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Topics in early American History
Thirteen Colonies: Topic Page
Original North American colonies that signed the Declaration of Independence from Britain in 1776.
French and Indian War: Topic Page
Begun as colonial muscling for control of the Ohio River valley, the French and Indian War (1754-1760) ignited the worldwide conflict between the British and French known as the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763) and ended France’s North American empire.
Plymouth Colony: Topic Page
Settlement made by the Pilgrims on the coast of Massachusetts in 1620.
New England Confederation: Topic Page
Union for "mutual safety and welfare" formed in 1643 by representatives of the colonies of Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven.
Mississippi Scheme: Topic Page
Plan formulated by John Law for the colonization and commercial exploitation of the Mississippi valley and other French colonial areas.
Notable Figures in Early America
Christopher Columbus (1451 - 1506): Topic Page
Italian explorer in the service of Spain who determined that the earth was round and attempted to reach Asia by sailing west from Europe, thereby reaching America (1492)
Native Americans: Topic Page
The original peoples of North America collectively have been called Native Americans, American Indians, or Amerindians. These terms are European American inventions that obscure the diversity of peoples indigenous to the Americas.
Movements and Issues of the 18th and 19th Centuries
Abolitionism: Topic Page
A movement culminating in the late 18th and early 19th centuries that aimed first to end the slave trade, and then to abolish the institution of slavery and emancipate slaves.
Slavery: Topic Page
Slavery has been found among many groups of low material culture, as in the Malay Peninsula and among some Native Americans; it also has occurred in more highly developed societies, such as the southern United States.
Underground Railroad: Topic Page
Loosely organized system for helping fugitive slaves escape to Canada or to areas of safety in free states. It was run by local groups of Northern abolitionists, both white and free blacks.
Manifest Destiny: Topic Page
In US history, the belief that Americans had a providential mission to extend both their territory and their democratic processes westwards across the continent.
Women's Suffrage: Topic Page
The right of women to vote; Throughout the latter part of the 19th cent. the issue of women's voting rights was an important phase of feminism.
Notable Figures of the 18th Century
Notable People of the 19th Century
John Wilkes Booth: Topic Page
American actor and the assassin of Abraham Lincoln.
Frederick Douglass: Topic Page
Author of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself, a profoundly influential African American text during his era, Douglass rose through the ranks of the antislavery movement to become the most electrifying speaker and compelling writer produced by black America in the nineteenth century.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Topic Page
Women’s rights leader and feminist pioneer, born in Johnstown, New York, USA.
Sojourner Truth: Topic Page
US antislavery and women's-suffrage campaigner.
Harriet Tubman: Topic Page
US abolitionist who helped set up the Underground Railroad.
Henry David Thoreau: Topic Page
American author and leader of the Transcendentalist movement in America.
Robert E. Lee: Topic Page
A Native Virginian and General in chief of the Confederate armies in the American Civil War.
Jefferson Davis: Topic Page
American statesman and President of the Southern Confederacy during the American Civil War.
Harriet Beecher Stowe: Topic Page
Author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, one of the most controversial books of its' time, born in Litchfield, Connecticut, USA.
18th Century Events
Declaration of Independence: Topic Page
Full and formal declaration adopted July 4, 1776, by representatives of the Thirteen Colonies in North America announcing the separation of those colonies from Great Britain and making them into the United States.
American Revolution: Topic Page
Struggle by which the Thirteen Colonies on the Atlantic seaboard of North America won independence from Great Britain and became the United States. The casualty rate was roughly 120 in 10,000, the second heaviest of any large-scale American war. One way or another everybody within what became the United States took part in the conflict and felt its effects: Natives; Africans; patriots; loyalists; neutrals; Northerners; Southerners; and backcountry folk, both men and women.
Constitutional Convention: Topic Page
the 1787 meeting in which the Constitution of the United States was drawn up.
Articles of Confederation: Topic Page
Ratified in 1781 and superseded by the Constitution of the United States in 1789.
United States Bill of Rights: Topic Page
First 10 amendments to the Constitution of the United States, adopted as a group in 1791.
Ordinance of 1787: Topic Page
Adopted by the Congress of Confederation for the government of the Western territories ceded to the United States by the states.
19th Century Events
Second Great Awakening: Topic Page
US religious evangelical revivalist movement, lasting from about 1800 to 1870.
Transcontinental Railroad: Topic Page
The largest civil engineering project in western history to that date, the railroad was over 4,800 km/3,000 mi long and crossed deserts, canyons, and mountains, requiring the development of new construction techniques.
The Kansas-Nebraska Act: Topic Page
Bill that became law on May 30, 1854, by which the U.S. Congress established the territories of Kansas and Nebraska.
Trail of Tears: Topic Page
Forced march of the Cherokee Indian tribes from from their ancestral lands in the eastern United States to Oklahoma in 1838-39.
Plains Wars: Topic Page
Series of conflicts between the Plains Indians and the US Army 1850-90, during the era of US westward expansion.
Sand Creek Massacre: Topic Page
Slaughter of 450 Cheyenne and Arapaho by the 3rd Colorado Volunteers under Col John Chivington, during an unprovoked attack on Cheyenne peace chief Black Kettle's camp at Sand Creek, Colorado, on 29 November 1864.
Battle of Little Big Horn: Topic Page
The Battle of the Little Bighorn took place on 25 June 1876. It resulted in the death of about 265 officers and troops of the 7th Cavalry under the command of General George Armstrong Custer. The battle was the most serious defeat of the US army during the war for the Great Plains.
Oregon Trail: Topic Page
Major westward migration route in the USA used by pioneer settlers in the 19th century.
American Civil War: Topic Page
Sometimes called ‘the War Between the States’ or ‘the Second American Revolution’, a conflict in the USA which resolved two great issues: the nature of the Federal Union and the relative power of the states and the central government; and the existence of black slavery.
War of 1812: Topic Page
Armed conflict between the United States and Great Britain, 1812–15. The war was ostensibly fought for freedom of the seas, to end impressment, and for territory in Canada; yet the eventual peace treaty changed these circumstances little.
California Gold Rush: Topic Page
The influx of prospectors to the Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, following the discovery of gold in the American River by US surveyor James Marshall in January 1848
McCulloch v. Maryland: Topic Page
Case decided in 1819 by the U.S. Supreme Court, dealing specifically with the constitutionality of a Congress-chartered corporation, and more generally with the dispersion of power between state and federal governments.
Lincoln-Douglas Debates: Topic Page
A series of seven debates between the Democrat senator Stephen A Douglas and Republican Abraham Lincoln held August-October during the 1858 race for Illinois State senator.
Emancipation Proclamation: Topic Page
The executive order abolishing slavery in the Confederate States of America.
Monroe Doctrine: Topic Page
Principle of American foreign policy enunciated in President James Monroe's message to Congress, Dec. 2, 1823. It initially called for an end to European intervention in the Americas, but it was later extended to justify U.S. imperialism in the Western Hemisphere.
Antislavery movements: Topic Page
A movement culminating in the late 18th and early 19th centuries that aimed first to end the slave trade, and then to abolish the institution of slavery and emancipate slaves. The movement took place in Europe, mainly in the UK, and in the USA.
Underground Railroad: Topic Page
In U.S. history, loosely organized system for helping fugitive slaves escape to Canada or to areas of safety in free states.
Confederacy: Topic Page
The Confederate States of America (1861-65), the government established by the Southern states of the United States after their secession from the Union.
Reconstruction: Topic Page
Generally dating from 1865 to 1877, Reconstruction is the term describing the period of readjustment following the American Civil War.
Louisiana Purchase: Topic Page
In 1803, the United States acquired from France the formerly Spanish region of Louisiana.
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