Colonial and Revolutionary Periods Timeline
30,000-20,000 BCE Native Americans cross Bering Strait from Asia to North America
1000 AD  Lief Erikson, Norse sailor, explores North America including Vinland (Newfoundland).
1450  Gutenberg perfects moveable type. 
1492 Spanish Reconquista - Spain unified under rule of Ferdinand and Isabella.  Jews and Moors  expelled from Spain.
1492 Christopher Columbus, sailing for Spain, explores Caribbean including San Salvador  (Bahamas), Hispanola (Santa Domingo) and Cuba.
1497 John Cabot, sailing for Britain, explores North America.
1498 Amerigo Vespucci, sailing for Spain, explores South American coast.
1507 New World referred to as "America" by German mapmaker who erroneously credits explorer  Amerigo Vespucci with the discovery of the continent.
1513 Juan Ponce de Leon, sailing for Spain, explores Florida. 
1518 Hernan Cortes of Spain defeats Aztec emperor Montezuma in Mexico.
1524 Giovanni de Verrazano sailing for France explores New York Harbor, the Hudson River and  Nova Scotia.
1534 Jacques Cartier, sailing for France explores the coast of Newfoundland and Prince Edward  Island (Canada).  He will later explore the St. Lawrence River as far as Quebec and Montreal. 
1539 Hernando de Soto of Spain explores what is today the Southeast United States. 
1540 Francisco Vasquez de Coronado of Spain explores what is today the Southwest United States. 
1565 St. Augustine (Florida) founded by Spanish settlers.  This constitutes the first permanent  European settlement in North America. 
1585 Sir Walter Raleigh organizes the colonization of Roanoke Island, Virginia (today, North  Carolina) by the British.  The colony lasts for one year.  Another attempt to settle the colony in  1587 also fails when the colony disappears without a trace sometime before 1590. 
1588 English Navy defeats Spanish Armada. 
1590 Richard Hakluyt publishes an anthology of notable voyages to the New World which includes  accounts by English explorers and settlers including Francis Drake, Humphrey Gilbert and  Walter Raleigh.  A second edition is published 1598 and piques English interest in the  exploration and colonization of the New World.
1607 Jamestown colony founded under a patent of the London Company.
1608 French explorer Samuel Champlain founds Quebec, the first permanent French settlement in  North America. 
1612 Tobacco introduced in Virginia colony by John Rolfe. 
1613  Dutch colonists form settlements in New Amsterdam (later New York City) and by the 1620s,  elsewhere in a colony called New Netherlands (New York). 
1619 House of Burgesses, an elective legislative assembly, created in Virginia colony. 
1619 First black slaves arrive in Virginia.
1620 Pilgrims arrive in Plymouth (Massachusetts) and sign Mayflower Compact.  Plymouth is  absorbed by their larger, Puritan neighbor Massachusetts Bay in 1691. 
1628  Massachusetts Bay Colony first settled by Puritans.  John Winthrop arrives two years later and  becomes their leader. 
1629 King Charles I dissolves Parliament and rules without it until 1640. 
1634 Lord Baltimore founds Maryland which is settled mainly by English Roman Catholics.   Initially, some religious freedom is permitted.
1635  Roger Williams, exiled from Massachusetts Bay Colony for advocating separation between  church and state and for questioning the validity of the Massachusetts Bay charter.  In 1636 he  founds Providence (Rhode Island) and establishes a policy of religious tolerance there.  The  colony is recognized and granted a charter by England in 1644. 
1636 Puritan clergyman Thomas Hooker and others leave Massachusetts and found Hartford (later  the colony of Connecticut). 
1636 Harvard College founded.
1638 Anne Hutchinson is tried and ex-communicated.  She leaves Massachusetts and goes to Rhode  Island where she founds the town of Portsmouth.
1638 Sweden establishes a colony, New Sweden in what is present day Delaware.  The colony is  dominated by Swedish and Dutch settlers. 
1639 Puritan settlers found New Hampshire led by John Wheelwright. 
1642  Civil War breaks out in England between supporters of King Charles and Parliamentarians and  Puritans.
1647 Massachusetts law requires that all sizable towns institute some form of public education. 
1649 King Charles I (a Stuart) is executed in England.  Puritan Oliver Cromwell creates a  Commonwealth in place of the monarchy. 
1651 First Navigation Act passed by Parliament.  No colonial goods may be imported to England in  non-English ships.
1660 The Royal House of Stuart returns to the throne in England when Charles II assumes the throne,  ending the Interregnum. 
1660 Navigation Act of 1660 requires only English built vessels with crews that are at least three- quarters English may trade in the American colonies.  Certain enumerated goods of colonial  origin ? including indigo, sugar and tobacco - may only be shipped to England or to other  English colonies.
1663  Charles II creates the colony of Carolina (later North and South Carolina).  The proprietors of  the colony (led by Anthony Ashley Cooper) establish a feudal society there. 
1663 Navigation Act requires that all imports to the American colonies from other European  countries must be transported from England on English ships. 
1664  Sir George Carteret and John, Lord Berkeley found New Jersey. 
1664  After a naval blockade and without a shot being fired, Dutch Governor Peter Stuyvesant  surrenders New Netherlands to English forces.  The English rename the colony New York in  honor of the Duke of York.  The Dutch are permitted to stay and are granted religious freedom. 
1664  The Maryland Colony passes a law that mandates the life long servitude of black slaves.  New  York, New Jersey, the Carolinas, and Virginia will later pass such laws. 
1667 The Virginia House of Burgesses passes a law stating that the conversion of blacks to  Christianity does not bring about their release from servitude.  This law encourages planters to  convert more slaves to Christianity. 
1673 French explorers Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet "discover" the interior of North  America including the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River.  In 1682 French explorer LaSalle  reaches the mouth of the Mississippi and claims the surrounding territory, which he names  Louisiana for Louis XIV of France. 
1676 Nathaniel Bacon leads a group of frontiersmen from Western Virginia in a rebellion against  Virginia Governor William Berkeley which results in Baconís burning of Jamestown.  Bacon and  fellow rebels also crush the Susquehannock Indians who have been attacking the settlers of  Western Virginia. The rebellion disintegrate when Bacon dies suddenly in October 1676. 
1680 New Hampshire, long a territory of Massachusetts, becomes an independent colony. 
1681 William Penn, a Quaker, receives a charter from King Charles II making him proprietor of  Pennsylvania.  Pennsylvania was characterized by a government which permitted religious  tolerance and which sought friendly relations with local Indian tribes.  Many settlers of  Pennsylvania are Quakers. 
1686 King James II creates the Dominion of New England and names Edmund Andros its governor.   The Dominion includes all of the colonies north of Pennsylvania and deprives the colonies of  their independent status and dissolves their colonial legislatures. 
1688  King James II is deposed in what is known as the Glorious Revolution.  James II's fervent  Catholicism and disregard for traditional civil liberties and absolutist acts alienated many  and led to the Revolution.  American colonists have similar objections to James II. 
1689 William and Mary of Orange become King and Queen of England.  Parliament passes a Bill of  Rights protecting the liberties of Englishmen. 
1689 Edmund Andros is jailed and the Dominion of New England dissolves in the colonial response to  the Glorious Revolution.  New England colonies, one by one reestablish their representative  assemblies. 
1690 King Williamís War begins in the colonies.  American colonists fight French and Indians. 
1692 Hysteria over the presence of alleged witches in Salem, Massachusetts leads to the execution of  20 individuals - 14 of them women.
1696 Navigation Act of 1696 limits all colonial trade to English built ships. 
1697 Treaty of Ryswick between England and France ends King Williamís War. 
1699 Wool Act (a Navigation Act) forbids the export of wool from the American colonies in an effort  to protect Britainís wool industry. 
1700 Colonial population is about 275,000; Boston is the largest city with 7000 inhabitants. 
1702 Queen Anneís War (the War of Spanish Succession) begins.  In America, English and colonists  fight French, Spanish and Indians. 
1703 Delaware breaks away from Pennsylvania and forms a separate government.  The region had  originally been settled by Swedes and called New Sweden. 
1713  Treaty of Utrecht ends Queen Anne's War. 
1717 Scots-Irish immigration becomes prevalent.  Most settle in Western Pennsylvania.  Significant  numbers of Germans (known as Pennsylvania Dutch) also begin to settle in Pennsylvania at  about this time.  Non-English settlement is already common in New York State. 
1732 Georgia colony founded by James Oglethorpe and his partners.  Oglethorpe sees the colony as a  haven for those in debtors' prisons. 
1732 Benjamin Franklin begins publication of "Poor Richard's Almanac", a compilation of weather  predictions, proverbs and epigrams. 
1733 Molasses Act - places high duties on all sugar, rum and molasses from non-British islands in the  Caribbean.  It is designed to protect British planters in the West Indies. 
1734 Jonathan Edwards, Congregationalist clergyman preaches a series of sermons in  Northampton Massachusetts that initiate the Great Awakening.  Over the next ten years a  religious revival, led by Edwards and George Whitefield, sweeps the country. 
1740 King Georgeís War (the War of Austrian Succession) begins in Europe.  The American phase  largely occurs between 1743-1748. 
1745 During King George's War, American forces capture the French fort of Louisbourg at the mouth  of the St. Lawrence River. 
1748  Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle concludes King George's War ?  Louisbourg is returned to the French. 
1750 Iron Act passed by Parliament -  bans the construction of iron mills and steel furnaces in the  American colonies.  This is designed to protect the British iron industry. 
1754 The French and Indian War (the Seven Years War) begins. 
1754 Albany Congress - at an intercolonial meeting, Benjamin Franklin presents his Albany Plan  to unify the English colonies in America.  The plan is later rejected by individual colonial  assemblies and by the British government. 
1760  George III becomes King of England. 
1760 The population of the 13 colonies is approximately 1.6 million. 
1763 Treaty of Paris concludes the French and Indian War - France gives England all her territory in  North America including Canada and all lands east of the Mississippi River.  France holds on  to a few islands in the Caribbean and to the port city of New Orleans. 
1763 Proclamation of 1763 issued by King George forbids American settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains. 
1764 Sugar Act passed by Parliament as a means of raising revenue from the American colonists.  An  accompanying act provides a means of more effective enforcement of existing acts. 
1764  Committee of correspondence formed by Massachusetts House of Representatives to  communicate common grievances with other colonies. 
1765 Stamp Act - a direct tax on all printed material in the American colonies.  Colonists protest act  through mob action, boycotts of British goods, the Stamp Act Congress, etc.  Many colonists  refuse to pay the tax. 
1765 Quartering Act - requires colonies to house British troops in the American colonies. 
1765 Stamp Act Congress meets and protests taxation without representation and other British  measures as violations of the colonistsí rights as British citizens.
1766 Stamp Act repealed by Parliament on same day that it passes the Declaratory Act.
1766 Declaratory Act - declares Parliamentary supremacy over American colonies "in all cases  whatsoever." 
1767 Townshend Acts - place duties on colonial importation of glass, lead, paints, paper and tea for  purpose of raising revenue to pay for the defense and administration of the American colonies.   Widespread American boycotts of British goods result.  Several colonial legislatures protest  the acts.
1770 Boston Massacre - British troops fire on a belligerent Boston mob.  Three colonists are killed,  eight are injured. 
1770 Townshend Acts repealed by Parliament except for the tax on tea
1770 Population of the American colonies is about 2,205,000. 
1773 Tea Act - repeals export tax on English tea heading for America, but maintains three penny  import tax on Americans.  A virtual tea monopoly is granted to the East India Company.  A  widespread boycott of British tea results. 
1773 Boston Tea Party.  Boston colonists empty East India Company tea into Boston Harbor in protest  of Tea Act. 
1774 Coercive (Intolerable) Acts passed by Parliament in response to the continuing rebelliousness of  the Massachusetts Colony.  The Boston Port Act forbids any trade ships from entering or leaving  Boston harbor until the East Indian company is reimbursed for tea.  The Administration of  Justice Act allows British officials accused of crimes in Massachusetts to be tried in British,  rather than American courts.  The Government Act dissolved the Massachusetts Assembly and  provided that all Massachusetts officials be appointed by the King or the royal governor.  The  act also limited the number of town meetings in the towns of the colony to one a year.  The  Quartering Act authorized the army to quarter troop wherever needed in all British colonies. 
1774 The Quebec Act created a government for British Canada that did not include an elective  assembly and jury trials were not guaranteed.  The Southern boundary of Canada was defined as  the Ohio River which meant that it included territory claimed by various American colonies. 
1774  First Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia with representatives from all of the colonies  except Georgia.  The Congress issues a Declaration and Resolves which oppose the Coercive  Acts and other British measures and which assert the rights of colonists and colonial  assemblies. 
1775 Battles of Lexington and Concord erupt between Massachusetts militia and British troops when  British troops march to Concord to destroy a colonial arms depot there.  Revolutionary War  begins. 
1775 Second Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia and appoints George Washington as  commander of the Continental Army.  The Congress still rejects a declaration of independence. 
1776 Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" is published and is widely read.  Paine offers a clear and  persuasive argument for independence from Britain. 
1776 Declaration of Independence adopted by the Second Continental Congress. 
1776 British exhibit military superiority at battles of Long Island (Brooklyn) and several other  losses in the New York area, Washington's Continental Army flees to New Jersey and  eventually Pennsylvania. 
1777 Americans win important Battle of Saratoga and British General Burgoyne surrenders his force  of 5700 soldiers to American General Gates.
1777 France officially recognizes the independence of the United States.  In early 1778 the U.S. and  French sign a treaty of alliance and a treaty of amity and commerce which said that if the  British and French were to go to war, that France would not make peace until the independence  of the U.S. was assured.  France declares war on Britain in July 1778.  Spain and the  Netherlands will later join France in a war against Britain. 
1780 Pennsylvania enact a law mandating the gradual abolition of slavery.  Massachusetts adopts a  bill of rights that applies to blacks and whites equally. 
1780 British win the Battle of Charles Town and inflict heavy casualties on the Americans 
1781 British General Cornwallis surrenders 8000 men to an army of 1600 American and French troop.   The French also provide a key naval blockade.  Cornwallis' surrender spells the end of British  hopes for victory.  By the end of the year battles have virtually ceased between British and  American troops. 
1782 Many loyalists begin to leave the United States for Canada and elsewhere. 
1783  Treaty of Paris ending the Revolutionary War is signed.  Britain recognizes American  independence and promises the withdrawal of British forces from American territory.   Americans promise to respect the rights and property of loyalists and to help British  merchants collect all debts owed to them by Americans.