17 Lesser Known Historical Events That Changed America 

Everybody knows about the greater historical events that made America what it is today. These were events such as World War II, Independence Day, and the Civil War. However, not everyone knows about the smaller events that still helped to shape the country. Here are 17 of such events.

The State of Franklin

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In 1784, frontiersmen tried to form their own state called Franklin. This is backed up by HeinOnline which writes, “Unhappy with North Carolina’s governance over the area, frontiersmen from the region sought to establish their land as separate.” The petition, however, failed due to not getting enough votes in Congress.

The First Gold Rush in North Carolina

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Everyone knows about the famous California Gold Rush, but one happened in North Carolina first, which isn’t so well-known. North Carolina’s Gold Rush took place in 1799 and started with the finding of a huge golden nugget by a 12 year-old-boy. It meant that mining became popular and had a significant impact on the local economy. 

The National Anthem

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What people don’t know is that America’s National Anthem was composed by an Englishman. ListVerse explains that while the lyrics came from Francis Scott, who was an American, the music was written by John Stafford. The National Anthem was originally meant to be a drinking anthem until Scott adapted it.  

Van Zandt

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The county of Van Zandt, located in East Texas, attempted to secede from both Texas and the US after the Civil War. The Federal troops managed to put an end to this without causing too much harm to anyone; however, the resolution to secede was never formally withdrawn. 

Sarah Tarrant

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In 1775, Sarah Tarrant, a nurse in Salem, Massachusetts, confronted British troops. This is supported by the Women History Blog which says, “Sarah Tarrant bravely challenged the British soldiers who occupied her town in February 1775.” Her actions helped to demonstrate the important role of women in the 18th century. 

The First Mobile Telephone Conversation

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The very first mobile telephone conversation took place on April 4, 1973. It marked the start of a revolution in America, and since then, communications have significantly developed over the past fifty years. It’s had a huge impact on American society as a whole and their daily lives. 


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In 1585, the Roanoke colony was formed, only for it to disappear shortly after. All That’s Interesting backs this and writes, “Not a single person remained at the colony, though there was no sign of any struggle to indicate they had been raided.” It’s still one of the earliest mysteries of the US, as no one really knows what happened.

Casket Girls

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Between the years of 1704 and 1721, young girls were sent to Louisiana from France to marry and start families. They were known as casket girls because they held a coffin-shaped box to their chests, which carried all their belongings. It helped to develop French colonies in the US, but also highlighted the role of women, especially how they were portrayed in society. 

Joseph Bradish

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Joseph Bradish was a notorious pirate back in the 17th century. Golden Age of Piracy even describes him as “famous in his own right.” His exploits along the East Coast aren’t as well known as those of Captain Kidd; however, he was still a significant figure in the history of piracy. 

The Allegheny Portage Railroad

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This railroad in Pennsylvania was a key part of engineering history in the 19th century. It helped develop transportation in America and heavily contributed to its infrastructure. The Allegheny Portage Railroad really helped with the evolution of transportation technology, making it what it is today. 

The Battle of the Little Bighorn

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This battle took place in 1876 and reflected the large amount of conflict between US forces and Native Americans. At first, the US forces were defeated, which stopped them from moving further west. The battle is a key point in US history and Native American sovereignty. 

The Haymarket Affair

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Britannica describes the Haymarket Affair as a “violent confrontation between police and labor protesters.” The affair took place in Chicago in 1886. It started as a peaceful protest to ask for eight-hour work days; however, it soon turned violent. It’s a significant piece of history in America as it illustrates the troubles of labor rights. 

Plessy v. Ferguson

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This was an 1868 Supreme Court case about equal rights regarding race. The case upheld racial segregation laws under the “separate but equal” doctrine. This decision seriously impacted civil rights in America and ultimately led to the Civil Rights Movement in the 20th century. 

Breaking Up of Northern Securities

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In 1904, President Roosevelt ordered the breakup of this railroad conglomerate. This was a significant moment, as it resulted in tighter regulations for larger corporations. Roosevelt used this breakup as a way to build trust in other policies, showing that companies had to adhere to rules. 

The Sinking of Lusitania

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The Lusitania was a luxury British liner in World War I that was hit by a German torpedo. This is supported by The Imperial War Museum which says, “It went under in 18 minutes, killing 1,200 of the almost 2000 passengers and crew on board.” The sinking was a contributing factor when it came to the US entering the war. 

Native American Code Breakers

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During both World Wars, the Native American language was used as a code language so enemies couldn’t interpret what the US was communicating. Using this language played a pivotal role in victories, as well as highlighting how Native Americans contributed to the wars. 

Abraham Lincoln Was a Wrestler

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A bizarre piece of history is that Abraham Lincoln was a wrestler as well as a president. He was an accomplished wrestler who won 299 out of 300 of the wrestling matches he took part in over 12 years. Even though his wrestling skills weren’t well-known, they show his strength and resilience as a person. 

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17 Things That Used to Be Highly Respected But Isn’t Anymore

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