Colonial Times

  • Oct 12, 1492

    Columbus Reaches Land

    Columbus Reaches Land
    In August 1492, Christopher Columbus and his men set sail in the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. Finally, on October 12th, the crew reached land. Believing he was in the Asian islands known as the Indies, Columbus called the natives there Indians. However, he was actually in the Caribbean. He claimed this land for Spain.
  • May 1, 1497

    John Cabot Looks for a Northern Route

    John Cabot Looks for a Northern Route
    John Cabot was an Italian exporer. England financed his voyage. Cabot left England with one ship, in May 1497. He was hoping to find a more northern route to Asia that would be shorter and easier. He crossed the North Atlantic and explored the region around Newfoundland. On a second voyage in 1498, Cabot may have explored the North American coast as far south as Chesapeake Bay. However, we cannot be sure. His ships disappeared without a trace.
  • Jan 1, 1510

    First European to Set Eyes on the Pacific Ocean

    First European to Set Eyes on the Pacific Ocean
    The Spanish continued to explore and colonize. Vasco Nunez de Balboa, a Spanish colonist, explored the Caribbean coast of what is now Panama. Hacking his way through the jungle, he became the first European to set eyes on the Pacific Ocean.
  • Jan 1, 1513

    The First Spaniard to Set Foot in the United States of America

    The First Spaniard to Set Foot in the United States of America
    Juan Ponce de Leon sailed north from Puerto Rico to investigate reports of a large island. He found beautiful flowers there, so he named the place La Florida. This is today the state of Florida in the United States
  • Sep 1, 1519

    Magellan's Atlantic-Pacific Passage

    Magellan's Atlantic-Pacific Passage
    Portugese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, set out to find an Atlantic-Pacific passage. His crew moved up and down the coast of South America looking for a strait. This is a narrow passage that connects two larger bodies of water. Finally, near the southern tip of present-day Argentina, Magellan found what he was looking for. This narrow passage he found is now called the Strait of Magellan.
  • Nov 8, 1519

    Cortez, a Spanish Conquistador, Invades the Aztecs

    Cortez, a Spanish Conquistador, Invades the Aztecs
    Hernando Cortez marched into the Aztec capital city of Tenochtitlan. Many Native Americans joined the Spaniard.Cortez took Moctezuma, the Aztec leader, hostage after seeing all the gold and riches they had. He claimed all of Mexico for Spain. However, the Aztecs soon rebelled and forced the Spaniards to flee. About a year later, Cortez returned with a larger force, recaptured Tenochtitlan, and then destroyed it. In its place he built Mexico City, the capital of the Spanish colony of New Spain.
  • Sep 1, 1522

    Magellan's Crew Circumnavigates the Earth

    Magellan's Crew Circumnavigates the Earth
    Ferdinand Magellan, a Portugese explorer, set out and found an Atlantic-Pacific passage. After sailing through the Strait of Magellan (the Atlantic-Pacific passage), the crew reached the Philippine Islands. This crew got in a fight with the Filipinos. The survivors fled in two ships. One ship finally reached Spain, in September 1522. Three years after they had begun, 18 men aboard became the first to circumnavigate, or travel around, the entire Earth.
  • Jan 1, 1524

    Varrazano Searches for a Passage

    Varrazano Searches for a Passage
    Another Italian explorer, Giovanni da Verrazano, searched for a passage for a more northern route to Asia that would be shorter and easier. King Francis I of France financed his trip. Verrazano explored the Atlantic coastal region from North Carolina to Newfoundland. In doing so, he discovered the mouth of the Hudson River and New York Bay.
  • Jan 1, 1530

    Protestant Churches are Set Up

    Protestant Churches are Set Up
    The rulers of Sweden, Denmark, and several European states had split with the Roman Catholic Church and set up Protestant churches in their countries. Elsewhere in Europe, the teachings of Swiss thinker John Calvin had a great influence on the development of Protestant churches in France, Switzerland, Scotland, and the Netherlands.
  • Sep 1, 1532

    Pizzaro Invades the Incas

    Pizzaro Invades the Incas
    Francisco Pizzaro, a Spanish conquistador, landed on the coast of Peru to search for the Incas. He led his soldiers through the jungle and took Atahualpa, the Inca ruler, prisoner. He later executed him . By November 1533, the Spanish had defeated the leaderles Incas and captured their capital city of Cuzco.
  • Jan 1, 1533

    The Church of England is Set Up

    The Church of England is Set Up
    King Henry VIII was married to Catherine of Argon. When Catherine did not produce a male heir to the English throne, Henry sought to divorce her and remarry. Because Catholic law does not permit divorce, Henry asked the pope to annul, or cancel, his marriage. This had occured before Popes had annulled royal marriages. The pope's refusal to grant the annulment caused Henry to break with the Roman Catholic Church. He set up a Protestant church and named it the Church of England.
  • Jan 1, 1565

    St. Augustine is Set Up

    St. Augustine is Set Up
    Fearing that France might take over the area, Spain built a fort called St. Augustine in northern Florida. It was the first permanent European settlement in what is now the United States.
  • Early Efforts to Establish English Colonies

    Early Efforts to Establish English Colonies
    Two of the earliest English efforts to esablish colonies took place during the 1580s. Both were set up on a small island off the coast of what today is North Carolina. The first colony at Roanoke Island was established in 1585, but it was abandoned a year later. The second colony is one of the great mysteries of American history. It was set up in 1587. No ship was able to visit the Roanoke colony until 1590 because of a war with Spain. By then, the colony was abondoned. It had disappeared.
  • The Spanish Armada

    The Spanish Armada
    Queen Elizabeth I, a Protestant, took the throne after Mary I died. The rule of the Protestant Queen Elizabeth I renewed the rivalry with Roman Catholic Spain. Spain's King Philip II hoped to make England a Catholic nation again. Phillip assembled a fleet of 130 war ships known as the Spanish Armada. He wanted to force Elizabeth off the throne. The smaller and faster English ships sank many of the Spanish ships. The defeat of the Spanish Armada changed the balance of power in Europe.
  • Juan de Onate in New Mexico

    Juan de Onate in New Mexico
    Juan de Onate led an expedition into New Mexico. He wanted to find gold, convert Native Americans to Christianity, and establish a permanent colony. Onate never found gold, but in 1598 he established Spain's first permanent settlement in the region at Santa Fe.
  • England's First Permanent Settlement in North America

    England's First Permanent Settlement in North America
    A group of wealthy people made a new attempt to establish an English colony in North America. They formed the Virginia Company of London in order to gain wealth from the new lands. England's King James I backed the project, and he granted the merchants charters to establish a colony called Virginia. The first colonists arrived in Virginia in the spring of 1607. About 100 men sailed into the Chesapeake Bay and built a fort they called Jamestown.
  • Champlain Sets Up a Settlement

    Champlain Sets Up a Settlement
    Samuel de Champlain established a settlement on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. He named this place Quebec. From this base he ventured east, in 1609, and explored the large lake on the boarder of present-day Vermont and New York that bears his name. His activites gave the French an influence in the region that lasted 150 years.
  • John Smith Takes Charge of Jamestown

    John Smith Takes Charge of Jamestown
    Conditions in Jamestown were extremely bad, in part because the colony was poorly led. Then, in the fall of 1608, John Smith was sent out from London to lead the colony. He come up with hard rules for the colony to follow. The most important one was, "He who works not, eats not." Jamestown prospered under the leadership of John Smith.
  • Hudson Explores

    Hudson Explores
    The Dutch grew interested in Henry Hudson, an English explorer, and financed a third voyage. Crossing the Atlantic, Hudson reached what is now New York and explored up the river that today bears his name. The English sponsored a fourth voyage in 1610. Hudson again sailed into the Arctic, looking for a passage to the Pacific. He reached the Hudson Bay, where his crew revolted and sent him, his son, and a couple members off the ship. The crew returned to England. Hudson was never heard from again.
  • The "Starving Time"

    The "Starving Time"
    John Smith returned to England after being injured in an explosion. With Smith gone, conditions in Jamestown quickly worsened. The relationship with the Native Americans also worsened as well. Powhatan decided to drive the English away. He refused to supply them with food. The terrible winter of 1609-1610 is called the "starving time." By the spring of 1610, only 60 colonists were still alive.
  • New Netherland is Established

    New Netherland is Established
    Dutch land claims in North America were based on Henry Hudson's exploration of the Hudson River. In 1610, Dutch traders arrived in the Hudson River Valley and began a busy trade with Native Americans. The trade was so profitable that the Dutch West India Company decided to establish a permanent colony in what the Dutch called New Netherland.
  • The House of Burgesses is Established

    The House of Burgesses is Established
    Virginia established a representative government. This is the form of government in which voters elect people to make laws for them. Virginia's lawmaking body, the House of Burgesses, was elected and met for the first time in 1619. They could pass laws and set taxes. However, it shared power with Virginia's appointed governor, who could veto its acts. The House of Burgesses marked the start of representative government in North America.
  • The Pilgrims and the Mayflower Compact

    The Pilgrims and the Mayflower Compact
    The Pilgims left England and went to Holland. Then they salied from Holland to Massachusetts aboard a ship called the Mayflower. The Pilgrims called their new home Plymoth. Because they had landed outside Virginia, the Pilgrims believed they were not bound by the rules of the Virginia Company. Before going ashore, 41 men signed the Mayflower Compact. It called for just and equal laws. The Mayflower Compact was the first document in which American colonists had the right to govern themselves.
  • The First Thanksgiving

    The First Thanksgiving
    After the Pilgrims had arrived, it was too late to plant crops, and there was not enough food. Many colonists died during the winter. When spring hit, conditions changed. Squanto, a local Native American chief, helped the Pilgrims survive. He gave them seeds to plant, taught them how to catch eels, and gave them food. In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims set aside a day to give thanks for their good fortune. Today's Thanksgiving holiday celebrates that occasion.
  • Settlers Arive in New Netherland

    Settlers Arive in New Netherland
    In 1624, about 300 settlers arrived from the Netherlands. Most of them settled at Fort Orange, a fur-trading post that was later renamed Albany.
  • New Amsterdam is Established

    New Amsterdam is Established
    In 1626, another group from the Netherlands settled at the mouth of the Hudson River. The colony's governor, Peter Minuit, purchased the island from nearby Indians. The colonists named their new home New Amsterdam. The town grew steadily as new colonists arrived. By 1653, it had a population of about 800.
  • The Massachusetts Bay Colony

    The Massachusetts Bay Colony
    Puritans set off in 11 ships because they wanted to reform the Church of England. They formed the Massachusetts Bay Company, which recieved a charter to establish settlements in what are now Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The Puritans were lead by John Winthrop. They established several settlements in their colony. Their main town was Boston.
  • Maryland is Established

    Maryland is Established
    KIng Charles I granted a charter for a new colony to George Calvert, an English Catholic. Catholics suffered great discrimination in England. Calvert aimed to set up a colony where Catholics could live safely. His colony, Maryland, lay across Chesapeake Bay from Virginia.
  • Providence, Rhode Island is Founded

    Providence, Rhode Island is Founded
    Roger Williams was a minister of a church in the town of Salem. Williams believed the Puritans should split entirely from the Church of England. He also didn't like that the colonists gained the Native American's land without paying for it. He was forced to leave Massachusetts Bay in 1635. He moved south, to what is today Rhode Island, where he bought land from Native Americans. In 1636, he founded the town of Providence, Rhode Island.
  • Settling Connecticut

    Settling Connecticut
    Thomas Hooker, a minister, disagreed with the Puritan leaders. He left Massachusetts with about 100 followers in 1636 and settled in what is today Connecticut. There he founded the town of Hartford. Hundreds of Puritans followed, and soon Connecticut had several new settlements.
  • Anne Hutchinson Expelled From Massachusetts

    Anne Hutchinson Expelled From Massachusetts
    A Boston woman, Anne Hutchinson, questioned some of the Puritan teachings. She was put on trial and expelled from Massachusetts in 1638. Hutchinson established a settlement on an island that is now part of Rhode Island. In 1642, she traveled farther south, into what is today New York State.
  • John Wheelright and Exeter, New Hampshire

    John Wheelright and Exeter, New Hampshire
    John Wheelright was also forced to leave Massachusetts. He agreed with some of Anne Hutchinson's views, so he got into some trouble. In 1638, John and some of the followers moved to New Hampshire, where they founded Exeter. Massachusetts tried to control New Hampshire, but in 1680, a charter from the king made it a separate colony.
  • Act of Toleration

    Act of Toleration
    Catholics and Protestants both came to Maryland to settle. When George Calvert died, his son, Cecil Calvert, Lord Baltimore, became proprietor. There was tension between the Catholics and Protestants. Lord Baltimore got the assembly to pass the Act of Toleration, fearing that the Catholics might lose their rights. All Christians were welcome, and adult men could vote and hold office.
  • Carolina is Established

    Carolina is Established
    Few settlers from Virginia had moved south beyond the colony's borders. In 1663, King Charles II granted a charter for a new colony to be established. This area was called Carolina. The northern part of Carolina developed slowly, while the southern part developed quickly. Carolina's main city was Charles Town (today Charleston), and it became the biggest city in the southern colonies. By then, Carolina had split into two colonies: North Carolina and South Carolina.
  • New Netherland Becomes New York

    New Netherland Becomes New York
    England's King Charles II granted the right to all the Dutch lands in North America to his brother James. All James had to do was conquer the territory. The Dutch surrendered right away after a few warships came. The colony was renamed New York, after James, the Duke of York. New Amsterdam, its capital, became New York City.
  • New Jersey's Establishment and Changes

    New Jersey's Establishment and Changes
    New Jersey was established in 1665, when part of southern New York was split to form a new colony. New Jersey was first a proprietary colony. This was a colony created by a grant of land from a monarch to an individual or family. In 1702, New Jersey recieved a charter as a royal colony. This was a colony controlled directly by the English king.
  • Exploring the Mississippi River

    Exploring the Mississippi River
    Father Marquette and Lois Joliet, a French Canadian trader, paddled their canoes along the shores of Lake Michigan to what is now Green Bay, Wisconsin. They made their way west until they reached the Mississippi River. For the next month they followed the river downstream, thinking that it might be the long-sought northwest passage. The group reached the river's junction with the Arkansas River. Knowing that the river flowed into the Gulf of Mexico and not the Pacific Ocean, they returned home.
  • King Philip's War

    King Philip's War
    A large conflict errupted. Opponents of the English were led by Metacom, the chief of the Wampanoag, who was also known by his English name, King Philip. He wanted to stop Puritan expansion. Native Americans joined him. The fighting lasted a year, and Metacom and his allies destroyed 12 English towns. The war ended in 1676 when Metacom was captured and killed. Since the war was over, English colonies were free to expand.
  • Bacon's Rebellion

    Bacon's Rebellion
    Nathaniel Bacon was the leader of the frontier settlers. He organized a force of 1000 westerners and began attacking and killing Native Americans for better farming land, which was inland. The governor declared that Bacon and his men were rebels. Bacon reacted by attacking Jamestown, burning it to the ground, and forcing the governor to run away. This revolt was known as Bacon's Rebellion. It collapsed when Bacon became sick and died. English settlers still moved onto Native American lands.
  • The Mississippi River's Exploration is Completed

    The Mississippi River's Exploration is Completed
    Although Marquette and Joliet did not find a northwest passage, they provided the French with a water route into the heart of North America. The river's exploration was completed in 1682 by Rene Robert Cavelier, also known as La Salle. Reaching the river's mouth at the Gulf of Mexico, La Salle claimed the entire Mississippi Valley for France. He named the region Louisiana, in honor of King Louis XIV.
  • William Penn and Pennsylvania

    William Penn and Pennsylvania
    William Penn arrived in his colony (Pennsylvania) in 1682. New settlers began to arrive from many places like England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Germany, Holland, and Switzerland. Penn considered this a "holy experiment." His goal was to create a colony in which people from different religions could live peacefully. In 1682, Penn wrote his Frame of Government for Pennsylvania. It granted the colony an elected assembly and freedom of religion.
  • Spanish Control Threatened

    Spanish Control Threatened
    When the English colonies tried to spread southward, Spanish control was threatened. To weaken the English colonies, in 1693, the Spanish announced that enslaved Africans who escaped to Florida would be protected. They would be given land if they helped to defend the colony.
  • Delaware is Separated

    Delaware is Separated
    Penn's charter for Pennsylvania included Delaware. Because Delaware settlers did not want to send delegates to a distant assembly in Philadelphia, Penn gave the area its own representative assembly. Delaware became a separate colony, in 1704.
  • California Coast Missions

    California Coast Missions
    Spain's California missions began colonizing California in 1769. A missionary named Junipero Serra played an important role in that effort. His first mission, just north of today's Mexican-American border, eventually became the city of San Diego. Serra also established other missions, including those located in what is now San Francisco and Los Angeles. Altogether, the Spanish founded almost 20 missions in California between 1769 and 1800.