U.S. History Timeline: Colonial America - 1600–1799

Updated September 13, 2021 | Infoplease Staff

Timeline: Colonial America - 1600-1799

Read about major events in U.S. History from 1600–1799, including the Mayflower Compact, Boston Massacre, American Revolution, and more.


May 14 o.s.

  • Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in America, is established by the London Company in southeast Virginia.Jamestown


July 30 o.s.

  • The House of Burgesses, the first representative assembly in America, meets for the first time in Virginia. The first African slaves are brought to Jamestown.
    Patrick Henry


Dec. 11 o.s.

  • The Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts is established by Pilgrims from England.
  • Before disembarking from their ship, the Mayflower, 41 male passengers sign the Mayflower Compact, an agreement that forms the basis of the colony's government.The Mayflower
    Mayflower II


  • Colonial population is estimated at 50,400.



  • English seize New Amsterdam (city and colony) from the Dutch and rename it New York.


September 2

  • Britain and the British colonies switch from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar

1754 –

Sept. 13, 1759

  • French and Indian War: Final conflict in the ongoing struggle between the British and French for control of eastern North America. The British win a decisive victory over the French on the Plains of Abraham outside Quebec.

Feb. 10, 1763

  • With the Treaty of Paris, the British formally gain control of Canada and all the French possessions east of the Mississippi.


March 5

  • Boston Massacre: British troops fire into a mob, killing five men and leading to intense public protests.Boston Massacre
    Boston Massacre


December 16

  • Boston Tea Party: Group of colonial patriots disguised as Mohawk Indians board three ships in Boston harbor and dump more than 300 crates of tea overboard as a protest against the British tea tax.


Sept. 5 – Oct. 26

1775 –

April 19, 1775

  • American Revolution: War of independence fought between Great Britain and the 13 British colonies on the eastern seaboard of North America. Battles of Lexington and Concord, Mass., between the British Army and colonial minutemen, mark the beginning of the war.

Dec. 19, 1777 – June 19, 1778

  • Battle-weary and destitute Continental army spends brutally cold winter and following spring at Valley Forge, Pa.

Oct. 19, 1781

Sept. 3, 1783

  • Great Britain formally acknowledges American independence in the Treaty of Paris, which officially brings the war to a close.


July 4


June 14

  • Continental Congress approves the first official flag of the United States.

Nov. 15



  • Shays's Rebellion erupts; farmers from New Hampshire to South Carolina take up arms to protest high state taxes and stiff penalties for failure to pay.




February 4

  • George Washington is unanimously elected president of the United States in a vote by state electors.

March 4

  • U.S. Constitution goes into effect, having been ratified by nine states.

March 4

  • U.S. Congress meets for the first time at Federal Hall in New York City.

April 30

  • Washington is inaugurated as president at Federal Hall in New York City.George Washington
    George Washington


February 2

  • U.S. Supreme Court meets for the first time at the Merchants Exchange Building in New York City.
  • The court, made up of one chief justice and five associate justices, hears its first case in 1792.
  • The nation's first census shows that the population has climbed to nearly 4 million.


December 15

  • First ten amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, are ratified.


March 4

  • Washington's second inauguration is held in Philadelphia.
  • Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton gin greatly increases the demand for slave labor.


March 4

  • John Adams is inaugurated as the second president in Philadelphia.John Adams
    John Adams


NOTES: o.s. = old style (according to the Julian calendar).


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