The Birth and Government

of the

United States of America

Before the American Revolution

Ancient Times to 1775

Page 3


In 1624, thirty families of Dutch colonists, sponsored by the Dutch West India Company arrived in modern day New York. Two years later, Dutch colonist Peter Minuit bought Manhattan island from Native Americans for the equivalent of $24 dollars. He renames the island New Amsterdam which today is again called Manhattan.


In March of 1630, John Winthrop led a Puritan pilgrimage of 900 colonists to Massachusetts Bay to establish the Massachusetts colony where he served as its first governor. Boston was founded in September of that year as the capitol of the colony. In 1633, the first town government in the colonies was organized in Dorchester, Massachusetts.

In 1634, 200 settlers, many of them Roman Catholics, established the colony of Maryland on lands granted to Lord Baltimore by Britain’s King Charles I.

In June of 1636, the colony of Rhode Island was established at Providence by Roger Williams. Williams was banished from Massachusetts for “new and dangerous opinions” calling for religious and political freedoms, including separation of church and state. Other colonists fleeing religious intolerance moved to Providence. In 1652 Rhode Island passed the first law in the colonies declaring slavery illegal.

In 1663 King Charles II established the colony of Carolina.

In 1664, the British defeat the Dutch and the Dutch New Netherland colony became the English colony of New York.

In 1672 the Royal Africa Company was given a monopoly in the English slave trade. Ownership of slaves in the colonies began to increase at a rapid rate.

In 1681, the Quaker William Penn established the colony of Pennsylvania via a Royal charter and land grant from King Charles II. The next year a large wave of immigrants, many of them Quakers, arrived from Germany and the British Isles.

Another wave of immigrants to the New World occurred in 1685 when the French King Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes, ending religious freedom for Protestants. French Protestants fled by the thousands to the colonies in the New World.

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