US History Timeline

  • Jan 1, 1440

    Johann Gutenburg

    Johann Gutenburg
    In the 1440s, Johann Gutenburg invented the printing press, sparking a communications revolution. Sea captains published their findings, and those in Europe began to be informed about exploration of the New World. The printing press is significant because Europeans became more curious about voyaging to America and eventually acted upon it.
  • Jan 1, 1492

    The Reconquista

    The Reconquista
    In 1492, following the union of Isabella and Ferdinand, the Christians waged war on the Muslims in order to gain control of the Iberian Peninsula. After the Moors lost their last foothold in Granada, Christians finally had the Peninsula to themselves, intolerant of those who rejected Catholicism. Jews and Moors were expelled from Spain. The Reconquista allowed Spain to rise as a world power, thus beginning the age of conquest and westward expansion.
  • Jan 1, 1494

    Treaty of Tordesillas

    Treaty of Tordesillas
    Spain & Portugal fought over Asia and its treasures, and eventually Pope Alexander VI intervened with a negotiation. The Treaty of Tordesillas was signed in 1494, which divided the world along a line 270 leagues west of the Azores. Anything west of the line was Spain's, while everything to the east was Portugal's. The Portuguese were dissatisified, however Spain had free access to everything Columbus discovered. Other countries still tried colonizing the New World despite the treaty.
  • Jan 1, 1494

    Slave Trade

    Slave Trade
    Following Columbus's expedition, ethnocentric Europeans attempted to "civilize" the Native Americans and rid of their customs by enslavement. After the Columbian Exchange began, thousands of Indians died due to disease. In effort to repopulate the New World, Europeans began to import African slaves for colonization, thus beginning slave trade. The slave trade led to the oppression of natives and blacks, but resulted in a more ethnically diverse America.
  • Jan 1, 1497

    John Cabot / Sebastian Cabot

    John Cabot / Sebastian Cabot
    John Cabot is known for being the first to complete a transatlantic voyage by English vessel. Cabot was likely trying to find a passage to Asia. He died during a second expedition while trying to find a route to Cathay a year later. His son, Sebastian, attempted to follow in his footsteps in 1508, however the English were less interested in the New World by then. Cabot's expedition established England's interests and claims to American territory.
  • Jan 1, 1503

    The Encomienda System

    The Encomienda System
    Beginning in the 16th century after the conquest of Mexico, the encomienda system was implemented. In essence, Indians were promised legal protection and religious guidance in exchange for their labor and tribute to the "encomenderos". The natives became virtually enslaved, however. This system allowed for greater Spanish governance in the New World and control of greedy conquistadores by the Spanish monarchy, whereas before the crown struggled to tame the aforementioned under royal authority.
  • Jan 1, 1517

    Protestant Reformation: Henry VII & Elizabeth I

    Protestant Reformation: Henry VII & Elizabeth I
    The German Monk, Martin Luther, began to challenge Roman Catholicism in 1517, thus beginning the Reformation that divided European kingdoms so drastically. John Calvin was the next to do so. Elizabeth I rose to power and aimed to end the religious turmoil, uniting everyone under a religious institution that was Protestant in doctrine. Later, Protestantism merged with English nationalism, and England was inspired to explore the New World.
  • Roanoke

    Roanoke
    In 1584, Sir Walter Raleigh was granted a charter by Queen Elizabeth I to colonize North America. 117 people were sent to America where the colony of Roanoke was founded. When Roanoke's founders ventured back to England shortly after, they returned to Roanoke in 1587 to find everything gone, however "CROATOAN" was carved onto a post. The disappearance of the entire colony remains a mystery. Roanoke is significant due to the fact that it was England's first attempt to colonize North America.
  • Richard Hakluyt

    Richard Hakluyt
    Richard Hakluyt published "The Principall Navigations, Voyages, and Discoveries of the English Nation", which was a compilation of first-hand accounts given by captains and sailors. The book's central theme was that England needed American colonies as the key to prosperity. Without this book, it is likely that England would've given up on the idea of American colonization.
  • Jamestown (Virginia)

    Jamestown (Virginia)
    In 1607, Jamestown was founded in a marshy area by Sir Thomas Smith under the Virginia/London joint stock Company's funds in hopes of finding resources. It is remembered as England's first "successful" attempt to colonize the U.S. John Smith essentially saved the colony, & Edwin Sandys created the House of Burgesses & established headrights.
  • Quebec

    Quebec
    3 decades after Columbus's expedition, the French became interested in the New World. After many failed exploration attempts, Samuel de Champlain founded Quebec in 1608. The founding of Quebec is very significant, as the French began trading fur with the Indians and converting them to Christianity. Later, the French settled Louisiana.
  • Plymouth

    Plymouth
    The Pilgrims set foot upon the Mayflower in 1620 in search of religious freedom. They were known as Separatists, as this "Scrooby Congregation" formally disbanded from the Church of England. They established the Mayflower Compact to prevent anarchy, and associated with the indian Squanto. William Bradford was the governor.
  • New York

    New York
    The Duke of York founded New York. It was perhaps part of England's effort to encircle the disloyal Puritans.
  • Massachusetts Bay

    Massachusetts Bay
    Wanting to purify the Church of England, the Puritans came to America in search of religious freedom and a better society. They established Congregationalism. Both Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson challenged Puritan orthodoxy & preached extreme separatism, which greatly bothered the Puritans.
  • Maryland

    Maryland
    Sir George Calvert/"Lord Baltimore" founded Maryland as a sanctuary for Catholics and some Protestants. Life in the Chesapeake colonies seemed rather primitive in nature, and Maryland oftentimes suffered under political instability.
  • Connecticut

    Connecticut
    Thomas Hooker was Connecticut's most prominent minister, and in 1639, the Fundamental Orders were established. These were a blueprint for civil government. Connecticut was a product of Massachusetts' splitting into 4 new colonies.
  • The Carolinas

    The Carolinas
    After the Stuarts were restored to the English throne, they expected steady rewards/income. The Carolinas were extremely agricultural and heavily depended on slave labor.
  • Bacon's Rebellion

    Bacon's Rebellion
    Wanting to be heard and regarded as an elite, Nathaniel Bacon lashed out at the Indians he despised so deeply & was granted the military command by Governor Berkeley to attack them. However, Bacon ended up burning Jamestown to the ground. After Bacon's Rebellion, slave status in the colonies became permanent.
  • Parliamentary Supremacy

    Britain insisted that Parliament held ultimate control over the colonists. It became a giant reason for revolution and Americans' yearn for independence.
  • English Bill of Rights

    English Bill of Rights
    During the Glorious Revolution in the Bay Colony, King James II was overthrown, and Sir Edmund Andros took over but was quickly jailed. Mary & William took the throne, accepting an English Bill of Rights that specified Englishmen's rights.
  • New Hampshire

    New Hampshire
    New Hampshire was founded in 1677 as it spurred off of Massachusett's Bay Colony. It always remained slightly economically dependent.
  • First Greak Awakening

    First Greak Awakening
    The Great Awakening was a sudden, spontaneous series of Protestant revivals in which the colonies became focused on religion.George Whitefield was an English preacher of Calvinism that spread ideas of The Great Awakening. Jonathan Edwards was a Congregational minister in Massachusetts who initially began the Great Awakening.
  • French & Indian War

    French & Indian War
    Also known as the 7 Years War, the French & Indian War was the colonies' attempt to drive the French out of Mississippi. In the end, Florida, Canada, & everything east of the MS River was Britain's; they took all but France's Guadeloupe & Martinique. Peace of Paris of 1763 was signed to end the war.
  • Sugar Act

    The Sugar Act was put into place in 1764. It revised duties on sugar, coffee, tea, and wine. The Sugar Act was implemented as Britain's effort to generate revenue from the colonists to pay off post-war debt.
  • Stamp Act

    Stamp Act
    The Stamp Act caused printed documents to be issued on a special stamped paper. Colonists were then forced to pay for specialized stamps, and it affected all Americans negatively.
  • Quartering Act

    Quartering Act
    The Quartering Act required colonists to shelter/provide for British soldiers. Colonists yearned to refuse, as they felt uncomfortable.
  • Stamp Act Congress

    Stamp Act Congress
    The Stamp Act Congress was an intercolonial gathering where petitions were drafted and issues were discussed. In essence, they petitioned against unwanted taxes.
  • Declatory Act

    Declatory Act
    Parliament essentially declares its superiority and supremacy above colonists absolutely, causing colonists to feel powerless yet motivated.
  • Townshend Revenue Acts

    Townshend Revenue Acts
    New duties were implemented on glass, tea, lead, paper, paints, etc. Customs collections were tightened. Colonists refused to submit and began to look for ways to thwart the acts.
  • Boston Massacre

    Boston Massacre
    British soldiers were picked on and shot 5 bystanders. It inspired the colonists to further the revolution.
  • Tea Act

    Parliament gives the East India Company permission to sell tea in order to save itself from collapse, and the price of tea is reduced. However, some people were rendered incapable of making a suitable living.
  • Boston Tea Party

    Patriots dumped British Tea into the Boston Harbor, which spurred the Intolerable Acts and marked extreme rebellion against Britain.
  • Coercive/Intolerable Acts

    Coercive/Intolerable Acts
    Britain closes the Boston Port and restricts the Massachusett's government in addition to tightening control everywhere and stationing soldiers in the colonies. It was implemented to punish colonists for the Boston Tea Party and ultimately led to the creation of the Continental Congress.
  • First Continental Congress

    The First Continental Congress was a meeting held with the intention of deciding what could be done to avoid the British tyranny. They decided to halt all commerce with Britain until the Intolerable Acts were repealed.
  • Shot Heard 'Round the World

    This was the battle at Lexington & Concord. People were hyped about going to war after the American victory.
  • Lexington & Concord

    Gage dispatched troops to take control of rebel supplies, however militia soldiers were gathered around & shots were fired as British soldiers approached Concord.
  • Second Continental Congress

    Second Continental Congress
    The Second Continental Congress assembled the Continental Army under Washington.
  • Olive Branch Petition

    The Continental Congress petitioned for peace with Britain one last time before going to definite war.
  • Prohibitory Act

    The Prohibitory Act declared the British intention to coerce Americans into submission and put an embargo on American goods while seizing American ships. In essence, it declared war on American commerce and rendered them incapable of trading.
  • Common Sense

    Common Sense
    Written by Thomas Paine, Common Sense inspired Americans everywhere to break away from Britain's rule.
  • Trenton

    The Continental Army crossed the Delaware River and surprise ambushed the British. The Americans won.
  • Germantown/Valley Forge

    The British entered Philadelphia and Americans were crushed after being forced to retreat.
  • Saratoga

    Saratoga
    After being prepared, the Americans were victorious and gained the French as an ally.
  • King's Mountain

    Though Americans lost the first battle, they ended up winning.
  • Yorktown

    Yorktown
    British chased the Americans but grew tired, leading to an American victory that won the revolution.
  • Pennsylvania

    Pennsylvania
    Upon facing persecution in England, the Quakers moved to America in search of a better life. William Penn was the founder, and Pennsylvania was a very prosperous and agricultural colony.
  • Georgia

    Georgia
    Georgia was established to serve as a buffer state between Spanish Florida and the Carolinas. It was a debtor's colony as essentially a prison full of convicts and the insane.
  • Rhode Island

    Rhode Island
    Rhode Island was essentially founded as a religious safe haven. "Outcasts" and convicts of all sorts found refuge in Rhode Island, and Roger Williams & Anne Hutchinson were sent into exile there. No one was religiously persecuted in Rhode Island.