After one of the most controversial elections in
American history, George W. Bush is inaugurated president of the United
States. The ceremony proceeds without major disruption despite protests
from those questioning the legitimacy of Bush's election. Bush promises
in his inaugural address to "work to build a single nation."
Upon being sworn in, Bush the younger embraced his father, George H.W.
Bush, the 41st president of the United States.
As George W. Bush takes office, the public learns that departing President
Bill Clinton issued dozens of 11th-hour presidential pardons commuting
the sentences of convicted criminals. One particularly controversial pardon
was issued to Mark Rich, a fugitive financier who had been living in Switzerland
to avoid a jail sentence for tax evasion. Soon after, it was learned that
Rich's ex-wife, Denise Rich, had donated $450,000 to Clinton's presidential
library, leading to speculation that the Rich family bought the pardon.
Veteran race-car driver Dale Earnhardt is killed instantly when his No.
3 black Monte Carlo slams into a wall at 180mph during the final lap of
the Daytona 500 NASCAR race. Earnhardt, nicknamed "The Intimidator,"
was in third place when a competitor tapped his car. The cause of the
accident remains a mystery, although recent changes in NASCAR rules aimed
at creating "tighter races" were rumored to have played a role.
Eulogized as the "greatest driver ever," Earnhardt was one of
the only racers still wearing an open-face helmet; he had also refused
to wear the HANS (head and neck safety) device, which he felt was too
As California's energy shortage worsens, Governor Gray Davis signs a $10
billion bond measure that will enable him to buy electric power and resell
it to the state's two largest utilities. Despite these efforts, over the
next few months rising temperatures and record shortages force rolling
blackouts across the state. Governor Davis and angry Democrats on Capitol
Hill blamed President Bush for the crisis because he refused to impose
price controls on electricity. The White House responded with calls for
reduced consumption and established tax credits for those employing conservation
measures. By summer's end, due to an increase in the number of online
power plants, conservation, and other factors, California had more power
than it needed--forcing the state to sell the excess.
On March 5, two students are killed and 13 others wounded when 15-year-old
freshman Charles Andrew Williams opens fire in the social science building
at Santana High School in Santee, California. Williams, a recent transfer
to the school, attempted suicide after the shootings but was subdued in
a bathroom. Santana students claimed that Williams was constantly picked
on and had threatened to bring a gun to school.
A U.S. Navy spy plane on a surveillance mission over the South China Sea
collides with a Chinese fighter plane, killing the Chinese pilot and forcing
the American plane to make an emergency landing on China's Hainan Island.
China and the U.S. exchanged accusations: China blamed the Navy EP-3E
Aries II crew for violating Chinese airspace; the United States blamed
the Chinese fighter for recklessly tailing the American plane. The United
States had previously registered protests regarding China's aggressive
policing of American aircraft in the area. After diplomatic maneuvering,
Washington issued something of an apology for the incident, and the 24
American crewmembers were released 11 days later.
Quebec City, site of the 2001 Summit of the Americas economic conference,
becomes a venue for anti-globalization protests. Representatives of 34
Western Hemisphere nations attended the conference to negotiate the terms
of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) accord, a NAFTA-type trade
agreement including every North, Central, and South American country except
Cuba. Protesters and critics of the summit were demanding environmental
and labor protections; some more anarchic elements were demanding a radically
new economy. Particularly aggressive protesters had to be fended off with
water cannons, tear gas, and rubber bullets. More than 400 arrests were
made, and several dozen protesters and police were injured.
Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont abruptly leaves the Republican Party to
become an Independent, shifting the balance of power in the U.S. Senate
to the Democrats for the first time since 1994. Claiming widening ideological
differences between himself and the Republican Party, Jeffords, 67, told
his supporters in Burlington that President Bush's fiscal policy and plans
to overhaul public school education were the catalysts for his move.
Convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh is executed by lethal injection
at 7:14 a.m. on June 11. Convicted of murder, conspiracy, and explosives
charges in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma
City, McVeigh maintained that while "sorry" for the suffering
he caused, the 168 lost lives were "collateral damage" in his
war against the federal government. Anti-death penalty protests were mounted
around the world after the FBI admitted to withholding evidence in McVeigh's
trial. In a final written statement, McVeigh quoted from the poem "Invictus,"
famous for the lines "I am the master of my fate, I am the captain
of my soul," . His remains were cremated and disposed of secretly.
Slobodan Milosevic becomes the first former head of state to face the
international war crimes tribunal at The Hague. He was being held in a
Belgrade prison on "abuse of power" charges. Milosevic had previously
been indicted on war crimes charges in 1999. That indictment was now expanded
to include charges of ethnic cleansing and other crimes against humanity
in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo.
President George W. Bush signs tax legislation that will result in a $1.35
trillion tax cut over 10 years in America's first substantial tax cut
since the Reagan years. The bill outlined a plan to drop the highest tax
rate from 39.6% to 35%, and the lowest rate from 15% to 10%. It also doubled
the child tax credit and increased annual contribution caps on IRA or
401(k) accounts. Many Americans were issued a $300 to $600 rebate on their
2000 federal income taxes.
Representative Gary Condit of California denies an affair with missing
24-year-old intern Chandra Levy--then subsequently admits to the relationship,
leading investigators and the public to question Condit's role in the
woman's disappearance. The Democratic congressman was subjected to repeated
interviews and searches by police trying to determine the whereabouts
of Levy, who was last seen at a Washington, D.C., gym on April 30. Condit,
whom police denied was a suspect in their investigation, became an object
of constant attention by press and cable news programs.
President Bush announces that he will allow federal funding of research
on the 60 stem cell lines already derived from human embryos, but will
prohibit federal funding of research on stem cells from frozen embryos
in labs across the country. Torn between pro-life advocates who believed
the harvesting of embryos destroys human life, and those who argued that
stem-cell research holds the key to cures for many diseases, President
Bush walked a fine middle line. Bush also increased funding for research
on stem cells derived from adults, umbilical cords, placentas, and animals.
During the morning rush hour of Tuesday, September 11, two hijacked 757
airliners slam into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York
City, creating an explosion and fire that leads to the collapse of both
towers. Moments later, a third airliner crashed into the Pentagon building
in Washington, D.C., and another crash-landed near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
in what was revealed to be a coordinated terrorist attack on the United
States. Thousands of lives-including emergency workers, airline passengers
and crew, and employees of the Pentagon and World Trade towers-were lost.
Osama bin Laden, leader of the Afghanistan-based international terrorist
network al Qaeda, is believed to have been responsible for the attacks.
Nine days after the September 11 terrorist attacks, President Bush addresses
the nation before a joint session of Congress to outline an agenda for
bringing the terrorists responsible for the September 11 attack to justice,
and to laud the heroes who made a grieving nation proud. Bush called for
a lengthy campaign against both terrorists and the nations that support
or harbor them. Before the evening was over, Bush and Senate Majority
Leader Tom Daschle, a Democrat, embraced, a sign that the two parties
were united in the pursuit of justice and defense of the nation.
The New York Stock Exchange reopens one week after the September 11 attack
on the World Trade Center--and an already ailing market plummets further.
Despite calls to "buy" as a gesture of patriotism, stocks fell
to a three-year low, with the Dow Jones industrial average suffering its
largest one-day point-drop in history. The Nasdaq was off 68%. Chairman
of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan attempted to reinvigorate the economy
cutting the federal interest rate. By year's end, the market had rallied
to beyond the 10,000 mark, and both consumer confidence and home sales
were higher than expected.
Shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks, a powdered form of anthrax
is discovered in letters addressed to major media outlets and government
officials such as Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Vermont Senator
Patrick Leahy. Five people had died of the disease by year's end, including
three employees of the United States Postal Service. Fear of infection
by mail gripped the nation, as hundreds of government, postal, and mailroom
workers were prescribed precautionary courses of antibiotics. The FBI
and the Office of the Postal Inspector established a multi-million dollar
reward and began a massive manhunt for the culprit.
After repeated warnings to the Taliban, the fundamentalist regime controlling
war-torn Afghanistan, a multi-national coalition led by the United States
begins a bombing campaign. The Taliban were believed to be harboring Osama
bin Laden, the suspected mastermind of the September 11 terrorist attacks
against the United States. The United States had been demanding since
September 11 that the Taliban hand over leaders of the al Qaeda terrorist
network and captive foreign nationals, but the Taliban refused to comply,
maintaining that they had no knowledge of the whereabouts of al Qaeda
leadership. The Bush administration built a coalition partnership of 40
nations, including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Russia, before beginning
military reprisals. In a matter of days, the U.S. claimed supremacy of
Afghanistan's skies, and by year's end, most Taliban fighters had surrendered
to an alliance of American Special Forces troops and Afghani resistance
The Arizona Diamondbacks beat three-time World Champion New York Yankees
in the ninth inning of the seventh game of baseball's World Series. The
Diamondbacks, formed in 1997, become the youngest franchise ever to win
the series. The Yankees had been sentimental favorites to win the series
yet again, primarily because of nationwide support for New York City in
the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Arizona's Curt Schilling
and Randy Johnson were named the Sports Illustrated magazine Sportsmen
of the Year.
On December 2, three Palestinian suicide bombers kill 25 Israelis in two
coordinated attacks on Jerusalem and Haifa. Israel retaliated by bombing
Palestinian targets including the offices of Palestinian leader Yasir
Arafat. With this latest round of violence, each side accused the other
of sabotaging the peace process in the warn-torn region.