Timeline of major american history events
Created by jenkinsn on Sep 28, 2010
Last updated: 05/18/11 at 07:10 PM
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In 1921 and 1924 Quota Acts were passed which were acts, that permitted only a certain amount of people from each country to enter the US and after that limit was reached they were not allowed into the country until the next year. These Acts were mainly enforced by nativists who were people seeking to preserve America for American born protestants. These acts tried to prohibit too many immigrants from entering the US.
In 1919, Congress passed the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. By August of 1920, three quarters of the states had ratified the amendment which doubled the number of eligible voters.
In 1917, Paul and Rose Winslow with the help of many other women were picketing the White House. This was in the beginning of Wilson's presidency and Paul went to Wilson immediately and asked him to back a constitutional amendment. Wilson did not directly oppose women's suffrage, but he could also not back a constitutional amendment. Paul and the others then decided to picket the White House to try and gain their rights.Winslow and Paul were put in jail for "obstructing the sidewalk". By early 1918 the tide had finally changed and women were gaining suffrage.
In 1917 the Eighteenth Amendment banned the sale of alcohol. The support for this amendment grew especially after the US started fighting in World War I because the grain used to make the liquor could instead be going to the soldiers. By 1919 three fourths of the states had ratified the amendment and it made it illegal to sell alcoholic drinks anywhere in the US.
The FTC was created in 1914 to investigate companies and order them to stop using unfair practices to destroy competitors. Wilson signed the Clayton Antitrust Act in 1914 that went along with the FTC. The law banned some business practices that limited free enterprise and this law was not even as strong as he would have liked it to be.
The 16th Amendment gave Congress the permission to pass a graduated income tax. Many progressives favored this because it taxed the wealthy more and the poor less and they felt that this would keep one person from becoming too powerful. The Supreme Court continually held that a graduated income tax was unconstitutional, so the progressives campaigned for the 16th Amendment.By 1913, the states had ratified the amendment and Congress could now pass a graduated income tax.
Congress passed the Federal Reserve Act in 1913 to set up a system of federal banks. The system did not only that, but it gave the government the power to regulate interest rates by controlling the money supply.
In 1913 Henry Ford introduced the moving assembly line. He made it because he was the owner of an automobile plant and he found that it would be the best way for the cars to be made. Many businesses adopted this way of manufacturing because it meant that the production was cheaper. This also meant that many more people would be employed to make things though and that would include children and women. Ford's assembly line was a great contribution to society that was greatly needed.
The 17th Amendment allowed for the direct election of Senators. Ever since 1789 state legislatures had elected the senators and voters had no say in this. The only say that voters ever had were powerful rich people bribing the legislature to vote for certain candidates. Progressives felt that this was abusive to the voters and therefore they campaigned for the 17th Amendment. Congress approved of the 17th Amendment in 1912 and the states ratified it soon after.
Roosevelt had taken a trip to Africa to hunt large game, but when he came back he realized that Taft was under fire from Progressives. Roosevelt decided to run against Taft in the election for Republican nomination. Roosevelt had much support, but because Taft had the leader support he won the nomination. Progressives were not happy so they set up a new party and Roosevelt was their nominee. The party came to be called the Bull Moose Party. The Democrats chose Woodrow Wilson as their candidate. As a boy Wilson thought he should always fight for what he thought was right. Wilson was known as a brilliant reformer and an excellent scholar. Together, Taft and Roosevelt won many more votes than Wilson, but because they had split the Republican party it was an easy win for Wilson.
The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire was a terrible event that caused many states to rethink their safety policies and potentially make workers safer. On March 25 workers in the eighth floor of a factory were getting ready to leave when on the floor above them a fire broke out. Like anyone would do, they all ran to the doors to try and get out, but the owners had locked all of the doors to prevent the workers from leaving early. They tried to turn on the hoses, but because the owners were cheap they had never replaced the hoses. The hoses had all rotten and the valves at the top were rusted over. There was no putting out the fire that way. People tried to use the elevator, but after four trips down, it stopped working. The firefighters ladders would only reach to the seventh floor and so the workers could not escape that way either. They were faced with no way to get out and flames consuming their building. Many of them chose to jump down the elevator shaft to their death, leaving a hundred bodies at the bottom of the shaft by the time the fire was over. Others jumped out of the windows together and the safety nets were not strong enough for numerous people to jump out at once, so they broke as well. Although many people died, this resulted in future good. NY and many other states passed new laws to protect workers and keep them from harms way. The Triangle Fire was an awful event occurring at a time when no one was prepared, but resulted in future safety laws and regulations.
In 1910 many Asian immigrants were processed on the the West Coast at Angel Island in San Fransisco Bay. There these immigrants faced long delays and hard inspections because America was trying to discourage the immigration of Asians. Despite the processing, many Asians made a home on the west coast.
In 1908 TR did not want to run for reelection because he had served almost two full terms already. He backed William Howard Taft instead who was his Secretary of War. Everyone had loved TR so they all voted for Taft and he won very easily. Taft had lowered the work day to an 8 hour work day for government officials which was a huge success. Under his office he also set up a branch of the Commerce Department to deal with child labor. Despite his success, there were many things that people did not like. He had fired a high-level forest service official who most people liked. He also raised the tariff which everyone hated and it upset many people.
In 1908 the game of football was started in colleges after the game of soccer in Europe.
In 1906, Upton Sinclair published a book called The Jungle. The book was fiction, but the facts were all true and based off of what really happened in the meat packaging industries. He gave many examples of the gruesome details of what happens in a meat packaging industry such as the fact that many places take dead rats and grind them into the meat. Because the meat is obviously very unhealthy, the companies started dying the meat to make it look healthier. Packaging companies also used the meat from sick animals which would then end up in people's food. Upton Sinclair was an example of a muckraker who at the time were not uncommon because there were many things hidden from consumers and civilians by the government. Muckrakers were people who went and literally raked up the muck and found out what no one wanted to hear, but was necessary for people to know.
In 1906 Congress gave permission for more inspectors to make inspections of meat packaging industries.Muckrakers had exposed drugs for making false claims and food industries for adding harmful chemicals to foods. The Pure Food and Drug Act required food and drug makers to list ingredients on packaging and it also tried to end false advertising and the use of impure ingredients.
In 1904 TR ran for his own right. During the campaign he promised Americans a Square Deal, like an even deal. This meant that everyone from farmers to owners should have the same chance at success. A main target of the Square Deal were railroads because the Interstate Commerce Act had done little to end rebates and other such abuses. Roosevelt continued to urge Congress to outlaw rebates and in 1906 Congress gave the ICC power to set railroad rates.
Orville Wright made the first airplane flight in 1903, after much work with his brother on the machine. The flight did not last very long, but after that they were even more determined to make it better. They perfected the plane and then many different business made use of the new inventions.
In 1903 Wisconsin was the first state to adopt the system of primaries. That meant that the people were allowed to vote on who would be the democratic or republican nominee and it would no longer be decided by the party leaders. Within 14 years all but four of the states had adopted primaries. Voters wanted more power and La Follette, a leading progressive at the time worked to gain that for them. La Folette also came up with the Wisconsin Idea which was the lowering of railroad rates which resulted in increased rail traffic and that helped both owners and the customers. Along with the primaries other reformers fained the right to have initiative. An initiative was the right for voters to put a bill before state legislature, but a certain number of voters must sign an initiative law before it can be proposed. There was also the idea of a referendum which allowed voters to vote on a bill and put it onto a ballot. There was also a recall which was the allowance of voters to remove elected officials from office which would allow voters to get rid of corrupt officials.
In 1902, TR asked the Attorney General (the government's chief lawyer) to bring a lawsuit against Northern Securities. Northern Securities was a trust that was made to control competition along railroads and TR said that this was unfair business practices and it was in violation of the Sherman Act. When people heard of the lawsuit stock prices on Wall street fell and that made many business leaders worry, but ordinary Americans were very happy. The Supreme Court ruled in 1904 that, yes indeed, Northern Securities was in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. This was the first time that the Sherman Antitrust Act was actually used against trusts rather than unions. TR was not done after that though, he gained a nickname as the Trust Buster and continued to file lawsuits against Standard Oil and the American Tobacco Company.
In 1902, R. H. Macy made the first department store. A department store was a store that sold all goods in one place. It had shoes, clothes and kitchen appliances all in one place which made it much easier for everyone to shop and buy clothes. After department stores were made people started to enjoy shopping as a pass time and went "window" shopping.
Morgan becomes head of the US Steel Company in 1901 because he buys the company from Carnegie. He had given his asking price about a year earlier for 490,000,000 dollars which is now a staggering amount, but then was even more.
Boston built the first American Subway. Subways were very useful to the general public because they did not take up extra space and they did not make unattractive sights in the middle of the city. These had a multiplier effect like the railroads and were making hundreds of new jobs.
In 1892 with all of the new immigrant arrivals, they needed a new receiving station at Ellis Island. They made a new receiving station and this is where immigrants faced the dreaded medical inspections. To get to the station you had to climb a large flight of stairs and anyone that limped, had difficulty or seemed out of breath were forced to stay on Ellis Island until they healed and in some rare cases, they were sent home.Some immigrants had their names changed to make it easier for the processors at Ellis Island.
In 1891 James Naismith created the game of basketball. They made it because he wanted game to play inside during the winter. They started by nailing bushel baskets to the walls and throwing soccer balls into the basket.
During the 1890s Morgan and other investors invested in the stock of troubled corporations. This was a risky thing to do, but he still did it and because he bought the stock at a low price, when the company made a come back he would make huge profits. Morgan started his whole empire by basically investing in others.
In 1890, Wyoming applied for statehood, where women already had the right to vote. Many members of Congress wanted to change that right because the rest of the women in the US did not have the right to vote. Wyoming, though was only going to come into the Union if their women would be allowed to come with their rights. The women in Wyoming had gained the right to vote, so early on because when people had started settling in Wyoming everyone worked to start building civilization, including the women. The men in Wyoming saw that the women were just as capable to do work as them, so they gave them the right to vote.
The Sherman Antitrust Act was a government regulation on big business. It was to try and reduce the power of the big businesses and allow for more competition, in order to help the consumer and the little man. The Sherman Antitrust act specifically, tried to ban monopolies and trusts. Also because more bosses had political power than workers, the Act was used against Unions in the beginning. It was not until President Theodore Roosevelt came into power that the Act became at all useful. The Act was too weak to be effective and businesses just sidestepped the act.The Sherman Antitrust Act was signed by President Benjamin Harrison. The Act prohibited businesses from trying to limit or destroy competition which it very often did (for example Rockefeller). The Act sounded strong and easy to follow, but enforcing it was an issue. At first the judges ruled in favor of the trusts. They held that the law was an illegal attempt to control private property by the government and they thought that it was taking away from the free enterprise system. The Sherman Antitrust Act was often used against labor unions and the courts said that union strikes blocked free trade and therefore they blocked competition. Although, the start of the Sherman Antitrust Act was unsuccessful eventually it was used against monopolies and proved very powerful.
Myra Bradwell taught herself law in much the same way as Abraham Lincoln did. In 1869 Illinois denied her of her license although she had earned it because she was a woman. It took until 1890 until she was finally granted her license in Illinois.
Jane Addams,a do-gooder from a well of family opened a settlement house called the Hull House in 1889. At the Hull House, women supported other immigrants and they had services to help immigrants such as a daycare so that the mothers could go out and work. Many other settlement houses opened up throughout the country after Jane Addams example of the Hull House.
In 1887 nativists formed the American Protective Association. This group worked towards passing laws to restrict immigration. In response Congress passed a law that banned immigrants who could not read their own language from entering the country. The president, Grover Cleveland vetoed the bill and said it was wrong to keep peasants out just because they hadn't gone to school. The next three presidents vetoed similar bills as well. Later, in 1917 Congress overrode President Woodrow Wilson's veto and it became a law.
In 1887 Frank Sprague created the first Electric streetcar. They were also known as trolleys, but they were fast clean and quiet which everyone loved. Many trolleys ran straight from the city to the countryside or suburbs.
In 1887, President Grover Cleveland signed the Interstate Commerce Act. Interstate means between states and commerce means business therefore it referred to the business between two or more states. It forbade practices such as pools and rebates, in order to help small businesses and ultimately the consumer. It also set up the ICC or the Interstate Commerce Commission. The ICC was the overseer of the railroads to further the prevention of pools and rebates. In the beginning the ICC was very weak because in most court cases the judges ruled in favor of the railroads. None the less though, Congress was ready to regulate big business and so they passed laws to make the ICC more effective.
The Haymarket Riot started when there was a strike and a company sent out strikebreakers to replace the striking workers. The workers and the strikebreakers then started fighting outside of the factory and police opened fire killing four of the workers. The next day thousands of workers gathered in Haymarket Square to protest the killings of the four. The rally was led by anarchists who opposed unions. Then a bomb exploded which killed seven police officers. They convicted eight anarchists for what they did in the Haymarket Riot. Resulting in a great loss of members of many unions, especially the Knights of Labor.
In 1885 the first skyscraper was built in Chicago. The building was only nine stories tall, but compared to other buildings this skyscraper was huge. They had started to use steel supports that were lightweight and sturdy, so they allowed contractors to build higher and higher, which soon became like a competition.
In 1885 Frank Thompson organized the first professional baseball team out of waiters. They called their team the Cuban Giants of Long Island. The game of baseball first started during the Civil War and was spread throughout the country by other soldiers.
The French handed over the Statue of Liberty in 1884 which was 8 years later than the date that they had originally wanted to give it to the Americans. They had originally wanted to give the Statue of Liberty to America as a 100th birthday present, but they could not complete it in that time.
There was a demand for higher education throughout the country and as a result people started making higher education schools. The Chicago Manual Training School offered classes in shop work such as carpentry and electricity. Soon after the opening of that school most public schools offered classes of shop work to prepare students for jobs in business or industry.
In 1883 New York built the Brooklyn Bridge that was a mile long and contained a footpath and two railroad lines. The bridge linked Manhattan and Brooklyn.
The Pendleton Act creates a commission to conduct exams for federal job seekers. Congress passed the Pendleton Act which created the Civil Service Commission. The commision conducted exams of federal jobs and that includes all federal jobs except for elected offices and military. The people who scored the highest points on the exams gained the best posts and jobs, At first, the Commission only controlled a few of the jobs, but under pressure of reformers Presidents later placed more jobs under the Commission. By 1900 the Commission controlled approximately 40% of the federal jobs.
The Chinese Exclusion Act was designed to keep Chinese laborers from growing in numbers. What they decided to do was to prevent any more Chinese laborers from entering the US, also as a second term, they said that any Chinese person who left the country would not be allowed to come back into the States. They were trying to keep immigration numbers low because we already have so many immigrants. Many other laws were made that were very similar to the Chinese Exclusion Act.
President James Garfield enters the White House and is immediately faced with office seakers. He thought that the government jobs should be awarded on the basis of merit as opposed to patronage. Merit was how a person deserved to be in the position where as patronage was just giving jobs to followers. When two months later a disappointed office seaker, shot the President more efforts were raised to try and decrease the power of the Spoils System.
President Rutherford B. Hayes took steps to end the spoils system. He ordered an investigation of New York and the custom house there. Investigators found hundreds of appointed officials receiving high salaries but doing no work at all.
In 1877 Boston University was the first University to grant the first Ph.D. to a woman. Soon more women entered graduate schools and earned advanced degrees.
In 1877 Cornelius Vanderbilt died. At his death he controlled 4500 miles of railroad track in NYC to the Great Lakes. Although, in his business career he was ruthless and stopped at nothing to consolidate, he made his fortune and was a self made man.
The election of 1876 is one of the most corrupt elections in US history. Samuel Tilden (DEMOCRAT) was running against Rutherford B. Hayes (REPUBLICAN). Tilden won the popular vote but the election outcome depended on 20 disputed votes in the electoral college. A commission (made up of Democrat and Republican leaders) was created to resolve the election and a SECRET DEAL was made. Hayes was awarded the victory, but agreed to end reconstruction and remove federal troops from the South. Reconstruction had a lasting impact on the South for a long time. The South is solidly Democratic for the next 100 years because of Radical Reconstruction. Black southerners lost most of the rights they had gained and segregation would be a big issue for long after that.
In 1874 a group called the WCTU or the Women's Christian Temperance Union was organized. Frances Willard became the first president six years later. She always spoke of the evils of alcohol and she called for state laws to ban alcohol. She began the suffrage movement to crusade against alcohol. Carrie Nation was another woman who worked for the crusade against alcohol. Her husband died from heavy drinking and she vowed to keep others from drinking as well. In one instance she ran into a saloon and smashed beer kegs and liquor bottles. Nation won publicity, but she embarrassed the WCTU.
The Chautaugua Society created schools that taught the Bible and some educational things as well. The Chautauqua's started to travel and teach people who otherwise would have no means of being taught.
In 1874 James B. Eads designed the Eads Bridge, but the immigrants built it. The bridge was a three arched bridge more than a quarter mile long.
In 1873 the city of St. Louis tried kindergarten where they started teaching children as young as age three and the teachers would teach them to express themselves with songs, games, and stories. Educators thought that this would give children a head start on their education.