Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

Read about major events in U.S. History from 1900–1949, including the San Francisco earthquake, Great Depression, World War II, and more.

1900Galveston hurricane leaves an estimated 6,000 to 8,000 dead (Sept. 8). According to the census, the nation's population numbers nearly 76 million. 
1901McKinley's second inauguration (March 4). He is shot (Sept. 6) by anarchist Leon Czolgosz in Buffalo, N.Y., and later dies from his wounds (Sept. 14). He is succeeded by his vice president, Theodore Roosevelt. 
1903U.S. acquires Panama Canal Zone (treaty signed Nov. 17). Wright brothers make the first controlled, sustained flight in heavier-than-air aircraft at Kitty Hawk, N.C. (Dec. 17).
Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk
Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk
1905Theodore Roosevelt's second inauguration (March 4). 
1906San Francisco earthquake leaves 500 dead or missing and destroys about 4 sq mi of the city (April 18). 
1908Bureau of Investigation, forerunner of the FBI, is established (July 26).  
1909William Howard Taft is inaugurated as the 27th president (March 4). Mrs. Taft has 80 Japanese cherry trees planted along the banks of the Potomac River.
Cherry Trees in Blossom at the Washington Monument
Cherry Trees in Blossom at the Washington Monument
1913Woodrow Wilson is inaugurated as the 28th president (March 4). Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, providing for the direct election of U.S. senators by popular vote rather than by the state legislatures (April 8). 
1914–1918World War I: U.S. enters World War I, declaring war on Germany (April 6, 1917) and Austria-Hungary (Dec. 7, 1917) three years after conflict began in 1914. Armistice ending World War I is signed (Nov. 11, 1918). 
1914Panama Canal opens to traffic (Aug. 15). 
1915First long distance telephone service, between New York and San Francisco, is demonstrated (Jan. 25). 
1916U.S. agrees to purchase Danish West Indies (Virgin Islands) for $25 million (treaty signed Aug. 14). Jeannette Rankin of Montana is the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives (Nov. 7).
Jeannette Rankin
Jeannette Rankin
1917Wilson's second inauguration (March 5). First regular airmail service begins, with one round trip a day between Washington, DC, and New York (May 15).  
1918Worldwide influenza epidemic strikes; by 1920, nearly 20 million are dead. In U.S., 500,000 perish. 
1919League of Nations meets for the first time; U.S. is not represented (Jan. 13). Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, prohibiting the manufacture, sale, and transportation of liquor (Jan. 16). It is later repealed by the Twenty-First Amendment in 1933. Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, granting women the right to vote (Aug. 18). President Wilson suffers a stroke (Sept. 26). Treaty of Versailles, outlining terms for peace at the end of World War I, is rejected by the Senate (Nov. 19). 
1921Warren G. Harding is inaugurated as the 29th president (March 4). He signs resolution declaring peace with Austria and Germany (July 2). 
1923President Harding dies suddenly (Aug. 2). He is succeeded by his vice president, Calvin Coolidge. Teapot Dome scandal breaks, as Senate launches an investigation into improper leasing of naval oil reserves during Harding administration (Oct.) 
1925Coolidge's second inauguration (March 4). Tennessee passes a law against the teaching of evolution in public schools (March 23), setting the stage for the Scopes Monkey Trial (July 10–25). 
1927Charles Lindbergh makes the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight in his plane The Spirit of St. Louis (May 20–21).
Charles Lindbergh
Charles Lindbergh
1929Herbert Hoover is inaugurated as the 31st president (March 4). Stock market crash precipitates the Great Depression (Oct. 29). 
1931The Star-Spangled Banner is adopted as the national anthem (March 3). 
1932Hattie Wyatt Caraway of Arkansas is the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate, to fill a vacancy caused by the death of her husband (Jan. 12). She is reelected in 1932 and 1938. Amelia Earhart completes first solo nonstop transatlantic flight by a woman (May 21).
Hattie Wyatt Caraway
Hattie Wyatt Caraway
1933Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution, sometimes called the “Lame Duck Amendment,” is ratified, moving the president's inauguration date from March 4 to Jan. 20 (Jan. 23). Franklin Roosevelt is inaugurated as the 32nd president (March 4). New Deal recovery measures are enacted by Congress (March 9–June 16). Twenty-First Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, repealing Prohibition (Dec. 5). 
1935Works Progress Administration is established (April 8). Social Security Act is passed (Aug. 14). Bureau of Investigation (established 1908) becomes the Federal Bureau of Investigation under J. Edgar Hoover 
1937F. Roosevelt's second inauguration (Jan. 20). 
1938Fair Labor Standards Act is passed, setting the first minimum wage in the U.S. at 25 cents per hour (June 25).  
1939–1945 World War II: U.S. declares its neutrality in European conflict (Sept. 5, 1939). F. Roosevelt's third inauguration (Jan. 20, 1941). He is the first and only president elected to a third term. Japan attacks Hawaii, Guam, and the Philippines (Dec. 7, 1941). U.S. declares war on Japan (Dec. 8). Germany and Italy declare war on the United States; U.S. reciprocates by declaring war on both countries (Dec. 11). Allies invade North Africa (Oct.–Dec. 1942) and Italy (Sept.–Dec. 1943). Allies invade France on D-Day (June 6, 1944). F. Roosevelt's fourth inauguration (Jan. 20, 1945). President Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin meet at Yalta in the USSR to discuss postwar occupation of Germany (Feb. 4–11). President Roosevelt dies of a stroke (April 12) and is succeeded by his vice president, Harry Truman. Germany surrenders unconditionally (May 7). First atomic bomb is detonated at Alamogordo, N.M. (July 16). President Truman, Churchill, and Stalin meet at Potsdam, near Berlin, Germany, to demand Japan's unconditional surrender and to discuss plans for postwar Europe (July 17–Aug. 2). U.S. drops atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan (Aug. 6). U.S. drops atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan (Aug. 9). Japan agrees to unconditional surrender (Aug. 14). Japanese envoys sign surrender terms aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo harbor (Sept. 2).
Atom Bomb at Hiroshima
Bomb cloud at Hiroshima
1945United Nations is established (Oct. 24). 
1946The Philippines, which had been ceded to the U.S. by Spain at the end of the Spanish-American War, becomes an independent republic (July 4). 
1947Presidential Succession Act is signed into law by President Truman (July 18). Central Intelligence Agency is established.  
1948Congress passes foreign aid bill including the Marshall Plan, which provides for European postwar recovery (April 2). Soviets begin blockade of Berlin in the first major crisis of the cold war (June 24). In response, U.S. and Great Britain begin airlift of food and fuel to West Berlin (June 26). 
1949Truman's second inauguration (Jan. 20). North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is established (April 4). Soviets end blockade of Berlin (May 12), but airlift continues until Sept. 30. 

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