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) Start End
American Indian Wars 1609 1924
First Great Awakening 1730 1755
French and Indian War 1754 1763
American Revolution 1765 1783
Cherokee-American Wars 1776 1795
Articles of Confederation 1777 1789
Peace of Paris 1783 1783
Confederation Period 1783 1788
Shays’ Rebellion 1786 1787
Constitutional Convention 1787 1787
US Bill of Rights 1787 1788
Whiskey Rebellion 1791 1794
First Barbary War 1801 1805
Marbury vs. Madison 1803 1803
Louisiana Purchase 1803 1804
Lewis and Clark Expedition 1803 1806
The War of 1812 1812 1815
Creek War 1813 1814
Battle of Baltimore 1814 1814
Mexican Texas 1821 1836
Monroe Doctrine 1823 1898
Indian Removal Act 1830 1830
Indian Removal 1830 1847
Trail of Tears 1830 1850
Lynching in The United States 1830 Present
Republic of Texas 1836 1846
Texas Annexation 1845 1845
Mexican-American War 1846 1848
Seneca Falls Convention 1848 1848
Fugitive Slave Act 1850 1850
Compromise of 1850 1850 1850
Kansas-Nebraska Act 1854 1854
Bleeding Kansas 1854 1861
Dred Scott v. Sandford 1856 1857
Lincoln-Douglas Debates 1858 1858
John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry 1859 1859
American Civil War 1861 1865
Battle of Gettysburg 1863 1863
Reconstruction Era 1863 1877
The 13th Amendment 1864 1865
Assassination of Abraham Lincoln 1865 1865
The 14th Amendment 1866 1868
Alaska Purchase 1867 1867
Equal Protection Clause 1868 1868
The 15th Amendment 1869 1870
Battle of the Little Bighorn 1876 1876
Great Sioux War of 1876 1876 1877
Jim Crow Laws 1877 1965
Plessy v. Ferguson 1896 1896
Progressive Era 1896 1916
Spanish-American War 1898 1898
Banana Wars 1898 1934
Philippine-American War 1899 1902
Mann Act 1910 1910
The 17th Amendment 1912 1913
World War I 1914 1918
Great Migration (African American) 1916 1970
The 19th Amendment 1918 1920
1918 Flu Pandemic (Spanish Flu) 1918 1920
Wall Street Crash of 1929 1929 1929
Great Depression 1929 1941
New Deal 1933 1939
Dust Bowl 1934 1940
World War II 1939 1945
Attack on Pearl Harbor 1941 1941
Manhattan Project 1942 1946
Internment of Japanese Americans 1942 1946
Operation Overlord 1944 1944
Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 1945 1945
Truman Doctrine 1947 1949
Cold War 1947 1991
Marshall Plan 1948 1951
Korean War 1950 1953
McCarthyism 1950 1955
Iranian coup d’etat 1953 1953
Brown v. Board of Education 1954 1954
Civil Rights Movement 1954 1968
Vietnam War 1955 1975
Bay of Pigs Invasion 1961 1961
Assassination of John F. Kennedy 1963 1963
Equal Pay Act of 1963 1963 1963
I Have a Dream Speech 1963 1963
Civil Rights Act of 1964 1964 1964
Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. 1964 1964
Griswold v. Connecticut 1964 1965
Loving v. Virginia 1967 1967
Stonewall Riots 1969 1969
Roe v. Wade 1971 1973
Watergate Scandal 1972 1974
1973 Oil Crisis 1973 1974
Iran Hostage Crisis 1979 1981
US Invasion of Grenada 1983 1983
1983 Beirut Barracks Bombings 1983 1983
Iran-Contra Affair 1985 1987
Gulf War 1990 1991
1992 Los Angeles Riots 1992 1992
North America Free Trade Agreement 1992 1994
1993 World Trade Center Bombing 1993 1993
Oklahoma City Bombing 1995 1995
September 11 Attacks 2001 2001
War in Afghanistan 2001 Present
Obergefell v. Hodges 2015 2015