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 April 1, 1861, the municipality called East St. Louis was established.
  2. 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.
  3. On October 23, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln, defender of the Union of the United States, illegally suspended the rule of Habeas Corpus, the Constitutional protection of Americans against being held in confinement without charges and due process.
  4. On March 8, 1862, during the American Civil War, perhaps the most important naval battle of the war began, a battle that would see the first clash of ironclad or armored warships.
  5. On July 16, 1862 and July 16, 1882, we commemorate the birthdays of 2 significant African-American women, Ida B. Wells (who first developed statistics on lynching in the US) and Violette Neatley Anderson (the first African-American woman to practice law before the United States Supreme Court).
  6. 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.
  7. On July 1, 1863, the battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania began, perhaps the most important battle of the US Civil War.
  8. 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.
  9. On November 30, 1864, Confederate Lieutenant General John Bell Hood set what has to be a record for an American general for getting his subordinate generals killed and wounded after ordering an epic fail charge against Union forces led by Major General John M. Schofield at the Battle of Franklin in Tennessee during the American Civil War.
  10. In the mid-2010s, Dr. Zar and his students gave a public presentation on the history of various sites in Ohio.
  11. 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 July 28, 1866, Vinnie (Lavinia) Ream, an 18 year old girl became the first woman in the United States to win a commission for a statue, that of the recently deceased President Lincoln.
  3. 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.
  4. On July 14, 1881, the outlaw known as Billy the Kid was shot and killed by Sheriff Pat Garret in New Mexico.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!
  7. 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.
  8. 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 February 23, 1896, dentists all over the world must have felt the Earth shake, for on that day the Tootsie Roll was introduced.
  3. 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!
  4. On August 21, 1897, Ransom Eli Olds founded the car company that became the first assembly line producer of automobiles in the world.
  5. 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.
  6. November 10, 1898 marks the beginning of the Wilmington Insurrection of 1898, the only instance of a municipal government being overthrown in United States history!
  7. On August 25, 1904, our greatest ice cream sundae was born, the invention of pharmacist apprentice David Strickler in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.
  8. 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.
  9. On March 29, 1911, the US Army made the Colt M1911 .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol its official sidearm.
  10. On January 19, 1913, the Holly Hotel in Holly, Michigan burned for the first time!
  11. 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.
  12. On March 27, 1915, the woman history has come to know as Typhoid Mary was placed into involuntary quarantine for the rest of her life!
  13. On August 2, 1916, Austrian saboteurs managed to sink the Italian battleship, Leonardo da Vinci as the great ship lay in Taranto harbor.
  14. 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”!
  15. On November 20, 1917, a combined Allied offensive (British and French) stepped off against the Germans at Cambrai, France (Nord Department).
  16. On June 1, 1918, the Battle of Belleau Wood began in France near the River Marne.
  17. On August 13, 1918, Opha Mae Johnson became the first of 305 women to enlist in the United States Marine Corps Women’s Reserve, proving that women can do and be just about anything!

Module #3: The Interwar Years, 1918-1941

  1. On August 18, 1920, the United States ratified the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
  2. On August 3, 1921, the Commissioner of Baseball, Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis, reaffirmed the ban from baseball of the 8 players involved in the “Black Sox” scandal, even though they had just been acquitted in criminal court.
  3. 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.
  4. On September 8, 1923, the biggest peacetime disaster in U.S. Navy history occurred when commodore Captain Edward Watson of Destroyer Squadron 11 (abbreviated as Desron 11) ignored his radio navigation device and led 9 of his 14 ships to run aground at Honda Point in the Santa Barbara Channel in California, with 7 of the Clemson-class destroyers sinking.
  5. On July 13, 1923, the world famous “Hollywood” sign first loomed above Hollywood on the hills outside Los Angeles.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. On August 16, 1927, the Dole Air Race began, with 8 airplanes taking off from Oakland, California and heading to Honolulu, Hawaii.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. On May 23, 1934, bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde were gunned down by law enforcement officers.
  14. On August 11, 1934, the Federal Penitentiary located on the island of Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay opened for civilian prisoners.
  15. On August 3, 1936, James Cleveland “Jesse” Owens  won the 100-meter dash at the Berlin Olympics and blazed into the record books.
  16. On October 3, 1936, the Director of the Downtown Athletic Club, John Heisman, died at the age of 66, spurring his fellow board members to rename their annual award to the best college football player East of the Mississippi the “Heisman Trophy.”
  17. On January 27, 1939, one of the great American fighter planes of World War II, the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, made its first flight.
  18. 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.
  19. 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 December 20, 1941, the American Volunteer Group (AVG), better known by its nickname, the Flying Tigers, engaged in its first round of air-to-air combat when its fighters encountered Japanese “Sally” bombers.
  4. On July 18, 1942, the Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe (Swallow in English) made its first test flight using its jet engines.
  5. 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.
  6. On June 3, 1943, US Navy sailors and US Marines tangle with Latino young men in what is known as The Zoot Suit Riots.
  7. On August 17, 1943, the U.S. 8th Air Force, the main American unit of heavy bombers stationed in England, launched 376 B-17 bombers against Schweinfurt and Regensburg in Germany, a raid that came to symbolize the dangers of unescorted bombing.
  8. 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.
  9. On March 9, 1945, 324 B-29 bombers of the United States Army Air Force inflicted the deadliest and most destructive single bombing raid in history.
  10. 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.
  11. On May 11, 1945, the Essex Class U.S. aircraft carrier USS Bunker Hill was struck by 2 Japanese Kamikaze (suicide) aircraft during the battle for Okinawa.
  12. On July 16, 1945, Manhattan Project scientists held their breath as the clock ticked down to the first man-made nuclear blast in history.
  13. On August 6, 1945, near end of World War II, a modified Boeing B-29 Superfortress heavy bomber dropped a uranium gun-type (“Little Boy”) bomb on Hiroshima.
  14. On October 6, 1945, Billy Sianis and his pet billy goat were ejected from Chicago’s Wrigley Field during Game 4 of the 1945 World Series thereby (allegedly) cursing the Chicago Cubs for at least the next sixty years!
  15. On August 8, 1946, the Convair B-36 Peacemaker nuclear bomber made its first flight.
  16. 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.
  17. On July 7, 1947, a mysterious object fell from the sky near Roswell, New Mexico, and was reported the next day in the local newspaper as a “Flying Saucer” captured by RAAF (Roswell Army Airfield) personnel.
  18. 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.
  19. On March 2, 1949The Old Lamplighter became a memory and a song, but not an occupation, as automatic street lights start to shine, adding to the list of famous inventions by Ohioans!
  20. 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.”
  21. On September 12, 1952, stunned citizens of Flatwoods, West Virginia in Braxton County met up with a monster that may have been a close encounter with an alien life form.
  22. On April 13, 1953, Director of the CIA, Allen Dulles signed the order authorizing Project MKUltra, research into how to use mind control drugs against Soviet and Chinese targets during the Cold War.
  23. On August 19, 1953, United States and British covert spy agencies CIA and MI-6 overthrew the government of Iran led by democratically elected Mohammad Mossaddegh and reinstated the Shah (King), Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
  24. 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.
  25. On May 27, 1958, the McDonnell Aircraft (later McDonnell Douglas) F-4 Phantom II naval interceptor made its first flight.
  26. On May 4, 1959, the first ever Grammy music awards were held, with no category for rock and roll despite the fact that this new type of music had already long taken the country by storm.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. On June 8, 1966, while test flying the monstrously expensive XB-70 Valkyrie, the U.S. Air Force managed to knock the Mach 3 bomber from the sky when an F-104 “chase” plane got a little too close and bumped into it, resulting in the crash of both aircraft and the death of 2 pilots and severe injury to another.
  30. On June 30, 1966, the Women’s Rights movement took a giant leap forward when the National Organization for Women (NOW) was founded by 28 women’s rights activists.
  31. 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 August 15, 1969, the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, touted to be “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace and Music” opened in the Catskills region of New York State.
  2. On May 4, 1970, the M-1 Garand rifles of the Ohio National Guard were used in combat; against college kids!
  3. 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.
  4. On June 4, 1974, baseball history (not the good kind!) was made in Cleveland.
  5. 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.
  6. On March 27, 1975, work began on the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.
  7. On July 30, 1975, Teamsters leader James R. Hoffa was last seen outside a suburban Detroit restaurant.
  8. On December 30, 1977, serial killer Ted Bundy escaped from jail and went on to continue his killing spree.
  9. On September 22, 1979,  a huge, unidentified double flash of light was seen by a US reconnaissance satellite near the Prince Edward Islands near Antarctica.
  10. On November 4, 1979, a mob of angry Iranians stormed the US Embassy in Tehran and took 90 people hostage.
  11. On September 15, 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee to become the first female Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of America (U.S.).
  12. On November 18, 1982, five days after a championship fight for the lightweight (135 pounds) crown, Kim Duk-Koo of Korea died from a blow given by Ohio boxer Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, the defending champ.
  13. On March 23, 1983, President Ronald Reagan proposed the development and deployment of what he called The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), which would become known as “Star Wars” and would cost around one trillion dollars!
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. On March 31, 1992, the U.S. Navy decommissioned the USS Missouri, the last of the Iowa-class battleships.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. On June 25, 1998, the US Supreme Court voted 6-3 to strike down the Line Item Veto Act of 1996.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. On January 24, 2003, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security began its operations.
  24. On February 1, 2003, the United States suffered the second loss of a space shuttle, this time the Columbia.
  25. On May 29, 2004, President George W. Bush dedicated the World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C..
  26. On June 22, 2004, President George W. Bush signed into law HR 218, known as the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act.
  27. On January 5, 2005, American astronomer Michael E. Brown (of CalTech, Princeton, and Berkeley) with fellow astronomers David L. Rabinowitz (Yale University and University of Arizona) and Chad Trujillo (University of Hawaii, Gemini Observatory and Northern Arizona University) were given credit for their discovery of a planetoid they called Eris, at the time, the largest dwarf planet known in the Solar System.
  28. On February 16, 2006, the United States Army decommissioned the last of the Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals, or MASH as they were called.
  29. On June 29, 2007, Apple Inc. sold the first of 500 million iPhones, the company’s first mobile phone.
  30. 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.
  31. On March 11, 2012, a single US Army sergeant did more to hurt the US war effort in Afghanistan than all the politicians and generals combined! Robert Bales killed 16 or 17 Afghan civilians in the incident known as the Kandahar Massacre.
  32. This video briefly summarizes the history of Afghanistan from 2012 to 2017.
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
  35. On April 13, 2017, a United States Air Force C-130 Hercules cargo plane dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat.
  36. 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.
  37. 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!
  38. 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.
  39. On August 18, 2018, Dr. Zar visited the Lexington Blueberry Festival in Ohio for food, fun, music, and fireworks!
  40. On March 29, 2019, Dr. Zar and a group of his students visited the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio.
  41. On November 3, 2020, the 2020 United States of America (U.S.) presidential election will be the 59th quadrennial U.S. presidential election.
  42. On January 19, 2021, there will undoubtedly be fans of American novelist and short story writer Edgar Allan Poe carefully watching his original grave (the cenotaph marking the site) to catch a glimpse of the person that has come to be known as “The Poe Toaster.”

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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.


About Author

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.