In many ways, 20th century was the time when United States truly emerged as a global power, and ultimately as a superpower.
This was the period when the country fully embraced modernism and began to take an active part in events all over the world.
Following are some of the most important and famous events of 20th century America.
18th Amendment and the 1917 Nationwide Ban on Liquor Read more about the 18th Amendment >>
Suffrage refers to the right of someone to be able to vote in elections and express their political opinion Read more about the 19th Amendment – Suffrage >>
The First Red Scare was a period in American history that stretched from 1917 to 1921 Read more about the First Red Scare 1917 >>
Japanese population growth - the Native California residents start resenting their growing numbers Read more about the Gentleman’s Agreement of 1907 >>
President Roosevelt declared the Grand Canyon as a 'national monument'. Read more about the Grand Canyon >>
On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated during a trip to Texas Read more about the Kennedy Assassination >>
The Ludlow Massacre took place in Ludlow, Colorado. It took place on April 20, 1914. Read more about the Ludlow Massacre >>
Opening of Panama Canal was completed and ships started using it in 1914 Read more about the Opening of Panama Canal 1914 >>
During the Prohibition it was illegal for anyone to make, sell and transport alcohol Read more about the Prohibition Begins 1919 >>
The Stock Market Crash of 1929 had a devastating effect on the American economy! Read more about the Stock Market Crash of 1929 >>
American stock market crash in 1929 - The beginning of the Great Depression. Read more about the The Great Depression >>
The 'Roaring Twenties' was an incredibly prosperous period in American history Read more about the The Roaring Twenties >>
Titanic began its first journey in 1912 in which it famously hit an iceberg and sank Read more about the The Sinking of Titanic 1912 >>
In 1903, the Wright Brothers made their first powered flight. The brothers had been experimenting with aeronautical devices and vehicles for a while. In 1903, they were successful in launching a powered aircraft and flying it for a few seconds. This marked the first powered flight of an aircraft and became the precursor to the airplanes that would later follow, building upon this remarkable breakthrough.
World War I broke out in 1914. United States initially decided to stay neutral in the conflict between European powers. However, certain actions of the Germans against United States forced the country to enter the war in 1917.
American entry into the war came at a time when the Entente powers were being defeated by German forces. With American support, the Entente forces were able to regain the upper hand.
The manpower and other resources provided by the United States played a very important role in defeating the Allied forces which included Germany, Austria-Hungary and other allies. Nearly a year and a half after United States had entered the war, it concluded with the defeat of Allied forces.
In 1920, the United States government imposed a country-wide ban on alcoholic beverages. This was done in the light of the negative effects of alcohol consumption on the lifestyle of the American people.
The ban came to be known as the Prohibition Era. This ban lasted all the way until 1933. During this period, the production, sale, transport or import of alcoholic drinks was made completely illegal.
Many criminal groups benefited from this ban and started creating illegal alcoholic beverages. Alcholic drinks were sold at steep prices which made these criminal groups very rich and powerful in a short period. Famous among these was the criminal organization of Al Capone.
Until the 20th century, women in United Stated did not have the right to vote. The women started campaigning for their right to vote as early as 1848. This movement continued for nearly 70 years before their right to vote was recognized.
As the United States moved from the 19th century to the 20th century, women became more and more involved in public life. They started taking on serious jobs, rose to important roles and became more active and organized.
In 1920, the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified. This amendment was largely a result of the efforts of various women groups. As per this amendment, women finally received the right to vote, although not all the states approved the amendment.
During the World War I, Native Americans fought in the American army in large numbers. Many distinguished themselves through acts of valor. Once the war was over, the United States government decided to reward the Indians. To this end, a survey was done of the conditions at the reservations where Native Americans lived.
The survey showed that they lived in shockingly poor conditions. So the Indian Reorganization Act was passed by the Congress in 1934. The act was a turning point in many ways. It sought greater involvement of the Native Americans in their tribal affairs and lesser involvement of the government. It also raised awareness among the Native Americans to seek their basic rights.
In March 1930, construction of the Empire State Building began. It was built to be 86 stories high and stood at around 1250 feet high when completed. This made it the world’s tallest building, a distinction it held for several decades. The building was completed in May 1931. In only around thirteen months, the world’s tallest building was completed. The building instantly became a symbol of the American economy and culture. It was used as an icon in movies, newspapers and other mediums.
In 1929, the Great Depression hit the United States. It began with the crash of the Wall Street which brought the stock market crashing down. This led to the failure of many banks and the economy of the country began to decline. The unemployment rates grew sky-high and poverty became rampant.
By 1931, 6 million Americans were looking for work but could find none. Industrial production fell, farms no longer turned a profit and people could not afford to buy items like automobiles anymore. The government, under the leadership of President Herbert Hoover, was blamed for doing little to elevate the situation. So in 1932, Franklin Roosevelt was elected in his place. The economic depression lasted until 1939, with some ups and downs.
During the Prohibition Era, Al Capone emerged as one of the most notorious criminals in the United States. He became the leader of the mafia organization in Chicago and became rich by selling illegal alcohol during the Prohibition period. He also had several of his rivals killed to become one of the most powerful criminals of the time.
After several failed attempts to nab him, Al Capone was finally indicted on charges of tax evasion in 1931. The imprisonment of Al Capone marked an end to the reign of terror that he and his gang had unleashed. A group of exceptionally honest law enforcement personnel, known as The Untouchables, played an instrumental role in the indictment and jail of Al Capone.
In 1939, World War II broke out. This was to be the most deadly and large-scale armed conflict in the history of mankind. Germany, Italy and Japan fought on one side while most of the other European powers, including Britain, fought on the other side.
United States initially decided to stay out of the war. But then the attack on Pearl Harbor took place in December, 1941. In retaliation to this deadly attack, United States declared war on Japan and its allies. The US then contributed warships, soldiers, commanders and more to the war effort against Japan, Germany and Italy.
The resources provided by the United States, the strategic command of US commanders at several battles, played a vital role in winning the war and defeating Germany. Japan was also forced to surrender by the US forces in August, 1945.
In December, 1941, World War II was underway . United States initially decided to stay neutral during the war. But on December 7, 1941, Japanese aircrafts launched a surprise attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor. This attack was done without any prior declaration of war and took the American forces unawares.
The preventive attack began at around 8 a.m. The United States lost around 188 aircraft during the fight, most of which could not take off and were destroyed where they stood. More than 2,000 American soldiers were killed. Before the attack, most Americans opposed any involvement in the war. But after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Americans ‘united’ in their resolve for fighting Imperial Japan and its allies in the World War II.
The Cold War between United States and USSR was at its peak during the 1940s and 1950s. At about the same time, both nations started experimenting with artificial satellites, rocket planes and other spacecraft.
The Soviet Union was the first launch an artificial satellite named Sputnik. Alarmed by this, the United States established National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Also known as NASA, this organization played a vital role the space race between the two nations. It would subsequently become the leader in space-related technologies and developments.
During the Cold War, socialist influence in Southeast Asia affected several countries such as Laos, Cambodia, Korea and Vietnam. The Soviet Union supported socialist activists in these countries where United States wishes to stop the spread of socialism and communism.
To this end, when socialist forces launched a military effort in Vietnam, United States countered it. This was first done by providing monetary aid and weapons. From 1955 onwards, US became more actively involved in the war. The war dragged on for nearly two decades.
By 1973, the United States had lost more than 50,000 soldiers in the war and the conflict was still unresolved. The US army and government finally agreed to withdraw from the conflict and Vietnam chose the socialist side.
John F. Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States. He was assassinated on November 22, 1963 when he was visiting the state of Texas. President Kennedy was riding in a motorcade with his wife and the Governor of Texas when he was shot.
Lee Harvey Oswald, a former U.S. marine, was accused of shooting and assassinating the President. Oswald himself was later shot when he was being transferred to county jail. For this reason, it is widely believed that a conspiracy was hatched to assassinate President Kennedy.