Iconic Moments in American Political History
American history has many moments that shaped our culture and way of life. These iconic moments in American political history are some of the biggest examples of American spirit.
Anyone who thinks that American politics only recently became dramatic hasn't been paying attention to history books when they were in high school and college. There have always been struggles — albeit, not always as violent as the ones that we're seeing happen now.
Throughout all the changes and evolutions of our country, there have been many iconic moments in American political history that have inspired countless others to do good by their fellow countrymen. Let's take a look at some of the greatest moments that made us proud to be Americans.
Martin Luther King Jr's "I Had A Dream" Speech
Prior to the Civil Rights movement of last century, America had a very segregated, very racist social structure in place. It was a structure that made no qualms about treating people differently based on the colors of their skin. Worse, it was actually codified into law.
Martin Luther King Junior, and many other Civil Rights activists alongside him, helped bring that dark side of American legal history to a close. In his famous speech, MLK painted a world where everyone was equal, where brotherhood was something that was inherent regardless of skin color — and where people were judged on character, not skin color.
As one of the most iconic moments in American political history, King's speech inspired millions to stand up for what's right and still remains as relevant today as it was decades ago.
Whether we want to admit it or not, 9/11 was one of the most iconic moments in American political history — as well as one of the biggest tragedies the country ever faced.
Prior to 9/11, American politics were a lot more trusting, and a lot less aggressive. Americans also weren't known for believing in surveillance, and TSA was nonexistent.
When those two towers came down, a lot of the American peoples' faith in the goodwill of others came down with it. Many things that we never thought would happen did, and to a point, we also basically ended up in a world that was slightly more dystopian than it should have been.
But, it wasn't all bad. That was a day that showed the unity that Americans had. People from every corner of the country came to help those who were personally affected by the tragedy.
On 9/11, it didn't matter if you were a stockbroker, a homeless person, or a housewife. Everyone just saw one another as a fellow American who needed help, and someone who just felt the same sting of hatred and loss they did.
Everyone who remembers 9/11 can tell you that the days afterwards were ones which made everyone feel a certain level of unspoken camaraderie and a certain indescribable empathy for one another — something that is hard to fully place into words unless you were there.
Even now, echoes of 9/11 still reverberate through American politics, for better or worse.
Women Gain the Right to Vote
Originally, women were not allowed to vote in elections — though they could run for office. Susan B. Anthony and other women's suffragettes made sure that women had the same right to vote as men did, and thanks to them, we now have a political voice.
Women's suffrage was a movement that had been slowly building up after the Civil War, and finally came to a head at the turn of last century. By 1920, the federal government had granted women the right to vote via the Susan B. Anthony Amendment to the Constitution, more commonly known as the 19th Amendment.
Though it may not seem like one of the most iconic moments in American political history now, it's worth noting that many of Anthony's friends, including Frederick Douglas, served as inspiration for the Civil Rights movement of the 60s. So, it definitely was an impactful movement in its own right.
NATO Is Formed
When America joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, our country was given the responsibility of quelling any form of war or genocide that could turn into a World War III.
Though it may not be one of the most iconic moments in American political history on a visual level, the fact that this happened in 1949 changed the course of American history — and inherently changed the way politicians dealt with international policy.
Thomas Nast Outs Boss Tweed
This was one of the most iconic moments in American politics of the 19th century. Boss Tweed was an extremely corrupt politician that basically owned New York City. He was known for stealing money from businesses, strong-arming politics, and just being a criminal with too much power.
However, since it was the Gilded Age, it was a time when people didn't have the guts to actually say anything about it. It was kept under covers — until a political cartoonist by the name of Thomas Nast called him out using nasty (pun intended) political cartoons showing what he was doing.
Boss Tweed fought to silence him and failed, and soon found himself ousted from power as a result. His belief in the power of the press is something we all still can recognize today in American culture, and oddly enough, history seems to be repeating itself with Trump.
Without a doubt, one of the most iconic moments in American history would have to be the assassination of JFK.
John F. Kennedy was one of the most beloved presidents to ever live, and had made a huge effort to further civil rights, help others abroad, and improve the overall quality of living in America. Then, one day, an unknown assailant assassinated him during a parade in Texas.
Seeing the heartbreaking footage of Jackie O. scraping her husband's brains off the car will change you — but nowhere near as much as it changed the way Americans felt that day back in 1963.
The JFK Assassination is one of those historic events that didn't just change politics; it also drew a huge crowd of conspiracy theorists, too. Even today, many people are curious to find out who really shot him and what was the full reason for his demise.
The Murder of Emmett Till
Many of the most iconic moments in American political history aren't happy moments, and this is one of the moments that cause many Americans shame. However, it happened, and it did have a huge impact on which direction the country went in.
In the 1950s, a black teenager by the name of Emmett Till was brutally beaten and murdered by a mob of white men. The men who lynched him ended up all being acquitted of murder, despite the huge amounts of evidence showing their guilt.
It was one of the most savage lynchings in modern American history — and unlike others, his mother, Mamie Bradley Till, spoke up against the people who killed her son. Mamie held an open casket funeral for her son, and told the news that she wanted the world to see what the men had done to Emmett.
Emmett's dead body was on newspapers of all kinds, and provided a face for the injustice that sparked the Civil Rights movement.
Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address
None of us were alive for the moment when Abraham Lincoln made his famous speech in Gettysburg, but without a doubt, it was one of the most uplifting speeches ever given by a US president.
The speech was a message of hope and patriotism, delivered right after one of the most gruesome, bloody battles of the Civil War. Even today, most people recognize the phrase, "Four score and seven years ago," to be the beginning of the Gettysburg Address.
It was the moment that defined Lincoln as a strong leader with a stiff upper lip in the face of despair — and many claim it to be one of the best speeches ever delivered on a battlefield.
Barack Obama's Win
Without a doubt, one of the most recent iconic moments in American political history was when Barack Obama became the first black president of the United States.
Along with being a historic first, his 8-year presidential reign brought massive improvements to a shattered economy and helped millions of Americans get affordable healthcare. So, it definitely was one of the better times to be an American.