U.S. History Timeline: Progressive Era and World Wars - 1900–1949
U.S. History Timeline: Civil War and Reconstruction - 1850–1899 U.S. History Timeline U.S. History: Mid-Century and Cold War - 1950–1999
Timeline: Progressive ERA &
World Wars 1900-1949
Read about major events in U.S. History from 1900–1949, including the San Francisco earthquake, Great Depression, World War II, and more.
- Galveston hurricane leaves an estimated 6,000 to 8,000 dead. According to the census, the nation's population numbers nearly 76 million.
- McKinley's second inauguration.
- McKinley's is shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz in Buffalo, N.Y.
- He later dies from his wounds and is succeeded by his vice president, Theodore Roosevelt.
Treaty signed November 17
- U.S. acquires Panama Canal Zone.
- Wright brothers make the first controlled, sustained flight in heavier-than-air aircraft at Kitty Hawk, N.C.
- Theodore Roosevelt's second inauguration.
- San Francisco earthquake leaves 500 dead or missing and destroys about 4 sq mi of the city.
- William Howard Taft is inaugurated as the 27th president.
- Mrs. Taft has 80 Japanese cherry trees planted along the banks of the Potomac River.
- Woodrow Wilson is inaugurated as the 28th president.
- Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, providing for the direct election of U.S. senators by popular vote rather than by the state legislatures.
- World War I: U.S. enters World War I, declaring war on Germany (April 6, 1917) and Austria-Hungary (Dec. 7, 1917) three years after conflict began in 1914.
Nov. 11, 1918
- Armistice ending World War I is signed.
- Panama Canal opens to traffic.
- First long distance telephone service, between New York and San Francisco, is demonstrated.
Treaty signed Aug. 14
- U.S. agrees to purchase Danish West Indies (Virgin Islands) for $25 million.
- Jeannette Rankin of Montana is the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
- Wilson's second inauguration.
- First regular airmail service begins, with one round trip a day between Washington, DC, and New York.
- Worldwide influenza epidemic strikes; by 1920, nearly 20 million are dead. In U.S., 500,000 perish.
- League of Nations meets for the first time; U.S. is not represented.
- Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, prohibiting the manufacture, sale, and transportation of liquor. It is later repealed by the Twenty-First Amendment in 1933.
- Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, granting women the right to vote.
- President Wilson suffers a stroke.
- Treaty of Versailles, outlining terms for peace at the end of World War I, is rejected by the Senate.
- Warren G. Harding is inaugurated as the 29th president.
- He signs resolution declaring peace with Austria and Germany.
- President Harding dies suddenly. He is succeeded by his vice president, Calvin Coolidge.
- Teapot Dome scandal breaks, as Senate launches an investigation into improper leasing of naval oil reserves during Harding administration.
- Coolidge's second inauguration.
- Tennessee passes a law against the teaching of evolution in public schools.
- This sets the stage for the Scopes Monkey Trial.
- Charles Lindbergh makes the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight in his plane The Spirit of St. Louis.
- Herbert Hoover is inaugurated as the 31st president.
- Stock market crash precipitates the Great Depression.
- The Star-Spangled Banner is adopted as the national anthem.
- Hattie Wyatt Caraway of Arkansas is the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate, to fill a vacancy caused by the death of her husband. She is reelected in 1932 and 1938.
- Amelia Earhart completes first solo nonstop transatlantic flight by a woman.
- Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution, sometimes called the “Lame Duck Amendment,” is ratified, moving the president's inauguration date from March 4 to Jan. 20.
- Franklin Roosevelt is inaugurated as the 32nd president.
March 9 – June 16
- New Deal recovery measures are enacted by Congress.
- Twenty-First Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, repealing Prohibition.
- Works Progress Administration is established.
- Social Security Act is passed.
- F. Roosevelt's second inauguration.
September 5, 1939
- World War II: U.S. declares its neutrality in European conflict.
January 20, 1941
- F. Roosevelt's third inauguration. He is the first and only president elected to a third term.
December 7, 1941
- Japan attacks Hawaii, Guam, and the Philippines.
- U.S. declares war on Japan.
- Germany and Italy declare war on the United States; U.S. reciprocates by declaring war on both countries.
October – December 1942
- Allies invade North Africa.
September – December 1943
- Allies invade Italy.
June 6, 1944
- Allies invade France on D-Day.
January 20, 1945
- F. Roosevelt's fourth inauguration
February 4 – 11
- President Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin meet at Yalta in the USSR to discuss postwar occupation of Germany.
- President Roosevelt dies of a stroke and is succeeded by his vice president, Harry Truman.
- Germany surrenders unconditionally.
- First atomic bomb is detonated at Alamogordo, N.M.
July 17 – August 2
- President Truman, Churchill, and Stalin meet at Potsdam, near Berlin, Germany, to demand Japan's unconditional surrender and to discuss plans for postwar Europe.
- U.S. drops atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.
- U.S. drops atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan.
- Japan agrees to unconditional surrender.
- Japanese envoys sign surrender terms aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo harbor.
- United Nations is established.
- The Philippines, which had been ceded to the U.S. by Spain at the end of the Spanish-American War, becomes an independent republic.
- Presidential Succession Act is signed into law by President Truman.
- Central Intelligence Agency is established.
- Congress passes foreign aid bill including the Marshall Plan, which provides for European postwar recovery.
- Soviets begin blockade of Berlin in the first major crisis of the cold war.
- In response, U.S. and Great Britain begin airlift of food and fuel to West Berlin.
- Truman's second inauguration.
- North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is established.
- Soviets end blockade of Berlin (May 12), but airlift continues until Sept. 30.