Highlight Events of the 20th Century
By Tom Morrow
Now that the 20th Century is in the books, here’s a look at each decade for some of the highlights and top stories. I’ve missed a number events, nevertheless, the following are thumbnail sketches of the 20th century. This will give you a guide to add your personal important events.
1900-1910: President William McKinley was assassinated in 1901, elevating Vice President Theodore Roosevelt into the White House. Roosevelt captured the center of attention with his “trust-busting” crusades, transforming the nation’s business world. The United States took up the construction of the Panama Canal.
1910-1920: The SS Titanic, the world’s largest cruise ship, sank on her maiden voyage after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic. The Panama Canal is completed, and in June 1914, the future leader of the Austria-Hungary Empire was assassinated by a Serbian gunman, triggering the First World War. Millions died in what was believed to be “the war to end all wars.” The “Great War” ended on Nov. 11, 1918.
1920-1930: Prohibition of liquor production and sales became federal law. Charles Lindbergh flew solo non-stop from New York to Paris. The stock market crashed on Wall Street, wiping out the fortunes of thousands of Americans and triggering what led to a decade-long “Great Depression.”
1930-1940: A great migration of Middle-Westerners to the West coast took place as the “Dust Bowl” wiped out hundreds of farms. Prohibition created lawbreakers who brewed liquor in stills to bootlegging sales and led to a series of gangland wars. Charles and Anne Lindbergh’s baby boy was abducted and murdered, resulting in passage of a federal death penalty for kidnapping. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected president; his “New Deal” policies began to pull the U.S. out of the decade-long “Great Depression.” Prohibition ended, and on Sept. 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland, triggering the Second World War, which became the 20th century’s most-deadly series of events.
1940-1950: On Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor pulling the U.S. into World War II. The Battle of Midway turned the tide for the U.S. in the Pacific; D-Day, June 6, 1944, the world’s largest-ever amphibious assault took place on France’s Normandy coast, but the European war was nearly lost during the Battle of the Bulge.in December 1945, FDR died on April 12, 1945. Germany surrendered on May 8, 1945. President Harry Truman OKed dropping two atom bombs on Japan, thus ending World War II on Aug. 14, 1945. World War II transformed the U.S. from a sleepy, isolated agrarian nation to a great industrial and military world power.
1950-1960: The Korean “police action” began, pulling the U.S., and other United Nations back into combat against North Korea and ultimately “Red” China. Communism from the Soviet Union triggered a “Cold War” as Russia dropped an “Iron Curtain” around central European nations. Americans spent the remainder of the decade worried about a nuclear war with Russia. U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy forced Congressional hearings to hunt down so-called “communist sympathizers.” Hundreds of lives were ruined for alleged communist activities. Spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed for passing atomic bomb secrets to the Soviet Union. In October1957, Russia launched the world’s first satellite into space; the U.S. lagged months behind. In late 1960, the Soviets put a man into space.
1960-1970: The U.S. finally achieved manned space flights. U.S. Sen. John F. Kennedy was elected president only to be assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963, with Vice President Lyndon Johnson becoming president, the U.S. began sending troops and military aid to South Vietnam in an effort to stop the communist North Vietnam from taking control of South Vietnam. Race riots marred much of the decade; Congress passed the history-making Civil Rights law. And, the biggest event of the decade: American astronauts landed on the Moon.
1970-1980: President Richard Nixon escaped formal impeachment by resigning office after a series of illegal acts. The Vietnam War dragged on; Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter, a peanut farmer was elected president. Race riots continued periodically around the nation.
1980-1990: Former movie star and California Gov. Ronald Reagan was elected president and an attempted assassination marred the first year of his presidency. The U.S. space shuttles go into service, but after number of successful missions, “Challenger” blew up killing all crewmembers.
1990-2000: President George H.W. Bush launched “Operation Desert Storm” against Iraq for invading neighboring Kuwait. Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton was elected president and was impeached and acquitted for sexual misconduct. At the turn of the century, George W. Bush was elected president by defeating Vice President Al Gore in tight election. George “W” won the presidency with the most electoral votes despite Gore getting most popular votes.
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