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A Chronology of American History: 15th | 16th | 17th | 18th | 19th | 20th

20th Century

1900
U.S. population: 75,994,575.

Under a "Gentleman's Agreement" between Japan and the United States, Japan agrees to limit emigration of laborers to the United States.

1901
Robert LaFollette takes office as Wisconsin's governor, and puts into effect the "Wisconsin Idea," which serves as a model for "progressive government." This provided for a direct primary in 1903 and a railroad commission in 1905.
(Related: A New Era)

January 10: Oil is discovered at Spindletop near Beaumont, Texas.
(Related: Black Gold: The Oil Frontier)

March 2: Under the Platt Amendment, Cuba authorizes the United States to maintain law and order and agreed to sell or lease the U.S. land to serve as naval stations.
(Related: The Spanish American War)

Mar 3: U.S. Steel is organized, becoming the country's first billion dollar corporation.
(Related: The Rise of Big Business)

September 6: President William McKinley is shot in Buffalo, N.Y. by Leon Czolgosz, an anarchist. The president died on September 14, and is succeeded by Theodore Roosevelt.
(Related: Theodore Roosevelt)

1902
The federal government files anti-trust suits against North Securities, a railroad holding company, and the beef trust in Chicago. Both suits were upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
(Related: A New Era)

May 12: The United Mine Workers stage a strike against anthracite coal mine operators. President Roosevelt appointed a commission to mediate the settlement.
(Related: Samuel Gompers and the American Federation of Labor)

June 2: Oregon becomes the first state to institute the initiative and referendum, through which the people can initiate legislation.
(Related: State Progressivism)

July 17: Under the Newlands Reclamation Act, the federal government will build dams in sixteen western lands.
(Related: Mexican Americans and Southwestern Growth)

1903
November 3: Panama revolts against Colombia rule, clearing the way for construction of an American canal.
(Related: Policing the Caribbean and Central America)

December 17: With Orville Wright on board, and lasting just 12 seconds, the Wright brother make the first successful flight by a powered aircraft at Kitty Hawk, N.C.

1904
December 6: President Theodore Roosevelt announces the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine.
(Related: Policing the Caribbean and Central America)

1905
April 17: The Supreme Court strikes down a New York law that prohibited a banker from employing anyone more than 60 hours a week or 10 hours a day, ruling that it interfered with freedom of contract.
(Related: From Lithuania to the Chicago Stockyards -An Autobiography: Antanas Kaztauskis)

June 27: Socialists and labor radicals form the International Workers of the World (the IWW or the Wobblies) in Chicago. Big Bill Haywood, a representative from the Western Federation of Miners proclaims this meeting "the Continental Congress of the working class. The aims and objects of this organization shall be to put the working class in possession of economic power...without regard to the capitalist masters." Unlike the AFL, which restricted its membership to skilled craftsmen, the IWW opened membership to any wage earner regardless of occupation, race, or sex.
(Related: The Murder of Former Idaho Governor Frank Steunenberg)

1906
Upton Sinclair publishes The Jungle, an expose of working conditions in Chicago's meatpacking houses. Sinclair had hoped to generate sympathy for the working class, but wound up making the public concerned about adulterated food. "I aimed at the public's heart," he quipped, "but by accident hit it in the stomach."
(Related: The Roots of Progressivism)

April 18: The Great San Francisco Earthquake kills 400 people and causes $500 million worth of damage.

June 30: The Pure Food and Drug Act bars the sale of adulterated foods and drugs. That same day, to address the problems of contaminated and mislabeled meat, Congress passes the Meat Inspection Act providing for enforcement of sanitary regulations in the meat-packing industry.
(Related: Government Regulation)

September 22: An anti-black riot in Atlanta results leaves 21 people dead, including 18 African Americans.

October 11: The San Francisco school board orders the segregation of all Japanese, Chinese, and Korean children. On March 13, 1907, under pressure from the President, San Fransico rescinds the action.

1907
In his seventh annual message to Congress, President Theodore Roosevelt said: "We are prone to speak of the resources of this country as inexhaustible; this is not so." During his presidency, 148 million acres were set aside as national forest lands and 80 million acres of mineral lands were withdrawn from public sale.
(Related: The Earth First)

December 16: "The Great White Fleet," consisting of sixteen battleships, sets sail for an around the world cruise.

1908
In its decision in Muller v. Oregon, the Supreme Court acknowledged the need for facts, not just legal arguments, to establish the reasonableness of social legislation. Louis Brandeis, chief counsel for the State of Oregon, used social science data to prove the reasonableness of Oregon's law to restrict the hours that a woman could work.

August 14-15: During two days of anti-black rioting in Springfield, Ill., two thousand African Americans are forced out of the city, two were lynched, and six others were killed.

December 24: New York City revokes the licenses of the city's movie theaters and returns them only when the theaters agree not to show immoral films.

December 26: Black boxer Jack Johnson knocks out Canadian Tommy Burns to become the heavyweight champion. White promoters searched for a "Great White Hope" to defeat Johnson. In 1915, he was defeated by Jess Willard in a fight that many believed was fixed.
(Related: Joe Louis)

1909
Henry Ford introduces his Model T. Priced originally at $850, the Model T's price had fallen to $240 by 1924.

April 7: Explorers Robert Peary and Matthew Henson reportedly reach the North Pole. Henson, who was African American, trained the dog teams, build the sledges, and spoke the language of the Eskimos.

May 31-June 1: The Niagara Movement. A biracial group of religious leaders and humanitiarians incorporates as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The organization demanded equal civil, political, and educational rights, and enforcement of the 14th and 15th Amendments.

1910
U.S. population: 91,972,266.

The publication, The Fundamentals, spells out the basic precepts of fundamentalist religious belief: the literal accuracy of Scripture and the reality of the Virgin birth, the physical resurrection of Christ, vicarious atonement, and the physical second coming of Christ.

June 18: The Mann-Elkins Act extends the authority of the Interstate Commerce Commission to include telegraph and telephone companies and gives it the power to suspend railroad rate increases pending investigation and court rulings.
(Related: Taft)

June 25: White Slavery. The Mann Act makes it illegal to transport women acros state lines, or bring them into the United States, for immoral purposes. Red light districts in ten cities are closed.

August 10: In his New Nationalism speech, Theodore Roosevelt lays out his commitment to conservation, a graduated income tax, regulation of trusts, and the rights of labor.

November: The Mexican Revolution begins when Francisco Madero leads an uprising against President Porfirio Diaz.

1911
Dissident Republicans bolt the party and form the Progressive Party, which endorses anti-trust enforcement, collective bargaining, and conservation of national resources.
(Related: Progressivism)

March 25: 146 Jewish and Italian immigrant women are killed in a fire at New York's Triangle Shirtwaist Company.

1912
January: 25,000 textile workers go on strike against the American Woolen Co. of Lawrence, Mass.

April 14-15: On its maiden voyage, the Titanic sinks south of Newfoundland; about 1,500 of 2,200 passengers and crew members drown.

October 14: Theodore Roosevelt is shot in a Milwaukee hotel during a campaign tour. Roosevelt delivered a speech before going to a hospital.
(Related: Theodore Roosevelt)

1913
February 17: An exhibition of avant garde, post-Impressionist art works opens at New York's 69th Regiment Armory.

February 25: The 16th Amendment permits an income tax. The federal income tax levies a tax of 1 percent on incomes above $3,000 for single individuals and above $4,000 for married couples. A 1 percent surtax is imposed on incomes above $20,000 rising to 6 percent on those above $500,000.
(Related: Wilson)

Summer: Henry Ford introduces the assembly line, allowing him to produce a thousand Model T's daily. Ford also institutes a $5 work day.

August 27: "Watchful waiting." President Wilson refuses the recognize the Mexican government of Gen. Victoriano Huerta, whose agents had assassinated President Francio Madero in February.
(Related: Wilson)

December 23: The Federal Reserve System is established, providing central control over the nation's currency and credit.

1914
Edgar Rice Burroughs publishes Tarzan of the Apes, the story of a baby of English nobility who is raised by a band of African apes.

April 20: Company guards and National Guard troops attack striking coal miners at John D. Rockefeller's Colorado Fuel & Iron Co. in Ludlow, Colo. When the Ludow War is over, 74 people had died, including eleven children.

April 21: After the arrest of American sailors in Tampico, Mexico, President Woodrow Wilson orders American sailors and marines to occupy Vera Cruz. In November, after Mexican President Huerta fled the country, the president withdrew the troops.

June 28: The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austo-Hungarian throne, by a Serbian nationalist, ignites a chain of events that results in World War I.
(Related: The Road To War)

August 15: The Panama Canal officially opens.

September 26: The Federal Trade Commission is established to prevent monopolies and unfair business practices.

1915
Margaret Sanger, who coined the term "birth control," is arrested in New York for distributing contraceptive information. In October 1916, she opened the nation's first birth control clinic in Brooklyn.
(Related: Birth Control)

February 8: D.W. Griffith's luridly racist film, Birth of a Nation, provides a sympathetic treatment of the Ku Klux Klan.
(Related: Birth of a Nation)

February 23: Nevada grants divorces after six months' residence.

July 6: Erich Muenter, a German instructor at Cornell University, commits suicide after detonating a bomb in the U.S. Senate reception room and shooting financier J. Pierpont Morgan.

May 7: The British ship, the Lusitania, is torpedoed and sinks off the Irish coast; 1,198 passengers drown, including 114 Americans.
(Related: The Lusitania)

August 17: Leo Frank, a Jew, is lynched in Atlanta, for allegedly murdering an employee at the National Pencil Company.

November: Labor leader Joe Hill, who had been convicted of murdering an ex-police officer, is executed by firing squad in Utah. His last words were, Don't mourn for me. Organize!"

December 4: Henry Ford charters a "Peace Ship," in an effort to end World War I.

1916
March 9: Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa, along with 1,500 men, crosses the U.S. border to attack Columbus, N. Mex. Pres. Wilson orders Brig. Gen. John "Black Jack" Pershing to capture Villa.
(Related: Wilson)

July 22: A bomb explodes at a pro-war preparedness parade in San Francisco, killing ten.

September 13: To prevent a nationwide railroad strike, the Adamson Eight-Hour Act mandates an 8-hour work day in the railroad industry.
(Related: State Progressivism)

1917
Revolution topples the Czarist government in Russia. In March, Czar Nicholas II abdicates and a provisional government follows. In November, the Bolsheviks overthrow the provisional government.

March 7: The Associated Press publishes the "Zimmermann Telegram," which proposed a German alliance with Mexico and promised Mexico recovery of lost territory in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.

April 2: In a speech asking Congress to declare war against Germany, President Wilson says, "The world must be made safe for democracy."

April 6: The United States declares war on the Central Powers. Six Senators and 50 Representatives vote against the declaration.

April 14: The president creates Committee on Public Information to censor newspapers and magazines.

May 18: The United States institutes a military draft. All men 21-30 are required to register.

June 15: Congress passes the Espionage Act, providing for a $10,000 fine and 20 years in prison for anyone who encourages disloyalty or interferes with the draft. Over 1,500 people were charged with violations of the law.

July 28: The War Industries Board is established to mobilize industry and ration goods to support the war effort.

September 5: Federal agents raid IWW headquarters in 24 cities. Ten leaders are arrested including "Big Bill" Haywood.

November: The British Foreign Office issues the Balfour Declaration, pledging support for the "establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."

1918
January 8: President Woodrow Wilson issues his 14 Point plan for a lasting peace. It calls for open peace treaties without secret agreements; freedom of the seas; arms reductions, and establishment of a League of Nations. French Prime Minister Clemenceau responds: "Even God Almighty has only ten."

June 3: The Supreme Court invalidates a law prohibiting the interstate shipment of goods made by under aged children.

September 14: Socialist party leader Eugene Debs is sentenced to ten years in prison for violating the Espionage Act. He was pardoned by President Warren Harding in 1921.

October: A deadly influenza epidemic reaches its height. Altogether, the epidemic killed nearly 500,000 Americans.

1919
January 18: The Versailles Peace Treaty ending World War I strips Germany of land and natural resources; mandates steep reductions in the size of the Germany army and navy; and levies punitive reparations later set at $32 billion.

January 29: The 18th Amendment to the Constitution bans "the manufacture, sale, or transportation of liquors." At the time the amendment was adopted, prohibition was already in effect in all southern and western states except California and Louisiana.

September: 350,000 steelworkers strike, following by 400,000 miners 40 days later. Altogether, 4 million workers went on strike during the year.

September 25: President Wilson collapses from a stroke.

November 7: Palmer Raids. Under orders from Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, Department of Justice agents raid the headquarters of leftist organizations in a dozen cities.

November 19: The Senate fails to ratify the Versailles Peace Treaty. The Senate voted 55-9, nine votes short of the required two-thirds majority.

1920
U.S. population: 105,710,620.

Life expectancy had risen to 54 years from 49 years in 1901.

January 2: Government agents arrest members of the IWW and Communist Party in 33 cities. 556 aliens are deported for their political beliefs.

March 19: The Senate votes 49-35 to join the League of Nations, seven votes short of the two-thirds vote necessary for ratification. Defeat became certain when President Wilson instructed his supporters to vote down a League bill with Republican amendments attached.

August 18: The Woman's Suffrage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified.

September 28: A Chicago grand jury indicts 8 players on the Chicago "Black Sox" for throwing the 1919 World Series. The players were acquitted but were later banned from baseball.

1921
May 19: Congress institutes a quota system that limits immigration to 3 percent of a nationality's number in the 1910 Census.

November 12: At the Washington Conference for Limitation of Armaments, conferees agree to restrict future construction of warships.

1924
May: Congress reduces immigration to approximately 150,000 people a year limiting each nationality to 2 percent of the number of persons in the U.S. in 1890.

May: "The Crime of the Century." Prodigies Nathan Leopold, Jr., and Richard Loeb confess to kidnapping and killing 13-year-old Bobby Franks for "the thrill of it."

November: Two states, Wyoming and Texas elected women governors.

1925
July: At the "Monkey" Trial in Dayton, Tenn., schoolteacher John Scopes is tried for violating a Tennessee law prohibiting the teaching of evolution. Scope's defense attorney Clarence Darrow called prosecuting attorney William Jennings Bryan to the stand, and ridiculed Bryan's fundamentalist religious beliefs. Scopes was found guilty of violating the law and fined $100. The sentence was later overturned.

1926
Henry Ford introduces the 49-hour work week in the auto industry.

1927
May 21: 25-year-old Charles Lindbergh flies from Long Island to Paris in 33 hours and 29 minutes.

August 23: Anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti are executed in Massachusetts for the 1920 killing of a factory guard, despite protests that they were being punished for their radical beliefs.

October 6: The Jazz Singer, the first "talkie," premieres. The first words: "You ain't heard nothing yet."

1928
August 27: Fifteen nations sign the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which renounces war "as an instrument of national policy." Eventually sixty nations ratified that agreement, which lacked any enforcement mechanism.

1929
February 14: St. Valentine's Day Massacre. 14 members of a Chicago gang are shot to death in a Chicago warehouse on orders from Al Capone.

October 29: Black Tuesday. The bull market of the late 1920s comes to a crashing end. Between September 3 and December 1, stocks declined $26 billion in value.

1930
U.S. population: 123,203,000

June 17: The Smoot-Hawley Tariff raises duties on agricultural and manufactured goods, triggering foreign retaliation.

1931
March 3. President Herbert Hoover signs an act making the "Star-Spangled Banner" the national anthem.

March 25: Nine black youths, the "Scottboro Boys, are charged with rape. The case established the right of African Americans to serve on juries.

September: A bank panic leads 305 banks to close in September and another 522 in October.

1932
Jan 22: The Reconstruction Finance Corporation is established to provide loans to banks, railroads, and insurance companies.

March 1: The son of aviator Charles Lindbergh is kidnapped.

July 2: Democratic presidential candidate Franklin Roosevelt promises a "New Deal" for the American people.

July 28: Bonus Army. President Herbert Hoover orders the army to remove 15,000 WWI veterans who had been camped in Washington for two months demanding early payment of a bonus due in 1945.

1933
January 30: Adolf Hitler, leader of Germany's Nazi party, is appointed Chancellor.

March 4: Franklin D. Roosevelt becomes President and launches the New Deal. In his inaugural address, he says: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." During his first hundred days in office, Congress enacts the AAA, which provides farmers with payments for restricting production; establishes the Civil Works Administration and the Public Works Administration; and creates the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Bank Deposit Insurance Corporation.

December 5: Prohibition is repealed.

1934
January 1: Dr. Francis Townsend, a 66-year-old retired dentist, proposes federally-funded pensions for the elderly.

July 22: Public Enemy Number 1, bank robber John Dillinger, is shot and killed by the FBI while leaving a movie theater in Chicago.

September 15: The Nuremberg Laws strip German Jews of and prohibit intermarriage with non-Jews.

1935
May 27: The Supreme Court declares the national industrial Recovery Act unconstitutional, suggesting that any federal effort to legislate wages, prices, and working conditions was invalid.

June 10: Alcoholic Anonymous is organized in New York City.

July 5: The Wagner Act guarantees workers' right to bargain collectively.

August 14: President Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act.

September 8: Huey Long is assassinated in Louisiana's state capitol.

October 18: The Committee for Industrial Organization is formed with John L. Lewis, president of the United Mine Workers, as its head. In 1938, it became the Congress of Industrial Organizations. Unlike the AFL, it did not limit membership to skilled workers.

1936
March 7: In violation of the Versailles Treaty ending WWI, 4,000 German troops occupy the Rhineland.

Summer: Jesse Owens wins four medals at the Olympics in Berlin, rebutting Hitler's claims about the superiority of the Aryan race.

July 17 Civil War erupts in Spain, ending the country's five year experiment with democracy. Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini provide arms to Gen. Francisco Franco, who defeats the Loyalists in 1939 and imposes a dictatorship.

1937
February 5: President Roosevelt proposes his "court packing" scheme.

February 11: After a 44-day occupation of General Motors factories, GM recognizes the United Automobile Workers.

March 18: A school fire in New London, Texas, kills 294.

March 29: The Supreme Court upholds a minimum wage law for women.

April 12: The Supreme Court upholds the National Labor Relations Act of 1935.

May 1: A Neutrality Act prohibits the export of arms and ammunition to belligerents.

May 24: The Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of the Social Security Act.

December 12: Japanese planes sink the U.S. gunboat Panay in Chinese waters, killing two. The Japanese government apologizes and pays reparations.

1938
May 26: The House of Representatives creates

September 29: Munich Pact: To avert war, Britain and France give in to Hitler's claim to the Sudetenland, the German-populated part of Czechoslovakia. Critics denounce the agreement as "appeasement."

1939
April 9: Denied use of Constitution Hall by the Daughters of the American Revolution, contralto Marian Anderson sings at the Lincoln Memorial before 75,000 people.

August 23: Germany and the Soviet Union sign a non-aggression pact. The two countries agree to divide Poland.

September: World War II begins following Germany's invasion of Poland on September 1.

1940
U.S. population: 131,669,275.

April 9: Norway and Denmark fall to the Nazis.

May 10-29: Germany captures Holland, Belgium, and Luxemburg.

May 26-June 4: 338,000 Allied forces, mainly British, evacuate the continent at Dunkerque.

June 28: The Smith Act outlaws organizations advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government.

August-November: Battle of Britain. The Royal Air Force repels the Luftwaffe.

September 3: The U.S. provides Britain with 50 aging destroyers in exchange for 99-year leases on eight military bases in Newfoundland and the West Indies.

1941
January 13: President Roosevelt calls on Congress to defend four essential freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

March 11: Lend-Lease. The U.S. provides Britain with arms and supplies.

April 11: The Office of Price Administration is established with power to set production priorities and prices and institute rationing.

Summer: President Roosevelt freezes German, Italian, and Japanese assets and embargoes shipments of gasoline and scrap metal to Japan.

June 22: Germany invades Russia in violation of the Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Pact.

December 7: Japanese planes and submarines attack the American fleet anchored at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The surprise attacked heavily damaged or sank 19 ships and killed 3,457 soldiers, sailors, and civilians.

1942
January 20: Wansee Conference. The Nazis plan the "final solution" to the Jewish problem.

February 19: President Roosevelt authorizes the internment of 112,000 Japanese-Americans living along the Pacific coast. Japanese-Americans in Hawaii were not interned. More than 17,000 Japanese-Americans served in the U.S. armed forces during the war.

April 10: The Bataan Death March begins. 10,000 U.S. and 45,000 Filipino prisoners of war are forced to march 120 miles to Pampanga Province. 5,200 Americans and thousands of Filipinos died during the forced march.

April 18: "30 Seconds Over Tokyo." Col. Jimmy Doolittle's carrier-based aircraft bomb Tokyo.

May 15: Gas rationing is put into effect, limiting drives to three gallons a week.

June 3-6: The Battle of Midway. U.S. aircraft repel a Japanese assault in the Central Pacific, sinking 17 Japanese ships and shooting down 250 airplanes.

July 25: British and American forces invade French North Africa.

November 28: A fire at Boston's Coconut Grove nightclub kills 491.

December 2: A research team led by physicist Enrico Fermi produces the first successful atomic chain reaction at the University of Chicago.

1943
May 9-10: Some 250,000 German troops surrender in Tunisia, abandoning the last Nazi stronghold in Africa.

June 5-8: Zoot Suit Riots. Sailors in Los Angeles attack Mexican Americans.

June 10: The United States institutes a withholding tax.

June 20: An anti-black riot in Detroit results in the deaths of 25 blacks and nine whites.

July 10: 150,000 British, American, and Canadian forces land in Sicily, conquering the island in five weeks.

July 25: Benito Mussolini is forced to resign as head of Italy's government after 21 years of rule.

September: British and American forces advance into Italy.

1944
Publishers introduce the "paperback" book.

June 6: D-Day. Over a 48-hour period, 156,000 Allied troops storm the beaches of Normandy in France, while 8000 Allied planes provide air cover.

June 22: President Roosevelt signs the GI Bill of Rights, providing educational and vocational benefits for returning veterans.

October 22-27: The Battle of Leyte Gulf. At the largest naval battle in history, 166 U.S. ships and 1280 planes destroy five Japanese aircraft carriers, four battleships, 14 cruisers, and 43 other ships, and destroy 7000 aircraft.

December 16: The last German counter offense of the war, the Battle of the Bulge, begins.

1945
April 25-June 26: Representatives from 50 nations draft the United Nations charter in San Francisco.

April 30: Adolf Hitler commits suicide in an underground bunker in Berlin.

May 7: V-E Day. German forces surrender to the Allies. Germany is divided into four zones.

June 26: Delegates from 50 nations draft the United Nations Charter in San Francisco.

August 6: The Enola Gay, a B-29, drops an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. On August 9, a second bomb is dropped on Nagasaki.

September 2: Japan formally surrenders in a ceremony aboard the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

November 20: The Nuremberg tribunal convenes to hear cases of 22 high-ranking Nazis charged with war crimes. Twelve were given the death sentence, three received life terms, four were given 10-20 year prison terms, and three were acquitted. A war crimes trial in Tokyo in 1948 resulted in the hanging of Premier Tojo and six others.

1946
March: Speaking in Fulton, Mo., Winston Churchill announces that "an iron curtain has descended across the Continent" of Europe.

1947
Financier Bernard Baruch declares that "We are in the midst of a cold war."

28-year-old Jackie Robinson becomes the first African American in baseball's major leagues.

March 22: President Truman orders loyalty investigations of all federal employees.

October 14: Air Force Captain Charles Yeager becomes the first pilot to exceed the speed of sound.

1948
March 8: Congress authorizes the Marshall Plan.

May: The United States formally recognizes the state of Israel.

June 24: Berlin Blockade. After Joseph Stalin imposes a land blockade on West Berlin, President Truman mounts an airlift; 277,000 flights carry over 2.5 million tons of supplies to the city.

1949
April 4: The United States joins the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and pledges to resist aggression against member nations.

October 1: Mao Tse-tung proclaims the People's Republic of China. On December 8, China's Nationalist government flees to Taiwan.

October 21: Eleven U.S. Communist party leaders are sentenced to five years in prison and fined $10,000.

1950
U.S. population: 150,697,361.

Sen. Joseph McCarthy (Rep. Wisc.) tells Wheeling, W. Va.'s Women's Republican Club: "I have here in my hand a list of 205...names that were known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping the policy of the State Dept."

May: A special Senate committee, chaired by Sen. Estes Kefauver, conducts televised hearings on organized crime.

June 25: The Korean War begins when North Korean forces cross the 38th parallel into South Korea. President Truman wins a UN mandate to drive communist forces from South Korea because the Soviet delegation is absent.

September 15: UN forces land behind enemy lines at Inchon, while other UN troops drive northward up the Korean peninsula.

September 23: The McCarran Internal Security Act requires Communist-front organizations to register with the Subversive Activities Control Board.

October 7: U.S. forces cross the 38th parallel into North Korea.

November 29: After UN forces approach the Yalu River, Chinese troops intervene,, pushing the U.S. and its allies out of North Korea.

1951
February 26: The 22nd Amendment to the Constitution stipulates that no person may be elected president more than two times.

April 5: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are sentenced to death for their alleged role in passing U.S. atomic secrets to the Soviet Union.

April 11: President Truman dismisses Gen. Douglas MacArthur for publicly challenging the policies of his civilian superiors. MacArthur had advocated an invasion of China.

1952
September 23: Checkers Speech. On nationwide television, Richard M. Nixon, the Republican vice presidential candidate, explains that an $18,000 private fund set up by wealthy backers was for "necessary political expenses" and "exposing communism." He added that he had received another gift, a cocker spaniel that his daughters had named Checkers.

1953
June 19: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg become the only American civilians executed for espionage.

July 27: An armistice formally ends the Korean War, which killed three million people and cost the U.S. 54,000 lives and $22 billion.

August 19: The CIA engineers a coup overthrowing Iran's Prime Minister Mohammed Mossaegh and placing the Shah in power.

1954
March 1: Five members of Congress are shot on the floor of the House of Representatives by Puerto Rican nationalists.

April 22: The Army-McCarthy hearings begin. Sen. McCarthy had charged that the Secretary of the Army had interfered with his investigations of communists in the military. The Army counter charged that McCarthy had sought favors for an aide who was in the service. In December, the Senate censured McCarthy 67-22.

May 8: The French garrison at Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam falls to insurgent forces, the Viet Minh, led by Ho Chi Minh.

May 17: In Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court rules unanimously that segregated schools were unconstitutional. Chief Justice Earl Warren writes: "We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place. Separate education facilities are inherently unequal."

June 18: The CIA sponsors a coup in Guatemala overthrowing the government of Jacobo Arbenz, which had nationalized property owned by the United Fruit Company.

1955
The United States provides $216 million in aid to South Vietnam.

August 28: Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African American from Chicago, was kidnapped from his uncle's home in LeFlore County, Miss. His mutilated body was recovered four days later from the Tallahatchie River. Till had been accused of acting disrespectfully toward a white woman. An all-white jury acquired the two men accused of the crime.

December 1: Seamstress Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Ala., city bus to a white man, leading to a year-long black bus boycott.

December 5: The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations merge.

1956
October: Soviet troops crush a revolt in Hungary.

October 30: Israeli forces invade the Sinai Peninsula after Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalizes the Suez Canal and excludes Israeli shipping. The next day, Britain and France begin to bomb Egypt.

1957
The Senate's McClellan Committee investigates corrupt union practices. The committee's counsel was Robert F. Kennedy.

September 24: President Eisenhower sends a thousand army paratroopers to Little Rock, Arkansas's Central High School, to permit nine black children to enroll in the previously all-white school.

October 4: The Soviet Union launches Sputnik, the first artificial satellite.

1959
January 1: Fidel Castro marches into Havana, having defeated the regime of Fulgencio Batista in Cuba.

1960
U.S. population: 179,323,175.

U.S. scientists Charles H. Townes and Arthur L. Schawlow patent the laser.

The first retirement community opens in Sun City, Arizona, outside Phoenix.

A House subcommittee reports that 207 disk jockeys in 42 cities had received over $260,000 in payola to play records on the air.

February 1: The "sit-in" movement begins when four African American studies sit down at a Charlotte, N.C. Woolworth's to protest segregated lunch counters.

May 5: A U-2 spy plane with Francis Gary Powers at the controls is shot down over Sverdlovsk, Russia, aborting a scheduled summit meeting between Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and President Dwight Eisenhower.

May 9: The Food and Drug Administration approves the birth control pill. By 1962, 1.2 million American women were taking it.

June 30: Belgium grants independence to the Congo.

September 26-October 17: Presidential candidates John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon face off in four televised debates.

1961
January: In his farewell address, President Eisenhower warns: "In the council of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."

March 1: President John Kennedy creates the Peace Corps. By September, over 1000 volunteers are providing assistance in underdeveloped countries.

April 12: Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becomes the first human to orbit the earth.

April 17: 1500 Cuban refugees, trained at a secret CIA base in Guatemala, land at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba. The attempt to topple the regime of Castro regime is a failure. On Christmas, 1962, Castro exchanged 1,113 captured invaders and 922 of their relatives for $53 million worth of medicine and food.

May: FCC Commission Chairman Newton Minow calls television "a vast wasteland."

May 4: The "Freedom Riders" leave Washington, D.C. to desegregate public transportation facilities in the South.

May 5: The U.S. launches its first astronaut, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Alan Shepard, Jr., into space.

August 13: East German troops install barricades in Berlin to stem the flow of East Germans to the West. Four days later, East Germany begins to erect the concrete Berlin Wall.

December 11: The first two U.S. military companies arrive in South Vietnam. In October, President Kennedy had written: "The United States is determined to help Vietnam preserve its independence, protect its people against communist assassins and build a better life."

1962
Rachel Carson publishes Silent Spring, which documents that damaged caused by pesticides.

June 25: The Supreme Court declares the use of a non-denominational prayer in New York State schools violates the Constitutional separation of church and state.

October 1: James Meredith becomes the first African American student at the University of Mississippi. An ensuing riots leaves two dead and 375 injured.

October 13: Pope John XXIII convenes the Second Vatican Council to break down barriers separating Christians of different denominations and overhaul the Catholic Church's structure.

October-November: The Cuban Missile Crisis. The U.S. and U.S.S.R. come close to nuclear war when the U.S. learns that the Soviet Union is installing offensive nuclear weapons in Cuba. The crisis ended when Moscow dismantles the launch sites in exchange for President Kennedy's pledge not to invade Cuba again.

1963
The U.S. and U.S.S.R. sign the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and install a "hot line" to speed communications between the White House and the Kremlin.

January 14: At his inauguration, Alabama Gov. George Wallaces states: "I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever."

August 5: The U.S., the Soviet Union, and Britain sign a treaty banning nuclear tests in the atmosphere, outer space, and underwater.

August 28: 200,000 civil rights demonstrators in Washington, marching in support of the Civil Rights Act, hear the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., deliver his "I Have a Dream" speech.

September 15: A black church is Birmingham, Ala. is bombed, killing four girls.

November 1: South Vietnamese President Diem is killed in a military coup.

November 22: President John Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Two days later, his alleged assassin was shot to death in a Dallas jail.

1964
January 23: The 24th Amendment to the Constitution prohibits a poll tax in federal elections.

February 17: The Supreme Court rules that congressional districts had to be approted according to the principle of "one man, one vote."

July 2: President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964, integrating public accommodations and prohibiting job discrimination.

August 2: The U.S. announces that North Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked a U.S. destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin in international waters, 30 miles off the North Vietnamese coast. By a vote of 502-2, Congress approved the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, authorizing the president "to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression."

September 27: The commission established by President Lyndon Johnson to investigate the assassination of President Kennedy concludes that he died at the hands of a single assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald.

1965
Ralph Nader publishes Unsafe at Any Speed, which calls for auto safety regulations.

February 7-8: The United States bombs North Vietnam in retaliation for a National Liberation Front attack on U.S. troops in South Vietnam.

February 21: Followers of Black Muslim leader Elijah Muhammad shoot black nationalist leader Malcolm X as he prepares to deliver a speech in a Manhattan ballroom.

March 7: Alabama state police attack voting rights demonstrators with clubs and gas as they prepare to march from Selma for the capital of Montgomery.

August 11-16: Arson and looting erupt in the Watts district of Los Angeles, resulting in 34 deaths and 3,900 arrests.

November 9-10: A power blackout affects over 30 million people from Pennsylvania to southern Canada.

1967
April 28: Heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali is arrested for refusing induction after being denied conscientious objector status. Boxing officials strip him of his title.

June 5: A Chicano group led by Reis Tijerina seizes a county courthouse in Tierra Amarilla, N. Mex., to dramatize their claim to lands granted their ancestors by Spain.

June 5-11: Israel defeats Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and the United Arab Republic in the "Six-Day War," resulting in Israeli occupation of territories five times the country's pre-war size.

Summer: The Summer of Love in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district.

July 12-17: A riot in Newark, N.J., leaves 26 dead and over 1,500 injured.

July 23-30: A riot in Detroit, sparked by a police raid on an after hours club, leaves 43 dead and over 2000 injured.

October 2: Thurgood Marshall is sworn in as the first African American Supreme Court justice.

1968
January 23: North Korean gunboats capture the U.S. intelligence ship Pueblo.

January 30: The North Vietnamese and Viet Cong launch the Tet Offensive against major cities in South Vietnam, shattering faith that the United States was on the verge of military victory.

March 16: My Lai Massacre.

March 31: President Johnson announces that he will not seek reelection and orders a halt to most U.S. bombing of North Vietnam.

April 4: The Rev. Martin Luther King is assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., where he is supporting a sanitation workers' strike.

April 23-24: Students at New York's Columbia University seize five buildings to protest the university's ties to the military and its plan to build a gymnasium in a nearby ghetto area.

June 5: Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy is assassinated after delivering his victory speech in the California primary.

August 20-21: Soviet tanks suppress the liberal reforms in Czechoslovakia.

August 25-29: Police club demonstrators at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

1969
July 20: Astronaut Neil Armstrong becomes the first person to walk on the moon. His first words from the lunar surface were: "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for all mankind."

August 16: Half a million gather at a rock concert near Woodstock, New York.

November 16: The first reports of the My Lai massacre are published.

November 20: 89 American Indian activists occupy Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay to dramatize the plight of Native Americans.

1970
U.S. population: 203,211,926.

April 30: American troops begin an incursion into Cambodia.

May 4: National Guard troops kill four students at Kent State University in Ohio during protests against the Cambodia invasion.

May 14: Two black students at Jackson State University in Mississippi are killed by police firing on a dormitory.

1971
June 13: The New York Times prints the first installment of the Pentagon Papers, a classified history of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. The U.S. Justice Department sued to suppress publication of the documents on grounds of national security.

June 30: The 26th Amendment gives 18 year olds the right to vote.

September 3: The Plumbers, a secret investigative unit set up by the Nixon White House, burglarizes the office of the psychiatrist of Daniel Ellsburg, in order to find discredit the man who released the Pentagon Papers.

September 9: Inmates take over New York State's Attica Prison. On September 13, state troopers, sheriff's deputies, and prison guards stormed the penitentiary; 31 prisoners and nine guards being held hostage died.

October 25: President Nixon announces he will visit China.

1972
May 15: Democratic presidential candidate George Wallace is shot in Laurel, Md.

June 17: Five burglars are caught installing eavesdropping equipment in the offices of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C.

September 5: At the Olympic Games in Munich, eight armed Palestinian guerrillas storm the Israeli athletes dormitory, killing one Israeli athlete and taking nine hostages. During a shoot-out, the nine Israeli hostages were killed and five of the eight Palestinians.

December 18: The Christmas Bombing. President Nixon orders the bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong, apparently in order to obtain the acquiescence to a peace agreement by President Thieu of South Vietnam.

1973
January 28: The United States and North Vietnam sign a treaty ending direct American intervention in Vietnam.

February 27: The American Indian movement occupies a trading post and church in Wounded Knee, S.D., the site of the 1890 massacre of the Sioux, to draw attention to the grievances of Native Americans.

March 19: Watergate burglary defendant James McCord informs the judge in the case that perjury had been committed in the trial and that Administration officials had pressured defendants to maintain silence and plead guilty.

March 21: President Nixon orders the payment of $75,000 in hush money to defendant E. Howard Hunt. The next day, Nixon told an aide, "I want you all to stonewall it, let them plead the 5th Amendment, cover-up or anything else, if it'll save itsave the plan...."

May 17: A Senate committee opens hearings on the Watergate Affair.

July 16: A former White House aide reveals to Senate Watergate investigators that President Nixon maintained a secret tape-recording system in the White House.

Sept. 11: Chilean President Salvador Allende is killed in a military coup. A junta led by Gen. Augusto Pinoche takes over.

October 10: Vice President Spiro Agnew resigns and pleads no contest to a charge of tax evasion. Agnew had received kickbacks and bribes over a ten-year period while serving as governor and county executive in Maryland. House Republic leader Gerald Ford replaced Agnew as Vice President.

October 17: Arab countries impose an oil embargo against the U.S. to raise oil prices and retaliate for U.S. support for Israel.

October 20: The Saturday Night Massacre. President Nixon orders his Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Rechildson refuses and resigns. Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus also refuses and is fire.

1974
February: Nobel Prize-winning author Alexander Solzhenitsyn is expelled from the Soviet Union

July 24: A unanimous Supreme Court orders President Nixon to release 64 tapes to the Watergate special prosecutor, ruling that he may not withhold evidence from a criminal case.

July 27: The House Judiciary Committee votes 27-11 to recommend President Nixon's impeachment.

August 8: Richard Nixon becomes the first president to resign his office. Gerald Ford becomes the 38th president, declaring "Our long national nightmare is over."

September 8: President Ford pardons Richard Nixon for any crimes he may have committed as president. The pardon contributes to Ford's defeat in the 1976 presidential election.

1975
Portugal grants independence to Angola and Mozambique.

April 30: The Vietnam War ends when North Vietnamese troops occupy Saigon and rename it Ho Chi Minh City.

May 12: Cambodia seizes a U.S. merchant ship, the Mayaguez and its 39-member crew in the Gulf of Siam. U.S. troops recover the ship and crew, but suffer 38 dead.

1977
January 17: The United States ends a ten year moratorium on capital punishment, when Utah executed convicted murderer Gary Gilmore.

June: Spain holds its first free elections since the Spanish Civil War ended 41 years before.

November 19: Anwar el-Sadat of Egypt becomes the first Arab leader to visit Israel since the nation's founding in 1948.


1978
September: President Jimmy Carter mediates Egyptian-Israeli peace settlement

October 16: Polish cardinal Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) is the first non Italian pope elected in 456 years

December: Iranian revolution begins

1979
January 1: United States formally recognizes China

January 16: The Shah of Iran leaves his country and goes into exile, ending his 37 year rule

February 1: The Ayatollah Khomeini returns from a 15 year exile and takes power in Iran

March 26: Egypt and Israel sign a peace agreement

March 28: America’s worst nuclear accident takes place at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

July 19: Somoza regime in Nicaragua is overthrown; Sandinistas take power
November 4: Iranian militants seize American hostages
December 27: Soviet Union invades Afghanistan

1980
November 4: Ronald Reagan is elected fortieth president

1981
IBM releases its first personal computer

January 20: American hostages are released from Iran

March 30: President Reagan is shot in assassination attempt

May 13: Pope John Paul II is shot at and nearly killed in St. Peter’s Square in Rome

July 29: Regan tax cuts are approved

June 5: Doctors diagnose the first cases of AIDS

August 5: President Ronald Reagan decertifies the air traffic controllers union

September 25: Sandra Day O’Connor is sworn in as the first female Supreme Court justice

1982
Congress deregulates banking industry and lifts controls on airfares

January 1: CNN, the cable news network, is launched

March 19: Argentine forces land on the Falkland islands, touching off the Falklands War with Britain

November 13: Vietnam Veterans Memorial, designed by Maya Lin, opens in Washington, D.C.

November 29: The Soviet Union invades Afghanistan Equal Rights Amendment fails to achieve ratification

December: Congress enacts the Boland Amendment, which bars the use of Federal money to overthrow the Nicaraguan Government

1983
January 1: The word Internet is first used

March 23: Regan proposes “Star Wars” missile defense system

September 1: Korean Air Flight KAL-007, a commercial airliner, is shot down by a Soviet jet fighter, killing 269

October 25: United States topples Communist government on the Caribbean island of Grenada

1984
January 1: AT&T, the telephone utility, breaks up into 22 independent units

November 6: Ronald Reagan is reelected

Congress orders an end to all covert aid to Nicaraguan contras

1985
July: United States begins secret arms-for-hostages negotiations with Iran

March 11: Mikhail Gorbachev becomes leader of the Soviet Union

1986
January 28: Space shuttle Challenger explodes shortly after takeoff, killing all aboard

April 26: A Soviet reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the Ukraine explodes

November 25: Reagan administration announces that profits from Iranian arms sales were diverted to Nicaraguan contras

1987
June 12: President Reagan publicly challenges Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall

October 19: Stock market plunges 508 points in a single session, the worst decline in Wall Street history

November 18: A Congressional report states that US President Ronald Wilson Reagan bore "ultimate responsibility" for wrongdoing by his aides in the Iran-Contra Affair

1988
Al-Qaeda founded by Osama bin Laden

November 8: George Bush is elected forty-first president

December 21: Libyan agents blow up Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 259

1989
February 15: Soviet forces complete their withdrawal from Afghanistan

March 24: The Exxon Valdez spills 11 million gallons of oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound

May 30: Pro-democracy demonstrators erect a 33-foot "Goddess of Democracy" statue is unveiled in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China

June 4: Pro-democracy demonstration in Tiananmen Square are crushed
September-December: Communist regimes collapse in Eastern Europe

October 18: The regime of Erich Honenecker, Communist leader of East Germany, falls

November 10: Berliners begin to tear down the Berlin Wall

December 20: The United States invades Panama and ousts strongman General Manuel Noriega

1990
February 26: The Sandinistas are defeated in elections in Nicaragua

August 2: Iraqi troops invade and occupy Kuwait

October 3: Germany is reunited

1991
January-February: U.S., Western, and Arab forces eject Iraq from Kuwait by force

February 26: Tim Berners-Lee introduces the first web browser

March 3: Los Angeles police are videotaped beating motorist Rodney King during an arrest

August 18: Soviet hardliners place President Mikhail Gorbachev under house arrest. The coup’s failure results in a shift in power to the Soviet Republics

December 31: Soviet Union is dissolved; Cold War ends

1992
January 15: Slovenia and Croatia declare their independence; a civil war will begin as Yugoslavia breaks up

April 29: Riots erupt in Los Angeles following acquittal of police officers in the beating of motorist Rodney King

November 3: Democrat Bill Clinton is elected forty-second president

1993
Congress passes North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), eliminating trade barriers between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico

February 26: Terrorists bomb World Trade Center in New York City, killing 6

October 3, 4: 18 Marines, members of a UN peace-keeping force, are killed in Somalia

November 1: The Maastricht Treaty creates the European Union

December 7: Toni Morrison receives the Nobel Prize for Literature, the first African American to do so

1994
Congress defeats President Bill Clinton's health care plan

January 1: The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) goes into effect

April 7: Massacres of Tutsis begin in Rwanda

May 10: Nelson Mandela is sworn in as president of post-apartheid South Africa

November 8: Republicans win control of both the House and Senate in the 1994 mid-term elections

1995
April 19: Bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The blast killed 167 men, women, and children and injured 853 others (Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, May 31, 1998).

October 4: Football star 0. J. Simpson is found not guilty of murder in deaths of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman

November 4: Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli opponent of the peace process

1996
July 5: Dolly the sheep is the first mammal to be successfully cloned from an adult cell

November 5: Bill Clinton is reelected president

1998
August 7: Bombings at U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar el Islam, Tanzania kill 224 people

November 5: The journal Nature reports that genetic testing indicates that Thomas Jefferson was the father of Sally Hemings’s son Eston Hemings Jefferson

December 19: The House of Representatives approves two articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton, charging him with lying under oath to a federal grand jury and obstructing justice in the Monica Lewinsky affair

1999
World population reaches six billion

February 12: President Clinton is acquitted by the Senate in his impeachment trial

March 24: NATO launches a bombing campaign against Yugoslavia

April 20: In Littleton, Colorado, two high school students murder 12 students and one teacher before committing suicide

December 31: The United States transfers control of Panama Canal to Panama

2000
June: Researchers decode the human genome

December 12: A 5-to-4 Supreme Court ruling ends efforts to recount the votes in the presidential election in Florida. As a result, Republican candidate George W. Bush becomes the forty-third president, receiving a majority of the electoral votes despite losing the popular vote

2001
September 11: Terrorist attacks kills thousands of civilians and destroy the World Trade Center towers in New York City and part of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. The United States retaliates for the September 11 attacks by overthrowing Afghanistan’s Taliban government

October 4: The first of 22 cases of anthrax infection is detected in the United States; anthrax infections will result in five deaths


 

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