20th Century 1901-2000

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United States of America > United States History > 20th Century 1900-Present


  • 1900: The Hawaii Territory is organized. The present main brick building at Ellis Island was opened. It was designed to process 5,000 immigrants per day. "On one day it was recorded that "6,500 immigrants, each one of whom received some individual attention, entered, passed, and 'cleared' in nine hours."[1] Galveston hurricane leaves reportedly as many as 8,000 dead. The Nation's population is at nearly 76 million according to the Census.
  • 1901: William McKinley is sworn in as President with Theodore Roosevelt as Vice President. President McKinley is assassinated. Theodore Roosevelt is sworn in as the 26th President of the United States.
  • 1905: Theodore Roosevelt is sworn in as President for a 2nd term with Charles Fairbanks as Vice President.
  • 1906: Bureau of Immigration is established, predecessor to the FBI. San Francisco earthquake destroys approximately 4 square miles of the city, leaving 500 dead or missing. [3]
  • 1907: Oklahoma is the 46th state admitted to the Union and was formed from Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory. The "Gentleman's Agreement" restricts Japanese immigration to the United States. 1,004,756 immigrants were received at Ellis Island this year alone making it the most ever received in one year.
  • 1908: Henry Ford introduces the Model T.
  • 1909: William Taft is sworn in as the 27th President of the United States with James Sherman as Vice President. New Mexico is the 47th state admitted to the Union.
  • 1912: Arizona is the 48th state admitted to the Union. Arizona had been called by Arizona before 1863, although it was still in the Territory of New Mexico. The Titanic sinks.
  • 1913: Woodrow Wilson is sworn in as the 28th President of the United States with Thomas Marshall as Vice President. Henry Ford adopts the conveyor belt system used in the meat-packing industry and applied it to the manufacture of cars. Within ten years this process cut the price of a car by approximately seventy five percent. The Panama Canal is open for shipping.
  • 1914: American forces occupy Vera Cruz, Mexico. The United States Army Air Corps is established. The Panama Canal is now opened for travel.
  • 1914-18:World War I.
  • 1916: U.S. agrees to purchase Danish West Indies (Virgin Islands) for $25 million.
  • 1917–1918: More than 26 million men from the United States ages 18 through 45 registered with the Selective Service. World War I over 4.7 million American men and women served during the war.
  • 1917: The Jones Act makes Puerto Rico part of United States territory, making its inhabitants U.S. citizens. The Selective Service Act authorizing registration and draft of all men between 21 and 30 military service is passed by Congress.
  • 1918: There was a sharp decline do to the war in immigration as the numbers of immigrants passing through Ellis Island decreased from 178,416 in 1915, to just 28,867 in 1918.
  • 1920: This year was a historical tipping-point. For the first time in our nation's history, more people were living in cities than on farms. [4]
  • 1921: 560,971 immigrants passed through Ellis Island this year alone.
  • 1924: The Immigration Act of 1924 greatly restricted immigration.
  • 1929: Charles Lindbergh makes the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight in his plane The Spirit of St. Louis. American Samoa officially becomes a U.S. territory.
  • 1930's: The Great Depression closed many factories and mills. Many small farms were abandoned, and families moved to cities to find jobs.
  • 1930-1936: The Dust Bowl was storms that turned farms into unworkable land. This effected the farms centered in the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma, and adjacent parts of New Mexico, Colorado, and Kansas. This exodus was the largest migration in American history within a short period of time. By 1940, 2.5 million people had moved out of the Plains states; of those, 200,000 moved to California.[5]
  • 1933: Ocean City Inlet created by a major storm.
  • 1939-45:World War II.
  • 1940–1945: Over 50.6 million men ages 18 to 65 registered with the Selective Service. Over 16.3 million American men and women served in the armed forces during World War II.
  • 1941: Japanese planes attack Pearl Harbor; United States entered World War II.
  • 1944: D-Day; invasion of Normandy, France by Allied Forces.
  • 1945: Germany surrendered, ending World War II in Europe. United States dropped atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; Japan surrendered, ending World War II in the Pacific.
  • 1950's–1960's The building of interstate highways made it easier for people to move long distances.
  • 1950–1953: Over 5.7 million American men and women served in the Korean War.
  • 1952 First span of Chesapeake Bay Bridge opened.
  • 1953: The Refugee Act of 1953 makes an additional allocation of places for the victims of the war disaster.
  • 1959: Alaska becomes the 49th state and Hawaii becomes the 50th.
  • 1964:Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel opened; it was coined as one of the Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World.
  • 1964–1972: Over 8.7 million American men and women served in the Vietnam War.



  1. Immigration - Ellis Island
  2. Cunliffe, John William and Lomer, Gerhard Richard; Writing of Today: Models of Journalistic Prose Edition: 4. Published by The Century Co., 1915. Original from the University of Michigan. Digitized Feb 24, 2006. 390 pages. Page 52. Worldcat, Full Text is available at Google Books
  3. The California earthquake of April 18, 1906: Report of the State Earthquake Investigation Commission ... By California. State Earthquake Investigation Commission, Andrew Cowper Lawson, Harry Fielding Reid. Published by Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1910. Item notes: v. 2. WorldcatFull Text is available at [http://books.google.com/books?id=w7oQAAAAIAAJ Google Books.
  4. Farm Population New York Times.
  5. Worster, Donald; Dust Bowl: the southern plains in the 1930s Edition: 25, illustrated, annotated. Published by Oxford University Press US, 2004. ISBN 0195174887, 9780195174885. 290 pages. Worldcat