The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins. — H. L. Mencken

Timelines of Early America

    European Exploration     Early Colonies     Revolutionary Period     Early Republic     Civil War Period     Progressive Era     Westward Expansion     American Indian

European Exploration—1000 to 1682

Voyage of Leif Ericson to La Salle explores Mississippi


AD YearEvent
1000 Leif Ericsson leads a Viking expedition to the coast of North America.

Spanish Exploration

1492 Christopher Columbus sails to the New Indies in his first voyage to America.
1513 Vasco Nunez Balboa crosses the ithmus of Panama and discovers the Pacific Ocean.
1513 Ponce de Leon makes his first expediton to Florida.
1519-22 Ferdinand Magellan circumnavigates the earth.
1521 Hernando Cortez conquers Mexico.
1521 Ponce de Leon is killed and his colony destroyed during his final expedition to Florida.
1527-28 Cabeza de Vaca is one of four survivors of the Navarez expediton to Florida, and wrote about his adventures.
1539-41 Hernando De Soto leads and expedition through the Southeast, discovers the Mississippi.
1540-42 Francisco de Coronado leads a Spanish expedition to New Mexico.
1565 St. Augustine Florida, the first permanent settlement in the U.S. is founded by Pedro Menendez.
1567-68 Juan Pardo founds a Spanish settlement in South Carolina, and leads an ill-fated expedition inland.
1598 Don Juan Onate founds the Spanish city of Santa Fe.

French Exploration

1534 French explorer Jacques Cartier discovers the Gulf of Saint Lawrence on his first voyage.
1562 Huguenouts under Ribault set up a temporary colony near Beaufort in South Carolina.
1564 Laudonniere, who sailed with Ribault on a previoius voyage, founds Fort Carolina on the St. John River.
1565 French colony at Fort Caroline is attacked by a Spanish fleet under Pedro Menendez.
1567 De Gourgues attacks a Spanish colony at St. Johns in retaliation for the Spanish raid on Fort Caroline.
1603 Samuel de Champlain explores the St. Lawrence seaway on the first of many expeditions to America.
1605 Port Royal, the capital of French Acadia is founded in Nova Scotia.
1608 Quebec City is founded by Champlain and becomes the capital of New France.
1611 Montreal is established as a trading post by Champlain.
1615 First French Catholic missionaries are sent to Canada to convert the Indians.
1646 Jesuit Priest Saint Isaac Jogues is martyred after ministering to the Hurons.
1672-82 Count Frontenac governs New France and greatly expands the fur trade.
1673 Pere Marquette and Joliet explore the upper Mississippi Valley.
1682 Rene La Salle travels from the upper Mississippi to its mouth; claims Mississipi Valley for France.
1689 Almost 400 French settlers killed in the Lachine massacre, by Mohawks allied with the British.

English Exploration

1497 John Cabot, sailing for England, explores the Northeast coast of North America.
1508 Sebastian Cabot led expedition to North American, searching for the Northwest Passage.
1576-79 Martin Frobisher explores Northern Canada in search of a Northwest Passage.
1578-80 Francis Drake circumnavigates the earth, stopping in San Francisco Bay.
1583 Humphrey Gilbert attempts unsuccessfully to found a colony in Newfoundland.
1584 First English Expedition to Roanoake, Virginia is organized by Walter Raleigh.
1586 John Davis discovers Davis strait in search of a Northwest Passage to Asia.
1607-11 During three voyages, Henry Hudson discovers Hudson River and Hudson bay.
1615 William Baffin explores the artic circle region of Canada, in search of a Northwest Passage.
1670 Hudson Bay Trading Company is established by Royal Charter.
1793 Alexander Mackenzie reaches the Pacific Ocean, completing the first overland crossing of North America.

Early Colonies—1585 to 1750

Lost Colony of Roanoke to Colony of Georgia


AD YearEvent

Southeast Colonies

1584 First English expedition to Roanoake, Virginia is organized by Walter Raleigh.
1607 British colony at Jamestown is establishd by the Virginia Company of London.
1608 Pocahontas, daughter of chief Powhatan, saves the life of John Smith.
1617 Pocahontas marries John Rolfe and travels to England.
1619 "House of Burgesses", the first elected assembly in America is established in Virgina.
1619 First Africans slaves brought to the English colony at Jamestown.
1622 Indian massacre led by the Powhatan Confederacy kills 350 Jamestown colonists.
1624 Charles I makes Virginia a Crown colony but does not interfere in its operation.
1642 Royalist William Berkeley appointed governor of Virginia.
1644 Second Indian massacre of settlers leads to Powhatan Wars against Virginia tribes.
1649 Execution of Charles I sends a flood of Cavaliers to Virginia colonies.
1651-60 After first declaring for Charles II, Virginia colony submits to Cromwell's Commonwealth government.
1660-63 Britain passes Navigation acts that outlaw colonial trade with foreign countries.
1663 Charter for Carolina Province given to eight English noblemen who allow settlers from all over Europe.
1676 Nathaniel Bacon leads a rebellion because of the governor's failure to protect settlers from Indians.
1711-17 Tuscarora and Yamasee Wars decimate native tribes in the Carolina colony.
1716 Expedition to western Virginia led by governor Spotswood opens up Shenandoah Valley to settlers.
1718 Notorious pirate Blackbeard is killed after blockading Charleston harbor.
1729 Carolina colony is split into North and South regions.
1732 James Edward Oglethorpe founds Georgia as a penal colony for debtors and petty criminals.
1750 Oglethorpe's ban on slavery in Georgia colony is lifted.

Northeast Colonies

1620 First Pilgrims sail on the Mayflower, and settle in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
1621-57 William Bradford serves as governor of Plymouth colony, celebrates first Thankgsgiving.
1625 Dutch settlers found city of New Amsterdam on what is now Manhattan Island
1630 John Winthrop arrives in Massachusetts; founds city of Boston on Charles River.
1634 First settlers sent by Catholic George Calvert Baltimore to establish a Maryland colony.
1636 Thomas Hooker, a prominent Puritan leader, founded a Connecticut colony in the region of Hartford.
1636 Roger Williams a religious dissident from Boston, founds a colony in Rhode Island.
1636 Harvard University is founded as a seminary by cleryman John Harvard.
1637 Anne Hutchinson and her followers are exiled from Boston and settle in Rhode Island.
1634-38 Pequot War in Connecticut decimates the Pequot tribe.
1638 New Haven colony in Connecticut is established by Puritan settlers without a charter.
1638 Colonists from Sweden begin to settle in the region of Delaware.
1664 Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam falls under the control of the British and becomes New York.
1675-78 King Philip's War is the most deadly conflict between Massachusetts settlers and New England tribes.
1681 William Penn sends three shiploads of settlers to his colony in Pennsylvania
1687 Connecticut colonists hide their "Charter" in an Oak Tree, rather than surrender to a Royalist governor.
1692 The territory of Maine becomes part of Massachusetts colony.
1692-93 Salem Witch Trials result in the deaths of over twenty Puritan colonists.
1696-99 Captain Kidd is chartered by the colony of New York to fight pirates, but resorts to piratery himself.
1723 Benjamin Franklin arrives in Philadelphia to work as a typesetter

Border Wars with France

1688-97 King Williams War (a.k.a Williamite War in Ireland)
1702-13 Queen Anne's War (a.k.a. War of the Spanish Succession)
1720 Mississippi Bubble—Financial crisis in France caused by land speculation in Mississippi territory.
1740-48 King George's War (a.k.a. War of the Austrian Succession)
1756-63 French Indian Wars (a.k.a Seven Year's War)

Revolutionary Period—1750 to 1788

French-Indian War to Constitutional Congress


AD YearEvent

French and Indian Wars

1754-63 Britain drives the French out of North America during the French Indian Wars.
Jul 1755 George Washington accompanies General Braddock on ill-fated expedition to Fort Duquesne.
Sep 1759 Quebec, the capital of New France, falls to Britain. Both generals, Wolfe, and Montcalm are killed.
1763-66 Pontiac, an Ottawa chieftain, leads a Rebellion against Britain following its conquest of Canada.
May 1763 Fort Detroit is besieged after the British commander was warned of an ongoing attack.

Rebellion in the Colonies

1765 Britain passes the Stamp Act, a tax on all printed material, to raise money from the colonies.
1770 Boston Massacre—Five citizens killed by British soldiers when a mob protests British policies.
1773 Boston Tea Party—Colonists destroy a shipload of tea rather than pay taxes on it.
1774 Lord Dunmore's War, first conflict with Indians in the Ohio Valley.
1774 "Intolerable Acts" are passed by the British Parliament to punish Boston for Tea Party.
1774 First Continental Congress called to address colonial resistance to Intolerable Acts.
1775-83 American Revolutionary War.
Apr 1775 Paul Revere's Ride, battles of Lexington and Concord.
May 1775 Second Continental Congress called to manage colonial war effort after battles of Lexington.
Jun 1775 Battle of Bunker Hill.
Jul 1776 Continental Congress signs the Declaration of Independence.
Dec 1776 Washington leds men accross the Delaware to surprise the British at the Battle of Trenton.
Aug 1777 John Stark leads colonists to victory of British at the Battle of Bennington/Oriskany.
Sep 1777 Battle of Brandywine.
Oct 1777 British General Burgoyne surrenders after the Battle of Saratoga.
Dec 1777 George Washington and his men spends the winter at Valley Forge.
Feb 1778 France recognizes the Independence of the Unites States and joins the war effort against Britain.
Jun 1778 Battle of Monmouth.
Sep 1779 John Paul Jones, sailing the Bonhomme Richard defeats the H.M.S Serapis at Flamborough Head.
Aug 1780 General Horatio Gates disgraces himself at the disastrous Battle of Camden, in South Carolina.
Sep 1780 Benedict Arnold's plot to surrender West Point discovered when Major Andre, a Tory spy is captured.
Oct 1781 General Cornwallis surrenders after being trapped in Battle of Yorktown.

Formation of the Constitution

1781 All 13 Colonies adopt the Articles of Confederation.
1783 Britain recognizes the Independence of the United States, signs the Treaty of Paris.
1781-89 The Continental Congress becomes the governing body of the United States.
1786 A Constitutional Convention meets in Philadelphia to revise the Articles of Confederation.
1787 Northwest Ordinance plan for governing "Northwest Territory" surrounding Great Lakes is adopted.
1788 The American Constitution is in force when New Hampshire became the 9th state to ratify.
1787-88 The Federalist Papers are published by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay.
1789 George Washington is elected first President of the United States.
1789 The Bill of Rights is ratified by the First United States Congress.

Early Republic—1789 to 1850

Constitution ratified to Mexican-American War


AD YearEvent

Domestic Developments

1789 George Washington begins serving as the first President of the United States.
1791 Vermont, a disputed territory between NY and NH, becomes 14th state.
1792 Kentucky resolves boundary issues with Virginia and becomes 15th state.
1793 Eli Whitney invents the Cotton Gin .
1803 Louisiana Purchase negotiated by Jefferson.
1804-06 Merriwether Lewis and William Clark lead an expedition to explore Louisiana Purchase.
1804 Aaron Burr shoots Alexander Hamilton in a duel.
1803 Ohio becomes the first state carved out of the "Northwest Territories".
1807 Robert Fulton launches first commercial steamboat on the Hudson River.
1820 Missouri Compromise prohibits slavery north of 36 parallel.
1821 Maine and Missouri admitted to the Union.
1828 "Teriff of Abominations", protects northern manufacturers at the expense of the south.
1829 Jackson becomes President—promotes union, disestablishes National Bank, begins spoils system.
1844 Samuel Morse sends telegraph message from Washinton to Baltimore: "What hath God Wrought?".
1845 Florida Admitted to the Union as 27th State.
1845 Texas admitted as 28th State.
1847 Cyrus McCormick establishes mechanical reaper factory in Chicago.
1849 Gold Discovered at John Sutter's Mill in California.
1844 Joseph Smith, leader of the Mormons, lynched to death.
1847 First Mormon Pioneers arrive in Utah Territory, under the leadership of Brigham Young.

Foreign Wars and Entanglements

1801-05 Barbary Pirate Wars.
Oct 1803 Stephen Decatur leads a daring expedition to sink the Philadelphia in Tripoli harbor.
1812-14 War of 1812: James Madison declares war against British in support of free trade.
Aug 1812 Constitution vs. Guerriere.
Sep 1813 Battle of Lake Erie.
Aug 1814 British invade Washington DC, burn White House.
Sep 1814 Battle of Baltimore—Francis Scott Key Writes Star Spangle Banner.
1823 Monroe Doctrine promulgated in response to independence movements in South America
1835-36 Texas War of Independence .
Feb 1836 Battle of the Alamo—180 defenders massacred, including Davy Crockett and James Bowie
Apr 1836 Sam Houston lead Texans to victory at San Jacinto—Santa Anna is captured and released.
1846-48 James K. Polk declars War on Mexico due to a boundary dispute in Texas.
May 1846 Battle of Resaca de la Palma near Texas Territory.
Feb 1847 Battle of Buena Vista in Northern Mexico.
Sep 1847 Battle of Chapultepec in Mexico City.
Jul 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo Cedes large territory to U.S.

Frontier Expanstion

1775 Daniel Boone's family and 50 other settlers settle in Boonesborough, Kentucky.
1788 Rufus Putnam founds the first permanent settlement in the Northwest Territories in Marietta, Ohio.
1794 Battle of Fallen Timbers brings Indian War in the Northwest Territories to a close.
1811 Battle of Tippecanoe: William Henry Harrison puts down Tecumseh's rebellion in Indiana Territory.
1813-14 Andrew Jackson fights Creek Wars in Alabama.
1835-38 Osceola leads Seminole Rebellion in Florida.

Civil War Period—1850 to 1877

Compromise of 1850 to End of Reconstruction


.
AD YearEvent

Antebellum Period

1850 The Compromise of 1850 establishes California as a free State and strenghens Fugitive Slave law.
1850 Harriet Tubman makes her first trip back to the south on the "Underground Railroad".
1852 Uncle Tom's Cabin is published by Harriet Beecher Stowe and inflamed anti-slavery sentiment in the North.
1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act opens new territories to Settlement.
1856-61 "Bleeding Kansas" violence between slave-owners and abolitionists.
1857 Dred Scott decision ruled that slaves were not citizens and had no rights, even in free territories.
1859 Abolitionist John Brown makes a raid on the armory at Harper's Ferry, Virginia.
1860 Nov Abraham Lincoln, a vocal opponent of slavery, is elected President.
1860 Dec South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana secede from the Union.
1861 Feb Jefferson Davis Jefferson Davis elected president of the Confederacy.

American Civil War

Apr 1861 First Shots of American Civil War fired at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor.
Sep 1862 Battle of Antietam, deadliest one-day battle of the Civil War
Mar 1863 John Ericsson introduces the ironclad Monitor in time to defeat the Confederates' Merrimac.
Apr 1863 Stonewall Jackson is killed at the Battle of Chancelorsville
Jul 1863 Robert E. Lee advance into northern territory is stopped at the Battle of Gettysburg.
Jul 1863 U. S. Grant takes the last confederate stronghold on the Mississippie at the Battle of Vicksburg
Jan 1864 Emancipation Proclamation: Lincoln declares all slaves in U.S. Territory free.
Nov 1864 Sherman Marches from Atlanta to the Charleston, cutting supplies to Lee's army in Virginia.
Apr 1865 Lee surrenders to Grant at Appomattox Court House
Apr 1865 Abraham Lincoln is assassinated at the Ford Theatre, by a confederate sympathizer.

Reconstruction Era

1865 Beginning of "Reconstruction". Union troops occupy the south.
1865 Thirteenth Ammendment, outlawing slavery in the United States, is enacted
1866 Radical Republicans are swept into office, establish harsh terms for "reconstruction" of south.
1868 President Andrew Johnson is impeached by Republicans favoring harsher measures on the south.
1868 Fourteenth Amendment guarentees rights of former slaves, but disenfranchises many southerners.
1869 Ulysses Grant, a proponent of reconstruction, elected president.
1872 Freedman's Bureau, tasked with helping ex-slaves adjust, defunded and closed.
1877 Last federal troops are recalled from the south.

Progressive Era—1869 to 1918

Transcontinental Railroad to The Great War


AD YearEvent

Politics and Statecraft

1865 Beginning of "Reconstruction". Union troops occupy the south.
1871 "Alabama Claims" against Britain decided by arbitration.
1877 Last Union Troops are withdrawn from the South.
1883 Civil service reformed after office-seeker assassinated James Garfield.
1884 Reform-minded Republicans support anti-corruption Democrat, Grover Cleveland for president.
1886 Statue of Liberty, a gift to America from France, is dedicated at Liberty Island
1889 Johnstown Flood near Pittsburgh, kills thousands after a dam on the Conemaugh river bursts.
1896 William Jennings Bryan, a populist democrat, campaigns against the "gold-standard".
1898 U.S.S. Maine is sunk in Havana Harbor, triggering the Spanish American War.
1898 Admiral George Dewey defeats the Spanish at Manilla Bay, bringing the Philippines under U.S. control.
1898 Americans defeat the Spanish fleet at Santiago de Cuba, bringing Cuba under U.S. control.
1901 President William McKinley is assassinated by an anarchist; Theodore Roosevelt becomes president.
1912 Roosevelt splits Republicans by running on "Bull Moose" ticket, Democrat Wilson elected president.
1913 Sixteenth Amendment establishes a Federal Income Tax.
1913 Woodrow Wilson helps institue the Federal Reserve, a central banking system.
1914 The Panama canal, started in 1903 under Roosevelt's administration, is complete.
1915 Germany sinks the RMS Lusitania, killing over 2000 civilians, including Americans.
1917 The United States, under Woodrow Wilson, declares War on Germany.

Social Reform

1848 Seneca Falls Convention Women's Rights organized by Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
1874 Francis Willard becomes the leader of the Women's Christian Temperence Union.
1878 Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton introduce amendment granting women the right to vote.
1881 Booker T. Washington becomes the leader of the Tuskagee Normal School in Alabama.
1919 Nineteenth Amendment grants women the right to vote in all states.
1920 Eighteenth Amendment prohibits the sale of alcoholic Beverages in the United States.

Industry and Invention

1866 Transatlantic cable laid by Cyrus Field Cyrus Field.
1869 First Transcontinental Railroad is completed between Council Bluff, Iowa and Oakland, California
1873 Railroad speculation and problems in Europe cause the financial "Panic of 1873"
1874 James B. Eads completes first steel bridge accross the Mississippi at St. Louis.
1878 Alexander Graham Bell exhibits telephone.
1879 Thomas Edison demonstrates first commercial lightbulb.
1903 Wilber and Orville test fly first airplane at kittyhawk.

Westward Expansion—1770 to 1900

California Missions to Hawaii Becomes a Territory


AD YearEvent

California

1598 Santa Fe established as the capital of the Spanish province of Mew Mexico
1769-70 Gasper de Portola leads first Spanish expedition to Alta California.
1774-77 Juan Bautista de Anza Juan Bautista de Anza leads second Spanish expedition to Alta California.
1770-84 Junipero Serra founds Missions in California
1833 California missions "disestablished". Property looted, sold to speculators. Native population plummets.
1842-46 Early John C. Fremont expeditons to California with Kit Carson.
1846 "Bear Flag" revolt in Sonoma—California settlers revolt from Mexico.
1846-48 Mexican American War ends as Mexico is forced to sell California to America.
1849 Gold found at John Sutter's Mill. Gold Rush brings thousands of settlers to California.
1850 California admitted to the Union.
1906 San Francisco Earthquake.

Northwestern States

1791-95 George Vancouver discovers the Columbia River and Puget Sound. Claims Oregon for Britain.
1804-06 Merriwether Lewis and William Clark expedition.
1840-46 Jesuit Pierre deSmet travels throughout Oregon Territory setting up Indian missions.
1846 Boundary dispute between Britain and the United States resolved. Border established at 49th parallel.
1843 Marcus Whitman leads wagon trains to Oregon Territory.
1847 Whitman Massacre kills 14 early settlers in Washington State.
1867 William Seward arranges for the U.S. to purchase Alaska from Russia.
1877 Nez Perce War led by Chief Joseph
1896 Klondike Gold Rush attracts settlers to Seattle and Alaska.
1899 Hawaii becomes and American Territory.

Great Plains and Mountains

1806-07 Zebulon Pike expedition to Colorado
1847 First Mormons, under the direction of Brigham Young arrive in Utah Territory.
1860-61 Buffalo Bill takes a route on the the Pony Express at age 14.
1854-90 Plains Indian Wars
1862 Dakota War drives Santee Sioux out of Minnesota Territory
1863-65 Colorado War devastates Kiowa, Comanche, Arapaho, and Cheyenne tribes of the Rockies.
1866-68 Lakota and Cheyene fight for their tribal lands in Red Cloud's War in Montana/Wyoming.
1876 General Custer's army of six hundred wiped out at Battle of Little Bighorn in Sioux territory.
1890 300 Lakotas killed at Wounded Knee Massacre, when army attempts to confiscate guns.
1859 Pike's Peak Gold Rush brings settlers to Colorado
1869 First Transcontinental Railroad
1889-90 Six Northwestern States admitted to the Union: North and South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Wy

American Indian—1540 to 1890

De Soto Expedition to Wounded Knee Massacre


AD YearEvent

Spanish contacts in North America: 1492-1800

1513 Ponce de Leon makes his first expediton to Florida.
1539-41 Hernando De Soto leads and expedition through the Southeast, discovers the Mississippi.
1540-42 Francisco de Coronado leads a Spanish expedition to New Mexico.

Early Colonies: 1600-1700

1608 Pocahontas, daughter of chief Powhatan, saves the life of John Smith.
1617 Pocahontas marries John Rolfe and travels to England.
1622 Indian massacre led by the Powhatan Confederacy kills 350 Jamestown colonists.
1644 Second Indian massacre of settlers leads to Powhatan Wars against Virginia tribes.
1676 Nathaniel Bacon leads a rebellion because of the governor's failure to protect settlers from Indians.
1711-17 Tuscarora and Yamasee Wars decimate native tribes in the Carolina colony.
1634-38 Pequot War in Connecticut decimates the Pequot tribe.
1675-78 King Philip's War is the most deadly conflict between Massachusetts settlers and New England tribes.
??? New England Indian Wars

Northwest Indian Wars: 1763-1832

1775 Daniel Boone's family and 50 other settlers settle in Boonesborough, Kentucky.
1788 Rufus Putnam founds the first permanent settlement in the Northwest Territories in Marietta, Ohio.
1794 Battle of Fallen Timbers brings Indian War in the Northwest Territories to a close.
1804-06 Merriwether Lewis and William Clark lead an expedition to explore Louisiana Purchase.
1811 Battle of Tippecanoe: William Henry Harrison defeats Shawnees in Indiana Territory.
1763-1832 Northwest Indian Wars

Florida/Alabama Indian Wars

1813-14 Andrew Jackson fights Creek Wars in Alabama.
1835-38 Osceola leads Seminole Rebellion in Florida.

Sioux Wars: 1854-1890

1854-1890 Plains Indian Wars
1862 Dakota War drives Santee Sioux out of Minnesota Territory
1863-65 Colorado War devastates Kiowa, Comanche, Arapaho, and Cheyenne tribes of the Rockies.
1866-68 Lakota and Cheyene fight for their tribal lands in Red Cloud's War in Montana/Wyoming.
1876 General Custer's army of six hundred whiped out at Battle of Little Bighorn in Sioux territory.
1890 300 Lakotas killed at Wounded Knee Massacre, when army attempts to confiscate guns.

Western Indian Wars: 1865-1896

1804-06 Merriwether Lewis and William Clark expedition.
1840-46 Jesuit Pierre deSmet travels throughout Oregon Territory setting up Indian missions.
1847-1896 Western Indian Wars
1847 Whitman Massacre kills 14 early settlers in Washington State.
1877 Nez Perce War led by Chief Joseph