A Video Timeline of American History after the Civil War (History 213 – Online)

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A Brief History

This article presents a video timeline for students of American History after the Civil War (History 213 – Online) at Ashland University.

For each date below, please click on the date to be taken to a video covering that date’s event.  After watching that video, please post a one or two sentence comment in the comments section for the video that demonstrates that you watched the video.

These comments or “thesis statements” are 1-2 sentence summaries of the video. They should include the most important aspects of each video. In other words, the thesis statement should include the individuals involved, the time period, and significance of the event.

For example, if you watched a video on the Declaration of Independence, your comment could be something like the following: “The Declaration of Independence of 1776, originally drafted by Thomas Jefferson, formally declared the American colonies independent from Great Britain.  The Declaration also argued that all men are created equal with natural-born rights and that the government exists to secure said rights.”

Although I would prefer that you post your comments directly on the videos (every time anyone comments on one of my videos, I receive an email notification), if you are uncomfortable posting public comments on YouTube, you may instead email to me a list of your comments sent as a Word attachment.  If you email me your comments, for each comment, please be sure to include a footnote indicating what video your comment corresponds with.  To cite a YouTube video in a footnote, you should follow the following format:

AuthorFirstName AuthorLastName, “Title of Video,” YouTube video, running time, publication date, URL.

Here is an example:

Matthew Zarzeczny, “July 3, 1863: 5 Valiant but Failed Attacks (Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg),” YouTube Video, 8:22, July 6, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-x3gb11YlE.

Your comments on each unit’s videos should be completed by the date on the syllabus for when we finish that unit.

Digging Deeper

Welcome to HIST213

  1. On July 26, 1861, Major General George McClellan was appointed the commander of the Army of the Potomac, a move President Lincoln hoped would instill professionalism and competence to that Army.
  2. On July 23, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln finally found a replacement for General George B. McClellan as General-in-Chief of the Union Army when he appointed General Henry W. Halleck.
  3. On July 1, 1863, the battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania began, perhaps the most important battle of the US Civil War.
  4. On July 3, 1863, the Army of the Potomac fought a defensive battle against the Army of Northern Virginia at the Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg.
  5. In the mid-2010s, Dr. Zar and his students gave a public presentation on the history of various sites in Ohio.
  6. On December 24, 2018, a cute dachshund got, played with, and defended her 2018 Christmas present!

Module #1: Reconstruction and the Expansion of American Civilization, 1865-1890

  1. On May 31, 1866, Irish nationalists known as Fenian Brotherhood invaded Canada in an attempt to force Britain into granting Ireland independence.
  2. On December 25, 1868, much maligned and embattled President of the United States Andrew Johnson issued a blanket pardon for all Confederate veterans of the US Civil War.
  3. On July 14, 1881, the outlaw known as Billy the Kid was shot and killed by Sheriff Pat Garret in New Mexico.
  4. On April 3, 1882, notorious Wild West train and bank robber Jesse James was gunned down in his own house by a new member of his reconstituted gang, Bob Ford.
  5. On January 20, 1885, LaMarcus A. Thompson patented his version of the modern roller coaster, and Coney Island, New York became ground zero for it!
  6. On September 4, 1886, after almost 30 years of raiding Mexican and white settlers and battling the U.S. Army, Apache war leader Geronimo finally surrendered in Arizona to U.S. Army General Nelson Miles.
  7. On February 2, 1887 (or 1886), the first Groundhog Day celebration took place in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and such celebrations have been taking place over and over again ever since (on each February 2nd)!

Module #2: America’s Appearance on the World Stage, 1890-1918

  1. On June 13, 1893, President Grover Cleveland was only a few months into his second term when he went to his doctor to complain of soreness and a rough patch in his mouth. 
  2. On January 23, 1897, Elva Zona Heaster, about 24 years old, was found dead, later proven to have been murdered by her husband through her own ghost’s testimony!
  3. On July 8, 1898, gangster and con artist Jefferson R. “Soapy” Smith was killed in a shootout with a vigilance committee on the Juneau, Alaska wharves.
  4. On May 27, 1907, in the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the city by the bay came down with an epidemic of Bubonic Plague, the same plague responsible for the infamous “Black Death” in earlier centuries.
  5. On March 29, 1911, the US Army made the Colt M1911 .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol its official sidearm.
  6. On January 19, 1913, the Holly Hotel in Holly, Michigan burned for the first time!
  7. On July 11, 1914, the major league career of George Herman Ruth began, with Ruth pitching for the victory of the Red Sox over the Cleveland Naps.
  8. On August 2, 1916, Austrian saboteurs managed to sink the Italian battleship, Leonardo da Vinci as the great ship lay in Taranto harbor.
  9. On December 29, 1916, possibly the most cracked clergyman of all time finally met his doom, having been poisoned, shot, and drowned, thereby rivaling Blackbeard for the claim of bearded bad-ass who most went out “like a boss”!
  10. On November 20, 1917, a combined Allied offensive (British and French) stepped off against the Germans at Cambrai, France (Nord Department).
  11. On June 1, 1918, the Battle of Belleau Wood began in France near the River Marne.

Module #3: The Interwar Years, 1918-1941

  1. On August 18, 1920, the United States ratified the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
  2. On December 27, 1922, the Imperial Japanese Navy commissioned the first aircraft carrier in the world that was designed and built as an aircraft carrier, the Hōshō.
  3. On May 21, 1924, a pair of well to do college students from the University of Chicago kidnapped and murdered a random 14-year-old boy, just for the thrill of committing murder and getting away with it.
  4. On May 18, 1927, Andrew Kehoe committed the worst mass murder in an American school ever, proving that this is not just something started recently.
  5. On August 16, 1927, the Dole Air Race began, with 8 airplanes taking off from Oakland, California and heading to Honolulu, Hawaii.
  6. On July 7, 1928, bread that was presliced, wrapped in paper or cellophane, and sold like that to the consumer in bakeries and grocery stores first made its debut.
  7. On August 27, 1928, countries that were bitter enemies in World War I signed the Kellogg-Briand Pact to renounce war as a means to resolve disputes and conflicts between nations.
  8. On June 17, 1932, 17,000 United States military veterans of World War I and 25,000 of their friends and family gathered in Washington, D.C. to demand early payment of their service certificate war bonuses.
  9. On February 10, 1933, Primo Carnera, a heavyweight boxer called “The Monster” by Time Magazine, dealt Ernie Schaaf fatal blows during a boxing match in New York City.
  10. On August 3, 1936, James Cleveland “Jesse” Owens  won the 100-meter dash at the Berlin Olympics and blazed into the record books.
  11. On January 27, 1939, one of the great American fighter planes of World War II, the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, made its first flight.
  12. On February 11, 1939, a prototype Lockheed P-38 Lighting twin engine fighter plane flew from California to New York in a then record 7 hours and 2 minutes.
  13. On May 29, 1940, the F-4U Corsair made its first flight.

Module #4: America’s Rise to World Leadership, 1941-1968

  1. On January 9, 1941, the premier British bomber of World War II, the Avro Lancaster, made its maiden flight.
  2. On March 19, 1941, the U.S. Army Air Corps activated the famed African-American aviation unit known as the Tuskegee Airmen.
  3. On July 18, 1942, the Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe (Swallow in English) made its first test flight using its jet engines.
  4. On May 17, 1943, RAF Squadron 617, later known as The Dambusters, embarked on Operation Chastise, a plan to bomb and destroy 2 dams to flood the Ruhr Valley in Germany.
  5. On June 3, 1943, US Navy sailors and US Marines tangle with Latino young men in what is known as The Zoot Suit Riots.
  6. On February 13, 1945, bombers from the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the American Air Force (USAAF) struck the eastern German city of Dresden, a city so beautiful it was once known as the “Florence on the Elbe,” incinerating tens of thousands of people.
  7. On March 14, 1945, a British Lancaster heavy bomber dropped a bomb known as the “Grand Slam,” a 22,000 lb behemoth that was the largest and most powerful bomb ever used up to that time.
  8. On July 16, 1945, Manhattan Project scientists held their breath as the clock ticked down to the first man-made nuclear blast in history.
  9. On June 25, 1947, boxer Jimmy Doyle of Los Angeles, California had the opportunity of his life by getting to fight the legendary Sugar Ray Robinson for the welterweight boxing world championship in Cleveland, Ohio.
  10. On July 31, 1948, the battleship USS Nevada BB-36 was sunk by a torpedo from a Navy bomber, ending the career of possibly the most battered ship in history.
  11. On January 1, 1950, a new method of designating what year it is (or was) went into effect with the BP system, meaning “Before Present.”
  12. On May 16, 1957, 54 year old ex-lawman Eliot Ness, he of future television and movie fame as leader of the “Untouchables,” died nearly broke and so forgotten that the Chicago newspapers did not even run an obituary.
  13. On May 27, 1958, the McDonnell Aircraft (later McDonnell Douglas) F-4 Phantom II naval interceptor made its first flight.
  14. On January 7, 1960, the United States first successfully test launched the Polaris Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) from their launching facility in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
  15. On August 31, 1965, fans of super-different airplanes could add another oddity to their list when the Aero Spacelines Super Guppy made its first flight.
  16. On January 29, 1967, the “hippie” counterculture scene melded with Hare Krishna at the Mantra-Rock Dance in San Francisco, later referred to as “the ultimate high.”

Module #5: Modern America, 1968-Present

  1. On May 4, 1970, the M-1 Garand rifles of the Ohio National Guard were used in combat; against college kids!
  2. On June 8, 1972, Nick Ut of the Associated press took his famous photograph of a 9 year old Vietnamese girl running naked from a US napalm attack.
  3. On March 6, 1975, entranced Americans were glued to their television sets to watch the first mass public showing of the infamous “Zapruder Film” that depicted the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.
  4. On March 27, 1975, work began on the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.
  5. On December 30, 1977, serial killer Ted Bundy escaped from jail and went on to continue his killing spree.
  6. On May 13, 1985, the MOVE headquarters in Philadelphia was the scene of a chaotic and tragic ending for the cult led by John Africa.
  7. On January 28, 1986, the U.S. space shuttle Challenger took off right on schedule, only to explode 74 seconds later, killing all seven crew members on board in front of a horrified live television audience.
  8. On March 31, 1992, the U.S. Navy decommissioned the USS Missouri, the last of the Iowa-class battleships.
  9. On August 14, 1994, Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, Venezuelan terrorist and one of the most wanted men in the world, was finally arrested by authorities in the Sudan and turned over to French law enforcement.
  10. On February 3, 1995, Space Shuttle mission STS-63 lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral Florida for space with a woman pilot for the first time.
  11. On November 20, 1998, a huge step in the history of space exploration took place when the Zarya segment of the International Space Station (ISS) was launched, the first part of the largest man-made object to orbit the Earth.
  12. On March 27, 1999, Lieutenant Colonel Dale Zelko of the US Air Force became the first pilot of a stealth fighter or bomber ever shot down, in fact, the only time a warplane with stealth capabilities has been shot down.
  13. On December 22, 2001, Richard Colvin Reid, age 28, of London, England, attempted to destroy an airliner in flight on its way to Miami, Florida by the use of explosives hidden in his shoe.
  14. On January 24, 2003, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security began its operations.
  15. On February 1, 2003, the United States suffered the second loss of a space shuttle, this time the Columbia.
  16. On May 29, 2004, President George W. Bush dedicated the World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C..
  17. On June 29, 2007, Apple Inc. sold the first of 500 million iPhones, the company’s first mobile phone.
  18. On August 1, 2007, the Interstate -35 westbound bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis came tumbling down during the evening rush hour, killing 13 and injuring 145.
  19. On May 23, 2013, the Interstate-5 bridge over the Skagit River collapsed suddenly, dumping 2 occupied cars into the river. Incredibly, not only did the occupants survive, they did not suffer any severe injuries.
  20. Named by President Obama as his nominee for Secretary of the Army in November 2015, Eric Fanning, a 47 year old graduate of Dartmouth and a Defense Department employee, was confirmed for the job by the US Senate on May 17, 2016, making him the first openly gay Secretary of a US Military branch.
  21. On January 1, 2018, we take a fond look back at the tumultuous year of 2017, a year in which a remarkable number of prominent people got fired.
  22. On June 10, 2018, Dr. Zar visited Waldameer Park in Pennsylvania as part of the Dark Attraction & Funhouse Enthusiasts’ 50 Years of Devilish Fun event.   The following video is from Dr. Zar’s behind-the-scenes tour and subsequent ride on the Whacky Shack, an award-winning dark ride built by Bill Tracy in 1970!
  23. On July 4, 2018, 242 years after Americans declared their independence from Great Britain’s King George III, Dr. Zar and Major Dan journeyed to the Community Stadium in Ashland, Ohio to celebrate.
  24. On August 18, 2018, Dr. Zar visited the Lexington Blueberry Festival in Ohio for food, fun, music, and fireworks!
  25. On March 29, 2019, Dr. Zar and a group of his students visited the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio.
  26. On November 3, 2020, the 2020 United States of America (U.S.) presidential election will be the 59th quadrennial U.S. presidential election.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Foner, Eric.  Give Me Liberty!: An American History (Seagull Fourth Edition) (Vol. 2).  W. W. Norton & Company, 2013.

The featured image in this article, Uncle Sam’s Thanksgiving Dinner (November 1869), by Thomas Nast, from https://deadconfederates.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/unclesamsthanksgiving.jpg and https://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/harp/1122_big.html, is a faithful photographic reproduction of a two-dimensional, public domain work of art. The work of art itself is in the public domain for the following reason: This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1924.

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About Author

Dr. Zar

Dr. Zar graduated with a B.A. in French and history, a Master’s in History, and a Ph.D. in History. He currently teaches history in Ohio.