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American History through Song Preservation Project
Below are just a few samples from our 3000+ collection of historical American song sheets dating from the 1800s to the present day. Click on each thumbnail image for a larger version. As we build this portion of the website, we will show examples of the songs that mirrored the events listed in the timeline of U.S. History. Your online donation helps to support our American History through Song Preservation Project!
The U.S. capital is moved from Philadelphia to Washington, DC (June 15). U.S. Congress meets in Washington, DC, for the first time (Nov. 17).Gabriel Prosser, an enslaved African American blacksmith, organizes a slave revolt intending to march on Richmond, Virginia. The conspiracy is uncovered, and Prosser and a number of the rebels are hanged. Virginia's slave laws are consequently tightened.
Thomas Jefferson is inaugurated as the third president in Washington, DC (March 4).
Marbury v. Madison: Landmark Supreme Court decision greatly expands the power of the Court by establishing its right to declare acts of Congress unconstitutional (Feb. 24).Louisiana Purchase: United States agrees to pay France $15 million for the Louisiana Territory, which extends west from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains and comprises about 830,000 sq mi (treaty signed May 2). As a result, the U.S. nearly doubles in size.
Lewis and Clark set out from St. Louis, Mo., on expedition to explore the West and find a route to the Pacific Ocean. (May 14).
Jefferson's second inauguration (March 4). Lewis and Clark reach the Pacific Ocean (Nov. 15).
James Madison is inaugurated as the fourth president (March 4).
War of 1812: U.S. declares war on Britain over British interference with American maritime shipping and westward expansion (June 18, 1812). Madison's second inauguration (March 4, 1813). British capture Washington, DC, and set fire to White House and Capitol (Aug. 1814).Francis Scott Key writes Star-Spangled Banneras he watches British attack on Fort McHenry at Baltimore (Sept. 13–14, 1814).Treaty of Ghent is signed, officially ending the war (Dec. 24, 1814).
James Monroe is inaugurated as the fifth president (March 4).
Missouri Compromise: In an effort to maintain the balance between free and slave states, Maine (formerly part of Massachusetts) is admitted as a free state so that Missouri can be admitted as a slave state; except for Missouri, slavery is prohibited in the Louisiana Purchase lands north of latitude 36°30' (March 3).
Monroe's second inauguration (March 5).
Denmark Vesey, an enslaved African American carpenter who had purchased his freedom, plans a slave revolt with the intent to lay siege on Charleston, South Carolina. The plot is discovered, and Vesey and 34 coconspirators are hanged.
Monroe Doctrine: In his annual address to Congress, President Monroe declares that the American continents are henceforth off-limits for further colonization by European powers (Dec. 2).
Andrew Jackson is inaugurated as seventh president (March 4).
President Jackson signs the Indian Removal Act, which authorizes the forced removal of Native Americans living in the eastern part of the country to lands west of the Mississippi River (May 28). By the late 1830s the Jackson administration has relocated nearly 50,000 Native Americans.
Nat Turner, an enslaved African American preacher, leads the most significant slave uprising in American history. He and his band of about 80 followers launch a bloody, day-long rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia. The militia quells the rebellion, and Turner is eventually hanged. As a consequence, Virginia institutes much stricter slave laws.
Texas declares its independence from Mexico (March 1). Texan defenders of the Alamo are all killed during siege by the Mexican Army (Feb. 24–March 6). Texans defeat Mexicans at San Jacinto (April 21).
Martin Van Buren is inaugurated as the eighth president (March 4).
More than 15,000 Cherokee Indians are forced to march from Georgia to Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma. Approximately 4,000 die from starvation and disease along the “Trail of Tears.”
William Henry Harrison is inaugurated as the ninth president (March 4). He dies one month later (April 4) and is succeeded in office by his vice president, John Tyler.
U.S. annexes Texas by joint resolution of Congress (March 1). James Polk is inaugurated as the 11th president (March 4). The term “manifest destiny” appears for the first time in a magazine article by John L. O'Sullivan (July–August). It expresses the belief held by many white Americans that the United States is destined to expand across the continent.
Oregon Treaty fixes U.S.-Canadian border at 49th parallel; U.S. acquires Oregon territory (June 15).
Mexican War: U.S. declares war on Mexico in effort to gain California and other territory in Southwest (May 13, 1846). War concludes with signing of Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (Feb. 2, 1848). Mexico recognizes Rio Grande as new boundary with Texas and, for $15 million, agrees to cede territory comprising present-day California, Nevada, Utah, most of New Mexico and Arizona, and parts of Colorado and Wyoming.
Gold is discovered at Sutter's Mill in California (Jan. 24); gold rush reaches its height the following year. Women's rights convention is held at Seneca Falls, N.Y. (July 19–20).
Zachary Taylor is inaugurated as the 12th president (March 5).
Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin is published. It becomes one of the most influential works to stir anti-slavery sentiments.
Franklin Pierce is inaugurated as the 14th president (March 4).Gadsden Purchase treaty is signed; U.S. acquires border territory from Mexico for $10 million (Dec. 30).
Congress passes the Kansas-Nebraska Act, establishing the territories of Kansas and Nebraska (May 30). The legislation repeals the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and renews tensions between anti- and proslavery factions.
Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana secede (Jan.).Confederate States of America is established (Feb. 8).Jefferson Davis is elected president of the Confederacy (Feb. 9). Texas secedes (March 2). Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated as the 16th president (March 4).
Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee
Civil War: Conflict between the North (the Union) and the South (the Confederacy) over the expansion of slavery into western states. Confederates attack Ft. Sumter in Charleston, S.C., marking the start of the war (April 12, 1861). Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee secede (April–June). Emancipation Proclamation is issued, freeing slaves in the Confederate states (Jan. 1, 1863).Battle of Gettysburg is fought (July 1–3). President Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address(Nov. 19).Gen. William T. Sherman captures Atlanta (Sept. 2, 1864). Lincoln's second inauguration (March 4, 1865).Gen. Ulysses S. Grant captures Richmond, Va., the capital of the Confederacy (April 3). Confederate general Robert E. Lee surrenders to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Va., (April 9).
Homestead Act becomes law, allowing settlers to claim land (160 acres) after they have lived on it for five years (Jan. 1).
Lincoln is assassinated (April 14) by John Wilkes Booth in Washington, DC, and is succeeded by his vice president, Andrew Johnson. Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, prohibiting slavery (Dec. 6).
U.S. acquires Alaska from Russia for the sum of $7.2 million (treaty concluded March 30).
President Johnson is impeached by the House of Representatives (Feb. 24), but he is acquitted at his trial in the Senate (May 26).Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, defining citizenship (July 9).
Ulysses S. Grant is inaugurated as the 18th president (March 4). Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads are joined at Promontory, Utah, creating first transcontinental railroad (May 10).
Rutherford B. Hayes is inaugurated as the 19th president (March 5). The first telephone line is built from Boston to Somerville, Mass.; the following year, President Hayes has the first telephone installed in the White House.
James A. Garfield is inaugurated as the 20th president (March 4). He is shot (July 2) by Charles Guiteau in Washington, DC, and later dies from complications of his wounds in Elberon, N.J. (Sept. 19). Garfield's vice president, Chester Alan Arthur, succeeds him in office.
Benjamin Harrison is inaugurated as the 23rd president (March 4).Oklahoma is opened to settlers (April 22).
National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) is founded, with Elizabeth Cady Stanton as president. Sherman Antitrust Act is signed into law, prohibiting commercial monopolies (July 2). Last major battle of the Indian Wars occurs at Wounded Knee in South Dakota (Dec. 29). In reporting the results of the 1890 census, the Census Bureau announces that the West has been settled and the frontier is closed.
Ellis Island becomes chief immigration station of the U.S. (Jan. 1).
Grover Cleveland is inaugurated a second time, as the 24th president (March 4). He is the only president to serve two nonconsecutive terms.
William McKinley is inaugurated as the 25th president (March 4).
Spanish-American War: USS Maine is blown up in Havana harbor (Feb. 15), prompting U.S. to declare war on Spain (April 25). Treaty of Paris is signed, ending the Spanish-American War (Dec. 10); Spain gives up control of Cuba, which becomes an independent republic, and cedes Puerto Rico, Guam, and (for $20 million) the Philippines to the U.S.
U.S. annexes Hawaii by an act of Congress (July 7).
U.S. acquires American Samoa by treaty with Great Britain and Germany (Dec. 2).
Galveston hurricane leaves an estimated 6,000 to 8,000 dead (Sept. 8). According to the census, the nation's population numbers nearly 76 million.
McKinley's second inauguration (March 4). He is shot (Sept. 6) by anarchist Leon Czolgosz in Buffalo, N.Y., and later dies from his wounds (Sept. 14). He is succeeded by his vice president, Theodore Roosevelt.
U.S. acquires Panama Canal Zone (treaty signed Nov. 17). Wright brothers make the first controlled, sustained flight in heavier-than-air aircraft at Kitty Hawk, N.C. (Dec. 17).
Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk
Theodore Roosevelt's second inauguration (March 4).
Bureau of Investigation, forerunner of the FBI, is established (July 26).
William Howard Taft is inaugurated as the 27th president (March 4). Mrs. Taft has 80 Japanese cherry trees planted along the banks of the Potomac River.
Cherry Trees in Blossom at the Washington Monument
Woodrow Wilson is inaugurated as the 28th president (March 4). Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, providing for the direct election of U.S. senators by popular vote rather than by the state legislatures (April 8).
World War I: U.S. enters World War I, declaring war on Germany (April 6, 1917) and Austria-Hungary (Dec. 7, 1917) three years after conflict began in 1914. Armistice ending World War I is signed (Nov. 11, 1918).
Panama Canal opens to traffic (Aug. 15).
First long distance telephone service, between New York and San Francisco, is demonstrated (Jan. 25).
U.S. agrees to purchase Danish West Indies (Virgin Islands) for $25 million (treaty signed Aug. 14).Jeannette Rankin of Montana is the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives (Nov. 7).
Wilson's second inauguration (March 5). First regular airmail service begins, with one round trip a day between Washington, DC, and New York (May 15).
Worldwide influenza epidemic strikes; by 1920, nearly 20 million are dead. In U.S., 500,000 perish.
League of Nations meets for the first time; U.S. is not represented (Jan. 13).Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, prohibiting the manufacture, sale, and transportation of liquor (Jan. 16). It is later repealed by the Twenty-First Amendment in 1933. Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, granting women the right to vote (Aug. 18). President Wilson suffers a stroke (Sept. 26).Treaty of Versailles, outlining terms for peace at the end of World War I, is rejected by the Senate (Nov. 19).
Warren G. Harding is inaugurated as the 29th president (March 4). He signs resolution declaring peace with Austria and Germany (July 2).
President Harding dies suddenly (Aug. 2). He is succeeded by his vice president, Calvin Coolidge. Teapot Dome scandal breaks, as Senate launches an investigation into improper leasing of naval oil reserves during Harding administration (Oct.)
Coolidge's second inauguration (March 4). Tennessee passes a law against the teaching of evolution in public schools (March 23), setting the stage for the Scopes Monkey Trial (July 10–25).
Charles Lindbergh makes the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight in his plane The Spirit of St. Louis(May 20–21).
Herbert Hoover is inaugurated as the 31st president (March 4). Stock market crash precipitates the Great Depression(Oct. 29).
The Star-Spangled Banner is adopted as the national anthem (March 3).
Hattie Wyatt Caraway of Arkansas is the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate, to fill a vacancy caused by the death of her husband (Jan. 12). She is reelected in 1932 and 1938. Amelia Earhart completes first solo nonstop transatlantic flight by a woman (May 21).
Hattie Wyatt Caraway
Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution, sometimes called the “Lame Duck Amendment,” is ratified, moving the president's inauguration date from March 4 to Jan. 20 (Jan. 23). Franklin Roosevelt is inaugurated as the 32nd president (March 4).New Deal recovery measures are enacted by Congress (March 9–June 16).Twenty-First Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, repealing Prohibition (Dec. 5).
World War II: U.S. declares its neutrality in European conflict (Sept. 5, 1939). F. Roosevelt's third inauguration (Jan. 20, 1941). He is the first and only president elected to a third term. Japan attacks Hawaii, Guam, and the Philippines (Dec. 7, 1941). U.S. declares war on Japan (Dec. 8). Germany and Italy declare war on the United States; U.S. reciprocates by declaring war on both countries (Dec. 11). Allies invade North Africa (Oct.–Dec. 1942) and Italy (Sept.–Dec. 1943). Allies invade France on D-Day (June 6, 1944). F. Roosevelt's fourth inauguration (Jan. 20, 1945). President Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin meet at Yalta in the USSR to discuss postwar occupation of Germany(Feb. 4–11). President Roosevelt dies of a stroke (April 12) and is succeeded by his vice president, Harry Truman. Germany surrenders unconditionally (May 7). First atomic bomb is detonated at Alamogordo, N.M. (July 16). President Truman, Churchill, and Stalin meet at Potsdam, near Berlin, Germany, to demand Japan's unconditional surrender and to discuss plans for postwar Europe (July 17–Aug. 2). U.S. drops atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan (Aug. 6). U.S. drops atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan (Aug. 9). Japan agrees to unconditional surrender (Aug. 14). Japanese envoys sign surrender terms aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo harbor (Sept. 2).
Bomb cloud at Hiroshima
United Nations is established (Oct. 24).
The Philippines, which had been ceded to the U.S. by Spain at the end of the Spanish-American War, becomes an independent republic (July 4).
Congress passes foreign aid bill including the Marshall Plan, which provides for European postwar recovery (April 2). Soviets begin blockade of Berlin in the first major crisis of the cold war (June 24). In response, U.S. and Great Britain begin airlift of food and fuel to West Berlin (June 26).
Truman's second inauguration (Jan. 20). North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is established (April 4). Soviets end blockade of Berlin (May 12), but airlift continues until Sept. 30.
Korean War: Cold war conflict between Communist and non-Communist forces on Korean Peninsula. North Korean communists invade South Korea (June 25, 1950). President Truman, without the approval of Congress, commits American troops to battle (June 27). President Truman removes Gen. Douglas MacArthur as head of U.S. Far East Command (April 11, 1951). Armistice agreement is signed (July 27, 1953).
Vietnam War: Prolonged conflict between Communist forces of North Vietnam, backed by China and the USSR, and non-Communist forces of South Vietnam, backed by the United States. President Truman authorizes $15 million in economic and military aid to the French, who are fighting to retain control of French Indochina, including Vietnam. As part of the aid package, Truman also sends 35 military advisers (May 1950).North Vietnamese torpedo boats allegedly attack U.S. destroyer in Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of North Vietnam (Aug. 2, 1964). Congress approves Gulf of Tonkin resolution, authorizing President Johnson to take any measures necessary to defend U.S. forces and prevent further aggression (Aug. 7). U.S. planes begin bombing raids of North Vietnam (Feb. 1965). First U.S. combat troops arrive in South Vietnam (March 8–9). North Vietnamese army and Viet Cong launch Tet Offensive, attacking Saigon and other key cities in South Vietnam (Jan.–Feb. 1968). American soldiers kill 300 Vietnamese villagers in My Lai massacre (March 16). U.S. troops invade Cambodia (May 1, 1970). Representatives of North and South Vietnam, the Viet Cong, and the U.S. sign a cease-fire agreement in Paris (Jan. 27, 1973). Last U.S. troops leave Vietnam (March 29). South Vietnamese government surrenders to North Vietnam; U.S. embassy Marine guards and last U.S. civilians are evacuated (April 30, 1975).
Twenty-Second Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, limiting the president to two terms (Feb. 27). President Truman speaks in first coast-to-coast live television broadcast (Sept. 4).
Eisenhower's second inauguration (Jan. 21). President sends federal troops to Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., to enforce integration of black students (Sept. 24).
Explorer I, first American satellite, is launched (Jan. 31).
Alaska becomes the 49th state (Jan. 3) and Hawaii becomes the 50th (Aug. 21).
U.S. severs diplomatic relations with Cuba (Jan. 3). John F. Kennedy is inaugurated as the 35th president (Jan. 20). Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba fails (April 17–20). A mixed-race group of volunteers sponsored by the Committee on Racial Equality—the so-called Freedom Riders—travel on buses through the South in order to protest racially segregated interstate bus facilities (May).
Lt. Col. John Glenn becomes first U.S. astronaut to orbit Earth(Feb. 20). Cuban Missile Crisis: President Kennedy denounces Soviet Union for secretly installing missile bases on Cuba and initiates a naval blockade of the island (Oct. 22–Nov. 20).
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivers his “I Have a Dream” speech before a crowd of 200,000 during the civil rights march on Washington, DC (Aug. 28). President Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Tex. (Nov. 22). He is succeeded in office by his vice president, Lyndon B. Johnson.
John F. Kennedy
President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act (July 2).
In his annual state of the Union address, President Johnson proposes his Great Society program (Jan. 4). L. Johnson's second inauguration (Jan. 20). State troopers attack peaceful demonstrators led by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., as they try to cross bridge in Selma, Ala. (March 7). President Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits discriminatory voting practices (Aug. 6). In six days of rioting in Watts, a black section of Los Angeles, 35 people are killed and 883 injured(Aug. 11–16).
Nixon makes historic visit to Communist China (Feb. 21–27).U.S. and Soviet Union sign strategic arms control agreement known as SALT I (May 26). Five men, all employees of Nixon's reelection campaign, are caught breaking into rival Democratic headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, DC(June 17).
Richard M. Nixon
Nixon's second inauguration (Jan. 20). Roe v. Wade:Landmark Supreme Court decision legalizes abortion in first trimester of pregnancy (Jan. 22). Senate Select Committee begins televised hearings to investigate Watergate cover-up(May 17–Aug. 7). Vice President Spiro T. Agnew resigns over charges of corruption and income tax evasion (Oct. 10).President Nixon nominates Gerald R. Ford as vice president(Oct. 12). Ford is confirmed by Congress and sworn in (Dec. 6). He is the first vice president to succeed to the office under the terms laid out by the Twenty-Fifth Amendment.
House Judiciary Committee recommends to full House that Nixon be impeached on grounds of obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress (July 27–30).Nixon resigns; he is succeeded in office by his vice president, Gerald Ford (Aug. 9). Nixon is granted an unconditional pardon by President Ford (Sept. 8). Five former Nixon aides go on trial for their involvement in the Watergate cover-up(Oct. 15); H. R. Haldeman, John D. Ehrlichman, and John Mitchell eventually serve time in prison. Nelson Rockefeller is confirmed and sworn in as vice president (Dec. 19).
Jimmy Carter is inaugurated as the 39th president (Jan. 20).President Carter signs treaty (Sept. 7) agreeing to turn control of Panama Canal over to Panama on Dec. 31, 1999.
President Carter meets with Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin at Camp David(Sept. 6); Sadat and Begin sign Camp David Accord, ending 30-year conflict between Egypt and Israel (Sept. 17).
U.S. establishes diplomatic ties with mainland China for the first time since Communist takeover in 1949 (Jan. 1).Malfunction at Three Mile Island nuclear reactor in Pennsylvania causes near meltdown (March 28). Panama takes control of the Canal Zone, formerly administered by U.S.(Oct. 1). Iranian students storm U.S. embassy in Teheran and hold 66 people hostage (Nov. 4); 13 of the hostages are released (Nov. 19–20).
Three Mile Island
President Carter announces that U.S. athletes will not attend Summer Olympics in Moscow unless Soviet Union withdraws from Afghanistan (Jan. 20). FBI's undercover bribery investigation, code named Abscam, implicates a U.S. senator, seven members of the House, and 31 other public officials(Feb. 2). U.S. mission to rescue hostages in Iran is aborted after a helicopter and cargo plane collide at the staging site in a remote part of Iran and 8 servicemen are killed (April 25).
Ronald Reagan is inaugurated as the 40th president (Jan. 20).U.S. hostages held in Iran are released after 444 days in captivity (Jan. 20). President Reagan is shot in the chest by John Hinckley, Jr. (March 30). Sandra Day O'Connor is sworn in as the first woman Supreme Court justice (Sept. 25).
Sandra Day O'Connor
Deadline for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution passes without the necessary votes (June 30).
U.S. invades Caribbean island of Grenada after a coup by Marxist faction in the government (Oct. 25).
Reagan's second inauguration (Jan. 21).
Space shuttle Challenger explodes 73 seconds after liftoff, killing all seven crew members (Jan. 28). It is the worst accident in the history of the U.S. space program. U.S. bombs military bases in Libya in effort to deter terrorist strikes on American targets (April 14).Iran-Contra scandal breaks when White House is forced to reveal secret arms-for-hostages deals (Nov.).
Congress holds public hearings in Iran-Contra investigation(May 5–Aug. 3). In a speech in Berlin, President Reagan challenges Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall” and open Eastern Europe to political and economic reform (June 12). Reagan and Gorbachev sign INF treaty, the first arms-control agreement to reduce the superpowers' nuclear weapons (Dec. 8).
George H. W. Bush is inaugurated as the 41st president (Jan. 20). Oil tanker Exxon Valdez runs aground in Prince William Sound, spilling more than 10 million gallons of oil (March 24).It is the largest oil spill in U.S. history. President Bush signs legislation to provide for federal bailout of nearly 800 insolvent savings and loan institutions (Aug. 9). U.S. forces invade Panama in an attempt to capture Gen. Manuel Noriega, who previously had been indicted in the U.S. on drug trafficking charges (Dec. 20).
Iraqi troops invade Kuwait, leading to the Persian Gulf War(Aug. 2).
Persian Gulf War: U.S. leads international coalition in military operation (code named “Desert Storm”) to drive Iraqis out of Kuwait (Jan. 16–Feb. 28). Iraq accepts terms of UN ceasefire, marking an end of the war (April 6).
U.S. and Soviet Union sign START I treaty, agreeing to further reduce strategic nuclear arms (July 31). Senate Judiciary Committee conducts televised hearings to investigate allegations of past sexual harassment brought against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas by Anita Hill, a law professor at the University of Oklahoma (Oct. 11–13).
Following the breakup of the Soviet Union in Dec. 1991, President Bush and Russian president Boris Yeltsin meet at Camp David and formally declare an end to the cold war (Feb. 1). The acquittal of four white police officers charged in the 1991 beating of black motorist Rodney King in Los Angeles sets off several days of rioting, leading to more than 50 deaths, thousands of injuries and arrests, and $1 billion in property damage (April 29). President Bush authorizes sending U.S. troops to Somalia as part of UN relief effort (Dec. 4). President Bush grants pardons to six officials convicted or indicted in the Iran-Contra scandal, leading some to suspect a cover-up (Dec. 24).
Boris Yeltsin and George Bush
Bill Clinton is inaugurated as the 42nd president (Jan. 20).Bomb explodes in basement garage of World Trade Center, killing 6, injuring 1,000, and causing more than $500 million in damage (Feb. 26). After 51-day standoff with federal agents, Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Tex., burns to the ground, killing 80 cult members (April 19). President Clinton orders missile attack against Iraq in retaliation for alleged plot to assassinate former President Bush (June 26). Eighteen U.S. soldiers are killed in ambush by Somali militiamen in Mogadishu (Oct. 3–4). President Clinton signs North American Free Trade Agreement into law (Dec. 8).
William J. Clinton
Paula Jones, a former Arkansas state employee, files a federal lawsuit against President Clinton for sexual harassment (May 6).
Bombing of federal office building in Oklahoma City kills 168 people (April 19). U.S. establishes full diplomatic relations with Vietnam (July 11). President Clinton sends first 8,000 of 20,000 U.S. troops to Bosnia for 12-month peacekeeping mission (Dec.). Budget standoff between President Clinton and Congress results in partial shutdown of U.S. government (Dec. 16–Jan. 6).
Clinton's second inauguration (Jan. 20).
President Clinton denies having had a sexual relationship with a White House intern named Monica Lewinsky (Jan. 17).President Clinton releases 1999 federal budget plan; it is the first balanced budget since 1969 (Feb. 2). In televised address, President Clinton admits having had a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky (Aug. 17). U.S. launches missile attacks on targets in Sudan and Afghanistan followingterrorist attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania(Aug. 20). U.S. and Britain launch air strikes against weapons sites in Iraq (Dec. 16). House of Representatives votes toimpeach President Clinton on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice (Dec. 19).
Senate acquits Clinton of impeachment charges (Feb. 12).NATO wages air campaign against Yugoslavia over killing and deportation of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo(March 24–June 10).School shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., leaves 14 students (including the 2 shooters) and 1 teacher dead and 23 others wounded (April 20). U.S. and China sign historic trade agreement (Nov. 15).
According to the census, the nation's population numbers more than 280 million (April 1). No clear winner is declared in the close presidential election contest between Vice President Al Gore and Texas governor George W. Bush(Nov. 7). More than a month after the presidential election, the U.S. Supreme Court rules against a manual recount of ballots in certain Florida counties, which it contends would violate the Constitution's equal protection and due process guarantees. The decision provokes enormous controversy, with critics maintaining that the court has in effect determined the outcome of the election (Dec. 12). Bush formally accepts the presidency, having won a slim majority in the electoral college but not a majority of the popular vote(Dec. 13).
Examining a Disputed Ballot
George W. Bush is inaugurated as the 43rd president (Jan. 20). Two hijacked jetliners ram twin towers of World Trade Center in worst terrorist attack against U.S.; a third hijacked plane flies into the Pentagon, and a fourth crashes in rural Pennsylvania. More than 3,000 people die in the attacks(Sept. 11). U.S. and Britain launch air attacks against targets in Afghanistan after Taliban government fails to hand over Saudi terrorist Osama bin Laden, the suspected mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks (Oct. 7). Following air campaign and ground assault by Afghani opposition troops, the Taliban regime topples (Dec. 9); however, the hunt for bin Laden and other members of al-Qaeda terrorist organization continues.
New York's World Trade Center Towers
In his first State of the Union address, President Bush labels Iran, Iraq, and North Korea an “axis of evil” and declares that U.S. will wage war against states that develop weapons of mass destruction (Jan. 29). President Bush signs legislation creating a new cabinet department of Homeland Security.(Nov. 25).
George W. Bush
Space shuttle Columbia explodes upon reentry into Earth's atmosphere, killing all seven astronauts on board (Feb. 1).War waged by the U.S. and Britain against Iraq begins(March 19). President Bush signs $350 billion tax-cut bill(May 28).
Space Shuttle Columbia crew, from left to right, David M. Brown, Rick Husband, Laurel Clark, Kalpana Chawla, Michael P. Anderson, William McCool, and Ilan Ramon
The U.S. returns sovereignty to an interim government in Iraq, but maintains roughly 135,000 troops in the country to fight a growing insurgency (June 28). Four hurricanes devastate Florida and other parts of the southern United States (Aug. and Sept.).
The U.S. engagement in Iraq continues amid that country's escalating violence and fragile political stability. Hurricane Katrina wreaks catastrophic damage on Mississippi and Louisiana; 80% of New Orleans is flooded (Aug. 29–30). All levels of government are criticized for the delayed and inadequate response to the disaster. Sandra Day O'Connor announces her retirement as a Supreme Court Justice (July 1). Chief Justice William H Rehnquist passes away after battling thyroid cancer (Sept. 3). John G. Roberts assumes the role of chief justice (Sept. 29).
American soldiers search for insurgents in Mosul, Iraq
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the population of the United States has reached 300 million (Oct. 17).
California Democrat Nancy Pelosi becomes the first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives (Jan. 4). Attorney General Alberto Gonzales admits that the Justice Department made mistakes and exercised poor judgment in firing nine federal prosecutors in late 2006 (March 13). Male student kills two in a Virginia Tech dorm. Two hours later, he kills 30 more in a classroom building before committing suicide. The shooting rampage is the most deadly in U.S. history. Fifteen others are wounded (April 16). The minimum wage in the U.S. increases to $5.85, up from $5.15. It's the first increase in 10 years. The wage will increase 70 cents each year through 2009, when it reaches $7.25 an hour(July 24). An eight-lane interstate bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota, that is packed with cars breaks into sections and falls into the river, killing 13 people (Aug. 1). The White House announces that Alberto Gonzales, the beleaguered attorney general, has submitted his resignation to President Bush (Aug. 27). In highly anticipated testimony, Gen. David Petraeus tells members of the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services committees that the U.S. military needs more time to meet its goals in Iraq. Petraeus rejects suggestions that the U.S. shift from a counterinsurgency operation to training Iraqi forces and fighting terrorists. Instead, he says the U.S. must continue all three missions(Sep 10).
After months of campaigning and primary races, Barack Obama and John McCain are finally chosen as the presidential nominees for the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively (June 3). After months of unraveling, the economy finally comes crashing down in 2008, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbling 4.4% in one day, Lehman Brothers filing for bankruptcy, and Bush putting mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac under government conservatorship (Sept.). Democrats perform well across the board in the November elections. Barack Obama becomes the first African-American to be elected President, with 52.8% of the vote. In Congress, Democrats retain majorities in both the House and the Senate, with 57 Senators and 178 Representatives (Nov. 4).
President Barack Obama
President Obama signs executive orders closing all secret prisons and detention camps run by the CIA, including the infamous Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, and banning coercive interrogation methods (Jan. 22). The Senate votes in favor of a $168 billion package that gives rebates of $300-$600 for individuals earning up to $75,000 and to couples with incomes up to $150,000. Families will be eligible for up to $300 in rebates for each child (Feb. 7). President Obama signs the $787 billion stimulus package into law. The president's hope is that the package will create 3.5 million jobs for Americans in the next two years (Feb. 17). Insurance giant American International Group reports a $61.7 billion loss for the fourth quarter of 2008. A.I.G. lost $99.3 billion in 2008. The federal government, which has already provided the company with a $60 billion loan, will be giving A.I.G. an additional $30 billion. Nearly 80% of A.I.G. is now owned by the federal government (March 2). After confirming 20 cases of swine flu in the United States, including eight in New York City, the U.S. declares the outbreak a public health emergency (April 26). Michael Jackson, lifelong musician, pop singer, and superstar, dies at age 50 (June 25). The Senate approves, 68 to 31, the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court. She's the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice and the third woman to serve on the Court. (Aug. 25) Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy, a fixture in the Senate for 46 years, dies of brain cancer at the age of 77 (Aug. 6). A shooting at the Fort Hood army post in Texas kills 13 and injures 29. Ten of those killed are military personnel. Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, an army psychiatrist, is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder (Nov. 5). A Nigerian man on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit allegedly attempted to ignite an explosive device hidden in his underwear. The alleged bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, told officials later that he was directed by the terrorist group Al Qaeda (Dec. 25).
Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy
An explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico sends millions of gallons of oil into the sea. The spill kills 11 and is the largest off-shore spill in U.S. history as well as one of the largest spills in world history(Jan. 22). The United States Senate votes 63 to 37 to confirm President Obama's most recent nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Elena Kagan, as the newest Justice. Kagan is only the fourth woman to ever hold this position, and she'll be the third female member of the current bench, joining Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor. Kagan is the former dean of Harvard Law School; she'll be the only member of the current Supreme Court to have no previous experience as a judge (Aug. 5). The Senate votes 65 to 31 in favor of repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the Clinton-era military policy that forbids openly gay men and women from serving in the military. Eight Republicans side with the Democrats to strike down the ban. The repeal is sent to President Obama for his final signature. The ban will not be lifted officially until Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, agree that the military is ready to enact the change and that it won't affect military readiness (Dec. 18).
Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords is among 17 shot by a gunman who opened fire on the congresswoman's constituent meeting outside a local grocery store. The gunman, who police identify as Jared Lee Loughner, is apprehended (Jan. 8). President Obama announces his intention to reduce the federal deficit by $400 billion over 10 years. His plan for enacting this dramatic reduction includes budget cuts and freezes, including a spending freeze on many domestic programs (Jan. 24). The Obama Administration determines that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. The Justice Department will stop defending the law in court (Feb. 23). With less than two hours to spare, an agreement on the federal budget is made, avoiding a government shutdown. Republicans demand a provision to restrict financing to Planned Parenthood and other groups that provide abortions. Obama and the Democrats refuse to budge on the abortion provision, but they do agree to tens of billions in spending cuts (April 1). Legendary Boston crime boss, James "Whitey" Bulger is found and arrested by federal authorities in Santa Monica, Calif. Bulger is on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list and has been indicted in 19 murders (June 22). Congress makes an 11th-hour deal to prevent a national default. The deal raises the debt ceiling in two steps to $2.4 trillion and cuts an initial $1 trillion in spending over ten years (Aug. 1). For the first time in history, the U.S. has its credit rating lowered. Credit agency Standard & Poor's lowered the nation's credit rating from the top grade of AAA to AA+, removing the U.S. from its list of risk-free borrowers (Aug. 5). The Congressional Supercommittee in charge of finding $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions fails to agree on what programs to cut. Therefore, automatic cuts to military and domestic programs will go into effect in 2013 (Nov. 21).
The Pentagon announces that women will now be permanently assigned to battalions. Many women already serve in those battalions due to demand in Iraq and Afghanistan. The new ruling only makes these job assignments official and upholds the ban on women serving in combat (Feb. 9). Hurricane Sandy causes at least 132 deaths and an estimated 82 billion in damages, making it the second costliest hurricane in the U.S., behind Katrina. New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut are hardest hit (Oct. 29). President Obama is re-elected, narrowly defeating Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Democrats keep their majority in the Senate. Key victories for the Democrats include a win for Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin. Her victory makes her the first openly gay candidate to capture a seat in the Senate. The Republicans keep the majority in the House of Representatives with 232 seats to 191 for the Democrats(Nov. 6). Adam Lanza, age 20, forces his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Connecticut, and kills 26 people, including 20 children between the ages of six and seven. Then Lanza takes his own life while still inside the school (Dec. 14).
Multiple bombs explode near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Three people are killed and more than 170 people are injured (April 15). The Guardian receives information that reveals that the National Security Agency (NSA) is using PRISM to spy on the web activities, including email, of U.S. citizens. Through PRISM, a clandestine national security surveillance program, the NSA has direct access to Facebook, YouTube, Skype, Google, Apple, Yahoo and other websites (June 6). The Guardian publishes a report on another NSA tool called Boundless Informant, used by the U.S. government to watch activity in every country in the world. President Obama confirms the existence of PRISM and its use to spy on the online activity of U.S. citizens(June 8). Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee, comes forward and admits that he is the source of the recent NSA leaks (June 9). Congress fails to agree on a budget and pass a spending bill, causing the government to shut down. The government shutdown forces about 800,000 federal workers off the job (Oct. 1). The night before the debt ceiling deadline, both the House and Senate approve a bill to fund the government until January 15, 2014, and raise the debt limit through February 7, 2014. The bill ends the 16-day government shutdown. It also ends the Republican standoff with President Obama over the Affordable Care Act (Oct. 16). The Senate deploys the "nuclear option," voting 52-48 to end the right of the minority to filibuster executive and judicial branch nominees. The vote is called a monumental, once in a generation change to Senate procedure (Nov. 21). The first ruling against the NSA surveillance program is handed down by Judge Richard Leon of Federal District Court for the District of Columbia. He says the program is "significantly likely" to violate the Fourth Amendment which addresses protection against unreasonable searches (Dec. 16). Just days after Judge Leon's ruling, an advisory panel commissioned by President Obama releases a 300-page report that recommends 46 changes to the NSA surveillance program (Dec 18).
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