Reconstruction ends Federal troops are withdrawn from the former Confederate states, formally ending the Reconstruction Era.
Chief Joseph surrenders. Federal troops force about 750 Nez Percé led by Chief Joseph from their ancestral lands. He leads his people on a long trek across the Rockies toward Canada, has many encounters with U.S. troops, and forty miles from the safety of the border, Chief Joseph surrenders, saying, “I will fight no more forever.”
National railroad strike spurred by workers in West Virginia and Pennsylvania shuts down railroads for a week, until federal troops restore order after firing on strikers, killing several.
6.3 million immigrants enter the United States.
Terence Powderly heads the Knights of Labor, a workers’ organization promoting a cooperative commonwealth in opposition to the industrial system, turning it into a powerful social and political force.
Jim Crow era begins as the State of Tennessee becomes the first to pass laws that segregate railroad passengers by race. Soon other Southern states follow.
Chinese Exclusion Act prohibits immigration from China, denies citizenship to Chinese already in America.
Standard Oil Trust formed.
Haymarket Riot in Chicago. Police fire on a group of strikers, killing four and wounding others. Three days later at a rally in Haymarket Square organized by the Knights of Labor, an unknown person throws a bomb into a group of policeman, killing several and causing general mayhem that results in the deaths of more strikers.
Samuel Gompers founds the American Federation of Labor, focused on organizing skilled workers into craft unions.
The Dawes Severalty Act divides communal tribal land, giving the right to petition for citizenship to those Indians who accept the individual land allotment of 160 acres; successfully undermined Native American sovereignty.
The Interstate Commerce Act creates the Interstate Commerce Commission to regulate railroad rates, setting a precedent as the first action by the federal government to regulate business.
The Forest Management Act gives the federal government authority over forest reserves (which are first created in 1891).
Edward Bellamy, an American socialist, publishes his popular and influential utopian novel Looking Backward, 2000-1887, which predicts that in the year 2000, all industries will be owned by the government and all wealth will be distributed equally among the citizens.
Jane Addams founds Hull House in Chicago, launching the settlement house movement.
Ghost Dance Movement: Wounded Knee Marks End of Indian Resistance. 500 U.S. troops massacre 350 Sioux men, women, and children in South Dakota in the last major confrontation between the U.S. Army and the Plains Indians.
The Sherman Antitrust Act declares illegal “every contract, combination…or conspiracy in restraint of trade or commerce.” A vague and weak law, but a first effort at restraining the power of monopolies and trusts.
Yosemite National Park is established, the second national park after Yellowstone (1872).
Approximately 4 million immigrants enter the U.S.
Steelworkers striking at Andrew Carnegie’s Homestead, Pennsylvania steel mill clash with private Pinkerton guards, with casualties on both sides. The 5-month strike ends with the firing of union leaders and workers returning to their 12-hour shifts.
Creation of Peoples Party (the Populists), by the Farmers’ Alliance, the Knights of Labor, the National Colored Farmers’ Alliance, and others. The Omaha Platform articulates the goals of this protest movement.
African-American journalist Ida B. Wells-Barnett writes passionately against lynching and founds anti-lynching societies and grassroots efforts to end racial discrimination in major cities.
Anti-Saloon League founded.
Stock market panic precipitates most severe economic depression of the 19th century, which lasts until 1896.
Coxey’s Army of unemployed workers from Ohio marches on Washington, DC, to protest the lack of work and call for public assistance.
National railroad strike inspired by workers at the Pullman Palace Car Company protesting 25% wage cuts, and led by Eugene V. Debs’ American Railway Union, is broken only by federal troops called out by President Grover Cleveland; seven strikers are killed.
Booker T. Washington, the educator and founder of Tuskegee Institute, is launched into national prominence as an African American leader with his speech at the Atlanta Exposition, in which he proposes that black civil rights and social equality are not as important as the economic advancement of African Americans in the South.
Coney Island opens.
In Plessy vs. Ferguson, the Supreme Court upholds segregation.
Creation of the National Consumers’ League.
8.8 million immigrants enter the U.S.
A 5-month-long strike by 145,000 anthracite coal miners causes the price of coal to skyrocket and forces the closing of schools around the country, prompting President Theodore Roosevelt to intercede. Workers gain pay raises, but the union fails to gain recognition from mine owners.
Muckraking journalist Lincoln Steffens’ magazine series “The Shame of the Cities”reveals widespread urban political corruption.
Journalist Ida Tarbell publishes her expose of the Standard Oil Company.
President Theodore Roosevelt creates the U.S. Forest Service.
Upton Sinclair publishes The Jungle, leading to the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is founded by liberal whites and African Americans to promote racial justice and civil rights. The director of publications is W. E. B. Du Bois, African American scholar.
Charles B. Davenport opens the Eugenics Record Office in Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., which serves as a national resource for local eugenics organizations.
Society of American Indians is founded by Dr. Charles A. Eastman (Ohiyesa, a former student at Dartmouth College) and others, the first Indian rights organization created by and for Indians.
The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) has 250,000 members, the largest women’s organization in U.S. history to date.
Triangle Shirtwaist fire.
Frederick W. Taylor publishes The Principles of Scientific Management, expounding the virtues of centralized factory planning, systematic analysis of jobs, detailed supervision of workers, and accompanying wage incentives.
5.7 million immigrants enter the U.S.
Democrat Woodrow Wilson elected president over Republican William Howard Taft, Progressive Theodore Roosevelt, and Socialist Eugene V. Debs.
U.S. Children’s Bureau established.
Passage of the Graduated Income Tax, the first income tax in U.S. history.
The Federal Reserve Act brings order and federal oversight to the nation’s banking system.
Federal Trade Commission created, further extending federal government regulation of the economy.
The Clayton Anti-Trust Act strengthens regulation of business and exempts labor unions from being considered illegal “in restraint of trade.”
State militia and striking coal miners seeking recognition for the United Mine Workers clash at a Colorado mine owned by John D. Rockefeller. Twenty-one persons die in the Ludlow Massacre, including women and children who are burned to death when soldiers set fire to tents; strike lasts a month before federal troops restore order.
Feminist Margaret Sanger publishes The Woman Rebel, a magazine about contraception, which coins the term “birth control.” To escape prosecution for distributing information about the use of contraceptive measures, she flees to England. The American Birth Control League is founded in 1921 and later becomes Planned Parenthood.
World War One breaks out in Europe.
Nearly half a million African Americans leave the rural South and settle in the North.
Establishment of the National Park Service.
U.S. enters World War One. The Espionage Act allows the federal government to suppress antiwar sentiment; the Sedition Act of 1918 outlaws dissenting speech.
Race riots in many U.S. cities. Twenty-six race riots occur in U.S., some involving soldiers returning from the war. Major riots in Chicago and Washington, DC leave scores dead.
Millions of workers strike. A year of major domestic unrest sees strikes ranging from Boston policemen to steelworkers and coal miners, over issues of shorter hours, higher wages, and union recognition. More than 4 million workers are off the job at some point because of strikes or lock-outs.
Ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, outlawing the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages, ushers in the era of Prohibition. Prohibition is repealed in 1933 by the Twenty-First Amendment.
In the Red Scare through early 1920, thousands of radicals are arrested and nearly 900 deported, all on scant evidence of “revolutionary activity.”
Ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment guarantees women the right to vote, the culmination of a national movement that began in 1848.
The census reveals rural-to-urban shift: For the first time, more than half of Americans live in towns and cities with a population greater than 2,500.
The Immigration Act sets first quotas, a maximum of 375,000 immigrants annually.
The Sheppard-Towner Maternity Act appropriates federal funds to promote women’s and prenatal health, one of the first pieces of national social welfare legislation.
Resurgence of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan, not just in the South but also in the North, in opposition to foreign immigration, Catholics, and Jews as well as racial equality.
Johnson-Reed Immigration Act sets annual quotas at 2% of each nationality’s foreign-born count in the 1890 census (except Canada and Mexico); maximum immigration cut to 164,000 in any given year.
The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters is founded by A. Phillip Randolph, and becomes a key black union and spearhead of civil rights organizing.
Alain Locke, et al. publish The New Negro, announcing the Harlem Renaissance.
The Scopes Trial pits religious fundamentalism against modernity.
Henry F. Perkins, zoology professor at the University of Vermont, organizes the Eugenics Survey of Vermont, which results in the passage of a “voluntary” sterilization law in Vermont in 1931 (one of 33 states to do so).