History of the US

Presidents

George Washington president

1789 - 1797

The 1st US president, George Washington, served two terms totaling 8 years. John Adams was his vice president.

John Adams president

1797 - 1801

The second US president, John Adams, served one term of four years. His vice president was Thomas Jefferson.

Thomas Jefferson president

1801 - 1809

The third US president, Thomas Jefferson, served two terms for a total of 8 years. His vice presidents were Aaron Burr and George Clinton.

James Madison President

1809 - 1817

The 4th US president, James Madison, served two terms totaling 8 years. His vice presidents were George Clinton (1809-1812) and Elbridge Gerry (1813-1814).

James Monroe President

1817 - 1825

The 5th President of the US, James Monroe, served two terms totaling 8 years. His vice-president was Daniel Tompkins.

John Quincy Adams President

1825 - 1829

The 6th president of the US, John Quincy Adams, served one term of four years. His vice president was John C. Calhoun.

Andrew Jackson President

1829 - 1837

The 7th president of the US, Andrew Jackson, served two terms for a total of 8 years. His vice presidents were John C. Calhoun (1829–1832) and Martin Van Buren (1833-1837), with none for the year of 1832–1833.

Martin Van Buren President

1837 - 1841

The 8th president of the US, Martin Van Buren, served one term of four years. His vice-president was Richard Johnson.

John Tyler President

1841 - 1845

The 10th US president, John Tyler, served one term of four years. He became the first vice-president to take office due to the death of a president (William Henry Harrison, under whom Tyler served, died after only 31 days as president). Tyler did not have a vice president.

William Henry Harrison President

1841

The 9th US president, William Henry Harrison, was the first to die in office. He served only 31 days due to dieing of pneumonia after catching a cold during his inauguration. His vice-president was John Tyler.

James K. Polk President

1845 - 1849

James K. Polk, the 11th US president, served one term of four years, keeping his promise of not running for reelection. His vice president was George Dallas.

Zachary Taylor President

1849 - 1850

The 12th president of the US, Zachary Taylor, was the 2nd president to die in office, serving only 16 months. His vice president was Millard Fillmore.

Millard Fillmore President

1850 - 1853

Millard Fillmore was the 13th US president, and the 2nd vice president to take over after a president (in this case, Zachary Taylor) died. He did not have a vice president.

Franklin Pierce President

1853 - 1857

The 14th US president, Franklin Pierce, served one term of four years. William R. King was Pierce's vice president for his first year in office (1853), after which there was no vice president for the rest of his term.

James Buchanan President

1857 - 1861

The 15th president of the US, James Buchanan, served one term of four years. John Breckinridge was his vice president.

Abraham Lincoln President

1861 - 1865

The 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, served one term of four years. His vice-presidents were Hannibal Hamlin (1861–1865) and Andrew Johnson (1865).

Statehoods

Vermont becomes the 14th US state

1791

Kentucky becomes the 15th US state

1792

Tennessee becomes the 16th US state

1796

Ohio becomes the 17th US state

1803

Louisiana becomes the 18th US state

1812

Indiana becomes the 19th US state

1816

Mississippi becomes the 20th US state

1817

Illinois becomes the 21st US state

1818

Alabama becomes the 22nd US state

1819

Maine becomes the 23rd US state

1820

Missouri becomes the 24th US state

1821

Arkansas becomes the 25th US state

1836

Michigan becomes the 26th US state

1837

Texas becomes the 28th US state

1845

Florida becomes the 27th US state

1845

Iowa becomes the 29th US state

1846

Wisconsin becomes the 30th US state

1848

California becomes the 31st US state

1850

Minnesota becomes the 32nd US state

1858

Oregon becomes the 33rd US state

1859

Develpment of Countries, Expansion

The Articles of Confederation

1781 - 1789

"The Articles of Confederation were written by a committee appointed by the Second Continental Congress on July 12, 1776. They were ratified in 1781 and lasted until 1789" (Hakim).

Northwest Ordinance

1787

The Northwest Ordinance is passed by the Confederation Congress. It created a fair way for land in the Northwest Territory (previously claimed by Virginia and others) to become states. In these new states, slavery was prohibited, and their citizens were guaranteed freedom of religion and trial by jury, among other rights.

Constitutional Convention

May 1787

The convention that was to create a (functional) form of government for the US was officially called to order.

Constitution finished

September 17, 1787

The Constitution of the United States is officially completed and ready to be signed.

Constitution ratified

1789

The Constitution is ratified by the required 3/4 of the states and become law.

George Washington inaugurated

April 30, 1789

The first US president under the Constitution, George Washington, is inaugurated in New York City.

Planning for a capital city begins

1790

President George Washington picks a site on the Potomac River for a new city that was to be the nation's capital. Originally called the Federal City, it is now known as Washington D.C.

Robert Carter III frees his slaves

1791

Robert Carter III, an extremely rich Virginian who was one of the largest slave owners in the US (with more than 500 slaves), frees all of his slaves. This (at the time considered crazy) deed was in response to his quest for true religion and conversion into the Baptist (who believed all people are equal before God) faith.

Bill of Rights ratified

December 15, 1791

The first 10 amendments to the US Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, were ratified according to the method prescribed in the Constitution.

John Marshall appointed Supreme Court chief justice

1801

President John Adams appoints former congressman and Secretary of State John Marshall Supreme Court chief justice.

Marbury vs. Madison

1803

The Supreme Court case of Marbury vs. Madison establishes the process of judicial review. The case is led by chief justice John Marshall.

The Louisiana Purchase

1803

President Thomas Jefferson bought all of the land France had claimed in North America - the so called Louisiana Territory. This $15 million purchase doubled the size of the United States.

Lewis and Clark expedition

1804 - 1806

The expedition that explored and mapped the newly bought Louisiana Territory took two years to do so.

Zebulon Pike explores the Southwest

1806

Zebulon Pike, a young army officer, explores the Southwest, traveling along the Arkansas River. Along the way, he "discovers" Pikes Peak (named after him), a towering mountain he fails to climb.

Slave trade becomes illegal

1808

The Constitution protected the slave trade to America for 20 years after its signing. Only after this amount of time was up, on January 1, 1808, could laws become effective to end the slave trade. Such a law was passed in 1808 deeming the slave trade illegal.

The Star-Spangled Banner

1814

Washington lawyer Francis Scott Key writes "The Star-Spangled Banner" to celebrate the British defeat at Fort McHenry, Baltimore. He had watched the battle aboard a British ship where he was being temporarily held after overhearing the British plan of attack while acting as a diplomat (acquiring the release of British prisoner-of-war Dr. William Beanes).

Major Stephen Austin explores the Great Plains

1819

Secretary of War under President James Monroe, John C. Calhoun, organizes an exploring expedition led by U.S. Army major Stephen H. Long. Major Long's party explored, mapped, and painted the land west of the Mississippi River, including the Great Plains (which Long determined to be "uninhabitable by a people depending on agriculture for their subsistence").

The Missouri Compromise

1820

The Missouri Compromise was passed in 1820 as an agreement between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in the United States Congress, involving primarily the regulation of slavery in the western territories. It prohibited slavery in the former Louisiana Territory (which was now being "cut up" into new states) north of the parallel 36°30′ north except within the boundaries of the proposed state of Missouri. To balance the number of "slave states" and "free states" in the nation, the northern region of what was then Massachusetts was admitted into the US as a free state to become Maine. Prior to that decision, the House of Representatives had refused to accept the Compromise.

William Becknell opens the Santa Fe Trail

1821

William Becknell and his companions left Old Franklin, Missouri, with the intent of trading with Native Americans. At the urging of Mexicans the party met, they turned instead towards the newly-independent Mexican town of Santa Fe. They traded very successfully, which encouraged other merchants to travel the Trail.

Stephen Austin leads 300 settlers to Mexico

1821

Austin's party promised they would become good Mexican citizens and Catholics. They led the way for many Americans' emigration to Texas, which in part led to the Mexican-American War.

Florida purchased from Spain

1821

Spain agrees to a treaty presented by President Monroe's Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams. This deal, which Spain accepted as it was too weak to fight, offered $15 million for Florida.

Monroe Doctrine

1823

President James Monroe gives a speech to Congress stating that European countries could not look for colonies in the American continents - they were "closed off". Part of his reasoning was that since the US didn't interfere with Europe's affairs, those countries shouldn't "interfere" with ours.

Erie Canal completed

1824

The Erie Canal, spanning from the Hudson River to Buffalo, New York, is completed after 8 years of building. The Canal traverses 360 miles and greatly increased the speed of trade and transportation in the US.

The Great Debate

1830

Daniel Webster replies to Robert Hayne in a Senate speech on the importance of the Union. Hayne's argument, that state rights (specifically, Southern states') were more important than the unity of the nation as a whole, and Webster's rebuttal, in which he stated that the Constitution created a "people's government"; a government that protected peoples' rights in general, as opposed to specific states' interests, would later be dubbed "The Great Debate".

Indian Removal Act

1830

President Andrew Jackson signs the Indian Removal Act. This law made it legal for the president to move Native American tribes west and led to the "Trail of Tears".

"The Liberator" first published

1831

William Lloyd Garrison, a white Massachusetts man, begins publishing the abolitionist newspaper "The Liberator". It soon became the leading paper of its kind, and was read by many famous blacks and whites, including Frederick Douglass.

First rendezvous of William Ashley's "mountain men"

1832

More than 1,000 "mountain men" - men who lived as the Native Americans did and trapped animals for their furs (primarily beavers) - meet for the first rendezvous organized by William Ashley, who headed the endeavor.

Andrew Jackson destroys the Bank of the United States

1833

President Andrew Jackson, in order to eliminate the Bank of the United States (whose directors, he was convinced, stood against the idea of democratic-self government), does not renew the Bank's charter, successfully destroying the institution.

Depression and the Oregon Trail

1837

Partly due to President Andrew Jackson's elimination of the Bank of the United States, which regulated currency, many smaller banks throughout the nation began to print money. This led to an overall decrease in the currency's value, in turn causing a depression. Many citizens were without jobs, banks closed and people lost their savings, and crop prices fell, leading to the loss of many farmers' land. In many cases, these desperate families sold whatever they still owned and used the profit to move west. Often, they used the Oregon Trail, which started being used for that purpose in about 1843.

The Grimke sisters lecture on slavery's evils

1837

Sarah and Angelina Grimke (with a diagonal left-to-right accent on the "e") were Southern sisters who, because they could not bear to live in their slave-owning families, had come north, became Quakers, and started telling people why. They lectured on the evils and inhumanity of slavery as they had experienced it first-hand. Angelina became the first American women to address a legislative body when she delivered countless antislavery petitions that had been collected by women to the Massachusetts legislature. The sisters' actions angered many white men because they were going against and beyond the "role" of women at the time.

Frederick Douglass flees the South

1838

Frederick Douglass was an American slave who, after his escape in 1838, became one of the most important abolitionists and all-around civil activists. He used his knowledge of reading and writing (unusual for blacks at the time) to fight for the rights of all peoples by writing books, a newspaper, and speaking passionately and eloquently, often to an abusive audience.

Trail of Tears

1838

The Cherokees, among many other Native American tribes, are forced to walk the "Trail of Tears" westward from the home of their ancestors to a newly designated Indian reservation.

Dorothea Dix begins crusade to reform treatment of mentally ill

1843

Having experienced loneliness and sadness first-hand as a child without a mother and with a father that was never at home, Dorothea Dix had sympathy for the troubled and mentally ill. In an all-exposing piece of writing she composed in 1843, "Memorial to the Legislature of Massachusetts", Dix told of the horrible treatment of those persons who were kept in the privately run, unregulated mental asylums of her day. Dix traveled around the US and other nations for over 30 years, visiting, speaking and writing about asylums, poor houses and prisons.

The phrase "Manifest Destiny" first used

1845

John L. O'Sullivan, a newspaper reporter, first used the phrase "Manifest Destiny" in an article published in the "United States Magazine and Democratic Review". In it, O'Sullivan said it was "our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence...". Basically, he was arguing that God gave us the divine right to take over the continent (even if that meant throwing people who had being living here for thousands of years off their land), so we have a duty to do so. This phrase made taking more and more land sound like a noble thing to do, which helped clear peoples' coincidences. Because of this, it became very popular; after all, people didn't want to admit that greed had a lot to do with their eagerness to expand the country.

3,000 pioneers take the Oregon and California trails west

1845

These two trails were known as "the Overland trails", and carried a wave of freedom-seeking Americans west.

The Oregon Treaty

1846

President James K. Polk signs a treaty with England. It stated that the nations would split the Oregon territory (which, up until this point, both countries had claimed) on the 49th parallel. England received the land north of that parallel (which today is western Canada) and the U.S. possessed the southern part of the territory (which today makes up the states of Oregon, California, and Idaho).

Brigham Young and the Mormons settle in Utah

1848

Brigham Young, leader of the religious group who attended the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly dubbed "the Mormons" after their holy book), leads his people west to escape harsh religious persecution. In 1848, they settle in today's Utah, which was at the time owned by Mexico.

Seneca Falls Women's Rights Convention

July 1848

Organized by women's rights leaders Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott (in addition to some of their friends), this Convention (the first in the nation) attracted ~300 people -- both men and women. The first day of the convention was open to women only; the reason for this being that Stanton and Mott felt it was necessary to first convince women that this was an important fight/cause (not all women wanted to vote because of all the years they had been told by men that they shouldn't be able to). Men were permitted to attend the second day of the Convention. The attendees wrote the Seneca Falls Declaration, which was modeled after the Declaration of Independence (adding "and women" to "all men are created equal").

55,000 pioneers take the Overland Trail west

1849

Fugitive Slave Law

1850

The Fugitive Slave Law, enacted as part of the Compromise of 1850, required anyone who found an escaped slave in a free state to return him/her to his/her owner (or be fined, jailed, or both).

The Compromise of 1850

1850

In order to protect the Union and prevent secession, Henry Clay presents a compromise between the North's interests and the South's interests. One of its points was that a fugitive slave law be enforced (meaning that runaway slaves who make it to free states must be returned to their owners).
A few weeks later, a very ill John C. Calhoun came to the Senate to answer Clay (someone read his speech for him as he was too sick to do so himself). He stated that if the North cannot stop talking about slavery, the South should "peacefully separate" itself.
Daniel Webster is the next to give his input during his famous last Senate oration. To prevent the terrible war that, in his opinion, secession would surely produce, Webster agreed to Clay's compromise, which Congress voted to accept.

Sojourner Truth speaks for women and slaves

1851

Sojourner Truth was born a slave in NY state before running away in 1826. With the help of a white Quaker family, she hired a lawyer, went to court, and won back a child of hers (she had 13 children total, most of which were sold into slavery) who had been sold by her former master to a buyer in the South (which was against NY law).
In 1851, S. Truth spoke at a women's rights convention in Ohio in reply to a man who said that women were by nature weak and inferior to men. What she said would later be known as her "Ain't I a Woman" speech.

Women's rights reformers Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony meet

1851

Amelia Bloomer (inventor of the long pantaloons known as "Bloomers") was responsible for introducing these women's rights masterminds, who made up one of the most active and strong teams in the campaign for suffrage.

Commodore Matthew Perry sails into Tokyo Bay, Japan

1853

Commodore Matthew Perry, of the U.S. Navy, sails to Japan to negotiate a trade agreement on behalf of President Millard Fillmore. Japan (a feudal society at the time), which for hundreds of years had been isolated from the rest of the world under the Japanese Decree of Exclusion, was behind on "modern" technology (such as steamboats, railroads, and the telegraph). After Japanese officials (after much deliberation) accepted the U.S.'s offer, the country slowly began to "modernize" itself.

The Kansas-Nebraska Act

1854

Senator Stephen A. Douglas introduced a bill to divide the territory west of MO, IA, and MN (which was technically guaranteed to the Indians) into two regions: Kansas and Nebraska. Another part of the bill repealed the Missouri Compromise (which had been passed in 1820 and stated that the territory in question would not allow slavery since it was above the determined latitude line), thus allowing the newly created territories to decide for themselves whether or not to allow slavery. The Act outraged many Northerners, led to an unofficial "guerrilla war" between pro- and anti- slavery settlers and activists, and further divided North and South.

The Republican party is founded

1854

The Republican party was the result of a meeting of political leaders in Ripon, Wisconsin. At first, the new party's main appeal was to free, white, working-class men who didn't want to compete with slave labor. The party was also against slavery in the American West. 6 years after its founding, Abraham Lincoln became the first Republican president.

The "Dred Scott" Decision

1857

In what is today usually considered the worst decision in the history of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Roger Taney released an opinion declaring the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional. This incredibly controversial ruling "made war almost certain" (quote: Joy Hakim).

The Oberlin trial tests the Fugitive Slave Law

1858

The very controversial "Oberlin trial" was seen as a test case of whether or not the government would enforce the Fugitive Slave Law (which had been passed in 1850). Many citizens of Oberlin, Ohio, were tried and found guilty of having broken the Law by helping a fugitive slave escape from slave catchers who had kidnapped him. In the end, the accused were fined and given a prison sentence, per the law (although they were later set free in return for the slave catchers' freedom. The catchers had broken the law, too, because they hadn't shown the proper papers when capturing the runaway).

The Pony Express

1860

In response to the huge demand of mail that was being sent between California and the East Coast (due mostly to the Gold Rush), and the incompetence of the national postal service, the Pony Express began operating a mail delivery route. Riders (who all risked their lives on a daily basis and endured extreme weather) received fresh horses at stations set up along the route. One rider would cover about eight stations before handing the reins over to a coworker. The Pony Express brought mail from one side coast of the US to the other in an then-incredible 10 days. However, the Express only lasted 18 months, due to the invention and widespread use of the telegraph.

Rebecca Harding writes on factory conditions

1861

Rebecca Harding was the author of an unsigned article in the most important magazine of the day: the "Atlantic Monthly". The article, titled "Life in the Iron Mills", reported on the horrible working conditions in her hometown (Wheeling, WV)'s iron mills. Her writing made some people aware, many for the first time, of the horror of millwork (and in general, the hard lives of factory workers).

Discovery, Invention, Technology

Industrial Revolution

1750 - 1900

The Industrial Revolution completely changed society and life for millions of people around the world as the US (and many other countries) shifted from a farm-based to a capitalistic market economy. This period, divided into two Revolutionary periods (1750-1850 and 1850-1900), marked a huge number of inventions and technological advancements (including the steam engine, powered loom, telephones, railroads, and many more).

First spinning mill

1791

Samuel Slater (who was a young apprentice in a cotton mill in England before immigrating to the US) opens the first spinning mill in Pawtucket, R.I.

Cotton gin invented

1793

The cotton gin, a machine that removes seeds from cotton, is invented by Eli Whitney. This invention revived slavery in the South.

Steamship travels up the Hudson River

1807

The steamship "Clermont", designed by Robert Fulton, an American inventor, covers the stretch of the Hudson River from New York City to Albany in 32 hours. That speed was considered incredibly fast at the time.

First spinning and weaving factory opened

1810

The first factory that could both spin and weave cotton in the same building is built by Francis Cabot Lowell after he took a trip to England and observed the factories there.

Cherokee alphabet

1821

The first Cherokee alphabet is created by Sequoyah. It consisted of 86 characters (many of which were similar to English letters) representing Cherokee syllables.

Steam-powered train built

1830

Peter Cooper, an American inventor and owner of a iron foundry, builds a steam-powered train. This marvel, which Cooper called "Tom Thumb", was built for the Baltimore & Ohio railroad.

The penny press begins with the "New York Sun"

1835

Benjamin Day begins publishing a daily newspaper, the "New York Sun". The "Sun" sells for a penny, which enables the ordinary American to purchase a paper that he couldn't have afforded before. Pre-television, radio, and the internet, newspapers spread news fast around an ever-growing country. Soon more "penny newspapers" are founded (examples: the "New York Herald" and the "New York Tribune").

First telegraph message sent in Morse code

1844

Samuel F. Morse, an American artist-turned-inventor, sends the first message using his invention, the telegraph. This then amazingly-fast method of cross-nation communication had an immense effect on many areas of life (in addition to putting the Pony Express out of business).

James Marshall discovers gold flakes in California -- Gold Rush

January 24, 1848

James Marshall, while building a mill for John Sutter, happened to discover heavy gold flakes in a California mountain stream. Although Marshall, after the gold had been tested and its identity confirmed by Sutter, tried to keep his wonderful discovery a secret, word spread, and soon miners were flooding in from all over the US and even abroad. The California Gold Rush, as it was called, brought wealth and diversity to the state, although it wasn't as picture-perfect as newspapers depicted it.

First railroad train travels from the East Coast to the Mississippi River

February 22, 1854

Traveling on a track laid by the Chicago & Rock Island, the company's Line Number 10 train arrives in Rock Island, Illinois. It thus became the first railroad train to cover the distance between the East Coast and the Mississippi River. This achievement made traveling and moving west much easier, but also took over business from steamboats and other, older forms of transportation, leading to their decline.

First railroad train crosses the Mississippi River

1856

In 1856, a bridge crossing the Mississippi River was completed by the Chicago & Rock Island Railroad Company, enabling passengers on their Line Number 10 trains to travel over the River in fraction of the time it took to ferry it on a boat. However, 2 weeks after the bridge was opened for use, an overturned steamboat caught the partly-wooden bridge on fire. This led to the owners of the steamboat suing the railroad company (which Abraham Lincoln defended as a lawyer), resulting in a case that made it all the way to the Supreme Court. It was as much about North (railroads) vs. South (steamboats) as the actual complaint, and led to increased friction between those two parts of the country when the jurors couldn't reach a decision (which was seen as a victory by the North/railroad company).

Daily Life

Litchfield Female Academy opens

1792

Sarah Pierce opens the Litchfield Female Academy in the dining room of her home as a comprehensive school for girls (a revolutionary idea at the time). Pierce's school didn't just teach music, painting, and needlework (the "subjects" most people thought girls should concentrate on); some of the courses offered were philosophy, logic, and grammar (to name a few). The Academy existed for 41 years (until 1833). One of its most notable students was Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin".

Mount Holyoke College opens

1837

Mary Lyon opens Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, thus creating the 2nd college for women in the nation (the 1st was Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia). The price of tuition was low, so almost anyone who wished to attend could afford to do so. Most of the College's students went on to be teachers. Emily Dickinson was on of its most notable students (although she left before graduating).

Art, Architecture, Literature

George Catlin paints Indians of the Plains

1832 - 1834

George Catlin, an American artist and member of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, decided to sketch and paint Indians living in their traditional ways before they became extinct. He was very ahead of his time in that he painted Native Americans with honesty, affection and admiration, as opposed to attacking (or simply ignoring) them as was the common practice among other whites.

"Birds of America" finished

1838

John James Audubon, a self-dubbed "American woodsman" and artist, finishes his masterwork: "Birds of America". This collection of drawings depicting many of North America's birds attempted successfully to capture the image of birds that would soon be extinct due to hunting and destruction of their natural habitats (6 birds featured are now extinct). "Birds of America" became hugely popular in England and Europe, thus drawing attention to the work of American artists and authors, who (contrary to popular belief in the Old World) had just as much talent as their European equivalents.

"Walden"

1854

American author, naturalist, scientist, architect, civil activist, and abolitionist (to name just a few of the hats this man wore) Henry David Thoreau publishes "Walden". This book depicts Thoreau's 2 year stay in a cabin on the edge of Walden Pond.

"Leaves of Grass"

1855

Walt Whitman, an American poet, publishes "Leaves of Grass". This extremely long poem (so lengthy it can be called a book) is all about America and its inhabitants: both white, Native American, enslaved black, and animal.

Religion, Philosophy

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Founded

1830

Joseph Smith founds a religion based on the holy book "the Book of Mormon". Because the official name of Smith's new church (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) was too long for most people to bother saying, the members of this religion were dubbed "Mormons" after their holy book.

War & Conflict,

First land battle in the South

December 9, 1775

British defeated.

Declaration of Independence

July 4, 1776

The Declaration of Independence signed in Philadelphia

Washington's Delaware River Crossing

December 24, 1776

Washington and American troops cross the Delaware River into New Jersey. They surprised and captured ~1,000 Hessians.

Valley Forge encampment

1777 - 1778

The Americans spend the winter at Valley Forge, PA.

The Marquis de Lafayette arrives in Philadelphia

1777

He offered his service to the American cause at his own cost and without pay.

British surrender at Saratoga

October 17, 1777

Henry Clinton becomes commander in chief of all British forces in America

1778

He takes over the position from Sir William Howe.

British Surrender at Yorktown

October 17, 1781

Last major battle of the Revolutionary War. The War was technically over but there were small "skirmishes" for two more years, until 1783.

Treaty of Paris signed: Revolutionary War officially over

September 1783

Peace agreement between the US and Britain signed in Paris, France.

Shays' Rebellion

1786

Daniel Shays, a Revolutionary War veteran, led ~1200 Massachusetts farmers, angry about high taxes that forced them to give up their homes and farms, in marching on a MA court. The latter was forced to adjourn. Shays' Rebellion made many people aware of the need for the Articles of Confederation to be revised.

French Revolution

1789 - 1804

The French Revolution was inspired by the successful American Revolution.

Storming of the Bastille

July 14, 1789

The Bastille, a prison in which political prisoners and enemies of the king were jailed, was stormed by angry citizens. This event marks the beginning of the French Revolution.

Alien and Sedition Acts

1798

Congress passes the Alien and Sedition Acts in response to the large number of French immigrants fleeing Europe due to the conflict between France and England. The 3 Alien Acts made it difficult for foreigners to become US citizens and gave the president the power to throw anyone he thought to be dangerous out of the country. The Sedition Act made it a crime to criticize the government.

Americans defeat the Shawnee Tribe

1811

William Henry Harrison defeats the Shawnee Tribe, led by Tenskwatawa (known as the Prophet) at Tippecanoe. This battle ended any hope of a united Indian nation that could forge a peace between the Native Americans and the whites.

War of 1812

1812 - 1815

The War of 1812, often considered the "2nd Revolution" resolved remaining issues between Great Britain and the US. No land/territory was exchanged in this US victory.

Tecumseh killed

1813

Tecumseh (also known as Teckamthi), the Native American leader who attempted (in vain) to unite the Indian tribes in order for them to be treated fairly and equally by the white settlers is killed in battle fighting for the British against the Americans.

Creek Indians defeated

1814

Andrew Jackson, who would become the 7th president of the US, defeats Creek Indians (known as the "Red Sticks") at the Horseshoe Bend of the Tallapoosa River. Fighting on the side of the US were the "White Sticks", a group of Creek Indians who liked American ways and were rivals of the Red Sticks, who wanted to keep their Indian ways.

Mexico wins its independance from Spain

1821

The Mexican Constitution of 1824

1824

Mexico, 3 years after rebelling against Spanish rule and becoming independent, approves a constitution and forms a republic. Unfortunately, very soon thereafter Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna named himself dictator. General Santa Anna ignored many of the freedoms the constitution had promised.

Mexicans defeat Americans at the Alamo

1836

General/dictator Santa Anna marched toward Texas with an army of more than 3,000 men. He was determined to send the Americans back to the U.S., and even more so after American rebels attacked San Antonio in 1835. A group of less than 200 Americans gathered in an old, walled San Antonio mission named the "Alamo". They held out for 12 days under siege from Santa Anna's army before the latter broke through the walls of the Alamo and killed all but 3 women and 3 children, who lived to tell the story.

Americans defeat Mexicans at San Jacinto

1836

A group of Americans led by Sam Houston attacked Mexican general/dictator Santa Anna and his troops at San Jacinto (near present day Houston, Texas). They captured Santa Anna and forced him to sign a treaty that made Texas an independent nation. Sam Houston was elected president of the new Republic of Texas, which had its own flag.

Osceola death

1838

Osceola, a Seminole Indian who strongly resisted his people's relocation out of the land of their ancestors, dies in prison. He was captured under a white flag of truce during the Seminole War, which he helped start.

Joseph Cinque captured in Sierra Leone

1839

Sengbe Pieh is captured by illegal slave traders near his village in Sierra Leone, Africa. He and many other blacks were forced to march 3 1/2 days before being chained and loaded onto a slave ship bound for the Spanish colony of Cuba. There, because Spain had outlawed the bringing in of slaves (as the US had as well), he and the other captives were given European names and false identity papers to make it seem as though they had been brought to Cuba before the slave trade was made illegal. Sengbe Pieh (who was now Joseph Cinque), along with 53 other blacks, was purchased by two partners and loaded onto a schooner. Cinque, fearing for his and the other prisoners' safety, picked the lock on the chain around his neck before freeing the others. Using huge sugarcane knives, they organized a mutiny against their captors, killing the ship's captain and taking their "owners" prisoner. Cinque, who wanted to sail back to Africa, was tricked, and the ship arrived in Connecticut. After many court cases, their situation reached the Supreme Court in 1841, where John Quincy Adams helped to defend Cinque and the others. In the end, the Court ruled that the slave traders had captured the blacks illegally, violating the "you can't bring slaves into these countries" law, and so they were free.

The Mexican-American War

1846 - 1848

The Mexican-American War bloomed in part out of a struggle over the Texas-Mexican border. While some were in favor of the war - in part because of the idea of Manifest Destiny - others, like Fredrick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln and Henry David Thoreau considered it an unnecessary war and said that the US was being a bully. The U.S. won the war, and the Texas-Mexico border was set at the Rio Grande River. In addition, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed in 1848, gave the U.S. California - which included land stretching from Texas to California and beyond.

Notable Men & Women

Benjamin Franklin born

January 17, 1706

Benjamin Franklin, the man who was to become a noted author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat, as well as one of the Founding Fathers of the US, was born in Boston, Massachusetts.

George Washington born

February 22, 1732

The man who would become the Commander-in-Chief of the Revolutionary War, one of the most influential Founding Fathers, and the first US president is born near present day Colonial Beach, Virginia.

John Adams born

October 30, 1735

John Adams, the Founding Father, statesman, diplomat, and a leading advocate of American independence from Great Britain who would become the first vice-president and second president of the United States, is born in in what is now Quincy, Massachusetts (then called the "north precinct" of Braintree, Massachusetts).

Thomas Jefferson born

April 13, 1743

Thomas Jefferson, the man who would become an American Founding Father, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and the third President of the United States (among many other accomplishments) is born in Virginia.

James Madison born

March 16, 1751

James Madison, the man who would become an American statesman and political theorist, the fourth President of the United States, the “Father of the Constitution”, and the co-founder (with T. Jefferson) of the Democratic-Republican Party, among other accomplishments, is born in Virginia.

Alexander Hamilton born

January 11, 1757

Alexander Hamilton, the man who would become a Founding Father of the United States, Revolutionary War hero, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury is born in Charlestown, the capital of the island of Nevis (one of the British West Indies).

Andrew Jackson born

March 15, 1767

Andrew Jackson became an army general and as such defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend (1814), and the British at the Battle of New Orleans (1815). He was the 7th President of the US and the creator of the modern Democratic Party, among other accomplishments. He was born in a log cabin on the border between North and South Carolina.

John Quincy Adams born

July 11, 1767

John Quincy Adams, the man who would become the sixth President of the US, the 8th United States Secretary of State, an American diplomat, senator, and congressional representative, among other accomplishments, is born in Massachusetts.

John Hanson becomes the first US president

November 5, 1781

John Hanson becomes President of Congress under the Articles of Confederation, and therefore, the first US president.

Benjamin Franklin death

April 17, 1790

Benjamin Franklin, a noted author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat, as well as one of the Founding Fathers of the US, dies at his home in Philadelphia on April 17, 1790, at age 84.

George Washington death

December 14, 1799

George Washington, former Commander-in-Chief of the Revolutionary Army, president of the Constitutional Convention, and the first US president, dies at his home: Mount Vernon, Virginia.

Alexander Hamilton death

July 12, 1804

Alexander Hamilton, a Founding Father of the United States, Revolutionary War hero, economist, political philosopher, one of America’s first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury is shot and killed in a duel with Aaron Burr in New York.

John Adams death

July 4, 1826

John Adams, a Founding Father, statesman, diplomat, and a leading advocate of American independence from Great Britain who became the first vice-president and second president of the United States, dies at his home in Quincy, Massachusetts.

Thomas Jefferson death

July 4, 1826

Thomas Jefferson, an American Founding Father, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and the third President of the United States (among many other accomplishments) dies at his home in Virginia.

James Madison death

June 28, 1836

James Madison, an American statesman and political theorist, the fourth President of the United States, the “Father of the Constitution”, and the co-founder (with T. Jefferson) of the Democratic-Republican Party, among other accomplishments, dies at his plantation in Virginia.

Andrew Jackson death

June 8, 1845

Andrew Jackson, was an army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend (1814), and the British at the Battle of New Orleans (1815). He was the 7th President of the US and the creator of the modern Democratic Party, among other accomplishments. Jackson died at his home, The Hermitage, in Tennessee.

John Quincy Adams death

February 23, 1848

John Quincy Adams, the sixth President of the US, the 8th United States Secretary of State, an American diplomat, senator, and congressional representative, among other accomplishments, dies in the Speaker's Room inside the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

Death of Henry Clay and Daniel Webster

1852

Legendary politicians and orators Henry Clay and Daniel Webster died in 1852. While they were political opponents (most all of the time), these two masterminds of Congress were both extremely patriotic and wanted only the best for their country. Both served many terms in various political offices, including Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, and U.S. Representative. For some famous historical events/laws these two were responsible for, check out the Missouri Compromise (1820), the Great Debate (1830) and the Compromise of 1850 -- Clay played a major role in this -- (1850).