American History Timeline: 1651–1675

William Penn receives a charter from King Charles II.
Hulton Archive / Getty Images

The American Revolution would not commence until 1765, when the Stamp Act Congress, representing the thirteen colonies, disputed the right of the British parliament to tax the colonists without providing them with representation in the House of Commons. The American Revolutionary War would not begin until 1775. During the period from 1651 to 1675, however, attempts by the British government to control commerce in the American colonies gradually created an atmosphere in which rebellion was almost inevitable.

1651

October: England passes the Navigation Act that forbids goods to be imported from the colonies to England in non-English ships or from locations other than where they were produced. This action causes supply shortages hurting colonies and eventually leads to the Anglo-Dutch War which lasts from 1652–1654.

1652

April 4: New Amsterdam is given permission to form its own city government.

May 18: Rhode Island passes the first law in America which prohibits slavery, but is never enforced.

After the death of Maine's founder Ferdinando Gorges ( c. 1565–1647), the Massachusetts Bay Colony revises its borders to the Penobscot Bay, absorbing the growing colony of Maine.

July: The first battle of the Anglo-Dutch Wars (1652–1654) breaks out.

In defiance of England, Massachusetts Bay declares itself independent and starts minting its own silver coins.

1653

The New England Confederation—a union of Massachusetts, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven colonies formed in 1643—plans to help England in the ongoing Anglo-Dutch Wars. The Massachusetts Bay colony flatly refuses to participate. 

1654

The first Jewish immigrants arrive from Brazil and settle in New Amsterdam.

October: The new governor of Maryland, William Fuller (1625–1695), nullifies the 1649 Toleration Act which gave Catholics the right to practice their religion. The colony also removes Lord Baltimore from authority.

1655

March 25: The Battle of the Severn, considered by some historians the last battle of the English Civil War, is fought in Annapolis, Maryland, between Puritan loyalists and moderate protestant and Catholic forces loyal to Baltimore; the Puritans take the day.

Sept. 1: After a last maritime battle between the Dutch colonists led by Peter Stuyvesant (1592–1672) and forces from the Swedish government, the Swedish surrender, ending royal rule by Sweden in America.

1656

July 10: Lord Baltimore is returned to power in Maryland and appoints Josias Fendall (1628–1887) as the new governor.

The first Quakers, Anne Austin and Mary Fisher, arrive in Massachusetts Bay from their colony in Barbados and are arrested and imprisoned. Later in the year, Connecticut and Massachusetts pass laws to allow for the banishment of Quakers.

1657

Quakers who arrive in New Amsterdam are punished and then banished to Rhode Island by Governor Peter Stuyvesant.

1658

September: Massachusetts colony passes laws that do not allow for religious freedom of Quakers including the holding of their meetings.

Quaker Mary Dyer (1611–1660) is arrested in New Haven and convicted for preaching Quakerism and is among those banished to Rhode Island.

1659

Two Quakers are punished by hanging when they return to the Massachusetts Bay Colony after being banished.

1660

Lord Baltimore is removed from power by the Maryland assembly.

The Navigation Act of 1660 is passed requiring only English ships with a three-quarters English crew be allowed to be used for trade. Certain goods including sugar and tobacco could only be shipped to England or English colonies.

1661

The English crown, in protest to the rules against Quakers, orders them released and returned to England. They are later forced to stop the harsh penalties against Quakers.

1662

April 23: Connecticut governor John Winthrop Jr. (1606–1676), secures a royal charter for the colony after nearly a year of negotiation in England.

The Massachusetts Bay Colony's charter was accepted by England as long as they extended the vote to all landowners and allows for freedom of worship for Anglicans.

1663

The Elliot Bible, the first complete Bible to be printed in America, is published at the Harvard College in Cambridge—in the Algonquin language. The Algonquin New Testament had been published two years earlier.

The Carolina colony is created by King Charles II and has eight English noblemen as proprietors.

July 8: Rhode Island is given a royal charter by Charles II.

July 27: The second Navigation Act is passed, requiring that all imports to the American colonies must come from England on English vessels.

1664

The Hudson River valley Indians surrender part of their territory to the Dutch.

The Duke of York is given a charter to control lands that include the Dutch area of New Netherland. By the end of the year, a naval blockade by the English of the area causes Governor Peter Stuyvesant to surrender New Netherland to the English. New Amsterdam is renamed New York.

The Duke of York grants land called New Jersey to Sir George Carteret and John, Lord Berkeley.

Maryland and later New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia pass laws that do not allow for the freeing of black slaves.

1665

New Haven is annexed by Connecticut.

The King's commissioners arrive in New England to oversee what is occurring in the colonies. They demand that colonies must comply by swearing allegiance to the King and allowing for the freedom of religion. Plymouth, Connecticut, and Rhode Island comply. Massachusetts does not comply and when representatives are called to London to answer to the King, they refuse to go.

The territory of Carolina is extended to include Florida.

1666

Maryland prohibits the growing of tobacco for a year due to a glut of tobacco on the market.

1667

July 31: The Peace of Breda officially ends the Anglo-Dutch War and gives England formal control over New Netherland.

1668

Massachusetts annexes Maine.

1669

March 1: The Fundamental Constitutions, written partly by the English philosopher John Locke (1632–1704), are issued in Carolina by its eight proprietors, providing for religious tolerance.

1670

Charles Town (present-day Charleston, South Carolina) is established on the Albemarle Point by colonists William Sayle (1590–1671) and Joseph West (died 1691); it would be moved and re-established in its present location in 1680.

July 8: The Treaty of Madrid (or Godolphin Treaty) is completed between England and Spain. Both parties agree that they will respect each other's rights in America.

Governor William Berkeley (1605–1677) of Virginia convinces the Virginia General Assembly to change the rules from allowing all freemen to vote to white males who owned enough property to pay local taxes.

1671

Plymouth forces King Philip (known as Metacomet, 1638–1676), chief of the Wampanoag Indians, to surrender his weapons.

French explorer Simon François d’Aumont (or Daumont, sieur de St. Lusson) claims the interior of North America for King Louis XIV, as an extension of New France.

1672

First copyright law is passed in the colonies by Massachusetts.

The Royal Africa Company is given a monopoly for the English slave trade.

1673

Feb. 25: Virginia is granted by the English crown to Lord Arlington (1618–1685) and Thomas Culpeper (1635–1689).

May 17: French explorers Father Jacques Marquette (1637–1675) and Louis Joliet (1645–~1700) set off on their expedition down the Mississippi River exploring as far as the Arkansas River.

The Dutch launch a naval attack against Manhattan to try and win back New Netherland during the Third Anglo-Dutch War (1672–1674). Manhattan is surrendered. They capture other towns and rename New York to New Orange.

1674

Feb. 19: The Treaty of Westminster is signed, ending the third Anglo-Dutch War with the American Dutch colonies reverting back to England.

Dec. 4: Father Jacques Marquette establishes a mission at present-day Chicago.

1675

Quaker William Penn (1644–1718) is granted rights to portions of New Jersey.

King Philip's War begins with retaliation for the execution of three Wampanoag Indians. Boston and Plymouth unite to fight against the Indians. Nipmuck Indians unite with the Wampanoags to attack settlements in Massachusetts. The New England Confederation then reacts by officially declaring war on King Philip and raising an army. The Wampanoags are able to defeat settlers near Deerfield on September 18th and Deerfield is abandoned.

Primary Source

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