Dates to Remember in APUSH

There are only twelve, but students must know them cold!

Five months ago, APUSH teacher Steve Heimler produced a very good 4:12 video entitled Do you Have to Memorize Dates for APUSH: NO, but also YES.

With the above video in mind, here are the twelve dates that you need to know. Also, what you need to know about each of the dates.

  • The year before the arrival of Columbus
  • The final year in which native or indigenous cultures and civilizations in the United States, and for that matter, the western hemisphere, were allowed to progress in an undisturbed way, free of widespread European contact, conquest, and genocide.
  • The year before the start of the Columbian Exchange
  • The settlement of Jamestown, in the Colony of Virginia
  • The founding of the first permanent English speaking colony
  • Approximately 20 years after the founding of Roanoke
  • The start of the French and Indian War
  • The Proclamation Act and the end of salutary neglect (a few years later)
  • Eleven years before the Stamp Act and the start of the American Revolution
  • Sixteen years before the Boston Massacre
  • The election of Thomas Jefferson. Before Jefferson, it was Washington and Adams.
  • The birth of modern democracy (approximately). What we had before was an “emerging” democracy, not a modern democracy. A modern democracy is one that, at a minimum, provides the common man with the right to vote, the courts with the power of judicial review, and the president with a cabinet. It also consists of political parties that pass power peacefully.
  • The end of slavery in the north (approximately).
  • Eight years before the banning of the international slave trade.
  • The start of the 1st Industrial Revolution (approximately) with Irish immigrants mostly to work in the factories located in the northeast and German immigrants mostly to work on the farms west of the Appalachians
  • The start of the Market Revolution (approximately) and the ability to buy and sell in distant markets, not just local markets.
  • The birth of a new national culture (approximately). In other words, the birth of the belief that Americans, especially after the War of 1812, were finally free of the British, that it was good to be an American, that America, not just Europe, had things to feel good about. An Era of Good Feeling.
  • The birth of the first party system (approximately). The first two-party system consisted of the Federalist Party, which supported the ratification of the Constitution, and the Democratic-Republican Party or the Anti-Administration party (Anti-Federalists), which opposed the powerful central government that the Constitution established when it took effect in 1789.
  • The birth of the judicial review (approximately). This refers to the court’s power to declare laws unconstitutional, which did not exist before the 1800s.
  • Approximate start of the Second Great Awakening
  • The doubling of the size of the United States (approximately); with the Lousiana Purchase
  • The election of James K. Polk
  • The coining of the phrase Manifest Destiny (approximately)
  • The year before the annexation of Texas
  • The end of Mexican American War
  • The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Mexican Cession (the ceding to the U.S. of the presently known states of Arizona, California, Utah, Nevada, and parts of three other states.
  • The Seneca Falls Convention, the Declaration of Sentiments, and the birth of the women’s suffrage movement
  • Gold discovered in California
  • A few years before the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin
  • The end of the Civil War
  • The start of Reconstruction
  • The ratification of the Reconstruction Amendments, 13, 14, and 15 (approximately)
  • The start of the Second Industrial Revolution
  • A few years before the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad and a few years after construction on the Transcontinental Railroad began.
  • The end of Reconstruction
  • A few years after the start of the Gilded Age
  • The end of the Gilded Age
  • The start of the Progressive Era (approximately)
  • The publication of Jacob Riis’ How the Other Half Lives
  • The publication of Alfred Thayer Mahan’s The Influence of Sea Power Upon History
  • The Wounded Knee Massacre
  • Passage of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act
  • Closing of the frontier (there can hardly be said to be a frontier line)
  • The Spanish American War
  • The Treaty of Paris (which allowed the US temporary control of Cuba and “ceded ownership” of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippine islands to the US.)
  • Annexation of Hawaii
  • Two years after the USSC’s decision in Plessy v. Ferguson
  • The end of Worl War II
  • The start of the Cold War (approximately)
  • Two years before the Truman Doctrine
  • The election of Ronald Reagan
  • The end of the counter-culture movement
  • The birth of a resurgent conservative movement

Students should also know the approximate date of the following (though knowing these dates is not as important as knowing the ones above)

  • The issuing of the Proclamation Act (1763)
  • The signing of the Declaration of Independence (1776)
  • The Articles of Confederation (1777–1789)
  • The First Party System (1782–1824)
  • The Philadelphia Convention and the writing of the US Constitution (1787)
  • The banning of the international slave trade (1808)
  • The Second Party System (1828–1852)
  • The Missouri Comprommise (1820)
  • The Homestead Act (1862)
  • The Gilded Age (late 1870s to 1900, approximately)
  • The Progressive Era (1890 to 1920, approximately)
  • The First Great Migration (1910–1940, approximately)
  • World War I (1914–1918)
  • The First Red Scare (1917–1920, approximately)
  • The passage of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote (1920)
  • Prohibition (1920–1933)
  • The Great Depression (1929 to 1939, approximately)
  • The Second Red Scare (1947–1957, approximately)
  • The Cold War (1947–1989, approximately)
  • The Second Great Migration (1940–1970, approximately)
  • The African American Civil Rights Movement (1954–1968, approximately



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Peter Paccone

High school APUSH teacher with much in-class and online teaching experience. Also a blogger, keynote speaker, editor, podcast host, and conference presenter.