MBRA: History Outline

This is intended to be an outline of all of history. Because it is supposed to be an outline and is not intended to be comprehensive, I'm trying to keep it down to no more than 1,000 separate events/people. This means that I'm trying to (mostly) focus on the 1,000 or so most important events/people. It is probably useful to think of this as my idea of what a well educated high school graduate might be expected to know.

What is important?



~13,700,000,000 BC: Big Bang

The big bang occurs, kicking off history!

~13,500,000,000 BC: Stars begin to ignite

The matter in the universe condensed by gravity until the first stars ignited. WMAP has detected this event at about 200 million years after the Big Bang.

~12,700,000,000 BC: First Galaxies Form

The first galaxies form.

~10,000,000,000 BC: Milky Way Galaxy Forms

Detailed studies of the ages and chemical compositions of these stars suggest that the Milky Way has led a relatively quiet existence, forming stars at a rate of a few suns per year for about the last 10 billion years.

~4,600,000,000 BC: Earth Forms

Image of the Earth

~3,800,000,000 BC: Late Heavy Bombardment period Ends

I think this is concluded because this is the age of the earliest known rocks. But I don't know. There is corroborating evidence from the Moon for the bombardment and its end.

~3,850,000,000 BC or ~3,650,000,000 BC: Life Begins on Earth

Prokaryotes, organisms whose cells lack nuclei, appear on earth.
Note that if the earlier date is correct, the first life began while Earth was still under heavy bombardment from meteorites.

~3,500,000,000: Cyanobacteria Appear

Cyanobacteria are Gram-negative-like bacteria (whatever those are) that live particularly in water (they are a constituent of pond scum). Cyanobacteria are unique among gram-negative bacteria in terms of their ability to photosynthesize using a mechanism that is very similar to that employed by green plants.

: Mitochondiral Proteo-bacteria Forms

~2,500,000,000 BC: Stable Continents Form

~2,200,000,000 BC: Quantity of Oxygen in Earth's Atmosphere increases

As a result of oxygen generated by cyanobacteria, the amount of oxygen in Earth's atmosphere begins to increase. Over a period of 400 million years, the percentage of oxygen in the atmosphere increases from 1% to 15%. The 'problem' with lots of oxygen is that many bacteria are killed by oxygen. Existing organisms evolved biochemical methods to render the oxygen harmless. One of these approachs, oxidative respiration, produces lots of energy for cells. Most eukaryotes today do this.

Additionally, the oxygen may have absorbed the methane in the pre-oxygen atmosphere. Since methane is a greenhouse gas, one result could have been a 'Snowball Earth' ice age scenario (as Huronian Glaciation).

~1,800,000,000 BC: Eukaryotes Form

Eulariotes have cells with nuclei.

~950,000,000 BC - ~580,000,000 BC: Varangian Glaciation

~543,000,000 BC: Cambrian Explosion

This includes the introduction of multi-cellular organisms (the sponge may have been first). This also includes the first animals.

~475,000,000 BC: First Land Plants Appear

: Multi-cellular Organisms

: Shells Appear

~440,000,000 BC: Ordovician Extinction [Planet]

The second largest mass extinction in Earth's history occurs. Approximately two-thirds of all species perish. Unlike the other four large extinctions, this one may have been caused by a gamma ray burst from an exploding supernova within 10,000 light years of Earth. In this explanation, the gamma ray burst destroyed Earth's ozone layer, which allowed intense (50x normal) ultraviolet radiation from our Sun to reach the surface.

Another explanation (which seems to be more mainstream) is that glaciation caused by Gondwanaland moving over the North Pole (or South Pole, depending on who is telling the story).

~360,000,000 BC: Drevonian Extinction [Planet]

~250,000,000 BC: Permian Triassic "event" [Planet]

A meteorite slams into the Earth. The resulting changes to the planet and the environment kill 90% of all life at the time, the largest mass extinction in Earth history.

: Reptiles

~230,000,000 BC: Dinosaurs Appear [Planet]

Image of the Eoraptor

The first dinosaurs appear.

~210,000,000: Mammals Appear [Planet]

The first mammels appear.

~200,000,000: Late Triassic Extinction [Planet]

The Triassic and Jurrasic are separated by an extinction event smaller than the Permian or K-T events, but still quite noticeable.

~200,000,000: Pangaea [Planet]

Map of Pangaea

Earth's landmass is mostly concentrated into one supercontinent called Pangaea. It will break up during the Jurassic period (around 130,000,000 BC) to form the continents Gondwanaland and Laurasia, which are separated from each other by the Tethys Sea.

: Birds

~120,000,000 BC: Butterflies Appear [Fun/Trivia!]

~65,000,000 BC: K-T Extinction [Planet]

Artist Image of Meteor

A meteorite slams into the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico causing massive climactic changes. The dinosaurs all die out.

: Ice Age(s)

: Primates

: Homonids

~5,000,000 BC: Mediterranean Sea formed from previous desert lowland

~640,000 BC: Yellowstone volcano erupts [Planet]

A volcano in Yellowstone National Park erupts obliterating a mountain range, felling herds of prehistoric camels hundreds of miles away and leaving a smoking hole in the ground the size of the Los Angeles Basin.

~400,000 BC: Earliest known spears [Planet]

Gamble cites wooden spears found preserved in a bog at Schöningen, Germany, and are associated with horse bones. Dated to 400,000 years ago, the spears provide the first hard evidence of human hunting and are weighted at the ends to be thrown like a javelin.

~200,000 BC: Neandertals appear [Planet]

About 200,000 BC Neandertals (or Neaderthals) appear. These hominids are related to modern humans, but are not ancestors. By around 30,000 BC, Neandertals are extinct, totally replaced by Cro-Mangnons.

~170,000 BC: "Eve" is born and dies in Africa [Planet]

By tracing mitocondreal drift, scientists conclude that every living human has one common female ancestor. She lived in Africa around 170,000 BC.

~73,000 BC: Indonesian Volcano Tuba erupts [Planet]

The Indonesian Volcano Tuba erupts over a period of several weeks and spews about 2,000 cubic kilometers of ash into the atmosphere (and 800 cubic Km of lava/etc. onto the ground). For a comparison, the Mount St. Helens eruption in 1980 released 1-2 cubic Km of stuff total.

This eruption resulted in a six year long "volcanic" winter and an "instant ice age".

Some scientists believe that this eruptions caused the human population to drop to between 15,000 and 40,000 individuals planetwide. If so, then all of humanity is descended from these few individuals. This theory is known as the "Volcanic Winter/Weak Garden of Eden" hypothosis.

~52,000 BC ± 27,500: Migration of humans out of Africa [Planet]

A wave of migration out of Africa around 50,000 BC spreads humans across the planet.

~27,000 BC: Neandertals go extinct [Planet]

: Neandertals/Cro-magnons

~11,000 BC: End of Last Ice Age [Planet]

The most recent ice age ends. Prior to the end of this ice age, there is no evidence for:

After this ice age ends, we rapidly get cities and domesticated plants and animals. Writing comes later.

~11,000 BC: Megafauna extinction in North America [Planet]

As the most recent ice age ends, megafauna in North America go extinct. There are two competing theories on why this is so. One popular theory argues that human migration led to the extinction as the humans hunted the animals to extinction. Another theory holds that climate changes were responsible.

~11,000 BC: Domestication of plants and animals begins [Civilization]

Humans begin domesticating plants and animals.

~10,800 BC - ~9,600 BC: "Younger Dryas" cooling [Planet/Climate]

Beginning around 10,800 BC, Earth enters into a period of rapid cooling. This period ends around 9,600 BC. Note that this cooling period occured as the last ice age was ending.

~9,000 BC: First towns - Jericho and Catal Huyuk [Civilization]

Jericho (in Israel) and Catal Huyuk (in Turkey) are the first towns. One big difference between them is that Jericho was walled very early (although not necessarily for defense. It is possible that Jericho was walled to prevent flooding) and Catal Huyuk was not.

~9,000 BC: Cattle are used as the first form of "money"

~6500 BC: England no longer connected to European Mainland

~5600 BC: Mediterranean Sea bursts through the Bosphorus Straits
~5600 BC: into the Black Sea

Prior to about 5600 BC, the Black Sea was isolated from the Mediterranean Sea. Around 5600, the Mediterranean Sea rises enough (possibly due to melting glaciers) and bursts through to the Black Sea. Settlements around the edges of the Black Sea are abandoned because they are flooded as the Black Sea rises and does not return to its original depth.

~4000 BC: Holocene Maximum [Planet/Climate]

Earth reaches its warmest temperature in the current interglacial period, about 3 degrees Farenheit warmer than in 2000 AD.

~3500 BC: Wheel invented

~3250 BC: First historical human, Scorpion King, unites upper Egypt [Civilization]

A reasonable short list of important pharohs is:
  1. Scorpion King
  2. Menes (who may also be Narmer
  3. Narmer (1st king of 1st dynasty or last king of 0th dynasty?)
  4. Sekhemib
  5. Snefru
  6. Khufu (Cheops)
  7. Khafre
  8. ... tdb ...

~3200 BC: Sudden Sharp Brief Drop in Temperature and Drought [Climate]


~3200 BC: Writing invented in Sumer (or Egypt) [Civilization]

~3150 BC: Narmer/Menes/Aha unifies upper and lower Egypt [Civilization]

~3000 BC?: Harappan Civilization begins to flourish along the Indus River

~2680 BC: Great Pyramid of Khufu is completed at Giza [Architecture]

Image of Great Pyramid at Giza

~2334 BC: Sargon of Agade founds dynasty of Agade and first empire [Civilization]

~2100 BC: Xia dynasty begins Chinese dynastic period

~1775 BC: Code of Hammurabi compiled

1674 BC: Hyksos Take Control of Egyptian captial city of Memphis

~1628 BC: Volcano on Mediterranean island of Thera erupts [Planet]

Around 1628 BC, the Mediterranean island of Thera erupts, leading to:

~1504BC - ~1450 BC: Thutmose III Rules Egypt:
~1504BC - ~1450 BC: Egyptian Empire Reaches its largest extent

Don't forget to talk about Hatshepsut!

~1500 BC: Aryan invasion of India

http://www.dalitstan.org/holocaust/invasion/histgene.html (San Francisco Chronicle, 26 May, 1999)
Talk about the caste system.

~1400 BC: Polynesian Migration out of New Guinea Begins

--Hunters and gatherers inhabited Australia and New Guinea by 50,000 years ago.


1352 BC: Akhenaten Ascends the throne of Egypt [Civilization]

First recorded example of monotheism.

~1184 BC: City of Troy destroyed

This isn't actually all that important, but this destruction date ties in nicely with the Iliad, Achilles, Trojan Horse, etc. :-)

~1200 BC - ~1100 BC: Dorian Invasion(s) of Greece

~1100 BC - ~800 BC: Greek Dark Ages

Part of the dark ages is the loss of literacy!

~1,000 BC: Metal money (still not gold, though) introduced in China

~1000 BC: Bantu Migrations Begin

Eventually, Bantu peoples will dominate the southern half of Africa. The Bantu migrations bring agriculture to mostly hunter-gatherer regions and also bring iron.

~814 BC: Traditional Founding of Carthage

Famous Cathagenians to know:

~753 BC: Traditional Founding of Rome

~750 BC: Homer composes the Illiad

Good place to talk about what makes ancient Greece special... the first polis was also in the 800-700 range. *must* discuss why the Greek polis was special (citizenry of peasant yeomen instead of king and subjects, etc).

~560 BC: Peisistratos opens the first public library in Athens

http://www.libraries.gr/nonmembers/en/history_ellinikos_prosokratiki.htm http://www.sikyon.com/Athens/ahist_eg01.html

539 BC: Babylon falls to Persians under Cyrus the Great

528 BC: Buddha (563BC-483BC) Lives [People/Religious]

508 BC: Traditional Date of foundation of Athenian Democracy by Cleisthenes

500 BC: Confucius (551BC-479BC) Lives [People/Religious]

~500 BC: Zero is invented in India

And independently by the Maya in the 3rd century AD.

492 BC - 449 BC: Greek-Persian Wars

~475 BC - 221 BC: Warring States Period in China

~450 BC: Torah (first five books of old testament) codified (by Ezra?)

~450 BC: Twelve Tables become the basis of Roman Law

447 BC: Construction of the Acropolis begins [Architecture]

431-404 BC: Peloponnesian War(s)

~400 BC: Hippocrates of Cos (~460 BC - 370 BC)
~400 BC: starts anchoring medicine in reality [People]

387 BC: Plato founds his Philisophical Academy

It continues until 529 AD when Emperor Justinian shuts it down, claiming it is a pagan establishment.

336 BC: Alexander the Great (356 BC - 323 BC) assumes throne of Macedon

335 BC : Aristotle (384BC-322BC) founds his Lykeion [People]

~300 BC: Euclid's "Elements" written [Science]

273 BC: Ashoka ascends the throne of the Mauryan (Indian) empire

264 BC - 241 BC: First Punic War Fought between Rome and Carthage

218 BC - 202 BC: Second Punic War
218 BC - 202 BC: (Hannibal marches his army with elephants over the Swiss Alps!)

Key events: Battle of Cannae (Roman legions massacred).

213 BC: Ch'in Shih Huang orders a massive book burning [Asia]

The Chinese Emperor Ch'in Shih Huang orders the burning of all but practical books (medicine, law, agriculture). The I Ching is explicitly spared from this burning. This book burning is largely successful and many texts are lost for good. Chinese history before this point is much more poorly documented than it should be because of this book burning. Many Confucian texts survive (hidden by Confucian scholars), which help to establish Confucianism as a major Chinese philosophy.

208 BC: First discrete construction effort on Great Wall of China

149 BC -146 BC: Third Punic War: Rome destroys Carthage

73 BC: Spartacus and other slaves escape and begin Third Servile War

~35 BC: Gaius Asinius Pollio construct first public Roman library

Libraries get more and more popular until Rome falls. Insert discussion of libraries rise/fall/rise here. Any data on Chinese libraries (see big book burning in 213 BC).

30 BC: Augustus Caesar Ends intermittent Roman civil war and Roman Republic ...
30 BC: Begins Roman Empire [Europe]

1: Snapshot

  • World population is about 170 million, according to Kremer.

1: Legendary Jesus (~6BC-~30) Lives [People/Religious/Legend]

Sometime around the year zero, Jesus is born. He grows up, preaches in Galilee and Judea, and is eventually put to death by the Romans. Unfortunately, we have no contemporary historical records of this. Jesus left no written records, the Romans have no records of this, and the Christian New Testament is written entirely (or almost entirely depending on the authorship of the letter of James) by people who never actually met Jesus.

9: Teutoburg Massacre: Germanic Tribes Slaughter Three Roman Legions

This essentially ends Roman expansion into Germania. The historical implications for this might be huge: France, Spain and Italy are Latinate countries. Germany, and Scandanavia are Germanic.

60/61: Boudicca leads failed English Revolt against Romans

Final battle is interesting because a massively outnumbered Roman army slaughters the Britons. Training beats sheer numbers. Compare this to Teutoburg where the Romans lose.

40: St. Paul (~4-~64) Lives [People/Religious]

70: Jerusalem Partially Razed, Temple Burned by Romans [?]

79: Vesuvius Erupts: Pompeii Destroyed

This isn't really important by itself, but not knowing it seems like a bit of a hole ...

There are a few interesting factoids:

80: Roman Colosseum dedicated by emperor Titus [Architecture]

100: Snapshot

  • The Roman empire is close to its height of power.
  • The population of the city of Rome is over 1,000,000.
  • Alexandria has a population of between 500,000 and 750,000.

~105: Ts'ai Lun Invents Paper [Technology]

135: End of the last Jewish-Roman wars, beginning of the Jewish Diaspora

166: Roman Envoy from Emperor Marcus Aurelius arrives in China

Prior to this, the two huge empires had never directly interacted.

180: Marcus Aurelius, last of the five good emperors, dies. Rome starts to go downhill.

184: Yellow Turban Rebellion in China

200: Snapshot

  • World population is about 190 million, according to Kremer.

220 - 280: Three Kingdoms Period in China

300: Snapshot

~300: Stirrup invented in China [Technology]

313: Edict of Milan legalized Christianity

314: Persecution of Pagans in Roman Empire Begins

314:The Council of Ancyra denounces the worship of Goddess Artemis.
324:Christianity declared the only official Religion of the Roman Empire.
In Dydima, Minor Asia, Constantine sacks the Oracle of the God Apollo and tortures the pagan priests to death.
Constatine destroys the Temple of the God Asclepius in Aigeai of Cilicia.
341:Constans, Constantine's son, orders all pagan worship and sacrifices to stop.
350:Constantinus, Constantine's other son, orders all pagan temples closed. Worshipping at these temples was punishable by death, although the law was only sporadically enforced at first.
416:Law passed barring pagans from public employment.

325: Council of Nicea held

The Catholic church begins to formally and systematically define orthodoxy and heresy. It is interesting that this occured only 12 years after Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, which declared Christianity an acceptable religon.

328: Roman Capital moves from Rome to Constantinople

: Gu Kaizhi (~345 - ~405) Lives [Person/Art]

378: Romans lose Battle of Adrianople ... Western Rome is on the decline

393: Synod of Hippo Standardizes Contents of the New Testament [Religious]

Which writings to include in the New Testament was something that had not been standardized before this Synod. Obviously, the early Christian church could not include works yet to be written, so churches prior to about 100 AD could not include the Gospel of John in their New Testaments. Different churches included different writings and there was no standardized canon. The Synod of Hippo provided a clear definition of which books were to be included in the New Testament and which books were excluded.

~400: Kalidasa Lives and writes plays [Person/Art]

Kalidasa is considered the greatest poet of classical Sanskrit.

400: Snapshot

  • World population is about 190 million, according to Kremer.
  • The western Roman empire is collapsing.
  • The population of the city of Rome is down to between 500,000 and 750,000.
  • Constantinople has a population of about 300,000.
  • Teotihuacan, in modern day Mexico, has a population estimated at up to 200,000.

415: Hypatia murdered by Christian mob
415: encouraged by St. Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria

This, by itself isn't critical, but the persecution of Christians tends to get lots of attention in history texts, while the behavior of Christians once they were on top does not. Notice also that instigating a murder didn't disqualify St. Cyril from sainthood.

475: Bodhidharma (~440 - ~528) arrives in China

476: Last Western Roman Emperor Deposed. Traditional end of Roman Empire.

486-610: Construction of Grand Canal, world's oldest and longest, in China

497: Original Shaolin Temple Founded at Songshan in Henan Province

Comparing this to the Knights of Malta and the Templar Knights in Europe should be interesting.

500: Snapshot

  • The western Roman empire has ended.
  • The population of the city of Rome is down to between 75,000 and 100,000.
  • The population of Constantinople is between 500,000 and 750,000.

~500: Ballad of Mulan composed in Northern Dynasties China

542: Justinian plague hits Constantinople and spreads to Europe [Europe]

In 542, bubonic plague arrives in Constantinope (from one of several possible sources -- Etheopia and Central Asia being two popular choices). One year earlier, in 541, it arrived in Egypt and in 543 spread to Italy, Syria and Palestine. Then it spread to Persia (modern Iran) and Gaul.

600: Snapshot

  • World population is about 200 million, according to Kremer.

~600: Wood Block printing invented in China

614: Muhammad (~570-632) Lives [People/Religious]

In about 570, Muhammad, founder of the religion of Islam is born. He lives until 632. The Muslim Calendar begins in 614 and scores dates before this year as BH for before hijra and dates after this year as AH for after hijra. This is similar to using the traditional year of Christ's birth for BC and AD dating.

618: Emperor Gauzu founds Tang Dynasty

The Tang Dynasty is considered a golden age for China. The capital city of Changan had a population of about 1,000,000

~660: Uthmanic Recension of Koran assembled

Contrary to popular Western belief, the Koran was not written down by Mohammed. Instead, between 610 and 632, Mohammed preached the revealed word of God, which his followers "recorded on palm leaves, flat stones and " memorized. When Mohammed died in 632, the revealed word of God was complete. Eventually, complete copies were written down, but the copies were not all in agreement. In about 660, the third Muslim caliph, Uthman, ordered that a standard copy of the book be made and scholars assembled a "standard" version from the already circulating versions.


661: Caliph Ali is murdered; Sunni/Shia split in Islam

690: Empress Wu ascends the throne of China

The only woman to ever rule China in her own name.

700: Snapshot

732: Charles Martel turns back Islamic army at the battle of Tours

Europe stays Christian instead of Muslim. The Muslims hold onto Spain for a while, but are eventually expelled.

: Du Fu (~712 - ~770) Lives [People/Art]

751: Battle of Talas

Ends Tang dynasty's westward expansion into India. Muslim influence into central asia (instead of chinese). Idea of paper from chinese, to muslims (and then to western europe).

755-763: An Lushan Rebellion in China

Rebellion against the Tang dynasty results in the death of 2/3 of China's population in ten years.

793: First Viking invasion of England [Europe]

800: Snapshot

  • World population is about 220 million according to Kremer.
  • Tang dynasty is in decline, but is still advanced for the time.
  • Chang'an is the capital of Tang dynasty China and boasts a population of about 1,000,000.
  • Islam is still dynamic and much more advanced in science than Europe.
  • Islam has 13 cities with populations greater then 50,000. Baghdad has a population of about 300,000.
  • Islam's advances into the west have been halted.
  • Charlemagne is crowned King of the Holy Roman Empire.
  • Europe's largest city is Rome, with a population of about 50,000.
  • Mayan civilization still exists and the city of Coba has a population of about 30,000, but Mayan civilization is on the verge of collapse.
  • The Teotihuacan civilization in Mexico is also collapsing and the capital city was sacked in 750.

806: Paper money used in China

~810: Sankara (~788 - ~820) revives Hinduism
~810: in the face of growing influence of Bhuddism in India [Religion]

820: Algebra Invented by Abu Ja'far Muhammad
820: ibn Musa Al-Khwarizmi (~790 - ~840) [Technology]

The title of his book is Hisab al-jabr w'al-muqabala. Note that Arabia is still a center of civilization compared to western Europe. Don't forget to learn about the "House of Wisdom".

There is a series of books, "Great Muslim Philosophers and Scientists of the Middle Ages", that looks good.

845: Persecution of Buhddists in China

~850: Nailed horseshoe introduced

~850: Horsecollar introduced

900: Snapshot

~900: Mayan Civilization Collapses

: al-Mutanabbi (915 - 965) Lives [People/Art]

988: Al Azhar University Founded in Cairo, Egypt

Oldest currently operating university in the world. Notice how Arabia is still a bit ahead of Europe at this point?

1000: Snapshot

  • World population is about 265 million, according to Kremer.

~1000: Beginning of "Medieval Warm Period" [Europe]

The beginning of a 300 year warm period for Europe (Asia did not experience this). One of the side affects of this period is that Iceland and Greenland were much more habitable than they are today. Both were colonized. As temperatures cooled again, the Greenland colonies were abandoned. By 1400, temperatures were similar to those of 2000 AD. Then they dropped some more in the "little ice age".

1014: Vikings lose battle of Boru

~1050: Three field crop rotation introduced

1054: Great Schism: Eastern Church formally breaks away from Rome

1066: William the Conquorer becomes king of England [Europe]

1095: "Deus Vult!" - Pope Urban II Calls for the First Crusade

~1096: Oxford University Founded


~1100: Timbuktu founded

Originally as a seasonal camp by Tuaregs. Eventually became ...

~1150: Angkor Wat constructed [Architecture]

1185: Beginning of Shogun period in Japan

Minamoto family finally defeats Taira family for supremacy of Japan (in Gempei War?). End of Heian period? Rise of Samuarai as a class?

1193: Moslems attack and conquer Magadha, India.
1193: Buddhism in India "ends"

~1200: Anasazi Civilization ends

1200: Snapshot

Hangzhou is the capital of the Southern Song dynasty China and boasts a population of about 1,500,000. In Europe, many monastaries have small libaries, but very few are larger than 300 books.

1206: Temujin named Ghengis Khan by assembly of Mongol chieftans [Military]

1209: Albigensian crusade begins [Europe]

The Albigensian crusade is interesting and important because it was a crusade called against a sect of heretic Christians called Cathars rather than against Moslems. The crusade was largely fought in what is today modern France and was also instrumental in the creation of the modern French boundaries.

1215: King John of England signs the Magna Carta [Europe]

Major nobles force King John to sign the Magna Carta, which essentially places the king under the rule of law.

1260-1294: Marco Polo travels to China

1267: Roger Bacon writes his Opus Majus, Opus Minus, and Opus Tertium

Roger Bacon lays out the foundation of the scientific method. Don't get Roger Bacon confused with Francis Bacon.

1291: Swiss Cantons Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalder found the Swiss Confederation

~1300: Zhao Mengfu (1254 - 1322) Lives [Person/Art]

1301: Osman I Declares Himself Sultan and Establishes the Ottoman Empire

1309: Beginning of the Avignon Papacy (1309 - 1378)

1307: Philip IV of France destroys Templar Knights

The important thing to talk about is the Templars and banking. The neat thing to talk about is all the strange beliefs, practices and conspiracy theories surrounding the Templars

1325: Arabs introduce Europe to Gunpowder weapons when attacking Baza in Spain

Kicking off the gunpowder revolution in Europe.

~1330: Bubonic Plague outbreak begins in China and spreads to Europe [Civilization]

1337: Beginning of 100 years war (1337-1453) [Europe]

Things to mention: battle of Crecy field, battle of Poiters, battle of Agincourt, the seiges that seem to have been much more strategically important, the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, Joan of Arc, Henry V, end of british designs on continental territory and beginning of serious british navy.

1370: Tamerlane becomes leader of the Jagatals

Tamerlane was responsible for massive destruction and a huge number of deaths. Unlike many other conquerors in history, he did not appear to be trying to build an empire, but was simply looting the conquered territories (although he kept control of them). The loot went to Samarkand, his capital. He died while planning an invasion of China.

1386: End of established paganism in Europe

On February 15, 1386, Jagiello, King of Lithuania, is baptised. His conversion, a requirement of a desired alliance with Poland, signals the end of established paganism in Europe.

1400: Snapshot

The world population is about 375 million. The Sorbonne library has about 2,500 books.

1402/3: Zhu Di (1360-1424) becomes Emperor of China

Among his accomplishments were sponsoring Zheng He's expeditions, the construction of Bejing (including the Forbidden City), dredging the Grand Canal, sponsoring the Yongle Encyclopedia -- 8,000 titles in 22,877 volumes for a total of 370 million characters! Unfortunately, the Yongle Encyclopedia has largely been lost.


1405-1433: Admiral Zheng He leads seven expiditions
1405-1433: of a massive Chinese fleet [Civilization]

1406 - 1420: Forbidden City Constructed in China

1418: Prince Henry the Navigator (1394 - 1460) founds naval institute at Sagres, Portugal

1424: Emperor Zhu Di dies. China begins to turn inward for next 500 years

Eunuch's versus Confucian scholars. Net cost of Zheng He fleet's. Canal makes ocean less necessary. Mongol threats require more forces to north ...

1434: Thailand captures Angkor, ending Khmer empire

Talk about Angkor Wat here ...

~1450: Beginning of the "little ice age" [Planet]

Beginning around 1450, Earth begins to cool (there is a fair amount of dispute about the actual date ... which is not surprising as the cooling was gradual and not a sudden drop in temperature). Things stay cool until about 1850 or 1900.

~1450: Iroquois Federation founded

1453: Constantinople conquered by Sultan Mehmed II

Islam is really on a march here and the Ottoman Empire is growing nicely. This is followed up by:

~1454: Johann Gutenberg Introduces Mass Production of Books [Technology]

As with many technologies, this one built on other innovations. The big prior innovations helped make reading easier, and thus allowed it to spread to a larger percentage of the population:
  1. ~850 BC: Greeks introduce vowels into their alphabet.
    Since we don't have word spacing at this time, every little innovation helps. With spacing, this:
    Cn y rd ths?
    is readable. Especially if surrounded by more context. This is much less so:
    Adding the vowels to the sentence without word breaks results in this:
    The vowels make for a huge improvement.

  2. ~300BC to ~100 AD: Codexes Introduced
    Basically, books with pages instead of scrolls. This makes random access of the content much easier. It also makes "tables of contents", and indexes more feasible.

  3. ~800 AD: Word spacing introduced.
    This makes reading easier.

Additionally, as so often seems to be the case prior to the industrial revolution, this invention was at least partially invented earlier in Asia. See woodblock printing and both Korean and Chinese moveable type (although not necessarily metal).

This is also a good example of a technology obsoleting most of a profession -- that profession being scribes. Johannes Trithemius, a scribe, wrote a text, "De Laude Scriptorum", on the wonderfulness of scribal transcription versus printing (something to verify is that since the author wanted this read widely, he had it printed ...).

1477: Ivan III, Grand Duke of Muscovy conquers Novgorod

This the beginning of the destruction of East European constitutional government, finishing in 1795 with the partition of Poland. Constitutional governments usually meant rich merchants and/or nobles, but were still quite a bit more limited than the total monarchy/dictatorship that became the norm later.

Of interest were the Novgorod trade republic, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the Duchy of Prussia (functioning diets).

One can make a reasonable argument that pre-communist Russian history can be understood reasonably well by focusing on the following:

  1. Ivan III (the Great)
  2. Ivan IV (the Terrible)
  3. Peter I (the Great)
  4. Catherine II (the Great)
  5. Alexander I
  6. Nicholas II

1547: Ivan the Terrible becomes the first "Tsar of the whole Rus"

1478: Pope Sixtus IV founds Spanish Inquisition

Pope Gregory IX founds Medeival inquisition in 1231 .. 1834 - Spanish Inquisition formally ends

1492: Ferdinand and Isabel drive last Moors from Spain

1492: Ferdinand and Isabel expel Jews from Spain

1492: Christopher Columbus "discovers" the New World

1493: Pope Alexander VI divides the New World between Spain and Portugal

also Treaty of Tordesillas and Treaty of Saragossa

1493: Luca Pacioli publishes "Summa",
1493: the first printed accounting textbook [Technology]

Double entry bookkeeping has been slowly evolving since perhaps 1300. In 1493 Luca Pacioli publishes a book on accounting with a section on double-entry bookkeeping. This technique survives today and is required for successful large scale bookkeeping. This is one of the key inventions that make the modern corporation possible.

1497: Savoranola's Bonfire of the Vanities

This is worth comparing to the 213 BC book burning in China.

1500: Snapshot

London has a population of about 50,000. The world population is bit under 500 million. The Vatican library is the largest in western Europe, with about 3,500 books as of 1481.

1497 : Leonardo Da Vinci (1452 - 1519) finishes his "Last Supper" painting [People]

~1500: Timbuktu is at its peak of importance

1508-1512: Michelangelo (1475 - 1564) forced to Paint
1508-1512: the Sistine Chapel ceiling by Pope Julius II [People/Art]

1517: Martin Luther nails his 95 Theses to a church door in Wittenberg

1519: Hernando Cortez conquors Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán and captures Moctezuma

1526: Babur founds Mughal Empire (1526 to 1707)

The Taj Mahal is Mughal.

1530: Knights of Malta granted Malta by Emporer Charles V

This is interesting because of the idea that non-nations could own/control land ... we don't really have this anymore ...

1534: Act of Supremacy Passes, Making Henry VIII head of church of England

1588: Spanish Armada fails to invade England [Europe]

Philip II of Spain launches an armada of over 130 ships to conquer England. The invasion fails. If it had succeeded, Europe may well have eventually come under the rule of a single man.

One useful followup is how the English sailors faired after the battle. According to "BattleField Britain", they were kept on the ships for the next year, officially to defend against a new attack. Because of disease, half of them died in the next year ...

It is also probably useful to compare this with the attempted Mongol invasions of Japan.

1590: Sir Francis Bacon Introduces the Notion of Controlled Experiments

Yet another step in the long march towards doing science better. Other items on the list (from Kelly):

2000 BCFirst text indexes
200 BC Cataloged library (at Alexandria)
1000 ADCollaborative encyclopedia
1590 Controlled experiment (Sir Francis Bacon)
1600 Laboratory
1609 Telescopes and microscopes
1650 Society of experts
1665 Repeatability (Robert Boyle)
1665 Scholarly journals
1675 Peer review
1687 Hypothesis/prediction (Isaac Newton)
1920 Falsifiability (Karl Popper)
1926 Randomized design (Ronald Fisher)
1937 Controlled placebo
1946 Computer simulation
1950 Double blind experiment
1962 Study of scientific method (Thomas Kuhn)

1600: Battle of Sekigahara [Asia]

... leads to Japan closing itself to the outside world until Admiral Perry and his black ships arrive in

1600: British East India Company Founded

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_East_India_Company Dutch East India Company founded in 1602

1600: Snapshot

Queen Elizabeth rules England and Shakespeare is still producing plays. Paris has a population of about 300,000. Kyoto, Japan has a population of about 350,000. The world population is bit over 500 million. The population in the America's has dropped radically since 1500, from about 42 million down to 13 million. This is largely the result of disease introduced by exploring Europeans.

1605?: Galileo Galilei (1564 - 1642) breaks Aristotle's grip on Science [Technology]

1607: Jamestown Colony founded

1609, 1619: Johannes Kepler (1571 - 1630) publishes his
1609, 1619: three laws of planetary motion [Technology]

1611: First stock market opens in Amsterdam [Technology]

Triumph of the Optimists, page 19

1616-1644: Manchu's conquer China

And kill a phenomenal number of Chinese doing it (about 16% of the population).

1618-1648: Thirty Years war devestates Germany [Europe]

1620: Pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock [USA]

1624: Cardinal Richelieu (1585 - 1642) becomes prime minister of France

Master of realpolitic, major factor in 30 years war, character in Three Musketeers :-)

1629: Salem Covenant: Congregationalist Churches begin to
1629: self organize and self govern [USA]

For a long time, New England churches and communities were self-governing. This is very different from the old world, where religious and civil government were top-down.


1636: Pequot war in New England signals first major
1636: British Colonist vs. Indian war [USA]

1634-1638: Tulipmania strikes Holland

1642-1649: English Civil War Fought

Oliver Cromwell is important.

~1652: Taj Mahal construction completed [Architecture]

1647: Old Deluder Satan Act in Massachusetts
1647: requires small towns to provide education [USA]

: Basho (1644 - 1694) Lives [Person/Art]

Generally considered the first great haiku poet.

1669: Issac Newton (1642-1727) Lives [People]

~1690 - ~1730: "Golden Age" of Caribbean Piracy

1692: Salem Witch Hunts [US]

1699: Treaty of Carlowitz

After the Ottoman Empire expansion in the 1400s and 1500s, things calmed down in the 1600s until the Ottoman Empire again began trying to push into Europe. In contrast to the successes from 1450 to 1530, the push that began in 1681 failed miserably. This treaty comes at the end of a series of failures and marks the end of Islamic predominance (marks ... the end was probably earlier ... note that Europe was colonizing the new world and Islam was not).

Bernard Lewis has written on this subject.

1700: Snapshot

London has a population of about 300,000. Paris has a population of about 500,000. The world population is about 3/4 of a billion.

1703: Peter the Great founds St. Petersburg

Russia's window to Europe.

1720: South Sea Bubble collapses [Europe/Finance]

1720: Mississippi Bubble collapses [Europe/Finance]

1747: Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750) Composes "A Musical Offering"
1747: for King Fredrick of Prussia [Person/Art]

Can't forget to reference GEB by Hoffstadter.

1756-1763: Seven Years War Fought

The Seven Years War (in Europe) and the American portion of it (the French and Indian War, fought between 1754 and 1763) are fought between 1756 and 1763. George Washington acquires military experience in this war. When the war is over, the French have lost all their claims in Canada. Additionally, the British end the war with the uncontested rule of India (well, uncontested by any European power ...)

1760-1830: Enclosure Acts in England force small farmers off their land

1761: Canal building boom begins in west [Technology]

The Duke of Bridgewater constructs a canal between mines in Worsley and the city of Machester. This signals the start of a canal building boom that lasts until the invention of the railroad kills off canals.

1762: Catherine the Great deposes Peter III and becomes ruler of Russia

1764: James Watt Makes Practical Steam Engine

1769: Father Junipero Serra founds first mission in California[USA]

Note that the Texas missions were founded much earlier in 1682.

1776: American colonies revolt against British rule [U.S.]

One very good question is: What percentage of the revolting colonists actually would benefit from representation?

1781: Articles of Confederation Ratified [USA]

The Articles of Confederation are in effect from 1781 until 1789, when they were superceded by the U.S. Constitution. A compare-and-contrast of the two documents is very enlightening.

1786: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791) composes
1785: "The Marriage of Figaro" [Person/Art]

1788: British Penal Colony Botany Bay founded in Australia

1789: U.S. Constitution takes effect, replacing the Articles of Confederation [USA]

Background must include a sequence on the constitutional convention. Note especially the Federalist vs. Anti-Federalist arguments and the agreement to include a bill of rights later. Some key items from the convention:
  • Big vs. Small states
  • Bill of Rights
  • Slavery
  • Alexander Hamilton proposes a lifetime presidency
  • James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay write essays today known as Federalist Papers
  • Patrick Henry vs. James Madison on whether Virginia will ratify

1789: The French Revolution Begins

1790: U.S. Congress Decides to Not Default on Revolutionary War Debt [USA]

1793: Eli Whitney invents cotton gin

1799: Napoleon Bonaparte stages a coup d'etat and becomes ruler of France

Two important outcomes of this are: Key battles are the Battles of Austerlitz, Trafalgar and Waterloo. Napoleon's failed invasion of Russia is historic.

1800: Snapshot

London has a population of about 900,000. The world population is little under 1 billion. The court library in Dresden contains 170,000 books.

1801-1815: U.S. Navy fights Barbary Wars [USA]

Amazingly enough, the U.S. tried paying tribute before going to war.

1802: William Symington Demonstrates Practical Steamboat, the Charlotte Dundas

American histories tend to name Robert Fulton in 1807 as the first. They appear to be wrong.

1803: Marbury vs. Madison Supreme Court Case
1803: Creates Power of Judicial Review [USA]

1803: Louisiana Purchase: United States "purchases"
1803: the Louisiana territory from France [USA]

Details to cover: how France "got" it (from Spain). How Spain "got" it. Why France wanted it in the first place and then no longer needed it (revolt on Haiti). Jefferson technically couldn't purchase it (no Constitutional authority).

1804: Trevethick builds the first steam locomotive

In Britain. This locomotive is used on a tramway for an iron foundary.

1807: London streets begin to be lit by gaslights [Technology]

Gaslights are cheap relative to the alternatives and gas lighting spreads to individual homes. This change is similar to that of the electric light bulb years later.

1808: Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827) composes his Fifth Symphony [People/Art]

1812: U.S. and Great Britain fight "War of 1812" [U.S.]

1815: Congress of Vienna defines stable Europe for the next 100 years

1815: Napoleon Bonaparte finally defeated for good at the battle of Waterloo

1815: Eruption Indonisian Volcano of Tambora [Planet/Climate]

Tambora erupted, pumping into the atmosphere ten times the ash by the Krakatoa eruption. This led to "Year Without a Summer" in 1816. In the summer of 1816, New England and northern Europe saw both frost and snow.

1819: Simon Bolivar defeats Spanish at Boyar, becomes president of Columbia

~1820: World GDP growth accelerates from
~1820: about 0.1% annually to about 3.0% annually [Economic]

1824: U.S. Supreme Court rules that only Congress can regulate interstate commerce [US]

New York state had granted a monopoly on steamboat navigation of New York state waters to Robert Fulton and Robert Livingstone. After years of court cases, Thomas Gibbons (who was employing Cornelias Vanderbuilt at the time as a ship captain) won a unanimous ruling from the U.S. supreme court that this monopoly was illegal. This ruling was critical to U.S. economic development as it essentially created a free-trade zone spanning all the states.

John Steele Gordon has a wonderful description of this in "The Scarlet Woman of Wallstreet".

1825: Erie Canal completed [USA]

The completion of the Erie Canal drops the cost of transportation to and from New York city.

~1830: Westward migration begins - American Indians pushed off their lands[USA]

We need to know about Kit Carson, Daniel Boone, Buffalo Bill, Wyatt Earp, Wild Bill Hickok.

1830: Liverpool and Manchester Railway opens [Technology]

The Liverpool and Manchester Railway opens and the age or rail begins. Canal building essentially ceases soon after.

1831: Faraday Constructs Working Dynamo (Generator):
1831: Age of Electricity Begins [Technology]

1834: Cyrus McCormick Reaper allows for settling of great plains [USA]

Also required the steel plow developed by John Deere two years earlier.

1836: Battle of the Alamo (and War of Texas independance) [USA]

1837: Panic of 1837 [USA]

Among other things, the banking center of the US moves from Philadelphia to New York City as a result of this.

1838: Trail of Tears [U.S.]

In 1830, Congress passes the "Indian Removal Act", designed to move all American Indians west of the Mississippi river. In Georgia, where the Cherokee lived, the state government holds a lottery to distribute the Cherokee land to whites. The Cherokee resist and a U.S. supreme court ruling in Worcester v. Georgia holds that the Cherokee nation was sovereign and so its land can not be redistributed by a state government. For the Cherokee to lose their land, a treaty will need to be signed between the Cherokee government and the U.S. When negotiations with the Cherokee leadership go poorly, the U.S. government finds a group of Cherokee led by Major Ridge who are willing to sign a treaty agreeing to the removal. The U.S. senate ratifies the treaty (by one vote) even though it has been informed by the Cherokee leaders that the treaty has not been signed by Cherokee authorized to agree to the removal. Once the treaty is signed, the U.S. army forces the relocation of the Cherokee to Oklahoma. Along the way about 25% of the Cherokee die.

1839-1843: First Opium War

Opium wars: http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~dee/CHING/OPIUM.HTM

1844: Joint-Stock Companies Act passed in Britain

Special charters are no longer required to form limited liability companies in Britain.

1844: Samuel Morse sends the first electric telegram
1844: from Baltimore to Washington, D.C. [Technology]

1846-1850: Irish Potato Famine

Population of Ireland drops from 8 million before the famine to about 5 million after it. About 1 million die, most of the rest of the drop is due to migration. The migration effects the U.S. (which received about 1,000,000) as well as stoking Irish nationalism.


1846: Mormons begin migration to Utah[USA]

1849: California Gold Rush Begins[USA]

1851-1864: Taiping Rebellion [China]

1852: Massachusetts is the first state to both offer and require public education [USA]

Points to mention:

Separating School and State: How To Liberate American Families by Sheldon Richman

1853: Admiral Perry and his Black Ships open Japan to the outside world

1854-1856: Crimean War

The first "modern" war. This war included using railways and the telegraph as well as artillery spotters. Barrels with rifling were also used. The Charge of the Light Brigade took place in the Crimean War. Many/most Victoria Cross medals are manufactured from captured Russian gunmetal from the siege of Sevastopol.

1854: Dr. John Snow removes the handle from the Broad Street pump

Helping to end a Cholera epidemic and demonstrating that unclean water posed serious public health risks. This led to one of the more important advances in public health. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/snow_john.shtml

1855: Henry Bessemer Patents his Bessemer Steel Process: Age of Steel Begins

The Bessemer steel process allowed for large quantities of inexpensive steel. Prior to this, wrought iron was used in place of steel for cost reasons. After the Bessemer steel process, steel was as cheap as wrought iron and thus much preferred.

Iterestingly, the Chinese has invented a similar process in the second century B.C., but did not pursue it to make large volumes of cheap steel.

1858: Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace introduce theory of evolution [Science]

1859: Oil Discovered in Titusville, Pennsylvania [USA]

1859: Joshua A. Norton Proclaims Himself
1859: "Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico" [Trivia/Fun]

Image of Emperor Norton

1860-1861: Pony Express [Trivia]

The Pony Express isn't actually very important. It ran for only 18 months before being obsoleted by telegraph lines that connected California to the rest of the country. It does, however, seem to show up in a lot of books and thus might be reasonable background knowledge.

1861-1865: U.S. Civil War fought between North and South [USA]

1863: International Committee of the Red Cross Founded

Note: Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross in 1881. http://www.icrc.org/Web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/iwpList288/FAFDE5C21CBC5ACDC1256B66005B0E39

1864: Louis Pasteur (1822 - 1895) discovers pasteurization [People/Technology]

And lots of other things. A bio on Louis Pasteur is full of amazing accomplishments.

1865: Thirteenth Amendment Passed, Freeing Slaves in U.S. [USA]

Note that Lincoln's emancipation procolamation only freed slaves in the rebel states, not in Union slaveholding states (like ??).

1866: Transatlantic Cable Successfully Laid [Technology]

1867: Granger Movement Begins [USA]

1869: Transcontinental Railroad Completed [USA]

1870: John D. Rockefeller forms Standard Oil [USA]

1870?: Louis Pasteur develops a general technique for immunization [Technology]

Edward Jenner discovers in 1775 that cowpox can immunize against smallpox. His discovery is great, but not general. Louis Pasteur generalizes it.

1871: Second German reich proclaimed under Wilhelm I [Europe]

Long discussion about German principalities, Prussia and Bismark are appropriate.

1871: Henry Stanley finds Dr. David Livingstone in Africa:
1871: "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"

1876: First working telephone [Technology]

1877: Compromise of 1877 [U.S.]

Republican and Democratic congressmen reach an agreement whereby Rutherford B. Hayes becomes president and Federal troops are withdrawn from the former confederate states. Reconstruction of the South essentially comes to an end and legalized discrimination (and illegal lynchings and other violence) take a large upturn. The South stays a Democratic stronghold for decades.


1879: Thomas Edison and Sir Joseph Wilson Swan 'invent' the light bulb

1883: Krakatoa erupts [Planet/Climate]

1885: Maxim Machine gun demonstrated to British Army [Technology]

Predecessors included the gatling gun. Successors are too many to mention.

1882: Robert Koch (1843 - 1910) formalizes Kosh's Postulates [People/Technology]

for proving a specific organism causes a specific disease

1885: Home Insurance Building in Chicago is the world's first skyscraper [Technology]

Image of the Home Insurance Building

Note that a skyscraper is defined not by height, but by the fact that the building's walls do not carry the structural load. The structural load is carried instead by a steel frame. The frame allows for buildings to be quite high, but the height itself doesn't make a building a skyscraper.

1886: American Federation of Labor founded by Samual Gompers and others [USA]

1889: Eiffel Tower constructed [Architecture]

Image of the Eiffel Tower

1891: First Sears-Roebuck catalogue issued [U.S.]

Note that Montgomery Ward started doing mail order in 1872..

1892: Ellis Island immigration station opened [USA]


1892: Peak of Lynching in American — 230 for the year [U.S.]

According to the Tuskegee Institute figures, between the years 1882 and 1951, 4,730 people were lynched in the United States: 3,437 Negro and 1,293 white.3 The largest number of lynchings occurred in 1892. Of the 230 persons lynched that year, 161 were Negroes and sixty-nine whites.
3. Guzman, Jessie P., ed., 1952 Negro Yearbook (New York, 1952), pp. 275-279.
This site has a good collection of extremely disturbing photos ...

A fairly well documented lynching was in New Orleans in 1890 of 11 Italians.

Literature Cross Reference: The United States of Lyncherdom, by Mark Twain To Kill a Mockingbird

1893: Panic of '93 [USA]

1897: Nikola Tesla patents radio communication [Technology]

In 1893, Nikola Tesla demonstrates wireless communication (radio) and then describes his discoveries in articles and lectures. In 1895, Marconi shows a radio in London. In 1897, Tesla applies for a U.S. patent (#645576) on radio communication (it is granted). In 1901, Marconi transmits radio over the Atlantic. In 1909, Marconi receives the Nobel Prize for wireless telegraphy. In 1943 the U.S. Supreme Court rules that Nikola Tesla must be considered the inventor of radio; it further rules that Marconi's 1904 patent has nothing new because of Telsa's earlier 1897 patent.

1898: Spanish-American War [USA]

When this is over, the U.S. acquires Guam and Puerto Rico as territories, as well as control over the Philippines and Cuba. Did the need to get ships from the Pacific to Cuba cause the Panama Canal to be created?

1899-1902: Boer War

Included scorched earth policies, concentration camps (?). Since the Afrikaans are more aparteid oriented than the british descendents, this probably affected SA politics ...

1900: Snapshot

World population is about 1.6 billion. The United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia and the United States are four of the five countries with the highest per-capita GDP. Literacy is increasing -- only 10% of the U.S. population age 14 and older is illiterate, compared to 20% in 1870. The life expectancy of a person born in the U.S. in 1900 is 47 years. In the U.S. six to nine mothers die of pregnancy related complications for every 1000 live births. Approximately 10% of U.S. infants die before reaching their first birthday.

  • Wealth
  • Health/Life expectancy
  • Literacy
  • Population center size
  • Item Ownership (cars, etc)
  • Housing
  • Work hours
  • Political rights

1902: Georges Melies produces the 14 minute movie "A Trip to the Moon"

Image from A Trip to the Moon

~1902: William Haviland Carrier invents the air conditioner [USA]

The ability to keep buildings cool makes cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas much more habitable than they would be without air conditioning. Without air conditioning, the population distribution of the U.S. would be much different than it is today. Additionally, the air conditioner enabled much faster economic development of the South.

1903: US 'creates' Panama out of a part of Columbia

1903: Orville and Wilbur Wright fly an airplane [Technology]

Image of Wright Flyer

1905: Battle of Tsushima

1908: Henry Ford introduces the Model T [Technology]

Image of 1908 Model T Advertisement

In October 1908, the Ford Motor Company introduces the Model T for $950. This is the first automobile that is inexpensive enough to be affordable by the masses. In 1927, production of the Model T ends, but only after 15 million have been produced.

There are several innovations here. The Model T was a reliable, inexpensive car. Henry Ford had the insight that selling many of them cheaply could make more money than selling fewer of them for more money each. Finally, with the Model T Henry Ford was able to move auto manufacturing away from a craft requiring highly skilled craftsmen to a low skilled job that could be done by anyone. This had huge implications for American society in the future.

1908: Tunguska Meteor [Planet]

1908: Fritz Haber patents the Haber Process [Technology]

In 1910 Carl Bosch commercializes it. Without the Haber process, it is estimated that the Earth's population would be only 60% of its current size. 1% of the world's energy is used making fertilizer.

1911: Ch'ing Dynasty in China falls

Things to know:

1912: Industrial Workers of the World lead massive textile strike
1912: in Lawrence, Massachusetts[USA]

1913: Sixteenth Amendment to U.S. Constitution
1913: allows for federal income tax [USA]

In 1895, the U.S. Supreme Court rules in Pollock v Farmer's Loan and Trust that federal income taxes are unconstitutional. In 1913, the U.S. Congress and 3/4 of the 48 states ratify the 16th amendment of the U.S. constitution (starting with Alabama in 1909 and reaching the necessary 3/4 with New Mexico in 1913), allowing for a federal tax on income (note that the question was never put to a popular vote ... one of the possible routes for modifying the U.S. constitution).

1913: Seventeenth Amendment to U.S. Constitution,
1913: Direct Election of Senators, Ratified [USA]

This amendment changed the balance of power between the states and the federal government. Originally, the Senate was composed of members appointed by the state government's that they were supposed to represent. After this amendment, Senators were directly elected by the populations of their states.

1913: Federal Reserve founded [USA]

1914: Harrison Narcotics Act passes [USA]

Prior to this law, drugs like morphine, heroin and opium were legal in the United States. After this law passed, they were not.


1914-1918: World War I devestates Europe [Europe]

1915: Albert Einstein formulates General Theory of Relavitivity

And special relativity earlier. General Theory implies atomic energy and atomic weapons. General Theory is more correct than Newtonian physics, too.

1917: Communists overthrow Kerensky led provisional democratic Russian government

1918-1919: Influenza Pandemic kills 20-40 million [Civilization]

In late 1918, an influenza (common flu!) epidemic broke out. When it was over, 20-40 million people were dead, including about 675,000 Americans. Spain was especially hard hit.


1919: Prohibition Begins [USA]

1919: Chicago Race Riot [USA]

Not special itself, but one example (and a not very well known one at that) of a long line of race riots that consume U.S. cities over the years. Watts (1965 and 1992) are more recent examples. Tulsa 1921 is another. For most of US history, race riots were primarily white-on-black violence.
1992Los Angeles

1920: 19th Amendment Ratified. Women given the right to vote [USA]

1920s: Great Chain Store Boom [USA]

Chains of retail stores are not new, but the 1920s sees a huge increase in their numbers. By 1929 about 7,000 separate chains operate almost 160,000 stores in the US [note to self -- try to find number for 1920]. Almost 30% of US retail sales are made by chain stores by the end of the 1920s.
Source: The History of American Business and Industry, p244

1923: Great Kanto Earthquake hits Tokyo, Japan, killing almost 200,000 [Asia]

On September 1, 1923 a magnitude 8.3 earthquake hits Tokyo, killing over 100,000.

At a time when thousands of homes and restaurants had lit fires, mostly gas ranges, for noon-day meal preparation, the quake hit, demolishing buildings and toppling contents of the traditional wood and paper Japanese houses. Flamable materials in the industrial plants and explosions at a munitions factory helped fuel the flames at such a pace that the normally well-prepared firefighters could not keep up. Broken water mains made water unavailable to fight the fires.

Deaths were estimated at nearly 100,000, with an additional 40,000 missing. Hundreds of thousands were left homeless in the resulting fires. Fires in the Honjo and Fukagawa districts of Tokyo surrounded over 30,000 people who took refuge in a large open area. The meager possessions they had fled with became additional fuel for the firestorm and they were literally incinerated on this spot.


Another big earthquake was Tangshan, China on July 28, 1976. The earthquake measured 8.2 on the Richter scale and killed between 240,000 and 650,000 people (standard problem with disasters in communist countries ... the official number reported tends to support whatever point the government is trying to make).

1925: Middle of Prohibition: Al Capone rules Chicago [USA]

This is of interest because in essence, Al Capone rules Chicago with no effective interference from any legal authority.

Also worth mentioning is the Mafia.

Also worth mentioning is how/if prohibition effected drinking in the USA.

1929: Dirigible Graf Zeppelin circles the world [Technology]

1929: Great Crash on Wallstreet and beginning of Great Depression [Civilization]

Note that the two events are contemperaneous, but the crash almost certainly did not *cause* the great depression. Elaboration to follow.

1932: Gerhard Domagk Discovers First Sulfa Drug [Science/Technology]

1933: President Roosevelt's New Deal Announced [USA]

1934: First United States firearms control law passed [USA]

Rather than ban outright the purchase of machine guns and sawed-off shotguns-the weapons of choice for the mobsters-Congress in 1934 simply imposed a tax those weapons. Paying the tax required registering the weapon. The registration requirement was intended to discourage ownership of such weapons without outlawing them. No self-respecting gangster would want to register, much less pay the tax, on his Tommygun. Their evasion of the tax gave the government another legal tool to use in arresting the gangsters and breaking up the mobs.


1936-1939: Spanish Civil War

Does this belong here? Is it important enough? Dara thinks so because of art (Picasso) and Franco is kinda important. Note that American's did fight here (Abraham Lincoln Brigade). Hemingway?

1939: World War II Begins as Germany invades Poland [Civilization]

The largest war in world history is fought, largely between 1939 and 1945 although Japan had invaded China earlier. The war was largely fought in Asia and Europe, although north Africa was also a theater. Additionally, the United States entered the war in late 1941 and fought inthe Asian, north African, and European theaters.

By the end of the war, roughly 50,000,000 people had died because of the war. Germany suffered approximately 3,500,000 military deaths and approximately 2,000,000 more civilian deaths out of a population of 78 million. It is, however, important to realize that a large number of the civilian deaths were caused by the Nazi government in concentration camps and would have occurred even without the war. Russia lost, incredibly, almost 30,000,000 people out of a population of slightly less than 200 million. China suffered about 10,000,000 deaths of which about 90% were civilian. Poland lost about 2,500,000 dead, almost all of which were civilian and almost all of which were killed in concentration camps (with, it must be added, largely the acquiescence of the Polish population). Japan suffered about 2,000,000 casualties out of a population of about 72,000,000. In comparison, the United States lost about 300,000 dead with almost no civilian casualties out of a population of about 130 million.

The war resulted in huge changes to the world's political makeup. England eventually lost its colonies, including Palestine and India in 1948. The Soviet Union occupied eastern Europe and the resulting United States - Soviet Union standoff defined the cold war until 1989. The United States finished the war with the only large intact economy and dominated the world economically well into the 1960s. The murder of 6,000,000 Jews in the holocaust gave moral impetus to the creation of the Jewish state of Israel in 1948.

1940: Florey and Chain develop useful Penicillin based on Fleming's 1928 discovery

Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin in 1928, experiments with it, and writes up a scientific paper in 1929. The paper is mostly ignored and Fleming doesn't know how to proceed with making a useful antibiotic from his finding.

In 1940, with World War II in full swing, Howard Florey and Ernst Chain use Fleming's work to produce useful antibiotic drugs. In 1945, all three are awarded the Nobel Prize for their work.

1941: First Commercial Television Broadcast [Technology]

July 1, 1941 by WNBT.

1943: ENIAC, World's first electronic digital computer completed [Technology]

1947: Transistor Invented [Technology]

1947: India Achieves Independence

And things are botched just like they are with Palestine. India and Pakistan fight three wars over the next 50 years for the disputed Kashmir.

1948: Modern State of Israel Founded

On May 14th, David Ben Gurion declares the founding of the State of Israel. On the 15th, Israel is attacked by Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. Many Palestinian's flee in the weeks leading up to the war and during the war itself. This is encouraged by the Arab leaders. These people are the first Palestinian refugees.

The result of the war was that Israel finished with slightly more territory than it had been granted by the U.N. mandate, and that most of the territory set aside for a Palestinian state had been conquered by Egypt and Jordan.


Emphasis here is on wars between Israel and its neighbors and the Israeli nuclear weapons program.

Should Recognize

David Ben GurionGolda MeirMoshe Dayan

1948: Harry S. Truman desegregates federal workforce [USA]

On July 26, 1948 by Harry S. Truman signs executive order 9980 (executive order 9981, signed on the same day, ordered the armed forces to desegregate "immediately"). Notice that he does this less than four months before the 1948 presidential election.

1948-1949: Berlin Airlift — Cold War Begins

Don't forget to mention the candy drops :-)

1949: Communists defeat Nationalists for control of Mainland China

In 1949, the Kuomintang are finally defeated following decades of civil war (interrupted by Japan invading China). Mao, chairman of the Chinese communist party since 1935, becomes the the leader of communist China.

Two key humanitarian disasters eventually follow:

1950-1953: Korean War Fought

1954: Brown vs. Board of Education [USA]

It is easy to imagine that Brown vs. Board of Education was largely targeted at Southern schools. Much of the rest of the country had (or had recently) racially segregated schools, too. California, for example, had segregated its public schools in 1869 and 1870.

The California court case Mendez v. Westminster (1947) was similar to Brown vs. Board of Education at the California level.

1957: Sputnik Launched [Technology/Civilization]

At 19:12 Greenwich Mean Time on October 4, 1957 a Soviet R-7 ICBM launches from Bailonur Cosmodrome. It carries a small satellite named Sputnik weighing less than 200 lbs. The space age begins.

The launch was a surprise to the world (especially the USA) even though the Soviets had provided enough information in advance that the launch should not have been a surprise.

1957: Programming language FORTRAN invented [Technology]

1958: Bank of America sends out the first 60,000 BankAmericards

Bank of America kicks off the use of all-purpose credit cards by mailing out 60,000 BankAmericards (the predecessor to Visa).

~1959-1975: Vietnam War Fought

1960: US FDA approves first birth control pill

1963: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers his "I have a Dream" Speech [USA]

About 200,000 people participate in a "March on Washington". At the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King gives his "I have a Dream" speech.

1964: Civil Rights Act Enacted [USA]

1965: Great Society Legislation Passed [USA]

1968: World Goes Berserk with Riots

These include riots at the U.S. Democratic Party Nominating Convention, students rioting in Paris, Watts, California being burned down, the Soviet Union crushing a rebellion on Czechoslovakia, Tet Offensive in Vietnam, ...

1969: Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin land on the moon [Civilization/Technology]

On 21-July, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin land on the moon. They successfully walk on the moon and then return to Earth.

1971: Microprocessor invented [Technology]

As with many modern technological inventions, the idea was "in the air" and which one we pick is a bit arbitrary based on where we draw a cut-line and say, "this has all the necessary ingredients." So: TI is mixed in here, too. See the TI TMS1000 and a patent awarded to Gary Boone in 1973.

However we score it, the microprocessor was invented by 1971 and maybe a few years earlier.

1971: U.S. goes off gold standard -- Bretton Wood's agreement is dead

1973: U.S. Supreme Court Rules in "Roe vs. Wade" that abortion rights
1973: are protected by the U.S. Constitution [USA]

1973: "Oil Shock" of first OPEC Oil Embargo

~1978: First of about 2,000,000 Boat People flee Vietnam

Discussion of re-education camps, new economic zones, casualty rates (high), piracy, education rates (low), and behavior of countries where they landed (not good for the boat people).

1980: Ronald Reagan defeats Jimmy Carter for U.S. Presidency [USA]

1982: CDC links AIDS to blood. The term AIDS is first used

1989: Berlin Wall falls, signaling the end of communism
1989: in the former Soviet Bloc [Civilization]

1990: Tim Berners-Lee invents the World Wide Web [Technology]

The World Wide Web introduces a fundamental change in how people can learn about things. The telegraph allowed for news to be broadcast across a continent (or the planet) immediately. Combined with newspapers, people would find out about important information a day or so after the event. Radio and television news programs sped things up a bit more. However, because all of the earlier media had limits on the amount of information they could broadcast or print, the editors still had a lot of control over what people would find out when. The WWW changes this ... people now can track the information they want instead of what the editors decide is important.

As an example ... on election night, it has been possible to follow the large races (president, local senator or representative) via the radio for quite a while. The WWW allows one to follow whichever races are desired (local dogcatcher, local initiatives, races in other states, etc.). This fundamental change in who filters the information is allowed by the WWW.

Jan 24, 2001: CJ Arrives

Sep 11, 2001: Hijacked Airliners are flown into the World Trade Center [USA]


Most filmography links and data courtesy of The Internet Movie Database
The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q & Christian Origins, by Burton L. Mack
This book discusses a gospel that was written around 50-80 AD. Because of the date of the gospel and the believed location of its composition, it may be a better source of what early Christians believed than the four canonical gospels. The book provides an excellent discussion of what life was like in the holy land in the first century AD.

The Day the Bubble Burst, by Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan-Witts
This book provides a social history of the events in 1929 leading up to the great Wall Street crash. It follows a number of individuals in the year leading up to the crash -- A.P. Giannini, the founder of Bank of America, John J. Raskob of General Motors, Billy Durant, Henry Ford, a collection of bank employees in Chicago who are embezeling to play the stock market, a flapper and others. The book is well written and an excellent read as well as being informative.

Who Wrote the New Testament?, by Burton L. Mack
This book discusses the history of the new testament. It addresses the questions of who wrote the individual books of the new testament and why.

Devil Take the Hindmost: A History of Financial Speculation, by Edward Chancellor

The Scarlet Woman of Wallstreet, by John Steele Gordon
This book provides a history of early Wall Street and early New York City as background. It then spends most of its time on the history of the Erie Railroad and on a biography of Cornelius Vanderbuilt, Jay Gould, Jim Fisk and Daniel Drew. Very well written.

The History of American Business & Industry, by Alex Groner, et.al.
A well written history of American Business from the 1600s through the very early 1970s. It covers the rise of American industry relative to European industry, covers the economic background to the American Revolutionary War, covers industry in World War II, the rise of franchises and mail order houses and advertising and lots more! Easy to browse.

Dungeon, Fire and Sword: The Knights Templar in the Crusades, by John P. Robinson
A history of the Knights Templar from about 1052 (well before the order was founded) until a bit after 1314 (when the last grand master of the order was burned at the stake for heresy). The history of the Crusades that it provides is marvelous, beginning with an explanation of how the desire of the Pope to control the Eastern Orthodox church based in Constantinople combined with the desire of the Byzantine emperor to push back the Turks, a fight over the relative authority of the Pope and western rulers and a lack of land for younger sons of western nobles all came together in the first crusade.

The Mythmaker: Paul and the invention of Christianity, by Hyam Maccoby
An interesting, unorthodox view, on St. Paul and Jesus. Maccoby's thesis is that Jesus was a Pharisee and that Paul was not! Maccoby is a talmudic scholar (and so, I presume, Jewish) and comes at the issue of the history of Christianity from a different angle than Christian historians. Well argued and provocative. This is especially good to compare to Mack's version of early Christian history.

Massacre at Montsegur: A History of the Albigensian Crusade, by Zoe Oldenbourg
A history of the Albigensian Crusade held in southern France between 1209, when the crusade was called, and 1244, when the last Cathar stronghold fell. What is interesting and important about this crusade is that it was called in Europe, not the holy land, against heretic Christians, not Muslims. As with so many religious wars, there was a secular aspect as well with the French king gaining control over what had previously been an independent part of Europe.

The History of Islam, by Robert Payne
A history of Islam from the time of Mohammed through about 1950. The vast majority of the book covers the period before about 1200. One thing I like about the book is that it was written well before 2001 and only a few years after the founding of Israel in 1948. It thus has a better chance, I think, to be free of political slant.

Understanding the Bible, by Stephen L. Harris
This book covers the Bible (both old and new testaments) and the history at the time of the bible's stories and its writing.

The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of its Sacred Texts, by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman
This is a non-mainstream book that discusses the lack of archaeological evidence supporting the history told in the old testament (e.g. Jerusalem doesn't seem to have been very inhabited at the time of King David's rule, no evidence that Jericho was inhabited when the Israelites conquered it, etc.).

The Lives of the Popes, by Richard P. McBrien
This book is a collection of biographies of all of the popes. The more important popes get more text than the less important popes. Because of the effect of Christianity on history, the popes should not be ignored and this is a good introduction to both the popes and the history of the papacy itself.

Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything your American History Textbook Got Wrong, by James W. Loewen
This book is largely a collection of historical facts and stories that the author feels are wrongly excluded from typical K-12 American History textbooks. Examples include his belief that the textbooks tend to ignore the possibility that Columbus was not the first non-native American to find the American continent and that Helen Keller grew up to be a socialist. This book is very ideologically slanted (as an example from the introduction, "Students of color do only slightly worse than white students in mathematics..." Well, no, actually as a group students of color perform much worse than white students in mathematics ... almost one full standard deviation on the SAT math test in 1993 as an example. Why this is the case doesn't change the fact that the difference is almost one standard deviation, which is fairly large.), but contains enough good information to be worth reading.

And the Band Played on : Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic by Randy Shilts
An excellent (and pretty balanced!) history of AIDS from the mid-1970s through the late 1980s.

Target Switzerland: Swiss Armed Neutrality in World War II by Stephen P. Halbrook
A history of Switzerland preceding and during World War II. It largely addresses what Switzerland did so that it was not invaded by Nazi Germany (when France, Norway, Denmark, etc. were overrun). The author is obviously pro-Swiss, but the book is not obviously biased. There is no discussion on Swiss banking during World War II as the book focuses on the Swiss army, government and citizenry.

Diplomacy by Henry Kissinger
A history of European (and to some extent, American/Soviet) diplomacy from the time of Cardinal Richelieu to the present. Henry Kissinger writes well and has an excellent command of the subject. If, for example, one wants to understand how World War I started (and why), this is the book to read.

Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950 by Charles Murray
This isn't a history book, but the lists of great people is useful for a history outline.

The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, by Michael H. Hart
This book lists the 100 people that the author believes have had the greatest impact on history. Each individual gets a few page biographical sketch. Mr. Hart updates the book every so often and the list tends to change a bit as he does so. Interestingly, Mr. Hart is not a professional academic historian ...

University of Virginia Historical Census Browser
This is an on-line searchable database of U.S. census data. It includes some surprising data, like literacy data for white people in 1840.

Cartoon History of the Universe 1
Cartoon History of the Universe 2
Cartoon History of the Universe 3
, by Larry Gonick
Great overview in a cartoon format. Suitable for ages 8-10+.

199 Days the Battle for Stalingrad, by Edwin Hoyt
Excellent coverage of the Battle for Stalingrad in World War II. The first 70 pages or so set the context for this battle (which started in the second year of the Eastern front war, unlike the battle for Leningrad which started in the first).

A Picture Book of Amelia Earhart
A Picture Book of Eleanor Roosevelt
A Picture Book of Davy Crockett
A Picture Book of Christopher Columbus
A Picture Book of Benjamin Franklin
A Picture Book of George Washington Carver
A Picture Book of Simon Bolivar
A Picture Book of John F. Kennedy
A Picture Book of Sojurner Truth
A Picture Book of Louis Braille
A Picture Book of Sitting Bull
A Picture Book of Jackie Robinson
A Picture Book of Thurgood Marshall
A Picture Book of Robert E. Lee
A Picture Book of Dwight David Eisenhower
A Picture Book of George Washington
A Picture Book of Sacagawea
A Picture Book of Fredrick Douglass
A Picture Book of Anne Frank
A Picture Book of Abraham Lincoln
A Picture Book of Patrick Henry
A Picture Book of Rosa Parks
A Picture Book of Helen Keller
A Picture Book of Louis and Clark
A Picture Book of Jessie Owens
A Picture Book of Harriet Beecher Stowe
A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr.
A Picture Book of Samuel Adams (2005)
A Picture Book of Thomas Jefferson
A Picture Book of Florence Nightingale
A Picture Book of Paul Revere
A Picture Book of Harriet Tubman
A Picture Book of Thomas Alva Edison
by David Adler
Good biographies targeted at the K-2 level.

As an example, "A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr." has a LEX score of -29 and averages 11 words per sentence. It has a Lexile score of AD680L. The book is only a bit over 700 words long.

Landmark Books and World Landmark Books by various authors
185 history books targeted at ages 10-12. The typical book is about 30,000 words long and is a bit easier to read than "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." The books are very well written, unlike certain history textbooks.

The Victorian Internet by Tom Standage
This book seems to give a good history of the telegraph.

History's 100 Greatest Events, by Samuel Nisenson and William A. DeWitt
A history book with 100 1-2 page entries on what the authors consider to be "the highlights of human history. Here are the hundred most memorable and significant events from the dawn of civilization to the present day [1950]."

The list is quite good, although a bit too western oriented (e.g. it is missing the invention of paper!). The writing is excellent and the 1-2 page format makes this quite accessible to 2nd and 3rd graders. Reading one event per day is quite manageable.

Day Of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor, by Robert Stinnett
One of the eternal questions about the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor is, "Did FDR know it was coming and allow it to happen to get the United States into a war he was convinced the U.S. needed to be in to defeat Nazi Germany?" This book provides the case for a "yes" answer. The book is detailed and makes the case well, but should probably be read in conjunction with some other "no" case. Congress has investigated this question formally several times and has always concluded, "no" (of course, the U.S. Congress is not entirely impartial...)

Edward Drea wrote a highly negative review of this book in the April 2000 Journal, of Military History, so this might be a good starting point for the "other side". Additionally, "Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision" by Roberta Wohlstetter is highly recommended by the Wall Street Journal editorial staff.

It also appears, however, that the NSA has been withdrawing Pearl Harbor related documents since this book was published (which would seem to bolster the author's case).

It does appear to be uncontestable that FDR wanted the United States involved in the war against the Nazis and was willing to goad the Japanese into attacking the U.S. Whether FDR knew that blow would fall at Pearl Harbor and took steps to make that blow decisive enough to get the U.S. involved (without destroying too much of the Pacific navy) is a much harder issue to resolve.

Battlefield Britain, by Peter and Dan Snow
Eight episode BBC documentary on important battle in British history. Very well done.

The eight episodes cover:

  1. Boudicca's Revolt (61 AD)
  2. Hastings (1066 AD)
  3. Battle for Wales (1403 AD)
  4. Spanish Armada (1588 AD)
  5. Naseby (1645 AD)
  6. The Boyne (1690 AD)
  7. Culloden (1746 AD)
  8. Battle of Britain (1940 AD)

Calliope: A World History magazine for kids ages 9-14
Cobblestone: A U.S. History magazine for kids ages 9-14
Dig: A Archaeology magazine for kids ages 9-14
Monthly 48 page magazines targeted at 9-14 year olds. Each issue has a theme, like "The California Goldrush" or "Geronimo."

Temple, Tombs and Hieroglyphs, by Barbara Mertz
Excellent history of ancient Egypt. Perhaps a little dated (given the date written), but Barbara Mertz writes well and the coverage is good.

The American Story: 100 True Tales from American History

Before the Dawn, by Nicholas Wade

Guns, Germs and Steel

People's History of the American Revolution: How Common People Shaped the Fight for Independence
The First American Revolution: Before Lexington and Concord
Founding Myths: Stories that Hide our Patriotic Past
These three seem to be in the same category as Lies My Teacher Told Me.

Neato sites: