Timeline

William Jewett The promised land 1850, Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J Terra Collection

1607
First British colony established at Jamestown, Virginia

1619
First African slaves brought to Jamestown

1620
A group of Puritan English Separatists (the Pilgrims) arrive on the Mayflower and establish Plymouth Colony on Cape Cod, New England

1650
Colonial population estimated at 50,400

1699
New Orleans settled by the French

1775
The American War of Independence begins between 13 American colonies and Britain

1776
Thomas Jefferson drafts the United States Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia

1783
Second Treaty of Paris officially ends the War of Independence

1789
George Washington becomes the 1st US president

1790
First federal census: over 3.9 million people

1794
America’s first artists’ society, The Columbianum, is founded in Philadelphia by artist Charles Willson Peale

1802
American Academy of the Fine Arts founded in New York City

1805
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts founded in Philadelphia

1819
Spain cedes Florida and Oregon County to US for $5 million

1830
Federal census: over 12.8 million (150 000 immigrated since 1820)

1848
Mexico cedes Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Upper California to the US

1849
Over 80,000 Americans and immigrants arrive in California in search of gold

1852
New York Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations opens at the Crystal Palace

1861
Abraham Lincoln becomes the 16th US president. Civil War begins when Confederate forces open fire on Fort Sumter, South Carolina

1865
Civil War ends; the North is victorious. Slavery abolished with the 13th Amendment to the Constitution

1869
First transcontinental railroad completed

1872
Yellowstone becomes America’s first national park

1876
Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia celebrates the arts, scientific and industrial progress. Lt Col Custer and soldiers massacred by Native Americans led by Sioux chiefs Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse at Little Big Horn

1879
The Society of American Artists is founded; members include Hudson River School painters

1886
First major exhibition of French impressionist artworks held at the American Art Association in New York

1890
Wounded Knee Massacre, South Dakota; the last battle in the American Indian Wars. Yosemite National Park established in California

1897
America’s first subway opens in Boston. Group of American impressionists (The Ten) forms after resignation from the Society of American Artists

1898
Hawaiian Islands annexed

1899
Women’s Art Club founded in New York as women are barred from full participation at the National Academy of Design and the Society of American Artists

1900
Frank Lloyd Wright develops a modernist aesthetic for architecture in the Ward W Willitt’s House in Highland Park, Illinois

1908
First Ford Model T cars produced in Detroit; enables widespread automobile ownership. Group of realist painters called The Eight (later called the Ashcan School) hold their first exhibition in New York

1913
New York’s Armory Show introduces Americans to fauvism, cubism and futurism. Hollywood becomes the world movie-making capital after the box-office hit The squaw man is filmed in a Los Angeles barn

1917
The US joins the Allies in the war against Germany

1918
The Allies are victorious in World War I; the Armistice is signed by Germany

1919
Grand Canyon established as a National Park. Prohibition instigated with the 18th Amendment to the Constitution

1920
American women granted the right to vote

1929
Georgia O’Keeffe travels to New Mexico where she is inspired by the South-West’s unique landscape and culture. US stock market crash triggers a worldwide economic collapse—the Great Depression (1929–41). Museum of Modern Art, New York opens

1930s
Regionalist art movement painters such as Grant Wood, John Steuart Curry and Thomas Hart Benton reject modern trends and chose to paint American subjects in a realist mode

1933
Black Mountain College is founded in North Carolina, a liberal interdisciplinary arts school that attracts avant-garde visual artists, composers, poets and designers

1934
Painter Hans Hoffman opens an influential school of fine arts in New York

1935
Works Progress Administration (WPA) provides employment for many artists including Ben Shahn, Stuart Davis and Jackson Pollock

1940s
The emergence of abstract expressionism; New York is increasingly seen as the world centre of avant-garde art

1941
Japanese bomb Pearl Harbour, Hawaii; Britain and the US declare war on Japan; Germany and Italy declare war on the US

1945
The US drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan; World War II ends

1948
Cold War begins between the US and the USSR. Regular network television broadcasts begin

1950
Senator Joseph McCarthy claims Communist spies have infiltrated the US State Department. Thousands of people, including many in the arts, suspected of being communists are persecuted during the 1950s – a practice dubbed ‘McCarthyism’. The Korean War begins

1954
Supreme Court rules that racial segregation violates the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, beginning a long struggle for African Americans’ civil rights

1955
Space Race begins with US and USSR announcing intentions to launch Earth satellites

1958
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram’s Building in New York epitomises the revival of the modernist aesthetic

1961
John F Kennedy becomes the 35th US president. Henry Flynt, philosopher, musician, and artist, coins the term ‘concept art’

1962
Cuban missile crisis brings the US and USSR to the brink of nuclear conflict. First major combat for US forces in the Vietnam War. Pop art begins to dominate east and west coast art scenes

1963
President John F Kennedy assassinated. Martin Luther King Jr makes his ‘I have a dream’ civil rights speech at the March on

1964
Robert Rauschenberg wins the grand prize for painting at the Venice Biennale

1968
Martin Luther King Jr assassinated

1969
Richard Nixon becomes the 37th US president. Woodstock three-day music festival held in upstate New York. Neil Armstrong becomes first man to walk on the Moon. Millions march in Vietnam War moratorium protests across the US