A Chronology of American History:
15th | 16th
| 17th | 18th | 19th
Population of the British colonies:
approximately 275,000. Boston, the largest city, has about 7000
Samuel Sewall publishes The
Selling of Joseph, one of the first expressions of antislavery
thought in the American colonies.
May 4: Queen Anne's
War, the second French and Indian War, begins. It lasts until
February 29: French
and Indian forces attack Deerfield, killing fifty and taking a
hundred residents captive, in one of the most violent episodes
in Queen Anne's War.
April 24: The Boston News-Letter
is the first successful newspaper in the British colonies.
marriages between whites and blacks.
September 22: The Tuscarora
Indian War (1711-13) begins. Surviving Tuscaroras move northward
and join the League of the Six Nations.
April 11: The Treaty
of Utrecht ends Queen Anne's War. France cedes Newfoundland and
Nova Scotia to Britain.
January: South Carolina
settlers, aided by Cherokees, defeat the Yamassee Indians, and
move southward into lands claimed by Spain.
May: Connecticut prohibits
Sunday travel except for attendance at worship.
May 17: The Molasses
Act levies heavy duties on rum and molasses imported from the
French and Spanish West Indies.
The Great Awakening
begins in New England, ignited by Jonathan Edwards, who sermons
in Northampton, Mass., emphasize human depravity and divine omnipotence.
Peter Zenger, publisher
of the New York Weekly Journal is acquitted of seditious libel,
helping to establish the principle of freedom of the press.
June 9: George II grants
James Oglethorpe a charter for Georgia to serve as a buffer against
Spain and as a haven for debtors. Georgia was the only one of
the original 13 colonies to forbid slavery.
August: George Whitefield, a Methodist
preacher, arrives from England, and preaches from New England
September 9: The Stono slave rebellion
in South Carolina.
Population of the British colonies:
The Negro Conspiracy
of 1741, an alleged plot to burn down New York City, leads authorities
to burn 13 blacks alive, hang eight, and transport 71 out of the
King George's War, the
third French and Indian war, begins. It lasts until 1748.
June 16: New Englanders
capture Fort Louisbourg, a French stronghold in Nova Scotia. The
fort was returned to the French at the end of King George's War,
outraging New Englanders.
Benjamin Franklin publishes
his Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind, perhaps the
most influential essay written by an American colonist.
June: Benjamin Franklin
demonstrates that lightning is form of electricity by flying a
kite and a key during a thunderstorm.
Banneker, an African American, constructs the first clock made
entirely in the American colonies.
May 28: The fourth and most important
French and Indian War (1754-1763) begins when British and French
and Indian forces clash near Fort Duquesne (the site of present-day
Pittsburgh) for control of the Ohio River Valley.
July 19: The Albany Congress,
called to negotiate a treaty with the Iroquois in event of war
with the French, approves Benjamin Franklin's "Plan of the
Union" of the colonies, with a president general named by
Britain and a grand council with legislative power. The plan was
rejected by the colonies and the Crown.
August. 10: A day after
surrendering to French Gen. Montcalm at Fort William Henry in
northeastern New York, many British troops die in an ambush by
France's Indian allies. James Fenimore Cooper makes use of this
incident in The Last of the Mohicans.
September 13: In the climactic battle
of the war, Britain defeats the French on the Plains of Abraham
at Quebec. Both French Gen. Montcalm and British commander James
Wolfe die in the battle.
Population of the British
colonies: approximately 1,610,000.
February 10: France
cedes Canada to Britain under the Treaty of Paris ending the Seven
May 7: Pontiac's Rebellion begins
when the Ottowa Indian chief leads an attack on Detroit. After
failing to receive French aid, the conflict ends in October.
March 22: Parliament
passes the Stamp Act, which imposes a tax on all newspapers, legal
documents, playing cards, dice, almanacs, and pamphlets, raising
the issue of taxation without representation.
March 24: The Quartering Act,
which requires the colonies to provide housing and food for British
troops stationed in the colonies, goes into effect.
May 29: When Patrick Henry is
accused of treason for denouncing the Stamp Act in the Virginia
House of Burgesses, he replies: "If this be treason, make
the most of it."
October 7-25: The Stamp Act Congress,
consisting of delegates from nine colonies, meets in New York
to organize united resistance to the Stamp Act. It calls on the
colonies to protest the act by refusing to import goods that require
purchase of a stamp.
The phrase "Sons
of Liberty" refers to opponents of the Stamp Act.
March 17: Under pressure for London
merchants, Parliament repeals the Stamp Act.
March 18: Parliament passes the
Declaratory Act, asserting its power to pass laws affecting the
June 29: The Townsend
Acts require the colonists to pay an import duty on tea, glass,
oil, lead, paper, and paint.
June 9: Customs officials
in Boston seize John Hancock's sloop Liberty on the (probably
false) charge that it was used for smuggling.
October 1: Two regiments of British
troops land in Boston.
Father Junipero Serra,
a Franciscan friar, establishes the first California mission.
June 7: Daniel Boone reaches Kentucky
for the first time.
March 5: Boston Massacre. Around
9 p.m., British troops fire on a crowd of men and boys who are
throwing snowballs and chunks of ice at them. Three members of
the crowd--Crispus Attucks, James Caldwell, and Samuel Gray--are
killed and two others--Patrick Carr and Samuel Maverick--died
later of their wounds.
John Adams, assisted by Josiah Quincy, defended the soldiers,
arguing that the crowd had rushed the soldiers, taunting them
and striking at their muskets with sticks and clubs. Preston and
six other defendants were acquitted. Two soldiers, found guilty
of manslaughter, were branded on the thumb and dismissed from
April 12: Parliament repeals the
all the Townsend duties except the one on tea.
June 10: Colonists near
Providence, R.I., burn the British customs schooner Gaspee after
it runs aground.
Harvard College announces
that it will no longer rank students in order of social prominence.
Phyllis Wheatley, the slave of
a Boston merchant, publishes Poems on Various Subjects.
May 10: Tea Act. To save the East
Indian Company from bankruptcy, the British Parliament authorizes
it to sell a huge tea surplus without payment of duty directly
to the public, outraging established tea merchants, since the
East India Company could undersell them.
December 16: Boston Tea Party.
Disguised as Mohawk Indians, a group of approximately 150 protesters
boarded three tea ships in Boston harbor and emptied 342 chests
of tea worth 18,000 pounds sterling into the water.
March 31: Intolerable
Acts. In reprisal for the Boston Tea Party, the British Parliament
enacts the first of the "Intolerable Acts," closing
Boston harbor to all shipping until payment for the destroyed
tea was made.
May 20: Two additional "Intolerable
Acts" forbid public meetings in Massachusetts unless sanctioned
by the royal governor and transfer any trial of a British official
accused of a capital offense to England or another colony.
June 2: The Quartering Act, another
of the "Intolerable Acts," requires Massachusetts residents
to house and feed British troops in private homes.
June 22: The Quebec Act extends
the boundaries of Quebec to the Ohio River and guarantees the
rights of Catholics and Indians in the region.
August 6: "Mother" Ann
Lee, the founder of the Shakers, arrives in New York.
September 5: The First Continental
Congress meets in Philadelphia; all 13 colonies except Georgia
September 17: The First Continental
Congress approves the Suffolk Resolves, calling for organized
opposition to the Intolerable Acts.
March 3: At a convention
held in Richmond, Va.'s St. Johns Episcopal Church, Patrick Henry
reportedly denounced arbitrary British rule with the stirring
words: "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased
at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God. I
know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty
or give me death."
April 14: The first antislavery
society in the colonies is organized in Philadelphia.
April 19: At the battles of Lexington
and Concord, 73 British troops are killed and 200 are wounded
or missing in action. The patriot losses were 49 dead and 46 wounded
May: The Second Continental Congress
convenes in Philadelphia.
June 15: Congress selects George
Washington to be commander in chief of the Continental Army.
June 17: Battle of Bunker Hill.
British forces attacked Patriots on Breed's Hill, which overlooks
the sea approach to Boston Harbor. Almost half of the British
troops--1,054 out of 2,400--are killed or wounded. American colonel
William Prescott is credited with telling his troops: "Don't
fire till you see the whites of their eyes!"
June 22: The Second Continental
Congress issues its first paper money.
January: Thomas Paine
arrives in the United States bearing a letter of recommendation
by Benjamin Franklin. His pamphlet Common Sense, published on
Jan. 10, sold over 100,000 copies in three months.
June 6: At the Second Continental
Congress, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia introduces a resolution
that "these united colonies are, and of right ought to be,
free and indpendent states."
July 2: New Jersey gives "all
inhabitants" of adult age with a net worth of 50 pounds the
right to vote. Women property holders have the vote until 1807,
when the state limited the vote to "free, white males."
July 4: Congress adopts the Declaration
of Independence. Virginia Richard Henry Lee formally moved for
independence on June 6. On June 11, a five-member committee--consisting
of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert Livingston,
and Roger Sherman--was named to produce a draft of a declaration.
September 22: Before being executed
by the British for spying, Capt. Nathan Hale says, "I only
regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."
December 19: To bolster the patriots'
morale, Thomas Paine publishes The Crisis, which begins: "These
are the times that try men's souls."
June 14: The Continental
Congress authorizes a flag with 13 red and white stripes and 13
white stars on a field of blue.
July 2: Vermont becomes the first
political unit in the world to abolish slavery.
According to Thomas
Jefferson, "30,000 slaves escaped from Virginia in the year
February 6: France signs a treaty
with the United States.
December 29: The British invade
the deep South, capturing Savannah, Ga.
June: Spain declares
war on England.
September 23: When British forces
on the Serapis demand that John Paul Jones surrender the sinking
Bon Homme Richard, Jones replies: "Sir, I have not yet begun
U.S. population: 2,781,000.
September 21: Benedict Arnold
offers to exchange West Point for 20,000 pounds and a commission
as major general in the British army.
Quork Walker, a slave,
successfully petitions for his freedom, basing his plea on the
State constitution's declaration that "All men are born free
January 30: The Articles of Confederation
October 19: General Cornwallis's
encircled 8000-man army surrenders at Yorktown, Va.
J. Hector St. John de
Crevecoeur publishes his Letters from an American Farmer,
which asks: "What is an American, this new man?"
Massachusetts no longer identifies
adulterers with a scarlet "A" branded on the skin or
sewn on a garment.
100,000 Loyalists have
fled the United States, mainly to Nova Scotia.
March 12-15: The Newburgh Conspiracy.
Continental officers threaten to revolt against a "country
that tramples on your rights." Washington convinces military
leaders to resist sedition.
May 13: Revolutionary Army officers
form the Society of Cincinnati.
September 3: The Paris Peace Treaty
gives the United States all land east of the Mississippi River,
south of Canada, and north of the Floridas.
Virginia abolishes primogeniture,
the practice of conveying an estate to the eldest son.
January 25. Shays Rebellion.
Massachusetts farmers, faced with high taxes, eviction, and imprisonment
for debt, attack the Springfield arsenal. George Washington writes
to James Madison: "If there exists not a power to check them,
what security has a man for life, liberty or property?" THomas
Jefferson, in Paris, responded differently: "A little revolution
now and then is a good thing; the tree of liberty must be refreshed
from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
May 14: The Constitutional Convention,
with George Washington presiding, convenes in Philadelphia.
July 13: The Northwest Ordinance
establishes a system of government for the region and prohibits
slavery from the territory.
June 21: By a vote of
57 to 47, New Hampshire becomes the 9th state to ratify the Constitution.
North Carolina and Rhode Island rejected the document. In Virginia
the vote was 89-79 for approval; in New York, 30-27; and in Massachusetts,
The first American novel,
William Hill Brown's The Power of Sympathy, seeks "to
expose the dangerous Consequences of Seduction and to set forth
the advantages of female Education."
February 4: The Electoral College
selects George Washington as president. Washington wrote: "My
movement to the chair of Government will be accompanied by feelings
not unlike those of a culprit who is going to the place of his
July 14: A Paris crowd of 20,000
storms the Bastille, a hated royal fortress. The crowd frees seven
August 27: The French National
Assembly, inspired in part by the Declaration of Independence,
issues the Declaration of the Rights of Man, which proclaims the
legal equality of all citizens and freedom of speech, press, assembly,
U.S. population: 3,929,625.
Philadelphia's Walnut Street Prison
introduces the Pennsylvania system of prison management; prisoners
are placed in solitary confinement to isolate them from other
offenders and encourage them to reflect on their crimes.
January 14: Secretary of the Treasury
Alexander Hamilton recommends that the Federal Government assume
the national debt and state debts incurred during the Revolution.
In exchange for Southern support, northern members of Congress
agree to move the U.S. capital to a site located between Maryland
December 21: Samuel Slater opens
the first cotton mill in Pawtucket, R.I.
March 3: To raise revenue,
Congress imposes a tax of 20-30 cents a gallon on distilled spirits.
August 22: 100,000 slaves revolt
in the French colony of St. Domingue, marking the beginning of
the Haitian Revolution. Napoleon reestablished slave labor in
Haiti in 1802, but lost 24,000 troops to disease and black resistance
in 1803, which led to his decision to abandon his New World empire
and sell Louisiana Territory to the United States.
December 15: The Bill of Rights
is ratified, protecting individual liberties from the power of
the central government. The first ten amendments to the Constitution
guarantee such basic rights as freedom of speech, religion, and
assembly, and the right to a jury trial.
April 22: President
Washington issues a proclamation of neutrality, calling on Americans
to avoid taking sides in the war between Britain and revolutionary
October 28: Eli Whitney patents
the cotton gin. He had learned how to separate seeds from raw
cotton from a slave known only as Sam.
Charles Willson Peale
opens America's first museum of national history in Philadelphia.
August 20: General Anthony Wayne
defeats Indians at the battle of Fallen Timbers, opening the Ohio
country to white settlement.
July-November: Whiskey Rebellion.
President Washington demonstrates the ability of the federal government
to enforce its laws by calling out state militia to suppress a
tax revolt by farmers in western Pennsylvania, who object to a
tax on whiskey.
November 19: Jay's Treaty.
The African Methodist
Episcopal Zion Church is formed in New York.
September 19: A Philadelphia newspaper
publishes President Washington's Farewell Address. A plea for
national unity against partisan and sectional divisions, the address
also calls on the United States to avoid entangling foreign alliances.
May 31: The XYZ Affair.
French agents, referred to as X, Y, and Z, demand a $10 million
loan and bribes before France will negotiate a treaty with the
United States. The incident gave rise to the slogan, "Millions
for defense, but not one sent for tribute."
The Alien and Sedition
Acts give the president the power to imprison or deport foreigners
believed to be dangerous to the United States and make it a crime
to attack the government with "false, scandalous, or malicious"
statements or writings.
The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions
declare the Alien and Sedition Acts to be unconstitutional and
provide the basis for the doctrine of states' rights.
December 14: George Washington
dies at his home at Mount Vernon. "Light-Horse Harry"
Lee delivers the most famous eulogy: "To the memory of the
man, first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of