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Loyola University Chicago

Teaching with Primary Sources

16th Century 

1492- Christopher Columbus landed in Guanahani.

Exploring the Early Americas

17th Century

1607- John Smith founded the Jamestown Settlement.

Captain John Smith Describes the Voyage of the First Colonists

1636- Harvard College was founded. 

Harvard College in Today in History

1692- Salem witch trials took place in the Province of Massachusetts Bay.

Petition for bail from accused witches, ca. 1692.

An act to reverse the attainders of George Burroughs and others of witchcraft.

18th Century

1752- Benjamin Franklin's kite experiment took place.

Scientist and Inventor

1754- French and Indian War began

Washington's Diary

Copy of a sketch of the Monongahela, with the field of battle, done by an Indian.

A map of the British and French settlements in North America.

Fort Ticonderoga Battle Plan

Join or Die

1765- To help pay for the cost of keeping British troops in America the British Parliament enacted the Stamp Act.

The Stamps

The Stamp Act

The Repeal of the Stamp Act

1770- The Boston Massacre took place.

Paul Revere Propaganda Boston massacre

Four coffins of men killed in the Boston Massacre

The coffin of Patrick Carr

The Boston Massacre Trial

1773- The Sons of Liberty published Association of the Sons of Liberty in New York

The association of the Sons of Liberty, of New-York.

1773- The Boston Tea Party took place.

1789 Engraving of the Boston Tea Party

1774- Franklin was questioned before the British Parliament

Franklin before the lord's council, Whitehall Chapel, London, 1774

1774- First Continental Congress met.

Continental Congress Asserts Loyalty to the King (Page 1)

Continental Congress Asserts Loyalty to the King (Page 2)

1775- Second Continental Congress met.

Journals of the Continental Congress

1775- Battles of Lexington and Concord.

A plan of the town of Boston with the intrenchments and of His Majesty's forces in 1775

1775- Battle of Bunker Hill took place.

A plan of the action at Bunkers-Hill on the 17th. of June, 1775

1776- Thomas Paine published Common Sense.

Common Sense

1776- Declaration of Independence was approved by the Second Continental Congress.

Declaration of Independence (Print)

The original rough draft of the Declaration of Independence

The original rough draft of the Declaration of Independence (Enlarged)

Jefferson reflects on the Declaration of Independence 50 years later

A print representing the committee of five delegates that was appointed to prepare a declaration of independence.

Richard Henry Lee introduced a resolution urging Congress to declare independence.

1777- The Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation, the first constitution of the United States.

Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union

James Madison outlined the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation.

1778- The Treaty of Alliance was signed with France.

Treaty of Alliance with France

Washington celebrates the new alliance with France

Franklin and Deane sent a letter to Congress on February 8, 1778, announcing the signing of the Treaty of Alliance and the Treaty of Amity and Commerce. 

1781-The British surrendered at Yorktown.

Washington Records the British Surrender at Yorktown 

1783- The Treaty of Paris ended the American Revolutionary War.

The Treaty of Paris

Adams, Franklin, and Jay sent another letter to Congress announcing that the definitive peace treaty had been signed

1786-  Daniel Shay's Rebellion took place.

Jefferson writes to Abigail Adams about Shay's Rebellion

1787- A Constitutional convention took place in Philadelphia.

Elliot's Debates

Farrand's Records

1789- The United States Constitution came into effect.

The Constitution of the United States of America

James Madison's Notes on Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 

1789- The first United States presidential election took place.

George Washington's First Inaugural Address

The Century Magazine published an article providing an overview of Washington's first inauguration

Federal Hall

1791- The United States Bill of Rights was ratified.

Copy of seventeen proposed amendments to the Constitution passed by the House of Representatives on August 24, 1789.

The twelve amendments passed by Congress and sent to the states on September 25, 1789.

A letter from Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette in which he discusses the prospects for ratification of the Constitution and the need for a Bill of Rights. 

1792- Washington was reelected President.  John Adams was chosen as Vice President.

Washington's second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1793

Print of Washington from 1794

1793- Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin.

Eli Whitney portrait

Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Eli Whitney

1796- U.S. presidential election, 1796.  Adams was elected President.  Jefferson was elected Vice President.

John Adams Print

Inaugural Address of John Adams 

1796- Washington's farewell address. 

Farewell Address

1798- The Alien and Sedition Acts were passed.

Sedition Act

Naturalization Act

An Act Concerning Aliens

An Act Respecting Alien Enemies

Letter from Madison to Jefferson about the Alien and Sedition Acts

Jefferson's Draft of the Kentucky Resolutions

19th Century

1800- The Library of Congress was founded.

Thomas Jefferson's Library

1801- Jefferson was elected President y the House of Representatives.

Draft of Inaugural Address

First Inaugural Address (Transcription)

Print of Thomas Jefferson

1801- Adams appointed John Marshall Chief Justice.

Chief Justice John Marshall, half-length portrait

1803- Louisiana Purchase was made.

The Louisiana Purchase Treaty

Map of Louisiana (1805)

A map of the United States and part of Louisiana

1804- Burr and Hamilton dueled which lead to Hamilton's death.

Today in History (Burr and Hamilton)

1804- Lewis and Clark set out.

Lewis and Clark Exhibition 

Nicholas King with annotations by Meriwether Lewis (Map)

"Captains Lewis & Clark holding a council with the Indians" (1812 Engraving)

An Act Making Compensation to Messrs. Lewis and Clarke, and their companions

Meriwether Lewis's letter to Jefferson about the expedition's return to St. Louis.

1808- The slave trade was ended.

Remarks on the Slave-Trade (1807)

1809- Madison was Inaugurated as President.

Letter from Jefferson to Madison 

Madison full length portrait

1812- War of 1812 began.

War of 1812 Political Cartoon

Madison asking Congress for a declaration of war 

Proclamation of War on Britain

News from New Orleans victory over British Troops

A journal, containing an accurate and interesting account of the hardships, sufferings, battles, defeat, and captivity of those heroic Kentucky volunteers and regulars

James Madison's Chronology of events in the War of 1812

Letter from Jefferson to Madison about the declaration of war

1812- Daniel Webster was elected to the United States Congress

Bill for the Encouragement of Enlistments (1814)

The Tariff Bill (1824)

Presidential Veto of the U.S. Bank Bill (1832)

Slavery in the District of Columbia (1838)

Compromise of 1850 (1850)

Daniel Webster is Dead!

Daniel Webster portrait

1817- Monroe was inaugurated as President.

James Monroe, half-length portrait

James Monroe First Inauguration 

1820- The Missouri Compromise was passed.

Missouri Territory Map (1814)

Maine and Missouri Senate Debate

Missouri's application for admission into the union

Jefferson expresses his opinion on the Missouri Compromise

1823- The Monroe Doctrine was proclaimed.

The Monroe Doctrine

James Monroe to Thomas Jefferson seeking foreign policy advice

1825- John Quincy Adams was elected President.

Treaty with the Republic of Columbia (1825)

John Q. Adams portrait

John Quincy Adams Inauguration

1826- John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died within hours of each other 50 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. 

Jefferson reflects on the Declaration of Independence 10 days prior to his death

1828- Nullification Crisis: The South Carolina Exposition and Protest was published.

Tariff Act of 1828

Tariff Act of 1832

1828- Andrew Jackson was elected President.

Draft of Andrew Jackson's Inaugural Address

Jackson's Inaugural Address

Jackson's Portrait

1830- Second Great Awakening, a religious revival movement took place. 

The Life of the Pilgrim, Joseph Thomas for one account of the travels of an itinerant minister during the Second Great Awakening.

1830- The Oregon Trail came into use by settlers migrating to the Pacific Northwest.

Scottsbluff and the old Oregon Trail, Nebraska

Recollections and opinions of an old pioneer

1830- The Indian Removal Act was passed.

The Indian Removal Act was passed.

Indian removal policy

Map showing the lands assigned to emigrant Indians west of Arkansas and Missouri

1831- A revolt led by Nat Turner occurred.

The Confessions of Nat Turner, the Leader of the Late Insurrection in Southampton, Virginia

1832- Black Hawk War took place.

Black Hawk

1836- Battle of the Alamo took place.

Today in History (Remembering the Alamo)

1836- Samuel Colt Invented the revolver.

Print shows Samuel Colt, seated, facing slightly right, holding revolver; with text copied from the New York Journal of Commerce.

1837- Van Buren was inaugurated.

Martin Van Buren a full length portrait

1837- Panic of 1837 took place.

The Times (Political Cartoon)

1841- William Henry Harrison became President.

General William Henry Harrison, candidate of the people for president of the United States

Harrison Inaugural Address

Harrison Portrait

William Henry Harrison (Born 1773 Died 1841)

1841- John Tyler becomes President.

John Tyler portrait

1845- James K. Polk became President.

James K Polk grand March Sheet Music

1849- Zachary Taylor became President.

Taylor Photograph

Campaign Badge

Death of Taylor 

1849- California gold rush began.

"California as I Saw It:" First-Person Narratives of California's Early Years, 1849-1900 

Today in History: Gold

1850- Millard Fillmore became President.

Millard Fillmore, American candidate for president of the United States

Millard Fillmore, three-quarter length portrait

1850- The compromise of 1850 was passed.

The Compromise of 1850 was introduced by Senator Henry Clay in a series of resolutions on January 29, 1850.

John C. Calhoun's speech to the United States Senate against the Compromise of 1850

Today in History: Compromise of 1850

1853- Franklin Pierce became President.

Pierce's Inauguration

1856- Preston Brooks beat Charles Sumner with his walking stick in the Senate chamber.

Political Cartoon

1857- James Buchanan became President. 

Buchanan Inauguration

1857- A decision in Dred Scott v. Sanford declared that blacks were not citizens of the United States and could not sue.

Dred Scott Decision

Abraham Lincoln wrote a speech examining the constitutional implications of the Dred Scott Case

Frederick Douglass delivered a speech discussing the Dred Scott decision

Dred Scott engraving

Historical and legal examination of that part of the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in the Dred Scott case

The slavery question. Dred Scott decision : to the free voters of Ohio.

Letter, Roger Brooke Taney to Caleb Cushing thanking Cushing for his support of Taney's decision in the Dred Scott case

1859- John Brown led a raid on Harper's Ferry.

Harper's Ferry insurrection

John Brown

Address of John Brown to the Court

Today in History: John Brown

1860- The Pony Express was founded.

Pony Express Route

Today in History: Pony Express

1860- Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States.

Lincoln for President 

Lincoln's First Inaugural Address

Photograph of Lincoln in 1860

Lincoln-Hamlin campaign button

1860- South Carolina seceded from the Union.

Union Dissolved!

The "secession movement"

South Carolina's "ultimatum"

1861- Ten more stated seceded from the Union and established the Confederate States of America. 

Secession exploded

Secession Map

The Hercules of the Union, slaying the great dragon of secession

1861- Jefferson Davis is elected.

Jefferson Davis, Senator from Mississippi 

Today in History: Jefferson Davis Elected

Jeff Davis Song Sheet

1861- American Civil War began at Fort Sumter.

Fort Sumter

Bombardment of Fort Sumter by the batteries of the Confederate states

Fort Sumter Map 

1861- Battle of Bull Run took place.

First Battle of Bull Run Guide

1862- General Robert E. Lee was placed in command the Army of Northern Virginia.

Portrait of Gen. Robert E. Lee

Newspaper: Lee is put in charge of Confederate Army.

1862: The Battle of Antietam took place.

Confederate dead by a fence on the Hagerstown road

Lincoln at Antietam

Bodies of Confederate dead gathered for burial

Hospital notebook "At Antietam"

Bodies of Confederate artillerymen near Dunker church

Antietam Map

Today in History: Battle of Antietam

1863: The Battle of Gettysburg

Gettysburg Map

Incidents of the war. A harvest of death

Gettysburg, Pa. Three Confederate prisoners

Today in History: Gettysburg Day 1

Today in History: Gettysburg Day 2

Today in History: Gettysburg Day 3

Gettysburg Address Photograph

Gettysburg Address Exhibit

July 4th, 1863 (Union) Newspaper

July 7, 1863 (Confederate) Newspaper

1864- General Ulysses S. Grant was put in command of all Union forces.

Abraham Lincoln to Ulysses S. Grant, Monday, July 13, 1863 (Congratulations on capture of Vicksburg).

Portrait of Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, officer of the Federal Army

General Ulysses S. Grant at his headquarters

1864- Sherman's March to the Sea: The March took place.

Today in History: Sherman Captures Fayetteville

Today in History: The Fall of Atlanta

Diary (Union)

Sherman to Lincoln (The Fall of Savannah)

1865- Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House.

Today in History: Lee Surrenders

Lee Surrenders (Union Newspaper)

Lee Surrenders (Confederate) Newspaper

1865- Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth.

Assassination of Lincoln (Timeline)

Assassination of Lincoln (Gallery)

What's in Lincoln's Pockets?

1865- The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was passed, permanently outlawing slavery. 

13th Amendment to the States

13th Amendment Senate debate

"The Constitutional Amendment," The Daily Phoenix. (Columbia, S.C.), December 14, 1865

"The Official Announcement of the Adoption of the Constitutional Amendment--Opinions of the Leading Press," Daily National Republican. (Washington, D.C.), December 21, 1865

1867- The Alaskan territory was purchased from Russia.

Treaty with Russia

The Alaska purchase

"The Russian Treaty...Price to be Paid only $7,200,000," The Sun. (New York [N.Y.]), April 12, 1867.

1868- Grant was elected President

Ulysses S. Grant First Inauguration, March 4, 1869

1869- The First Transcontinental Railroad was completed. 

The completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, 1869.

Today in History: Completion of the Transcontinental Railroad

1871- Great Chicago fire occurred.

Today in History: Great Chicago Fire

The City of Chicago, showing the burnt district.

Chicago Fire Interview

1872- Yellowstone National Park was created.

"Old Faithful" Geyser, Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone, the First National Park

1876- The National League of Baseball was founded.

Historic Baseball Images

Historic Baseball Audio/Video

Baseball Cards

Baseball Sheet Music

Baseball Timeline

1876- The Centennial Exposition was held in Philadelphia.

Stereographs of the 1876 Centennial Exposition, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Views of the 1876 Centennial Exposition, Philadelphia, Pa.

1876- Battle of Little Bighorn took place.

Today in History: Custer's Last Stand

Lieutenant Robert Patterson Hughes Letter to his wife with map of the Battle of Little Big Horn.

Portrait of Maj. Gen. George A. Custer

1876- Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.

Alexander Graham Bell as Inventor and Scientist

The Telephone and the Multiple Telegraph

1877- U.S. presidential election awards Rutherford B. Hayes the Presidency.

A certificate for the electoral vote for Rutherford B. Hayes and William A. Wheeler for the State of Louisiana dated 1876

President Rutherford B. Hayes, half-length portrait.

Rutherford B. Hayes Inauguration, March 5, 1877

1879- Thomas Edison invented the light bulb.

American Memory: Edison

Newspaper about the light bulb (1879)

1881- Gunfight at the O.K corral took place in Tombstone, Arizona Territory.

Tombstone Arizona Fire Insurance Map

1881- James Garfield was inaugurated President of the United States of America.

James A. Garfield Inauguration, March 4, 1881

1881- Garfield was as assassinated.

Death of General James A. Garfield

The President Shot (Newspaper)

1881- Chester Arthur was inaugurated President of the United State of America.

Chester Arthur Oath of Office, September 20, 1881

1881- Clara Barton created the Red Cross.

Clara Barton Photograph

Miss Barton's Appointment (Newspaper)

Clara Barton Tells Her Own Story of Red Cross Triumphs

1882- The Chinese Exclusion Act was passed.

Anti-Chinese Movement and Chinese Exclusion 

Expressing the regret of the Senate for the passage of discriminatory laws against the Chinese in America, including the Chinese Exclusion Act.

1885- Grover Cleveland was inaugurated as President.

Today in History: Grover Cleveland

1885- The Washington Monument was completed.

Today in History: Washington Monument

1886- Haymarket Riot took place.

Newspaper Articles

Transcript and Exhibits from the Trial of Illinois vs. August Spies et al.

Autobiographies of Two Defendants

1889- Benjamin Harrison becomes President.

Benjamin Harrison Inauguration, March 4, 1889

1890- Wounded Knee Massacre occurred. 

Big Foot's camp three weeks after the Wounded Knee Massacre

1892- The Homestead Strike took place.

Homestead Strike Photographs

Homestead Strike Newspaper Articles

Homestead Riot (Harper's Weekly)

1892- General Electric was founded.

General Electric Company, Schenectady Works

1893- Cleveland was inaugurated President for a second term. 

Grover Cleveland Second Inauguration, March 4, 1893

Plessy vs. Ferguson (Newspaper Articles)

Today in History: Plessy v. Ferguson

1897- William McKinley became President.

William McKinley First Inauguration, March 4, 1897

1897- The Boston Subway was completed.

Subway entrances on Boston Common

Descent into subway, Public Garden, Boston, Mass.

1898- The Treaty of Paris ended the Spanish-American War.

Spanish-American Treaty of Peace, Paris Dec. 10th 1898

Spanish American War (Newspaper Articles) 

20th Century

1900- The United States Population exceeds seventy-five million.

Census of 1900 Numbers 

1900- The Gold Standard Act was passed. 

Newspaper Article

1901-Theodore Roosevelt becomes President 

Theodore Roosevelt: His Life and Times on Film

1903- The movie "The Great Train Robbery" opened.

The Great Train Robbery Film 

1903- The Ford Motor Company was formed.

The First factory of the Ford Motor Company, Mack Avenue, Detroit, 1903-1904

1903- The Wright brothers made their first powered flight in the Wright Flyer. 

The Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers at the Library of Congress

1906- The Pure Food and Drug Act and Meat Inspection Act were passed.

Newspaper Articles

1906- San Francisco earthquake occurred.

Chronicling America - The Great San Francisco Earthquake, 1906

Before and After the Great Earthquake and Fire: Early Films of San Francisco, 1897-1916

San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906 (Photograph) 

1908- The Ford Model T appeared on the market.

Model T Advertising

Model T's coming off the assembly line at the Highland Park plant

1909- William Howard Taft became President.

William Howard Taft Inauguration, March 4, 1909 

1909- Robert Peary claimed to have reached the North Pole.

Today in History: May 6

1909- The NAACP was founded by W.E.B. Du Bois.

NAACP Exhibition

1911- The Supreme Court broke up Standard Oil.

Standard Oil Political Cartoon 

1911- The First Indianapolis 500 occurred.

Indianapolis 500 1938 Photograph 

1912- The Titanic sank.

The Building of the Titanic (Newspaper Articles)

The Titanic Disaster

1912- Roosevelt was shot while campaigning for the Bull Moose Party.

Newspaper Article 

1913- Woodrow Wilson became President.

Woodrow Wilson First Inauguration, March 4, 1913

1913- The Federal Reserve Act was passed.

Today in History: December 23

1914- World War I Began

June 29, 1914 (newspaper) 

1914- Mother's Day was established as a national holiday.

Today in History: May 9

1915- The Lusitania was sunk.

Newspaper Article 

1917- The United States entered World War I.

From the Home Front and the Front Lines 

I Want You! Poster 

Young American men found themselves soldiers in France in WWI

U.S. Officially at War (Newspaper)

World War I exhibition 

1919- The Treaty of Versailles ended World War I.

War Officially Ends (Newspaper)

Treaty of Versailles (Newspaper Articles) 

1919- The Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was passed.

18th Amendment of the Constitution 

Alcohol Prohibition (Newspaper Articles)

1919- Black Sox scandal occurred.

Newspaper Articles 

1920- The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was passed.

Votes for Women's Suffrage 

Women's Suffrage Timeline 

1920- The first radio broardcasts were made, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Detroit, Michigan.

Women's Suffrage Teacher’s Guide 

1920- The Volstead Act was passed. 

Today in History: Temperance and Prohibition 

1921- Warren Harding became President. 

Warren G. Harding Inauguration, March 4, 1921

1923- Harding died and Calvin Coolidge succeeded him.

Calvin Coolidge Oath of Office, August 3, 1923

1927- Charles Lindbergh made the first trans-Atlantic flight.

Today in History: June 11

1928- Disney's animated feature "Steamboat Willie," featuring Mickey Mouse, opened.

Mickey Mouse inbetweener drawing no. 469 or 479 from Steamboat Willie

1928- Amelia Earhart flew solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

Amelia Earhart: Online Resources

1929- Herbert Hoover became President.

Herbert Hoover Inauguration, March 4, 1929

1929- St. Valentine's Day massacre took place. 

Crowds outside garage while body of victim of St. Valentine's Day Massacre is removed

Al Capone Photograph 

1929- Wall Street crashed and the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped a record 68 points. 

Black Monday Stock Market Crash 

1931- The Empire State Building opened in New York City.

Today in History: May 1

Empire State Building, New York City. 

1932- The Bonus Army marched on Washington, D.C.

The Bonus Army March

Today in History: July 28 

1933- Franklin Delano Roosevelt was worn in as President.  

Franklin Delano Roosevelt First Inauguration, March 4, 1933 

1933- Roosevelt introduced the New Deal, focusing the "3 Rs" of relief, recovery and reform.

teacher’s guide primary source set

1934- The Dust Bowl began.

Voices from the Dust Bowl

Primary Source Set 

1934- The FBI was established, with J. Edgar Hoover as its first director.

J Edgar Hoover Cartoon

1937- The Golden Gate Bridge was completed in San Francisco.

75 Years & Counting: The Golden Gate Bridge 

1939- Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany.

Poland Fights Nazi Dragon - Polish War Relief , 1943. Halftone on paper. Printed by Central Print and Litho. Co., Chicago. LC-USZ62-104301(color film copy transparency) 

1941- Attack on Pearl Harbor took place. 

After the Day of Infamy

Pearl Harbor, 70th Anniversary (Experiencing War) 

1942- Japanese American internment and seizure of property began per executive order 9066.

Ansel Adams’s Photographs of Japanese-American Internment at Manzanar

Japanese American Internment 

1944- Normandy landings took place.

D-Day (New York Times) 

1944- Battle of the Bulge took place.

The Battle of the Bulge (Interactive Essay) 

1945- Battle of Okinawa took place.

Interview with Battle of Okinawa Veteran

1945- Roosevelt died and Harry S. Truman became President of the United States.

Harry S. Truman Oath of Office, April 12, 1945

1945- Germany surrendered.

Germany surrenders Photograph

1945- Atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Second atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan 

1945- The Nuremberg Trails began. 

Nuremberg Trials Nuremberg, Germany 1945–1949