The House of Burgesses was the first assembly of elected representatives of English colonists in North America. The House was established by the Virginia Company, who created the body as part of an effort to encourage English craftsmen to settle in North America and to make conditions in the colony more agreeable for its current inhabitants. Its first meeting was held in Jamestown, Virginia, on July 30, 1619.
The Mayflower Compact was the first governing document of Plymouth Colony. It was written by the Separatists, also known as the "Saints", fleeing from religious persecution by King James of Great Britain. They traveled aboard the Mayflower in 1620 along with adventurers, tradesmen, and servants, most of whom were referred to as "Strangers".
William Bradford (March 19, 1590 – May 9, 1657) was an English Separatist leader of settlers at Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts. He served as governor for over 30 years after the previous governor, John Carver, died.
John Winthrop (12 January 1587/8 – 26 March 1649) was a wealthy English Puritan lawyer and one of the leading figures in the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the first major settlement in New England after Plymouth Colony. Winthrop led the first large wave of migrants from England in 1630, and served as governor for 12 of the colony's first 20 years of existence. His writings and vision of the colony as a Puritan "city upon a hill" dominated New England colonial development, influencing the government and religion of neighboring colonies.
Born into a wealthy landowning and merchant family, Winthrop was trained in the law, and became Lord of the Manor at Groton in Suffolk. Although he was not involved in the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Company in 1628, he became involved in 1629 when the anti-Puritan King Charles I began a crackdown on Nonconformist religious thought. In October 1629 he was elected governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and in April 1630 he led a group of colonists to the New World, founding a number of communities on the shores of Massachusetts Bay and the Charles River.
Thomas Hooker (July 5, 1586 – July 7, 1647) was a prominent Puritan colonial leader, who founded the Colony of Connecticut after dissenting with Puritan leaders in Massachusetts. He was known as an outstanding speaker and a leader of universal Christian suffrage.
Called today “the Father of Connecticut,” Thomas Hooker was a towering figure in the early development of colonial New England. He was one of the great preachers of his time, an erudite writer on Christian subjects, the first minister of Cambridge, Massachusetts, one of the first settlers and founders of both the city of Hartford and the state of Connecticut, and cited by many as the inspiration for the "Fundamental Orders of Connecticut," cited by some as the world's first written democratic constitution that established a representative government.
The Dominion of New England in America (1686–1689) was an administrative union of English colonies in the New England region of North America. The dominion was a failure, because the colonies deeply resented being stripped of their traditional rights.The very large area it encompassed (from the Delaware River in the south to Penobscot Bay in the north), composed of present-day Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey, was too large for a single governor to manage. Its governor, Sir Edmund Andros, was highly unpopular, and was seen as a threat by most political factions. After news of the Glorious Revolution in England reached Boston in 1689, it was known that King James II—who had appointed Andros—had been overthrown, in large part because of the king's ever-closer ties to Roman Catholicism. The anti-Catholic Puritans launched a revolt against Andros, arresting him and his officers.
George Washington - unopposed
The first presidential election was held on the first Wednesday of January in 1789. No one contested the election of George Washington, but he remained reluctant to run until the last minute, in part because he believed seeking the office would be dishonorable. Only when Alexander Hamilton and others convinced him that it would be dishonorable to refuse did he agree to run.
The Constitution allowed each state to decide how to choose its presidential electors. In 1789, only Pennsylvania and Maryland held elections for this purpose; elsewhere, the state legislatures chose the electors. This method caused some problems in New York, which was so divided between Federalists who supported the new Constitution and Antifederalists who opposed it that the legislature failed to choose either presidential electors or U.S. senators.
Before the adoption of the Twelfth Amendment, each elector cast two votes for president. The candidate with a majority won the presidency, and the runner-up became vice president.
Most Federalists agreed that John Adams should be vice president. But Hamilton feared that if Adams was the unanimous choice, he would end in a tie with Washington and might even become president, an outcome that would be highly embarrassing for both Washington and the new electoral system. Hamilton therefore arranged that a number of votes be deflected, so that Adams was elected by less than half the number of Washington's expected unanimous vote. The final results were Washington, 69 electoral votes; Adams, 34; John Jay, 9; John Hancock, 4; and others, 22.
George Washington - unopposed
As in 1789, persuading George Washington to run was the major difficulty in selecting a president in 1792. Washington complained of old age, sickness, and the increasing hostility of the Republican press toward his administration. The press attacks were symptomatic of the increasing split within the government between Federalists, who were coalescing around Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, and Republicans, forming around Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson. James Madison, among others, convinced Washington to continue as president by arguing that only he could hold the government together.
Speculation then shifted to the vice presidency. Hamilton and the Federalists supported the reelection of John Adams. Republicans favored New York governor George Clinton, but Federalists feared him partly because of a widespread belief that his recent election to the governorship was fraudulent. In addition, the Federalists feared that Clinton would belittle the importance of the federal government by retaining his governorship while serving as vice president.
Adams won relatively easily with support from New England and the Mid-Atlantic states, except New York. Only electoral votes are recorded here, because most states still did not select presidential electors by popular vote. Nor was there a separate vote for president and vice president until the Twelfth Amendment took effect in 1804. The results were Washington, 132 electoral votes (unanimous); Adams, 77; Clinton, 50; Jefferson, 4; and Aaron Burr, 1.
John Adams vs. Thomas Jefferson
The 1796 election, which took place against a background of increasingly harsh partisanship between Federalists and Republicans, was the first contested presidential race.
The Republicans called for more democratic practices and accused the Federalists of monarchism. The Federalists branded the Republicans "Jacobins" after Robespierre's faction in France. (The Republicans sympathized with revolutionary France, but not necessarily with the Jacobins.) The Republicans opposed John Jay's recently negotiated accommodationist treaty with Great Britain, whereas the Federalists believed its terms represented the only way to avoid a potentially ruinous war with Britain. Republicans favored a decentralized agrarian republic; Federalists called for the development of commerce and industry.
State legislatures still chose electors in most states, and there was no separate vote for vice president. Each elector cast two votes for president, with the runner-up becoming vice president.
The Federalists nominated Vice President John Adams and tried to attract southern support by running Thomas Pinckney of South Carolina for the second post. Thomas Jefferson was the Republican standard-bearer, with Aaron Burr as his running mate. Alexander Hamilton, always intriguing against Adams, tried to throw some votes to Jefferson in order to elect Pinckney president. Instead, Adams won with 71 votes; Jefferson became vice president, with 68; Pinckney came in third with 59; Burr received only 30; and 48 votes went to various other candidates.
Thomas Jefferson vs. John Adams
The significance of the 1800 election lay in the fact that it entailed the first peaceful transfer of power between parties under the U.S. Constitution: Republican Thomas Jefferson succeeded Federalist John Adams. This peaceful transfer occurred despite defects in the Constitution that caused a breakdown of the electoral system.
During the campaign, Federalists attacked Jefferson as an un-Christian deist, tainted by his sympathy for the increasingly bloody French Revolution. Republicans (1) criticized the Adams administration's foreign, defense, and internal security policies; (2) opposed the Federalist naval buildup and the creation of a standing army under Alexander Hamilton; (3) sounded a call for freedom of speech, Republican editors having been targeted for prosecution under the Alien and Sedition Acts; and (4) denounced deficit spending by the federal government as a backhanded method of taxation without representation.
Unfortunately, the system still provided no separate votes for president and vice president, and Republican managers failed to deflect votes from their vice-presidential candidate, Aaron Burr. Therefore, Jefferson and Burr tied with 73 votes each; Adams received 65 votes, his vice-presidential candidate, Charles C. Pinckney, 64, and John Jay, 1. This result threw the election into the House of Representatives, where each state had one vote, to be decided by the majority of its delegation. Left to choose between Jefferson and Burr, most Federalists supported Burr. Burr for his part disclaimed any intention to run for the presidency, but he never withdrew, which would have ended the contest.
Although the Republicans in the same election had won a decisive majority of 65 to 39 in the House, election of the president fell to the outgoing House, which had a Federalist majority. But despite this majority, two state delegations split evenly, leading to another deadlock between Burr and Jefferson.
After the House cast 19 identical tie ballots on February 11, 1801, Governor James Monroe of Virginia assured Jefferson that if a usurpation was attempted, he would call the Virginia Assembly into session, implying that they would discard any such result. After six days of uncertainty, Federalists in the tied delegations of Vermont and Maryland abstained, electing Jefferson, but without giving him open Federalist support.
Thomas Jefferson vs. Charles Pinckney
The 1804 election was a landslide victory for the incumbent Thomas Jefferson and vice-presidential candidate George Clinton (Republicans) over the Federalist candidates, Charles C. Pinckney and Rufus King. The vote was 162-14. The election was the first held under the Twelfth Amendment, which separated electoral college balloting for president and vice president.
The Federalists alienated many voters by refusing to commit their electors to any particular candidate prior to the election. Jefferson was also helped by the popularity of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase and his reduction of federal spending. The repeal of the excise tax on whiskey was especially popular in the West.
James Madison vs. Charles Pinckney
Republican James Madison was elevated to the presidency in the election of 1808. Madison won 122 electoral votes to Federalist Charles C. Pinckney's 47 votes. Vice President George Clinton received 6 electoral votes for president from his native New York, but easily defeated Federalist Rufus King for vice president, 113-47, with scattered vice-presidential votes for Madison, James Monroe, and John Langdon of New Hampshire. In the early stages of the election campaign, Madison also faced challenges from within his own party by Monroe and Clinton.
The main issue of the election was the Embargo Act of 1807. The banning of exports had hurt merchants and other commercial interests, although ironically it encouraged domestic manufactures. These economic difficulties revived the Federalist opposition, especially in trade-dependent New England.
James Madison vs. DeWitt Clinton
In the 1812 contest James Madison was reelected president by the narrowest margin of any election since the Republican party had come to power in 1800. He received 128 electoral votes to 89 for his Federalist opponent DeWitt Clinton, the lieutenant governor of New York. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts won the vice presidency with 131 votes to Jared Ingersoll's 86.
The War of 1812, which had begun five months earlier, was the dominant issue. Opposition to the war was concentrated in the northeastern Federalist states. Clinton's supporters also made an issue of Virginia's almost unbroken control of the White House, which they charged favored agricultural states over commercial ones. Clintonians accused Madison, too, of slighting the defense of the New York frontier against the British in Canada.
In the Northeast Madison carried only Pennsylvania and Vermont, but Clinton received no votes south of Maryland. The election proved to be the last one of significance for the Federalist party, largely owing to anti-British American nationalism engendered by the war.
James Monroe vs. Rufus King
In this election Republican James Monroe won the presidency with 183 electoral votes, carrying every state except Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Delaware. Federalist Rufus King received the votes of the 34 Federalist electors. Daniel D. Tompkins of New York was elected vice president with 183 electoral votes, his opposition scattered among several candidates.
After the bitter partisanship of the Jefferson and Madison administrations, Monroe came to symbolize the "Era of Good Feelings." Monroe was not elected easily, however; he barely won the nomination in the Republican congressional caucus over Secretary of War William Crawford of Georgia. Many Republicans objected to the succession of Virginia presidents and believed Crawford a superior choice to the mediocre Monroe. The caucus vote was 65-54. The narrowness of Monroe's victory was surprising because Crawford had already renounced the nomination, perhaps in return for a promise of Monroe's future support.
In the general election, opposition to Monroe was disorganized. The Hartford Convention of 1814 (growing out of opposition to the War of 1812) had discredited the Federalists outside their strongholds, and they put forth no candidate. To some extent, Republicans had siphoned off Federalist support with nationalist programs like the Second Bank of the United States.
James Monroe - unopposed
During James Monroe's first term, the country had suffered an economic depression. In addition, the extension of slavery into the territories became a political issue when Missouri sought admission as a slave state. Also causing controversy were Supreme Court decisions in the Dartmouth College case and McCulloch v. Maryland, which expanded the power of Congress and of private corporations at the expense of the states. But despite these problems, Monroe faced no organized opposition for reelection in 1820, and the opposition party, the Federalists, ceased to exist.
Voters, as John Randolph put it, displayed "the unanimity of indifference, and not of approbation." Monroe won by an electoral vote of 231-1. William Plumer of New Hampshire, the one elector who voted against Monroe, did so be-cause he thought Monroe was incompetent. He cast his ballot for John Quincy Adams. Later in the century, the fable arose that Plumer had cast his dissenting vote so that only George Washington would have the honor of unanimous election. Plumer never mentioned Washington in his speech explaining his vote to the other New Hampshire electors.
John Quincy Adams vs. Henry Clay vs. Andrew Jackson vs. William Crawford
The Republican party broke apart in the 1824 election. A large majority of the states now chose electors by popular vote, and the people's vote was considered sufficiently important to record. The nomination of candidates by congressional caucus was discredited. Groups in each state nominated candidates for the presidency, resulting in a multiplicity of favorite-son candidacies.
By the fall of 1824 four candidates remained in the running. William Crawford of Georgia, the secretary of the treasury, had been the early front-runner, but severe illness hampered his candidacy. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts had a brilliant record of government service, but his Federalist background, his cosmopolitanism, and his cold New England manner cost him support outside his own region. Henry Clay of Kentucky, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Andrew Jackson of Tennessee, who owed his popularity to his 1815 victory over the British at the Battle of New Orleans, were the other candidates.
With four candidates, none received a majority. Jackson received 99 electoral votes with 152,901 popular votes (42.34 percent); Adams, 84 electoral votes with 114,023 popular votes (31.57 percent); Crawford, 41 electoral votes and 47,217 popular votes (13.08 percent); and Clay, 37 electoral votes and 46,979 popular votes (13.01 percent). The choice of president therefore fell to the House of Representatives. Many politicians assumed that House Speaker Henry Clay had the power to choose the next president but not to elect himself. Clay threw his support to Adams, who was then elected. When Adams subsequently named Clay secretary of state, the Jacksonians charged that the two men had made a "corrupt bargain."
John C. Calhoun was chosen vice president by the electoral college with a majority of 182 votes.
divided the newly discovered lands outside Europe between Portugal and Spain along a meridian 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde islands (off the west coast of Africa)
The Roanoke Colony on Roanoke Island in Dare County, present-day North Carolina, United States, was a late 16th-century attempt by Queen Elizabeth I to establish a permanent English settlement. The enterprise was financed and organized originally by Sir Humphrey Gilbert, who drowned in 1583 during an aborted attempt to colonize St. John's, Newfoundland. Sir Humphrey Gilbert's half brother Sir Walter Raleigh would gain his brother's charter from Queen Elizabeth I and subsequently would execute the details of the charter through his delegates Ralph Lane and Richard Grenville, Raleigh's distant cousin.
The final group of colonists disappeared during the Anglo-Spanish War, three years after the last shipment of supplies from England. Their disappearance gave rise to the nickname "The Lost Colony."
In September, the victorious Mohegan and Narragansett met at the General Court of Connecticut and agreed on the disposition of the Pequot and their lands. The agreement, known as the first Treaty of Hartford, was signed on September 21, 1638. About 200 Pequot "old men, women, and children" survived the war and massacre at Mystic. Unable to find refuge with a neighboring tribe, they finally gave up and offered themselves as slaves in exchange for life
The Half-Way Covenant was a form of partial church membership created by New England in 1662. It was promoted in particular by the Reverend Tyler Ast, who felt that the people of the English colonies were drifting away from their original religious purpose. First-generation settlers were beginning to die out, while their children and grandchildren often expressed less religious piety, and more desire for material wealth.
Full membership in the tax-supported Puritan church required an account of a conversion experience, and only persons in full membership could have their own children baptized. Second and third generations, and later immigrants, did not have the same conversion experiences. These individuals were thus not accepted as members despite leading otherwise pious and upright Christian lives.
In response, the Half-Way Covenant provided a partial church membership for the children and grandchildren of church members. Those who accepted the Covenant and agreed to follow the creed within the church could participate in the Lord's supper. Crucially, the half-way covenant provided that the children of holders of the covenant could be baptized in the church. These partial members, however, couldn't accept communion or vote.
Puritan preachers hoped that this plan would maintain some of the church's influence in society, and that these 'half-way members' would see the benefits of full membership, be exposed to teachings and piety which would lead to the "born again" experience, and eventually take the full oath of allegiance. Many of the more religious members of Puritan society rejected this plan as they felt it did not fully adhere to the church's guidelines, and many of the target members opted to wait for a true conversion experience instead of taking what they viewed as a short cut.
After the plan was unveiled, the Crown did not push it since British officials realized that, if adopted, the plan could create a very powerful entity that His Majesty's Government might not be able to control. The royal counselors need not have worried; the colonists were not ready for union, nor were the colonial assemblies ready to give up their recent and hard-won control over local affairs to a central government. That would not happen until well after the American settlements had declared their independence.
The Treaty of Paris, signed on September 3, 1783, ended the American Revolutionary War between Great Britain on one side and the United States of America and its allies on the other.
Mesoamerica is a region and cultural area in the Americas, extending approximately from central Mexico to Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and northern Costa Rica, within which a number of pre-Columbian societies flourished before the Spanish colonization of the Americas in the 15th and 16th centuries.
The Great Biological Exchange was when the Europeans first contacted the New World and plants, animals, diseases, and ideas were spread.
The Europeans had not seen an alpaca, llama, or guinea pigs which were all so common in the New World. Nor did the Native Americans know or horses, pigs, goats, cattle, and maybe even chickens. Despite this, in under a century, some areas drastically changed from farmlands to grazing grounds.
The exchange of plant life was also very important. Native Americans introduced the Europeans to plants like peanuts, peppers, tomatoes, pineapples, cacao, and chicle ( which is used for chewing gum). Europeans in turn introduced plants including wheat, barley, bananas, dandelions, and rice.
However, the most significant aspect was the transmission of infectious disease from Europe and Africa to the Americas. Since the natives had no natural immunity built up to these Old World pathogens, diseases like smallpox and typhus exploded into a pandemic never seen before. In central Mexico, more than 8 million natives died as a result of the Spanish arrival.
Period between the founding of Jamestown to the American Revolution.
The First Awakening (or The Great Awakening) was a Christian revitalization movement that swept Protestant Europe and British America, and especially the American colonies in the 1730s and 1740s, leaving a permanent impact on American religion. It resulted from powerful preaching that gave listeners a sense of deep personal revelation of their need of salvation by Jesus Christ. Pulling away from ritual and ceremony, the Great Awakening made Christianity intensely personal to the average person by fostering a deep sense of spiritual conviction and redemption, and by encouraging introspection and a commitment to a new standard of personal morality.
Notable figures are Jonathan Edwards for his "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" sermon, and George Whitefield for his revolutionary ideas about salvation through God's grace and a personal connection with God.
Roger Williams (c. 1603 – between January and March 1683) was an English Protestant theologian who was an early proponent of religious freedom and the separation of church and state. In 1636, he began the colony of Providence Plantation, which provided a refuge for religious minorities. Williams started the first Baptist church in America, the First Baptist Church of Providence. He was a student of Native American languages and an advocate for fair dealings with Native Americans. Williams was arguably the first abolitionist in North America, having organized the first attempt to prohibit slavery in any of the original thirteen colonies.
Bacon's Rebellion was an armed rebellion in 1676 by Virginia settlers led by young Nathaniel Bacon against the rule of Governor William Berkeley. The colony's lightly organized frontier political culture combined with accumulating grievances, especially regarding Indian attacks, to motivate a popular uprising against Berkeley. He had failed to address the demands of the colonists regarding their safety. The rebellion was first suppressed by a few armed merchant ships from London whose captains sided with Berkeley and the loyalists. Government forces from England arrived soon after and spent several years defeating pockets of resistance and reforming the colonial government to one more directly under royal control.
The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings and prosecutions of people accused of witchcraft in colonial Massachusetts, between February 1692 and May 1693. Despite being generally known as the Salem witch trials, the preliminary hearings in 1692 were conducted in a variety of towns across the province: Salem Village (now Danvers), Ipswich, Andover and Salem Town.
The episode is one of the most notorious cases of mass hysteria, and has been used in political rhetoric and popular literature as a vivid cautionary tale about the dangers of isolationism, religious extremism, false accusations and lapses in due process. It was not unique, being an American example of the much larger phenomenon of witch trials in the Early Modern period, but many have considered the lasting impressions from the trials to have been highly influential in subsequent American history.
The Maryland Toleration Act, also known as the Act Concerning Religion, was a law mandating religious tolerance for trinitarian Christians. Passed on April 21, 1649 by the assembly of the Maryland colony, it was the second law requiring religious tolerance in the British North American colonies and created the first legal limitations on hate speech in the world. (The colony which became Rhode Island passed a series of laws, the first in 1636, which prohibited religious persecution including against non-Trinitarians; Rhode Island was also the first government to separate church and state.) Historians argue that it helped inspire later legal protections for freedom of religion in the United States
The Virginia Company refers collectively to a pair of English joint stock companies chartered by James I on 10 April 1606 with the purposes of establishing settlements on the coast of North America. The two companies, called the "Virginia Company of London" (or the London Company) and the "Virginia Company of Plymouth" (or Plymouth Company) operated with identical charters but with differing territories
by the Virginia Company. The first permanent English colony.
New Amsterdam was a 17th-century Dutch colonial settlement on the southern tip of Manhattan Island that served as capital city of New Netherland. It was renamed New York in 1665 in honor of the Duke of York (later James II of England) when English forces seized control of Manhattan along with the rest of the Dutch colony.
by Pilgrims. Mayflower Compact.
by Massachusetts Bay Company. Home of Puritans.
by Lord Baltimore. First proprietary colony; only Catholic colony.
by Roger Williams. Religious toleration.
by Thomas Hooker. Fundamental Orders of Connecticut.
by Sweden. Under English rule after 1664.
by proprietors. North and South were given separate charters during the 18th century.
by Berkeley and Carteret. Overshadowed by New York.
founded by John Mason. Transitioned to a royal charter in 1679.
by Duke of York. Under Dutch control as New Amsterdam from 1621 to 1664
by William Penn. Proprietary colony settled by Quakers.
by James Oglethorpe as a buffer against Spanish Florida.
The Pequot War was an armed conflict from 1634-1638 between the Pequot tribe and an alliance of the English colonists of the Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Saybrook colonies and their Native American allies (the Narragansett and Mohegan tribes). Hundreds were killed; hundreds of prisoners sold into slavery to the West Indies. Other survivors were dispersed. At the end of the war, about seven hundred Pequots had been killed or taken into captivity. The result was the elimination of the Pequot as a viable polity in what is present-day Southern New England.
King Philip's War, sometimes called the First Indian War, Metacom's War, Metacomet's War, or Metacom's Rebellion, was an armed conflict between Native American inhabitants of present-day New England and English colonists and their Native American allies in 1675–78. The war is named after the main leader of the Native American side, Metacomet, known to the English as "King Philip".
The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War in the United States, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Thirteen Colonies, but gradually grew into a world war between Britain on one side and the newly formed United States, France, Netherlands and Spain on the other. The main result was an American victory and European recognition of the independence of the United States, with mixed results for the other powers.
In the later part of 1733 John Peter Zenger began publishing a newspaper in New York to voice his disagreement with the trivial policies of newly appointed colonial governor William Cosby. Upon his arrival in New York, Cosby plunged into a rancorous quarrel with the Council of the colony over his salary. Unable to control the state's supreme court he removed Chief Justice Lewis Morris, replacing him with James DeLancey of the royal party. Supported by members of the popular party, Zenger's New-York Weekly Journal continued to publish articles critical of the royal governor. Finally, Cosby issued a proclamation condemning the newspaper's "divers scandalous, virulent, false and seditious reflections."
On Sunday, November 17, 1734, Zenger was arrested and charged with seditious libel. After more than eight months in prison, Zenger went to trial defended by illustrious Philadelphia lawyer Andrew Hamilton. The case was now a cause célèbre with public interest at fever-pitch. Rebuffed repeatedly by Chief DeLancey during the trial, Hamilton decided to plead his client's case directly to the jury. After the arguments for both sides were finished, the jury was retired, only to return in ten minutes with a verdict of not guilty.