American History

The history of the U.S. started with the arrival of Native Americans in North America around 15,000 BC. Numerous indigenous cultures formed, and many disappeared in the 1500s. The arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492 started the European colonization of the Americas. Most colonies were formed after 1600. By the 1760s, the thirteen British colonies contained 2.5 million people along the Atlantic Coast east of the Appalachian Mountains. After defeating France, the British government imposed a series of taxes, including the Stamp Act of 1765, rejecting the colonists' constitutional argument that new taxes needed their approval. Resistance to these taxes, especially the Boston Tea Party in 1773, led to Parliament issuing punitive laws designed to end self-government in Massachusetts. Armed conflict began in 1775 and the following year, it won independence. A Constitution that was adopted in 1789, and in 1791, a Bill of Rights was added. In 1803, the Louisiana Purchase doubled its size. A second and final war with Britain in 1812, solidified national pride.

Using manifest destiny, U.S. territory expanded to the Pacific Coast. Westward expansion was driven by a quest for inexpensive land for farmers and slave owners. The expansion of slavery was increasingly controversial and fueled political and constitutional battles, which were resolved by compromises. Slavery was abolished in all states north of the Mason–Dixon line by 1804, but the South continued to profit from the institution, mostly from cotton production. In 1861, Southern slave states rebelled and created the Confederacy, leading to the Civil War. Defeat of the Confederates in 1865 led to the impoverishment of the South and the abolition of slavery. In the Reconstruction era following the war, legal and voting rights were extended to freed slaves. However, in 1877, white Democrats regained their power in the South, often by paramilitary suppression of voting They passed Jim Crow laws to maintain white supremacy, as well as new disenfranchising state constitutions that prevented most African Americans and many Poor Whites from voting. This continued until the gains of the civil rights movement in the 1960s and the passage of federal legislation to enforce uniform constitutional rights for all citizens. (Text adapted from Wikipedia, cropped flag from the City of Grafton, IL.)

Legacy Stories from the Americans All Heritage Honor Roll

We are pleased to host and share these legacy stories created by honorees’ family, friends and associates. They, like us, appreciate that heritage and culture are an integral part of our nation's social fabric and want to help students participate effectively in our nation's economy, workforce and democracy.

Last Name of Individual
First Name of Individual
Group name

Timeline of the Women's Suffrage Movement: 1903-1912 Maryland (January 1, 1903 - December 31, 1912) AFL, Amendment, Anti-Suffrage, Association, CESL, Chinese, Congress, Constitutional, Court, Convention, ELSSW, Expatriation, HERL, First, IAW, IWD, Legislature, March, NAOWS, New York City, Triangle, Union, WTUL, WTULNY

The word “suffrage” means “voting as a right rather than a privilege,” and has been in the English language since the Middle Ages. Suffrages originally were prayers. Then the meaning was extended to requests for assistance, then the assistance provided by a supporting vote, and finally the vote itself. Therefore, in 1787 the Constitution used suffrage to mean “an inalienable right to vote.”

Timeline of the Women's Suffrage Movement: 1913-1918 Maryland (January 1, 1913 - December 31, 1918) Alpha, Conference, CUWS, Parade, Congress, Election, Puck, Mother’s March, Paul, Municipal, Silent-Sentinels, Wilson

The word “suffrage” means “voting as a right rather than a privilege,” and has been in the English language since the Middle Ages. Suffrages originally were prayers. Then the meaning was extended to requests for assistance, then the assistance provided by a supporting vote, and finally the vote itself. Therefore, in 1787 the Constitution used suffrage to mean “an inalienable right to vote.”

Angel Island Immigration Station California (January 21, 1910 - November 5, 1940) Chinese, Immigration Station, American History

Angel Island in San Francisco Bay was the location of a large and imposing government compound where immigrants seeking entry into the United States via Pacific routes were processed. Often referred to as the Ellis Island of the West, this one-mile-square state park is the largest island in San Francisco Bay. See the video, Island of Secret Memories.

Timeline of the Women's Suffrage Movement: 1919-1936 Maryland (January 1, 1919 - December 31, 1936) Alpha, ABCL, Anthony, Citizenship, CCC, Department-of-Labor, ERA, FERA, First, Immigration, LWV, 19th Amendment, NCAI, NCW, Nobel, NWP, NYA, Prison-Train, Puerto Rico, She, Supreme Court, “Watchfires,” Wilson

The word “suffrage” means “voting as a right rather than a privilege,” and has been in the English language since the Middle Ages. Suffrages originally were prayers. Then the meaning was extended to requests for assistance, then the assistance provided by a supporting vote, and finally the vote itself. Therefore, in 1787 the Constitution used suffrage to mean “an inalienable right to vote.”

Timeline of the Civil War: Major Battles and Reconstruction Maryland (April 12, 1861 - April 9, 1865) Civil Rights Act, Confederacy, Davis, Emancipation-Proclamation, Ft.-Sumter, Fifteenth, Fourteenth, Grant, Ironsides, Jim Crow, Lee, Lincoln, Separate-but-Equal, Slavery, Succession, Supreme Court, Surrender, Thirteenth, Amendment, Union, Vote

The Civil War is one of the most complex, studied and written about events in U.S. history and was fought from April 12, 1861 to April 9, 1865. Although many theories have been considered, it is now generally agreed that the main cause of the conflict was the long-standing controversy over the enslavement of Black people.

Timeline of the Civil War: Summary Maryland (April 12, 1861 - April 9, 1865)

The Civil War has been called the Second American Revolution, the War of the Rebellion, the War between the States, the War for Southern Independence, the Rich Man's War and the Poor Man's Fight, the War to Save the Union, and after it was over, many in the South referred to it as "The Lost Cause." It was also called a struggle between national sovereignty and states' rights.

Timeline of Jim Crow Laws: Summary and Photograph Collection Maryland (c.1877 - c.1965) [See Civil War: Summary], Civil Rights Act, Colored, Compromise of 1877, Constitutional Amendments, Disenfranchise, Emancipation Proclamation, Great Migration, Protests, Reconstruction, Segregation, Vigilantes, Voting Rights, Whites-Only

After the Civil War, a system of laws and practices denied full freedom and citizenship to African Americans, segregating nearly all aspects of public life. The Emancipation Proclamation symbolically established a national intent to eradicate slavery in the U.S, but it only affected the states that had joined the Confederacy. The Confederates built an explicitly white-supremacist, nation-state, dedicated to the principle that all men are not created equal. Decades of state and federal legislation followed.

American Inns of Courts "AIC" Virginia (February 2, 1980 - ?)

The American Inns of Court concept was the product of a discussion in the late 1970's among the US' members of the Anglo-American Exchange of Lawyers and Judges, including Chief Justice of the United States Warren E. Burger and Judge J. Clifford Wallace of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Burger invited Rex E. Lee, then Dean of the J. Reuben Clark School of Law at Brigham Young University and later justice of the Utah Supreme Court, to test the idea.

Civil War: Black Codes Summary (Pre-Jim Crow Laws) South Carolina (c.1865 - ?) American History, Apprentice, Civil Rights, Code Noir, Felony, Freedman’s Bureau, Legislature, Louisiana, Mississippi, Mulattoes, Negroes, Penal Laws, Slavery, South Carolina, Vagrant Laws, White Supremacy

Before the Civil War, Northern states prohibiting slavery enacted laws like the slave codes to discourage free Blacks from residing in those states. Blacks were denied equal political rights, including the right to vote, attend public schools and receive equal treatment under the law. In the first two years after the Civil War, white-dominated Southern legislatures passed their own Black Codes modeled after the earlier slave codes.

Civil War: Beauvoir--The Jefferson Davis Home & Presidential Library Mississippi (February 19, 1879 - ?) American History, Civil War, Confederate, Presidential Library,

Throughout the years, Beauvoir has boasted a long and grand literary tradition. From the accomplished writing skills of those who lived there to the extensive library collections that have been housed on the grounds, Beauvoir has a great history of libraries. Of course, Sarah Dorsey, Jefferson Davis, his daughter Winnie, his wife Varina, and even some veterans like Prentiss Ingraham were all successful in their writing ventures.

Lucian Adams Texas (October 26, 1922 - March 31, 2003) Medal of Honor Recipient, World War II, Veteran, Hispanic

Lucian Adams, Medal of Honor recipient and son of Lucian Adams, Sr., and Rosa (Ramírez) Adams, was born in Port Arthur, Texas, on October 26, 1922. The Adams family consisted of nine brothers and three sisters. Eight of his brothers served in World War II, and all returned home safe after the war. Lucian attended schools in Port Arthur . . . but dropped out of high school to help support his family.

Jane Addams Illinois (September 6, 1860 - May 21, 1935) Social Worker, Settlement House Founder, Author

Jane Addams received national recognition as a feminist, a social worker and the founder of the settlement house movement. She was born in Cedarville, Illinois, the eighth of nine children. Her father was a successful miller as well as a state senator and an officer in the Civil War.

Susan B. Anthony Massachusetts (c.1820 - March 13, 1906) Anti-Slavery, Author, Editor, ICW, Lobbyist, NAWSA, Nineteenth Amendment, Organizer, Property Rights, Quaker, Revolution-Newspaper, Rochester, Seneca Falls, Speaker, Suffragist, Teacher, Temperance, Women’s Suffrage, Voting, Voting Rights

Susan B. Anthony is perhaps the most widely known suffragist of her generation and has become an icon of the woman’s suffrage movement. She traveled the country to give speeches, circulate petitions, and organize local women’s rights organizations. Her experience with the teacher’s union, temperance, and antislavery reforms, and her Quaker upbringing, laid fertile ground for a career in women’s rights reform to grow. The career would begin with an introduction to Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Mollie Arline Kirkland Bailey Texas (November 1844 - October 2, 1918) Circus Musician, Singer, War-Time Nurse, Philanthropist

Mollie Bailey, "Circus Queen of the Southwest," the daughter of William and Mary Arline Kirkland, was born on a plantation near Mobile, Alabama. Sources differ regarding her birthdate. As a young woman, she eloped with James A. (Gus) Bailey, who played the cornet in his father's circus band and was married in March 1858. With Mollie's sister Fanny and Gus's brother Alfred, the young couple formed the Bailey Family Troupe . . .

Commodore John Barry Pennsylvania (March 25, 1745 - September 12, 1803) Irish, Ireland, U.S. Navy First Flag Officer, Politician, Continental Congress

September 13th is Commodore John Barry Day. It is not a new commemorative day, for it has been commemorated on the American national calendar more than once. There were even statues erected in his honor back in the days when Americans remembered with gratitude the contributions of this dedicated man. Today, how many remember his deeds? 

Honorable Brendan Francis Boyle Pennsylvania (February 6, 1977 - ?) Irish, Ireland, Catholic, AOH, Politician, US Congressman

Brendan Francis Boyle, born February 6, 1977 in the Olney neighborhood of Philadelphia, PA, is a Democratic member of the U.S House of Representatives. representing, since 2019, Pennsylvania's 2nd Congressional District. This district includes most of the northeastern fourth of Philadelphia. From 2015-19, he represented the 13th district. Prior to that, he was a member of the PA House of Representatives . . . 

René Robert "Sieur de La Salle" Cavelier Texas (November 22, 1643 - March 19, 1687) France, French, Explorer, American History

René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, explorer, was born in St. Herbland parish, Rouen, France, the son of Catherine Geeset and Jean Cavelier. Cavelier was a wealthy wholesale merchant and "Master of the Brotherhood of Notre-Dame." There were two other sons, the Abbé Jean Cavelier and Nicolas Cavelier, a lawyer, who died rather young, and a daughter, who married Nicolas Crevel.

Patrick "Paddy" Colvin Pennsylvania (? - ?) Irish, Patriot, River Ferry Master, American History, Revolutionary War

A number of Irishmen were key to Washington’s success in crossing the Delaware River to take Trenton. Among them were two immigrants: Paddy Colvin and Sam McConkey, who ran two river ferries. Patrick Colvin of Co. Cavan, Ireland bought a ferry and land on the river in 1772 when Morrisville, PA was known as Colvin's Ferry.

Honorable Richard Joseph Daley Illinois (May 15, 1902 - December 20, 1976) Irish, Catholic, Illinois State Senator, Mayor of Chicago, Politician

Richard Joseph Daley was a six-term mayor of the city of Chicago (1955-1976) and the influential chair of the Cook County Democratic Central Committee from 1953 until his death in 1976. Described by one writer as “the most powerful local politician America has ever produced,” Daley also wielded state and national political influence during his terms in office.

Honorable Jefferson Finis Davis Mississippi (June 3, 1808 - December 6, 1889) Scottish-Irish, Veteran, Politician, U.S. Congress, Mexican War, U.S. Secretary of War,  President of the Confederate States of America

Jefferson Davis’ life includes being a West Point graduate, a U.S. Representative and Senator, a Mexican War hero and a U.S. Secretary of War.  He also served as the only President of the Confederate States of America for which he was indicted for treason—but never tried—and imprisoned for two years. On October 17, 1978, a joint resolution passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Jimmy Carter restored Davis' citizenship, effective December 25, 1868.