Major turning points in American historyHello everyone, I am writing a paper on major turning points in American history. I can only pick 3 major turning points. I'm having a hard time picking my...

Major turning points in American history

Hello everyone,

I am writing a paper on major turning points in American history. I can only pick 3 major turning points. I'm having a hard time picking my three major points. I have given this a lot of thought. But I can't decide what three points to pick. I would like to include the industrial revolution as one of the major turning points. Do you have any ideas for other turning points and can you tell me why you would choose them? A book source would also be very helpful.


Thanks Everyone!

Expert Answers
marbar57 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Here's my three major events that were turning points in American history:  The Revolutionary War, World War II, and the atomic bomb.  The Revolutionary War was a turning point because if we hadn't fought it, we might still be part of Great Britain and would never have become an independent and free nation. World War II was a turning point because if we hadn't fought it and won, we might all be speaking German or Japanese. Those two nations were cruel, ruthless, and determined to overrun the whole world. We had to fight them to protect our nation, our way of life, our freedoms. The creation of the atomic bomb was a turning point because a whole new power was discovered that when unleashed, could destroy everything in its path. The advent of the nuclear age has ushered in a whole new era and we'll never be the same again.

A good book to reference is  Turning Points: Making Decisions in American History by David Burner and Anthony Marcus.

stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Do you need speciffic events or can you use broader trends as your turning points? You have a number of events that could be classed into one general category as "industrial revolution"; another broad area of change could be "civil rights".

A third area that no one has mentioned might be "medical advances" - as health care has improved, more people are living longer, which is going to have an increasing impact upon health care costs, consumption of resources, decisions regarding new manufacturing, and in almost all other facets of society.

rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think the ratification of the Constitution, the end of the Civil War, and the Great Depression were the key turning points in American history, if I had to choose only three. The ratification of the Constitution obviously set the nation in motion. The Civil War led to the end of slavery and marked an end to the sectional debates of the nineteenth century--for the most part. The Great Depression created the climate for the New Deal, which was a remarkable change in the relationship between Americans and their government.

Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You could write your paper from the perspective of technology's role in the development of the U.S.  If you went that route, I would suggest: 1) factory system (Industrial Revolution), 2) the steam engine (led to Western Expansion), 3) the atomic bomb (established U.S. as super power, ended WWII).  It's incredibly difficult to pick just three, but I recommend that you really just choose and focus on the three you feel the most comfortable writing about, where you can provide the most detail.

shake99 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Many people who have been around for a while consider the John F. Kennedy assassination to be a turning point because it led to a "loss of innocence" on the part of the American people. It was immediately followed by the most explosive years of the Civil Rights struggle and the Vietnam War. For these reasons, I think the 60's were, at least up until now, the turning point in American history. It isn't easy for a nation to change, but we changed in that decade.

lmetcalf eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with above posts in regard to the Cotton Gin/Civil War point and the industrial revolution, and I would add our defining win of WWII which cemented our place as a the most powerful nation in the world. All of these events shaped the economic and political place that makes America a great place to live.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with the previous post that the invention of the cotton gin would be one of them because it helped bring about the Civil War.  For a third, I would pick something like the 1960s because it changed the entire society and culture in which we live.

truthseekah | Student

I would say that creating the Federal Reserve in 1913, which gave unlimited power over our currency by private bankers, was the biggest turning point in our nation.  Under the guise of preventing inflation and stabilizing the market (it did the opposite) our country was usurped by those wishing to control us.  The Federal Reserve (not "Federal", but privately owned with no oversight) has done nothing besides put us in debt, tightening the reigns on freedoms and indenturing us to their system.  

The Federal Reserve has promoted "cronie capitalsm" and corrupted our government beyond repair and symbolized the beginning of the end of our countries greatness.  Their system of debt creation prints money out of thin air and then loans this fiat money to the goverment and, in turn, owns our politicians by giving them precious money to bring back to their constituents.  Not to mention, the amazing amounts of campaign contributions received by those who support their system is forked over by these same banking giants and corporations.

The Federal Reserve is the tail wagging the dog in the US.

etotheeyepi | Student

I would agree that the 1960's might be a turning point and especially 1968, the year that at the time seemed like the predicted revolution of the proletariat with violent demonstrations in the United States, Mexico, Czechoslovakia, Argentina, and maybe others. etc.

see 1968 by Mark Kurlansky

From my orginal list maybe the three are

cotton gin which led to interchangeable parts, the factory system, steam engines, railroads etc

electric telegraph which led to telephones, radio, vacuum tubes, transistors etc

For the third one I might add Henry VIII's foundry, which cast iron cannons, which possibly led to steal (actually in Germany I think, and also a fellow in Kentucky) and aluminum smelting, and titanium etc.

Much of this is in 1795 to 1895: 100 years of American Commerce

etotheeyepi | Student

cotton gin (probably caused the Civil War)

interchangeable parts and high pressure steam engines (made the North and Industrial giant while the South grew cotton.)

aluminum smelting (made airplane possible)

telegraph, telephone, radio (actually Marconi was Italian but part of his company became RCA),

vacuum tubes, transfomers, transistors, integrated circuits, and lasers

I'm not sure how to pair this down to three; maybe factory system (interchangeable parts, mechanized agriculture (for things like cotton gin and McCormack's reaper), and electronics (beginning with telegraph)