The Progressive Era

World War I and the 1920s


World War II and the 1940s




1980s and 1990s

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Timeline: 1890s

1886         American Federation of Labor (AFL) organized

1886         Haymarket Riot, Chicago; 8 policemen and unknown number of protestors killed by bomb; 4 union members convicted & sentenced to death for "anarchy"

1888         Benjamin Harrison (Rep) elected president

1889         Jane Addams founds Hull House social settlement in Chicago

1890         Passage of Sherman Anti-Trust Act, which goes largely unenforced; between 1890 & 1910, only 18 suits filed, and 4 of those against labor unions

1890        US Census Bureau declares frontier "closed"

1892         Strike at Carnegie Steel Works at Homestead, PA

1892        Grover Cleveland (Dem) elected president for second of two non-consecutive terms

1893-1897 Massive, nation-wide economic depression hits

1894         Pullman strike in Chicago, led by Eugene Debs, broken up by Cleveland

1896         Plessy v. Fergusson, Supreme Court decision allows racial segregation following principle that accommodations should be "separate but equal"; symbolizes legal entrenchment of "Jim Crow"

1896        William McKinley (Rep) defeats William Jennings Bryan (Dem) in presidential election; serves one term before being assassinated in 1901, early in second term

1898         Spanish-American War in Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rico

1899         First Juvenile Court established in Chicago

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Timeline: The "Progressive Era"

1901         Vice President Theodore Roosevelt (Rep) assumes presidency following assassination of McKinley

1902         Federal government sues the Northern Security Company for anti-trust violations; first major "trust-busting" case

1903         First power-driven airplane flown by Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, NC

1905         Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) founded

1906         Upton Sinclairís novel, The Jungle, published

1906        Regulatory laws enacted by federal government: Hepburn Act (strengthening Interstate Commerce Commission); Pure Food and Drug Act; Meat Inspection Act

1908        Ford Motor Company manufactures first Model T car

1908        William Howard Taft (Rep) elected president; defeats William Jennings Bryan (Dem) in Bryanís third run for the presidency

1910        National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) founded

1912        Titanic sinks

1912        Childrenís Bureau established by federal government

1912        Presidential election: Woodrow Wilson (D) wins with 42 percent of vote, defeating President William Howard Taft, who polled only 23 percent; Theodore Roosevelt returns from retirement, splits Republican party by forming Progressive (Bull Moose) party, & finishes second (27 percent of vote); Socialist Eugene V. Debs finishes strong fourth with 900,000 votes (6 percent; best showing ever for Socialist candidate)

1913        Ford Motor Co. installs first moving assembly line

1913        Federal Reserve Act restructures US banking & currency

1913        Income tax established by 16th Amendment

1914        World War I begins in Europe

1914        Panama Canal is completed

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Timeline: World War I and the 1920s

1914        World War I begins in Europe

1916        Woodrow Wilson (Dem) re-elected as president, promising peace

1917        United States (finally) joins World War I on April 6

1918        World War I ends on November 11

1919        Wave of race riots, most notably in East St. Louis & Chicago

1919        Wave of post-war unionization & strikes, including general strike in Seattle

1919        Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer coordinates crackdown on radical labor and socialist groups in first "Red Scare"; leaders of IWW, Socialist Party, & other organizations arrested in series of "Palmer raids"

1919        Prohibition established under 18th Amendment; goes into effect under Volstead Act in 1920

1920        Women given right to vote in all elections under 19th Amendment

1920        First commercial radio station -- Pittsburghís KDKA ó begins broadcasting

1920        Warren Harding (Rep) elected president in a landslide over James M. Cox (Dem); symbolic end of "progressive era" and return to "normalcy"

1923        Harding dies and Calvin Coolidge becomes president; re-elected in 1924

1924        National Origins Act goes into effect, severely limiting immigration, especially from southern and eastern Europe

1924        Scopes "monkey trial" in Dayton, TN

1927        First motion picture with sound, "The Jazz Singer," released

1927        Charles Lindbergh makes first successful nonstop flight across Atlantic

1928        Herbert Hoover (Rep) elected president, defeating Al Smith in landslide

1929        St. Valentineís Day massacre; Al Capone gains unquestioned control of Chicago mobs

1929        Stock market collapses; traditional date for beginning of Great Depression

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Timeline: 1930s

1930        Congress enacts Hawley-Smoot Tariff, creating high tariffs to protect American products & exacerbating Depression

1931        The "Bonus Army" arrives in Washington DC & demands payment of bonus promised to WWI veterans; driven out by police and military

1932        Charles Lindberghís baby son kidnapped & murdered; in 1934, German immigrant Bruno Hauptmann arrested, tried, convicted, & executed

1932        Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Dem., Gov. of New York) elected president over Herbert Hoover

1933        "Hundred Days" legislation enacted, beginning New Deal; legislation includes Emergency Banking Act, Federal Emergency Relief Act (FERA), Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA), and National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA)

1933        Dust Bowl in Great Plains states

1933        Prohibition repealed with 21st Amendment

1933        Adolf Hitler elected Chancellor of Germany

1934        In wake of controversy over film content, Hollywood studios establish Motion Picture Production Code

1935        Works Progress Administration created

1935        Social Security Act passed

1935        National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act) passed, establishing National Labor Relations Board, rules for union elections, and legal framework for collective bargaining

1935        Huey Long (Louisiana senator) assassinated

1935        Committee of Industrial Organizations (CIO) established

1936        United Auto Workers (UAW) use sit-down strikes (most notably, in Flint, MI) to gain concessions from employers

1936        Roosevelt reelected, this time against Alf Landon

1938        Fair Labor Standards Acts passed; last major New Deal legislation

1939        Germany invades Poland; World War II begins in Europe

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Timeline:  World War II and the 1940s

1939        German invasion of Poland begins World War II

1940        Manhattan Project begins; eventually develops nuclear weapon

1940        FDR reelected for 3rd term over Wendell Willkie; proposes Lend-Lease aid for beleaguered European allies

1941        Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor forces US to enter war

1942        Japanese-Americans interned

1942        Allied troops invade North Africa

1943        Race riots in Detroit and Los Angeles

1944        D-Day; American & Allied troops invade Europe

1944        FDR reelected for 4th term; dies early in 1945 & new Vice President Harry S. Truman elevated to presidency

1944        Servicemanís Readjustment Act (GI Bill of Rights) passed, providing aid for returning veterans

1945        Allies capture Berlin in April; achieve victory in Europe but discover proof of Holocaust

1945        US uses nuclear weapons against Japan on Aug. 6 and 9; Japan soon surrenders

1946        Winston Churchill declares that "an iron curtain" had descended across Europe; symbolic beginning of Cold War

1947        Truman articulates "containment" doctrine

1947        Jackie Robinson joins Brooklyn Dodgers, desegregating baseball

1947        Marshall Plan for European recovery initiated

1948        Truman orders armed forces desegregated

1948        Truman unexpectedly re-elected president over Thomas Dewey

1949        Soviet Union explodes an atomic device

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Timeline:  1950s

1950      Truman orders work to begin developing hydrogen bomb

1950      Senator Joseph McCarthy begins anti-Communist crusade

1950      NSC-68 implemented -- expanded containment doctrine & committed US to assist allied nations anywhere that seemed threatened by Communism

1950      Korean War begins; US defends South Korean government from Communist North Korea and, later, the Peopleís Republic of China

1952      Dwight Eisenhower (Rep) elected president over Adlai Stevenson (Dem)

1953      Eisenhower appoints Earl Warren Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; comes to see this as mistake as Warren leads activist revolution in judiciary

1954      Levittown communities built in New York & Pennsylvania; symbol of American suburbanization

1955      Supreme Courtís Brown vs. Board of Education decision outlaws school segregation as inherently unequal; fails to set schedule for desegregation

1955      Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott begins civil rights movement; Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. achieves national prominence

1955      The AFL & CIO merge

1956      Federal Highway Act passed, allowing building of interstate highway system

1956      Eisenhower re-elected, defeating Stevenson a second time

1957      School desegregation crisis in Little Rock, Arkansas

1957      Jack Kerouacís On the Road published; articulated "beat generation" alternative to conformity

1957      Soviets launch "Sputnik," 1st space vehicle to orbit earth; prompts US to establish NASA, reinvigorate science education

1958      Nixonís "Kitchen Debate" with Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev at American Exhibition in Moscow

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Timeline: 1960s

1960         John F. Kennedy (Dem) elected president, barely beating Vice President Richard Nixon (Rep)

1961         Oral contraceptives ("the pill") introduced

1961         "Freedom Rides" to desegregate public transportation in South

1962         Students for a Democratic Society proclaim Port Huron Statement; early step in era of student protest

1963         Martin Luther King leads demonstrations for segregation of Birmingham; writes famous letter from jail articulating reasons for movement

1963         March on Washington to support civil rights bill takes place; Kingís "I Have a Dream" speech

1963         JFK assassinated in Dallas on Nov. 23; Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson assumes presidency

1964         Civil Rights Act enacted

1964         The Beatles perform first concert in America (last in 1966)

1964         LBJ announces beginning of "war on poverty

1964         Gulf of Tonkin incident; leads to elevation of US military involvement in Vietnam

1964         LBJ elected president, beating Barry Goldwater (Rep) in landslide

1965         Malcolm X assassinated in New York in February

1965         Voting Rights Act enacted

1965         Watts race riot, near LA, shows continued racial inequality

1965         Federal aid to public education, Medicare, Medicaid all enacted

1967         "Long Hot Summer" - race riots in Detroit, Newark, elsewhere

1967         "Summer of Love" - high point of San Francisco counterculture

1968         North Vietnamese Tet Offensive takes US military by surprise & increasingly disenchants American public with war

1968         In wake of widespread condemnation of both social & military policies, LBJ announces he will not seek reelection

1968         Martin Luther King, Jr., assassinated in Memphis on April 4

1968         Robert F. Kennedy, front-runner for Democratic presidential nomination, assassinated in Los Angeles in late May

1968         Protests at Democratic National Convention in Chicago violently crushed by Mayor Richard Daleyís police; Hubert Humphrey nominated for president

1968         Nixon elected president over Humphrey

1969         Nixon announces policy of "Vietnamization" - gradually turning ground war over South Vietnamese, while increasing aerial bombing of North Vietnam (& secretly, Cambodia & Laos)

1969         Woodstock music festival shows symbolic unity of era

1970         Deaths at Altamont music festival taint unity of era

1970         During protests of Vietnam war at Kent State University, Ohio National Guard open fire & kill 4 students

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Timeline:  1970s

1970         During protests of Vietnam war at Kent State University, Ohio National Guard open fire & kill 4 students; instigate nationwide student strikes & anti-war protest

1971         Lieut. William Calley convicted of war crimes for My Lai massacre in Vietnam; serves less than a year

1971         Pentagon Papers published; reveal US deceptions in Vietnam

1971         Nixon visits China, launching rapprochement

1972         Burglars caught breaking into Democratic party headquarters in Watergate office building; beginning of investigation of Republican "dirty tricks" that eventually leads to White House

1973         Nixon reelected in landslide over George McGovern & fragmented Democratic party

1973         US withdraws from war in Vietnam

1973         Supreme Court decides Roe v. Wade, legalizing abortions

1973         "Energy crisis" results from rise in oil prices brought on by OPEC cartel; signals end of long post-war economic boom for US

1973         Spiro Agnew resigns Vice Presidency in scandal unrelated to Watergate; Gerald Ford appointed VP

1974         Nixon resigns in wake of Watergate scandal; VP Gerald Ford assumes presidency & subsequently pardons Nixon

1976         Jimmy Carter (Dem) elected president, defeating Ford

1977         Panama Canal treaties signed; US agrees to cede canal to Panama

1979         Camp David Accords signed; brokered by Carter; 1st rapprochement between Israel & Egypt

1979         Radicals affiliated with revolutionary Iranian government take American embassy staff hostage; crisis undermines Carter

1979         USSR invades Afghanistan; Carter announces doctrine of militarily protecting Persian Gulf, withdraws arms control treaty from Senate consideration, warms up Cold War

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Timeline: 1980s & 1990s

1980        Ronald Reagan (Rep) elected president, defeating Carter & signaling political realignmen

1981        "Reaganomics" policies of "supply-side" economics -- cutting taxes & government spending -- spark worsening economic recession; most visible in demise of heavy industry in "rust belt" cities like Pittsburgh

1981         US begins military build-up

1983         Economy begins to recover & foster mid-80s stock boom

mid 1980s AIDS discovered as new & fatal disease; initially prevalent in gay & drug-using communities, but gradually spreads to heterosexual communities

mid 1980s New, inexpensive, & highly addictive form of crystallized cocaine ­ crack ­ introduced in inner-cities; contributes to reorganization of drug trade & significant increase in urban violence

1984         Reagan reelected in landslide, defeating former VP Walter Mondale; the "Morning in America" campaign

1987         Iran-Contra scandal erupts; US had been illegally selling weapons to Iran in exchange for Iranian aid in recovering US hostages in Middle East, then using proceeds to finance rebel insurgents ("Contras") against government in Nicaragua

1987         Stock market crashes, slowing mid-80s economic boom

1988         Vice President George Bush (Rep) elected president, defeating Michael Dukakis (Dem); the "Willie Horton" campaign

1989         USSR loses control of satellite states and own republics, effectively ceasing to be a superpower & resulting in end of Cold War; symbolically represented by destruction of Berlin Wall

1990         Iraq invades Kuwait, prompting US & international military response

1991         The Persian Gulf War (a.k.a. Operation Desert Storm) liberates Kuwait from Iraq & improves US national pride

1991         USSR disintegrates into constituent states

1991         Clarence Thomas becomes associate justice of Supreme Court in spite of accusations of sexual harassment by Anita Hill

1992         Acquittal of 4 white Los Angeles police officers in beating of an African-American, Rodney King, sparks racial rioting in LA

1992         Bill Clinton (Dem) elected president over Bush

1994         Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson & Ronald Goldman leads to arrest, trial, & eventual acquittal of former football star OJ Simpson; contributes to racial polarization

1995         Terrorists linked to American right-wing militias bomb federal building in Oklahoma City

1996         Welfare reform bills enacted, significantly curtailing federal aid to poor

1996         Clinton reelected, defeating Robert Dole (Rep)

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