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Live Toast's Quick Guide to American History

Happy Birthday America!

The Boston Tea party, one of the top moments in US HistoryThe dumping of tea into Boston Harbor set in place a chain of events that would alter the course of history on the planet.

It's Independence Day, a day of celebrations, hot dogs and fireworks happening around the country. But as we celebrate the birth of this fine country, along with our freedoms, we should celebrate our history as well. You can't know where you're going if you don't know where you've been - as they say. With that in mind we thought we would look back at some of the biggest moments in American History.

Here is our quick and dirty guide to US History, so you can get out there and impress everyone at the fireworks show..

  • 1773 Boston Tea Party – A few brave patriots started it all, this crazy experiment called the United States of America. Nowadays all you need to be called a patriot is a flag pin. These guys risked everything for their dreams.
  • 1775 - 83 War of Independence went from April 19, 1775 - September 3, 1783, concluding with the Treaty of Paris. United States territory was formally recognized as the land between what is now Canada, Florida and the Mississippi River.
  • 1791 - Bill of Rights sets out what (white male) citizens of the United State could count on. The first ten amendments to the US Constitution favored limited government aimed at protecting the rights of liberty and property.
    General Washington crossing the DelawareThe painting of General Washington crossing the Delaware has become one of the most iconic paintings in US history.
  • 1803 Louisiana Purchase For a cool $15 million the US bought land from France that almost doubles the country's size.
  • 1804 Lewis and Clark expedition was the first American expedition into the west, with the duo making it all the way to the Pacific Coast.
  • 1812 The War of 1812 - again pitted the US against Great Britain and settled many issues that remained from the Revolutionary War.
  • 1823 Monroe Doctrine - President Monroe declares that the American continents are henceforth off-limits for further colonization by European powers
  • 1836 The Siege on the Alamo by Mexican troops and the killing of all the defenders galvanized support for Texans and led to the founding of the Republic of Texas, which lasted for a decade.
  • 1838 Trail of Tears forced Native Americans to relocated to Oklahoma, an estimated 4,000 Native Americans died on the trail.
  • 1845 Annexation of Texas and the first mention of manifest destiny, the belief the US was destined to span all the land between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
  • 1846 – 48 Mexican War - US declares war in effort to gain California, the war ends with Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Rio Grande set as new border, and Mexico cedes much territory for $15 million.
  • 1861 Emancipation Proclamation - Kicks off the Civil War.
  • 1863 Gettysburg Address by President Lincoln "Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."
  • 1865 Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrenders, marking the end of the Civil War.
  • 1865 President Lincoln is assassinated, Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, prohibiting slavery, is ratified, although African Americans wouldn’t be given the right to vote until February 3, 1870.
  • 1867 US buys Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million.
  • 1872 Crédit Mobilier scandal - Senators and congressmen helping themselves to taxpayer money. It was described as "the most damaging exhibition of official and private villainy and corruption ever laid bare to the gaze of the world. . . What this Credit Mobilier is seems to be as much shrouded in mystery as is the fate of the missing $180,000,000 of capital stock of these roads. . . No criminal or civil charges were filed against any of the Credit Mobilier's scoundrels."
  • 1877 First telephone line installed from Boston to Somerville
  • 1886 Statue of Liberty is dedicated
    The Statue of LibertyA beacon of freedom throughout the world, the Statue of Liberty was dedicated in 1886 at Ellis Island and greeted thousands of immigrants to the United States
  • 1890 Battle of Wounded Knee marked the end of the American Indian Wars after approximately 150 Lakota men women and children were massacred.
  • 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson, the US Supreme court rules racial segregation is legal.
  • 1898 Spanish American War The last gasps of the dying Spanish Empire, after an easy win the US gets Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines (and Spain gives up control of Cuba).
  • 1898 Annexation of Hawaii - The stage was set in 1893, when US citizens living in Hawaii pulled of a coup d'état and overthrew Queen Lili'uokalani.
  • 1903 Panama Canal is purchased from the French, it would open in 1914.
  • 1903 Wright Brothers make first sustained flight.
  • 1908 FBI is founded.
  • 1914 - 1918 World War I US enters the war in 1917, in part due to the sinking of the Lusitania, which resulted in the death of 128 Americans.
  • 1919 Prohibition starts (eighteenth amendment) leading to the development of organized crime. After being deemed an utter failure prohibition was repealed in 1933 with the 21st amendment.
  • 1919 19th Amendment gives women right to vote
  • 1923 Teapot Dome scandal - The Teapot Dome scandal was a bribery incident. Secretary of the Interior Albert B. Fall leased Navy petroleum reserves to private oil companies at low rates without competitive bidding. Fall was found guilty of bribery and was fined $100,000 and sentenced to one year in prison, making him the first Presidential cabinet member to go to prison for his actions in office.
  • 1927 Charles Lindbergh makes first solo transatlantic flight.
  • 1929 Great Depression starts.
  • 1935 Social Security Act passed.
  • 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act sets stage for minimum wage of 25 cents an hour.
  • 1939 1945 WWII The defending world war champion US returns to Europe to defends its title against Hitler and the Nazis.
  • 1944 US invades Normandy on June 6 drops bomb on Japan on July 16.
  • 1947 CIA is established.
  • 1948 Marshall Plan provides aid for the reconstruction of Europe following the war.
  • 1950 1953 Korean War, a result of the division of the Korean Peninsula along the 38th parallel, and tensions between the US administering the Southern portion and the Soviet Union taking care of the North. 62 years later former NBA star Dennis Rodman would visit North Korea.
  • 1950–1975 ‘Nam
  • 1954 Senator Joseph McCarthy and the Red Scare had everyone scared the country was being overrun by secret communists. Good thing nothing like that would ever happen today.
  • 1954 Brown vs Board of education, Supreme Court rules racial segregation is illegal.
  • 1959 Alaska and Hawaii become states
  • 1961 Cold War escalates, Kennedy shuts of talks w Cuba, Bay of Pigs invasion
  • 1962 Freedom Riders traveled to the South to challenge non-enforcement of non-segregation in schools.
  • 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis is the closet the US and USSR come to full-scale war.
  • 1963 Martin Luther King gives I Have a Dream speech.
  • 1964 Civil Rights Act passes.
  • 1968 MLK and RFK Assassinated.
  • 1969 Neil Armstrong walks on the Moon.
  • 1972 Watergate scandal erupts, engulfing the end of President Nixon's term.
  • 1970 Kent State shootings four students shot to death by the National Guard at Kent State. Makes you wonder what all the fuss was about a 'lil pepper spray.
    UC Davis pepperspray incidentThe Kent State massacre of four students makes the 2011 UC Davis pepper-spray incident look like a walk in the park.
  • 1979 Iran Hostage Crisis Iranian students at Teheran overtake the US Embassy and hold 66 hostages – released in 1981 444 days later, setting the stage for Ben Affleck's Argo to win Best Picture at the 85th Academy Awards.
  • 1980 FBI's Abscam sting operation leads to the conviction of a United States Senator, five members of the House of Representatives, one member of the New Jersey State Senate, members of the Philadelphia City Council, and an inspector for the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
  • 1983 US invasion of Grenada after a Marxist coup.
  • 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger explosion
  • 1989 US invades Panama to kill General Manuel Noriega, a one-time CIA operative.
  • 1989 Fall of the Berlin Wall signaling the end of the Cold War and proving once and for all the freedom is the only way.
  • 1990 Persian Gulf War launched by UN coalition force from 34 countries in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.
  • 1992 Rodney King beating and LA Riots
  • 1993 First World Trade Center bombing
  • 1993 Waco Siege - FBI launches assault that results in the death of 76 men, women and children.
  • 1993 President Clinton bombs Iraq in response to a failed plot to assassinate former president George Bush Sr., a plot which might not have existed after all.
  • 1993 NAFTA singed into law, creating a trade bloc between the US, Canada and Mexico
  • 1995 Oklahoma City bombing claims 168 lives.
  • 1998 Monica Lewinski scandal submarines most the President Clinton's second term.
  • 1999 Columbine shooting
  • 2000 Gore vs Bush - Supreme court rules to stop Florida recount and hands the presidency to George W. Bush.
  • 2001 - 911 terrorists attacks almost 3,000 people die in the attacks. US and Britain launch attacks in Afghanistan
  • 2002 – Axis of Evil speech by President Bush and the creation of the department of Homeland Security
  • 2003 – US and Britain invade Iraq
  • 2004 - Boston Red Sox win World Series after completing an incredible comeback after being down three games against the Yankees in the ALCS
  • 2005 – Hurricane Katrina devastates the US Gulf Coast
  • 2008 – Economic crash due to housing bust
  • 2008 - Barack Obama first African American elected president on promises of hope and change.
  • 2010 – Deepwater Horizon spill discharges 4.9 million barrels (that's 210 million gallons) of crude oil into the Gulf Coast


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