American History and Heroes
People of America
America's Civilization and Culture
AMERICA’S HIGHLIGHTS and HEROES in HISTORY
After the North defeated the South in the Civil War, politicians faced the task of putting the divided country back together. There was great debate about how severely the former Confederate states should be punished for leaving the Union. With the assassination of President Lincoln in 1865, it was up to President Andrew Johnson to try to reunite former enemies. The Reconstruction Acts of 1867 laid out the process for readmitting Southern states into the Union. The Fourteenth Amendment (1868) provided former slaves with national citizenship, and the Fifteenth Amendment (1870) granted black men the right to vote. These were only the first steps, however, toward reconstructing the fragmented nation.
Carrie Burnham Argued for the Right to Vote for Women
The Atlantic City Boardwalk Built
Custer's Last Stand
The First Kentucky Derby
Fisk School Opens
January 9, 1866
After they were freed from slavery when the Civil War ended in 1865, African Americans were not allowed to attend schools where white kids went. The Fisk School, created for black students, opened its doors for the first time on January 9, 1866, in former army barracks in Nashville, Tennessee. The school was named after General Clinton B. Fisk, who provided the building.
A group called the American Missionary Association, formed in 1846 from three antislavery societies, helped to found Fisk School (later to become Fisk University), along with other historically black colleges, including Atlanta, Hampton, and Howard universities. The idea was to offer the best education a university could offer an individual, regardless of race. The first students at Fisk ranged from 7 to 70, all ex-slaves eager to learn. These historically black colleges still exist, and today African Americans are welcome at all colleges.
First Arbor Day
April 10, 1872
On April 10, 1872, Nebraskans celebrated the first Arbor Day by planting more than a million trees. Julius Sterling Morton, a newspaper editor and former governor, saw his dream fulfilled after years of asking Congress to designate a day to encourage the planting of trees. In 1885, the Nebraskans moved the date to April 22 in honor of Morton's birthday. Today people celebrate Arbor Day worldwide on the last Friday in April.
The Great Chicago Fire
The First Official Memorial Day
The First Known Train Robbery in the U.S.
14th Amendment to the Constitution Was Ratified
July 28, 1868
On July 28, 1868, the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified. The amendment grants citizenship to "all persons born or naturalized in the United States" which included former slaves who had just been freed after the Civil War. The amendment had been rejected by most Southern states but was ratified by the required three-fourths of the states. Known as the "Reconstruction Amendment," it forbids any state to deny any person "life, liberty or property, without due process of law" or to "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of its laws."
It was the 15th Amendment, ratified in 1870, which finally gave African Americans the right to vote. It states that "the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." In practice, however, it took almost 100 more years and the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to remove barriers such as poll taxes, literacy tests, and intimidation that prevented African Americans and other people of color from freely exercising their right to vote. Note that the 15th amendment makes no mention of sex. It was not until the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920 that women were explicitly given the vote.
The First Telephone Call
San Franciscan Andrew Smith Hallidie Patented the First Cable Car
Purchase of Alaska
National Labor Union Requested an Eight-Hour Workday
Thomas Edison w8ith the First Phonograph
Conde Nast Was Born
Activist Jane Addams Was Born
Frank Lloyd Wright Was Born
Laura Ingalls Wilder Was Born
Showman Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. Was Born
National Geographic President Gilbert H. Grosvenor
October 28, 1875
Under Grosvenor's guidance, scientific expeditions and research projects traveled as far as the North Pole with Commodore Robert Peary in 1909, and as deep as the ocean when William Beebe made his record-setting undersea descent in 1934. The magazine was a plain-covered journal when it first started. The beautiful photographs became part of the journal after Gilbert H. Grosvenor (pronounced "GROVE-nor") became editor-in-chief for the publication in 1903. In 1920, Grosvenor took on a second role as president of the National Geographic Society, which publishes the magazine. Born in Turkey on October 28, 1875, Grosvenor is credited with transforming National Geographic into a world-renowned monthly magazine.
Today, the National Geographic Society is the largest nonprofit scientific and educational organization of its kind. Grosvenor cared a great deal about conservation and the protection of wildlife, and both causes are the subject of many of the current programs and educational materials offered by the society.
John Muir and the Sierras
July 19, 1869
From the start, Muir was an early defender of the environment. In 1876 he supported the adoption of a federal forest conservation program. From 1892 to 1914 he was the Sierra Club's first president. The Sierra Club is an environmental organization. His articles and books describing Yosemite's natural wonders inspired public support for establishment of Yosemite National Park in 1890 and expansion of the park in 1905. Next time you visit a park, take a good look around. How do you think someone who was seeing it for the first time would feel? How would you describe it?
Illustrator James Montgomery Flagg Was Born
June 18, 1877
Chances are, you've seen this poster before. Its creator was illustrator James Montgomery Flagg, who was born on June 18, 1877, in Pelham Manor, New York. He claimed it was at one time the most famous poster in the world. Certainly this image of a pointing Uncle Sam has become an American icon. Though he is best known for his commercial art, Flagg created 46 works in support of the war effort during World War I. This image first appeared on the cover of a magazine called Leslie's Weekly with the title, "What Are You Doing for Preparedness?"
More than 4 million copies of the poster were printed between 1917 and 1918. The image was also used extensively in World War II. You may have seen it with the caption, "I Want You for U.S. Army," used for recruiting soldiers. Did you know there really was an Uncle Sam? In 1961, Congress recognized meat packer Samuel Wilson (1766-1854), who supplied meat to the Army during the War of 1812, as Uncle Sam's namesake. People said Wilson was fair, reliable, honest, and devoted to his country.
Civil War (1860-1865)
Conflict over issues of how much control the federal government should have over the states, industrialization, trade, and especially slavery had increased tension between Northern and Southern states. After Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860, 11 Southern states seceded (or withdrew) from the Union and set up an independent government--the Confederate States of America. These events led to the outbreak of the Civil War--a brutal, bloody, four-year conflict that left the South defeated and ended slavery at the cost of more than half a million lives.
National Cemeteries Were Authorized by the U.S. Government
July 17, 1862
What happens to soldiers when they die during a battle? During the Civil War, soldiers who died on the battlefields, in field hospitals, or in prison camps were buried where they fell. At the end of the war, search and recovery teams visited all the places where soldiers might have been hastily buried and dug up the remains to bring them home. It took five years to complete this process, and more than 250,000 sets of remains were recovered.
On July 17, 1862, President Lincoln signed legislation authorizing the creation of national cemeteries by the U.S. government. By 1870, 73 national cemeteries had been established, many in the southeastern United States, the site of many battles and field hospitals during the war.
Jefferson Davis Was Captured
May 10, 1865
Jefferson Davis (1808-1889), president of the Confederate states (the South) during the Civil War, was captured when the Union Army caught up to him on May 10, 1865, in Irwinville, Georgia. His best general, Robert E. Lee, had surrendered on April 9 at Appomattox in Virginia to General Ulysses S. Grant, which effectively ended the Civil War. When Lee surrendered to the North, Davis and his Cabinet moved south, hoping to continue the struggle until better terms could be secured from the North.
The Battle of Antietam
September 17, 1862
At dawn, the hills of Sharpsburg, Maryland, thundered with artillery and musket fire as the Northern and Southern armies struggled for possession of the Miller farm cornfield during the Civil War. For three hours, the battle lines swept back and forth across the land. More lives would be lost on September 17, 1862, than on any other day in the nation's history.
By mid-morning, General Robert E. Lee's Confederate troops were crouched behind the high banks of a country lane. They fired upon advancing Union troops, but the Union General, George B. McClellan, held a strategic advantage--a scout had discovered a copy of the Confederate army's battle plan.
An overwhelming number of Northerners broke through the Confederates' line. Union bullets rained down the lane onto Confederate soldiers, and the former Sunken Road came to be known as Bloody Lane because of the tragic death toll suffered there.
Covered by cannon fire from General Stonewall Jackson's artillery, the Southerners retreated toward Sharpsburg, while the Union troops fell back. New Southern troops arrived in time to repel a second Union attack led by General Ambrose Burnside.
By nightfall, the Confederates occupied the town of Sharpsburg, but the battle was a Union victory. More than 23,000 men were killed, wounded, or missing in action. The next day, Lee began his retreat across the Potomac River. Lee's plan to find new recruits and supplies in Maryland, a slave-holding state that remained in the Union, had failed. The next year he would launch another assault into Union territory, which came to a head at the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania.
The Homestead Act Went Into Effect
Arlington National Cemetery
The First Transcontinental Telegraph System Was Completed
Abolition in the District of Columbia
Abraham Lincoln's Inauguration
Yosemite Land Grant Signed
President Lincoln Delivered the Gettysburg Address
The Assassination of President Lincoln
Charleston Surrendered when Yankees were coming
New York Stock Market Opened on Wall Street
Automobile Manufacturer Henry Ford Was Born
John Joseph Pershing
September 13, 1860
John Joseph Pershing began his career as a schoolteacher in Missouri when a notice in the paper inspired him to give the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York a try. By his last year, he had earned the honor of being chosen first captain of the Corps of Cadets. His later military postings and combat experiences in places such as Cuba and Mexico provided him with valuable knowledge. During the First World War General John Pershing was the commander of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) in Europe. After the war he was promoted to general of the armies, a position previously held only by George Washington. Toward the end of his life he spent a great deal of time writing his memoirs, My Experiences in the World War, which won the Pulitzer Prize for history in 1932.
Florence Kling Harding
August 15, 1860
Do you know who was the first American woman allowed to vote for her husband for president? It was none other than Florence Kling Harding, wife of Warren G. Harding, born in Marion, Ohio. She was a strong supporter of women's suffrage (the right to vote) and was able to cast her ballot for her husband in the presidential campaign of 1920 because the 19th amendment had been ratified that summer.
Florence Kling Harding was a wife, mother, and business manager and was one of the first women to bring a professional identity to the role of first lady.
onflict over issues of how much control the federal government should have over the states,
Western Expansion & Reform (1829-1859)
Presidents Andrew Jackson, James Polk, and John Tyler, like many Americans of this time, embraced the notion of enlarging the "empire for liberty." In other words they wanted to expand the borders of America westward. While some pioneers headed west to California, others attempted to expand the idea of what "liberty" in America meant. Abolitionists opposed laws that kept African Americans enslaved, and advocates of women's suffrage argued that wives, mothers and daughters should play a more significant role in society by voting, holding office, and working outside the home.
Samuel Morse Sent the First Telegraphic Message in “Morse Code, (dot,dot dash)”
Otis Opened Elevator Factory
Americans Observed the First Uniform Election Day
Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna Recaptured the Alamo
U.S. Naval Academy Was Formed
The Panic of 1857 Began
The Fight For Women's Rights, Second Day of Seneca Falls Convention
John Brown Took Harpers Ferry Hostage, known as the raid on Harpers Ferry
The Largest Slave Auction
Gold Discovered in California
Harriet Beecher Stowe's, Uncle Tom's Cabin Appeared in Serial Form
June 5, 1851
Because the book divided people into those who wished to abolish slavery (abolitionists) and those who wished to maintain slavery (anti-abolitionists), it is often listed as one of the causes of the Civil War. It has been translated into at least 23 languages, and has been presented on stage and in film. Harriet Beecher Stowe's story first appeared on June 5, 1851, in serial form, a chapter at a time, in a weekly publication called the National Era. Stowe decided to write a fictional story about slavery and sent it to the editor of anti-slavery weekly. He paid her $300 for the right to publish her story, and on June 5, 1851, the first chapter appeared in print. Over the next 10 months, Uncle Tom's Cabin, or Life Among the Lowly, was published in 40 installments. Even though the paper had not been tremendously popular, people started to discuss Uncle Tom's Cabin and pass around the story. In 1852, a Boston publisher issued Uncle Tom's Cabin as a book. It became an instant bestseller. Three hundred thousand copies were sold the first year, and a half-million copies by 1857. Before long it seemed that everyone had read it, including the president of the United States! Harriet Beecher Stowe cared deeply about human rights. Her family was active in the Underground Railroad, helping slaves escape to freedom in the North. (The Underground Railroad was a system formed by a group of people who were against slavery. These people helped escaped slaves secretly reach the North.) For 18 years she observed a slave-holding community in Kentucky just across the Ohio River from where she lived in Cincinnati. She didn't like what she saw.
Brigham Young Settled in the Great Salt Lake Valley
July 24, 1847
They had embarked on a treacherous thousand-mile journey, looking for a new place to settle the "Promised Land." On July 24, 1847, an exhausted Brigham Young and his fellow members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints arrived in Utah's Great Salt Lake Valley and called it home. The Mormons, as they were commonly known, had moved west to escape religious discrimination. After the murder of founder and prophet Joseph Smith, they knew they had to leave their old settlement in Illinois. Many Mormons died in the cold, harsh winter months as they made their way over the Rocky Mountains to Utah. When they reached the Salt Lake area, they saw it was remote and wild. So why did they settle there? These pioneers wanted an isolated place after the violence they had experienced, so the Great Salt Lake Valley seemed ideal. They immediately planted potatoes and turnips, built a dam, and had a solemn ceremony to dedicate the area as their "Promised Land." Then they sent word back to their fellow members describing the two-square-mile city they had settled. By the end of 1847, nearly 2,000 Mormons had moved to the Great Salt Lake Valley. The day they arrived in Utah is still celebrated today.
Elizabeth Blackwell Graduates
October 19, 1849
Even though many people told Elizabeth Blackwell she was a fool for wanting to become a doctor, she tried anyway. Blackwell applied to several schools, but only one would take her: Geneva Medical College (later named Hobart College) in New York. She graduated at the head of her class on October 19, 1849, as the first woman doctor in this country.
Julia Archibald Holmes Reaches Pike's Peak
History's Heroes are Born
Fannie Farmer Was Born, known for her cook books
Thomas Woodrow Wilson
December 28, 1856
"He is one of the great presidents of American history," said Rabbi Stephen A. Wise of Woodrow Wilson. Born on December 28, 1856, in Staunton, Virginia, Thomas Woodrow Wilson started his career as a university professor. He went on to serve as president of Princeton University and then as governor of New Jersey in 1910. Two years later, he ran for president on the Democratic ticket and won. Wilson became the 28th president of the United States, serving two consecutive terms in the White House, from 1913 to 1921. During his time in office, Wilson faced many challenges at home and abroad, and face them he did.
American Sculptor Daniel Chester French Was Born
April 20, 1850
Even if you have not visited the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., you've probably seen pictures of the colossal statue of Abraham Lincoln sitting in a chair in the center of the memorial. American sculptor Daniel Chester French created that famous statue of Lincoln. Born in Exeter, New Hampshire, on April 20, 1850, French made many other monumental statues too.
Brought up in Cambridge and Concord, Massachusetts, French met fellow Concord resident Louisa May Alcott (author of Little Women), who encouraged young French to pursue a career as an artist. He studied in Boston and New York before receiving his first commission for the 1875 statue The Minute Man. It stands on the "green" in Concord, Massachusetts, to commemorate the battle of Lexington and Concord during the Revolutionary War. A famous symbol of America, images of The Minute Man appeared on defense bonds, stamps, and posters during World War II.
Arctic Explorer Robert E. Peary Was Born
Painter Thomas Moran
February 12, 1837
Thomas Moran's paintings of Western landscapes inspired Americans to save their wilderness areas as national parks. In the summer of 1871, Moran and photographer William Henry Jackson joined the U.S. Geological Survey of the Territories. Their job on this scientific expedition was to sketch and photograph lands along the Yellowstone River in northwestern Wyoming and southeastern Montana. The images brought back to Washington, D.C. helped convince Congress to set aside the Yellowstone area as a national park. Legislation establishing the park took effect March 1, 1872.
John James Audubon Died
Architect Cyrus Eidlitz
July 27, 1853
Have you ever watched the countdown to the New Year on television? If you have, you've seen huge, cheering crowds gathered in New York's Times Square, and above the crowds is a building with a giant billboard of electric lights. That building is the Times Building, designed by architect Cyrus Eidlitz in 1904. Eidlitz was born on July 27, 1853, in New York, New York. His father, Prague-born Leopold Eidlitz, was also an architect. The elder Eidlitz led the American Gothic revival of the second half of the 19th Century, and formed the American Institute of Architects. His son followed closely in his footsteps.
The New York Times Building, a steel-framed skyscraper with decorative lines and Gothic details, is probably his most famous work. It filled a triangle at the base of Longacre Square, later renamed Times Square for the building and its owner, The New York Times newspaper. When it opened, it was the second tallest building in Manhattan and soon became the backdrop for a lively theater district.
Lyman Frank Baum Was Born, author of “The Wizard of Oz"
Architect Daniel H. Burnham Was Born, known for his skyscrapers
Samuel L. Clemens (Also Known As Mark Twain) Was Born
The New Nation (1790-1828)
During this time, Americans established their government and two parties emerged--the Federalists and the Republicans. Americans had a lot to deal with during this period. They had to struggle with the need to increase taxes to pay for the American Revolution as well as deal with the French Revolution which divided American support between France and Britain. Under President Jefferson, the country expanded westward with the purchase of the Louisiana territory and the Lewis and Clark expedition. The War of 1812 against Britain, sometimes called the Second War of American Independence, lasted three years. After the war, a mood of nationalism existed as people focused on events and issues at home. However, troubles were brewing, particularly on the topic of slavery.
Highlights in History
A Capital Plan - Washington D.C., Becomes the Capital
A Tie for the Presidency, Thomas Jefferson tied with his running mate, Aaron Burr
Thomas Jefferson Won the Election and the Presidency
Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution was adopted and states that the ballots used in the election process will indicate which person is running for President and which is running for Vice President
Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr Dueled to the Death
The New United States of America Adopted the Bill of Rights, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion!
The Cornerstone of the White House was Laid, eight years later, John Adams, the second president, was the first president to live in the mansion
George Washington Died at His Mount Vernon Home
Mary Kies Became the First Woman to Receive a U.S. Patent for her method of weaving straw with silk. With her new method, Kies made beautiful hats
A New Flag Flew over the U.S. Capitol with the new formula of stars equaling the number of states in the union, and stripes always representing the 13 original colonies
Religious Freedom for All, George Washington Recognized Equal Status of Jewish Americans
First U.S. Railway Chartered to Transport Freight and Passengers
The First American Cotton Mill Began Operation
John Fitch Was Granted a U.S Patent for the Steamboat
Phineas Taylor Barnum Was Born - The "Greatest Show On Earth" Circus
Clement Moore Is Believed to Have Written "A Visit from St. Nicholas," …and the stockings were hung by the chimney with care
Senate Ratified the Louisiana Purchase Treaty with France, the land stretched from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains
Chief Little John
October 3, 1790
John Ross had to lead the Cherokee people 1,000 miles away from their ancestral home in Georgia. Leading his people on that forced march to the unfamiliar territory of Oklahoma where so many people died along the way became known as the "Trail of Tears."
His Cherokee name was Tsan-Usdi, which means Little John. When he grew up, he became Chief of the United Cherokee Nation. John Ross and many Cherokee tried to resist the 1830 Indian Removal Act that forced them from their land. Ross made repeated trips to Washington as representative of his people, and he even successfully argued the tribe's case before the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Cherokee people, but President Andrew Jackson refused to send troops to protect the American Indians on their homeland.
Brooklyn Bridge Designer John A. Roebling
June 12, 1806
Born in Prussia, John A. Roebling is best known as the designer and civil engineer for the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, which was completed in 1883. At 1,595 feet long, the structure was the longest suspension bridge in the world for many years. Roebling was also responsible for inventing the steel wire cables that made the bridge possible. Sadly, John A. Roebling did not live to see the completion of his greatest achievement. He died from tetanus contracted in an accident during construction of the bridge. The Brooklyn Bridge crosses the East River, connecting the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Workers went as much as 78 feet underwater to dig the supports for the Brooklyn Bridge. They did not get wet because airtight caissons (watertight structures) were sunk under the water giving the men a dry place to work. It took them 14 years to build the Brooklyn Bridge. When the Brooklyn Bridge was opened you had to pay three cents to cross it until it was paid for.
Inventor Elias Howe Was Born
July 9, 1819
At 250 stitches a minute, Howe's machine could out sew the fastest of hand sewers. Despite its speed, though, Howe's invention did not sell very well. It wasn't until Isaac Singer (1811-1875) and Allen Wilson (1824-1888) each added their own new features to the machine that it became more popular. Singer invented the up-and-down motion mechanism, and Wilson created a rotary hook shuttle. (A sewing machine uses two spools of thread. The shuttle holds the lower thread and carries this thread through a loop of the upper thread, resulting in a stitch.) Howe, Singer, and Wilson put their inventions together, and soon sewing machines were built and sold to garment factories all over the United States.
Revolutionary Period (1764-1789)
Defending the Colonies against attack by the French and others had cost the British a great deal of money. As a result, the British had very high taxes in their country. They thus decided to shift some of their financial burden to the colonists. The Stamp Act of 1765, which taxed all legal documents, newspapers and other documents, was met with a great uproar in the Colonies. In 1766, this tax was repealed, but it was just the beginning of the problems between the colonists and the British. The Boston Tea Party in 1773 was an act of revolt against the British and their tax on tea in the Colonies.
Tensions such as these eventually led to the writing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. A year earlier, the War of Independence, also known as the American Revolution, began. When the British finally surrendered on October 19, 1781, Americans were officially independent of Britain and set about establishing their own government.
Highlights in History
Congress Officially Created the U.S. Military
The Articles of Confederation Were Adopted
Fortifications Built During the Siege of Boston
France Allied with American Colonies
British Lieutenant Governor Henry Hamilton Surrendered
The Nation's First Daily Newspaper Began Publication
First in Freedom - North Carolina Takes a Stand
Phillis Wheatley, the First African American Published Book of Poetry
Going West - Daniel Boone First Saw the Woodlands of Present-Day Kentucky
Commander in Chief George Washington Resigned
General Richard Montgomery Captured Montreal
One of America's First Spies - Patriot Nathan Hale Was Hanged
The British Are Coming! - The American Revolution Began
Washington Wrote a Letter to the Continental Congress
New Jersey Approved the Constitution
The Continental Congress Ratified the Treaty of Paris
September 26, 1775
The legendary "Johnny Appleseed" who, according to story and song, spread his apple seeds all over the nation. His name was Jonathan Chapman. Born in Massachusetts, Chapman earned his nickname because he planted small orchards and individual apple trees during his travels as he walked across 100,000 square miles of Midwestern wilderness and prairie. He was a genuine and dedicated professional nurseryman.
In 1801, Chapman transported 16 bushels of apple seeds from western Pennsylvania down the Ohio River. He had acquired more than 1,000 acres of farmland on which he developed apple orchards and nurseries. Chapman's work resembled that of a missionary. Each year, he traveled hundreds of miles on foot wearing a coffee sack with holes cut out for arms and carrying a cooking pot, which he is said to have worn like a cap over his flowing hair. About 1830, Chapman also acquired land in Fort Wayne, Indiana. There, he planted a nursery that produced thousands of seedling apple trees that he sold, traded, and planted elsewhere. Fort Wayne still celebrates the life of "Johnny Appleseed" with a festival every September when apples are harvested.
History's Heroes are Born
John C. Calhoun Was Born
Explorer, Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark
Colonial America (1492-1763)
European nations came to the Americas to increase their wealth and broaden their influence over world affairs. The Spanish were among the first Europeans to explore the New World and the first to settle in what is now the United States.
By 1650, however, England had established a dominant presence on the Atlantic coast. The first colony was founded at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607. Many of the people who settled in the New World came to escape religious persecution. The Pilgrims, founders of Plymouth, Massachusetts, arrived in 1620. In both Virginia and Massachusetts, the colonists flourished with some assistance from Native Americans. New World grains such as corn kept the colonists from starving while, in Virginia, tobacco provided a valuable cash crop. By the early 1700s enslaved Africans made up a growing percentage of the colonial population. By 1770, more than 2 million people lived and worked in Great Britain's 13 North American colonies.
Highlights in History
Jacques Cartier Sailed Up the St. Lawrence River
Jamestown Was Established
Salem Witch Trials
Christopher Columbus Saw Land
Henry Hudson and His Crew Sailed into the River that Would Bear His Name
John Smith Became a Leader of Jamestown
First Jewish Synagogue Was Dedicated in the United States
Oldest City in United States-A Spanish Expedition Established St. Augustine in Florida
1596 (exact date uncertain)
Pocahontas was the daughter of Powhatan, an important chief of the Algonquian Indians (the Powhatans) who lived in the Virginia region. Her real name was "Matoaka." "Pocahontas" was a nickname meaning "playful" or "mischievous one." Pocahontas is most famous for reportedly saving the life of English Captain John Smith. Throughout her short life (she died at the age of 22), however, she was important in other ways as well. Pocahontas tried to promote peace between the Powhatans and the English colonists. She even converted to Christianity and married John Rolfe, a Jamestown colonist, a union which helped bring the two groups together. Her untimely death in England hurt the chance for continued peace in Virginia between the Algonquians and the colonists.
January 17 [Jan. 6, Old Style], 1706-April 17, 1790
Benjamin Franklin was many things: a printer, writer, scientist, inventor, statesman, civic leader, and diplomat.As a scientist, he is best known for his experiments with electricity. As a writer, he is known for Poor Richard's Almanac and his autobiography. He was the oldest figure of the American Revolution. Franklin also was the only person to sign the three documents that established the United States: the Declaration of Independence, the peace treaty with Britain that ended the Revolutionary War, and the Constitution.
May 29, 1736
Henry, a natural leader and a brilliant speaker, believed in individual rights and independence from the British government. As a young lawyer, he astonished his courtroom audience in 1763 with an eloquent defense based on the idea of natural rights, the political theory that humans are born with certain inalienable (incapable of being surrendered) rights. The idea of natural rights is central to the Declaration of Independence, "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."
It was in St. John's Church in Richmond, Virginia, that Patrick Henry delivered his most famous speech. With war against Great Britain looming, Henry proclaimed, "I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
As the first governor of Virginia and as a state legislator, Henry continued to have profound influence on the development of the new nation. He worked for the addition of the first ten amendments to the Constitution. Known as the Bill of Rights, they guarantee certain freedoms, such as the freedom of speech and religion.
October 14, 1644
English reformer William Penn, born in London, England, was expelled from Oxford University in England in 1662 for refusing to conform to the Anglican Church. Penn was greatly affected by the preaching of Quaker minister and joined the Quakers. He was locked up in the Tower of London four times for stating his beliefs in public and in print. Seeing no prospects for religious tolerance or political reform in England, Penn came to America in 1682 and established Pennsylvania, naming it in honor of his father, as a place where people could enjoy freedom of religion. The colony became a haven for minority religious sects from Germany, Holland, Scandinavia, and Great Britain. Penn obtained the land from King Charles II as payment for a debt owed to his deceased father.
Penn is also remembered for peaceful interaction with the Lenni Lenape Indians and his draft of the Plan of Union, a forerunner of the U.S. Constitution.
Born between 1740 and 1758-May 8, 1819
King Kamehameha I, also known as Kamehameha the Great, was the head of a dynasty (a succession of rulers from the same family) that ruled the Hawaiian islands for more than a century. Legend has it that he was born at the time of the appearance of Halley's comet and that this was a sign that he would rise to greatness. The name Kamehameha (pronounced kuh-may-ha-may-ha) means "the one set apart."
History's Heroes are Born
John Jay, One of the Nations’s Founding Fathers
Statesman Robert R. Livingston
Mathematician and Astronomer Benjamin Banneker