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Thread: Most important political events in American history?

  1. #1

    Default Most important political events in American history?

    So I was thinking about where the inauguration of Obama fits within the most important political events in American history. So I figured we could have a discussion about it. My list of the top is:

    1: The inauguration of John Adams. The first peaceful transfer of power from one President to the next.

    2: The ratification of the Constitution.

    3: The inauguration of George Washington as the first President under the Constitution.

    4: The US Civil War. While you may not consider it a political event, it proved that the Federal Government was more important than individual States, ended slavery, and a few other things. This includes Amendments 13 and 15.

    5: Amendment 19. Women's Suffrage.

    6: The inauguration of Obama, later today.

    7: The first woman Governor, Senator, and Representative.

    8: The first minority Governor, Senator and Representative.

    9: The resignation of President Nixon.

    10 The inauguration of John Tyler, he filled William Harrison's term after Harrison's death.

  2. #2


    Quote Originally Posted by Valentine View Post
    10 The inauguration of John Tyler, he filled William Harrison's term after Harrison's death.
    Indeed. He did without a VP and without the initial support of his (Harrison's) cabinet.

    I'll have to think on this a bit and put some facts together. Good topic.

  3. #3


    This really is a great topic, Valentine!

    I concur with the list you have there. Because I think people know I'm obsessed with them, I think the time-period in which The Federalist was written also ranks up there with America's top political events. Between The Federalist and the anti-Federalist papers that were being written at the time (which are just as significant as a body of political work, but lesser known), the party system was beginning to rear its head in American politics. People were vouching for different angles of thought for different sides. They began affiliating themselves with prescribed lines of political thought. The Federalist is an absolutely brilliant piece of work, and while it is heavy reading, serves as a detailed thesis on just how many of our forefathers intended the politics of the country to function. It's almost insane to see just how much they anticipated.

    I think that a lot of political events are also extremely significant social ones. Lincoln's delivery of the Emancipation Proclomation, for example, set forth a new era of mentality. While it did not exactly usher in the equality between races that was intended (because I don't believe it was until the Civil Rights movement that political and social equality between whites and blacks was ever actually realized), it kicked off what would be a turbulent but symbolic century for how our country's social (and thus political) hierarchy worked.

    A great, great thread, Valentine -- a great reminder and an awesome chance to learn more, too!

  4. #4


    I would put the Supreme court case Marbury v. Madison in there. Without that case, and the decision made by the court, it never has the power of judicial review. Without judicial review, we dont have the cases that make the Supreme Court the true 3rd branch. If Madison doesn't come up, or is decided in another way, the Supreme Court could very well have become a plainly ceremonial bench.

  5. #5


    I don't think Obama's inauguration is that significant. Not yet. I don't think you can determine such a thing until after a president has been in office for a time. And I think too much is made of innagurations anyways.
    On the other hand, not that many people were interested in the 2000 election but it turned out to be very significant because of September 11 and the following years.
    And the unpopularity of Bush probably helped Obama win the presidency, he would have had a more difficult time if the nation was not so fed up with everything and as intrigued by a new guy.

  6. #6


    To add a few more,
    The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, as it launched our entry into WW2, which helped secure America's position in the world both as an economic and military power, and, in doing so, helped shape the politics of at least the next 70 years.

    Also, related to WW2, would be the development of the atomic bomb, which while more scientific initially, the role it played in ending the Second World War, and then throughout the Cold War clearly turned it into a political instrument.

    I guess to stay chronological, I will say the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, which ended an era, and prompted some to declare, in the words of Francis Fukuyama, a political philosopher,

    What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.
    While, looking back, we can see that this didn't exactly work out, the fact that respected individuals were even saying this indicates its huge political impact.

    Tentatively I will put September 11th, 2001 down as it has played a major role, both directly and indirectly, in every election sense, and changed the way we approached terrorism as a country, though the importance of this still has the potential to change over the coming years.

    As far as Obama's Inauguration, I would say just the fact that we are inaugurating the first bi-racial, African American President makes it worthy of the list, and while his actions in office have the potential to make his administration even more significant, his place in history is secured through his ethnic heritage.

  7. #7


    Question about the Obama. Blacks and Whites are supposedly equal correct? Then why does he get special treatment, the first?

  8. #8


    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Alex View Post
    Question about the Obama. Blacks and Whites are supposedly equal correct? Then why does he get special treatment, the first?
    I love you, have my babies.

    I've been saying this all day to people at my school....not a good idea when most of your school are either A) Rich kids who want to, or did vote for him because it was the cool thing to do, or B) "Ghetto" kids who want to or did vote for him due to his skin color(I've asked around, so no it's not a generalization).

    I'm already not that popular, but bringing up the fact that what they were doing was inherently racist made them look at me like a heathen who needed to be burned at the stake.

  9. #9


    That goes along with what I said on the Obama thread, if you are for or against him, your main reason being race, you shouldn't be allowed to have an opinion.

  10. #10


    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Alex View Post
    Question about the Obama. Blacks and Whites are supposedly equal correct? Then why does he get special treatment, the first?
    Because about 150 years ago, African-Americans were fighting for their freedom. They still weren't equal to whites just 60 years ago. Looking at America's past, it's remarkable that an African-American man was elected president.

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