Colonial Era - The Discovery of America and the Early European Explorers
The Discovery of America and the Early European Explorers starting with Christopher Columbus up to the explorations of Henry Hudson. Their findings and reports led to the start of the Colonial era which was made possible by advancements in their new discoveries, new maps and navigation technology that enabled ships to make the 3000 mile voyage to North America. The ships transferred people to new territories to live as permanent settlers, or colonists. The countries of Europe and their colonists took advantage of the resources of the New World whilst maintaining political allegiance to their country of origin, their 'Mother Country'.
Colonial Era - Founding the first Colonies
The European's fight to take control of North America and the New World was led by the Spanish in America, the French in America and the British Founding of the first 13 Colonies. The British settlement of the first 13 Colonies during the Colonial Era were located on the Atlantic coast of America and the colonies were founded between 1607 and 1733 in Virginia and Georgia respectively. The first thirteen colonies were split into three regions, the New England colonies, the Middle colonies and the Southern colonies, as shown on the following map. The history of the first colonists and settlers began in 1607 with the settlement of Jamestown in 1607 and the experiences of the colonists who suffered terrible hardship during the Starving Time. The Puritans and Pilgrim Fathers searching for religious freedom sailed on the Mayflower Ship in 1620 and established the Plymouth Settlement. In the spring of 1630, John Winthrop led a fleet of 11 vessels and 700 passengers to the Massachusetts Bay Colony and other colonists and settlers followed.
Colonial Era - Founding of the 13 Colonies
Colonial Era - Map of the 13 Colonies
- Connecticut Colony
- Delaware Colony
- Georgia Colony
- Maryland Colony
- Massachusetts (included Maine)
- New Jersey Colony
- New York Colony
- New Hampshire Colony
- North Carolina Colony
- Pennsylvania Colony
- Rhode Island Colony
- South Carolina Colony
- Virginia Colony
Colonial Era - Establishing the Colonies and Trade
Establishing the first Colonies involved serious conflicts with the Native American Indians and back-breaking work to provide adequate shelter and ensure that enough food was available - refer to Colonial Food. The geography and climate in the 13 Colonies dictated the economic activities of each of the 3 regions. New England concentrated in manufacture focussing on town life and industries such as ship building and the export of rum. The Southern Colonies concentrated on agriculture based on slave labor and the Plantation system exporting major items such as tobacco, cotton, indigo, rice and sugar.
The Middle Colonies also exported agricultural products but were also able to manufacture iron ore products like plows, tools, kettles and large blocks of iron which they exported to England. The efficient Triangular Trade routes combined with the British policy of Mercantilism ensured maximum profitability and had one main purpose: to enrich the mother country to the detriment of the colonists.
Triangular Trade Route Map during the Colonial Era
Colonial Era - Religion and Government
The colonists and settlers of the Colonial era made the dangerous 3000 mile trip to North America in search of a better way of life, job opportunities and religious freedom. The establishment of the first colonies was based on religion. Religion in the Colonies was of major factor and had a significant effect on establishing the the first colonies in the Colonial era. The occurred in 1692 and were An example of religious fervor in the Puritan colony of Massachusetts occurred in 1692 during the Salem Witchcraft Trials. An important element during the establishment of the 13 colonies was Colonial Government which was an extension of the English government during the Colonial Era.
Population in the Colonial Era
European Population during the Colonial Era exploded. In 1630 the population of the colonies totalled 4,646 and by 1640 the colonial population had increased to 21,634. Within 60 years there were 300,000 people in 1700 and the ratio of English settlers to other European colonists was 20 to 1. During the Colonial era the colonies needed a bigger workforce and Indentured servants were introduced to meet the growing demand for cheap labor. 80% of of the total British and European emigration to America before to the Revolutionary War were Indentured Servants. The system of Plantation farming led to the massive increase of slave labor during the Colonial Era. 20% of population of North America were slaves and 90% of slaves were in the Southern colonies. By 1775 there were 2.5 million people and the ratio of English settlers to other European colonists dropped to 3 to 1. The most densely populated colonies were Virginia, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Maryland. The terrible fate of the Native American Indians was a completely different story. The history of America during the Colonial Era brought wars and deadly European diseases which led to the indigenous population of Native Indians falling from 80 million to under 1 million in less than 500 years.
Colonial Era - The French and Indian Wars 1688 - 1763
The French and Indian Wars raged during the early years of the Colonial era from 1688 - 1763. Minor European countries were ousted from America and the major struggle was between the British and the French. The French lands in America were called Acadia and New France and the French and Indian Wars were fought from 1688 to 1748 between the British and French with their respective Indian allies. The fight for New France and also Louisiana occurred during the period of the French Indian War from 1754 to 1763. The 1754 map shows the land claims made by the French, British and Spanish during the Colonial era.
|● British Colonies|
|● New France|
|● New Spain|
|● Disputed Areas|
Colonial Era - 1754 Map showing claims of Great Britain, France and Spain in 1754
Colonial Era - The Road to Revolution and the Causes of the Revolutionary War
The The British emerged as the victors but the seventy-five year series of conflicts led to a massive British war debt which Britain attempted to clear by implementing various laws and taxes in their 13 American Colonies. The British taxes and other measures were made possible by the British strategy of tightening their control in the colonies. This enabled the British to reverse their policy of Salutary Neglect and to enforce the Navigation Acts. The Proclamation of 1763 halted the westward expansion by colonists and expanded the lucrative fur trade to the benefit of the British. These were major contributors to the Causes of the American Revolutionary War. In 1765 the British passed the Stamp Act 1765 which led to the Stamp Act Riots. The journey down the Road to Revolution began - its destination was the American Revolutionary War. American protests were ignored resulting in the emergence of fiercely patriotic groups such as the Sons of Liberty led by patriots such as Samuel Adams. In 1773 the infamous Tea Act was passed sparking the Boston Tea Party and the midnight ride of Paul Revere. The British passed a series of laws which became known as the Intolerable Acts in retribution to the Massachusetts rebellious acts. This was the last straw in the history of the Colonial Era. On March, 23 1775 the patriot Patrick Henry delivered his famous speech which ended with the immortal words:
"Give me liberty or give me death!"
On April 19, 1775 shots between British and Americans were fired and the American War for Independence began.
Colonial Era - American Revolutionary War 1775 to 1783
On April 19, 1775 shots between British and Americans were fired at the Battle of Lexington and the Battle of Concord and the American Revolutionary War officially started.
Colonial Era - Battle of Concord
On July 6, 1775 Congress issued the Declaration on the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms that stated that Americans were “resolved to die free men rather than live as slaves”. The 13 Colonies asked Congress to adopt the Continental Army that had gathered around Boston, and direct the war and act as advisor to each of the colonies. George Washington (1732-1799) was the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army and played a critical role in most of the Revolutionary Battles. The Revolutionary War raged from 1775 to 1783 during which a total of 25,000 Americans lost their lives.
Colonial Era - Change from British Colonies to American States
Whilst the Revolutionary War was being fought the colonies turned to Congress for advice on the government of each colony. On May 15, 1776 Congress advised all the colonies to form governments for themselves. All but two made new constitutions, Connecticut and Rhode Island opted to use their old charters. The 13 original colonies adopted constitutions, and by doing so turned themselves from British colonies into independent American States. This major event during the Revolutionary War saw the end of the Colonial Era. The Continental Congress was trying to bind the colonies into a union by means of a general constitution called the "Articles of Confederation." Approval of the ratification of the Articles of Confederation brought into being the United States as a united, sovereign and national state.
Colonial Era Chart
| ||Period in the Colonial Era|| ||History and Major Events|| |
| ||Colonial Era - First Period|| ||The Discovery of America and the Early European Explorers|| |
| ||Colonial Era - Second Period|| ||Founding the first Colonies. || |
| ||Colonial Era - Third Period|| ||Establishing the first Colonies|| |
| ||Colonial Era - Fourth Period|| ||The French and Indian Wars 1688 - 1763 . The || |
| ||Colonial Era - Fifth Period|| ||The Road to Revolution and the Causes of the Revolutionary War|| |
| ||Colonial Era - Sixth Period|| ||American Revolutionary War 1775 to 1783.|| |
| ||Colonial Era - Seventh Period|| ||The Change from British Colonies to American States|| |
| ||Period in the Colonial Era|| ||History and Major Events|| |
Colonial Era Chart