The history of The United States includes a wide variety of proud accomplishments and shameful failures – many of which are unknown to, or misunderstood by, most Americans. When I was in public school, a lot of the key events from our history were glossed over or omitted entirely. Some mistakes, tragedies, and crimes from American history were whitewashed over to put them in a more positive light. To make up for these deficiencies, I’ve put together a curriculum of 100 critical events from the social and political history of The United States of America that I believe every American citizen should know about and understand.

Why include the bad with the good? Well, I think it’s important for all Americans, especially those who vote, to understand the mistakes and outright evil acts committed in the past so we can help prevent them from happening again. It’s hard to remain vigilant against tyranny, incompetence, and evil when you aren’t aware that they have all actually happened before. Understanding the actual history of the USA can also help each of us empathize with and understand the points of view coming from historically marginalized people such as Native Americans, women, African Americans, LGBTQ people, and others.

Why Wikipedia? Several reasons: Wikipedia is FREE (although you should donate to ensure its continued survival,) it contains no advertising, its articles are usually well-organized and readable, and it’s updated frequently, so you can keep up with the latest findings around a particular topic. Wikipedia articles are also well-sourced (usually,) so you can follow the links in the “References” section to see where the information comes from and learn more about a topic.

Tip: If you read a lot of articles on Wikipedia, I highly recommend using a free tool like Wikiwand and its browser extension (available for Chrome and Firefox) to make the articles more readable and attractive.

100 Social and Political Events From American History You Should Know

Without further ado, here are the 100 topics from the history of The United States of America that I think all American citizens should know and understand. I selected these particular events because they made American culture what it is today. Understanding these events will help every American know why the country is the way it is, and why certain institutions, government agencies, and cultural practices do or do not exist.

Event (Wikipedia Link)StartEnd
American Indian Wars16091924
First Great Awakening17301755
French and Indian War17541763
American Revolution17651783
Cherokee-American Wars17761795
Articles of Confederation17771789
Peace of Paris17831783
Confederation Period17831788
Shays’ Rebellion17861787
Constitutional Convention17871787
US Bill of Rights17871788
Whiskey Rebellion17911794
First Barbary War18011805
Marbury vs. Madison18031803
Louisiana Purchase18031804
Lewis and Clark Expedition18031806
The War of 181218121815
Creek War18131814
Battle of Baltimore18141814
Mexican Texas18211836
Monroe Doctrine18231898
Indian Removal Act18301830
Indian Removal18301847
Trail of Tears18301850
Lynching in The United States1830Present
Republic of Texas18361846
Texas Annexation18451845
Mexican-American War18461848
Seneca Falls Convention18481848
Fugitive Slave Act18501850
Compromise of 185018501850
Kansas-Nebraska Act18541854
Bleeding Kansas18541861
Dred Scott v. Sandford18561857
Lincoln-Douglas Debates18581858
John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry18591859
American Civil War18611865
Battle of Gettysburg18631863
Reconstruction Era18631877
The 13th Amendment18641865
Assassination of Abraham Lincoln18651865
The 14th Amendment18661868
Alaska Purchase18671867
Equal Protection Clause18681868
The 15th Amendment18691870
Battle of the Little Bighorn18761876
Great Sioux War of 187618761877
Jim Crow Laws18771965
Plessy v. Ferguson18961896
Progressive Era18961916
Spanish-American War18981898
Banana Wars18981934
Philippine-American War18991902
Mann Act19101910
The 17th Amendment19121913
World War I19141918
Great Migration (African American)19161970
The 19th Amendment19181920
1918 Flu Pandemic (Spanish Flu)19181920
Wall Street Crash of 192919291929
Great Depression19291941
New Deal19331939
Dust Bowl19341940
World War II19391945
Attack on Pearl Harbor19411941
Manhattan Project19421946
Internment of Japanese Americans19421946
Operation Overlord19441944
Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki19451945
Truman Doctrine19471949
Cold War19471991
Marshall Plan19481951
Korean War19501953
Iranian coup d’etat19531953
Brown v. Board of Education19541954
Civil Rights Movement19541968
Vietnam War19551975
Bay of Pigs Invasion19611961
Assassination of John F. Kennedy19631963
Equal Pay Act of 196319631963
I Have a Dream Speech19631963
Civil Rights Act of 196419641964
Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.19641964
Griswold v. Connecticut19641965
Loving v. Virginia19671967
Stonewall Riots19691969
Roe v. Wade19711973
Watergate Scandal19721974
1973 Oil Crisis19731974
Iran Hostage Crisis19791981
US Invasion of Grenada19831983
1983 Beirut Barracks Bombings19831983
Iran-Contra Affair19851987
Gulf War19901991
1992 Los Angeles Riots19921992
North America Free Trade Agreement19921994
1993 World Trade Center Bombing19931993
Oklahoma City Bombing19951995
September 11 Attacks20012001
War in Afghanistan2001Present
Obergefell v. Hodges20152015
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