Timeline of the American Century


The nation begins the new century in a tranquil and optimistic mood.

U.S. population at the beginning of the century is 75,994,575.

President William McKinley declares the U.S. dollar now legally based on the gold standard, signing a bill to that effect.

McKinley and his vice president, Theodore Roosevelt, are reelected in November.


September: President McKinley is assassinated by an anarchist in Buffalo. Theodore Roosevelt is sworn in as president.

The first trans-Atlantic telegraph message is sent by Marconi from England to Newfoundland.

Sweden inaugurates the Nobel Prize according to the will of Alfred Nobel, awards first five Nobel Prizes to Europeans.


U.S. Steel Corporation is organized by financier J. P. Morgan, makes a record $174 million profit.

1st Rose Bowl football game, January 1, in Pasadena, California. University of Michigan defeats Stanford 49–0.

Thomas Edison invents a long-lived storage battery.

President Roosevelt negotiates $40 million purchase of the Panama Canal.


New York Stock Exchange moves to new building at Broad and Wall Streets in Manhattan.

Henry Ford forms his own automobile company, the Ford Motor Company, in June in Detroit, Michigan, sells first Model A car in July. In 1908, rolls out the Model T. In 1913, establishes first assembly line.

First World Series baseball game played, the Boston vs. Pittsburgh, 3–0, October.

The Wright brothers fly their first airplane December 17, 1903, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

Thomas Edison produces the first silent movie, The Great Train Robbery.


Third Olympics, first in the United States, held at St. Louis, Missouri.

Theodore Roosevelt elected for a full four-year term.


Albert Einstein introduces special theory of relativity, refined as general theory in 1915 about the nature of time, space, and gravity.


San Francisco earthquake in April kills more than 3,000.


Railroad tunnel under the Hudson River between New York City and Hoboken, New Jersey opens with 100,000 riders the first day.


William Howard Taft, Roosevelt’s handpicked successor, elected president.


Commander Robert Peary plants the American flag at the North Pole.


Thomas Edison invents talking motion pictures using “kinetophone” combination camera and phonograph.


Supreme Court declares John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil trust illegal monopoly.

Triangle Waist Company in New York City burns and kills 146 workers.

The Mona Lisa is stolen from the Louvre in Paris. Recovered in 1913 from a thief in Florence, Italy, who wanted to return da Vinci’s painting to Italy.


The “unsinkable” Titanic steamship hits an iceberg in the North Atlantic, sinks, drowning 1,595 passengers.

Woodrow Wilson is elected president, defeating William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt.

Juliette Low establishes the Girl Scouts in the United States.


The Armory Show opens in New York City featuring avant-garde European painters.

Cecil B. DeMille films his first motion picture in Hollywood.

Income tax instituted in the United States with the 16th Amendment to the Constitution.


Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to Austrian throne, is assassinated on a trip to Sarajevo, Bosnia, by a 19-year-old student.

World War I: Germany and, later, Austria declare war on Russia.

Russia invades Germany. Germany declares war on France.

Great Britain declares war on Germany. Italy declares war on Austria. The United States enters war in 1917. Casualties of 10 million by war’s end.


The Birth of a Nation, three-hour documentary film about the Civil War by D. W. Griffith, opens to controversy.

Margaret Sanger, birth control advocate, is arrested for distributing contraception information. She opens first birth control clinic in Brooklyn in 1916.

124 Americans die in German submarine sinking of the Lusitania.


U.S. Congress votes to enter European war, April 6.

President Wilson signs Selective Service Draft bill, requiring all American men between ages of 21 and 30 to register for military service.

Russian Revolution: Czar Nicholas II abdicates. He, his wife, and five children executed in 1918 as Bolsheviks led by Lenin take over government.


Armistice declared, November 11. Germans surrender, Kaiser abdicates. Austria-Hungary declares a republic, Emperor flees.

Spanish Flu pandemic kills 3 percent of the world’s population.


Prohibition begins in the United States with ratified 18th Amendment to the Constitution.

D. W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplain, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks found United Artists Corporation to produce motion pictures.


Home-run hitter Babe Ruth sold by the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees. Hits record 60th home run for Yankees in 1927.

19th Amendment to the Constitution gives American women the right to vote.

Bomb explodes on Wall Street across from J. P. Morgan building, kills 30 people.

Warren Harding is elected president with Calvin Coolidge as vice president.

The Flapper Era begins: women abandon corsets and adopt short skirts. Police in Sunbury, Pennsylvania, issue an edict requiring female citizens to wear skirts at least four inches below the knee.

The Connecticut State Barbers Commission requires women who bob their hair to buy a barber’s license.


Discovery of King Tutankhamen’s tomb in Egypt sparks archeological craze.


President Warren Harding dies at 57. Vice President Calvin Coolidge sworn in as president.


George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” first performed, Aeolian Hall, New York City.

Calvin Coolidge wins election for full four-year term as president.


Trial of John Scopes for teaching evolution in schools, finds him guilty.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is published.

The Wasteland by T. S. Eliot is published.


Charles Lindbergh flies the Atlantic in “Spirit of St. Louis” monoplane, a solo nonstop 3,600-mile flight. Five years later, first woman, Amelia Earhart, flies the Atlantic solo.

Thomas Edison celebrates 50th anniversary of phonograph with broadcast recitation of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

First talkie movie with Al Jolson in The Jazz Singer.


Herbert Hoover elected president in landslide.

Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse makes his debut in Steamboat Willie.


Valentine’s Day massacre in Chicago, Illinois, murders seven members of “Bugs” Moran gang. Prime suspect: Al Capone.

First Academy Awards held in Hollywood.

October 29: “Black Tuesday” stock market crash wipes out thousands of accounts, market loses $30 billion.

Museum of Modern Art opens in November.


President Hoover, calling it “the Great Depression,” initiates measures to counteract unemployment rate of 16 percent. Rate rises to 25 percent in 1933.

Hoover signs act to make “The Star-Spangled Banner,” written by Francis Scott Key in 1814, the United States’ official national anthem.

World’s tallest building at 1,245 feet, the Empire State building in New York City, is completed.


Franklin Delano Roosevelt, governor of New York State, is elected president. Sworn in, he shuts down banks for a week and begins New Deal programs to rebuild infrastructure and employ out-of-work Americans, forestall foreclosures on homes, and remove nation’s currency from gold standard.

Charles Lindbergh’s baby is kidnapped in Hopewell, New Jersey. Body found two months later. German immigrant Bruno Hauptmann found guilty.


Prohibition ends. The 18th Amendment to the Constitution is repealed in December.

Adolf Hitler is named chancellor in Germany, ascends to presidency on death of Hindenburg in 1934.


Severe dust storms in Midwest.

Social Security signed into law by President Roosevelt.


Roosevelt wins second term as president.


Hitler invades and captures Austria, then Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia, and Poland.


Britain and France declare war on Germany.

New York World’s Fair opens.


Hitler enters Norway and Denmark, launches Blitzkrieg in the Netherlands and Brussels, parades through Paris. French sign armistice with Germany. Battle of Britain begins.

Roosevelt elected for the third term as president.


World War II.

Nazis attack Russia, but surrender in 1943.

Nazis continue to round up Jews in “Final Solution” and send them to death camps.

Japanese attack U.S. Naval base at Pearl Harbor.

President Roosevelt declares war on Japan.

Germany declares war on the United States, the United States joins World War II effort.


General Dwight D. Eisenhower leads invasion of northern Europe and D-Day.

General Douglas McArthur leads Pacific War effort.

Roosevelt reelected for the fourth term with Harry S. Truman as vice president.


Franklin D. Roosevelt dies of cerebral hemorrhage on April 12, Truman sworn in as president.

Hitler commits suicide in Berlin bunker with mistress Eva Braun. Germany surrenders unconditionally.

United Nations formed, holds first General Assembly in 1946.

Atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Japan surrenders unconditionally.

World War II is over. Loss of life lower than in World War I but 20th century is the bloodiest in American history.


Massive strikes cripple U.S. industry: steel workers, General Motors. General Electric, meatpackers, coal miners, railroad workers, Port of New York.

Winston Churchill warns of “Iron Curtain” separating the West from the Soviet Union.


Harry S. Truman wins full four-year term as president.


Alfred Kinsey publishes report, Sexual Behavior of the Human Male, shocks Americans.

Mahatma Gandhi is assassinated at 78 in New Delhi by member of resistant Hindu tribe.

Dr. Benjamin Spock’s The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care is published.


North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) organized by the United States and Allies.

China’s Mao Tse-tung proclaims establishment of People’s (Communist) Republic of China.

George Orwell’s novel, 1984, is published.


Soviet delegate walks out of U.N. Security Council protesting non-Communist Chinese representative of Nationalist China. Mao and Stalin sign a mutual defense treaty.

Senator Joseph McCarthy conducts ongoing investigations to root out Communists in the U.S. government, the Army, and in Hollywood, “blacklisting” politicians, actors, and actresses. In 1954, the U.S. Senate voted to censure him for his tactics and unsubstantiated claims.

Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and Chairman David Sarnoff demonstrate an all-electronic color television tube. Alarming survey claims American children of ages 11 to 15 are watching up to 27 hours a week of television.

North Korean Communist forces cross 38th parallel and invade South Korea. President Truman mobilizes U.S. military and commands U.N. troops to defend South Korea, appointing General Douglas MacArthur chief of U.N. forces.

U.S. Marines enter and recapture South Korean capital of Seoul. Chinese enter Korean War. MacArthur calls it “lawlessness” as Chinese push U.N. forces back to 38th parallel and Truman declares state of national emergency in the United States.


Ethel and Julius Rosenberg found guilty of espionage in atomic bomb spy trial in New York City, sentenced to death and executed.

General MacArthur recaptures Seoul but Truman fires him, names Lt. General Matthew Ridgway to take over as head of Far East forces.

Hydrogen bomb test in mid-Pacific Ocean.

Soviet Union calls for Korean War cease-fire. U.N establishes Demilitarized Zone along 38th parallel between two Koreas. Armistice comes in July 1953.

Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger is published.


General Dwight D. Eisenhower drafted by Republicans to run for president. Wins the election by a landslide with Richard Nixon as vice president.

Princess Elizabeth becomes Queen of England at age 25 upon the death of her father, George VI.


Joseph Stalin, Soviet leader, dies at 73.

Polio vaccine developed by Dr. Jonas Salk proves successful.

Dr. James D. Watson describes his discovery of the structure of DNA in Nature magazine article.


Yankee Clipper Joe DiMaggio marries movie actress Marilyn Monroe in San Francisco.

Nuclear scientist Robert Oppenheimer under investigation as a security risk, his security clearance suspended and not restored.

Ernest Hemingway wins Nobel Prize for Literature.


Disneyland opens near Los Angeles in Anaheim, California.


Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott with Rosa Parks refusing to sit in the back of the bus sparks civil rights protests. Supreme Court decision outlaws segregation on buses.

Eisenhower and Nixon nominated for second term, win in landslide.

Elvis Presley appears in mesmerizing performance on Ed Sullivan’s “Toast of the Town” show. Rock and roll rules the pop charts.

Poet Allen Ginsberg’s Howl is published.


Evangelist Billy Graham draws 100,000 to Yankee Stadium for rally.

Governor Orville Faubus of Arkansas orders military troops to stop entrance of black students to Little Rock public schools. Eisenhower sends Federal troops to insure integration.

Soviet Union launches Sputnik man-made satellite into orbit around the earth. Second satellite launched a month later with a dog inside.

On the Road by Jack Kerouac is published.


The United States launches its first space satellite, Explorer, at Cape Canaveral, Florida.


Fidel Castro seizes power in Cuba, ousts Batista.

Hawaii becomes 50th state.

Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Lloyd Wright opens in New York City.


American U-2 spy plane shot down in Soviet Russia breaks up Geneva disarmament talks and Big 4 Summit. Pilot Gary Powers indicted in Moscow for espionage, gets 10-year prison sentence.

John F. Kennedy, youngest nominee ever, wins presidential election against Richard Nixon.

Birth control pills to go on sale in the United States, with Food and Drug Administration approval.


Kennedy’s Bay of Pigs landing in Cuba to overthrow Castro goes awry.

Alan Shepherd is the United States’ first man in space in Freedom 7 capsule for 15 minutes.

Hastily constructed Berlin Wall divides German city, as American and Soviet tanks face off over border transit rights.

Bob Dylan performs in Greenwich Village café, called “surprising young talent.”


John Glenn is the first American to orbit the earth in Mercury spacecraft.

Kennedy challenges U.S. Steel on price rise, forces rollback.

Cuban Missile Crisis in October threatens nuclear disaster. Kennedy standoff with Khrushchev wins agreement to close all missile bases and ship weapons back to Soviet Union.

Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech at Berlin Wall.


Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream”: speech delivered on Washington Mall before 200,000 in August.

Bomb in Birmingham, Alabama, kills four black girls during a Sunday church service.

John F. Kennedy assassinated in Dallas, Texas, by gunman Lee Harvey Oswald who is shot later by Jack Ruby at point-blank range in prison garage.

Lyndon B. Johnson sworn in as president on Air Force One.

Kennedy buried at Arlington National Cemetery.


England’s Beatles on U.S. tour land in February at Idlewild Airport, renamed Kennedy Airport in honor of slain president.

England’s Rolling Stones land, start U.S. tour, October.

President Johnson signs Civil Rights Act prohibiting racial discrimination in employment, public facilities, union membership.

Congress votes to give president authority to retaliate against Communist North Vietnamese attacks on U.S. ships.

Lyndon B. Johnson and Vice President Hubert Humphrey win landslide presidential election, beating Republican Barry Goldwater.

Robert Kennedy, slain president’s brother, resigns as attorney general to run for the U.S. Senate from New York State, wins office.


Winston Churchill, World War II prime minister and leader of Britain’s fight, is laid to rest in January.

Guerilla warfare in Vietnam; U.S. planes drop napalm bombs. State Department discloses that President Johnson had authorized combat for U.S. troops under General William Westmoreland. Sends 50,000 more troops.

President Johnson signs Social Security Medicare bill in tribute to proposal by former President Truman in Truman Library. Later signs Voting Rights bill into law to allow black voters access to polls.

Race riots in Watts, black section of Los Angeles last five days.

Power failure in Northeast darkens New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, many New England states, affecting 24 million people.


More U.S. combat deaths than Vietnamese. Opposition to war grows on college campuses; students seize administration offices at University of Chicago and City College of New York.

Mao Tse-tung announces “The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution” in China.


Israel and Defense Minister Moise Dayan win back Jerusalem in Six-Day War from Egypt and its Arab allies.

Summer race riots engulf U.S. cities including Detroit, New York City, Grand Rapids.

Underground revolutionary Che Guevara, former number two man in Cuba, killed in Bolivia.


Lyndon B. Johnson decides not to run again for president, withdrawing “in the name of national unity.” Richard Nixon, as Republican nominee with Spiro Agnew as vice president, wins election.

ARPANET network launched, using packet switching and hierarchical routing, which will be the basics for the development of the Internet. Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) moves ahead on interconnecting military computers at the Pentagon.

April 4: Martin Luther King is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, by gunman James Earl Ray.

June 3: Artist Andy Warhol is shot at his Factory by Valerie Solanas, actress whose script he refused to film. Warhol recovers in hospital.

June 8: Robert Kennedy is assassinated in Los Angeles on presidential campaign. Killer is Jordanian Sirhan Sirhan.

July: Billie Jean King wins her third Wimbledon tennis title.

August: Soviet tanks invade and take over Prague, Czechoslovakia.

August: Student protesters and demonstrators against the Vietnam War disrupt Chicago Democratic Convention where Hubert Humphrey is nominee.

October: Jackie Kennedy weds Greek shipping billionaire Aristotle Onassis on island of Skorpios.

December: U.S. Apollo 8 team of astronauts orbit the moon.


World’s first artificial heart is implanted by Dr. Denton A. Cooley at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in Houston, Texas. Patient dies four days later.

Students at Columbia University, Queens College, Cornell University, and Berkeley protesting Vietnam War disrupt campuses.

July: Moon landing in Apollo 11 lunar module by U.S. astronauts Neil Armstrong and Ed Aldrin, saying as they plant the American flag, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

July: Mary Jo Kopechne drowns in car accident with Senator Edward Kennedy at Chappaquiddick, Massachusetts.

August: Woodstock Music and Arts Fair held in Bethel, New York, with 400,000 young people attending.

October: The New York Mets win their first World Series, against Baltimore Orioles.

November: 250,000 protesters march on Washington demanding an end to the Vietnam War.

December: Charles Manson and hippie commune members indicted in the murder of actress Sharon Tate and four others in Beverly Hills, found guilty, sentenced to gas chamber.


President Nixon sends troops into Cambodia to destroy Communist military.

Four Kent State University student protesters killed by National Guardsmen called in by university officials.

June: Gays march in New York City to protest laws and social stigma against homosexuality.

June: President Nixon signs bill reducing voting age from 21 to 18.

August: 10,000 women march up New York City’s Fifth Avenue to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 19th Amendment allowing women to vote.


Vietnam My Lai massacre charges dismissed against enlisted men involved, Lt. William Calley sentenced to life at hard labor for his role; President Nixon intervenes. Calley serves only three-and-a-half years.

Major 6.6 earthquake in Los Angeles kills 51 people. In 1987, a 6.1 earthquake in Los Angeles kills six.

New York Times prints secret Pentagon study of Vietnam War, right to do so upheld by Supreme Court.

President Nixon takes U.S. dollar off the gold standard to prevent run on the dollar, freezes wages and prices in face of inflation.

The People’s Republic of China admitted to United Nations.


President Nixon visits China, meets with Mao Tse-tung, commits to withdrawal of U.S. troops from Taiwan. Next, to Moscow for talks with Brezhnev.

“Burglars” caught at Democratic National Committee offices at Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. E. Howard Hunt and G. Godon Liddy are indicted on charges of conspiring break-in.

President Richard Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew win second term as president by a landslide.

December: Nixon orders end to bombing in North Vietnam


Truce and cease-fire in Vietnam negotiated in Paris. Troops withdraw in March. By 1975, Saigon and Cambodia are in the hands of the Communists.

Lyndon B. Johnson dies at 64 of heart attack at ranch in Texas.

Washington Post wins Pulitzer Prize in Journalism for work by reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward uncovering Watergate burglary story and links to high administration officials.

Nixon aides H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman resign over Watergate issues. White House counsel John Dean tells all at Senate hearings. Nixon’s discussions are discovered on tape. Vice President Agnew, under scrutiny for taking Maryland contractor kickbacks, resigns. Dean and Ehrlichman go to jail for “misconduct.”

“Saturday Night Massacre”: more Nixon aides resign: Attorney General Elliot Richardson, Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox, and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus.

President Nixon asks gas stations to voluntarily close on Sundays to reduce oil consumption during Arab oil embargo. Price at the pump rises, gas shortages and lines develop during panic buying.

The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center are finished in lower Manhattan, 110 stories high.

Supreme Court rules in favor of Roe v. Wade, making abortion legal.


March: President Nixon is named coconspirator in Watergate by federal grand jury, but claims he will not resign. Impeachment proceedings begin as Supreme Court rules Nixon must turn over all tapes sought by Watergate special prosecutor.

August: President Nixon resigns, Gerald Ford, vice president, is sworn in, chooses Nelson Rockefeller as his vice president. Pardons Nixon.


Chinese discover 2,000-year-old pottery army buried in northwest China, unearthed by local farmers looking for well water.

Civil war in Beirut, Lebanon, as Muslins and Christians seek control.


July 4: The United States celebrates her 200th birthday.

Mao Tse-tung dies at 82 in China.

Jimmy Carter defeats President Ford, becomes president. Again, a gas crisis threatens, “the moral equivalent of war,” Carter warns. Asks for higher prices and taxes to limit consumption.

August: Elvis Presley dies at 42 at home, Graceland, in Memphis.

December: State Department approves “emergency admission” of 10,000 Vietnamese “boat people” to the United States.


Mass suicide of 900 followers of Rev. Jim Jones at Jonestown, Guyana, swallowing Kool-Aid and cyanide.


Israel and Egypt sign a peace treaty brokered partly by Jimmy Carter. 3-Mile Island nuclear plant at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, emits radiation and is shut down by Governor Dick Thornburgh (page 24, 1979).

Margaret Thatcher is first woman Prime Minister in Britain as Cher Conservative Party wins decisive victory.

Iran under Ayatollah Khomeini, holds 52 American hostages, seizes U.S. Embassy in Tehran, denounces President Carter who attempts hostage rescue in April 1980 but eight servicemen are killed as helicopter collides with transport plane in Iranian desert.

Russians invade Afghanistan, engineering a coup.


Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush team up as Republican nominees against Carter and win election. Iran releases hostages as Reagan is sworn in as president.

Beatle John Lennon shot and killed at Dakota residence in New York City by stalker Mark David Chapman.

President Reagan is shot and wounded by 25-year-old John Hinckley Jr. outside the Washington Hilton hotel. “Honey,” Reagan told his wife at the hospital, “I forgot to duck.” Reagan recovers but Press Secretary Jim Brady is crippled.

Pope John Paul II was shot and wounded in St. Peter’s Square by an escaped Turkish criminal. Recovers after five hours of emergency surgery.


July: Britain’s Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer are married at Westminster Abbey. First child, Prince William, second in line to the throne, born 1982; Prince Harry is born in 1984.

First woman, Sandra Day O’Connor, is appointed to the Supreme Court by President Reagan.

Reagan fires 12,000 striking federal air traffic controllers for defying court order to return to work.


Global oil glut: gas prices plunge.

Argentina invades Falkland Islands, British and American troops run them out.

Israeli forces rout Palestinian Liberation guerillas from Beirut. Reagan sends in the Marines. U.S. Embassy is bombed, killing eight Americans with eight others missing. Beirut terrorist bombing in 1983 kills 216 at Marine headquarters.


President Reagan proposes “Star Wars” missile shield for the United States, calls the Soviet Union an “Evil Empire.”

Soviet Union shoots down a Korean airliner with 61 Americans on board, claiming it was on a spying mission.

U.S. troops sent to Grenada Island to restore order and expel Cubans.


President Ronald Reagan visits China. He and George H. W. Bush are nominated to run against Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro in presidential election, and they win, carrying 49 out of 50 states.

New formula “Real” Coca-Cola fizzles, disappoints consumers. Company goes back to the drawing board.

39 Americans hijacked on TWA jet in Beirut by Hezbollah are released.

High incidence of terrorist attacks including Rome and Vienna airport attacks in 1985.

Domain name system introduced for Internet (instead of numerical Internet Protocol (IP) address)


Wreck of the Titanic found 12,000 feet under ocean off the coast of Newfoundland after 73 years.

Palestine Liberation Front hijacks Andrea Lauro cruise ship, one dead.

President Reagan and Iran-Contra plan.


Space shuttle Challenger explodes on takeoff from Houston’s Johnson Space Center, killing all seven astronauts aboard.

President Reagan orders air strikes on Libya for its international “reign of terror” and bombing of a West Berlin discotheque in April, which killed nearly 60 American servicemen.

Nuclear “accident” at Chernobyl in Soviet Union releases deadly radiation.

July 4: Americans celebrate Statue of Liberty’s 100th birthday in New York Harbor.


Market crash of 508 points worse than 1929 plunge. “All these guys with 65 credit cards and Porsches who think they are all geniuses at 25, now they see what’s happened,” one retired Wall Street broker said. Market bounces back but new global market fosters volatility, but plunge is blamed on electronic order system and computerized trading, which the New York Stock Exchange votes to ban.

Van Gogh’s painting, Irises, sells for $53.9 million at Sotheby’s in New York City.


President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev sign historic treaty to reduce the size of nuclear arsenals. Reagan visits the Soviet Union.

U.S. Navy warship shoots down an Iranian passenger jet killing 290 people, mistakenly believing it was a hostile aircraft.

Hugh Hefner shuts down last Playboy Club, announces marriage plans.

Republican nominees for president: George H. W. Bush and Dan Quayle, who win the election against Democrat Michael Dukakis.


Tim Berners-Lee writes World Wide Web hypertext system using hypertext markup language (HTML), hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP), and universal resource identifiers (URLS).

America On Line (AOL) is launched.

Chinese troops kill 2,000 in student uprising in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square during pro-democracy movement.

San Francisco earthquake of 6.9 kills 270 people. In 1994, a 6.6 earthquake in Los Angeles kills 34.

November: The Berlin Wall opens up at midnight for East Germany refugees coming across the border.

President George H. W. Bush sends U.S. troops into Panama to capture General Manuel Noriega and establish order after he voids election of new president. Noriega brought to Miami for trial where he is found guilty of drug trafficking and sentenced to 120 years in prison.

Nelson Mandela is freed from prison in South Africa, sworn in as first black president of South Africa.


President George H. W. Bush wins approval from the U.N. Security council to use military force against Iraq if it does not withdraw from Kuwait by January 15, 1991. Launches Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm, on January 17. Six weeks later, war is declared over, Iraq army defeated.

Hubble telescope is launched into space.


The Soviet Union is dissolved. Gorbachev resigns. President Boris Yeltsin in charge.


Arkansas governor Bill Clinton wins presidency with Al Gore as vice president, defeating George H. W. Bush.


Terrorist bomb rocks World Trade Center, killing five.

FBI launches Waco, Texas, siege of Branch Davidian cult compound.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy put in place on gays in the military.


Oklahoma City bombing destroys federal building and kills more than 100. Timothy McVeigh, Gulf War veteran, is sentenced to death for bombing.

Trial of O. J. Simpson for murder of his former wife and her friend. Acquitted.

Black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan organizes Million Man March of 400,000 in Washington, D.C.


First mobile phone, the Nokia 9000 Communicator, launched in Finland.

President Bill Clinton and Vice President Gore are reelected, defeating Republican Bob Dole. Clinton appoints first woman secretary of state, Madeline Albright.


Princess Diana of Britain is killed in Paris car accident with Dodi Fayed, son of London department store owner Mohamed Al Fayed.


Saddam Hussein agrees to UN weapons inspections in Iraq.

August: President Bill Clinton testifies to grand jury about White House intern Monica Lewinsky and his possible involvement.

December: House of Representatives votes that President Bill Clinton should stand trial on two of four impeachment articles brought against for lying under oath and obstruction of justice, only the second U.S. president to be impeached in 223 years. He is acquitted after Senate votes against removing the president from office.

1999 March: Dow Jones Industrial Average stock index breaks 10,000-point level.


Dot.com bubble, as investors and businesses rush to get in on the new Silicon Valley business model.

George W. Bush, son of former president George H. W. Bush, becomes 43rd president with Dick Cheney as vice president.

Y2K fears: when computers, used to limited year date in two digits, roll over for new century, may cause major date-related processing errors. It didn’t happen.

Population of the United States at the Millennium: 281,421,906.


September 11: two airplanes hijacked by Al Qaeda take down Twin Towers in lower Manhattan, resulting in 2,996 deaths. A third plane hits the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and another plane is brought down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.


A second Gulf War, Operation Iraqi Freedom, is launched by President George W. Bush.


Facebook launched at Harvard by Mark Zuckerberg as college social network.


Twitter launched with first message by cofounder Jack Dorsey: “just setting up my twittr.”


Apple introduces the iPhone.

Great Recession begins, lasts 18 months, major downturn in housing and financial markets, business failures and bailouts, high unemployment.


1,966,514,816 people are on the Internet worldwide.

(MLA 8th Edition)