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10 Most Important Events in American History

Updated on December 28, 2019

History is full of important events. An argument could be made that there is no unimportant event in history. Every single action impacts the future. But there are some that stand out in our minds or seem to have larger footprints than other events.

Here are 10 events that have left very large footprints in American history. They are not presented in any particular order. No one event is shown as more important than any of the others. These happen to be ten considered to be the most important events.

Source

American Revolution

How can one argue that this is not one of the top events in American history? It is the pivotal event that created the country. Only through the American Revolution is the very essence of this country created.

This was something new to the entire Western world. No one had overthrown such a large and powerful country from the rule of their land. Monarchies were getting too arrogant. The common citizen demanded to be heard. Colonists in America had developed a tough, self-sufficient spirit that many in Europe did not possess. :The British government had created the perfect environment for a rebellion.

If it wasn't for the revolution, the land known as America today would still be under British rule and might not even be as large as it is today. The very culture would have been different.

Civil War

If the American Revolution created the country, it was the Civil War that was its painful teenage years. Through this very bloody conflict, the nation separated and then stitched itself back together. This wouldn't be on the list if it wasn't for the fact that the event still impacts American society today.

Many are demanding that references to Confederate leaders be removed from society. Racial tensions stem from the days of slavery. Too much of today's America can be traced back to this conflict of brother and brother.

Civil Rights Movement

This was a major moment in the development of America. The American Revolution created the country. The Civil War redeveloped it. The Civil Rights Movement took those two conflicts and brought the nation several steps further.

Slavery was ended by the Civil War. Tensions between races did not end with the Thirteenth Amendment. Society could not flip a switch on cultural roles overnight. It took a few generations.

Marches brought attention to the inequality citizens faced. Violence revealed how important the subject was for the future of America. While many can point out how this movement is still ongoing, the main time frame of this movement changed America.

Suffrage Movement

One young politician stated in 2019 that her generation was the first to protest the government. I hate to actually educate her, but 2019 is not the first time ever that anyone protested the government. This has been going on for hundreds of years. One of the most unrecognized protests that changed America was the Suffrage Movement.

Today, women can run for office. She can be President if elected. She can own her own property. She can practically do anything a man can do. That was not always the case. There was a time when a woman couldn't live without a man directing her affairs. Men decided how a women lived and what they could and could not do. The Suffrage Movement changed all that.

Women wanted to vote. They wanted a say in their own lives. In 1848 through 1920, women took up their own cause and began to push to have a voice. It wasn't easy. Women became outcasts from their own levels of society. They even risked ltheir own lives at times to get that voice for themselves and their descendants. The women of today have a lot to thank these brave women for. It changed America.

9-11

This is one of the most memorable events as it happened in most of our lifetimes. It changed how we travel, how we enter public buildings, and how prisoners are treated. This was the first time since WWII that America had been attacked by a foreign entity on its own land. Everything we do today has been impacted by this one day.

Terrorists brought down two large commerical towers and several buildings surrounding them as well as four planes and their passengers. Many died. Many of watched as people threw themselves out of windows dozens of floors off the ground and as a tower with people and rescuers still inside come down. It was horrific. It changed our nation.

We cannot walk our loved ones to their airport terminal. We cannot carry certain items on a plane anymore. We have to take our shoes off. The courthouse has similar rules in that you are searched and scanned and limited in what you can bring into the building. We are not the same country we were the day before this attack.

Apollo Moon Landing

When I asked others for their thoughts on what should be in this list, many mentioned this event. It changed the technological path of this country and also the scientific and creative worlds.

We were limited to this planet. While we still are to a degree, we have ventured into space. We have landed on the moon and seen what it really is like. Our world has expanded.

The world of computers took advancements from this event. American's technological status in the world took a giant leap forward. That spread into every area of our world today. The space program has changed the way we eat, move about the country, and even wake up each day.

Lincoln Assisination

You might be surprised how much Lincoln's untimely death impacted our nation. Not long before he was killed, the Civil War ended. The United States was whole again though it was still sufferring. A ton of healing was required which included how Confederate soldiers were to be treated and how former slaves were to be incorporated into a new world.

In December 1863, President Lincoln set out his plan for reconstruction. He presented a "general pardon and the terms of restoring a Southern state to the Union." (https://www.americanheritage.com/lincolns-plan-reconstruction).

Lincoln knew something had to be done with the former slaves. He thought sending them back to Africa was the correct move as they had been brought to America against their will. While it would have caused quite a few problems for the former slaves, Lincoln was focused on healing the nation and saw this as the best move. (https://www.history.com/news/5-things-you-may-not-know-about-lincoln-slavery-and-emancipation)

His death left the handling of both to Andrew Jackson. This was a man who wanted a more heavy hand and wasn't against slavery as it had stood. He was not going to be gentle or helpful. Lincoln's death changed how America was going to be put back together.


Louisiana Purchase

This is another event in American History people seem to forget about. In fact, most of the time it is glossed over in the history books. But this event doubled the size of the country - nearly 827,000 square miles of land.

The area purchased was "from The Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains, and Louisiana to Montana". (https://www.historynet.com/louisiana-purchase). Without this purchase from France, America would have been much smaller with over population causing way too many problems.


McKinley Assassination

In 1910, McKinley became the third president be assassinated. It was his death in a second term that brought Teddy Roosevelt to the highest office in the United States.

The view of the office of President was different before Roosevelt took office. It was only through him that we see it as the most powerful position in America. I honestly cannot sum up his impact better than this excerpt:

"He made the President, rather than the political parties or Congress, the center of American politics.

Roosevelt did this through the force of his personality and through aggressive executive action. He thought that the President had the right to use any and all powers unless they were specifically denied to him.....

The desire to make society more fair and equitable, with economic possibilities for all Americans, lay behind much of Roosevelt's program. The President also changed the government's relationship to big business. Prior to his presidency, the government had generally given the titans of industry carte blanche to accomplish their goals. Roosevelt believed that the government had the right and the responsibility to regulate big business so that its actions did not negatively affect the general public....

Roosevelt also revolutionized foreign affairs, believing that the United States had a global responsibility and that a strong foreign policy served the country's national interest. He became involved in Latin America with little hesitation: he oversaw the Panama Canal negotiations to advocate for U.S. interests and intervened in Venezuela and Santo Domingo to preserve stability in the region. He also worked with Congress to strengthen the U.S. Navy, which he believed would deter potential enemies from targeting the country, and he applied his energies to negotiating peace agreements, working to balance power throughout the world.....

The most popular President up to his time, Roosevelt used his enthusiasm to win votes, to shape issues, and to mold opinions. In the process, he changed the executive office forever. (https://millercenter.org/president/roosevelt/impact-and-legacy)

Watergate

The scandal that set the basis for America's view of politics. It never was the same after Watergate. After Richard Nixon took office, it was revealed by an unknown source at the time known only as DeepThroat that many around Nixon had wiretapped the opposing party's headquarters in the Watergate building. Numerous people were arrest and imprisoned. The President resigned before impeachment proceedings could be done.

Scandals were nothing new. The press just didn't know about most of them. After Watergate, the press began to hunt for scandal and report everything whether it was true or not. Impeachment became easier to talk about instead of the exception when it came to fighting the President.

The view of the Presidency and politics in general has become jaded because of Watergate.

Conclusion

Let me stress again that these are not listed in any particular order. These are not a special list that is set in stone. There are many other events that could be included here. List others you think are just as important. Have fun with discussing your own version of this list.

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