School in a Book: History of North and Central America

Ancient Times (3000 BCE to 500 CE)

Temple Mound cultures: Native cultures that formed along what i snow the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. They were known for their central plazas surrounded by rectangular mounds with temples on top. They lived in adobe longhouses and grew corn, sunflowers, beans, pumpkins and more.

Hopi culture: The Native culture that formed in what is now the southwestern U.S. They were known for their effective irrigation systems, unique art, rain dances and other complex ceremonies, and the Cliff Palace. They grew corn, beans, squash, cotton and more.

Inuit culture: The Native culture of the far north in what is now Alaska and Canada, who traded with the Vikings.

Anasazi culture: The Native culture of what is now Colorado, who lived in pueblos.

Cree, Chippewa, Algonquin cultures: The Native cultures of what is now Canada.

Sioux culture: The Native culture of what is now the American Midwest.

Iroquois culture: The Native culture of what is now New York State.

Mohawk culture: The Native culture of what is now New England.

Mayan culture: 300 BCE to 800 CE.

Toltec culture: 800 CE. The culture that replaced the Mayans in Mesoamerica. Militaristic city-state. Temples guarded by stone warriors. Warrior chiefs replaced Mayan priests. Quality of poetry, art, literature declined.

Aztec culture: 1200 CE. The culture that replaced the Toltecs. Very warlike. Known for pyramids, unique calendar, advanced governmental and economic structure and tiered social structure. Center near Lake Texcoco (now Mexico City). Created garden islands for growing food. Built city of Tenochitlan on an island in the lake. Easily defended . One of world’s best-planned cities. Traded throughout Mexico. By the 1500s, their empire stretched coast to coast across Mexico. Pyramines, shrines, emperor. Conquered quickly by the Spanish in the 1500s.

the 1500s- During this century, Europeans arrived on E coast of mod day us and in mesoamerica and were attempting colonization

Mesoamerica: The area which is now Mexico and Central America.

Christopher Colombus: The first European to come to the Americas. Lnaded in the CIs in 1492. An Italian-born Spaniard sailing for England.


John Cabot:

Ponce de Leon:

Jaques Cartier:


John Smith:




Plymouth Plantation:



Massachussets Bay Colony:

William Penn:


Salem witch trials:

French and Indian War:

American Revolution:

Sugar Act and Stamp Act:

Boston Tea Party:

Samuel Adams:

“No taxation without representation”:

Declaration of Independence:

Thomas Jefferson:

George Washington:

Treaty of Paris:


Constitutional Convention:


Bill of Rights:

Nat Turner:

The Alamo:

Davy Crockett:

Lone Star Republic:

Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo:

American Civil War:

Abraham Lincoln:

Emancipation Proclamation:

The Olmecs:

The Zapotecs:

The Mayans:

Teotihuacan: The largest city in the Americas from approximately 1 to 500 CE. Population of about 125,000 at its height.

Teotihuacan began as a religious center in the Mexican Highlands around the first century AD. It became the largest and most populated center in the pre-Columbian Americas. Teotihuacan was home to multi-floor apartment compounds built to accommodate the large population.[2] The term Teotihuacan (or Teotihuacano) is also used for the whole civilization and cultural complex associated with the site.

Although it is a subject of debate whether Teotihuacan was the center of a state empire, its influence throughout Mesoamerica is well documented; evidence of Teotihuacano presence can be seen at numerous sites in Veracruz and the Maya region. The later Aztecs saw these magnificent ruins and claimed a common ancestry with the Teotihuacanos, modifying and adopting aspects of their culture.

The Hopewell culture:

The Hopi:

The Moche: The people who settled modern-day Ecuador (in Central America) toward the end of ancient times (around 300 AD) and through the beginning of the Middle Ages (around 700 AD). They made pottery, wove textiles, and did metalwork.

By 1500 BCE, the Olmecs of Mesoamerica had built the first North American cities, which included earth and stone pyramids for religious worship and sculptures (including some of enormous heads). Around 800 BCE, their neighbors, the Zapotecs, became the first Americans to develop writing, and in 600 BCE the Mayan civilization, with their noteworthy temples and pyramids, began to flourish. By 300 BCE, they had built the great city of Teotihuacan, and by 300 CE, they were at their peak, encompassing most of Mexico and beyond. By 500, this city featured a planned grid system, temple complexes, crafts and markets, and was the largest trading city in the Americas. The Mayans were an unusually unwarlike, peaceful people.
Meanwhile, smaller tribes in the modern-day United States were creating their own unique cultures. Some were hunter-gatherer tribes while others had small permanent villages.In 300 CE, the Hopewell culture was at its peak in modern-day Ohio and the Mogollon, Anasazi and Hohokam cultures were growing in the southwest, which later were eclipsed by the Hopi in this area.

The Middle Ages (500 to 1500 CE)

The Temple Mound cultures:

The Toltecs:

The Aztecs:

The Inuit:

The Anasazi:

The Cree, Chippewa and Algonquin tribes:

The Sioux tribe:

The Iroquois tribe:

The Mohawk tribe:

By 700, the Hopi culture in the southwest featured irrigaton systems, corn, beans, squash, cotton, unique architecture and art, rain dances, other complex ceremonies, and the beautiful Cliff Palace. Around the same time, the Temple Mound cultures, named for their central plazas surrounded by rectangular mounds with temples for the dead on top, began building the first towns north of Mexico (along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers). Their people lived in longhouses with adobe walls and thatched roofs and traded along the rivers. Their crops included corn, sunflowers, beans and pumpkins. By 1450 CE, they had declined significantly.

Meanwhile, in Mesoamerica, the Mayans were in decline; however, their influence was a lasting one. Around 800 CE, the Toltecs migrated into the area. They established a militaristic city-state featuring temples guarded by stone warriors. Their warrior chiefs took power from the Mayan priests, and the quality of pottery, art and literature declined. Around 1200 CE, the Aztecs rose to power in the area, overcoming the Toltecs. This warlike people is well-known for their pyramids, their unique calendar, their advanced governmental and eonomic structure and their tiered social structure.

Other cultures thriving during the Middle Ages were the Inuit in the far north, who traded with Vikings; the Anasazi in Colorado who lived in pueblos; the Cree, Chippewa/Ojibwe and Algonquin in Canada; the Sioux in the Midwest; the Iroquois in New York; the Mohawk in New England; and more.

Early Modern Times (1500 CE through 1900 CE)

By 1500 CE, Europeans had arrived on the East Coast of the modern-day United States and in Mesoamerica, changing the Americas forever.

By the 1500s there were about six million native Americans grouped into hundreds of unique tribes with different food, art, governmental styles and ways of life (for example, totems, tepees, tribal councils, wigwams, masks, etc.). Some of these tribes formed confederations. Some fought wars.

Christopher Colombus:

John Cabot:

Ponce de Leon:

Jacques Cartier:


John Smith:

The activities of the Spanish in New Mexico:

The activities of the French in

In 1492 CE, Christopher Colombus (an Italian-born Spaniard whose voyage was sponsored by England) landed on the Carribean Islands. Believing it to be India (which had been his destination) he named the islands the West Indies. Colombus may never have known he had founded the Americas, even after several successive visits.
In 1497, John Cabot, an Italian sponsored by England, discovered Newfoundland and set up a colony at Quebec. In 1513, Ponce de Leon explored Florida and claimed it for Spain. In 1534, Jacques Cartier claimed part of Canada for France (including modern-day Montreal). In 1584, Roanoke, an English colony on the East Coast of the modern-day U.S., was established. All attempts to colonize the Americas during the 1500s, however, failed. As a result, for the span of this century, most Europeans considered the Americas unimportant.

In 1607, John Smith led the founding of Jamestown, Virginia, which became the first successful English colony in the Americas. Without the help of the natives in the area, survival was unlikely. Less than a decade later, they began flourishing by growing tobacco on lands taken from the natives and selling it to Europe. Fur trading became popular as well.

Around the same time, the Spanish were settling New Mexico, setting up mines, trading posts and a capital (Santa Fe), and the French were settling the Great Lakes area, the Mississippi river area and the St. Lawrence river area in Canada.
At first, the Native Americans in these areas were friendly to the Europeans. Then they began to suffer from smallpox, measles and other European diseases; to be killed; and to be driven off their lands. Until Europeans introduced them to horses, wheeled transportation and guns, they fought only with wood and stone tools, bows, slingshots and spears.
Eventually, Jamestown [and other American colonies?] failed, but Plymouth (which later became part of Massachusets), founded in 1620 by a group of over 100 Puritans (some religious separatists and some mercenaries) succeeded, becoming the first permanent North American settlement. The first winter, Plymouth Plantation saw the death of over half its settlers. In 1621, however, they shared the first Thanksgiving meal with Squanto and other Native Americans.
Over the next 20 years, about 20,000 new settlers arrived, most settling in Plymouth and various colonies nearby, including the Massachussets Bay colony. Later, the Dutch established New Amsterdam (later taken over by the English and renamed New York) and the English king gave Pennsylvania to a group of Quakers led by William Penn. The Carolinas grew as well.

From 1619 onward, owners of tobacco, cotton, rice and indigo plantations began importing slaves. Soon after, the majority of the people living in some areas were slaves.

The late 1600s saw many violent wars with the native peoples.

By 1700 CE, England owned twelve flourishing colonies along the Atlantic coast and in all, there were approximately 400,000 Europeans in North America. Boston was the largest of these. The French colonies in Canada grew more slowly, and though the Spanish still held Florida, after losing control of the seas they missed their chance to move further into North America and outpace England.

In 1692, Puritan fears led to the death of fourteen women and six men in the Salem witch trials.
In addition, during the 1600s and 1700s, French and British colonies fought several wars for land with natives assisting both sides. These included the Seven Years War of the late 1700s (which in turn included the French and Indian War, which gave English control of the Ohio Valley land).

Also in the late 1700s, Britain won some Canadian colonies from France and traded other lands to the Spanish, gaining Florida.

In the early 1770s, the thirteen American colonies started the American Revolution in response to unfair laws by the English king (including exhorbitantly high taxes like the Sugar Act and the Stamp Act) by boycotting British imports. In the Boston Tea Party led by Sam Adams, colonists snuck into the harbor at night and threw the tea imports overboard. The colonists had asked to be represented in the English government but were denied this request; thus, their mantra became “No taxation without representation.”

In 1776, the colonies created the Declaration of Independence, a claimed right to self-rule, officially beginning the war on Britain. The Declaration was mostly written by Thomas Jefferson. George Washington led the colonists to victory, the British finally surrendering at Yorktown in 1781. Two years later, the Treaty of Paris officially ended the war.
In 1787, at the Constitutional Convention in Pennsylvania, the founding fathers created the United States Constitution. (Prior to this time, America was held together by the Articles of Confederation, which gave almost all power to the states.)

In 1789, George Washington was elected the first president of the new United States and in 1791, the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution.

Also in 1791, Britain split Quebec into English-speaking Upper Canada (Ontario) and French-speaking Lower Canada (Quebec) to reduce tensions between these areas, who both wanted control.

In 1831, a slave revolt in Virginia that killed sixty white people and was led by Nat Turner led to harsher penalties for slaves.

In 1835, Texas declared its independence from Mexico, which at the time extended far into the modern-day U.S. The turning point of Texan independence came in 1836 when they won the town of San Antonio back after a battle at the Alamo, a mission in the center of town. (The most well-known defender of the Alamo was Davy Crockett.) Texas renamed itself the Lone Star Republic. Then, in 1845, it joined the U.S. In 1847, the U.S. captured Mexico City (temporarily). In 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo gave the U.S. California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico.

By 1850, the northern states had already banned slavery. Their economy was based on manufacturing, with a newly built railroad as its backbone. In the South, however, tobacco and cotton plantations dominated. Though each state was allowed to choose whether or not to legalize slavery, southerners complained that the northerners protected runaway slaves, impinging on their policies. This, and differences in ideas concerning the strength of the federal government versus states’ rights, led to the American Civil War.

In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected president. Because he opposed slavery and was in favor of a stronger national government, the south seceded and created the Confederate States of America, officially beginning the war. The northern military commander was Ulysses S. Grant. The southern commander was Robert E. Lee. Fighting began in 1861 at Fort Sumter in South Carolina, with the northern victory becoming likely after they won at Gettysburg in 1863. That same year, Abraham Lincoln declared an end to slavery the U.S., and in 1865 the thirteenth amendment outlawed it after General Lee surrendered to General Grant in the courthouse at Appomattox, Virginia. Five days after this surrender, Lincoln was assassinated.

Harriet Tubman was an escaped slave who made trips through southern territory, helping others escape.

Following this, reconstruction began in the south, which southerners resisted. Many plantations still held slaves or used indentured servants.

1800s: Canadian rebels resisted British control, but failed.

1840: Britain reunited Upper and Lower Cananda. Now called the Province of Canada.

1867: Canada became self-governing and folded in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ontario. French and English were both official languages.

1870: NW Territories joined Canada. Owned by Hudson Bay Company.

1898: Yukon Territory joined Canada. Owned by Hudson Bay company also. Site of 1800s gold rush.

1885: Canadian Pacific Railway complete uniting the country, St. Lawrence River to Pacific Ocean.

The Modern Era (The 1900s through the Present)

1914: WWI began. U.S. kept out of European affairs till this tiime. Had become an industrial power, modernized. Invented cars, movies and more.

1917: Ships attacked by German U-boats. U.S. entered WWI.

1918: War ended. U.S. didn’t join Wilson’s League of Nations. Wanted to stay out of world affairs.

U.S. returned to isolationism after WWI. 1920s: Booming economy. 1929: Stock market crash. Great Depression worldwide as industry struggled to adjust to peacetime levels of trade. Stock market speculators had overvalued many companies. Unemloyment rampant. Then there was a drought in the Great Plains (the Dust Bowl), leading to massive crop failuress.

1932-3: New Deal introduced by Roosevelt: Subsidized farm prices, huge contruction program. Then start of WWWII increased heavy industry and U.S. recovered fully.

1929: Wall Street crash, great depression. Rescued by Roosevelt’s New Deal. Included farm subsidies, minimum wage, construction programs. Then WWII helped a lot more.

1920s: Prohibition (18th Amendment). Gangsters including Al Capone set up bootlegging operations and crime increased. Majro growth of cities. Jazz Age: radio, mvies, cars, skyscraper, elevators invented.

1933: 21st Amendment ended Prohibition.

1941: Japanese attacked U.S. Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7. Next day entered war (declared war on Japan, then Axis declared war on us). 2400 soldiers killed in the attack. Happened because we were pressuring Japan to stop attacking China.

1930s: Drought in Great Plains “Dust Bowl.” Topsoil gone, towns closed, economy even worse.

1944: Kamikaze (suicide bomber planes) attacks on Allied ships trying to take Okinawa.

1945: U.S. took Okinawa, then dropped atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to avoid an estimated million deaths in a further attack on the mainland. This ended the war, but only somewhat earlier than it would have anyway. Truman made the decision. First bomb killed 130,000 people, Nagasaki killed 750,000 and more later. 100 cities in Japan destroyed at war’s end. (Enola Gay dropped Little BOy and Fat Man was dropped by Bockstar plane.)

1945: United Nations was founded.

1945: UN formed to guarantee civil liberties and work for peace and stability (to prevent war). UN Security Council’s job is to keep peace.

1950s: U.S. led nuclear arms race and prospered.

1960s: Cuban Missile Crisis, cold war. Man on moon in 1969, one year ahead of schedule (Apollo II mission). American culture spread widely.

45-89: The Cold War: Due to stockpling off nuclear weapons–no actual fighting – despite fact that we were allies in WWII – USSR isolated itself. NATO formed–an alliance of western nations fighting against communist powers. USSR backed by Eastern European states. After WWII USSR controlled East Germany and U.S. …France and Britain had west. Even Berlin divided. Berlin Wall built to keep refugees from moving from east to west.

Cuban Missile Crisis: 1962: U.S. Air Force got picutres of a missile launch site in Cuba, where nuclear missiles could easily reach thhe U.S. Plans to invade Cuba but sSoviets agreed to destry the launch sites.

1987: Cold War ended.

1989: Gorbachev allowed the communist countries of Eastern Europe to elect democratic government

The Korean War began when communist North Korea attacked South Korea in 1950. The UN sent aid to SK. u.s. sent troops. Still, most of SK was captured. So UN fought them back at Seoul. Reached border of China, then China entered, taking NK’s side. Cease fire n 1953. Country divided down the middle.

Vietnam war: Vietman declared independence from France in 1954–Country divided between north and south, with two different governments.

1965: U.S. sent troops to aid the south, who had started moin towards civil war between the Viet Cong in the south and the communists in the north.

1969: half a million U.S. troops in Vietnam. Then withdrawal began.

1969: First man on the moon.

1973: Cease-fire declared. 57,000 U.S. soldiers killed.

1970s: War in Vietnam.

1980s: Computer technology brought economic boom. U.S. now the global policeman.

1981: First space shuttle launched.

1990: Hubble Space Telescope took first pictures of deep space

ADD: Maya: Peak 300 B.C> to AD 800. From peoples that were in same area from 2000 B.C. Southern Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. Built many cities that included temple pyramids, fortified palaces, marketplaces, workshops, living quarters. Class system: nobles, priests, rules, officials, servants (in cities) and ordinary people (in countryside, and went to cities for needs.) Had about 800 hieroglyphs, advanced math, science,; claendar; astronomy, intricate roads, crafts. Also, blood sacrifice. All were independent city-states as in Greece. They fought each other. Declined when lost many farmers due to war (farmers taken hostage and many killed as blood sacrifices.)

ADD: Aztecs in Mexico: 125: Moved near Lake Texcoco (now Mexico City). Created garden islands for growing food. Built Tenochititlan on an island in the lake. Easily defended due to location. One of the world’s best-planned cities. Traded throughout Mexico.

1500: Grew empire till stretched coast to coast. Pyramids, shrines. Had an emperor.

1519: Spanish arrived in Mexico. Cities conquered by Aztecs hated them due to all the human sacrifice, though they paid tribute. But allied with Spanish when they came and Aztecs were conquered within a year. (Conquistadores led by Cortez pretended C. was a god that Montezuma had been waiting for and tricked him into welcoming him.) A few setbacks, then destruction of Aztec empire. Helped due to bringing of European diseases.

Later in 1500s: Spanish expanded colonies, took parts of California, Arizona, New Mexico. Settled these areas. Made laws to prevent mistreatment of natives, but laws didn’t work. North Americans worked as slaves and in mines and died of European diseases. Spanish missionaries destroyed temples and idols.

1803: Louisiana purchase from France doubled U.S. size.

1805: Lewis and Clark reach Pacific with help of Sacajawea

1812: War of 1812 against Britain due to their European trade blockade. Failed to take Canada from British.

1820: Mississippi River settled.

1838-9: Cherokee ‘Trail of Tears’ to Oklahoma after series of wars between Americans and whites. Jackson passed Indian Removal Act and made them settle on Indian Territory. Thousands died on the trail.

1845: U.S. annexes Texas.

1861: Explosive U.S. growth. People attracted to freedom. 31 million by 1861 and much land and resources.Western settlers protected by army and laws to all new land claims. New states added to union when population reached 60,000.

Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, fly first powered, controlled, heavier-than-air plane at Kitty Hawk, N.C. Henry Ford organizes Ford Motor Company.

1905: Albert Einstein’s special theory of relativity and other key theories in physics.

1909: North Pole reportedly reached by American explorers Robert E. Peary and Matthew Henson. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is founded in New York by prominent black and white intellectuals and led by W.E.B. Du Bois.

1920: U.S. Dept. of Justice “red hunt” nets thousands of radicals; aliens deported. Women’s suffrage (19th) amendment ratified.

1923: Widespread Ku Klux Klan violence in U.S.

1925: John T. Scopes convicted and fined for teaching evolution in a public school in Tennessee “Monkey Trial”; sentence set aside.

1929: In U.S., stock market prices collapse, with U.S. securities losing $26 billion—first phase of Depression and world economic crisis.

1932: In U.S., Congress sets up Reconstruction Finance Corporation to stimulate economy. Veterans march on Washington—most leave after Senate rejects payment of cash bonuses; others removed by troops under Douglas MacArthur. U.S. protests Japanese aggression in Manchuria. Amelia Earhart is first woman to fly Atlantic solo.

1933: Roosevelt inaugurated (“the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”); launches New Deal. Prohibition repealed.

1939: In U.S., Roosevelt submits $1,319-million defense budget, proclaims U.S. neutrality, and declares limited emergency. Einstein writes FDR about feasibility of atomic bomb. New York World’s Fair opens.

1940: The first official network television broadcast is put out by NBC.

1941: Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor, Philippines, Guam force U.S. into war; U.S. Pacific fleet crippled (Dec. 7). U.S. and Britain declare war on Japan. Germany and Italy declare war on U.S.; Congress declares war on those countries (Dec. 11). Manhattan Project (atomic bomb research) begins. Roosevelt enunciates “four freedoms,” signs Lend-Lease Act, declares national emergency, promises aid to USSR. Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane.

1942: Roosevelt orders Japanese and Japanese Americans in western U.S. to be exiled to “relocation centers,” many for the remainder of the war (Feb. 19). U.S. forces on Bataan peninsula in Philippines surrender (April 9). U.S. and Filipino troops on Corregidor island in Manila Bay surrender to Japanese (May 6).

1943: Casablanca Conference—Churchill and FDR agree on unconditional surrender goal (Jan. 14–24). Cairo Conference: FDR, Churchill, Chiang Kai-shek pledge defeat of Japan, free Korea (Nov. 22–26). Tehran Conference: FDR, Churchill, Stalin agree on invasion plans (Nov. 28–Dec. 1).

1944: U.S. and British troops land at Anzio on west Italian coast and hold beachhead (Jan. 22). U.S. and British troops enter Rome (June 4). D-Day—Allies launch Normandy invasion (June 6). Later, americans invade phillippines

1945: Yalta Agreement signed by FDR, Churchill, Stalin—establishes basis for occupation of Germany, returns to Soviet Union lands taken by Germany and Japan; Allies declare V-E Day (May 8). A-bomb dropped on Hiroshima by U.S. (Aug. 6). USSR declares war on Japan (Aug. 8). Nagasaki hit by A-bomb (Aug. 9). Japan agrees to surrender (Aug. 14). V-J Day—Japanese sign surrender terms aboard battleship Missouri (Sept. 2).

1950: Truman orders development of hydrogen bomb (Jan. 31). McCarthyism begins.

1954: U.S. Supreme Court (in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka) unanimously bans racial segregation in public schools (May 17). Eisenhower launches world atomic pool without Soviet Union (Sept. 6).

1957: Eisenhower Doctrine calls for aid to Mideast countries which resist armed aggression from Communist-controlled nations (Jan. 5). The “Little Rock Nine” integrate Arkansas high school. Eisenhower sends troops to quell mob and protect school integration (Sept. 24).

1959: Alaska and Hawaii become states. Leakeys discover hominid fossils.

1959: Cuban President Batista resigns and flees—Castro takes over (Jan. 1).

1961: U.S. breaks diplomatic relations with Cuba (Jan. 3). Cuba invaded at Bay of Pigs by an estimated 1,200 anti-Castro exiles aided by U.S.; invasion crushed (April 17).

1962: Lt. Col. John H. Glenn, Jr., is first American to orbit Earth—three times in 4 hr 55 min (Feb. 20).

1962: Cuban missile crisis > USSR to build missile bases in Cuba; Kennedy orders Cuban blockade, lifts blockade after Russians back down (Aug.–Nov.). James H. Meredith, escorted by federal marshals, registers at University of Mississippi (Oct. 1).

1963: Civil rights rally held by 200,000 blacks and whites in Washington, D.C.; Martin Luther King delivers “I have a dream” speech (Aug. 28). Washington-to-Moscow “hot line” communications link opens, designed to reduce risk of accidental war (Aug. 30). President Kennedy shot and killed by sniper in Dallas, Tex. Lyndon B. Johnson becomes president same day (Nov. 22). Lee Harvey Oswald, accused assassin of President Kennedy, is shot and killed by Jack Ruby, Dallas nightclub owner (Nov. 24). Kenya achieves independence. Betty Friedan publishes The Feminine Mystique. There are 15,000 U.S. military advisers in South Vietnam.

1965: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and more than 2,600 other blacks arrested in Selma, Ala., during three-day demonstrations against voter-registration rules (Feb. 1). Malcolm X, black-nationalist leader, shot to death at Harlem rally in New York City (Feb. 21). Medicare, senior citizens’ government medical assistance program, begins (July 1). Blacks riot for six days in Watts section of Los Angeles: 34 dead, over 1,000 injured, nearly 4,000 arrested, fire damage put at $175 million (Aug. 11–16).

1966: Black teenagers riot in Watts, Los Angeles; two men killed and at least 25 injured (March 15). Supreme Court decides Miranda v. Arizona.

1967: Racial violence in Detroit; 7,000 National Guardsmen aid police after night of rioting. Similar outbreaks occur in New York City’s Spanish Harlem, Rochester, N.Y., Birmingham, Ala., and New Britain, Conn. (July 23). Thurgood Marshall sworn in as first black U.S. Supreme Court justice (Oct. 2). Dr. Christiaan N. Barnard and team of South African surgeons perform world’s first successful human heart transplant (Dec. 3)—patient dies 18 days later.

1950-2000: Rapid growth of economies in industrialized nations. Rebuilding after war. Standard of living rose. In early 1970s, the price of oil started to increase, though, due to OPEC–a consortium of Mid East and other oil-rich
countries. they quadrupled the price. led to a worldwide energy crisis. Caused inflation and poverty. -Increase in common markets like NAFTA and APEC> Members buy and sell at agreed-upon rates and protect each other from competition. 

1700-1799: The American Revolution (sometimes referred to as the American War of Independence or the Revolutionary War) was a conflict that lasted from 1775-1783 and allowed the original 13 colonies to remain independent from Great Britain.

American politician and soldier George Washington became the first president of the United States in 1789, serving two terms.

Beginning in Great Britain in the late 1790s, the Industrial Revolution eventually made its way to the United States and changed the focus of the U.S. economy and the way it manufactured products.


In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson agreed to the Louisiana Purchase, successfully adding 530 million acres of land to the United States. The area was purchased from France for $15 million. The following year, President Jefferson assigned Meriwether Lewis (who asked for help from William Clark) to head west and explore the newly purchased land. It took about a year and a half for the duo to reach the west coast.

The War of 1812 resolved outstanding tensions between the United States and Great Britain. The two year war ended British military posts on U.S. soil and British interference with American trade.

The American Civil War divided the United States in two—the Northern States versus the Southern States. The outcome of the four year battle (1861-1865) kept the United States together as one whole nation and ended slavery.


On December 17, 1903, brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright became the first people to maintain a controlled flight in a powered, heavier-than-air machine. The Wright Flyer only flew for 12 seconds for a distance of 120 feet, but the technology would change the modern world forever.

On April 6, 1917, the United States entered World War I by declaring war on Germany.

After nearly 100 years of protests, demonstrations, and sit-ins, women of the United States were officially granted the right to vote after the 19th Amendment was ratified on August 26, 1920.

The worst economic crisis to happen in the United States occurred when the stock market crashed in October 1929, resulting in the Great Depression.  

World War II officially begins in September 1939 after Germany invades Poland. The United States didn’t enter the war until after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

On August 6 and August 9, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, effectively ending World War II. 

After World War II, an agreement was reached to divide Korea into two parts: a northern half to be controlled by the Soviet Union and a southern half to be controlled by the United States. The division was originally meant as a temporary solution, but the Soviet Union managed to block elections that were held to elect someone to unify to the country. Instead, the Soviet Union sent North Korean troops across the 38th parallel leading to the three-year-long (1950-1953) Korean War. 

From 1954-1968, the African American Civil Rights movement took place, especially in the Southern states. Fighting to put an end to racial segregation and discrimination, the movement resulted in the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and the 1968 Fair Housing Act.

The Vietnam War was a nearly 20-year battle (November 1, 1955–April 30, 1975) between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. North Vietnam won the war and Vietnam became a unified country.

The Apollo 11 mission (July 16-24, 1969) allowed United States astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin to become the first humans to walk on the moon’s surface.


The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, changed the United States forever. Less than a month later (October 7, 2001) the United States began the War in Afghanistan, which is still happening today.

On March 20, 2003, the United States invaded and occupied Iraq. The war lasted for more than eight years before it was officially declared over on December 18, 2011.

In 2008, Barack Obama became the first African American to be elected president of the United States.


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