Here is a brief review of key events, dates, documents, and people in United States history. Remember, there is always more to know!

Events and Dates

Very few dates are important for their own sake. Mostly, dates help you understand how an event, person, or document fits into the sequence of events in history.

  • 1492 Columbus arrives in North America
  • 1565 St. Augustine founded by the Spanish; it is the first European town in the present-day United States
  • 1607 Jamestown founded by the English
  • July 4, 1776 Declaration of Independence signed
  • June 21, 1788 Constitution of the United States ratified
  • 1803 Louisiana Purchase
  • 1861-1865 Civil War
  • 1869 Transcontinental Railroad completed
  • 1914-1917 World War I
  • 1939-1945 World War II
  • 1954 Brown v. Board of Education
  • 1965-1975 Vietnam War
  • 1989 End of the Cold War
  • 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) took effect

Documents in U.S. History

The documents below are arranged chronologically. They are by no means all the important documents in U.S. history! What other key documents can you think of?

  • Declaration of Independence July 4, 1776, document declaring the American colonies' independence from Britain and establishing the idea that people have rights that governments may not take away.
  • Constitution of the United States of America 1788, the fundamental law of the United States, which provides for a government divided into three branches in order to protect the rights of citizens, defend against enemies, and avoid tyranny through a system of checks and balances.
  • Emancipation Proclamation January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln's directive freeing all slaves in states rebelling against the United States.
  • Thirteenth Amendment 1865, amendment to the Constitution that abolished slavery.
  • Nineteenth Amendment 1920, amendment to the Constitution which gave the right to vote to all women 21 years of age and older.


The people listed below are important figures in U.S. history, but there are many others. Who else can you think of?

  • Anthony, Susan B. 1820-1906, reformer who fought for women's rights.
  • Edison, Thomas A. 1847-1931, inventor of the light bulb, the moving-picture camera, and the phonograph.
  • Jefferson, Thomas 1743-1826, third President of the United States, 1801-1809; wrote Declaration of Independence.
  • King, Martin Luther, Jr. 1929-1968, Christian minister and civil rights leader; assassinated.
  • Lincoln, Abraham 1809-1865, 16th President of the United States; issued Emancipation Proclamation; assassinated.
  • Roosevelt, Eleanor 1884-1962, wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt; known for her humanitarian work for the United Nations.
  • Roosevelt, Franklin D. 1882-1945, 32nd President of the United States, 1933-1945; instituted the “New Deal” to relieve the nation's economic woes; President during most of World War II.
  • Sojourner Truth 1797-1883, abolitionist and supporter of women's rights.
  • Washington, George 1732-1799, commanded Continental armies during Revolution; first President of the United States, 1789-1797.

Try It Out!

Now decide how to study this information. You might choose one of the following methods:

  • Create your own timeline. Put all of the information on these pages on a timeline. Add other key information from your textbook that you think you should know.
  • Make a list. Make a chronological list or table that puts the information in sequence. Be sure to include any other important information that you think you should know.
  • Create flash cards. Put the information above on flash cards. Also make cards for any additional information you think you should know.