30 Must-Known Historical Events That Happened in America (2023)

The north (top) and south (bottom) sides of the White House in Washington, D.C. Photo by Cezary p on Wikimedia

There have been several decade-defining historical events that happened across the world and affected every individual, but some happened in specific countries. Some of these historic events helped in shaping the future of these countries which made them how they are currently.

America has always been a center of interest in the world as it is considered a super powerful country. There were several defining historic events that will never be wiped out of the minds of many Americans.

Here are the 30 Must-Known Historical Events That Happened in America:

1. The American Revolutionary War

A collection of public domain images of the American Revolutionary War, together in a montage. Photo by Eugène Lami on Wikimedia

Great Britain was the colonists of America for several decades before they fought for their independence. On 19th April 1775, the American Revolutionary War, or the American War of Independence began. This was a major war of the American Revolution.

The American Revolutionary War is considered to be the war that helped America secure its independence. On 2nd June 1776, Congress voted to declare independence from Great Britain even though the war continued till 3rd September 1783.

The American Patriots during the Revolutionary War got support from the Kingdom of France with lesser support from the Dutch Republic and the Spanish Empire. This conflict occurred in North America, the Caribbean, and the Atlantic Ocean.

2. The Declaration of Independence

Painting of the Declaration of Independence. Photo by John Trumbull on Wikimedia

The American Revolutionary War was very important in American history as this led to the Declaration of Independence in America. Declaration of Independence took place in 1776 and led to several developments in the country which was under the colonial rule of Great Britain.

There was an adoption by the Continental Congress on 4th July 1776 with the 13 American colonies severing their political connections to Great Britain. The American colonists were able to make a confirmation of an official alliance with the Government of France and obtained their support in the course of the Revolutionary War.

3. Formulation of the Constitution

After the war was won by America, there was a need to formulate rules and laws that will govern the people. That is how the Constitution of the United States of America which is the fundamental law of the federal system of government was documented. During the summer of 1787, the Constitution was written in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

55 delegates met at the Constitutional Convention later to amend the Articles of Confederation which was the first written constitution. However, the Constitution of America was thought to be a product of political compromise which came up after debates on issues such as state’s rights, representation, and slavery. Finally, a more direct and equal constitution was formulated.

4. The Whiskey Rebellion

(Video) 25 Most IMPORTANT Events In History

Famous Whiskey Insurrection in Pennsylvania. Illus. in: Devens, Our First Century. p. 161. Photo by Devens on Wikimedia

Beginning in 1791, the Whiskey Rebellion or the Whiskey Insurrection was a violent tax protest after the whiskey tax was imposed on a domestic product by the newly formed government. The Whiskey Rebellion came to an end in 1794 during the presidency of George Washington.

During this period, beer was difficult to transport as it used to spoil more easily than run and whiskey. Farmers who resided in the western frontier used to distill their surplus rye, barley, wheat, corn, or fermented grain mixtures to whiskey. The majority were war veterans who resisted the tax.

Several rebels were arrested by the army but later acquitted with the new government being impressed with the servicemen. The whiskey tax was later repealed by the Jefferson administration.

5. 1803 Purchase of Louisiana

More than 800,000 square miles of the Louisiana territory made up the western Mississippi basin. This territory passed from French colonial rule to Spanish colonial rule and back to the French before it was returned to the US.

In 1803, then-president Jefferson pried off the Louisiana territory from Napoleon for a price of $27 million. Out of the Louisiana territory, the following states were formed: Louisiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and Minnesota.

6. Battle of New Orleans

The Battle of New Orleans at Chalmette, 1815. Photo by Jean Hyacinthe de Laclotte on Wikimedia

This battle was fought on 8th January 1815 between the British Army who was under Major General Sir Edward Pakenham and the US army under Brevet Major General Andrew Jackson. Britain had tried to take New Orleans, West Florida, and Louisiana territory. Numerous skirmishes and artillery duels took place in the weeks until the final battle.

The British Army had an advantage over the US due to their numbers, training, and experience, but the US army defeated them easily. Americans suffered 71 casualties while the British suffered 2,000 including the deaths of their commander and his second-in-command.

7. 1823 Monroe Doctrine

Between 1815 and 1825, Americans enjoyed prosperity and isolationism. However, then-president James Monroe decided to articulate a set of principles in 1823 which would later be known as the Monroe Doctrine.

The doctrine articulated that the United States would not intervene in European affairs and would not tolerate further European colonization in the Americas. It also stated that the US will not tolerate European interference in the governments of the American hemisphere. However, the doctrine was later implemented.

8. Era of the Common Man

Then-president Andrew Jackson ruled from 1829 to 1837 in what was known as the Era of the Common Man. Suffrage had been broadly expanded beyond men of property which was not a result of the efforts of the president.

Jackson propagated his image as a champion of popular democracy and as a man of the people. However, he aligned himself with the influential and not with the have-nots as well as with the creditor and not the debtor. He delivered little to the people on the street as many had expected.

9. The Treaty of Guadeloupe Hidalgo

Map of Mexico 1848 after Treaty Guadalupe-Hidalgo. Photo by Hpav7 on Wikimedia

Also known as the Treaty of Peace, Friendships, Limits, and Settlement between the USA and the United Mexican States, this peace treaty was signed on 2nd February 1848. It was signed in the Villa de Guadeloupe Hidalgo between the US and Mexico bringing an end to the Mexican-American war.

The Mexican army had been defeated prompting the nation to engage in negotiations with the US to end the war. Some factions of the Mexican side never conceded defeat and were against the treaty. The United States had to pay US$15 million to Mexico and a further US$5 million to pay off claims of American citizens against Mexico.

Mexico gave the United States the Rio Grande as a boundary for Texas and the ownership of California, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado as well as most area of New Mexico. The Mexicans who lived in these areas had the choice of relocating with Mexico’s new boundaries or receiving American citizenship.

10. 1857 Dred Scott Decision

1850s were tough as the American Civil War was experienced, there was the compromise of 1850 that temporarily forestall North-South extensions to John Brown’s Harpers Ferry Raid. Abolitionist indignation led to an increasingly polarized country. The United States Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision set the ground for the 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln as president. This decision ultimately precipitated secession and war.

(Video) 5 Dark Historical Events You Weren't Taught About That Will Give You Chills

11. Battle of Gettysburg

Painting of “Hancock at Gettysburg”. Photo by Thure de Thulstrup on Wikimedia

This battle was fought in 1863 in and around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The battle of Gettysburg was fought by Union and Confederate forces during the American Civil War. Union Major General George Meade’s Army of the Potomac battled against Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.

In this battle Union Major General George Meade’s Army won. However, the battle involved the largest number of casualties. It was the turning point due to the Union’s victory and concurrence with the Siege of Vicksburg.

12. The Battle of the Little Bighorn

Also known as the Battle of the Greasy Grass, the battle of the Little Bighorn was an engagement between combined forces of the Lakota, Sioux, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes against the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the US army. This battle resulted in the defeat of the United States forces. The battle of the Little Bighorn stopped US expansionism and marked the end days of Native American sovereignty over the West.

13. Haymarket Affair

The Haymarket Riot. Photo by The Graphic News on Wikimedia

Haymarket affair also known as the Haymarket massacre, Haymarket riot, or Haymarket incident was the ugly aftermath of a bombing of a labor demonstration on 4th May 1886 at Haymarket Square in Chicago, Illinois. A peaceful rally in support of workers striking for an 8-hour workday began a day after events at the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company.

During the events, one person had been killed and several workers were injured. Some unknown persons threw a dynamite bomb toward the police which led to a blast and random shooting. Seven police officers and four civilians were killed and dozens of others were wounded. This event was then considered the origin of International Workers’ Day held on May 1st.

14. Plessy v. Ferguson

In 1896, Plessy vs Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537, was a very crucial decision made by the US Supreme Court whereby the court ruled that racial segregation laws never violated the US constitution. This was as long as each facility for either race was equal in quality in a doctrine that came to be known as ‘separate but equal’. This decision led to the legitimization of racial segregation laws being passed in many American South states after the Reconstruction era.

15. Breaking Up of Northern Securities

Portrait of Theodore Roosevelt. Author National Photo Company Collection on Wikimedia

Then-US President Theodore Roosevelt had a progressive goal of curbing the economic and political power of giant corporate trusts. In 1904, the US Supreme Court ordered the breakup of a huge railroad conglomerate, the Northern Securities company. The president saw this as a major achievement as he also pursued the policy of ‘trust-busting’. This was a suit against 43 other major corporations in the next seven years.

16. 1915 Sinking of the Lusitania

President Woodrow Wilson and most Americans never wanted any involvement in World War I as it raged in Europe. The US economy had highly benefited from supplying food, raw materials, guns, and ammunition to the Allies over this period.

However, America was drawn into the war after a German submarine sank the unarmed British ocean liner, the Lusitania. On 7th May 1915, Lusitania sank killing 128 Americans. This prompted the US to join the war with the Allies making them, Americans, a global superpower.

17. The Wall Street Crash of 1929

55 Wall Street in Manhattan, New York City. Photo by Ken Lund on Wikimedia

In the autumn of 1929, the Wall Street Crash also known as the Great Crash happened. This was a major American stock market crash that started in September and ended late in October. Share prices on the New York Stock Exchange collapsed.

(Video) These Amazing Historical Events Of 1914 - 1918 Got Sidelined

18. Pearl Harbour Attack

World War II began but the United States of America stayed away from it as it never wanted to get involved in European matters. Like in World War I, America benefitted from supplying and distributing various commodities to the Allies.

However, in December 1941, Japan made an attack on America which made them team up with the Allies. Japan made an attack and bombed Pearl Harbour which led to the deaths and injuries of several other people. This is how the United States of America took part in World War II.

19. The Deadly Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Atomic bombing of Japan. Photo by George Caron on Wikimedia

In August 1945, World War II was over in Europe but the United States forces had not completed the war. The forces advanced on Japan as President Harry S. Truman had commanded.

The president ushered in the nuclear era by commanding his forces to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. This event went out to bring about several warfare sanctions and a reduction in the use of weapons of mass destruction.

20. 1954 US Army-McCarthy Hearings

These were a series of televised hearings that were held by the US Senate’s Subcommittee on Investigations from April to June 1954. This was major to investigate conflicting accusations between the US army and US Senator Joseph McCarthy.

McCarthy and chief counsel Roy Cohn were accused of pressuring the Army to give preferential treatment to David Schine, a former aide of the Senator and his aide. The senator’s brutal interrogation tactics were also exposed.

21. The Assassination of Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King, 1964. Photo by Nobel Foundation on Wikimedia

Martin Luther King Jr was one of the most vocal civil rights movement leaders who wanted equality for all Americans regardless of their color. Martin Luther used to make appearances at top conferences and make sure that the voice of the oppressed was heard.

On 4th April 1968 while on his usual tours, Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated on the balcony of his motel room. He was shot at while on the balcony, a thing that led to several civil rights changes in the US.

22. Watergate Scandal

This was a very major political scandal that involved the administration of US then-president Richard Nixon. The Watergate scandal began from 1972 to 1974 and led to the resignation of Richard Nixon.

This scandal erupted from the Nixon administration’s continual attempts to cover up their involvement in the 17th June 1972 break-in of the Democratic National Headquarters in Washington, DC. Nixon’s administration denied being proven which led to a Constitutional crisis.

23. Assassination of President John F. Kennedy

Picture of President Kennedy in the limousine in Dallas, Texas, on Main Street, minutes before the assassination. Photo by Walt Cisco on Wikimedia

The youngest president of the United States of America, John F. Kennedy was the 35th American president until his death. Then-president JFK ruled during the heightening of the Cold War which was full of uncertainties.

On 22nd November 1963, the president headed to Texas on a political trip which was to enable smooth talks over the political friction in the Democratic Party. Traveling through downtown Dallas, he was shot at once in the back and killed him. Several changes were made in the United States after the assassination of the president.

24. 1981 PATCO Strike

Ronald Reagan took office of the presidency in 1980 and he showed his rhetorical ability to break the cloud of gloom that was caused by the Watergate scandal. His move helped his efforts of implementing supply-side economic policies predicated on the notion of lowering taxes on wealthy job creators.

(Video) 30 INTERESTING Historic Events You Have To See

The Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization known as PATCO was a US trade union that operated from 1968 to 1981. PATCO brought about a strike over the policies that President Reagan had brought about. Critics criticized the Reagan administration that successfully downing the strike.

25. The Monica Lewinsky Affair

Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky on February 28, 1997. Author Clinton White House on Wikimedia

This was a sexual affair that then-president Bill Clinton had with a White House intern from 1995 to 1997. Bill Clinton had failed to push through several high-profile policy initiatives and had opposition from Republican majorities.

However, in a televised speech in late January 1998, Bill Clinton denied having any sexual affair with the White House intern. Bill was impeached in December 1998, however, he was acquitted of charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.

26. September 11 Attacks

The United States and its residents were never under the threat of any terrorist attacks. However, on September 11th, 2001, the United States was thrown into the dark with major Islamic terrorist attacks.

The Islamic terrorists hijacked planes and crashed into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, and the Pennsylvania countryside. These attacks led to the deaths of close to three thousand people.

27. President Bush Declaring War Against Certain States

President George W. Bush delivers his statement. Photo by Luke Sharrett on Wikimedia

George W. Bush was inaugurated as the 43rd President of the United States on 20th January 2001. Later on, Deadly terrorist attacks were launched on the Americans that led to the deaths of several people.

On 29th January 2002, President Bush made his first state of the Union address. He declared that the US will wage war against those States that develop weapons of mass destruction including Iran, Iraq, and North Korea.

28. Space Shuttle Columbia Explosion

The United States of America is known for its space exploration missions for several decades. However, not all missions to the atmosphere have ended up in success as some astronauts have lost their lives in the process.

Space Shuttle Columbia had been successfully launched into space. On 1st February 2003, the Space shuttle Columbia exploded as it re-entered earth’s atmosphere. The Space shuttle crew was killed on the spot. They included David M. Brown, Rick Husband, Laurel Clark, Kalpana Chawla, Michael P. Anderson, William McCool, and Ilan Ramon.

29. Election of Barack Obama as US President

President Barack Obama is photographed during a presidential portrait sitting for an official photo in the Oval Office, Dec. 6, 2012. Photo by Pete Souza on Wikimedia

During the 2008 national politics, various candidates were vying for the US presidency. Democrats decided to appoint Barack Obama as their flag bearer who did well across the board in the November elections.

Barack Obama became the first African-American to be elected as the president of the United States after getting 52.8% of the votes. Democrats also managed to retain majorities in both the House and the Senate.

30. Election of Donald Trump as President

(Video) Top Ten Most Important Events in History

Official portrait of President Donald J. Trump, Friday, October 6, 2017. Photo by Shealah Craighead on Wikimedia

Since at least the 1980s, the United States of America were ruled by Democrat presidents. However, this changed in the 2016 elections when Americans were to pick their 45th president.

Republican Donald Trump managed to win the election after campaigning on the grounds of nationalism and anti-immigrant rhetoric which was against Obama’s administration. However, Donald Trump managed to be in office for one year only.


What are some important events in American history? ›

U.S. History Primary Source Timeline
  • Colonial Settlement, 1600s - 1763.
  • The American Revolution, 1763 - 1783.
  • The New Nation, 1783 - 1815.
  • National Expansion and Reform, 1815 - 1880.
  • Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877.
  • Rise of Industrial America, 1876-1900.
  • Progressive Era to New Era, 1900-1929.

What was the most important moment in US history? ›

The centrality of the Declaration of Independence (1776) to the developments of the 1770s is self-evident.

What major events happened in the last 100 years? ›

Events in the 20th century
  • "The war to end all wars": World War I (1914–1918)
  • The Russian Revolution and Communism.
  • Economic depression.
  • The rise of dictatorship.
  • The war in Europe.
  • Blitzkrieg.
  • Assault on the Soviet Union.
  • Turning tides.

What are the 7 important things about history? ›

Why Studying History is Important (and Why It Is Fun)
  • History helps us understand other cultures. ...
  • History helps us understand our own society. ...
  • History helps us understand our own identities. ...
  • History builds citizenship. ...
  • History gives us insight into present-day problems. ...
  • History builds reading and writing skills.
Nov 21, 2016

Who made the biggest impact on American history? ›

1Abraham Lincoln 16th President of the United States
2George Washington First President of the United States of America
3Thomas Jefferson Third president of the United States of America, and the most conspicuous apostle of democracy in America.
97 more rows

What events happened 50 years ago? ›

10 Moments from 50 Years Ago that Touch Our Lives Today
  • January 5: Nixon Orders the Space Shuttle. ...
  • January 25: Shirley Chisholm Announces Her Run. ...
  • February 4: Mariner 9 Sends Vacation Pictures. ...
  • March 22: The Equal Rights Amendment Goes to the States. ...
  • May 22: The Video Game Age Begins.
Jan 7, 2022

What happened 70 years ago today? ›

70 years ago today, the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb over Hiroshima.

What were the most significant events of the 20th century America? ›

The 20th century was dominated by significant events that defined the modern era: sixth mass extinction, Spanish flu pandemic, World War I and World War II, nuclear weapons, nuclear power and space exploration, nationalism and decolonization, the Cold War and post-Cold War conflicts, and technological advances.

What happened in the 1940s in America? ›

The 1940s were defined by World War II, the Holocaust, atomic bombs, and the beginning of the Cold War. Women were needed in the workforce to replace men who went to war, and wartime production pulled the U.S. out of the Great Depression. Upon their return, the GI Bill entitled soldiers to a college education.

What major event happened in America during the 1930's? ›

The Great Depression is considered to have begun with the fall of stock prices on September 4, 1929, and then the stock market crash known as Black Tuesday on October 29, 1929, and lasted through much of the 1930s.

What events happened in 1940? ›

  • Germany invades Denmark, Norway, France, Luxemburg, Belgium, and the Netherlands during World War II.
  • Benjamin O. ...
  • President Roosevelt signs the Selective Training and Service Act, making the first military draft to be created during a peacetime in the United States.
  • Franklin D.

What are 10 facts about history? ›

26 History Facts That Will Shock and Amaze Your Students
  • Ketchup was once sold as a medicine. ...
  • Ice pops were accidentally invented by a kid! ...
  • Tug-of-war was once an Olympic sport. ...
  • Iceland has the world's oldest parliament. ...
  • Say “prunes” for the camera! ...
  • Dunce caps used to be signs of intelligence.
Jun 14, 2022

What were 3 major world events in the 1960s? ›

The Sixties dominated by the Vietnam War, Civil Rights Protests, the 60s also saw the assassinations of US President John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Cuban Missile Crisis, and finally ended on a good note when the first man is landed on the moon .

What are the 5 themes of US history? ›

US History: Themes
  • National Identity.
  • Work, Exchange, and Technology.
  • Migration and Settlement.
  • Politics and Power.
  • American in the World.
  • Geography and Environment.
  • Culture and Society.


1. Black history Advanced Placement class rejected in Florida catches on elsewhere
(AP Archive)
2. These Were The Most Important Events In The History of the Earth
(The Infographics Show)
3. Historical Events You Won't Believe Happened At The Same Time
(Facts Verse)
4. 10 Must-Know Events from Ancient History in 10 Minutes │ Classical Antiquity
(Leandro Capstick)
5. Top 10 TRUE Historical Events NOT For The Faint-Hearted
6. Amazing Historical Events That Occurred on January 30th🎉 #shorts #history
(Morton MattD)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Lilliana Bartoletti

Last Updated: 03/03/2023

Views: 5340

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (53 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Lilliana Bartoletti

Birthday: 1999-11-18

Address: 58866 Tricia Spurs, North Melvinberg, HI 91346-3774

Phone: +50616620367928

Job: Real-Estate Liaison

Hobby: Graffiti, Astronomy, Handball, Magic, Origami, Fashion, Foreign language learning

Introduction: My name is Lilliana Bartoletti, I am a adventurous, pleasant, shiny, beautiful, handsome, zealous, tasty person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.