American History Timeline: 1626-1650

1626 - 1650

Painting - Peter Minuit purchases Manhattan Island from Man-a-hat-a Indigenous people
6th May 1626, Dutch colonial officer Peter Minuit (1580 - 1638) purchases Manhattan Island from Man-a-hat-a Indigenous people, for trinkets valued at $24.

Three Lions/Hulton Archive/Getty Images 

Between 1626 and 1650, the new American colonies chafed at being so close to political rivals, and squabbled with one another over borders, religious freedom, and self-government. The key events during this time include the ongoing wars with Indigenous residents and disputes with the government of Charles I of England.


May 4: Dutch colonist and politician Peter Minuit (1580–1585) arrives for his second visit at the mouth of the Hudson River in New Netherland.

September: Minuit buys Manhattan from Indigenous peoples for items worth approximately $24 (60 guilders: although the amount isn't added to the story until 1846). He then names the island New Amsterdam.


Plymouth Colony and New Amsterdam begin trading.

Sir Edwin Sandys (1561–1629) sends a shipload of approximately 1,500 kidnapped children from England to the Virginia colony; it is one of several problematic programs used by Sandys and others wherein unemployed, vagrants, and other undesirable multitudes were sent to the New World to offset horrifying mortality rates in the colonies.


June 20: A group of settlers led by John Endecott settles at Salem. This is the beginning of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

The Collegiate School, the first independent school in America, is established by the Dutch West India School and the Dutch Reformed Church in New Amsterdam.


March 18: King Charles I signs a royal charter establishing the Massachusetts Bay.

The Dutch West India Company begins to give land grants to patrons who will bring at least 50 settlers to the colonies.

October 20: John Winthrop (1588–1649) is elected the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

October 30: King Charles I grants Sir Robert Heath a territory in North America that is to be called Carolina.

The founder of Maine, Ferdinand Gorges (ca. 1565–1647), gives the southern part of the colony to co-founder John Mason (1586–1635), which part becomes the Province of New Hampshire.


April 8: The Winthrop Fleet, 11 ships with over 800 English colonists led by John Winthrop, leave England to settle in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. This is the first great wave of immigration from England.

After he arrives, Winthrop begins writing the notebooks of his life and experiences in the colony, part of which will be published as the History of New England in 1825 and 1826.

Boston is officially established.

William Bradford (1590–1657), Governor of Plymouth colony, begins writing "History of Plymouth Plantation."


May: Despite the Massachusetts Bay Colony charter, it is decided that only church members are allowed to become freemen who are allowed to vote for colony officials.


In the Massachusetts Bay Colony issues such as no taxation without representation and representative government are beginning to be addressed.

King Charles I grants George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore, a royal charter to found the Maryland Colony. Since Baltimore is Roman Catholic, the right to religious freedom is granted to Maryland.


October 8: The first town government is organized in the city of Dorchester within the Massachusetts Bay Colony.


March: The first English settlers for the new Maryland colony arrive in North America.


April 23: The Boston Latin School, the first public school in what would become the United States, is established in Boston, Massachusetts.

April 23: A naval battle occurs between Virginia and Maryland, one of several confrontations over boundary disputes between the two colonies.

April 25: The Council for New England revokes the charter for the Massachusetts Bay Company. The colony refuses to yield to this, however.

Roger Williams is ordered banished from Massachusetts after criticizing the colony and promoting the idea of separation of church and state.


The Town Act is passed in the Massachusetts Bay general court giving towns the ability to govern themselves to some extent, including the power to allocate land and take care of local business.

Thomas Hooker (1586–1647) arrives in Hartford, Connecticut, and founds the first church of the territory.

June: Roger Williams (1603–1683) founds the present-day city of Providence, Rhode Island.

July 20: Open warfare begins between the Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, and Saybrook colonies and the Pequot Indigenous people after the death of New England trader John Oldham.

September 8: Harvard University is founded.


May 26: After numerous encounters, the Pequot tribe is massacred by a force of Connecticut, Massachusetts Bay, and Plymouth colonists. The tribe is virtually eliminated in what becomes known as the Mystic Massacre.

November 8: Anne Hutchinson (1591–1643) is banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony, because of theological differences.


Anne Hutchinson leaves for Rhode Island and founds Pocasset (later renamed Portsmouth) with William Coddington (1601–1678) and John Clarke (1609–1676).

August 5: Peter Minuit dies in a shipwreck in the Caribbean.


January 14: The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, describing the government set up by towns along the Connecticut River, are enacted.

Sir Ferdinando Gorges is named the governor of Maine by royal charter.

August 4: New Hampshire Colony settlers sign the Exeter Compact, establishing their freedom from strict religious and economic rules.


Dutch colonists settle in the Delaware River area, after driving out English colonists from Virginia and Connecticut.


New Hampshire seeks the governmental help of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, providing the towns have self-rule, and that membership in the church is not required.


In what would become known as Kieft's War, New Netherland fights against the Hudson River Valley Indigenous peoples who have been making raids against the colony. Willem Kieft was director of the colony from 1638–1647. Both sides will sign a truce in 1645 that will last a year.


May: The New England Confederation, also known as the United Colonies of New England, a confederation of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Plymouth, and New Hampshire, is formed.

August: Anne Hutchinson is murdered with her family by Siwanoy warriors on Long Island.


Roger Williams returns to England where he wins a royal charter for Rhode Island and offends conservative English politicians by calling for religious toleration and separation of church and state.


August: The Dutch and the Hudson River Valley Indigenous people sign a peace treaty, ending four years of warfare.

The New England Confederation sign a peace treaty with the Narragansett tribe.


November 4: Massachusetts becomes increasingly intolerant as they pass a law making heresy punishable by death.


Peter Stuyvesant (1610–1672) assumes the leadership of New Netherland; he would be the last Dutch director-general of the colony, when it is ceded to the English and renamed New York in 1664.

May 19–21: Rhode Island General Assembly drafts a constitution allowing for separation of church and state.


The Dutch and the Swedes compete for the land around present-day Philadelphia on the Schuylkill River. They each build forts and the Swedes burn down the Dutch fort twice.


January 30: King Charles I of the House of Stuart is executed in England for high treason; Virginia, Barbados, Bermuda, and Antigua continue to support his family the House of Stuart.

April 21: The Maryland Toleration Act is passed by the colony's assembly, allowing for religious freedom.

Maine also passes legislation allowing for religious freedom.


April 6: Maryland is allowed to have a bicameral legislature by order of Lord Baltimore.

August: Virginia is blockaded by England after declaring allegiance to the House of Stuart.


Schlesinger, Jr., Arthur M., ed. "The Almanac of American History." Barnes & Nobles Books: Greenwich, CT, 1993.

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Kelly, Martin. "American History Timeline: 1626-1650." ThoughtCo, Dec. 4, 2020, Kelly, Martin. (2020, December 4). American History Timeline: 1626-1650. Retrieved from Kelly, Martin. "American History Timeline: 1626-1650." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 23, 2023).