Original Documents in 1600s                    1701

Links of Interest:

  • 1492 Christopher Columbus discovered America (Florida)

  • 1500s - Spanish Conquistadores explore Florida and Baja California

  • 1600s - Spanish Missionaries arrived

  • bringing disease which wiped out Native Americans in Florida


  • 1606 - King James I of England signed a charter for the Virginia Colony in the New World

  • 1607 on May 14th three ships arrived to establish the Virginia Colony, Susan Constant, Godspeed, and the Discovery with 120 emigrants who established Jamestown.

  • 1612 - Ships bringing new emigrants returned to England with superior quality tobacco collected from plantations along the James River.

  • 1614 - Marriage of English settler, John Rolfe, to Pocahontas, daughter of the Chief of the Powhatans established a treaty for almost 8 years with the Native Americans.

  • 1621 - On March 22nd Chief Powatan's brother, Opechankeao, led Native Americans who attacked the 1,240 white colonists and killed 347 of them. The colonists retaliated and massacred many Native Americans. A great plague followed and out of the 5,000 white settlers that had arrived in a three year timeframe only 300 survived.

  • 1624 - King James I of England dissolved the charter for the Virginia Company and the Virginia Colony became a Crown Colony.

  • 1625 - In January the Jamestown Census showed 1,232 people. On March 27th, King James I of England died and was succeeded by his son, Charles I.

  • 1634 - King Charles I confirmed the headright system that started in 1618 to increase the population of the Virginia Colony. The person who financed the transportation of an immigrant received 50 acres of land in the Virginia Colony. As the grant itself did not pay the entire cost, the immigrant became indentured or contracted to work for a specified time to pay for his or her transportation.

  • 1635 - Virginia Colony population at 3,000. Ships brought 1,500 to 2,000 settlers to Virginia yearly.

  • 1641 - King Charles I appointed William Berkeley as Governor of the Virginia Colony. Berkeley fulfilled that role from 1641-1652 and again from 1660-1677.

    Green Spring Plantation near James River and Williamsburg

  • 1649 - King Charles I beheaded as a result of the English Civil War. Cavaliers (Loyalists/Royalists) supported the monarchy and Roundheads supported Oliver Cromwell, who won the war. Seven ships crowded with passengers most of them Loyalists and 1,500 Royalist prisoners went to the Virginia Colony. There were 12 counties in Virginia and 20 churches.

  • 1660 - King Charles II, son of King Charles I, was invited back to England to reign after Oliver Cromwell and his son had died. However, the monarchy no longer had the power and authority like before the English Civil War.

    "One source of revenue which would not involve (Charles II) with Parliament was Virginia, whose colonists were shipping to London cargoes" of tobacco. "Since the faraway colonists had no power with which to threaten him, he regarded them as no more than sheep to be fleeced." He enforced a navigation act where colonists' tobacco was required to go through England as the middle man to European markets with an added tax. "The European consumers refused to buy at the raised prices. Soon the planters' shipments gathered in merchants' warehouses and became a glut on the English market. In a few years prices dropped from fourpence a pound in Cromwell's interregnum (11 year reign) to one penny (from eight cents to two cents)" under Charles II.

    "One good man (with 50 acres) could raise 1,500 pounds of tobacco in one year. (Under Cromwell) At fourpence a pound, the average settler grossed about 25 English pounds a year. Under Charles II, the average planter grossed only about 6 English pounds a year. Some larger planters began to use black people from Africa, whom traders brought up the rivers on ships and offered for outright sale as slaves. Several of the men in the (Virginia) government, notably John Carter and Richard Lee, grew very concerned about the colonists' welfare." They drafted a petition to Charles II with the "realities of the conditions in which the colonists were struggling for life. Governor William Berkley took the petition to England, but King Charles II ordered "Berkeley to stop complaining about tobacco prices and squeeze more revenue from the Colony by producing products England needed - planks, silk, cordage, flax, hemp" and set up urban centers for manufacturing. "The largest proportion of the English emigrants seem to have been agricultural workers" not skilled manufacturers. Plantations became shipping centers. "The governor (Berkeley) and his councilors (large plantation owners aka merchant-planters) were forced to accept the reality that they administered a forsaken people, exploited by a sovereign who denied any moral obligation to the governed." (Dowdey, 37-39)

    "For the border clashes with the hostiles that occurred at each push of settlers farther from Jamestown, Berkeley stayed with the system of forts even after this method had proved futile" (Dowdey, 54).

  • 1671 - Virginia Colony population at 48,000.
    6,000 indentured servants and 2,000 Negro slaves.

  • 1676 - Bacon's Rebellion (6 months) - Nathaniel Bacon led a group of frontiersman to retaliate against Indians (hostiles) who were murdering settlers on the edges of the frontier. Governor William Berkeley declared Bacon a rebel because he did not have permission to raise a militia and Bacon's actions were seen as an afront to Berkeley's authority. Bacon and his followers descended on Jamestown and forced Berkeley to give Bacon an official commission. Later Berkeley resended Bacon's commission. Bacon's men once again marched on the capital, Jamestown, and this time set fire to the houses, state house, and church. Bacon died in October from disease. His followers looted several large plantations for supplies in November including Colonel John Washington's estate (Great Grandfather of future President George Washington).  Berkeley confiscated the rebels property, and had many of them hanged or imprisoned. Berkeley went back to England to explain the insurrection to King Charles II but died of illnes in July 1677 before he met with the King. This event is sometimes referred to as the "precursor to the American Revolution," one-hundred years early. (Dowdey, 59-83).

  • Sources:

  • Cavaliers and Pioneers

  • Colonial Virginia Portraits

  • Dowdey, Clifford.The Virginia Dynasties, Bonanza Books, New York. 1969.

  • Early Virginia Families Along the James River


  • Education:

    First college in America.

    Harvard Founded in 1636

  • Nine colleges were founded during the colonial period:
    1. Harvard (1636) - New England Colonies
    2. William and Mary (1693) - Southern Colonies
    3. Yale (1701) - New England Colonies
    4. Princeton (1746) - Mid-Atlantic Colonies
    5. Pennsylvania (1753) - Mid-Atlantic Colonies
    6. Columbia (1754) - Mid-Atlantic Colonies
    7. Brown (1764) - New England Colonies
    8. Rutgers (1766) - Mid-Atlantic Colonies
    9. Dartmouth (1769) - New England Colonies

    Source: Foundations of American Education, Sixth Edition page 119 / L. Dean Webb, Arlene Metha. Published by Pearson Education. 2010

  • William and Mary College Founded in 1693

  • to train ministers to take Christianity to Native Americans. The second oldest college in America. see 1701 for next event...


  • Natural Resources: 1609-1639 Height of French Fur Trading

  • for beaver pelts for hats in Europe. Frenchmen traded with Huron Indians in Canada until Small Pox decimated half the Huron Tribe so they moved further West.
    BBC Atlas of the Natural World North America Land of the Eagle "Searching for Paradise" Documentary 2006.

  • Technology: Mid 1600s - Robert Boyle - invented the vacuum chamber or air-pump, started the Royal Society in London, England for scientists to witness experiments and discuss scientific topics. Known for Boyle's Law - "If the volume of a gas is decreased, the pressure increases proportionally."

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