Interesting Timeline of Presidents and American Firsts

Presidential Timeline with Interesting Firsts
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George Washington

The first President of the United States, George Washington was elected by Congress on February 4, 1789 and on April 30, Washington took the presidential oath of office.

  • Congress submits Bill of Rights to the states on September 25, 1789. The Bill of Rights became part of the Constitution on December 15, 1791.
  • In 1790, the first US Census took place.
  • The first hot air balllon ride in the US took place.

    John Adams

    John Adams was elected in December of 1796.

    • Printed magazines (periodicals) became popular.
    • Experiments with gas light took place in Philadelphia.
    • The city of Philadelphia also created underground tunnels for distributing water around the city.

    Thomas Jefferson

    Jefferson was elected February 17, 1801.

    • Canals were built to improve transportation.
    • The Union Hotel, the nation's first modern style hotel opened. 
    • The Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804-1806 took place.

    James Madison

    Madison was elected in 1808

    • First large-scale highway project took place with the National Road.
    • The game of craps is played by gamblers for the first time.
    • "The Star Spangled Banner" is written.

    James Monroe 

    James Monroe was elected December 4, 1816.

    • Men stopped wearing wigs.
    • The White House gets its name, after being burned and rebuilt and painted bright white.
    • Tin-plated food cans were patented.

    John Quincy Adams

    Adams was elected February 9, 1825.

    • John James Audubon paints 500 American song birds.
    • The first multi-volume encyclopedia in the US, the Encyclopedia Americana, was printed.

    Andrew Jackson

    Jackson was elected in 1828.

    • Tom Thumb, the first locomotive to be built in America, loses a race to a horse.
    • Refrigeration by large chunks of stored ice becomes popular.
    • Previously available to the very rich, citrus fruits are made available to the general population.
    • The first modern-style public library was established in New Hampshire.
    • Organized, traveling circuses emerged.
    • The typewriter was invented.

    Martin Van Buren

    Martin Van Buren became the eighth president in 1836.

    • The Underground Railroad is in full operation.
    • The first trans-atlantic steamship service begins.

    William Henry Harrison

    December 2, 1840, Harrison is elected.

    • Modern style political campaigns and slogans emerge.
    • Stories by Edgar Allan Poe are published.
    • The moon is photographed.

    John Tyler

    Became president after the death of William Henry Harrison in 1841 (he was previously the vice president). 

    • The detective story emerges.
    • Laws signed to limit the workday of children to ten hours.

    James K. Polk

    Polk is elected December 4, 1844.

    • John Smith, founder of Mormonism, was murdered.
    • The first baseball club was formed.

    Zachary Taylor

    Taylor served as president from March 1849 to July, 1850.

    • 1st woman physician in US.
    • University of Wisconsin opens with just 20 students.

    Millard Fillmore

    On July 10, 1850, Fillmore became president after the death of Zachary Taylor.

    • The merry-go-round was invented.
    • Salt Lake City, Utah, the University of Utah opens. 
    • In Great Britain, a patent is granted for self-deodorizing fertilizer. 

    Franklin Pierce

    In 1852, at the age of 47, Pierce becomes the youngest president to date.

    • A woman, Emma Snodgrass, of Boston was arrested for wearing pants.
    • In Massachusetts a law is introduced whereby all children of school age must attend school. 

    James Buchanan

    On March 4, 1857, James Buchanan was elected. He served until March 4, 1861.

    • In San Francisco the first organized baseball game is played.
    • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is created by Joseph Smith.

    Abraham Lincoln

    Became president in March 1861.

    • Became the first US president to be assassinated, in April 1865. 
    • The Confederate submarine HL Hunley, sinks the Union ship Housatonic.

    Andrew Johnson

    Johnson was elected in 1865

    • Slavery in America is abolished by Congress (the 13th Amendment).
    • The last Confederate combat unit surrenders. The CSS Shenandoah surrenders after circumnavigating the globe.

    Ulysses S. Grant

    Grant became president in 1869

    • Elizabeth Stanton testifies before congress, the first woman to do so. 
    • Postage stamps with scenes depicted are issued for the first time.

    Rutherford B. Hayes

    Hayes was elected president in 1876 (a highly controversial election)

    • The first city in the US to use electric lights was Wabash, Indiana.
    • In Philadelphia  the A's played the Boston Red Caps in the first NL game.

    Chester Arthur

    Arthur took office after the death of President James Garfield in 1881. 

    • PT Barnum buys the famous elephant, Jumbo, for his circus. 
    • A patent is granted for the first electric iron to Henry W Seely.

    Grover Cleveland

    First elected to the presidency in 1885

    • Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, is first published in the US. 
    • The earliest version of Coca-Cola was sold in Atlanta, Georgia.

    Benjamin Harrison

    Became president in 1881

    • The ferris wheel debuted at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois.
    • The first Christmas tree was decorated in the White House.

    Grover Cleveland

    Became president for the second time in 1885

    • The first African American was nominated for US president.
    • A patent was awarded to Marvin C. Stone for the first wax drinking straw, in Washington, D.C.

    William Mckinley

    Became president of the United States on March 4, 1897. (He was assassination in September 1901.)

    • New York and Brooklyn merge to form the present City of New York. 
    • In 1898 Spanish-American War begins.

      Theodore Roosevelt

      Served as US president from 1901 to 1909

      • In 1903 William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson produce for public purchase the first Harley-Davidson® motorcycle.
      • The Teddy Bear was invented - named after the president, Teddy Roosevelt.
      • The ice cream cone was patented.

      William Howard Taft

      The 27th president of the United States came into office in 1909.

      • RMS Titanic sank in the North Atlantic Ocean in the early morning of 15 April 1912 after colliding with an iceberg. 
      • The highest temperature ever recorded in the US was noted in Death Valley, California at 134 °F on July 13 1913.

      Woodrow Wilson

      Wilson came to the presidency in 1913

      • Shark attacks occurred that eventually inspired the Jaws story.
      • Time zones were established.

      Warren G. Harding

      Came to office on March 4, 1921. (He died while serving on August 2, 1923)

      • Insulin first used on humans to treat diabetes.
      • The classic novel Ulysses, by James Joyce, is published in Paris.

      Calvin Coolidge

      Coolidge succeeded to the presidency upon the sudden death of Warren Harding in 1923

      • Bubble gum was invented.
      • The German NSDAP party is resurrected by Adolf Hitler (February 1925)

      Herbert Hoover

      Came into office in 1929

      •  The USS Ramapo records the highest non-tsunami wave at 111 feet during a storm in the North Pacific      
      • The first singing telegram is delivered 

      Franklin D. Roosevelt

      Elected to office in 1933

      • John Dillinger steals $10,600 from a bank in New Carlisle, Ohio, his first robbery.
      • The first drive-in theater opens.
      • in 1939 the Second World War begins, over 60 million would die before it ended in 1945.

        Harry Truman

        Truman took office in 1945

        • Truman was the first world leader to authorize the use of an atomic weapon when the US dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in 1945.
        • The first bikinis appear in the US.

        Dwight D. Eisenhower

        Eisenhower became president in 1953

        • The very first McDonald's Restaurant opens.
        • The Mickey Mouse Club airs on TV.
        • Rosa Parks is arrested.

        John F. Kennedy

        Kennedy came into office in 1961

        • The US and Cuba break.
        • Elvis Presley's song, "Are You Lonesome Tonight," makes number one.

        Lyndon B. Johnson

        • Color televisions become available.
        • Eight track tapes appear.
        • The first countertop microwave ovens appeared.
        • The Beatles make their first visit to the US.


        Richard Nixon

        Nixon, the only U.S. president to resign from the office, came to power in 1969

        • The largest musical festival ever produced took place at Woodstock,White Lake, New York. An estimated crowd of 400,000 attended.
        • Muammar Gaddafi takes power in Libya.

        Gerald Ford

        Ford, the 38th president, came to office in 1974 

        • The Ice thickness in Antarctica (Wilkes Lake) was measured to be 15,670 feet thick (294776-m).
        • Wheel of Fortune makes its first appearance NBC-TV.
        • Often referred to as the "most loved and most hated" British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher,comes to power in February 1975 with the conservative party.

        Jimmy Carter

        US president and  the Nobel Peace Price recipient was elected in 1977

        • On February 1st 1978 Harriet Tubman becomes the first black woman to be honored on a US postage stamp.
        • In 1978 the coffin and remains of Charlie Chaplin are stolen from a Swiss cemetery.

         Ronald Reagan

        Film star turned politician, Reagan, comes to office in 1981

        • The first Oprah Winfrey Show show is aired.
        • The first cell phone sold for around $4000.
        • The "Yorkshire Ripper" - Peter Sutcliffe is arrested by British police.

        George Bush

        41st president of the US comes to office in 1989

        • Famously said: "Read my lips, no new taxes." (Taxes were increased in 1990).
        • First Gulf War begins August the 2nd 1990.

        Bill Clinton

        Clinton was the first president elected from the "Baby Boomer" generation. He came to office in 1993.

        • Clinton presided over the very rare US budget surplus in the years 1998 and 2000.
        •  In February 1998, infamous terrorist, Osama bin Laden, publicly declares jihad against all Jews and Crusaders.

        George W. Bush

        Bush served two terms from 2001 to 2009

        • September 11 2001, terrorists attack the US
        • US forces invade Iraq March 20 

        ​Barack Obama

        Obama was the first African American to be elected to presidency of America in 2009 

        •  On May 2, 2011, American special forces killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.
        • In 2016 America and Cuba begin to normalize relations. Obama visits Cuba in March 2016.
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        Your Citation
        Fleming, Grace. "Interesting Timeline of Presidents and American Firsts." ThoughtCo, May. 28, 2016, Fleming, Grace. (2016, May 28). Interesting Timeline of Presidents and American Firsts. Retrieved from Fleming, Grace. "Interesting Timeline of Presidents and American Firsts." ThoughtCo. (accessed November 22, 2017).