• Reign of Henry VII in England.
• Christopher Columbus seeks a western sea route to Asia, funded by Spain.
• Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian navigator, sights the coast of South America on an exploratory voyage for Spain.
• The New World is first termed "America" by a German mapmaker who falsely credits Amerigo Vespucci with its discovery.
• Reign of Henry VIII.
• Juan Ponce de Leon, sailing for Spain, explores Florida.
• Giovanni da Verrazano, funded by France, lands in the Carolinas, then sails north and discovers the Hudson River, and continues into Narragansett Bay and Nova Scotia.
• Jacques Cartier sails up the St. Lawrence River, the basis of French claims to Canada.
• Hernando de Soto of Spain explores what is today the southeast United States.
• Francisco Vasquez de Coronado of Spain explores what is today the southwest United States.
• Hernando de Soto of Spain discovers the Mississippi River.
• Reign of Edward VI.
• Reign of Mary I.
• Reign of Elizabeth I.
• The first permanent European colony in North America is founded at St. Augustine (Florida) by the Spanish.
• Sir Walter Raleigh organizes the colonization of Roanoke Island, Virginia (today, North Carolina). The colony lasts for only one year. The second attempt to settle there in 1587 also fails with the colony disappearing sometime before 1590.
• The first English child to be born in the colonies, Virginia Dare, is born in Roanoke.
• Spanish influence in the New World declines and English imperial interests widens.
• Richard Hakluyt publishes an anthology of notable voyages to the New World. A second edition is published 1598, creating English interest in the exploration and colonization of the New World.
• Reign of James I.
• At the Hampton Court Conference, James I refuses to tolerate Puritans.
• The London Company sponsors a colonizing expedition to Virginia.
• Jamestown is founded by the Virginia Company.
• Captain John Smith is captured by Chief Powhatan and saved from death by the chief's daughter, Pocahontas.
• Henry Hudson explores North America, sponsored by the Dutch East India Company.
• Tobacco is introduced in the Virginia colony by John Rolfe.
• Dutch colonists form settlements in New Amsterdam and by the 1620s, elsewhere in New Netherlands.
• Tobacco becomes an export staple for Virginia.
• A smallpox epidemic decimates the Native American population in New England.
• The first session of the first colonial legislative assembly, the Virginia House of Burgesses, convenes in Jamestown.
• Slavery begins in the colonies, as twenty Africans are brought by a Dutch ship to Jamestown for sale as indentured servants.
• The Mayflower ship lands at Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with 101 colonists.
• On November 11, the Mayflower Compact is signed, establishing a form of local government at Plymouth.
• The first public library in the colonies is organized in Virginia with books donated by English landowners.
• One of the first peace treaties between colonists and Native Americans, specifically the Plymouth pilgrims and the Wampanoag Tribe, is signed with the aid of Squanto, an English-speaking Native American.
• Dutch colonists, sponsored by the Dutch West India Company arrive in New York. The Virginia Company charter is revoked in London and Virginia is declared a Royal colony.
• Reign of Charles I.
• Peter Minuit, a Dutch colonist, purchases Manhattan island from Native Americans and names the island New Amsterdam.
• The Puritans are the first to settle the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
• 20,000 immigrate to New England area: mostly yeoman families.
• The first town government in the colonies is organized in Dorchester, Massachusetts.
• Maryland, land granted to Lord Baltimore by Charles I, is first settled.
• Boston Latin School, the first public school in the colonies, is established.
• Puritan clergyman Thomas Hooker and others leave Massachusetts and found Hartford.
• Harvard College is founded.
• Roger Williams founds Providence and Rhode Island. Providence then becomes a haven for colonists, like Williams, fleeing religious intolerance.
• Anne Hutchinson is ex-communicated and banished from Massachusetts for nonconformist religious views. She travels to Rhode Island, where she founds the town of Portsmouth.
• The first colonial printing press is established in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
• Eaton and Davenport establish New Haven.
• Sweden establishes the colony, New Sweden (Delaware).
• Puritan settlers, led by John Wheelwright, found New Hampshire.
• In Massachusetts, the general court approves a law that makes religious heresy punishable by death.
• Massachusetts passes a law, requiring all sizable towns to institute some form of public education.
• First period of the Commonwealth of England.
• The First Navigation Act is passed by Cromwell's Parliament, prohibiting the shipment of colonial goods to England in non-English ships.
• Rhode Island enacts the first colonial law making slavery illegal.
• Protectorate under Oliver Cromwell.
• Protectorate under Richard Cromwell.
• Second period of the Commonwealth of England.
• The Navigation Act of 1660 allows the colonies to trade with only English-built ships and crews that are at least three-quarters English. Certain enumerated goods, including indigo, sugar, cotton and tobacco, are allowed to be shipped only to England or other English colonies.
• Reign of Charles II.
• Charles II establishes the colony of Carolina. Anthony Ashley Cooper establishes a feudal society there.
• Sir George Carteret and John, Lord Berkeley, found New Jersey.
• Dutch Governor Peter Stuyvesant surrenders New Netherlands to English forces who rename the colony New York.
• Maryland makes lifelong servitude for black slaves legally mandatory. Similar laws are later passed in New York, New Jersey, the Carolinas and Virginia.
• The Virginia House of Burgesses passes a law that binds blacks to servitude, even if they convert to Christianity.
• The Royal Africa Company monopolizes the English slave trade.
• Dutch military forces retake New York from the British.
• The British Navigation Act of 1673 requires a customs commissioner to collect duties on goods that pass between plantations.
• French explorers, Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet, explore the interior of North America, including the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River.
• The Treaty of Westminster returns Dutch colonies to the English.
• King Philip's War (the colonists' nickname for Metacomet, chief of the Wampanoags) erupts in New England between colonists and Native Americans, resulting in the end of Native American power there.
• Nathaniel Bacon leads a rebellion against Virginia Governor William Berkeley, which results in Bacon's burning of Jamestown. Bacon and his western Virginia rebels also crush the Susquehannock Indians who have been attacking the settlers of western Virginia. The rebellion disintegrates when Bacon dies suddenly that year.
• New Hampshire becomes an independent colony, seperate from Massachusetts.
• Quaker William Penn, is granted a charter from Charles II, making him proprietor of Pennsylvania.
• French explorer LaSalle reaches the mouth of the Mississippi and claims the surrounding territory, which he names Louisiana.
• Reign of James II.
• James II consolidates the colonies of New England into a Dominion, removing the colonists' local political rights and independence. Sir Edmund Andros is named governor.
• Andros orders Boston's Old South Meeting House to be converted into an Anglican Church. The towns of Ipswich and Topsfield, Massachusetts, shunning taxation without representation, protest against Andros' assessments.
• Andros limits New England town meetings to one per year. He then places all militias under his control.
• Quakers in Pennsylvania formally protest against slavery in America.
• Edmund Andros is jailed and the Dominion of New England dissolves in the colonial response to the Glorious Revolution.
• Reign of William III and Mary II.
• Governor Nicholson of New York is overthrown during Leisler's Rebellion.
• King William's War begins, as French and English hostilities in Europe extend to the colonies. Schenectady, New York is burned by the French and their Native American allies.
• The newly appointed Governor of New England, Henry Sloughter, arrives in New York from England and institutes a royally-sanctioned representative government. Massachusetts receives a new royal charter that includes government by a royal governor and a governor's council.
• 150 people are accused of witchcraft in the village of Salem, Massachusetts. A special court is set up by the governor of Massachusetts, with twenty people being executed.
• The College of William and Mary is founded in Williamsburg, Virginia.
• Solo reign of William III.
• The Royal African Trade Company loses its monopoly on the slave trade, spurring colonists in New England to begin trading slaves.
• The Navigation Act of 1696 is passed, requiring all colonial trade to be done exclusively in English-built ships.
• King William's War ends with the Treaty of Ryswick.
• The Wool Act is passed, designed to protect England's wool industry by limiting wool production in Ireland and forbidding the export of wool from the colonies.
• Massachusetts orders all Roman Catholic priests to leave the colony within three months, or suffer penalty of life imprisonment or execution. New York then passes a similar law.
• The French establish a settlement at Detroit.
• Yale College is founded in Connecticut.
• Reign of Anne.
• Charles II, king of Spain, dies. The War of the Spanish Succession begins, as England declares war on France to stop the union of France and Spain. In the colonies, the war is called Queen Anne's War; English colonists will battle the French, their Native American allies, and the Spanish for the next eleven years.
• The Anglican Church is established as the official church of Maryland.
• Delaware, originally called New Sweden by the Swedish settlers, breaks away from Pennsylvania to form a separate government.
• The first enduring newspaper in America, The Boston News-Letter, is published.
• The Virginia Black Code of 1705 assigns slaves the status of real estate in Virginia. — A law against runaway slaves in New York punishes with the death penalty for any slave caught over forty miles north of Albany.
• Massachusetts declares marriage between blacks and whites illegal.
• The Anglican Church is established as the official church of South Carolina.
• Life of Benjamin Franklin.
• The Post Office Act establishes a postal system in the colonies, controlled by the postmaster general of London and his deputy in New York City.
• The Tuscarora Indian War begins with a massacre of settlers in North Carolina by Native Americans.
• The Carolina colony is officially divided into North Carolina and South Carolina.
• The Pennsylvania assembly bans the import of slaves.
• Queen Anne's War ends with the Treaty of Utrecht.
• Reign of George I.
• Tea is introduced for the first time into the colonies.
• The first black slaves are brought to the Louisiana territory.
• Scots-Irish immigration increases, with most settling in western Pennsylvania. Many Germans, known as Pennsylvania Dutch, also begin to settle in Pennsylvania.
• New Orleans is founded by the French.
• Life of Samuel Adams.
• The population of black slaves in the American colonies reaches 75,000.
• The poor riot in Philadelphia, tearing down the pillories and stocks and burning them.
• Reign of George II.
• The first colonial synagogue is built by Jewish colonists in New York City.
• Benjamin Franklin begins publishing The Pennsylvania Gazette.
• Baltimore is founded in the Maryland colony.
• Benjamin Franklin founds the first colonial public library in Philadelphia.
• The first colonial mass is celebrated in the only Catholic church, in Philadelphia.
• Georgia, the 13th English colony, is founded by James Oglethorpe as a haven for those in debtors' prisons.
• Life of George Washington.
• Benjamin Franklin publishes Poor Richard's Almanac.
• The Molasses Act imposes heavy duties on molasses, rum and sugar imported from non-British islands in the Caribbean.
• John Peter Zenger, a New York newspaper publisher, is accused of seditious libel by the Governor. He is acquitted after his lawyer successfully convinces the jury that truth is a defense against libel.
• The Great Awakening religious revival movement begins with Jonathan Edwards, a Congregationalist clergyman, preaching a series of sermons in Northampton, Massachusetts. Over the next ten years the revival, led by Edwards and George Whitefield, will sweep all of the American colonies.
• Life of Daniel Boone.
• Life of Paul Revere.
• Life of John Adams.
• The first colonial copper coins are minted in Connecticut.
• England declares war on Spain. As a result, hostilities break out between Spaniards in Florida and colonists in Georgia and South Carolina. Three separate violent uprisings by black slaves occur in South Carolina.
• Fifty black slaves are hanged in Charleston, South Carolina, after their plans for revolt are revealed.
• In Europe, the War of the Austrian Succession, known as King George's War in the colonies, begins after the death of Emperor Charles VI and results in France and Spain allying against England.
• Russian Tsar, Peter the Great, sponsors Danish navigator, Vitus Bering, to explore the coast of Alaska.
• Benjamin Franklin and his associates found the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia.
• Life of Thomas Jefferson.
• Colonial forces capture the French fort of Louisbourg.
• The New York Bar Association is founded in New York City.
• The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle ends King George's War. Louisbourg is returned to the French.
• The Iron Act bans the construction of iron mills and steel furnaces in the colonies.
• The Currency Act bans the issuing of paper money by the New England colonies.
• The first general hospital is founded in Philadelphia.
• Life of Betsy Ross.
• Benjamin Franklin and William Hunter are appointed as postmasters general for the colonies.
• The French and Indian War, known in Europe as the Seven Years War, begins as a result of disputes over land in the Ohio River Valley.
• English General Edward Braddock and George Washington battle the French in the Ohio territory, only to be defeated by a force of French and Indians. Braddock is mortally wounded and is replaced by Massachusetts Governor William Shirley as the new commander in chief.
• The U.S. postal service is established.
• Life of Alexander Hamilton.
• William Pitt, England's Secretary of State, establishes a policy of unlimited warfare.
• English forces are defeated in Lake George, New York by French forces at Fort Ticonderoga.
• The first Indian reservation in America is founded, in New Jersey.
• French Fort Niagara is captured by the English.
• War erupts between Cherokee Indians and southern colonists.
• Reign of George III.
• Much of Boston is destroyed by a raging fire.
• Quebec surrenders to the English.
• The Treaty of Paris ends the French and Indian War.
• The Ottawa Native Americans under Chief Pontiac begin warfare against the British west of Niagara. His forces are eventually defeated near Pittsburgh.
• The Proclamation of 1763 forbids settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains.
• The Sugar Act is passed as a means of raising revenue from the colonists.
• A committee of correspondence is formed by Massachusetts House of Representatives to foster discussion of common grievances with other colonies.
• The Stamp Act imposes a direct tax on all printed material in the colonies. Colonists protest through mob action, boycotts of British goods, and the Stamp Act Congress.
• The Quartering Act requires the colonists to house British troops.
• The Stamp Act is repealed on the same day the Declaratory Act is passed.
• The Declaratory Act declares total Parliamentary supremacy over the colonies.
• The Townshend Acts place duties on colonial importation of glass, lead, paints, paper and tea, leading to widespread boycotts of British goods.
• The Boston Massacre occurs when British troops fire on a Boston mob, killing three colonists and injuring eight.
• The Townshend Acts are repealed except for the tax on tea.
• The Tea Act repeals the export tax on English tea heading for the colonies, but maintains a three-penny import tax on the colonists. The East India Company is granted monopoly of the tea trade. The Boston Tea Party results with Boston colonists dumping East India Company tea into the Boston Harbor.
• The Coercive (Intolerable) Acts are passed to quell the rebelliousness of the Massachusetts Colony. The Boston Port Act prevents any trade ships from entering or leaving the Boston harbor until the East India Company is reimbursed for its stolen tea. The Administration of Justice Act allows British officials accused of crimes in Massachusetts to be tried in British, rather than colonial courts. The Government Act dissolves the Massachusetts Assembly, making all Massachusetts officials appointed by the King or the royal governor. The 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 assert the rights of colonists and colonial assemblies.
• The Battles of Lexington and Concord are the result of British troops marching to Concord to destroy an arms depot there. The Massachusetts militia retaliates, beginning the Revolutionary War. The second Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia, appointing George Washington as commander of the Continental Army but still rejecting a declaration of independence.
• Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" is published and is widely read.
• A declaration of independence is adopted by the Second Continental Congress.
• The British defeat Washington's Continental Army at several battles in the New York area.
• Revolutionaries win the Battle of Saratoga, forcing British General Burgoyne to surrender. France officially recognizes the independence of the United States.
• The U.S. and French sign a treaty of alliance and a treaty of amity and commerce which stated that in the case of a war between the British and French, the French would not make peace until U.S. independence was assured. France declares war on Britain. Spain and the Netherlands later join France in the war.
• Pennsylvania mandates the gradual abolition of slavery. Massachusetts adopts a bill of rights that applies to blacks and whites equally.
• The British defeat the revolutionaries at the Battle of Charles Town.
• British General Cornwallis surrenders to revolutionary and French troops.
• Many British loyalists leave the United States for Canada and elsewhere.
• The Treaty of Paris ends the Revolutionary War.
• Presidency of George Washington.
• Presidency of John Adams.
• The U.S. Navy Department is established.