1800–1849

Read about major events in U.S. History from 1800–1849, including the War of 1812, Monroe Doctrine, siege of the Alamo, and more.

1800The U.S. capital is moved from Philadelphia to Washington, DC (June 15). U.S. Congress meets in Washington, DC, for the first time (Nov. 17). Gabriel Prosser, an enslaved African American blacksmith, organizes a slave revolt intending to march on Richmond, Virginia. The conspiracy is uncovered, and Prosser and a number of the rebels are hanged. Virginia's slave laws are consequently tightened.  
1801Thomas Jefferson is inaugurated as the third president in Washington, DC (March 4). 
1803Marbury v. Madison: Landmark Supreme Court decision greatly expands the power of the Court by establishing its right to declare acts of Congress unconstitutional (Feb. 24). Louisiana Purchase: United States agrees to pay France $15 million for the Louisiana Territory, which extends west from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains and comprises about 830,000 sq mi (treaty signed May 2). As a result, the U.S. nearly doubles in size.
Map of Louisiana Purchase
Louisiana Purchase
1804Lewis and Clark set out from St. Louis, Mo., on expedition to explore the West and find a route to the Pacific Ocean. (May 14). 
1805Jefferson's second inauguration (March 4). Lewis and Clark reach the Pacific Ocean (Nov. 15). 
1809James Madison is inaugurated as the fourth president (March 4).
James Madison
James Madison
1812–1814War of 1812: U.S. declares war on Britain over British interference with American maritime shipping and westward expansion (June 18, 1812). Madison's second inauguration (March 4, 1813). British capture Washington, DC, and set fire to White House and Capitol (Aug. 1814). Francis Scott Key writes Star-Spangled Banner as he watches British attack on Fort McHenry at Baltimore (Sept. 13–14, 1814). Treaty of Ghent is signed, officially ending the war (Dec. 24, 1814).  
1817James Monroe is inaugurated as the fifth president (March 4).
James Monroe
James Monroe
1819Spain agrees to cede Florida to the United States (Feb. 22). McCulloch v. Maryland: Landmark Supreme Court decision upholds the right of Congress to establish a national bank, a power implied but not specifically enumerated by the Constitution. 
1820Missouri Compromise: In an effort to maintain the balance between free and slave states, Maine (formerly part of Massachusetts) is admitted as a free state so that Missouri can be admitted as a slave state; except for Missouri, slavery is prohibited in the Louisiana Purchase lands north of latitude 36°30' (March 3).  
1821Monroe's second inauguration (March 5). 
1822Denmark Vesey, an enslaved African American carpenter who had purchased his freedom, plans a slave revolt with the intent to lay siege on Charleston, South Carolina. The plot is discovered, and Vesey and 34 coconspirators are hanged.  
1823Monroe Doctrine: In his annual address to Congress, President Monroe declares that the American continents are henceforth off-limits for further colonization by European powers (Dec. 2).  
1824Gibbons v. Ogden: Landmark Supreme Court decision broadly defines Congress's right to regulate interstate commerce (March 2).  
1825John Quincy Adams is inaugurated as the sixth president (March 4). Erie Canal, linking the Hudson River to Lake Erie, is opened for traffic (Oct. 26).
View of Erie Canal by John William Hill, 1829
View of Erie Canal by John William Hill, 1829
1828Construction is begun on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, the first public railroad in the U.S. (July 4). 
1829Andrew Jackson is inaugurated as seventh president (March 4). 
1830President Jackson signs the Indian Removal Act, which authorizes the forced removal of Native Americans living in the eastern part of the country to lands west of the Mississippi River (May 28). By the late 1830s the Jackson administration has relocated nearly 50,000 Native Americans.  
1831Nat Turner, an enslaved African American preacher, leads the most significant slave uprising in American history. He and his band of about 80 followers launch a bloody, day-long rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia. The militia quells the rebellion, and Turner is eventually hanged. As a consequence, Virginia institutes much stricter slave laws.  
 William Lloyd Garrison begins publishing the Liberator, a weekly paper that advocates the complete abolition of slavery. He becomes one of the most famous figures in the abolitionist movement.  
1833Jackson's second inauguration (March 4). 
1836Texas declares its independence from Mexico (March 1). Texan defenders of the Alamo are all killed during siege by the Mexican Army (Feb. 24–March 6). Texans defeat Mexicans at San Jacinto (April 21).
Alamo
The Alamo
1837Martin Van Buren is inaugurated as the eighth president (March 4). 
1838More than 15,000 Cherokee Indians are forced to march from Georgia to Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma. Approximately 4,000 die from starvation and disease along the “Trail of Tears.” 
1841William Henry Harrison is inaugurated as the ninth president (March 4). He dies one month later (April 4) and is succeeded in office by his vice president, John Tyler. 
1845U.S. annexes Texas by joint resolution of Congress (March 1). James Polk is inaugurated as the 11th president (March 4). The term “manifest destiny” appears for the first time in a magazine article by John L. O'Sullivan (July–August). It expresses the belief held by many white Americans that the United States is destined to expand across the continent.  
1846Oregon Treaty fixes U.S.-Canadian border at 49th parallel; U.S. acquires Oregon territory (June 15). 
 The Wilmot Proviso, introduced by Democratic representative David Wilmot of Pennsylvania, attempts to ban slavery in territory gained in the Mexican War The proviso is blocked by Southerners, but continues to enflame the debate over slavery. 
1846–1848Mexican War: U.S. declares war on Mexico in effort to gain California and other territory in Southwest (May 13, 1846). War concludes with signing of Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (Feb. 2, 1848). Mexico recognizes Rio Grande as new boundary with Texas and, for $15 million, agrees to cede territory comprising present-day California, Nevada, Utah, most of New Mexico and Arizona, and parts of Colorado and Wyoming.  
1848Gold is discovered at Sutter's Mill in California (Jan. 24); gold rush reaches its height the following year. Women's rights convention is held at Seneca Falls, N.Y. (July 19–20). 
1849Zachary Taylor is inaugurated as the 12th president (March 5).
Zachary Taylor
Zachary Taylor
 Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery and becomes one of the most effective and celebrated members of the Underground Railroad.  

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