Recent American History

Annotated Timeline


"stagflation" of the 70s

15 August 1971

Stagflation, is a term used in economics to describe a situation where an inflation rate is high, the economic growth rate slows down, and unemployment remains steadily high. It was used to swing presidential elections in the United States in 1976 and 1980 (Political).Following Richard Nixon's imposition of wage and price controls on 15 August 1971, an initial wave of cost-push shocks in commodities was blamed for causing spiraling prices. Perhaps the most notorious factor cited at that time was the failure of the Peruvian anchovy fishery in 1972, a major source of livestock feed.[16] The second major shock was the 1973 oil crisis, when the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) constrained the worldwide supply of oil.[17] Both events, combined with the overall energy shortage that characterised the 1970s, resulted in actual or relative scarcity of raw materials. The price controls resulted in shortages at the point of purchase, causing, for example, queues of consumers at fuelling stations and increased production costs for industry.[18]

1st OPEC Embargo


(Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries)
Crisis of the '70s! (Political) A dramatic rise in energy consumption; the United States was consuming a huge percentage of the world's energy in proportion to its population (baby boomers). Domestic oil production declined at the same time. Middle Eastern members of OPEC wished to protest American involvement in an ongoing conflict with Israel, and these nations struck the country where it hurt, depriving them of oil in 1973 and again in 1977.

Ford Pardons Nixon

September 8, 1974

President Gerald Ford pardons his disgraced predecessor Richard Nixon for any crimes he may have committed or participated in while in office. (Watergate scandal & coverup)

Helsinki Accords (1975)

1 August 1975

The final act of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe held in Helsinki, Finland, during July and August 1, 1975; an attempt to improve relations between the Communist bloc and the West. According to President Ford, “The Helsinki documents involve political and moral commitments aimed at lessening tension and opening further the lines of communication between peoples of East and West” The Final Act simply stated that "frontiers" in Europe should be stable but could change by peaceful internal means.

2nd OPEC Embargo


Several events combined to bring about the energy crisis of the '70s. The first was a dramatic rise in energy consumption, with the United States consuming a huge percentage of the world's energy in proportion to its population. Domestic oil production declined at the same time, leading the country to lean heavily on foreign oil, and in 1973, the US was placed under an OPEC embargo for political reasons. Middle Eastern members of OPEC wished to protest American involvement in an ongoing conflict with Israel, and these nations struck the country where it hurt, depriving them of oil in 1973 and again in 1977.

Panama Canal Treaty

September 1977

Guaranteed that Panama would gain control of the Panama Canal after 1999, ending the control of the canal that the U.S. had exercised since 1903.

Camp David Accords

17 September 1978 - 26 March 1979

The Camp David accords of 1978 was the first peace deal between Israel and an Arab state. Carter (US), Sadat (Israel) and Begin (Egypt) concluded two agreements: (1) a framework for the conclusion of a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel and (2) a broader framework for achieving peace in the Middle East. President Carter had intervened to rescue the deteriorating peace talks with personal visits to both countries. The treaty formally ended the state of war that existed between the two countries, and Israel agreed to withdraw from the Sinai Peninsula in stages. The treaty also provided for the establishment of normal diplomatic relations between the two countries. These provisions were duly carried out, but Israel failed to implement the provisions calling for Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza areas.

Moral Majority

1979 - 1980

Moral Majority was a political group made up of fundamentalist Christians. Although not it did not accomplish much, it did show that Americans were starting to worry about the moral fabric of society.

War in Afghanistan

1979 - 1989

The Soviet war in Afghanistan lasted nine years from December 1979 to February 1989. Part of the Cold War, it was fought between Soviet-led Afghan forces against multi-national insurgent groups called the Mujahideen.The decade-long war resulted in millions of Afghans fleeing their country, mostly to Pakistan and Iran. Hundreds of thousands of Afghan civilians were killed in addition to the participants in the war

Soviets Invade Afghanistan


The 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan spurred Jimmy Carter to issue an ultimatum on January 20, 1980 that the United States would boycott the Moscow Olympics if Soviet troops did not withdraw from Afghanistan within one month. These uprisings, along with internal fighting and coups within the government between the People’s and Banner factions, prompted the Soviets to invade the country on the night of Dec. 24, 1979, sending in some 30,000 troops and toppling the short-lived presidency of People’s leader Hafizullah Amin.

Three-Mile Island Incident

March 28 1979

The Three MIle Island Incident was a partial nuclier meltdown which occurd in Pennsylvania on March 28 1979. The partial meltdown resulted in the release of small amounts of radioactive gases and radioactive iodine into the environment. It was the worst accident in U.S. commercial nuclear POWER PLANT (named after the island in which it was situated) in history.


june 1979

In June 1979, Carter and Brezhnev met in Vienna and signed the SALT-II agreement. The treaty basically established numerical equality between the two nations in terms of nuclear weapons delivery systems. It also limited the number of MIRV missiles (missiles with multiple, independent nuclear warheads).

Iran Hostage Crisis

November 1979 - January 1981

On November 4, 1979, an angry mob of young Islamic revolutionaries overran the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, taking more than 60 Americans hostage. "From the moment the hostages were seized until they were released minutes after Ronald Reagan took the oath of office as president 444 days later," wrote historian Gaddis Smith, "the crisis absorbed more concentrated effort by American officials and had more extensive coverage on television and in the press than any other event since World War II."

Election of 1980 & the "Reagan Revolution"

1980 - 1989

The Reagan Revolution of the 1980s sought to change Americans’ attitudes toward their country, their government, and the world, as the United States emerged from the 1970s. Ronald Reagan entered the White House in January 1981 promising to restore Americans’ faith in their nation and themselves, to shrink “Big Government,” and to defend America more aggressively, especially against the Soviet Union. During his two terms in office, President Reagan continued his decades-long battle against Great Society liberalism, the activities and ideas of the 1960s’ student rebels and 1970s’ defeatists, and the spread of Communism. Reagan’s American restoration delivered patriotism, prosperity, and peace. American pride revived as the economy soared and the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe collapsed. “All in all,” Reagan said in his 1989 farewell address, “not bad, not bad at all.”

Reaganomics (Supply-side and trickle down-economics)

1980 - 1989

Reaganomics refers to the economic policies promoted by U.S. President Ronald Reagan during the 1980s. These policies are commonly associated with supply-side economics, referred to as trickle-down economics by political opponents. According to supply-side economics, consumers will then benefit from a greater supply of goods and services at lower prices. Typical policy recommendations of supply-side economists are lower marginal tax rates and less regulation. "Trickle-down economics" and "the trickle-down theory" are terms in United States politics to refer to the idea that tax breaks or other economic benefits provided by government to businesses and the wealthy will benefit poorer members of society by improving the economy as a whole. The nominal national debt rose from $900 billion to $2.8 trillion during Reagan's tenure, an average national budget deficit per year of $237.5 billion, as compared to an average national budget deficit per year of $56.9 billion during Carter's tenure. The federal deficit as percentage of GDP rose from 2.65% of GDP in 1980, Carter's final budget year, to 3.04% of GDP in 1988, Reagan's final budget year.[49]

Boycott of Olympics in Moscow


The 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan spurred Jimmy Carter to issue an ultimatum on January 20, 1980 that the United States would boycott the Moscow Olympics if Soviet troops did not withdraw from Afghanistan within one month.[

Sandra Day O'Connor apopinted to Supreme Court

August 19 1981

Sandra Day O'Connor was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Reagan on August 19, 1981, thus fulfilling his 1980 campaign promise to appoint the first woman to the highest court in the United States

Military action in Grenada (1983) and Nicaragua (1984)

1983 - 1984

The Invasion of Grenada, codenamed Operation Urgent Fury, was a 1983 United States-led invasion of Grenada, a Caribbean island nation. Triggered by a bloody military coup which had ousted a four-year revolutionary government, the invasion resulted in a restoration of constitutional government. It was controversial due to charges of American imperialism, Cold War politics, the involvement of Cuba, the unstable state of the Grenadian government, the illegality under international law and Grenada's status as a Commonwealth realm. The US launched attacks on the Nicaraguan Government in an attemt to overthrow it.

Strategic Defense Initiative/ Star Wars

March 23 1983

The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), also known as Star Wars, was a program first initiated on March 23, 1983 under President Ronald Reagan. The intent of this program was to develop a sophisticated anti-ballistic missile system in order to prevent missile attacks from other countries, specifically the Soviet Union. With the tension of the Cold War looming overhead, the Strategic Defense Initiative was the United States’ response to possible nuclear attacks from afar. Although the program seemed to have no negative consequences, there were concerns brought up about the program “contravening” the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks years before. For this reason, in conjunction with budgetary constraints, the Strategic Defense Initiative was ultimately set aside.

Iran-Contra Affair and Oliver North (1987)

November 1986

The Iran-Contra Affair was a US political scandal. During the Reagan administration, senior administration officials secretly facilitated the sale of arms to Iran, the subject of an arms embargo. Some U.S. officials also hoped that the arms sales would secure the release of hostages and allow U.S. intelligence agencies to fund the Nicaraguan Contras. Under the Boland Amendment, further funding of the Contras by the government had been prohibited by Congress. North was at the center of national attention during the Iran–Contra affair, a political scandal of the late 1980s. North was a National Security Council staff member involved in the clandestine sale of weapons to Iran, which served to encourage the release of U.S. hostages from Lebanon. Oliver North formulated the second part of the plan: diverting proceeds from the arms sales to support the Contra rebel groups in Nicaragua (funding to the Contras had been prohibited under the Boland Amendment amidst widespread public opposition in the U.S. and controversies surrounding human rights abuses by the Contras).

Savings and Loan Scandal


The savings and loan crisis of the 1980s and 1990s was the failure of 747 savings and loan associations. Banks invested in speculative real estate and commercial loans.By 1983, most S&L's weren't profitable or were bankrupt. As banks went under, Federal insurance began to run out of the money needed to refund depositors.However, S&L's kept open, making bad loans,increasing the losses. In 1989, Congress bailed out the industry and agreed on a measure known as the FIRREA provided $50 billion to closed banks. It set up Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC.).The concomitant slowdown in the finance industry and the real estate market may have been a contributing cause of the 1990-1991 economic recession.

Rodney King Beating/ Riots

1991 - 1992

An African-American motorist driver who, in 1991 was stopped and then beaten by Los Angeles Police Department officers. Four officers acquitted for beating King, inflaming citizens and sparking the violent 1992 Los Angeles riots that lasted 10 days. More than 50 people were killed, more than 2,000 were injured and 9,500 were arrested for rioting, looting and arson, resulting in $1 billion in property damage. The riots and police response to the violent aftermath resulted in the resignation of L.A.P.D. Chief Darryl Gates, thought by many minorities to symbolize institutionalized racial intolerance.

Breakup of the Soviet Union

26 December 1991

26 December 1991, the Soviet Union disintegrated into fifteen separate countries. Its collapse was hailed by the west as a victory for freedom, a triumph of democracy over totalitarianism, and evidence of the superiority of capitalism over socialism: thereby ending the Cold War. The Berlin Wall was also torn down previously before in 1989.

Operation Desert Shield/ Desert Storm


The Gulf War, codenamed "operation desert storm/shield", was a war waged by a U.N.authorized Coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait. The United States and its allies defeated Iraq in a ground war that lasted 100 hours resulting in a spectacularly one-sided military victory for the Coalition.

North American Free Trade


Eliminated most trade barriers among the United States, Canada, and Mexico by creating a free-trade zone. It was supported by Clinton.

Clinton proposes national health


Known officially as the Health Security Act, was a 1993 healthcare reform package proposed by the administration of President Bill Clinton and closely associated with the chair of the task force devising the plan, First Lady of the United States Hillary Rodham Clinton. The core element of the plan was an enforced mandate for employers to provide health insurance coverage to all of their employees through competitive but closely regulated health maintenance organizations.

"Dont ask, dont tell"

December 21, 1993 - September 20, 2011

"Don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) was the official United States policy on gays serving in the military from December 21, 1993, to September 20, 2011. It was a shorthand phrase for compromise policy that emerged after Clinton's failed attempt to end ban on gays and lesbians in the military. It allowed gays as long as they don't say they are.

Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America"


Contract with America, a document signed Sept. 27, 1994, on the Capitol steps in Washington, D.C., by members of the Republican minority before the Republican Party gained control of Congress in 1994. The “Contract with America” outlined legislation to be enacted by the House of Representatives within the first 100 days of the 104th Congress (1995–96). Among the proposals were tax cuts, a permanent line-item veto, measures to reduce crime and provide middle-class tax relief, and constitutional amendments requiring term limits and a balanced budget. It was passed under the leadership of the speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.

Clinton scandals and impeachment

December 19, 1998

Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States, was impeached by the House of Representatives on two charges, one of perjury and one of obstruction of justice, on December 19, 1998, but acquitted by vote of the Senate. The House approved two articles of impeachment against the President stemming from the President’s response to a sexual harassment civil lawsuit and to a subsequent grand jury investigation instigated by an Independent Counsel. The first article charged the President with committing perjury in testifying before the grand jury about his sexual relationship with a White House intern and his efforts to cover it up; the second article charged the President with obstruction of justice relating both to the civil lawsuit and to the grand jury proceedings. Clinton was impeached by the House in '98 and acquitted by the Senate. It was only the 2nd impeachment of a President in US history.

Election of 2000/ Bush v. Gore

November 7, 2000

54th presidential election between republican George W. H. Bush, and democratic Al Gore. Gore won the popular vote, but it came down to electoral college votes and specifically the vote in Florida; because of the controvesy over a recount in Florida, Gore sued to have a manual recount; was the 1st time the Supreme Court got involved in electoral college decision; decided the votes should stand as counted and Bush got the votes for the state giving Bush the presidency without winning the popular vote.

September 11, 2001


A series of four coordinated terrorist attacks launched by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda upon the United States in New York City and the Washington, D.C. area on September 11, 2001. The attacks had a significant economic impact on United States and world markets. Hundreds of thousands of tons of toxic debris containing more than 2,500 contaminants, including known carcinogens, were spread across Lower Manhattan due to the collapse of the Twin Towers. And as a result of the attacks, many governments across the world passed legislation to combat terrorism.