Timeline: Foreign Relations and Military History 1865-1905


Black Soldier 1863.
  • 1865
  • US Civil War ends
  • Great Sioux War, or Red Cloud’s War, over control of Bozeman Trail area; massacre of Capt. W. J. Fetterman and his troops in 1866; in resulting Treaty of Fort Laramie the US withdraws troops from forts along the trail, concedes Powder River area as “unceded territory,” and sets aside western half of South Dakota as Sioux lands (1865-1868)
  • 1867
  • US purchases Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million
  • US annexes Midway Island in the Pacific Ocean
  • 1868
  • US and China sign Burlingame Treaty permitting access of Chinese laborers to United States
  • Treaty of Medicine Lodge forces more than 100,000 Apache, Arapaho, Kiowa, Navajo, and other tribes onto reservations in Indian Territory

Black Soldier 1863.
Image courtesy the Victorian Scrapbook at The Trade Card Place.

  • 1871
  • Congress declares that it will no longer make treaties with Native American tribes, but instead they will be subject to congressional and presidential authority
  • US signs Treaty of Washington with Great Britain; settles CSS Alabama claims
  • Violence associated with suppression of Paris Commune in France shocks Americans and stimulates fear of communism and radicalism
  • 1873
  • The Virginius, US filibusters tramsporint arms to Cuban revolutionaries, is captured by Spanish and 53 of those aboard are executed in Santiago; Spain pays $80,000 indemnity for those killed
  • 1874
  • King David Kalakaua ascends the throne in Hawai’ian Kingdom
  • 1875
  • Page Act bars entry to prostitutes, felons, and contract laborers from China and Japan; results particularly in the exclusion of Chinese women
  • 1876
  • US and Hawai’ian Kingdom sign Reciprocity Treaty providing for duty-free imports from the islands; Hawai’i precluded from signing such treaties with any other power
  • US Coast Guard Academy founded at New London, CT
  • 1879
  • Hayes Administration negotiates “executive agreement” for coaling station in Samoa


Welcoming Russians.

Welcoming Russians. Image courtesy the Victorian Scrapbook at The Trade Card Place.

  • 1882
  • Chinese Exclusion Act bars entry of Chinese laborers for ten years
  • US and Korea sign treaty permitting Korean immigration
  • Violent pogroms in Russia stimulate immigration of Russian Jews seeking refuge in the United States
  • 1884
  • US Naval War College is founded at Newport, RI
  • 1887
  • Reciprocity Treaty between US and Hawai’i renewed; as condition for renewal US requires and receives a lease to use Pearl Harbor as a naval base; US imposes “bayonet constitution” on the islands
  • 1888
  • Bayard-Chamberlain Treaty
  • 1889
  • Commercial Union of American States formed
  • 1890
  • Pan-American Union founded
  • 1891
  • King David Kalakaua of Hawai'i dies; his sister Liliuokalani ascends the throne
  • United States becomes party to an international copyright bill protecting copyright in US and Europe
  • Mob in Chile kills two American sailors, creating international incident and calls for war with Chile
  • 1892
  • Geary Act extends Chinese exclusion for the next decade and requires registration of all Chinese living in the United States
  • Ellis Island opens as major US processing center for European immigration
  • Bering Sea dispute
  • 1893
  • Hawai’i’s Queen Lili’uokalani attempts to replace US-imposed “bayonet constitution” of 1887 with her own constittuion; US facilitates coup against her; coup leaders declare Republic of Hawai’i the following year
  • 1895
  • Cuban nationalists living in the United States and other countries return to Cuba to launch revolution against Spanish rule
  • In boundary dispute between British Guiana and Venezuela, US asserts right to interfere in such disputes in the Western Hemisphere; resolved with British agreement to accept arbitration
  • 1896
  • Congress passes resolution condemning Sultan Abdul Hamid II for massacre of Armenians; first US international human rights resolution
  • 1898
  • In Spanish-American War, US enters Cuban revolution on side of revolutionaries against Spanish rule, but displaces them on the battlefield and in treaty negotiations; claims Guam and Puerto Rico, pays Spain $20 million for the Philippines
  • US annexes Hawai’ian Islands, Wake Island, and Palmyra in the Pacific Ocean
  • Anti-Imperialist League founded in Boston to oppose US imperialist policies
  • Teller Amendment passes Congress, asserting that US seeks full Cuban independence and will not interfere in the affairs of Cuba as a free nation
  • The "Maine" Entering Havana Harbor. Morro Castle on the Right.
  • "Personal Narrative of the 'Maine'," Scribner's Monthly, Nov. 1898, p.80.
  • 1899
  • Hague Conference on armaments and war held in the Netherlands
  • Philippine-American War (1899-1902, with sporadic episodes of resistance continuing over the next three decades)
  • 1900
  • US establishes “protectorate” in American Samoa
  • US troops join European and Japanese forces to put down patriotic revolt of “Boxers” in China, protesting foreign domination
  • 1901
  • Through Platt Amendment, Congress restricts Cuban independence and asserts US right to intervene as it wishes in Cuban affairs
  • US Army War College founded at Washington, DC
  • Philippine nationalist leader Emilio Aguinaldo captured by US troops
  • Hay-Pouncefote Treaty
  • “Open Door” policy toward China advoated by United States
  • US sends troops to Samoa to assert US rights; Germany and US divide the islands into two “protectorates”
  • In the Insular Cases, Supreme Court rules that Puerto Rico is neither a foreign country nor a state and Congress may decide the status of its inhabitants, as citizens or “dependents” of the United States (1901-1904)
  • Time now to "say nothing and saw wood"
  • Harper’s Weekly, Jul. 1902, p.924.
  • 1902
  • Congress extends Chinese exclusion for another decade; follows up in 1904 by making this indefinite
  • United States and Mexico are first nations to submit a dispute to the Hague Court of Arbitration for settlement, the first nations to do so
  • 1903
  • Violent pogroms in Russia stimulate immigration of Russian Jews seeking refuge in the United States
  • US facilitates Panamanian revolution against Colombia; under resulting Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty, US pays Panama for indefinite lease on a six-mile strip of land on which to build an isthmaian canal (1903-1904)
  • 1904
  • Roosevelt Corollary
  • 1905
  • Roosevelt implements “executive agreement” with Dominican Republic
  • President Roosevelt helps mediate peace agreement to end Russo-Japanese War at Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Treaty of Portsmouth results
  • Roosevelt Administration and prime minister of Japan negotiate secret agreement, by which US relinquishes any claims in Japanese-controlled Korea and Japan does likewise for US-controlled Philippines

© 2010 Rebecca Edwards, author of New Spirits: Americans in the Gilded Age, 1865-1905 by Rebecca Edwards, Oxford University Press


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New Spirits
Timelines in US History 1895-1905
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