History of the United States


All of the Presidents of the United States, from Washington to now.

George Washington

April 30, 1789 - March 4, 1797

George Washington
No Party
VP - John Adams

John Adams

Mar 5, 1797 - March 4, 1801

John Adams
VP - Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

Mar 5, 1801 - March 4, 1809

Thomas Jefferson
VP - Aaron Burr; later George Clinton

James Madison

Mar 5, 1809 - March 4, 1817

James Madison
VP - George Clinton; later Elbridge Gerry

James Monroe -- "The Era of Good Feelings"

March 4, 1817 - March 4, 1825

James Monroe
VP - Daniel D. Tompkins

John Quincy Adams

March 4, 1825 - March 4, 1829

John Q. Adams
VP - John C. Calhoun

Andrew Jackson

March 4, 1829 - March 4, 1837

Andrew Jackson
VP - John C. Calhoun; later Martin Van Buren

Martin Van Buren

March 4, 1837 - March 4, 1841

Martin Van Buren
VP - Richard Mentor Johnson

William Harrison

March 4, 1841 - April 4, 1841

William Henry Harrison
VP - John Tyler

John Tyler

April 4, 1841 - March 4, 1845

John Tyler

James K. Polk

March 4, 1845 - March 4, 1849

James. K Polk
VP - George M. Dallas

Zach Taylor

March 4, 1849 - July 9, 1850

Zachary Taylor
VP - Millard Fillmore

Millard Fillmore

July 9, 1850 - March 4, 1853

Millard Fillmore

Franklin Pierce

March 4, 1853 - March 4, 1857

Franklin Pierce
VP - William R. King

James Buchanan

March 4, 1857 - March 4, 1861

James Buchanan
VP - John C. Breckinridge

Abraham Lincoln

March 4, 1861 - April 15, 1865

Abraham Lincoln
VP - Hannibal Hamlin; later Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson

April 15, 1865 - March 4, 1869

Andrew Johnson

Ulysses S. Grant

March 4, 1869 - March 4, 1877

Ulysses S. Grant
VP - Schuyler Colfax; later Henry Wilson

Rutherford B. Hayes

March 4, 1877 - March 4, 1881

Rutherford B. Hayes
VP - William A. Wheeler

James Garfield

March 4, 1881 - September 19, 1881

James A. Garfield
VP - Chester A. Arthur

Chester A. Arthur

September 19, 1881 - March 4, 1885

Chester A. Arthur

Grover Cleveland

March 4, 1885 - March 4, 1889

Grover Cleveland
VP - Thomas A. Hendricks

Benjamin Harrison

March 4, 1889 - March 4, 1893

Benjamin Harrison
VP - Levi P. Morton

Grover Cleveland

March 4, 1893 - March 4, 1897

Grover Cleveland
VP – Aldai Stevenson I

William McKinley

March 4, 1897 - September 14, 1901

William McKinley
VP - Garret Hobart; later Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt

September 14, 1901 - March 4, 1909

Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt
VP - Charles Fairbanks

William Taft

March 4, 1909 - March 4, 1913

William Howard Taft
VP - James S. Sherman

Woodrow Wilson

March 4, 1913 - March 4, 1921

Woodrow Wilson
VP - Thomas R. Marshall

Warren Harding

March 4, 1921 - August 2, 1923

Warren G. Harding
VP - Calvin Coolidge

Calvin Coolidge

August 2, 1923 - March 4, 1929

Calvin Coolidge
VP - Charles G. Dawes

Herbert Hoover

March 4, 1929 - March 4, 1933

Herbert Hoover
VP - Charles Curtis

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

March 4, 1933 - April 12, 1945

Franklin Delano Roosevelt
VP(s) - John Nance Garner; Henry A. Wallace; Harry S Truman

Harry S Truman

April 12, 1945 - January 20, 1953

Harry S Truman
VP - Alben W. Barkley

Dwight D. Eisenhower

January 20, 1953 - January 20, 1961

Dwight D. Eisenhower
VP - Richard Nixon

John F. Kennedy

January 20, 1961 - November 22, 1963

John F. Kennedy
VP - Lyndon B. Johnson

Lyndon B. Johnson

November 22, 1963 - January 20, 1969

Lyndon B. Johnson
VP - Hubert Humphrey

Richard Nixon

January 20, 1969 - August 9, 1974

Richard Nixon
VP - Spiro Agnew; Gerald Ford

Gerald Ford

August 9, 1974 - January 20, 1977

Gerald Ford
VP - Nelson Rockerfeller

Jimmy Carter

January 20, 1977 - January 20, 1981

Jimmy Carter
Born 1924
VP - Walter Mondale

Ronald Reagan

January 20, 1981 - January 20, 1989

Ronald Reagan
VP - George H.W. Bush

George H.W. Bush

January 20, 1989 - January 20, 1993

George H.W. Bush
Born 1924
VP - Dan Quayle

Bill Clinton

January 20, 1993 - January 20, 2001

Bill Clinton
b. 1946
VP - Al Gore

George W. Bush

January 20, 2001 - January 20, 2009

George Walker Bush
b. 1946
VP - Dick Cheney

Barack Obama

January 20, 2009 - January 20, 2017

Barack Obama
b. 1961
VP - Joe Biden

Wars and Political Events

All of the wars, political events, court cases, foreign policy events, treaties, etc. that have made the US what it is today.

American Revolutionary War

April 19, 1775 - September 3, 1783

The war which pitted American colonists against their British masters, with French and Spanish support. Ended with the Peace of Paris.

Battle of Lexington and Concord

April 19, 1775

The first battle of the Revolutionary War, a Colonial victory of their British masters.

Articles of Confederation

March 1, 1781 - March 4, 1789

The first attempt of a constitution for the new US, which failed miserably, due to the fact that the national government had little to no power over any of the states. Replaced by the US Constitution.

Peace of Paris

3 September 1783

The treaty which ended the Revolution, Britain cedes all land east of the Mississippi to the US.

Shay's Rebellion

August 1786 - June 1787

A Massachusetts debtor's revolt in which the US was fiscally unable to raise an army. One of the major reasons why the Articles of Confederation failed.

Northwest Ordinance

July 13, 1787

A law that created the Northwest Territory from lands ceded by Britain after the Peace of Paris. It determined the requirements for statehood and created a system of townships and ranges. Also, it banned slavery in the new Northwest Territory.

Ratification of the Constitution

June 21, 1788

The U.S. Constitution is signed by 39 out of 55 delegates of the Philadelphia Convention. Replaces the Articles of Confederation.

Creation of the Bank of the US

February 25, 1791

Spearheaded by Alexander Hamilton, the creation of the Bank of the United States was part of a plan to expand the federal monetary power. He believed that a bank was necessary to stabilize and improve the nation's credit.

Whiskey Rebellion

March 1791 - October 1794

An insurrection of Western Pennsylvania farmers against Alexander Hamilton's Whiskey Tax. Put down by George Washington himself in Summer/Autumn 1794.

Jay Treaty

November 19, 1794

This 1794 treaty re-established good relations with Great Britain. It is named for US envoy and Chief Justice John Jay.

Pinckney Treaty

October 25, 1795

The Spanish equivalent of the Jay treaty was Treaty of San Lorenzo, more commonly known as the Pinckney Treaty, gave the US the right to deposit at the mouth of the Mississippi. It let the US use the Mississippi for trade.

XYZ Affair

October 14, 1797 - October 1798

A diplomatic episode during the Adams Administration in which a group of negotiators were sent to France. The diplomats were supposed to talk over issues that were threatening to cause war, such as America's supposed friendship with Great Britain. Agents of the French Foreign Minister Talleyrand, Agents X, Y, & Z, attempted to extort a bribe from the Americans, who refused to pay it. The Americans were offended and left France without negotiating, leading to the Quasi-War.

Alien and Sedition Acts passed

13 November 1797

A collection of four bills passed by congress and signed by John Adams. Restricted many freedoms, such as making it illegal to criticize the government and the President, and making it harder to immigrate. Allowed to lapse under the Jefferson Administration.


July 7, 1798 - September 30, 1800

War between the US and France over the act of French privateers raiding American shipping.

Fries's Rebellion

February 1799 - May 21, 1800

The third of the three tax rebellions of the new republic, Fries's Rebellion was sparked by higher taxes created to pay for the Quasi-War. A group of Pennsylvania German-Americans organized by John Fries marched on their assessors. Put down by US Marshals and militia, 30 men went on trial for treason. Eventually they were all granted amnesty, but still soured the image of Federalist in the eyes on German-Americans.

Jeffersonian Democracy

March 4, 1801

Often called the "Revolution of 1800," the Election of 1800 brought about an era of Jeffersonian Democracy, or Democratic-Republican dominance. Jefferson believed that true democracy would come from the small, self-dependent farmer and that the aristocratic system of landowners and merchants would hurt democracy. The elitists he was opposed to were exemplified by the Federalists of Alexander Hamilton and John Adams. The beginning of the end for the Federalists was the Election of 1800, and the Democratic-Republican party would occupy the White House until the Jackson Administration. Also known as the First Party System.

1st Barbary War

May 10, 1801 - June 10, 1805

Fought between the US and North African states known as the Barbary States, it was a naval war caused by the practice of Barbary pirates kidnapping people from American ships. Ended in American victory.

Marbury v. Madison

February 24, 1803

Established the concept of Judicial Review.

Louisiana Purchase

July 4, 1803

Thomas Jefferson reluctantly purchases 828,000 square miles of land from Napoleon Bonaparte for $11,250,000.

Burr-Hamilton Duel

July 11, 1804

Vice President Aaron Burr mortally wounds former Secretary of the Treasury and important Federalist Alexander Hamilton in a duel. Indicted for murder, Burr flees to the South.

Chesapeake–Leopard Affair

22 June 1807

Looking for deserters, the HMS Leopard pursues and boards the USS Chesapeake. Four sailors are removed from the American ship. Causes outrage in the US, and Jefferson convenes a special session of Congress to chastise Britain. Leads to the Embargo Act.

Embargo Act

December 22, 1807 - March 1, 1809

Designed to hurt British and French trade during the Napoleonic Wars and force them respect American neutrality, it ended up hurting the American economy. Repealed on March 1, 1809, during the last days of Jefferson's presidency.

"War Hawks"

March 4, 1811

Led by Democrat-Republicans such as Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun, the War Hawks were a faction in the Twelfth Congress (the beginning of which is the date here), who openly advocated war with Great Britain and the Native Americans. They got what they wished for.

Battle of Tippecanoe

November 7, 1811

Pitting an Indian Confederacy led by the Shawnee Tecumseh vs. the United States Army, the US victory at Tippecanoe propelled general William Henry Harrison into stardom in the eyes of frontiersmen. It also titillated the War Hawks in Congress, who began to rattle their sabers even more.

War of 1812

June 18, 1812 - February 18, 1815

Caused by the practice of British impressment of American sailors, British support of American Indians on the frontier, and American desires to annex parts of Canada, the War of 1812 was a military fiasco for the US. Burning Washington and beating the Americans, the British emerged on the military high ground. However, the American Indians were the real losers, having been beaten by William Henry Harrison at Tippecanoe. Ended by the Treaty of Ghent.

Hartford Convention

December 15, 1814 - January 5, 1815

Resulting from increasing dissatisfaction of the conduct of the war, New England federalists convene to discuss their grievances. Hints at the disunion of the nation.

Battle of New Orleans

January 8, 1815

One of the few American victories of the War of 1812, it actually occurred after the end of the war. While unnecessary, it propelled American commander Andrew Jackson into being a national hero.

Treaty of Ghent ratified

February 18, 1815

The treaty that formally ended the War of 1812. It restored the borders and relations of the US and UK to where it was before the war. As Britain did not make any pretenses to re-annex the US, Americans swelled with national pride, and the anti-war Federalists were discredited.

2nd Bank of the US chartered

January 7, 1817

Due to the economic disarray following the War of 1812, political support arose for the creation of a Second Bank of the United States. Was found favorable during the period of national development known as the Era of Good Feelings.

Treaty of 1818

October 20, 1818

Officially the "Convention respecting fisheries, boundary and the restoration of slaves," the Treaty of 1818 was negotiated between the US and GB. It most notably defined the border between the US and British Canada as the 49th parallel to the Rocky Mountains, a topic that would be revisited in the Webster-Ashburton Treaty.

Panic of 1819

January 1819 - February 16, 1821

Driven by global market adjustments following the Napoleonic Wars and over speculation in public lands, the Panic of 1819 was the first major economic depression in the US. It marked the change of the US from a more colonial economic status with Europe to a more dynamic economy with boom and bust cycles. The beginning of the end of the Era of Good Feelings.

McCulloch v. Maryland

March 6, 1819

Holds that Congress has the power to create a bank, and that states have no right to interfere with the bank's operation by taxing it. An important fleshing out of the Necessary and Proper Clause.

Missouri Compromise

March 5, 1820

When Missouri wanted to enter the Union as a slave state, anti-slavery and pro-slavery factions clashed. Congress wanted to preserve the balance between free and slave states, so Senator Henry Clay struck up a compromise to admit Missouri as a slave state and Maine as a free state. It also said that states should be free above the 36°30′ line.

Adams–Onís Treaty

February 19, 1821

A treaty between the US and Spain notable for ceding Florida to the US and set a border between the US and New Spain (soon-to-be Mexico). It was considered a triumph of American diplomacy and solved a long standing border dispute.

Cohens v. Virginia

March 3, 1821

States laws in opposition to national laws are declared void.

Monroe Doctrine

December 2, 1823

Even though it was penned by John Quincy Adams, the Monroe Doctrine was a policy supposed to protect the Americas from European meddling. It stated that such meddling would require US intervention. It became resented by Latin America for its perceived imperialism. The start of American interventionism foreign policy.

Gibbons v. Ogden

March 2, 1824

The power to regulate interstate navigation is granted to Congress by the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

"Corrupt Bargain!"

February 9, 1825

In the Election of 1824, no candidate gained a significant advantage in the vote. When the election went to the House of Representatives, to everyone's surprise, John Quincy Adams was selected to be president over national hero Andrew Jackson. The widespread theory was that Speaker of the House Henry Clay, (see "War Hawks", Missouri Compromise, Compromise of 1850), agreed to elect JQA to be president in exchange to become his Secretary of State. The Jacksonians denounced this as a "corrupt bargain," and spent the next four years hindering JQA and supporting Jackson.

Tariff of 1828

May 19, 1828

Called the "Tariff of Abominations" by the Southerners, the Tariff was a high point in American protectionism supposed to protect northern industry from trade. It hurt Southern trade, creating the Nullification Crisis.

Jacksonian Democracy

March 4, 1829

Before Andrew Jackson, all United States Presidents were wealthy land owners. After Andrew Jackson, the common man was seen as good of a President as any. Jackson and his new Democratic Party were influential in expanding suffrage (though only for white men). By 1850, all voting requirements to pay taxes and own property were dropped. The Second Party System had begun.

Indian Removal

May 28, 1830 - March 18, 1839

Begun under the Jackson Administration and ended under Van Buren, Indian Removal was the forced relocation of the Chickasaw, Seminole, Creek, Choctaw, and Cherokee tribes to lands east of the Mississippi. Begun by the Indian Removal Act of 1830, Indian Removal lasted until 1839, when the last Cherokee arrived in Oklahoma.

Nat Turner's Rebellion

August 21, 1831

A slave rebellion that occurred in Southampton County, Virginia, where slaves under the leadership of Nat Turner killed 55-65 slaveholders and their families. The rebellion was crushed, and what resulted was a backlash against possible future slave rebellions. After 1831, dozens of suspected rebels were arrested and slaveholders became much more controlling of their slaves.

Bank War

January 19, 1832 - March 1836

A political struggle about the rechartering of the Bank of the United States. Jacksonian Democrats didn't want to recharter the bank on the idea that it reinforced ideas of social inequality. Used as a major campaign stance over Henry Clay in the Election of 1932, Jackson vetoed the recharter and won a victory against Clay, the Bank, and the new Whig Party. The bank was not rechartered, and went into liquidation by 1841.

Worcester v. Georgia

March 3, 1832

While the actual case involved a Samuel Worcester on Cherokee land, Worcester v. Georgia was an important landmark in the beginnings of Tribal Sovereignty in the United States.

Nullification Crisis

November 24, 1832 - March 11, 1833

A sectional crisis with southerners such as John C. Calhoun reacting against the economic protectionism of the 1828 "Tariff of Abominations." South Carolina nullified the Tariff in 1832, prompting Jackson to desire military action against the southerners. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and the tension between the Federal and State governments was resolved with the Compromise Tariff of 1833. Still, it soured Calhoun with Jackson and provided a hint of the disunity in the country that was to come.

Panic of 1837

May 10, 1837 - Approx. 1844

Due to a multitude of reasons, such as land speculation in western states, a sharp decline in cotton prices, a collapsing land bubble, and restrictive lending policies in Great Britain, the Panic of 1837 was one off the major events of the Van Buren Presidency. The American economy was able to rebound somewhat from the Tariff of 1842, but it didn't fully recover until 1844.

Caroline Affair

December 29, 1837

A group of Canadian loyalists fighting against the Upper Canadian rebels who took refuge in New York destroy the USS Caroline, loaned to the rebels. Not knowing it was American vessel, British sailors set the ship ablaze and sent it over the Niagara Falls, killing one American in the process. When Americans found out, the were outraged, and a new wave of Anti-British sentiments blew up. Lead to a period of Anglo-American diplomatic tension.

United States v. The Amistad

March 9, 1841

A bizarre case about a slave rebellion against on the Spanish schooner La Amistad,it was a freedom suit involving both US and International law. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Africans, and many New England abolitionists got together to send some of the Africans back to Africa. JQA was the lawyer for the Africans.

"His Accidency"

April 4, 1841

With William Henry Harrison's unexpected death on April 4, 1841,John Tyler found himself to be the President of the United States. As it was the first time that a Vice President became the President, a debate sprung up about whether the actual office of President became his or just the duties. Opposition members saw this Tyler as not being a President, but only being a "regent" for the President. Eventually after some pushing from Tyler, Congress recognized him as the President and not the "Acting President."

Webster-Ashburton Treaty

August 9, 1842

A treaty between the US and GB resolving border disputes. Among this was the resolution of the bloodless Aroostook War resulting from the borders of Maine and New Brunswick. It also reaffirmed parts of the Treaty of 1818, resolved the Lake Superior/Lake of the Woods border, defined seven crimes subject to extradition, and called for an end to the slave trade.

Texas Annexation

March 1, 1845

Following the Texas Revolution of 1836, Texas wished to be annexed by the US. Even though an earlier treaty was defeated in the Senate, Tyler brought about annexation by joint resolution. Texas was finally subsumed into the US under Polk.

Mexican-American War

April 25, 1846 - July 4, 1848

The one thing that Mexicans could agree on in the early 19th century was their opposition to the American annexation of Texas. So when the US did annex Texas and inherited its border disputes, the Mexicans were not happy. The annexation, plus American scheming to get areas such as California , and new border disputes left the US and Mexico enemies. Polk sent an army under Zachary Taylor to the border, and fighting eventually broke out. The Americans beat Mexico in the war, eventually fighting all the way to Mexico City. Ended by the Treaty of Guadeloupe Hidalgo.

Oregon Treaty

June 15, 1846

The expansionism of the Democrats under the Polk Presidency lead to border disputes with GB in the west. The Oregon Treaty extended the 49th Parallel to the Pacific, something that had not been decided due to the ambiguities of the Treaty of 1818 when it came to the west.

Wilmot Proviso

August 8, 1846

First suggested by its namesake David Wilmot in Congress, it proposed that Slavery be banned in any territories gained from Mexico. It failed in the South-controlled Senate three times, and it accelerated sectional conflict over slavery in the Southwest.

California Gold Rush

January 24, 1848

The discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill leads thousands of prospectors called the '49ers to rush to California to try and strike it rich. I classify this as a political event given that the influx of population to the western states let California gain state status much sooner than it would have otherwise.

Treaty of Guadaloupe Hidalgo

4 July 1848

The treaty that ended the Mexican-American War. It ceded New Mexico and California to the US, made sure Mexico gave up claims on Texas in return for $15,000,000.

Free-Soil Party

July 4, 1848 - July 6, 1854

Not known for its longevity, the Free-Soil Party was founded on ideals of 'Free Soil, Free Speech, Free Labor and Free Men.' They believed strongly in stopping the expansion of slavery and argued that free men on free soil was morally superior to slavery. It was effected by the rejection of Wilmot Proviso for the Treaty of Guadeloupe Hidalgo, but was quickly absorbed into the new Republican Party.

Compromise of 1850

September 20, 1850

A packet of bills supported by the ever present Henry Clay and supported by President Fillmore. It allowed California to be admitted as a free state, banned the slave trade, required popular sovereignty for the slave issue for territories captured from Mexico, and made a much harsher Fugitive Slave Law. Both Northerners and Southerners were pleased.

Perry in Japan

March 31, 1854

In July 1853, Commodore Matthew C. Perry and his small fleet landed in Japan. Threatening to use force if they didn't comply, Perry negotiated the "Japan–US Treaty of Peace and Amity," which opened a few ports to US trade and guaranteed safety for shipwrecked sailors. Perry's arrival was instrumental in ending Japan's 200 year seclusion from the western world and the start of its westernization.

Gadsden Purchase

April 25, 1854

Negotiated by American diplomat James Gadsden, the Gadsden Purchase was 29,670 square mile purchase from Mexico for $10 million. It was purchased to provide land for a hypothetical deep southern transcontinental railroad and to resolve border issues resulting from the Mexican-American War. The land purchased includes modern cities such as Yuma and Tuscon.

Kansas-Nebraska Act

May 30, 1854

Designed by Democratic Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois, it was an act that was supposed to only create the two namesake territories. However, the creation of Kansas and Nebraska created intense debate over the issue of slavery extending to these new areas. Douglas proposed that the issue of slavery would be decided by popular sovereignty by the people in those territories, but nearly everybody objected. For instance, anti-slavery northerners cried that they were betrayed (the Missouri Compromise was supposed to solve this sort of thing), and others denounced it as a victory of the dreaded "slave power" who would buy up all of the good land for new plantations. The newly created Republican Party objected to this, as they wanted to stop the spread of slavery. It was eventually passed, but not before splitting the Democratic Party into northern and southern wings, negating the influence of the Whigs, and forcing the creation of the Republican Party.

Creation of the Republican Party

July 6, 1854

Originally formed in opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Republican Party wished to contain the spread of slavery. It was assembled from a collection of ex-Whigs, Free-soilers, northern Democrats, and abolitionists. John C. Frémont ran as the first Republican presidential nominee in 1856, carrying a surprising 11 northern states. The new party was of to a start and gained the Presidency with Lincoln in 1860.

"Bleeding Kansas"

November 21, 1855 - January 29, 1861

Following the Kansas-Nebraska act, the new territory of Kansas was opened up for settlers. Most of the settlers were abolitionists from New England, along with some more slave-minded elements from neighboring Missouri. When it came to decide about whether or not Kansas should have slaves, thousands of Missouri "Border Ruffians" came over and voted pro-slave. Now, the Kansans didn't like this, and a separate abolitionist Constitution was drafted. Kansas had two constitutions, one free and one slave, and open violence soon broke out. Radical abolitionist John Brown came in 1855 and defeated a slave state force 7 times his size in Osawatomie. Meanwhile, a congressional investigative committee came and found out that the election was unfairly influenced by the Border Ruffians. However, Pierce failed to act on their requests and went along with the slave constitution. Conflict in both Kansas and Congress went on until 1861, when Kansas was admitted as a free state. However, additional guerrilla warfare raged on between Kansas and Missouri during the Civil War.

Sumner-Brooks Affair

May 22, 1856

In Congress, Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts was beaten with a cane by Representative Preston Brooks of South Carolina. The attacks were a result of Sumner's 'Crime against Kansas' speech, in which Sumner denounced Slave Power, insinuating that slaveholders wished to rape a virgin territory and give birth to a slave state. Sumner's repeated use of sexual imagery throughout the speech was an attack on the issue of slaveholders raping their slaves, an allegation that infuriated Brooks. The beating drew a deeply polarized response from the American public and symbolized the "breakdown of reasoned discourse" in the US. Brooks was convicted of assault and soon died an unrelated death, but Sumner suffered severe head trauma and had to wait three years before returning to the Senate.

Dred Scott v. Sanford

March 6, 1857

A slave named Dred Scott sues for his freedom since he lived in a free state and free territory during his enslavement. In one of the worst decisions ever, the Supreme Court rules that Blacks, whether free or slave, could not be American citizens and therefore not able to sue.

Lincoln-Douglas Debates

August 21, 1858 - October 15, 1858

A series of 7 debates between Democratic Senator Stephen Douglas and Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln during the race for the Illinois state legislature. The main topic of the debates was slavery, and while Douglas won the race, Lincoln forced Douglas to reconcile with the fact that his Kansas-Nebraska Act helped cause Dred Scott and also forced him into turning the southern part of the Democratic Party against him.

John Brown's Raid

October 16, 1859 - October 18, 1859

Militant abolitionist John Brown (see "Bleeding Kansas") wished to start a slave revolt and bring what he saw as an evil to its knees. To do this he assembled a group 20 other men to raid the US arsenal at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, so they could distribute the weapons to nearby slaves. However, US Marines under Robert E. Lee fought with and captured Brown, who was put on trial and summarily dispatched. Before he was executed, he wrote his last prophecy, “I John Brown am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty, land: will never be purged away; but with Blood. I had as I now think: vainly flattered myself that without very much bloodshed; it might be done.” The Civil War would start a little bit more than a year later, the fires of which were stoked by Brown and his actions.

Election of 1860

November 6, 1860

A rare 4-way election, 1860 pitted Republican Abraham Lincoln against Northern Democrat Stephen Douglas, Southern Democrat John C. Breckenridge, and moderate John Bell from the newly-formed Constitutional Union party. The election highlighted the issue of slavery, with an ideological split between Northern and the hardliner Southern Democrats. The party split plus the 3rd (4th?) party of the election let Lincoln win with 40% of the vote. The election of Lincoln angered the Southern states, leading them to secede just months later.


Confederate States of America

February 4, 1861 - May 5, 1865

American Civil War

April 12, 1861 - May 10, 1865

Gettysburg Address

November 19, 1863

Occurring a few months after the decisive Union victory at Gettysburg, President Lincoln dedicated the national cemetery at the battlefield. In his short speech, Lincoln reinforced the ideals of human equality and that the War was for restoring the union, with a "new birth of freedom." It is now regarded to be one of the greatest speeches in American history.

Social, Intellectual and Cultural Events

For things like the publishing of books, inventions, social movements, and other such pieces of American culture.

Guide to Timeline Coloring


Black = Wars/Battles
Pink = Federalists/Federalist related events
Dark Green = Democratic-Republicans/D-R related events
Blue = Democrats/Democratic related events
Red = Republicans/Republican related events
Yellow = Whigs/Whig related events
Lime Green = Foreign policy events
Dark Red = Economic depressions/Crises/Scandals

Grey = Court Cases

Gold = Cultural/Artistic/Academic events
Sky Blue = Movements
Brown = Frontier/Native American/Slavery related events
Dark Grey = Inventions/Technological/Industrial events

Cotton Gin patented

March 14, 1794

Invented by Eli Whitney, the cotton gin allowed for cotton to be much more easily deseeded. In a time where slavery had actually been evaporating, it suddenly became much easier to grow large amounts of King Cotton, leading to more slaves. Thanks a bunch, Eli.

Lewis and Clark Expedition

May 1804 - September 1806

Following the Louisiana Purchase, Thomas Jefferson sends an expedition of men headed by Meriweather Lewis and William Clark to explore the west, document things for science, and find the Northwest Passage.

Second Great Awakening

Approx. 1810 - Approx. 1840

A wave of widespread religious revival and fervor in the early half or the 19th century. A reaction against agnosticism and deism, many denominations of Protestantism such as Methodism and Baptism became quite widespread. Many of these Christians started reform movements such as those for Womens' Suffrage, Temperance, and Abolitionism. Utopian societies were prevalent and Mormonism had its beginnings here.

Erie Canal built

July 4, 1817 - October 26, 1825

Connecting the Hudson River to Lake Erie at Buffalo, the Erie Canal was built at the behest of governor Dewitt Clinton. It was the first means of transportation between the Eastern Seaboard and the interior that did not require portage.

Hudson River School

November 1825

A mid-19th century school of painting, it is characterized by vast wide-open landscapes and was influenced. Often cited as starting when Thomas Cole took a boat trip up the Hudson River and gathered inspiration to paint. Lating until the 1870's, Hudson River artists include Thomas Cole, Asher Durand, Frederic Erwin Church, John Frederick Kensett, and Albert Bierstadt.

Thomas Cole, The Oxbow

Poe begins publishing

July 1827

In the July of 1827, Baltimorean Edgar Allen Poe published his first work, Tamerlane and Other Poems. The author would go on to publish many more poems and stories, inclusing such works as The Raven, The Pit and The Pendulum, and The Murders in the Rue Morgue. Before his death in 1849, Poe would go on to place his thumb in such budding genres as science-fiction, horror, adventure, and detective fiction.

B&O Railroad begun

July 4, 1828

The Baltimore and Ohio railroad, the nation's first public railroad, is opened on this day. Railroads would soon become extremely important in the US, expanding trade, and later providing advantages for the Union during the Civil War.

Abolition Movement

Approx. 1830 - December 18, 1865

Going hand in hand with the Second Great Awakening, the movement to abolish slavery picked up steam in the 1830's. Many northern Christians believed that since all men were created equal, Slavery was a great moral sin. Many famous abolitionists included the eloquent former slave Frederick Douglass, the emphatic immediate abolitionist newspaper publisher William Lloyd Garrison, and disillusioned southern Grimké sisters. The abolition movement also went with the Womens' Suffrage movement which caught on in the same time period.

Mormon Church founded

April 6, 1830

The Church of Christ Latter Day Saints, more commonly known as Mormonism, is founded by Joseph Smith. Roughly ten years after his legendary First Vision, Smith founded this church upon the principles of his newly-written Book of Mormon. The Mormons would be shunned by more mainline Christians and forced farther and farther westward of upstate New York, where it started.

Mt. Holyoke Seminary founded

February 28, 1837

Mt. Holyoke Seminary (later college) is founded by Mary Lyon. This is the first place of higher learning for women in the US, and Mary Lyon is now regarded to be a pioneer in the area of women's education.

Seneca Falls Convention

19 July 1848 - 20 July 1848

One of (if not) the first Women's Rights Conventions in the world. It featured prominent American suffragettes such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and Amelia Bloomer. The Declaration of Sentiments was drafted , which went on to be a founding document of the Women's rights movements.

Moby Dick published

November 14, 1851

Released in late 1851, Moby Dick (or, the Whale), is now considered to be one of the first Great American Novels. It was written by Herman Melville, a leading figure in American Romanticism.

Uncle Tom's Cabin published

March 20, 1852

Written by Harriet Beecher Stowe and published in a serial format, Uncle Tom's Cabin gave northerners a look into life as a slave. Up until then, many northerners didn't know much about slavery, but afterwards, they became outraged. Many southerners declared everything in it absolutely false, but that didn't stop the outrage.

New York Central Railroad finished

January 24, 1853

The New York Central Railroad, the first connecting New York and Chicago, was finished on this day. The spread of railroads in the US was rapidly expanding. This also represented a change from the water-based internal trade networks along the Ohio and Mississippi to a railroad-based trade network capable of reaching wherever tracks could be built.

Walden publshed

August 9, 1854

Written by the transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau, Walden is a part-autobiographical, part-spiritual discovery, part-satirical book that emphasizes the necessity of simple living and self-sufficieny. Along with his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thoreau was a transcendentalist, part of a religious and philosophical movement that believed in inherent goodness of people and that society and its institutions corrupt this goodness.

The Impending Crisis of the South published

June 26, 1857

Unlike the altruism and morality of most abolitionists, Hinton Rowan Helper argues in The Impending Crisis of the South that slavery should be abolished for purely economic reasons. He argues that slavery holds the south back from industrializing, which is why the North has an economic advantage. It helped push the north and south apart, as evidenced by phrases like "Freesoilers and abolitionists are the only true friends of the South; slaveholders and slave-breeders are downright enemies of their own section. Anti-slavery men are working for the Union and for the good of the whole world; proslavery men are working for the disunion of the States, and for the good of nothing except themselves."