Dr. Quintard Taylor, Jr.
Scott and Dorothy Bullitt
Professor of American History 
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African American History | African American History in the West (Now available at www.blackpast.org)  

United States History:

Timeline: 1800 - 1900

Before 1600 | 1600 - 1700 | 1700 - 1800 | 1800 - 1900 | 1900 - 2000 | American Revolution Timeline | Cold War Timeline

1796 - December 7. John Adams is elected second president of the U.S. Jefferson is elected vice president, having received the second largest number of electoral votes.  

1797 - March 4. Adams inaugurated as President - Jefferson is inaugurated as vice president of the United States and begins gathering information on rules of parliamentary practice. As vice president, Jefferson presides over the Senate. 

1798 - June-July. Congress passes what are collectively known as the Alien and Sedition Acts. These acts, the Naturalization Act, the Alien Act, the Sedition Act, and the Alien Enemies Act, are passed in the midst of a quasi-war with France and heightened public criticism of foreign policy. 

1799 - Jefferson leaves Philadelphia for Monticello, arriving there on the 8th. Throughout the coming year he devotes himself to Monticello's development. On his way to Philadelphia in November, he visits the new federal city, Washington, D.C., which he plays a key role in designing. (Temple of Liberty: Building the Capitol for a New Nation, Library of Congress Exhibitions)  

December 14. George Washington dies at Mount Vernon.  

1800 - June. The U. S. capital is moved from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C.

          December 3. Electors meet in their states and cast votes for the next president of the United States. A tie vote between Jefferson and Aaron Burr does not become known till the end of the month. This throws the election into the House of Representatives which addresses the matter on February 11, 1801.  

1801 - February 11. The electors' votes for president are officially opened and counted in Congress, which already knows that the vote is tied between Jefferson and Aaron Burr. The House of Representatives meets separately and continues balloting for six days. On February 17, on the thirty-sixth ballot, Jefferson is elected president and Aaron Burr becomes vice president.

New York passes Emancipation Act 

- Population 5.3 million (1 million of African decent) 

1802 - Ohio outlaws slavery --  September. James Callender makes the accusation that Thomas Jefferson has "for many years past kept, as his concubine, one of his own slaves," Sally Hemings. It is published in the Richmond Recorder that month, and the story is soon picked up by Federalist presses around the country. Callender, a Republican, has previously been an avid investigator of Federalist scandals. In 1798, Jefferson had helped pay for the publication of Callender's pamphlet The Prospect Before Us, which claimed to expose John Adams as a monarchist. However, when Jefferson, now president, fails to reward Callender with the office of postmaster in Richmond, Virginia, Callender turns on him. 

1803 - Louisiana Purchase January 18. Jefferson asks Congress for funds for an expedition to explore the Mississippi River and beyond in search of a route to the Pacific. Meriwether Lewis, Jefferson's private secretary, begins planning the expedition, which forms late in 1803.

- April 30. Robert Livingston, ambassador to France, and James Monroe, special envoy, conclude a treaty of cession in Paris in which the United States purchases from France the whole of the Louisiana territory for fifteen million dollars. The territory, approximately 800,000 square miles comprising the Mississippi River Valley and most of the present-day Midwest, almost doubles the size of the United States. Jefferson's original expectation was that Livingston and Monroe might persuade the French to yield a portion of the Mississippi River Valley for ten million dollars. However, Emperor Napoleon of France has just lost an army and the island of Santo Domingo in the Caribbean to Toussaint L'Overture, leader of a slave insurrection, and he is no longer interested in maintaining a French foothold in North America. He offers the United States the whole of the territory.

1804 - May. The expedition led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark departs, moving up the Missouri River. (Lewis and Clark map, with annotations... Geography and Map Division)

- July 12. Alexander Hamilton dies after being shot the previous day by Vice President Aaron Burr in a duel at Weehawken, New Jersey.

- November. Jefferson is re-elected president. He receives the votes of all state electors except those of Connecticut, Delaware, and two from Maryland. George Clinton is his vice president. 

1806 - April 19. Jefferson nominates James Monroe and William Pinckney as joint commissioners to Great Britain. British warships have been boarding and searching American ships and seizing American as well as British seamen, claiming that they are British deserters. Jefferson hopes to resolve the issue and maintain American neutrality in the conflict between Great Britain and France.

BURR CONSPIRACY - September-October - Jefferson receives further information from a variety of sources in Pennsylvania and New York, including Generals William Eaton and James Wilkinson, that Aaron Burr is organizing a military expedition against Spanish possessions for the purpose of separating western territories from the United States. Eaton, a veteran of the recent Tripolitan War, claims that Burr tried to recruit him. Wilkinson, commander of United States military forces in the West, provides information about the conspiracy after having been implicated in it himself. He does not specifically name Burr.

November 27. Jefferson issues a proclamation declaring that "sundry persons, citizens of the U.S. or resident within the same, are conspiring & confederating...against the dominions of Spain" and requiring that all military and civil officials of all states and territories of the United States prevent "the carrying on such expedition or enterprise by all lawful means within their power."

1807 - January 17. Aaron Burr is captured near New Orleans. He escapes but is recaptured and imprisoned. In April, Burr is charged with treason and tried in Richmond in a federal circuit court presided over by John Marshall.* Burr is acquitted. Later, with other charges pending, Burr escapes to England. (*Winfield Scott, then a young lawyer, attends the trial as a spectator.)

- June 22. The British warship Leopard attacks the American ship Chesapeake off the Virginia coast because its captain refused to allow the British to board and search for deserters. Three American seamen are killed and eighteen wounded as the British force a boarding and remove four alleged deserters. After learning of the attack on June 25, Jefferson calls an emergency cabinet meeting.

- July. Jefferson and his cabinet release a proclamation closing American ports to all British ships except those with emergencies or on diplomatic missions. The Revenge will carry an ultimatum to Great Britain. Meanwhile, state governors are to call up troops for the federal army. Winfield Scott joins the army as a corporal. 

1808 – November - James Madison is elected President – tensions continue to build with Britain. As Jefferson's successor, Madison won the 1808 presidential election handily, despite a challenge from his estranged friend, James Monroe. Throughout his first term Madison was preoccupied by disputes with France, Great Britain, and Spain. By 1810 France had repealed its commercial restrictions, at least nominally, and in the same year Madison seized the province of West Florida from Spain, thereby consolidating American control of the Gulf Coast. But with respect to Great Britain, his efforts were unavailing, and beginning in November 1811, he urged Congress to mobilize the country's defenses. In June 1812 he asked for and received a declaration of war against Great Britain. 

1812 - War of 1812 with Britain (15% sailors Black)

see timeline: 


1814 - British burn Capitol building in Washington 

1815 - Napoleon finally, finally defeated at Waterloo. 

1818 - Georgia prohibits Manumission -- Karl Marx born in Germany

1819 - Alabama admitted as slave state, bringing the number of slave states and free states to equal numbers. 

1820 - Missouri Compromise, admitting Missouri as a slave state and Maine as a free state. Maine immediately gives right to vote and education to all male citizens. The compromise also prohibited slavery in the remainder of the Louisiana Purchase north of 36°30'N lat. (southern boundary of Missouri). The 36°30' proviso held until 1854, when the Kansas-Nebraska Act repealed the Missouri Compromise. See map. 

1821 - New York gives free Blacks the right to vote 

1824 - Mexico becomes a republic – outlaws slavery

- In disputed election, John Quincy Adams (John Adams’ son) is elected President, defeating populist
Andrew Jackson.

1825 – Erie Canal completed – major transportation achievement which made New York and New York City ascend commercially. 

1826 - July 4. Jefferson dies shortly after 12 noon, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. He is eighty-three years old. Several hours later John Adams, aged 90, dies in Massachusetts, and the nation is struck by this remarkable coincidence. The last letter Jefferson wrote to Adams was on March 23 requesting that Adams see his grandson, which Adams did. Just before he died, Jefferson wrote the following to be read at the July 4 celebration in Virginia:

"May [our Declaration of Independence] be to the world, what I believe it will be (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all), the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government... All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man." --Thomas Jefferson to Roger C. Weightman, 1826. ME 16:181  

1827 - Slavery illegal in New York 

1828  - Election of Andrew Jackson 

1829  - Georgia prohibits the Education of Slaves 

1830 - “Underground Railroad” established                                          

1831 - Nat Turner, a Baptist slave preacher, leads a revolt in Southampton County, Virginia, killing at least 57 whites.  Alabama makes it illegal for Blacks to preach 

1832  -  Oberlin College founded in Ohio (admitted blacks; by 1860 1/3 of students were black)        Andrew Jackson vetoes charter for 2nd U.S. Bank and reelected President 

1835 - Texas declares independence from Mexico 

1836  - Martin van Buren elected President - see article: "Greatest American President"

- Civil war causes gateway: http://tigger.uic.edu/~rjensen/civwar.htm  

1837 - Depression begins with "Panic of 1837"

1844 - Samuel Morse sends first telegraph message from Washington to Baltimore 

- James K. Polk elected President

1845 - Santa Anna presidency is overthrown in Mexico                             . 

1846 - War with Mexico  

1848 - Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo 1848 - Karl Marx publishes Communist Manifesto 
Oregon organized as territory

Zachary Taylor elected President

1849 -

1850 – Compromise of 1850 admits California as free state but Fugitive Slave Law enacted.
Millard Fillmore elected President

1851 -

1852 -  Uncle Tom’s Cabin published - Jossiah Priest publishes Bible defense of slavery  
Franklin Pierce elected president; Napoleon III's Second Empire established in France; California encourages Chinese to immigrate and work on railroads

1853 - President Filmore dies in office, succeeded by Franklin Pierce

- America and Mexico sign Gadsden Treaty; Vice President William King dies; Arctic explorer Elisha Kane ventures farther north than any man has before.

1854 - Franklin Pierce re-elected President

1855 - Free Soilers establish government banning slavery and blacks from Kansas; David Livingstone discovers Victoria Falls; Walt Whitman publishes "Leaves of Grass." 

1856 - Henry Bessemer invents process that allows mass production of steel; adventurer William Walker conquers Nicaragua; five slavery supporters are killed in a Kansas raid led by John Brown. 

James Buchanan elected President 

1857 - Dred Scott Supreme Court Decision, Dred Scott 1857 slavery case
newspaper editorials on case

- thousands of businesses fail after the collapse of Ohio Life Insurance and Trust; 600 people drown when the S.S. Central America sinks off Charleston; Garibaldi establishes association to unify Italy.

1858 - 1859 - Theodore Roosevelt AND KAISER WILHELM BORN

- Lincoln – Douglas debates in Senate Race, Douglas elected. 

1859 - Oregon admitted as State

John Brown from PBS -  editorials re John Brown

1860   - Nov.  6 - Lincoln elected President
Lincoln time line:

- Dec. 20 - South Carolina Secedes

1861   March 4 – Lincoln Inaugurated
CIVIL WAR  time lines
http://www.historyplace.com/civilwar/index.html http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/cwphtml/tl1861.html  

- April 12 - Fort Sumter fired on, surrenders

- April 17 – Virginia Secedes

- May – the remaining four of the eleven Confederate states secede.

- July 21 – Union loses First Battle of Bull Run 

1862 - Morrill Act - Public lands set aside for State Colleges

- August – Union loses Second Battle of Bull Run

- December – Union loses Battle of Fredericksburg  and over 12,600 men, South loses about 5,300.

- Slavery is abolished in the District of Columbia.

1863  - March – Conscription enacted

- Union defeat at Chancellorville: Union loses 17,000, South 13,000

July - Battle of Gettysburg – Major Union victory – defensive battle

          - Draft/race Riots in New York City

1864  – Sherman marches through Georgia, Lincoln re-elected

- April 9 – Lee Surrenders

14 – Lincoln shot, dies next day.

- May – Remaining Confederate armies surrender. END OF CIVIL WAR 

1865 – 1866 - “Presidential Reconstruction”

1867 - “Radical” Congressional Reconstruction 

1868 - President Johnson impeached, acquitted.

- Grant elected President

- Southern states readmitted to Union

- New England Woman’s Club founded

1870 - 15th Amendment Ratified, giving Blacks but not women the right to vote. 

1871 - KKK members tried and convicted by federal courts in Mississippi. Grant suspends habeas corpus and declared martial law in 9 So. Carolina counties.  Many Blacks elected to political office. 

1873 - 43rd Congress has seven Black members 

1875 - “Jim Crow” laws enacted in Tennessee

- Federal troops sent to Vicksburg to protect Blacks

- Civil Rights Act passed

- 44th Congress has eight Black members 


1877 - 45th Congress has three Black members. 

1879 - 46th Congress has one Black member                        


- Tuskegee Institute Founded 

1883 - Civil Rights Act of 1875 declared unconstitutional 

1887 - 50th Congress has no Black members.  Intimidation kept Black voters from polls.

1889 - Washington admitted as state (Nov. 11)

1890 - December, Battle of Wounded Knee – 200 Native American women and children massacred by U.S. troops. Wounde Knee



SPANISH AMERICAN WAR; for timeline see: