U.S. Historical Timeline

In August, Christopher Columbus begins a voyage under the Spanish flag to find a westward passage to the Indies. In October land is sighted in the Bahamas. This begins the period of colonization of the New World by the Spanish.
John Giovanni Cabot sailing under the English flag rediscovers the North American coast landing at New Foundland.
Ponce de Leon explores the coast of Florida looking for the Fountain of Youth sites land near St. Augustine. Claiming the land for Spain he names it La Florida after the Easter season Festival of Flowers.
Giovanni da Verrazano enters New York harbor during a French expedition from the Carolinas to Nova Scotia.
Exploration of the southwest and western United States to California by European expeditions begins when Fernando Vasquez de Coronado departs Compostela, in present-day Mexico, looking to conquer the Seven Cities of Gold. The two-year expedition took him into the lands of the United States, into New Mexico, and to the Grand Canyon.
Roanoke Island colony is founded by an expedition organized by Sir Walter Raleigh (Raleigh never visited North America himself) during his attempt to colonize the area of Virginia and North Carolina. The colony fails.
John White's return trip to the Roanoke Island Colony finds no signs of the colonists, beyond the words CROATOAN and CRO carved into tree trunks. The fate of its people is unknown to this date, and is often referred to as the "Lost Colony of Roanoke Island."
The three ships land in Jamestown, establishing the first English settlement in the United States. There are 103 settlers among them. Upon arrival, Captain John Smith is named to the governing council.
Henry Hudson, working for the Dutch, sails into New York harbor and up the river that would bear his name to Albany.
The history of Jamestown continues with the marriage of Pocahontas to John Rolfe, who would bring tobacco seeds to the colony and begin its harvesting this year. Their marriage led to eight years of peace among the colonists and Indians.
The smallpox epidemic wipes out 90% of the Native Americans in the Massachusetts Bay area.
First representative assembly, the House of Burgesses, held in America is elected in Jamestown. The next month, the Dutch land with indentured servants in Jamestown.
The Puritan expedition which left England for the New World on September 6, reaches Cape Cod near Provincetown, not their original destination of Virginia. They explore the coastline for an appropriate settlement location. A landing party searches the coast for a suitable site for a settlement and start to move the entire party to Plymouth Harbor. Plymouth Rock was identified as the first solid land the Pilgrims set foot on. The Puritans begin to establish a settlement in Plymouth. They form the Mayflower Compact, which established a government and legal structure. During the next winter, half of the colonists would perish. The site of the settlement had previously been the location of an Indian village that had been wiped out in 1617 by a plague.
Peter Minuit, one of eight men left by Dutch explorers headed for the Albany area from the ship New Netherland on Manhattan Island, buys the island from the Man-a-hat-a Indians for $24 in trinkets.
Maryland is founded as a Catholic colony promoting religious tolerance. The subsequent state is named for Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of England's Charles I.
Providence, Rhode Island is founded as a colony by Roger Williams. Its charter would be granted eight years later as a democratic colony believing in the separation of church and state.
Witchcraft is made a capital crime in English law.
The Massachusetts colony becomes the first colony to legalize slavery.
Slavery is legalized in Connecticut and recognized in the American colonies.
Rhode Island passes the first law in the American colonies restricting slavery, making it illegal for more than ten years.
Jewish settlement in the American colonies begins with the arrival of twenty-three settlers from Brazil in New Amsterdam.
The colony of Pennsylvania is established when William Penn signs a treaty with the Delaware Indians and pays for Pennsylvania lands.
The Plymouth colony, which had remained independent since its founding in 1620, joins the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
The Salem witch hunts, spurred by preaching, results in the arrest of one hundred and fifty people and the death of nineteen. These trials were held in Essex, Suffolk, and Middlesex counties.
The first theater in the colonies opens for business in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Poor Richard's Almanac is published for the first of its twenty-six annual editions by Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia.
Alaska is reached by Captain Vitas Bering under the employment of the Russians.
Benjamin Franklin invents the lightning rod earlier in the year proving that lightning was electricity by flying a kite in a thunderstorm.
George Washington and his troops attack Fort Duquesne, an initial action of the French and Indian War between the English and French which began when French forces built and occupied Fort Duquesne in Pittsburgh and did not heed warnings to leave Virginia territory.
Battle of Fort Necessity occurs in southeast Pennsylvania in a small fort built for supplies. That battle of the French and Indian War ends in a truce.
France cedes Louisiana to Spain.
French and Indian War ends with a peace treaty that cedes Canada and the American midwest to the English.
The Sugar Act places a duty on various commodities, including lumber, food, molasses, and rum in the British colonies.
Stamp Act is repealed.
The Boston Massacre (drawing below) occurs when British troops fire into a Boston mob, who were demonstrating against British troops at the customs commission.
The Boston Tea Party caused Parliament to close the port of Boston and pushed the American colonies one step closer to war.
American Revolution.
The United States declares its Independence from Great Britain.
George Washington becomes the first U.S. President.
First U.S. Census.
Bill of Rights is ratified.
A trail through Allegheny Mountains at Cumberland Gap widened to enable Conestoga wagons to travel on it. This would become the Wilderness Road.
Louisiana Territory is purchased from France
Meriwether Lewis and William Clark explore the Louisiana Territory.
Congress authorizes the construction of a federal financed paved road, which would become known as the National Road (today is known as U.S. 40/Interstate 70).
The U.S. declares war on Great Britain.
War of 1812
British capture and burn Washington D.C.
War of 1812 ends with the Treaty of Ghent.  A wave of immigration begins.
Indian Wars
Erie Canal opens.
Indian Removal Act grants authority to move Eastern Indians to Western lands.
Beginning this year and for the next several years, over one million Irish immigrants arrived in America.
U.S. declares war on Mexico.
U.S. Mexico War ends; Mexico cedes claims to Texas, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada.
California Gold Rush begins.
U. S. Civil War.
The U.S. purchases the Alaska Territory from Russia for $7.2 million.
Suez Canal opens in Egypt linking the Mediterranean and Red seas.
The U.S. declares war on Spain in April. 
Both countries sign an armistice, ending the Spanish-American War in August.
United States and Spain sign the Treaty of Paris 1898, officially ending the Spanish-American War.
Spanish-American War
Principe assassinates Archduke Ferdinand of the Ottoman Empire in June.
World War I begins as the Ottoman Empire declares war on Bosnia in July.
Panama Canal opens in August.
British liner Lusitanian sunk by German U-Boats, killing 128 American passengers.
Girl Scouts established in June.
Boy Scouts established in May.
The U.S. National Park Service established in August.
World War I
The U.S. enters World War I on the side of the Allies in April.
Allied and Central Powers sign an armistice, ending World War I in November.
Treaty of Versailles signed, ending World War I in June.
New York Stock Market crashes to an all-time low (referred to as "Black Tuesday"), signaling the start of the Great Depression in October.
Germany invades Poland; then France and Great Britain declare war on Germany in September; then Germany and the Soviet Union sign the Warsaw pact, keeping the Soviet Union out of World War II.
British evacuate over 300,000 soldiers from Dunkirk, France back across the English Channel and France surrenders to Germany in June.
Germany invades the Soviet Union in June.
In December, the Japanese forces attack the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; the U.S. declares war on Japan; Germany and Italy declare war on the U.S.
World War II
Allied forces invade Normandy (referred to as "D-Day") on June 6; a German surprise attack begins the Battle of the Bulge followed by Allied forces pushing the German troops past the German border in December.
In August, the U.S. drops the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, followed by the second on Nagasaki, Japan.
In September, Japan unconditionally surrenders to the United States, ending World War II.
Winston Churchill proclaims "an iron curtain has swept across the continent (Europe)," beginning the Cold War in October.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) established by Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, and the United States in April.
The Korean War officially starts as North Korea invades South Korea.
The Korean Conflict
The U.S. detonates the first thermonuclear device in November.
Segregation abolished in the United States in July.
The U.S. begins military presence in Vietnam in August.
Vietnam War
American astronaut Neil Armstrong is the 1st human to walk on the Moon in July.
The U.S. begins withdrawing troops from Vietnam.
The U.S. and Vietnam sign a peace treaty, ending the Vietnam War in January; by March, the last of American forces leave Vietnam.
Desert Shield/Desert Storm
The U.S. and Russia sign a treaty officially ending the Cold War.
Panama gains control of the Panama Canal from the United States.
On September 11, Al Qaeda terrorists crash three planes into the New York's World Trade Center and the U.S. Pentagon. Heroic passengers on fourth plane, United Flight 93, foil hijackers and plane.
On October 11, 2002, the U.S. Congress passes the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq.
Missile attacks on Baghdad mark the start of a U. S.-led campaign to topple the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. U. S. forces advance into central Baghdad in early April.
The National Human Genome Research Institute announces the successful completion of the Human Genome Project.
In August, hundreds of people are killed when Hurricane Katrina, the most destructive storm to hit the U. S. in decades, sweeps through gulf coast states. Much of the city of New Orleans is submerged by floodwaters.
Democratic Senator Barack Obama becomes the first black president of the United States.
U. S. forces kill Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in an operation in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad in May.
The final Space Shuttle mission is completed with the landing of Atlantis on July 21, bringing about the end of the 30-year program.