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United States of America

By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on

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United States origins

European philosophers form the bulk of United States government ideals.
The United States government has Indigenous origins in its form and ideals.
How did the thirteen colonies come together?
Why were other colonies part or not part of the Revolution?
How was the American Revolution fought?

Weapons included muskets and explosives.

How did Indigenous groups participate in the American Revolution?
How did slaves participate in the American Revolution?
How did women participate in the American Revolution?
What were attitudes toward the rest of the continent to the west?
The modern-day United States territory arose from an overlapping mix of First Nations and European colonies.

Postwar confederacy

Abolitionism1780sIn the 1780s, every state government except South Carolina and Georgia passed laws banning slave importation.
Ordinance of 17851785Established a grid system for dividing land.
Shays' Rebellion1786Amid the postwar depression, poor farmers and state governments were in tension, as the farmers demanded that state government issue paper currency and increase the money supply. In Massachusetts, Daniel Shays led a rebellion arising from this tension. Shays' Rebellion accelerated the US Constitution's adoption.

Constitutional Convention

Led by Alexander Hamilton's efforts, in 1787 the United States replaced the Articles of Confederation with the United States Constitution.
US Constitutionadopted 1787

Later called the Founding Fathers, state delegates met in Philadelphia to plan a stronger national government.

1786Annapolis Conference. spearheaded by Alexander Hamilton and James Madison.
1787Constitutional Convention. Alarmed by Shays' Rebellion and the needed for a strong central government, the Constitutional Convention (in Philadelphia) was a success.
1787US Constitution adopted.
1787 - 1788States ratify Constitution.
1789Bill of Rights adopted by Congress
Northwest Ordinance1787The Northwest Ordinance primarily addressed two related problems: Congress favored land companies over ordinary settlers; and property prices were too high for most ordinary settlers. It abolished the ten districts established in the Ordinance of 1784; guaranteed freedom of religion and right to a jury trial in the new territory; and prohibited slavery throughout the new territory.

President Washington

President Washingtoni.o 1789 - 1796
e.1788, 1792
Judiciary Act1789
Washington, DC1800United States capital moves to Washington, DC in 1800.
Second Great Awakeningbegins 1801
ends 1820s
Second Great Awakening Begins.
1790Samuel Slater builds a spinning mill in Rhode Island, first modern factory in America.
First Bank of USchartered 1791
Nov 4, 1791Little Turtle defeated US forces near what is today the western border of Ohio.
1793Eli Whitney invents cotton gin.
Genet Affair1793
Jay's Treaty1794
Whiskey Rebellion
1794Quelled in Pennsylvania.
Treaty of Greenville1795It formally acknowledged Indigenous claims to territories they retained; affirmed that only tribes could cede their lands to Europeans; and transferred substantial Indigenous-controlled lands to the United States government.

President John Adams

President John Adamsi.o. 1797 - 1800
e. 1796
Pinckney's Treatysigned 1795
ratified 1796
XYZ Affair1797, ParisLater precipitated a semi-war with France.
Alien and Sedition Acts1797
Virginia and Kentucky Resolutionspassed 1798The Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions were based on John Locke's ideas and argued for a federal government that was existed by the states' permission and possessed only certain allocated powers.
Americans argued the Britain failed to abide the 1783 peace treaty, because Britain maintained a military presence in the Great Lakes region, and refused to compensate owners for confiscated slaves.
Non-War with France1798 - 1799
1800Gabriel Posser's plans for slave rebellion foiled.

Jeffersonian Democracy

Several enormous transformations in this era.

Westward Expansion, the War of 1812.

High foreign demand for American farm goods led to exceptionally high prices for American farmers. This prompted a land boom in the western United States. Fueled by speculation, land prices soared. "The availability of easy credit to settlers and speculators -- from the government (under the land acts of 1800 and 1804), from state banks and wildcat banks, even for a time from the rechartered Bank of the United States -- fueled the land boom" Brinkley, p 204.

Thomas Jefferson was in office 1801 to 1809.
His platform envisioned a sharply limited federal government and a society of independent farmers (as opposed to industrial laborers in dense cities).

America remained an overwhelmingly rural and agrarian nation. Only 3 percent of the population lived in towns of more than 8,000 in 1800. Even the nation's largest cities could not begin to compare with such European capitals as London and Paris (although Philadelphia, with 70,000 residents, New York, with 60,000, and others were becoming centers of commerce, learning, and urban culture comparable to many of the secondary cities of Europe. Brinkley, p 174

Ever since 1800, the presidency seemed to have been the special possession of Virginians. After two terms in office, Jefferson chose his secretary of state, James Madison, to succeed him, and after two more terms, Madison secured the presidential nomination for his secretary of state, James Monroe. Brinkley, p 201

Marbury v Madison1803Marbury v Madison established that the Supreme Court had the right of judicial review, meaning it could declare Congressional acts to be unconstitutional.
Louisiana Purchase1803Louisiana Territory purchased from France.
Lewis and Clark Expedition1804 - 1806
President James Madison was in office 1809 to 1817.
Non-Intercourse Act1809
Tecumash Confederacyest 1809Tecumseh establishes tribal confederacy.
Macon's Bill № 2
War of 1812
1812United States declares war on Great Britain.
1814Treaty of Ghent, signed in Belgium, ended the War of 1812.

The War of 1812 produced chaos in shipping and banking, and it exposed dramatically the inadequacy of the existing transportation and financial systems. The aftermath of the war, therefore, saw the emergence of a series of political issues connected with national economic development. Brinkley, p 195 Another reason for the growing interest in internal improvements ... was the dramatic surge in westward expansion. By 1820, white settlers had pushed well beyond the Mississippi River, ad the population of western regions was increasing more rapidly than that of the nation as a whole. Brinkley, p 198

Hartford Conventionmet 1814-Dec
The Hartford Convention was a meeting of New England Federalists to discuss grievances with and secession from the Union.
1815US signs treaty with the Indigenous, taking western lands.
Battle of New Orleans1815
Second Bank
of the United States
President Monroe held office from 1817 to 1825.
1818Seminole War ends.
Adams-Onis Treaty1819Spain cedes Florida to the United States.
1819Dartmouth College v Woodward; McCulloch v Maryland
Panic of 18191819The economy of the early 19th century had boomed with high foreign demand for American goods, westward expansion and easy credit. But in 1819, "new management at the national bank began tightening credit, calling in loans, and foreclosing mortgages. This precipitated a series of failures by state banks, and the result was a financial panic. Six years of depression followed." Brinkley, p 204 Some in the United States worried that rapid economic growth and territorial expansion could destabilize the nation, but by 1820 it was clear that economic growth and territorial expansion were not to be stopped.
Missouri Compromise1820
Monroe Doctrine1823
1824Gibbons v Ogden ruling.
President John Quincy Adams held office 1828 to 1829.
1828Tariff of Abominations

Jacksonian Democracy

President Jackson held office from 1829.
Anti-Masonic Party
Democrat Party
1832Democrats' national convention.
Bank War
1832Jackson vetoes bill to recharter Bank of the United States
1836Jackson issues specie circular.
1840Independent Treasury Act passed
Whig Party
1839First national convention.

Industrial Revolution

The prairies were eliminated.

Consumer culture

North-South sectionalism

President James K Polk (1841 - 1849) is known for diffusing the Oregon and Texas annexation questions.
Wilmot Proviso1846
Compromise of 18501850The bill had many provisions including: admission of California as a free state; that former Mexican lands would have territorial (not state) governments; abolition of the slave trade, but not slavery itself, in the District of Columbia; and a new, stricter fugitive slave policy.
Kansas-Nebraska Act1854Legislation attempting to balance the free/slave status of new United States territories.
Dred Scott decision1857
Republican Partyest 1854
Democratic Party splits1846
Lecompton ConstitutionDefeated 1858
John BrownRaids Harper's Ferry in 1859

Civil War

South Carolina secedes1860
Confederate States of Americaest 1861
West VirginiaAdmitted to union in 1863.
Confederate draftest 1862
Union draftest 1863
1863Anti-draft riots in New York City.
Emancipation Proclamationsigned 1863 Jan 1An order signed by President Abraham Lincoln, that freed all slaves in Confederate states. It did not apply to slaves in states that had not seceded, nor in the territories.
Lee surrenders1865


Joint Committee on Reconstructionest 1865Created by Congress.
Black Codes1865Enacted in the South.
Freedmen's Bureauest 1865Directed by General Oliver O Howard, this army agency was responsible for providing relief to newly freed slaves and destitute white people in the south.
Congressional Reconstructionbegan 1867
Reconstruction Amendments
13th Amendment1865
14th Amendment1868Defined birthright citizenship. This was the first Constitutional definition of United States citizenship.
15th Amendment1870
Panic of 18731873 - 1877An economic depression.
Compromise of 1877Federal agreement to remove its troops from the South.

Transcontinental railroad

Railroad magnates

American West boom

The Rancho Era came to an end with the mass influx of wealth land-owning Western European diaspora from the eastern United States.

Jim Crow laws

Plessy v Ferguson1896Separate but equal. The Supreme Court held that separate accommodations for blacks did not deprive blacks of equal rights, if those accommodations were equal. This was the legal basis for segregated schools.

Modern technology



Telephone and telegraph networks created the infrastructure that would later be additionally used by the internet.

Light bulb

Remington Typewriter


Hollerith machine


Founded by Charles Flint, who later became known as the Father of Trusts.

First-wave feminism

Nineteenth Amendment

Modern finance

New York Stock Exchange

Sixteenth Amendment

World War I

Roaring Twenties

The 1920s were a time of gender and sexual freedom.

Household appliances


Great Depression

1929 was also the year that Anne Frank and Martin Luther King, Jr were born.

Someone just pointed out to me how Anne Frank and Martin Luther King JR. were both born in the same year, but most people associate them as being in complete different points in history.

Economic pain brought a wave of repression against women and sexual minorities.

New Deal

World War II

European beginnings

Pearl Harbor attack

How did people let the United States round up the Japanese into concentration camps?
How many people were killed in World War II and how did this impact families?

Post-War culture

American Dream

The basic tenets of the American Dream were rooted in the egalitarian, simple-man ideals of property ownership, but now expanded to include a cult of domesticity.


Mainframe computing

Feminine mystique

Second Red Scare

Cold War

Central Intelligence Agency founded


Korean War

Vietnam War

Great Society

African-American Civil Rights Era

War on Drugs



New Economy


Financial instruments

The credit default swap originated in 1981 and would later give way to a tremendous growth in credit availability that morphed into the housing bubble.



Chain stores

Personal computing

Personal computer

Networked computing

Graphic arts

Mobile phones


Web marketplaces

Craig's List and eBay.

Social media




War on Terror

September 11th

Homeland Security founded


Iraq War

Afghanistan War


Credit boom

Great Recession

Current events

Income redistribution

Social capital




Drug policy

Same-sex marriage

Gender equality



GuatemalaUS syphilis experiment.

Ethnic cleansing



A through I
John AdamsRevolutionary leader, diplomat and US president (1797 - 1801).
The AlamoSan Antonio mission where a Texas garrison fought against and was massacred by Mexican forces.
Alien and Sedition ActsControversial legislation that Federalists used to try and silence their Republican opposition.
AntifederalistsName the federalists gave to their opposition
Anti-MasonsAnti-Masons emerged as a formal group in the 1820s, out of widespread resentment against Freemasons for being secretive, exclusive and supposedly undemocratic.
Aroostook WarViolent brawl between (mostly lumberjacks) Canadians and Americans over the United States and Canada boundary.
Atlanta CompromiseA thesis on race relations, developed by Booker T Washington and communicated in a speech he gave in 1895.
Stephen AustinOriginally from Missouri, he immigrated to Texas and in 1822 he established the first legal American settlement in that territory.
Bank WarPresident Jackson's fight against the Bank of the United States.
Nicholas BiddlePresident of the Bank of the United States from 1823 until its expiration in 1836.
Bill of RightsThe US Constitution's first ten amendments.
Black CodesIn 1865 and early 1866, Southern state legislatures enacted laws designed to give whites control over former slaves.
John BrownKansas abolitionist whose militancy prompted him to raid the United States army arsenal at Harper's Ferry, Virgnia.
Aaron BurrA Vice-President, and the greatest political rival of Alexander Hamilton. Burr killed Hamilton in a duel.
John CalhounOne of the Great Triumvirate along with Clay and Webster. He was the leading proponent of nullification.
Cane Ridge, KentuckyIn summer 1801, Eangelicals met here at the nation's first camp meeting.
Checks and balancesA system to separate government powers into legislative, executive and judicial branches. The branches check one another, thus keeping power balanced.
Caroline AffairDispute between the US and Great Britain over an United States steamship chartered by Canadian rebels.
CarpetbaggersDuring the Reconstruction, white Northern men who served in the South as Republican leaders. Compare to scalawags.
Civilized TribesThe Five Civilized Tribes were the Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Chickasaw and Choctaw.
Crop-lien systemFarmers borrowed money against their crops, but bad yields and extraordinary interest rates often plummeted the debtors into inescapable debt.
Jefferson DavisThe one and only president that the Confederate State of America ever had.
Stephen A DouglasHis career was not dedicated to broad national goals, but to self-promotion and his section's economic gain. Specifically, he advocated for his section's economic needs, and especially railroad construction.
Dred Scott decisionIn it, Congress was found to possess no authority to pass a law depriving persons of their slave property in the territories.
Enforcement ActsProhibited the states from discriminating against voters on the basis of race and gave the federal government power to supersede state courts and prosecute violators of the law.
FederalistsSupporters of the Constitution, they chose this name for themselves to distance themselves from their thinly concealed nationalism.
Federalist PapersWritings by Hamilton, Madison and Jay under the joint pseudonym Publius.
Federal structureDivision of power between national and state government.
Hamilton FishTwo-term Secretary of State under President Grant.
Forty-NinersMigrants to California for the Gold Rush. They were almost all white men.
Free-Soil PartyIn the 1848 presidential election, slavery opponents found the presidential candidates unsatisfying and this led to the Free-Soil Party.
Gadsden PurchaseThe United States purchased a thin strip of Mexican territory toward a potential southern transcontinental railroad.
Great CompromiseThe Great Compromise resolved the problem of representation in the new Constitution.
Great TriumvirateHenry Clay, John Calhoun and Daniel Webster.
Treaty of Guadalupe HidalgoMexico ceded California and New Mexico to the United States, and acknowledged the Rio Grande as Texas' boundary.
Alexander HamiltonReformer, politician and lawyer. He was the illegitimate son of a Scottish merchant in the West Indies. Killed in a duel with Aaron Burr.
Handsome LakeNative American who abandoned his alcoholism when he become a born-again Christian. He effectively preached to the Iroquois and called for changes to Indigenous traditions.
Harper's FerryA United States weapons arsenal in Virginia that was the target of a raid by anti-slavery activist John Brown.
Homestead ActPermitted any current or prospective citizen to claim 160 acres of public land and to purchase it for a small fee after living on it for five years.
Sam HoustonGeneral of Texas forces that defeated the Mexican army in 1836.
J through R
Jim Crow lawsSolidified in the 1890s and early 20th century, Jim Crow refers to the many laws designed to segregate and subjugate blacks.
Andrew JohnsonAbraham Lincoln's vice president, who succeeded Lincoln after his assassination.
Ku Klux KlanA secretive Southern society that intimidated and physically barred blacks from voting and exercising other rights.
Abraham LincolnUS president during the Civil War who signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Assassinated by John Wilkes Booth.
General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana1830s Mexican dictator who began confrontations with established Texas populations.
James MadisonAuthor of the Virginia plan and the most important contributor to the US Constitution.
Manifest DestinyThe idea that America was destined by god and history to expand across a vast area, including (but not limited to) the entire North American continent.
John MarshallVirginia lawyer who championed Federalism. Served as John Adams' Secretary of State, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Morrill ActTransferred public federal land to state governments, who could in turn sell it to finance public education.
Judith Sargent MurrayAuthor of 1784 essay defending women's right to education.
New Jersey PlanThe New Jersey plan preserved the bicameral legislature but expanded Congress' powers to tax and regulate commerce.
NullificationTheory that since the states comprised the federal government, it was the states (not federal courts nor Congress) who decided the constitutionality of federal laws.
Oregon TrailThe first route west into the new United States territories.
Pinckney's TreatySpain recognized American rights to the Mississippi River; fixed Florida's northern boundary; and required Spanish authorities to prevent Florida Indians from making raids across the border.
Radical RepublicansThey advocated punishment of Confederate leaders ; disenfranchisement of Southern whites; and protection of rights to freedom.
RedeemersConservative, oligarchical ruling class during Reconstruction.
RemovalRelocating the Indigenous to the West.
RepublicansRepublicans promoted an agrarian Republic, opposed the Federalists, and gathered under the leadership of James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.
Revolution of 1800The election of 1800, so-called by Thomas Jefferson who barely won.
S through Z
US Sanitary CommissionUS-government supported nursing corps, led by Dorothea Dix, that was an integral force to caring for injured Civil War soldiers.
ScalawagsCritical name for Southern white Republicans. Compare to carpetbaggers.
Winfield ScottCommander of American forces during the Mexican-American War.
William SewardLincoln's Secretary of State. Stabbed and wounded the same night as Lincoln's assassination, as part of the same conspiracy.
SharecroppingA landowner and tenant relationship: the tenant cultivated and had responsibility for a plot of land, and payed the landowner in money or crop (sharing part of the crop is the etymology of the term).
Squatter sovereigntyKnown also as popular sovereignty, this was the idea that new United States territories and states should be able to decide for themselves (as the squatters of that land) whether to be slaveholding or free states.
Zachary TaylorWhig candidate in 1848 presidential election.
Thaddeus Stevens
Charles Sumner
Co-leaders of the Radicals. Stevens was a Pennsylvania representative. Sumner was a Massachusetts senator.
Fort SumterUS offshore military fort on an island in Charleston harbor. Confederate bombardment and US surrender of April 14, 1861 marked the beginning of the Civil War.
Roger TaneyChief justice of the Supreme Court. He was appointed by Jackson and replaced Marshall.
TejanoThe Mexican residents of Texas.
Virginia PlanThe Virginia Plan proposed a new national government with a supreme Judiciary, Executive and bicameral Judiciary.
Wade-Davis billAuthorized the president to appoint a provisional governor for each conquered Confederate state.
Booker T WashingtonFounder and president of the Tuskegee Institute (an Alabama university) and progenitor of the Atlanta Compromise.
Daniel WebsterOne of the Great Triumvirate alongside Clay and Calhoun. He was a nationalist Whig who served as Massachusetts senator.
Ida B WellsAfter the lynching of three friends in Memphis, Tennessee, her work as an author and activist culminated with an international anti-lynching movement and significant contributions toward women's suffrage.
Eli WhitneyInventor of the cotton gin (1793).
Wilmot ProvisoAn 1846 amendment to several appropriation bills, that prohibited slavery in any territory acquired from Mexico.
Young AmericaYoung America adherents saw the global expansion of American democracy as a way to distract attention from the slavery controversies.