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A Chronology of American History: 15th | 16th | 17th | 18th | 19th | 20th

17th Century

May 13: The first permanent English colony is founded in Jamestown, Virginia.

July 30: Virginia's House of Burgesses convenes; it is the first legislative assembly in English North America.

August: A Dutch ship carries 20 blacks to Virginia. We now know that these were not the first blacks to arrive in Virginia.

May 21: The Mayflower Compact, signed by 41 adult males in Provincetown Harbor, Mass., represents the first agreement on self-government in English North America.

December 26: The Pilgrim Separatists land at Plymouth, Mass.

December 25: Massachusetts Governor William Bradford forbids game-playing on Christmas day.

March 22: Indian attacks kill one-third of the English settlers in Virginia.

John Smith publishes his General History of Virginia, New England, and the Summer Isles, which describes his rescue by Pocahontas.

May: The Dutch establish the colony of New Netherland.

May 1: The Maypole at Mare Mount. In what is now Quincy, Mass., Thomas Morton and others set up a May Pole, engaged in drinking and dancing with Indian women, and celebrated "the feasts of the Roman Goddes Glora, or the beastly practises of the Madd Bacchinalians," according to Massachusetts Governor William Bradford. Morton was deported to England.

Charles I grants Lord Baltimore territory north of the Potomac River, which will become Maryland. Because the royal charter did not restrict settlement to Protestants, Catholics could settle in the colony.

Massachusetts' sumptuary law forebodes the purchase of woolen, linen or silk clothes with silver, gold, silk, or lace on them.

June: After being expelled from Massachusetts Bay Colony, Roger Williams founds Rhode Island, which becomes the first English colony to grant complete religious tolerance.

November 7: Massachusetts banishes Anne Hutchinson for preaching that faith alone was sufficient for salvation.

March: The first Swedish colonists settle in Delaware.

The first Jews arrive in New Amsterdam, fleeing the Spanish Inquisition in Brazil.

May: Massachusetts forbids the celebration of Christmas.

December 1: Parliament adopts the First Navigation Act, which requires all goods carried to and from England to be transported on English ships and that the colonies could export cotton, ginger, sugar, tobacco, and wool exclusively to England. Other Navigation Acts were enacted in 1662, 1663, 1670, and 1673.

September: Governor John Endicott orders an end to persecution of Quakers in Massachusetts, where three Quakers had been executed.

A synod of Massachusetts churches adopts the Halfway Covenant, which permits baptism of children whose parents had not become full church members.

Maryland adopts a statute denying freedom to slaves who converted to Christianity. A similar act was adopted by Virginia in 1667.

September 7: The Dutch surrender New Netherland to the English, who rename the colony New York. The Dutch temporarily regained possession in 1673 and 1674.

John Locke drafts the Fundamental Constitutions for the Carolinas, which combines a feudal social order with a stress on religious toleration.


June 24: King Philip's War begins. Relative to the size of the population, this conflict between the New England colonists and the Mohegans, Naragansetts, Nipmucks, Podunks, and Wampanoags was the deadliest in American history.

September 19: Jamestown, Virginia., is burned during Bacon's Rebellion. Declining tobacco prices, a cattle epidemic, and a belief that the colony's governor had failed to take adequate measures to protect Virginia against Indian attacks contributed to the rebellion, which petered out after its leader, Nathaniel Bacon, died in October 1676.

March 4: Charles II grants William Penn a charter to what is now Pennsylvania.

Mary Rowlandson publishes an account of her captivity among Indians.

June 21: Charles II revokes Massachusetts' charter on the grounds that it had imposed religious qualifications for voting, discriminated against the Church of England, and set up an illegal mint.

James II consolidates the New England colonies into the Dominion of New England and names Sir Edmund Andros governor, who dissolved the New England colonies' assemblies.

Leisler's Insurrection. Following the overthrow of James II, Jacob Leisler, a German merchant, force New York's governor to flee. He was subsequently executed for treason.

The first French and Indian war, King William's War begins. Colonists launch attacks on Port Royal, Nova Scotia, and Quebec, and the French and their Indian allies burn Schenectady. The 1697 Treaty of Ryswick restored the pre-war status quo.

April 18: The New England colonies out Royal Governor Edmund Andros.

March: The Salem Witch Scare begin when a group of young girls claims that they have been bewitched. When Massachusetts Governor William Phips halted the trials in October, 19 people had been hanged, one man had been crushed to death, and two people had died in prison. In 1697, one of the Salem witch judges, Samuel Sewall, publicly repented his role in the affair.


This site was updated on 20-Apr-14.

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