United States History

As with most nations, the history of the United States contains a number of twists and turns throughout the centuries, from the time of English colonization of North America up to the modern-day America that we're familiar with. Learn more about the people, events, and movements that left an indelible mark in history and shaped the development of the United States as a nation.

United States History Encyclopedia Articles

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Plains Wars
Plains Wars, series of conflicts from the early 1850s through the late 1870s between Native Americans and the United States, along with its Indian allies, over control of the Great Plains between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains. The initial major confrontation, sometimes known as the...
Encyclopedia / United States History
Black Hills expedition, 1874
Burr-Hamilton duel
Burr-Hamilton duel, duel fought between U.S. Vice Pres. Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, former first secretary of the U.S. Treasury, on July 11, 1804, in Weehawken, New Jersey, that resulted in the death of Hamilton the following day. The two men had long been political rivals, but the immediate...
Encyclopedia / United States History
Burr-Hamilton duel
American Civil War
American Civil War, four-year war (1861–65) between the United States and 11 Southern states that seceded from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America. The secession of the Southern states (in chronological order, South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana,...
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Battle of Gettysburg
United States presidential election of 1972
United States presidential election of 1972, American presidential election held on November 7, 1972, in which Republican Pres. Richard Nixon was elected to a second term, defeating Democrat George McGovern in one of the largest landslides in U.S. history. In January 1971 McGovern announced his...
Encyclopedia / United States History
American presidential election, 1972
Louisiana Purchase
Louisiana Purchase, western half of the Mississippi River basin purchased in 1803 from France by the United States; at less than three cents per acre for 828,000 square miles (2,144,520 square km), it was the greatest land bargain in U.S. history. The purchase doubled the size of the United States,...
Encyclopedia / United States History
Louisiana Purchase
Salem witch trials
Salem witch trials, (June 1692–May 1693), in American history, a series of investigations and persecutions that caused 19 convicted “witches” to be hanged and many other suspects to be imprisoned in Salem Village in the Massachusetts Bay Colony (now Danvers, Massachusetts). The events in Salem in...
Encyclopedia / United States History
witch
Battle of Gettysburg
Battle of Gettysburg, (July 1–3, 1863), major engagement in the American Civil War, fought 35 miles (56 km) southwest of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, that was a crushing Southern defeat. It is generally regarded as the turning point of the war and has probably been more intensively studied and...
Encyclopedia / United States History
The few Confederate troops who reached the objective of Pickett's Charge on Cemetery Ridge were easily repulsed, though their progress at the Battle of Gettysburg marked the high-water mark of the Confederacy.
United States presidential election of 1968
United States presidential election of 1968, American presidential election held on November 5, 1968, in which Republican Richard M. Nixon defeated Democrat Hubert H. Humphrey. The run-up to the 1968 election was transformed in 1967 when Minnesota’s Democratic senator, Eugene J. McCarthy,...
Encyclopedia / United States History
American presidential election, 1968
War of 1812
War of 1812, (June 18, 1812–February 17, 1815), conflict fought between the United States and Great Britain over British violations of U.S. maritime rights. It ended with the exchange of ratifications of the Treaty of Ghent. The tensions that caused the War of 1812 arose from the French...
Encyclopedia / United States History
1812, War of
Spanish-American War
Spanish-American War, (1898), conflict between the United States and Spain that ended Spanish colonial rule in the Americas and resulted in U.S. acquisition of territories in the western Pacific and Latin America. The war originated in the Cuban struggle for independence from Spain, which began in...
Encyclopedia / United States History
Roosevelt, Theodore; Rough Riders
Pearl Harbor attack
Pearl Harbor attack, (December 7, 1941), surprise aerial attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor on Oahu Island, Hawaii, by the Japanese that precipitated the entry of the United States into World War II. The strike climaxed a decade of worsening relations between the United States and Japan....
Encyclopedia / United States History
Pearl Harbor attack
9-11 Commission
9-11 Commission, bipartisan study group created by U.S. Pres. George W. Bush and the United States Congress on November 27, 2002, to examine the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. The commission’s report served as the basis for a major reform of the U.S. intelligence...
Encyclopedia / United States History
United States Presidential Election of 2016
United States Presidential Election of 2016, American presidential election held on November 8, 2016, in which Republican Donald Trump lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton by more than 2.8 million votes but won 30 states and the decisive electoral college with 304 electoral votes to...
Encyclopedia / United States History
United States presidential election of 2016
Assassination of John F. Kennedy
Assassination of John F. Kennedy, mortal shooting of John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, as he rode in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963. His accused killer was Lee Harvey Oswald, a former U.S. Marine who had embraced Marxism and defected for a time to the...
Encyclopedia / United States History
John F. Kennedy assassinated
Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., mortal shooting of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., the most prominent leader of the American civil rights movement, on April 4, 1968, as he stood on the second floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, where he had come to lead a march by...
Encyclopedia / United States History
funeral of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Mexican-American War
Mexican-American War, war between the United States and Mexico (April 1846–February 1848) stemming from the United States’ annexation of Texas in 1845 and from a dispute over whether Texas ended at the Nueces River (Mexican claim) or the Rio Grande (U.S. claim). The war—in which U.S. forces were...
Encyclopedia / United States History
Mexican-American War: U.S. declaration of war
Afghanistan War
Afghanistan War, international conflict in Afghanistan beginning in 2001 that was triggered by the September 11 attacks and consisted of three phases. The first phase—toppling the Taliban (the ultraconservative political and religious faction that ruled Afghanistan and provided sanctuary for...
Encyclopedia / United States History
Afghanistan War
American Revolution
American Revolution, (1775–83), insurrection by which 13 of Great Britain’s North American colonies won political independence and went on to form the United States of America. The war followed more than a decade of growing estrangement between the British crown and a large and influential segment...
Encyclopedia / United States History
The Surrender of Lord Cornwallis

United States History Encyclopedia Articles

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