1. Jamestown (1607)-In 1607, the English sent three ships to Virginia to start a settlement. The journey was funded by the Virginia Company who were looking for profits and the settlement was named after King James I. The English considered the location of Jamestown well since it was far inland and surrounded by water making it easier to defend against invaders. Once the British had arrived, they faced the threat of famine and attacks by the Algonquian tribe until they came to an agreement with the leader of the tribe. Also, many of the men on the ships suffered from illnesses and diseases thus hurting the development even more.
These men were also not used to the climate and land making it hard for them to maintain a feasible water and food supply. Even with these harsh conditions, the British were able to build forts and various other buildings to maintain their settlement and also began growing tobacco, which they used to trade with neighboring Native tribes, and sent it back to Europe. As profits increased throughout Jamestown the British, along the East Coast, created more settlements. Despite the challenges and tough conditions settlers of Jamestown experienced at first, they were able survive and profit.
2. First Slaves to Virginia (1619)-The first Slaves arrived in 1619 by the White Lion ship to Virginia. At this time, they were considered servants rather than slaves, and supposed to work under a contract for several years before being granted freedom, but this never happened. Originally, these Africans were on a Portuguese ship; however, it was attacked by British ships and the slaves were captured and taken to Virginia. Upon arrival, colonists began baptizing Africans and making them their indentured servants. Colonists also began making laws regarding chattel slavery in which the status of the child of two servants would be based on the mother rather than the father.
African labor started to become more prominent due to the new laws and rights for Natives and a shortage of labor from Britain. It also became very common due to the high demand for tobacco, which was a valuable and profitable good, and more laborers were needed. Africans became an easy target since they were stripped of their rights and were skilled and tough laborers (able to withstand the heat and weather). This led to many more slaves arriving to the colonies because as colonists and landowners profited, more laborers were needed to sustain their plantations and land.
3. Puritan Migrants (1629)-Puritans began coming to the colonies due to unrest and persecution in England. After Charles I got rid of the English Parliament, Puritans were unable to escape persecution so they fled to the colonies were they found safe haven in Massachusetts. This led to many new people to come to New England but unlike Southern colonists, these people were looking for more religious freedom rather than economic opportunities. These people were also very well bonded due to the difficult and long journey to the New World that they faced together. Another important aspect of these Puritan migrants was that they came in families with livestock and farming equipment. Unlike the Southern colonies which consisted mainly of men, the New England colonies contained a more equal amount of men and women along with children.
With a sustainable amount of livestock and farming equipment, they were able to feed themselves and even profit from trade. These people were also all very literate people and skilled craftsmen who belonged to the middle class back in England. People in these colonies also lived long lives due to the decrease in disease, higher food and clean water supply, and a separation in settlements. Upon arriving many Puritans, at first, stayed in the same settlements but then began moving and dispersing into new and different settlements hoping to obtain more land. The Puritan people wanted to make a united and model Christian community in which people where educated and did not speak against religion. Puritan Migrants in Massachusetts, unlike colonists in the Chesapeake Bay, were able to have pleasant and healthy lifestyles due to their different approach to the New World and were not just looking to get rich.
4. Bacon’s Rebellion (1676)-Bacon’s rebellion started in Virginia (1796) due to the abuse of power by the Governor, William Berkeley. In Virginia there were many indentured servants and after their contracts was over, they obtained land; however, this land was on the frontier and not too valuable. Not to mention, there were many Indian attacks on the frontier lands, but Berkeley refused to stop them since he had a lucrative trade of fur with the Indians which he didn’t want to end. This led to frustration and tension between the lower class farmers and Berkeley.
Eventually, a colonist named Nathaniel Bacon rallied up a group of farmers and spoke against William Berkeley regarding his unfair taxes, appointment of friends to high positions, and refusal to stop Indian attacks. When Berkeley ignored Bacon and the farmers, they began attacking local Native settlements. Bacon and his men then attacked Jamestown where they pushed Berkeley out of office. But then Bacon died allowing Berkeley to come back into power putting and end to it. This rebellion was significant because it was one of the first rebellions in a colony and even, a small civil war.
5. Glorious Revolution (1688)-The Glorious Revolution was caused by tensions within Britain towards the King along unfair ruling and policies. At this time, James II was the King of England and he wanted to reinstill Catholicism back as the country’s dominant religion. In the colonies, James Il directly controlled most of the governments, tried instilling Catholicism even though many colonists were Protestant, and installed taxes and laws without colonists approval. Due to his unfavoured policies and demands, William of Orange took the throne with his wife Mary in 1688. Under their rule, the Bill of Rights was passed preventing any Catholic from taking the English throne and stripping the monarch power to remove laws.
Also during this revolution, the English Parliament was reestablished and through these new laws and rights, it gained more power than the Monarchs. While this revolution repaired the damaged and corrupt government of England, it led to more revolts in the Colonies who also wanted to rebel against England. In the Colonies, colonists started removing British governors or leaders from power and replacing Catholic based systems and governments with Protestants. Not only did the Great Revolution affect England, it also changed the Colonies causing them to rebel against the English which helped set the stage for the American Revolution.
6. Salem Witchcraft Trials (1692)-The Salem Witchcraft Trials began in Massachusetts, 1692 community members claimed that a group women were performing witchcraft. This caused a large amount of panic in New England, specifically Massachusetts, and a special court was held to try the accused women resulting in them being hung or punished. There were supposed various causes to this such as rivalries and jealousy since a majority of the accusers were poor people or servants, while the accused were more wealthy and held high positions in the church. Another key reason for these accusations was that many people lived in fear of Indians and Indian attacks which, in fact, caused the deaths of family members for many of the accusers.
Now even though these trials led to many deaths, they also helped spread Enlightenment thinking. As more people began fearing witches and witchcraft, Enlightenment thinkers began expressing their ideas of reasoning and scientific thoughts, thus preaching that these deaths were natural rather than witchcraft. Eventually, the number of deaths from the trials and the Enlightenment ideals caused governments in New England to stop legal prosecutions regarding witchcraft. Although the trials caused many deaths and instilled fear upon colonists, it helped diffuse and spread Enlightenment ideas throughout New England.
7. The Great Awakening (1730s)- In the 1730s, ministers were stressed that many people in America were turning away from religion towards science and reasoning, thus causing a religious revival in the colonies. Ministers began travelling around the colonies holding large and emotional sermons attracting many people. During these sermons, ministers expressed that people could determine their own religion and churches were not essential to understand god, reducing the power of churches. The Great Awakening also brought a sense of equality and common religion among many colonists since the grand sermons attracted a large amount of people. Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield were some of the leading ministers in holding these emotional sermons. Great Awakening thinkers also challenged the authority of the Catholic church.
Through their ideologies, new sects were created, such as Methodists and Baptists, which challenged and suppressed the authority of the Church of England and Puritan views. Although these ideas, brought a sense of equality between colonists, it divided many ministers and preachers into the New and Old Lights. New Lights followed and believed in these new ideologies by opening new schools and churches while Old Lights refused to accept these new views. Another effect of the Great Awakening was that it helped set the stage for the American Revolution. It taught people that religious power did not come from Churches in England and the Monarch, thus causing many people to rebel and find god in their own way, and also allowed people to challenge authority. The Great Awakening not only revived religion in the Colonies, but it helped ignite a revolution that would separate the Britain from its Colonies.