1215 - The Magna Carta is signed by King John of England. It is one of the first documents that guaranteed the rights of the average citizen.
1689 - The English Bill of Rights is passed by the Parliament of England limiting the powers of the king and giving some powers and basic rights to the people of England.
1776 - The Declaration of Independence is signed creating the United States and stating that "all men are created equal."
1791 - The Bill of Rights is added to the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing the citizens personal freedoms including freedom of speech, the press, religion, assembly, a fair trial, and the right to bear arms.
1830 - The Indian Removal Act is signed by Congress forcing tribes to move from the Southeast to Indian Territory (Oklahoma).
1838 - Thousands of Native Americans die on the Trail of Tears, a forced march from the Southeast to Oklahoma.
1848 - The first women's right convention is held at Seneca Falls, New York.
1863 - President Abraham Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves in the Confederate states.
1865 - The Thirteenth Amendment is passed abolishing slavery in the United States.
1868 - The Fourteenth Amendment is passed guaranteeing all people born in the United States the full rights of a U.S. citizen regardless of race or color.
1869 - The National Women's Suffrage Association is formed by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
1870 - The Fifteenth Amendment is passed guaranteeing the right to vote for all citizens regardless of race.
1920 - The 19th amendment is ratified giving women the right to vote in the United States for the first time.
1924 - The Indian Citizenship Act gives Native Americans the same right to vote as any citizen of the United States.
1954 - The Supreme Court rules that segregation in the schools is unconstitutional in the Brown v. Board of Education case.
1955 - Rosa Parks is arrested for not giving up her seat on the bus. This sparks the Montgomery Bus Boycott which lasts for over a year. Eventually, segregation on the buses in Montgomery comes to an end.
1964 - The Civil Rights Act is signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. It outlaws discrimination based on race, national origin, and gender. It also outlaws segregation and the Jim Crow laws.
1965 - The Voting Rights Act is signed into law making it illegal to prevent any citizen from voting regardless of race.
1967 - Congress passes the Age Discrimination in Employment Act protecting older workers from discrimination in the work place.
1968 - The Architectural Barriers Act is signed. It is the first law passed to protect the rights of the disabled.
1968 - The Indian Civil Rights Act guarantees important rights to Native Americans under federal law.
1990 - The Americans with Disabilities Act is signed giving the disabled the same protection against discrimination that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 gave people based on religion, gender, and race.