| Share
 

Firsts in America

This selection is based on our editorial judgment. Other sources may list different firsts.

  • Admiral in U.S. Navy: David Glasgow Farragut, 1866.
  • Airmail route, first transcontinental: Between New York City and San Francisco, 1920.
  • Assembly, representative: House of Burgesses, founded in Virginia, 1619.
  • Bank established: Bank of North America, Philadelphia, 1781.
  • Birth in America to English parents: Virginia Dare, born Roanoke Island, N.C., 1587.
  • Black newspaper: Freedom's Journal, 1827, edited by John B. Russworm.
  • Black U.S. diplomat: Ebenezer D. Bassett, 1869, minister-resident to Haiti.
  • Black elected governor of a state: L. Douglas Wilder, Virginia, 1990.
  • Black elected to U.S. Senate: Hiram Revels, 1870, Mississippi.
  • Black elected to U.S. House of Representatives: Jefferson Long, Georgia, 1870.
  • Black associate justice of U.S. Supreme Court: Thurgood Marshall, Oct. 2, 1967.
  • Black secretary of state: Gen. Colin Powell, appointed Dec. 2000.
  • Black U.S. cabinet minister: Robert C. Weaver, 1966, Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • Book by an African-American is published: Phillis Wheatley, 1773
  • Botanic garden: Established by John Bartram in Philadelphia, 1728, and is still in existence in its original location.
  • Cartoon, colored: “The Yellow Kid,” by Richard Outcault, in New York World, 1895.
  • College: Harvard, founded 1636.
  • College to confer degrees on women: Oberlin College (Ohio), 1841.
  • College to establish coeducation: Oberlin College (Ohio), 1833.
  • Electrocution of a criminal: William Kemmler in Auburn Prison, Auburn, N.Y., Aug. 6, 1890.
  • Five and Dime store: Founded by Frank Woolworth, Utica, N.Y., 1879 (moved to Lancaster, Pa., same year).
  • Fraternity, Greek-letter: Phi Beta Kappa; founded Dec. 5, 1776, at College of William and Mary.
  • Gay and lesbian civil rights advocacy organization, national: National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, founded in New York City, 1973.
  • Lesbian, acknowledged, elected to high local office: Kathy Kozachenko, 1974, Ann Arbor City Council.
  • Gay man, acknowledged, elected to high local office: Harvey Milk, 1977, San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
  • Indian-American governor: Bobby Jindal, 2007.
  • Law to be declared unconstitutional by U.S. Supreme Court: Judiciary Act of 1789. Case: Marbury v. Madison, 1803.
  • Library, circulating: Philadelphia, 1731.
  • Newspaper, illustrated daily: New York Daily Graphic, 1873.
  • Newspaper published daily: Pennsylvania Packet and General Advertiser, Philadelphia, Sept. 1784.
  • Newspaper published over a continuous period: The Boston News-Letter, April 1704.
  • Oil well, commercial: Titusville, Pa., 1859.
  • Panel quiz show on radio: Information Please, May 17, 1938.
  • Postage stamps issued: 1847.
  • Public school: Boston Latin School, Boston, 1635.
  • Radio station licensed: KDKA, Pittsburgh, Pa., Oct. 27, 1920.
  • Railroad, transcontinental: Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads, joined at Promontory, Utah, May 10, 1869.
  • Savings bank: The Provident Institute for Savings, Boston, 1816.
  • Science museum: Founded by Charleston (S.C.) Library Society, 1773.
  • Skyscraper: Home Insurance Co., Chicago, 1885 (10 floors, 2 added later).
  • Slaves brought into America: At Jamestown, Va., 1619, from a Dutch ship.
  • Sorority: Alpha Delta Pi, at Wesleyan Female College, 1851.
  • Space tourist: Dennis Tito, 2001
  • State legalizes same-sex marriage: Massachusetts, 2004.
  • State to abolish capital punishment: Michigan, 1847.
  • State to enter Union after original 13: Vermont, 1791.
  • Steam-heated building: Eastern Hotel, Boston, 1845.
  • Steam railroad (carried passengers and freight): Baltimore & Ohio, 1830.
  • Strike on record by union: Journeymen Printers, New York City, 1776.
  • Subway: Opened in Boston, 1897.
  • “Tabloid” picture newspaper: The Illustrated Daily News (now the Daily News), New York City, 1919.
  • Vaudeville theater: Gaiety Museum, Boston, 1883.
  • Woman astronaut appointed commander of the International Space Station: Dr. Peggy Whitson, 2008
  • Woman astronaut appointed shuttle commander: Lt. Col. Eileen Collins, Columbia, launched July 1999.
  • Woman astronaut to ride in space: Dr. Sally K. Ride, 1983.
  • Woman astronaut to walk in space: Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan, 1984.
  • Woman cabinet member: Frances Perkins, Secretary of Labor, 1933.
  • Woman candidate for president: Victoria Claflin Woodhull, nominated by National Woman's Suffrage Assn. on ticket of Nation Radical Reformers, 1872.
  • Woman candidate for vice president: Geraldine A. Ferraro, nominated on a major party ticket, Democratic Party, 1984.
  • Woman doctor of medicine: Elizabeth Blackwell; M.D. from Geneva Medical College of Western New York, 1849.
  • Woman elected governor of a state: Nellie Tayloe Ross, Wyoming, 1925.
  • Woman elected to U.S. Senate: Hattie Caraway, Arkansas; elected Nov. 1932.
  • Woman graduate of law school: Ada H. Kepley, Union College of Law, Chicago, 1870.
  • Woman member of U.S. House of Representatives: Jeannette Rankin (Mont.); elected Nov. 1916.
  • Woman member of U.S. Senate: Rebecca Latimer Felton (Ga.); appointed Oct. 3, 1922.
  • Woman member of U.S. Supreme Court: Sandra Day O'Connor; appointed July 1981.
  • Woman secretary of state: Madeleine Albright, appointed Dec. 1996.
  • Woman suffrage granted: Wyoming Territory, 1869.
  • Written constitution: Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, 1639.

See also Famous Firsts by African Americans, Famous Firsts by American Women, Firsts in U.S. Cities, Famous Asian-American Firsts, and Famous Firsts in Aviation.


Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

“High Crimes and Misdemeanors:” A Short History of Impeachment U.S. History Figures and Legends in American Folklore

Premium Partner Content
HighBeam Research
Documents Images and Maps Reference
(from Newspapers, Magazines, Journals, Newswires, Transcripts and Books)

Research our extensive archive of more than 80 million articles from 6,500 publications.

Additional search results provided by HighBeam Research, LLC. © Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

24 X 7

Private Tutor

Click Here for Details
24 x 7 Tutor Availability
Unlimited Online Tutoring
1-on-1 Tutoring