An American History Lesson

Happy Second Semester.

So, as we step out of World Literature for a second, we will jump into American Literature. But, before we jump too quickly, we need to have a review of American History (8th grade was forever ago). So, below is a post from and is has the Top Ten events of American History. Read through the list and then for 1000 family points, post another event from American History that you think should be on the list. Posts are due by Friday.

Also, remember to do your Gatsby Scavenger Hunt and take your quiz on Edmodo.


This list takes a look at the 10 most seminal, historical and influential events in the evolution of the United States of America.


Barack Obama elected president


It was a symbolic moment in the history of the United States when the last racial barrier in American politics was overcome. Just 143 years earlier, the man who would now hold the supreme office in U.S. government could have been a possession, another man’s property. President-elect Obama said, “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer. “The road ahead will be long, our climb will be steep… I promise you that we as a people will get there.”


Armstrong walks on the moon


The moment seemed to generate memorable quotations. When Apollo 11, the first manned lunar mission, made contact with the surface of the moon, there was “The Eagle has landed.” When Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon, he said, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” But the quotations didn’t end there. Frank Borman later was quoted by U.N. Secretary General U Thant as saying, “We saw the earth the size of a quarter and we recognized that there really is one world. We are all brothers.” A favorite Armstrong quote is, “I believe the good Lord gave us a finite number of heartbeats and I’ll be damned if I’m going to use up mine running up and down a street.”


The Civil Rights Act


The text of the bill was simple and straightforward: “No person in the United States shall on grounds of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” Overnight, it became illegal to force segregation in schools, workplaces, and housing. Racial discrimination wasn’t dead, but it was dying. The addition of “sex” as a protected category was added by a southern legislator in the hopes that Democrats relying heavily on support from labor unions would defeat the bill. Unexpectedly, the bill gave women’s rights advocates additional ammunition.


The Marshall Plan


Considered by some to be the noblest undertaking in American history, and by others to be a waste of the $12,000,000,000 that was eventually spent on the plan, the European recovery program had three objectives. George Marshall, Secretary of State under President Harry Truman, designed the program to promote European production, bolster European currency, and facilitate trade after the devastating effects of World War II. The purpose was to help Europe recover as a healthy trading partner and ally, and to repel the Communist threat from Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Marshall laid the groundwork for a revitalized Europe and the establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953.


Women’s suffrage


The right of women to vote was achieved through decades of devoted work by determined men and women. In 1840, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott traveled to London as delegates to the World Anti-Slavery Convention. Because they were women, they were denied the right to speak. They determined to form an organization to fight for women’s equal rights. Over the years, supporters of women’s suffrage resorted to mass marches, hunger strikes, and denial of conjugal privileges to husbands who were opposed. In 1893, New Zealand became the first country to grant women the right to vote at the federal level. Australia followed suit in 1902, but it was not until 1920, when President Woodrow Wilson advocated for the women’s right as a war measure, that the 19th Amendment granted American women the right to vote. Wilson’s decision followed daily picketing of the White House by hundreds of women. By the time the amendment was passed, 500 women had been arrested there for loitering, and another 168 for obstructing traffic.



The Emancipation Proclamation


Lincoln believed that the purpose of the Civil War was to preserve the union. He wrote to Horace Greeley, “If I could save the union without freeing any slave, I would do it. If I could save the union by freeing all slaves, I would do it. If I could save the union by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.” The Emancipation Proclamation did not free slaves in states loyal to the union or in states that had been reconquered. It only freed slaves in states “in rebellion that had not laid down arms by January 1, 1863.” Nor did it make slavery illegal. That change came with the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865. It did accomplish important steps, however. Twenty thousand slaves were freed immediately, and many more rushed to join the union advance into the South. Moreover, the proclamation won approval in France and Great Britain, effectively ending the Confederate States’ hope for recognition by those countries. Ultimately, more than 4,000,000 slaves were freed.


Lewis and Clark arrive at the Pacific


They were not the first settlers of Northern European origin. The natives there were quite accustomed to trading with white men, and Station Camp, near where the Columbia River empties into the Pacific Ocean, had 36 houses. Moreover, the Northwest Passage they had sought did not exist. Hoping that the Missouri River would gently lead to the sea had been in vain. The Missouri and the Columbia both had huge rapids and cataracts making river travel difficult and in some places impossible. But their journey had not been without value. Arriving at the Pacific coast exactly one year, six months, and one day after leaving St. Louis, Lewis and Clark had collected plant specimens, studied new animal species, and acquired priceless information about the geography and inhabitants of what would be the western United States.


Louisiana Purchase


President Thomas Jefferson faced a dilemma. Napoleon Bonaparte’s aggression made it likely that New Orleans, which was paramount in international trade, and the Mississippi River, which was vital for national and international commerce, could be closed to U.S. trade. He had learned in 1801 that Spain had retroceded its territory to France in a secret compact. But the Constitution had no provision for acquiring territory. Ultimately, Jefferson took matters into his own hands and dispatched envoys to see if Napoleon would sell. The emperor, facing a war with Great Britain, realized that he was unlikely to be able to defend the territory. He decided to sell for a total cost, including forgiven debts, of $15,000,000. The purchase doubled the country, including the territory of fourteen states. Napoleon was satisfied, as well. He said, “I have given England a maritime rival who sooner or later will humble her pride.”


Ratification of the Constitution


The Federal Convention which had drafted the Constitution had no authority to impose it. An elaborate four-step plan for ratification was adopted. 1. The Constitution was submitted to Congress. 2. Congress transmitted the Constitution to the state legislatures. 3. Each state elected delegates to attend a convention and decide whether to ratify. 4. Ratification by at least nine of the thirteen colonies was required. This plan avoided the hostility of states’ rights advocates and made the Constitution less vulnerable to changes of opinion. In September of 1787, the Congress bitterly debated the Constitution and ultimately submitted it to the states with neither an endorsement nor a condemnation. The Constitution was validly before the people. The first five ratifications came quickly, but Massachusetts demanded a means of amending the document as a condition of ratification. This demand ultimately led to the passage of the first ten amendments, known as the Bill of Rights. Final acceptance of the document by the states took place in July, 1788.


Declaration of Independence


Arriving at consensus was no small feat. At the beginning of the month, only eight of the thirteen colonies were in favor of independence, with New York abstaining from the vote pending a local decision. The American Prohibitory Act had made all vessels and cargoes from the colonies forfeit to the Crown, and in May King George had issued an order hiring German mercenaries to fight the colonies, which he now considered to be in total rebellion. Still, many believed the rift could be patched up. Jefferson was dispatched by a committee to write up a declaration explaining the views of those who favored independence. He completed the document in two weeks, starting on June 11, 1776. Then Benjamin Franklin and John Adams made additions and deletions, and at last it was presented to the full congress, where redaction went on until late at night on July 3. Finally, on July 4, 1776, all thirteen colonies signed “…the fragile object which bears so great a weight of meaning to our people.”



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  1. funsizesunshine

    Grimm by the by 🙂 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (just in case you don’t love me enough already)

  2. zachpointer

    The invention of an American standardized car that could be mass-produced in factories revolutionized transportation in the United States for the rest of time and is one of the greatest and most important contributions to our country that we have ever seen. It is still used today and could be considered one of the most vital entities of modern, everyday life.


  3. Amelia Navarro

    World War II
    This great war marked a significant event in American history. World War II hosted the holocaust and eradicated the fine line of civility and mercy. Franklin Roosevelt stated, “The battlefront disappeared and with it the illusion that there had ever been a battlefront. for this was no war of occupation, but a war of quick penetration and obliteration – Blitzkrieg, Lightning War.” September 25, 1939 ( Scientific endeavors were made and atomic bombs were created. Germany’s dictator Hitler sought to erase all Jews and in a sense clone only the smartest and useful people. Preferably people with blond hair and blue eyes. Through this, millions of lives were slaughtered. America was included in this universal war and it displays its sense of independence.

  4. sarahjwilcox

    Civil War
    In the Spring of 1861 there were uprising tensions between the northern and southern states in America that included the states’ rights vs. the federal authority that resulted in an all out war between the north and south now known as the American Civil War. An insane war that involved war that may have even been between brother and brother. Under the presidency of Abraham Lincoln the states fought, and at Antietam is where Abraham Lincoln told his most memorable speech being the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. The war finally ended in 1865 with the surrender of the Confederates giving the Union victory. This war now goes down in history as the Great Rebellion and one of the costliest wars in history.

  5. cjscherer

    September 11, 2001.
    “Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th. We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children.” George W. Bush put it accurately. The terror attack that occurred on September 11, 2001, was one that silenced the nation. On that day, three planes were hijacked by Islamic terrorists and flown into major buildings in both Washington D.C. and New York City. Both of the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were crashed into by those planes, taking countless lives with them. A fourth plane was going to be hijacked, however the attempt was stopped by passengers on board, who lost their lives as well. This event led to President Bush’s war on terrorism as well as a hole in the lives of many that was once filled by fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters.

  6. alexharakas

    9-11 Bombings
    September 11, 2001
    The 9-11 bombings mark one of the first terrorisms from Islamic groups in the American homeland. Wars on ISIS and Al-Qaeda have since been commissioned. This horrific event in American history marks a turning point where Americans came together in grief, and the world became much smaller as violence from afar directly affected Americans in daily life.

  7. kl1214

    9/11 Attacks
    September 11, 2001
    On September 11, 2001, 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda hijacked four airliners and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. Two of the planes were flown into the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, a third plane hit the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C., and the fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Often referred to as 9/11, the attacks resulted in extensive death and destruction, triggering major U.S. initiatives to combat terrorism and defining the presidency of George W. Bush. These attacks sparked FBI & CIA investigations, incorporated 22 agencies into what is now The Department Homeland Security, and created The US Patriot Act to extend the laws of the enforcement agencies ability to search telephone, e-mail communications, medical, financial, and other records; in addition to easing the restrictions on foreign intelligence gathering within the United States.

  8. adriennedwyer

    Election of the First President
    On February 4, 1789, George Washington was unanimously elected as the first president of the United States of America. Under his presidency, congress passed several first laws regarding citizenship, capital location, copyrighting, and internal revenue, and the first ten amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, were ratified. Under his direction, Washington also initiated the construction of the President’s Palace, better known today as the White House. Washington’s presidency set lasting precedents–the inclusion of a presidential cabinet, the traditional two-term presidency, executive privilege and restraint, and establishment of federal law as supreme law–for new presidents later to come.

  9. kl1214

    (Because I had posted at the same time as someone else with the same event)
    Martin Luther King’s Most Famous Speech
    August 28, 1963
    This speech was important in several ways:
    It brought even greater attention to the Civil Rights Movement, which had been going on for many years. King’s speech was part of the March on Washington, a gathering of more than 250,000 people in the nation’s capital. African-Americans still were not treated as equals. Marches like this one and ones earlier in Detroit and other cities called attention to this fact.
    The speech was given in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial, the monument honoring President Abraham Lincoln, who issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in the Southern states. By giving his speech there, King was wanting to call attention to how things were so terrible a century before (during the Civil War) and how some things hadn’t changed so very much in 100 years.
    It brought Martin Luther King and his message of non-violence to a nationwide (and worldwide) audience. The speech was carried on radio and was reprinted in newspapers and magazines all over the United States and all over the world. After this speech, the name Martin Luther King was known to many more people than before.

  10. hallegj

    The assassination of John F. Kennedy:
    On November 22, 1963, the 35th president of the United States, John F. Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald. JFK was in a motorcade in a car with his wife when he was shot to death. As a result of his assassination, many conspiracies have arisen, and are still spoken of today.

  11. hampizza

    Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
    On March 25, 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory caught on fire and resulted in the deaths of 145 workers. This was seen as a tragedy because most of the deaths could have been preventable, and many of the workers were young men and women. The fire had started in a rag bin but consequently spiraled out of control. The elevator could only carry 12 people at a time, and a total of four trips were made before the elevator broke down. Many of the young workers plunged down the elevator shaft to their deaths. The workers who used the stairs were met with a locked door at the bottom. This caused the workers to die from the flames engulfing the building. Some of the workers jumped out of the windows and fell to their death. This tragic event served as a catalyst for several bills and laws to ensure that the working conditions became much safer.

  12. dmcluckey

    Manhattan Project
    During the end of World War 2, President Roosevelt realized that America need a powerful weapon to help win the war. Led by Robert Oppenheimer and Enrico Fermi, it took six years to develop nuclear physics necessary for the bombs. America became known as the first country that made nuclear fission into a weapon. In 1945, after President Roosevelt passed away, President Harry Truman decided to use the bombs on Japanese cities. he chose Japan because of their tenacity to never surrender. Fat Man and Little Boy, what the atomic bombs were called, changed their minds in a few days. Making the atomic bombs ended the war faster, but at the cost of more than 100,000 civilians lives.

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