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You don’t have to memorize a ton of dates, but you have to know some. In class, on Wednesday the 25th, we’ll do a brief chronology quiz. About half the items here will appear; you’ll write the dates.

Presidential Administrations

To memorize presidential administrations, the major tricks are:

  1. There are elections in years divisible by four–1900, 1904, etc.
  2. Presidents are sworn in the following winter, and usually serve eight years. So just memorize the start (or end) and add eight.
  3. A few don’t serve eight, because they die or resign. Lincoln and FDR had the courtesy to die the same year the major war they led ends. This makes things convenient for you, because you only have to memorize one date! Richard Nixon is an unpleasant guy, and resigns a year before the Vietnam war ends. Dislike him for that!


When we talk about American history, we frequently divide it up into eras. Here is what I consider those periods to be. You can use these on any test: they’re as good as a date.


Some of the eras above are, precisely, wars. These are others you should be able to date. Note that these are the dates of American involvement: World War I in Europe, for example, is much longer.

Foundation dates