1492- Christopher Columbus, financed by Spain, makes the first of four voyages to the New World. He lands in the Bahamas.
1513- Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León lands on the coast of Florida.
1565- Saint Augustine, Florida, settled by the Spanish, becomes the first permanent European colony in North America.
1607- Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in America, is established by the London Company in southeast Virginia
1619- The first African slaves are brought to Jamestown
1620- The Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts is established by Pilgrims from England. Before disembarking from their ship, the Mayflower, 41 male passengers sign the Mayflower Compact
1664- English seize New Amsterdam (city and colony) from the Dutch and rename it New York
1754- 1763- French and Indian War: Final conflict in the ongoing struggle between the British and French for control of eastern North America.
1770- Boston Massacre: British troops fire into a mob, killing five men and leading to intense public protests
1773- Boston Tea Party: Group of colonial patriots disguised as Mohawk Indians board three ships in Boston harbor and dump more than 300 crates of tea overboard as a protest against the British tea tax
1774- First Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia
1775- 1783- American Revolution: War of independence fought between Great Britain and the 13 British colonies
1846-1849- Mexican War: U.S. declares war on Mexico in effort to gain California and other territory in Southwest. Mexico comprises present-day California, Nevada, Utah, most of New Mexico and Arizona, and parts of Colorado and Wyoming.
1849- height of the California Gold Rush
1849-1850- Zachary Tyler; 12th president
1850-1853- Millard Fillmore; 13th president
1852- Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin is published. It becomes one of the most influential works to stir anti-slavery sentiments.
1853-1857- Franklin Pierce; 14th president
1857-1861- James Buchanan; 15th president
1857- Dred Scott v. Sanford: Landmark Supreme Court decision holds that Congress does not have the right to ban slavery in states and, furthermore, that slaves are not citizens.
1859- Abolitionist John Brown and 21 followers capture federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Va. (now W. Va.), in an attempt to spark a slave revolt.
1989- Oil tanker Exxon Valdez runs aground in Prince William Sound, spilling more than 10 million gallons of oil. It is the largest oil spill in U.S. history
1991- Persian Gulf War
1993-2001- Bill Clinton presidency
1993- Bomb explodes in basement garage of World Trade Center, killing 6, injuring 1,000, and causing more than $500 million in damage
1993- President Clinton orders missile attack against Iraq in retaliation for alleged plot to assassinate former President Bush
1995-Budget standoff between President Clinton and Congress results in partial shutdown of U.S. government
1998-House of Representatives votes to impeach President Clinton on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice
1999- Senate acquits Clinton of impeachment charges.
1999- U.S. and China sign historic trade agreement.
2000- 2008- George W. Bush presidency
2001- Two hijacked jetliners ram twin towers of World Trade Center in worst terrorist attack against U.S.; a third hijacked plane flies into the Pentagon, and a fourth crashes in rural Pennsylvania. More than 3,000 people die in the attacks.
2001- U.S. and Britain launch air attacks against targets in Afghanistan after Taliban government fails to hand over Saudi terrorist Osama bin Laden.
2002- declares that U.S. will wage war against states that develop weapons of mass destruction.
2003- Space shuttle Columbia explodes upon reentry into Earth's atmosphere, killing all seven astronauts on board.
2003- War waged by the U.S. and Britain against Iraq begins. President Bush signs $350 billion tax-cut bill.
2005-Hurricane Katrina wreaks catastrophic damage on Mississippi and Louisiana; 80% of New Orleans is flooded.
2007-Male student kills two in a Virginia Tech dorm. Two hours later, he kills 30 more in a classroom building before committing suicide. The shooting rampage is the most deadly in U.S. history. Fifteen others are wounded.
2007- Gen. David Petraeus tells members of the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services committees that the U.S. military needs more time to meet its goals in Iraq.
2008- Barak Obama presidency
2009- President Obama signs the $787 billion stimulus package into law.
2009- After confirming 20 cases of swine flu in the United States, including eight in New York City, the U.S. declares the outbreak a public health emergency.
2009- Sonia Sotomayor nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court. First Hispanic Justice.
2009- A shooting at the Fort Hood army post in Texas kills 13 and injures 29. Ten of those killed are military personnel.
2009-A Nigerian man on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit allegedly attempted to ignite an explosive device hidden in his underwear. Told officials later that he was directed by the terrorist group Al Qaeda.
2010-An explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico sends millions of gallons of oil into the sea. The spill kills 11 and is the largest off-shore spill in U.S. history as well as one of the largest spills in world history.
2010- The Senate votes 65 to 31 in favor of repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the Clinton-era military policy that forbids openly gay men and women from serving in the military.