A Chronology of Key Events of US History
1565 – First permanent European settlement in North America United States profile – St Augustine, present-day Florida – founded by the Spanish. North America is already inhabited by several distinct groups of people, who go into decline following the arrival of settlers.
1607 – Jamestown, Virginia, founded by English settlers, who begin growing tobacco.
War of Independence
1775 – American Revolution: George Washington leads colonist Continental Army to fight against British rule.
1776 4 July – Thomas Jefferson’s American Declaration of Independence endorsed by Congress; colonies declare independence.
1781 – Rebel states form loose confederation, codified in Articles of Confederation, after defeating the British at the Battle of Yorktown.
1783 – Britain accepts loss of colonies by virtue of Treaty of Paris.
1787 – Founding Fathers draw up new constitution for United States of America. Constitution comes into effect in 1788.
1789 – George Washington elected first president of USA.
1791 – Bill of Rights guarantees individual freedom.
1808 – Atlantic slave trade abolished.
1846-48 – US acquires vast tracts of Mexican territory in wake of Mexican War including California and New Mexico.
1854 – Opponents of slavery, or abolitionists, set up Republican Party.
1860 – Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln elected president.
1860-61 – Eleven pro-slavery southern states secede from Union and form Confederate States of America under leadership of Jefferson Davis, triggering civil war with abolitionist northern states.
World War I and the Great Depression
1917-18 – US intervenes in World War I, rejects membership of League of Nations.
1920 – Women given the right to vote under the Nineteenth Amendment.
1924 – Congress gives indigenous people right to citizenship.
1933 – President Franklin D Roosevelt launches “New Deal” recovery programme which includes major public works. Sale of alcohol resumes.
World War II and the Cold War
1941 – Japanese warplanes attack US fleet at Pearl Harbour in Hawaii; US declares war on Japan; Germany declares war on US, which thereafter intervenes on a massive scale in World War II, eventually helping to defeat Germany.
1945 – US drops two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan surrenders.
1947 – US enunciates policy of aid for nations it deems threatened by communism in what became known as the Truman Doctrine. Cold War with Soviet Union begins.
1948 – America’s programme to revive ailing post-war European economies – the Marshall Plan – comes into force. Some $13bn is disbursed over four years and the plan is regarded as a success.
1950-53 – US forces play leading role against North Korean and Chinese troops in Korean War.
Desegregation and the Vietnam War
1954 – Racial segregation in schools becomes unconstitutional; start of campaign of civil disobedience to secure civil rights for Americans of African descent.
1960 – Democratic Party candidate John F Kennedy elected president, narrowly defeating his rival Richard Nixon.
1961 – Bay of Pigs invasion: an unsuccessful attempt to invade Cuba by Cuban exiles, organised and financed by Washington.
1962 – US compels Soviet Union to withdraw nuclear weapons from Cuba in what has become known as the Cuban missile crisis.
1963 – President John F Kennedy assassinated; Lyndon Johnson becomes president.
1968 – Black civil rights leader Martin Luther King assassinated.
1969 – Republican Party candidate Richard Nixon elected president amid growing public opposition to Vietnam War. US military presence in Vietnam exceeds 500,000 personnel.
US astronaut Neil Armstrong becomes the first person to walk on the Moon.
1972 – Nixon re-elected and makes historic visit to China.
1976 – Democratic Party candidate Jimmy Carter elected president.
1979 – US embassy in Tehran, Iran, seized by radical students. The 444-day hostage crisis – including a failed rescue attempt in 1980 – impacts on Carter’s popularity and dominates the 1980 presidential election campaign.
1983 – US invades Caribbean nation of Grenada, partly prompted by its concerns over the island’s ties with Cuba.
1988 – Reagan’s vice-president, George Bush, elected president.
1989 – US troops invade Panama, oust its government and arrest its leader, one-time Central Intelligence Agency informant General Manuel Noriega, on drug-trafficking charges.
The Clinton years
1992 – Democratic Party candidate Bill Clinton elected president.
1996 – Clinton re-elected, beating Republican rival Bob Dole.
2000 November – Republican Party’s George W Bush wins presidency.
2001 July – US tests its controversial missile defence shield, or “Son of Star Wars”.
11 September attacks
2001 11 September – Co-ordinated suicide attacks on various high-profile targets, prompting the US to embark on a ”war on terror” which includes the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq.
2001 October – US leads massive campaign of air strikes against Afghanistan and helps opposition forces defeat the Taleban regime and find Saudi-born dissident Osama Bin Laden, who is suspected of masterminding the 11 September attacks.
2003 February – Space shuttle Columbia’s 28th mission ends in tragedy when the craft breaks-up while re-entering the atmosphere. The seven astronauts on board are killed.
2008 November – Democratic Senator Barack Obama becomes the first black president of the United States.
2014 November – Republicans win a Senate majority in mid-term elections, gaining control of both houses of Congress and further reducing President Obama’s room for manoeuvre.
Trump elected president
2016 November – Republican candidate Donald Trump wins presidential election, defeating Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in one of the biggest political upsets in US history. He is inaugurated in January.
2017 January – President Trump signs executive orders restricting visas for people seeking to enter the US from certain Muslim-majority countries, and barring funding for cities that shelter illegal immigrants. Both policies are blocked by the courts.
President Trump warns of a military response after North Korea threatens to fire a missile towards the US Pacific territory of Guam.