18 Dates You’ll Need to Know to Pass AP US History in Oklahoma
This week, Oklahoma lawmakers presented a bill to cut funding to Advanced Placement U.S. History classes throughout the state, citing that they focus on negative aspects of American history and fail to emphasize American exceptionalism. If Oklahoma might be building a new AP U.S. History curriculum, we want to go ahead and take a stab at what we’ll need to know to pass. Here are what we determined to be the 18 most important dates one will have to learn in an adjusted Oklahoma AP U.S. History course:
October 12, 1492: Christopher Columbus becomes the first man to ever set foot in the United States of America, arriving with a fleet of three ships called the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Bristol Palin. Upon finding tribes of helpless, uncivilized Pagans inhabiting his land, Columbus graciously regales them with the gift of Christianity, in addition to blankets for warmth and proper techniques for properly basting a turkey. The savages’ gratitude gave Columbus the idea to start a national holiday called “Thanksgiving,” where everyone properly bastes a turkey and watches three games of American football. (The football part was Columbus’ idea; the game’s strategic components proved a bit complicated for the natives.) In summary, this is the day modern civilization began.
July 4, 1776: On this historic day, every single signor of the Declaration of Independence puts their name on the document to be sent to King George III, the tyrannical overlord who subjugated the American colonies with his ruthless policy of “Progressive Taxation without Representation,” a sickeningly inhumane way of forcing hard-working colonists to carry the weight of lazy immigrants who don’t even have the wherewithal to get an apprenticeship with their local blacksmith. Most scholars of Western history pinpoint this as the day the United States’ national power surpassed that of Britain, heralding an era of global hegemony which has yet to show signs of letting up.
June 21, 1788: The United States Constitution is ratified by the government, going into effect the following year. While the date itself was of little significance, what came of it would go on to change the face of history. The Constitution was the brainchild of our Founding Fathers, who were a group of brilliant and pious men, and they carefully designed the Constitution so as to build a morally upright American Republic that remains strong to this day. Here are a few important amendments to remember:
- 2nd Amendment: Guarantees right to own illegally modified automatic firearms
- 8th Amendment: Prohibits the use of cruel and unusual punishment against anyone who isn’t possibly harboring secrets regarding matters of national security
- 13th Amendment: Places stringent restrictions on means of agricultural production
- 15th Amendment: Rounds votes previously worth 3/5 of a vote up to the value of a full vote
1830-1831: The Five Civilized Tribes of Native Americas opt for a change of scenery and voluntarily relocate to the American Heartland, namely the Oklahoma Territory. This conveniently opened up space for continued expansion of American culture into the southeast, paving the way for great American institutions like Chick Fil-A and butterfly ballots.
April 4, 1841: William Henry Harrison, ninth president of the United States, dies tragically of pneumonia, despite having been vaccinated.
April 25, 1854: The U.S. Senate ratifies the Gadsden Purchase, an agreement with Mexico that resulted in the United States receiving a parcel of land that now comprises southern Arizona. Although the expansion of land is far from the largest in American history, it bears particular significance in that it brought the admirable culture and belief system of southern Arizona into the fold of American democracy.
April 12, 1861: Cannonfire on Fort Sumter in South Carolina signifies the beginning of the Civil War, a tumultuous four-year period in our nation’s history that pitted brother against brother. The war was fought less as an act of violence and more as a heated dialogue regarding the balance of states’ rights versus centralized federal power. The war was fought tooth and nail, and ultimately the Union prevailed, thanks to the headstrong leadership of Republican Party founder and 16th president Abraham Lincoln.
July 9, 1868: The U.S. Senate ratifies the 14th Amendment, which grants “equal protection of the law” to all American citizens. The case would immediately become a mainstay precedent in Supreme Court rulings, but to this day, there remains controversy around that ambiguous five word phrase. “Equal protection of the law” is often construed to mean “equality for everyone,” but it probably was not meant to be used so liberally. “Protection” fails to specify that against which citizens should be protected equally. “Law” fails to specify whether every law must offer equal protection, and not just some. And even “equal” offers some ambiguity — does it mean that everyone must be equal to everyone, or just that everyone must be equal to at least one other person?
May 4, 1886: America is shaken by the Haymarket Square riots, as disgruntled workers murder policemen in cold blood. The facts of the Haymarket Square riot are crystal clear: a labor demonstration in opposition of the twelve-hour work day had overtaken the square, and the strident whines of the demonstrators were disturbing neighbors. When police made peaceful efforts to contain the riot, bombs were thrown at them, killing seven of them. The horrifying events of this day can be pinpointed as the root of an unreasonable anti-law enforcement sentiment that remains prevalent to this day.
October 29, 1929: The stock market crashes, launching the American economy into a depression that lasted for ten years — the worst economic conditions the nation would see until Obama’s presidency.
1933-1938: In a misguided effort to revive the nation’s economy, President Franklin D. Roosevelt initiates The New Deal, a series of high-spending social programs that irreversibly expanded the size of the federal government. The New Deal set a disconcerting (and still palpable) precedent that overspending is an acceptable way to address social obstacles, and sparked the Democratic obsession with federal spending that has resulted in a thirteen-digit national debt.
May 8, 1945: The world celebrates the defeat of Nazi Germany on VE Day (or, Victory in Europe Day). Nazi Germany was defeated at the hands of American forces, who turned the tide in World War II when they cut through Europe and arrived in Berlin before any other Allied forces.
August 6, 1945: President Truman bravely saves tens of thousands of lives by dropping an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Because of Truman’s noble actions on this day (and three days later, when he dropped another one), blood that was to be spilt through grueling island-hopping campaigns against the Japanese was instead of saved.
March 16, 1968: In the Vietnamese village of My Lai, American forces display a heartwarming level of compassion for their fellow human beings as they help the community rebuild following the destruction left in the wake of the Communist presence. While this is all in a day’s work for an American soldier, this particular instance happened to be filmed and distributed to the world. My Lai is seen as a microcosm of America’s tremendous success in Vietnam.
January 20, 1981: The inauguration of Ronald Wilson Reagan as President of the United States marks the beginning of the Era of Good Feelings, an eight-year period of wealth and prosperity in the United States. Many mistakenly use this term in reference to James Monroe’s presidency from 1816 to 1824, but the correct application of the term is 1981 to 1989. The term is also used in Great Britain, where Margaret Thatcher’s delivery of economic conservatism produced a similar national mood.
November 9, 1989: Mikhail Gorbachev, leader of the enemy Soviet Union, submits to Ronald Reagan’s demands that he tear down the Berlin Wall. Most political scientists point to this as the specific day that Reagan defeated Communism.
December 19, 1998: Democratic President Bill Clinton is impeached for perjury after falsely denying his sexual involvement with Monica Lewinsky, a White House staffer. Many consider it to be one of the basest and vilest political scandals in human history.
May 1, 2003: America wins the War on Terror as President George W. Bush declares it a “Mission Accomplished.”