American History Timelines
Below are some of the seminal events in all of American history. Click on any of the articles linked to for more details. Additionally, there are any number of timelines focusing on more specific areas of American life.
c.12000 B.C. – First people arrive in what is now the United States, likely migrating from Asia over the Bering Strait land bridge.
1607 – Jamestown is founded by the Virginia Company of London as a profit-making venture.
1619 – First Africans are imported to the colonies as indentured servants. Over the next fifty years, a racial caste system develops, culminating in slavery.
1775 – First shots of the Revolutionary War are fired at Lexington and Concord, forcing a British withdrawal.
1776 – The Declaration of Independence is signed on July 4th and sent to King George.
1787 – The Constitutional Convention is held in Philadelphia, resulting in the current United States Constitution.
1850-1860 – The Underground Railroad, The Fugitive Slave Act, the caning of Senator Charles Sumner, Dred Scott v. Sandford, “Bleeding Kansas“, and the failed uprising of John Brown highlight the degenerating atmosphere on slavery.
1861 – The Civil War begins with the barrage of Fort Sumter on April 12. The Federal garrison is forced to surrender to Confederate forces.
1865 – General Robert E. Lee surrenders his army on April 9th at Appomattox Court House, effectively ending the Civil War.
1865 – The 13th Amendment ends slavery in the United States. Reconstruction begins in the South.
1933 – A wave of bank failures exacerbates the Great Depression. Franklin Roosevelt is inaugurated and begins his New Deal initiatives.
1941 – Pearl Harbor is attacked by the Japanese on December 7, drawing the U.S. into World War II.
1945 – World War II ends in Europe (May 8) and Japan (September 2).
1964 – The landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 is passed.