abolition movement and the balance of power in Congress in jeopardy with the addition of new lands. This division reached it's apex with the Election of Abraham Lincoln and resulted in the Southern states seceding and 5 years of Civil War.

Westward Expansion

1803 - 1853

For half a century the United States rapidly acquired lands in order to realize the "Manifest Destiny" of extending from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

Reform Movements

1815 - 1865

With the United States rapidly growing, many people called for improving society by expanding rights and improving the quality of life. The groups included the Temperance Movement, Educational Reform, Women's Rights Movement, Prison Reform, Labor Reform, and the Abolition Movement.

The Age of Jackson

1828 - 1845

The era of American History dominated by a single figure, Andrew Jackson, lasted from his election in 1828 until his death in 1845 and the Mexican War a year later. This time in U.S. history marked dramatic changes in the country's economic system and increased suffrage. While he was president Jackson faced controversial issues like the Nullification Crisis, the "Bank War", and Indian Removal.

Civil War Era

1861 - 1865

A war was fought between the Union (North) and the Confederacy (South) over the issues of slavery and state's rights.

Reconstruction Era

1865 - 1877

After the Civil War, the United States struggled to rebuild. During this time amendments were passed to give rights and protection to former slaves. The 13th amendment freed all slaves. The 14th Amendment granted citizenship and equal protection under the law. The 15th Amendment gave African American men the right to vote.

Key Dates

Important Dates

1607 - Jamestown


The first permanent English Settlement in what would become the 13 Colonies was established at Jamestown, Virginia.

1620 - Mayflower Compact


Pilgrims landed at Plymouth and chose a leader for their settlement. The Mayflower Compact signifies the beginning of self-government in the 13 colonies.

1776 - Declaration of Independence


The Second Continental Congress met after the Battles of Lexington and Concord. It was determined that Independence was necessary, and 5 men including Thomas Jefferson were selected to write a formal Declaration of Independence.

1787 - U.S. Constitution


After Shays Rebellion, it became apparent that the Articles of Confederation were too weak. In 1787 the Philadelphia Convention was held to determine how our government would be organized to form "a more perfect union". A delegate from Virginia named James Madison is credited as being the "Father of the Constitution".

1803 - Louisiana Purchase


During Thomas Jefferson's presidency, a deal was made with France to purchase Louisiana. This land acquisition doubled the size of the United States.

1861 - Start of the Civil War


Division within the U.S. between the North and South over the issues of slavery and state's rights led to Southern States seceding and forming the Confederacy. When Union troops refused to leave Ft. Sumter, South Carolina the first shots of the Civil War were fired on April 12, 1861.

1865 - End of Civil War


On April 9, 1865 General Ulysses S. Grant of the Union accepted the surrender of General Robert E. Lee of the Confederacy at Appomatox Court House in Virginia. 6 days later President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth.