Timeline of American History from 1871 to 1875

stock illustration of Ulysses Grant

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  • President Ulysses S. Grant creates the Civil Service Commission.
  • The Indian Appropriation Act of 1871 is passed. Tribes will no longer be seen as independent but as wards of the State.
  • The Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 is passed. This act allows the president to send in troops to enforce the 14th amendment.
  • The Treaty of Washington between the United States and Great Britain is ratified. This treaty allows for a commission to settle fishing and boundary disputes between the two countries.
  • The New York Times writes investigated articles about William "Boss" Tweed that reveal the level of corruption in New York City. He is eventually brought to trial.
  • Brigham Young is arrested for polygamy.
  • The Chicago fire leads to the destruction of most of the city.


  • Yellowstone Park is created as a public preserve.
  • The Freedman's Bureau set up during Reconstruction is effectively ended.
  • The Credit Mobilier Scandal takes occurs. In the scandal, key government officials created a company called of the same name that awarded itself construction contracts to build the railways. 
  • Ulysses S. Grant wins a second term by a landslide.
  • William "Boss" Tweed is convicted of all counts and sentenced to 12 years in prison. He dies while in prison.


  • The Coinage Act of 1873 is passed. This act removes silver from the coinage in order to more forcefully advocate for the gold standard.
  • Oakes Ames, the man responsible for the Credit Mobilier Scandal is found guilty of bribery. However, he ends up only get censured.
  • The "Salary Grab" Act is passed. This act provides for increases in salaries for the congress, the supreme court, and the president by 50% and also is retroactive for the previous two years. The uproar is so great that Congress eventually rescinds the raises for themselves but keeps them in place for the Supreme Court and president.
  • The Panic of 1873 starts a five-year depression, during this time over 10,000 businesses will fail. The stock exchange closes for 10 days.


  • Morrison R. Waite is named the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
  • Former President Millard Fillmore dies at the age of 74.
  • The Chautauqua movement begins when Lewis Miller and John H. Vincent start a summer training of Sunday school teachers. It will eventually broaden to include many subjects.
  • For the first time since the beginning of the Civil War, the Democratic Party regains control of the House of Representatives.
  • The Women's Christian Temperance Union is formed when individuals from 17 states meet in Cleveland, Ohio.


  • The Specie Resumption Act passes Congress. It allows for legal tender to be exchanged for gold. The act also reduces the number of greenbacks in circulation.
  • The U.S. makes a treaty with Hawaii allowing the import of goods to be duty-free. It also asserts that no other power can take over Hawaii.
  • The Civil Rights Act is passed, which states that no one can be denied equal access to public facilities.
  • The Whiskey Ring Scandal occurs. In this scandal, it is shown that officials have been skimming millions from the distilleries. The leader, John McDonald, is a friend of President Grant's. In addition, Grant's personal secretary, Orville Babcock is involved.
  • Former President Andrew Johnson dies at the age of 66.
  • The "Molly Maguires," an Irish miners group, is broken up after their leadership is convicted of murder for its harsh tactics in Pennsylvania. However, their efforts did bring to light the terrible conditions of the miners and eventually led to improvements.
  • The Second Sioux War begins and lasts through the fall and winter. By the following summer, they will have been defeated through the efforts of the U.S. military.
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Your Citation
Kelly, Martin. "Timeline of American History from 1871 to 1875." ThoughtCo, Dec. 5, 2020, thoughtco.com/american-history-timeline-1871-1875-104309. Kelly, Martin. (2020, December 5). Timeline of American History from 1871 to 1875. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/american-history-timeline-1871-1875-104309 Kelly, Martin. "Timeline of American History from 1871 to 1875." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/american-history-timeline-1871-1875-104309 (accessed June 5, 2023).