Time Line of History


© Linda Haas Davenport

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1600: East India Company established to develop overseas trade.

1601: England passed the "Poor Law" which gave rise to the Workhouses of England.

1605: Miguel de Cervantes publishes Don Quixote which next to the Bible is the most translated book in the world. It is considered by many to be the 1st novel written.

1606: King James I grants colonizing patents to the Virginia and Plymouth Companies. Both were joint-stock companies, which raised their capital by the sale of shares of stock. The wonders of the "New World" were published, posted and pamphlets were handed out throughout England to sell shares.

1607: The Plymouth Company attempts to plant a colony in Main, but after one winter the colonists become discouraged and return to England. The Plymouth Company folds. The Virginia Company of London sends out an expedition of 3 ships with 104 men to plant a colony some 40 miles up the James River. It's named Jamestown in honor of England's king. It became the first permanent English settlement in North America. Pocahontas, daughter of Chief Powhatan, saves life of John Smith. Capt. Christopher Newport returned to England from Jamestown with a load of glittering iron pyrites, mistaken for gold. The city of Santa Fe was founded as the capital of the Spanish colony of New Mexico.

1608: John Smith keeps the Jamestown colony going under the stern rule "He who works not, eats not". Settlers (most "gentlemen" who considered themselves too good to work at growing food) had come with the expectation of finding gold or other quick and easy riches and wasted much time looking for these while they should have been providing for their survival. New France comes into being when the French open trade with the Indians for furs. Samuel de Champlain establishes a trading post in Quebec. The St. Lawrence River became France's "North American highway".

1609: 1st modern day bank that used bills of exchange (checks) like money was established In Amsterdam - Wisselbank. First known newspaper began publication in Strassburg, Germany. The Relation was published weekly and usually consisted of 4 pages. Its mix of national news and local trivia set the standards for all the newspapers that followed. John Smith leaves the Jamestown Colony to return to England. Holland sends Englishman Henry Hudson to explore for them. Hudson discovers the river named after him.

1610: 459 people were settled in Jamestown in 1607. Without John Smith's stern rules the colony had fallen on hard times. Relief ships reach Jamestown in 1610 to find only 59 haggard survivors who convince their countrymen to take them home. Starvation, disease, and Indian attacks had claimed 430 settlers since the previous May and made cannibals of the others - new study suggests Drought as a contributing factor. New Mexico settled. Dutch East India Company brought tea to Europe. Prior to tea being introduced in Europe the populace had been drinking beer soup for breakfast. Galileo Galilei's improved telescope allowed him to see the moons of Jupiter and form his theory that Jupiter and the Earth revolved around the sun.

1612: John Rolfe of Virginia discovers that a superior strain of tobacco, native to the West Indies, could be grown in Virginia. There was a large market for this tobacco in Europe, and Rolfe's discovery gave Virginia a major cash crop.

1613: The Dutch erected a permanent trading post on Manhattan Island.

1614: Virginia settlers are granted 3 acre farm plots. Virginia Tobacco grown Indian-style by John Rolfe from seeds brought in from Trinidad and Venezuela, arrived in London. Selling for 6 times the price of wheat, tobacco ensured Virginia's survival. New York settlement began.

1618: Virginia bans secular activities on Sunday, from dancing and card playing to hunting and fishing. Start of Thirty Year War in England.

1619: Wolstenholme Towne was erected on a 21,500 acre plantation granted to Richard Martin and other stockholders. 10 miles east of Jamestown the village housed officials and stored tobacco and lumber for export. Most of its residents died on March 22 1622 in an Indian attack that claimed 350 of the James River settlers, a fifth of Virginia's total population. The first representative assembly The House of Burgesses founded in Virginia. First black slaves brought into Virginia but were brought as indentured servants not as slaves. A shipload of some 90 "young maids to makes wives" landed at Jamestown. March 11th - Margaret and Phillipa Flower were burned at the stake for practicing witchcraft in Lincoln, England. The Flower sisters and their mother had cast spells on various members of their employer's family. Joan didn't help her case much during the trial when she picked up a piece of bread, looked at the jury and said "May this choke me if I am guilty." Then she took a bite of the bread and choked to death. How's that for magic backfiring?

1620: A group of "Separatists" (known as such because they felt the Church of England was beyond saving and felt they had to separate from it) left Plymouth, England on Sept 16th aboard the ship The Mayflower. Under the leadership of William Bradford and under a charter of the London Company the Separatists (later known as the Pilgrims) were bound for Virginia. Driven off course by storms, their ship made landfall at Cape Cod (Provincetown, MA) and they decided it was God's will for them to settle in that area. This however put them outside the jurisdiction of any established government and so before going ashore on Nov 21st, 41 of the passengers signed the famous "Mayflower Compact" which established an orderly government based on the consent of the governed. Beaver hats for men came into fashion in England. Made of wool and mixed fibers that included cut fur. Such valuable hats, often worn over caps or hoods, were passed down as family heirlooms.

1622: Public whippings were used to discourage Virginia settlers from picking corn before it was ripe. Indians massacre left 347 settlers dead.

1623: To feed silkworms, a potential source of export revenue, the Virginia Legislature ordered settlers to plant mulberry trees. New Netherland founded by the Dutch West India Company, It was captured by the English in 1664. New Hampshire settled.

1624: King James I makes Virginia a royal colony following claims of Virginia Company's mismanagement. Maine settled. Dutch trading outposts established on New Amsterdam (Manhattan Island) and Ft. Orange (Albany). Profitable fur trading begins for the Dutch and the Indians in the area.

1628: British physician William Harvey, who had spent 20 years researching the circulatory system, published his An Anatomical Study of the Motion of the Heart and of the Blood in Animals. In it he demonstrated for the first time that the heart controls circulation. It is considered one of the most significant medical discovers.

1629: The Puritans (like the Separatists) were unhappy with the Church of England and felt the Anglican Church still retained too many unscriptural practices left over from Roman Catholicism. The Puritans chartered the Massachusetts Bay Company. Charles I grated the charter without noticing the omission of where the Company's headquarters would be located. The Puritans, taking advantage of this omission, made their headquarters in the colony itself, 3,000 miles from meddlesome royal officials.

1630: New Boston-Charlestown ferry sets fare at one cent per passenger or per each hundred pounds of cargo shipped. Massachusetts Bay Colony established under the leadership of John Winthrop carefully organizes their trip and therefore did not endure the "starving times" of other colonies.

1632: No longer granting charters to stock companies, England begins granting charters to individuals or groups of individuals who actually own the colony and who are responsible directly to the crown. The first such proprietorship by royal grant issued to Lord Baltimore (George Calvert). The grant was located just north of the Potomac River and was to be a refuge for English Catholics. Lord Baltimore died before the colony could be planted, but the venture, named Maryland, was carried on by his son Cecilius.

1633: Moravian bishop Johan Amos Comenius was the first to advocate letting children have a childhood. In his book The School of Infancy he advised that babies should have their spirits stirred "by kisses and embraces" and that "children should learn to play". A completely novel concept at the time.

1634: Connecticut and Maryland settled. 1st public house (tavern) opens in Boston severing locals and travelers alike.

1635: Boston Latin School was the first public secondary school in the colonies. Forces clashed during a dispute between Maryland's governor (Leonard Calvert) and Virginian William Claiborne, who had run a trading post on Kent Island since 1631. Claiborne resented the inclusion of Kent, the largest island in Chesapeake Bay, in a royal grant to the Maryland Colony in 1632. Proprietorship by royal grant issued to Captain John Mason - New Hampshire.

1636: Harvard College founded . Roger Williams a Puritan preacher had arrived in MA in 1631, but he had a talent for carrying things to their logical (or sometimes not so logical) extreme. When his activities became disruptive he was asked to leave the colony. To avoid having to return to England he fled to the wilderness around Narragansett Bay, bought land from the Indians and founded the settlement of Providence which was soon populated with many of his followers. Thomas Hooker leads a group of settlers (who had slight religious disagreements with the leadership of Massachusetts) westward to found Hartford, Connecticut. Hooker and his followers felt that John Winthrop was exercising somewhat more authority than was good. On the other hand John Davenport and his group of followers left Massachusetts because they felt John Winthrop wasn't strict enough. Davenport and his followers founded the colony of New Haven. New Hampshire's settlement did not involve any disagreement at all among the Puritans. It was simply settled as an overflow from Massachusetts.

1638: Anne Hutchinson moved to Roger Williams's Providence plantation after she was banished from Massachusetts for advocating a mystical religion that diminished the role of the Puritan clergy. Moving on to another area around Narragansett Bay with her followers she founded Portsmouth. Delaware settled.

1639: Stephen Daye cranks up the first colonial printing press in Massachusetts. Connecticut, produces the first written constitution in America. Fundamental Orders of Connecticut provided for representative government.

1642: The Civil War in England between Charles I and the Puritans had raged for 10 years and during that time the "Great Migration" of Puritans to the colonies had increased Massachusetts' population by 20,000 as of 1642.

1643: Roger Williams complied a dictionary of the Algonquian language spoken by the New England Indians. He had wintered with Narragansett Bay Indians in 1636 after being banned from Massachusetts for challenging Puritan intolerance and Indian policy. Four New England colonies form a confederation to ward off Indians and Dutch.

1644: Roger Williams secures from Parliament a charter combining Providence, Portsmouth, and other settlements that had sprung up in the area into the colony of Rhode Island. Rhode Island tended to be populated with such exiles and troublemakers as could not find welcome in the other colonies or in Europe. It suffered constant political turmoil.

1647: First bookstore opens in Boston

1649: Maryland was founded as a refuge for English Catholics, but from the beginning more Protestants than Catholics settled in Maryland. To protect the Catholic minority Calvert approved an Act of Toleration, guaranteeing political rights to Christians of all persuasions and also allowed a representative assembly.

1652: Defying England, Massachusetts Bay Colony minted its own coin, the pine-tree shilling, and later declared itself an independent commonwealth. Rhode Island declares slavery illegal, to no avail.

1653: After Boston's "Great Fire" a fire code was adopted. "Every household to have a 12 foot pole with a good large swob at the end of it and a ladder long enough to reach the eve of his house."

1654: Driven from Brazil by the Inquisition, Jacob Barsimon and 23 other Sephardic Jews reached New Amsterdam, beginning Jewish immigration to the colonies.

1656: Quakers arrived in Boston, only to be imprisoned, beaten, and deported by the Puritan authorities. Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens constructed the first pendulum clock and revolutionized timekeeping. Captain Kemble of Boston was sent to the stocks for two hours for arriving home from a 3 year voyage and kissing his wife on his doorstep on a Sunday thus breaking the colony's blue laws. (The term blue law, still in use today to describe areas where all stores that sell non-essential items are closed on Sunday). The term "blue laws" took its name fron the blue Puritan emblem or the blue paper the laws were printed on.

1657: Measles epidemic in Boston. Twenty-seven gentlemen of Boston form The Scot's Charitable Society" to care for the poor.

1659: Ironworker Joseph Jencks creates a portable, fire-fighting pump with water tank. Two Quakers who had been deported from Boston in 1656 returned and were hanged.

1660: New Jersey and North Carolina settled

1662: A new Charter combines the colonies of New Haven and Connecticut into an officially recognized colony of Connecticut. Puritans proposed the "Half-Way Covenant" in response to the fear that New England was drifting away from its religious purpose. The children and grandchildren of the first generation were displaying more concern for making money than creating a godly society. The Half-Way Covenant provided a sort of half-way church membership for the children of members (even though many "children" were actually adults) who did not profess saving grace which was required for membership in Puritan churches.

1663: The 20 year Civil War (Puritan Revolution)in England ended and Charles II rewarded 8 noblemen who had helped him regain the crown by granting them a charter for all of the lands lying south of Virginia and north of Spanish Florida. The colony was named Carolina, after the king. The proprietors came up with an almost feudal society plan that proved unworkable and caused the area to be settled slowly. The area of North Carolina developed as an overflow from Virginia more than from actual settlement.

1664: Delaware established by Swedish trading company, later absorbed by Penn family. Charles II gave his brother, James, Duke of York, title to all the Dutch lands in American, provided James conquer them first. James sent an invasion fleet under the command of Col. Richard Nicols. New Amsterdam fell almost without a shot and became New York. Col Nichols was granted land for his services. The Puritans who had already settle Long Island weren't happy with the name change. To add to the confusion James granted part of his newly acquired domain to John Lord Berkeley and Sir George Carteret (two of the Carolina proprietors) who named the area New Jersey. But James neglected to tell Col. Nichols this with the result that both Nichols and Carteret & Berkeley were granting title to the same land - to different settlers. Conflicting claims of land ownership plagued New Jersey for decades.

1665: Harvard College awarded a diploma to its first American Indian graduate. Great Plague in London kills 75,000. Boston opens the first almshouse for poor.

1666: Great Fire of London. Isaac Newton watched an apple fall and developed his law of gravitation.

1668: Michigan settled

1670: South Carolina settled by English planters from the island of Barbados. Founded Charles Town (Charleston). These planters brought with them their black slaves; thus, unlike the Chesapeake colonies of Virginia and Maryland, South Carolina had slavery as a fully developed institution from the beginning.

1673: Regular mail service, by horseback, begins between Boston and New York

1674: In a letter to England Boston is described as: "the city has the air of London. The houses are raised on the sea-banks ... many of them standing upon piles, close together on each side of the streets as in London and furnished with many fair shops .... With three meeting houses or churches, and a Town-house built upon pillars where merchants may confer .. The streets are many and large, paved with pebble stone."

1675: King Philip's War: Wampanoag chief King Philip (Metacomet) led a war to exterminate the whites. Some 2,000 settlers were killed before King Philip was killed and his tribe subdued.

1676: Bacon's Rebellion began when Virginia Governor William Berkeley, allegedly fearing loss of fur profits, failed to assist land-hungry settlers against Indians. Nathaniel Bacon successfully led a force against the Indians and then Berkeley himself, who had Bacon declared a traitor. King Phillip's war ended in victory for New Englanders after more than a year of battle with the Wampanoag and four other Indian tribes. A fifth of New England's towns had been ravaged and 600 colonists and 3,000 Indians died.

1677: King Charles II makes New Hampshire a separate royal colony where before it was simply an overflow of Massachusetts settlement.

1679: Fire ravaged Boston and houses to be re-built were required to be of brick or stone and to have slate or tile roofs.

1680: New Hampshire separated from Massachusetts Bay Colony by a Royal Commission.

1681: William Penn secured a grant for a colony from Charles II in payment for a large debt the king had owed Penn's later father. Penn wanted to call his colony "Sylvania" which soon was referred to as "Penn's Sylvania" and through common usage became Pennsylvania . The area covered by his grant already contained 4,000 residents (1682). He designed his capital of Philadelphia and welcomed all fellow Quakers. Quakers were considered to be a radical religious sect. They believed all persons had an "inner light" which allowed them to commune directly with God. They believed human institutions were, for the most part, unnecessary and, since they believed they could receive revelations directly from God, placed little importance on the Bible. They were also pacifists and declined to show customary deference to those who were considered to be their social superiors.

1682: Texas settled. City of Philadelphia established. First European settlement in Texas by the Spanish. Edward Halley observes a comet and charts its orbit. Isaac Newton formulates his law of universal gravitation.

1683: Clergyman Increase Mather and others formed a society in Boston to promote scientific research. 1st Modern Museum opened in 1683 at Oxford University in England. William Penn signs a treaty of peace with the Indians. German settlers arrive in PA and found Germantown.

1684: Massachusetts charter revoked in retaliation for the colony's large-scale evasion of the restrictions of the Navigation Acts. Gottfried Leibnitz publishes his system of calculus.

1685: Officials laying out Philadelphia evict settlers from cave dwellings in the area. Protestant worship forbidden in France.

1686: Arkansas settled. A Hurricane only compounded the woes of Carolina colonists in August (just a day after marauding Spaniards attacked) - a storm "wonderfully horrid and destructive", stuck Charleston, "attended with such dismal dreadful and fatal consequences that the hand of Almighty God seems to concur with malice of our enemies". James II dissolves the colonial legislatures in North America.

1687: Measles epidemic in Boston. The Venetians besiege the Turks in Athens, accidentally destroying the Parthenon.

1689: Joint Monarchs William and Mary replaced King James II. Inspired by events in the mother country, colonists rebelled against royal governors in Massachusetts and New York and ousted Maryland's Roman Catholic proprietor. Beginning of the French and Indian Wars (or King William's War).

1690: Yellow Fever epidemic in New York. First paper mill built in Philadelphia. Boston now boasts 54 public (taverns) houses offering lodgings for travelers, as well as food, liquor, coffee, tea, and amusements, such as ninepins, billiards and cards.

1691: Massachusetts charter reinstated except this time as a royal colony.

1692: Witch trials in Salem that sentenced 20 new Englanders to death were defended by Boston minister Cotton Mather in The Wonders of the Invisible World a small pamphlet published in Boston. His father, Increase Mather, and other clergymen helped restore calm.

1693; Postal link set up by Andrew Hamilton of NJ between NY and Philadelphia. Virginia establishes William & Mary College at Williamsburg - the 1st southern college and the 2nd to be founded in the colonies.

1694: New Englanders signed a peace treaty with the Iroquois to prevent a French-Indian alliance. New York City officials order "on winter nights a lantern or candle be hung before the door of every seventh house" thus making New York the first city to light its streets.

1698: The Bay Psalm Book offered 13 two-part harmonies, the colonies' first published music. In a letter Philadelphia is described: "the Industrious (nay Indefatigable) Inhabitants have built a Nobel and Beautiful City ... which contains above two thousand Houses, all Inhabited; and most of them Stately, and of Brick, generally three stories high, after the Mode of London, and as many as several Families in each ... Here is lately built a Noble Town-House or Guild-Hall, also a Handsom Market-House and a convenient Prison."

1699: Louisiana and Mississippi settled.


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