Early United States history
There have been many historical epochs in the land now governed by the US, starting with the pre-colonial times when Native Americans held sway, the Colonial Era and the American Revolution. This article focuses on the antebellum history; from the first European settlement, until the American Civil War, which started in 1861, before most of the Industrial Revolution, large-scale railroad expansion, and the American colonization of the Old West.
- 1492 — First voyage of Christopher Columbus brings the existence of land to the west to the consciousness of most Europeans
- 1513 — Saint Augustine, Florida is founded by the Spaniards; today, it is the oldest continuously-occupied Euro-American settlement in what's now the United States
- 1583 — Newfoundland, now part of Canada, becomes the first British colony in North America. The founder dies during the voyage back to England and his brother, Sir Walter Raleigh, takes over.
- 1586 — Raleigh tries to establish a British colony at Roanoke Island, in what would later become North Carolina; this is now known as the "lost colony". It is possible that the colonists may have joined the local Native American tribe, but no-one really knows why they disappeared without a trace
- 1607 – Jamestown, Virginia founded by Raleigh, the first lasting British colony in what is now the US
- 1607 – Santa Fe founded by the Spaniards in what is now New Mexico
- 1620 – Pilgrims found the Plymouth Colony
- 1625 – Nieuw Amsterdam, now New York City, is founded by the Dutch as part of New Netherland (Dutch: Nieuw-Nederland), which encompassed most of what's now New York State
- 1626 – Founding of Salem, Massachusetts
- 1630 – Boston and 10 other Massachusetts settlements founded by Puritans
- 1634 – Lord Baltimore, turning away from his mostly unsuccessful investments in Newfoundland, starts the first colony in Maryland
- 1664 – New Netherland was conquered by Britain, with both the colony and the city of New Amsterdam re-named New York after the Duke of York.
- 1670 – Charles Town, now Charleston, South Carolina, is founded and quickly becomes a major port city in British America
- 1675-1678 – First Indian War
- 1682 – Philadelphia founded
- 1688-1697 – Second Indian War
- 1754-1763 – French and Indian War, the North American theater of the Seven Year's War - the French lose Quebec and other colonies in what is now Canada to Britain
- 1755 - Braddock Expedition — A battle between Britain and France which saw the emergence of many of the future American independence heroes
- 1755-1764 - The British expel French-speaking Acadians from Atlantic Canada; many go to Louisiana
- 1803 – Louisiana Purchase; the US buys France's remaining colonies in North America
- 1804-1806 Lewis and Clark Expedition
- 1812-1815 – War of 1812 (US against Britain, mostly fought in Canada and the Eastern United States) - part of the Napoleonic Wars
- 1830 – The first scheduled passenger rail service departs Charleston (South Carolina) on of track under steam power; by 1869, a Last Spike will join East and West.
- 1837 – The Panic of 1837 starts an economic depression which continues until 1843.
- 1843 – A land rush sends settlers westward to Oregon's Willamette Valley
- 1846-1848 – Mexican-American War
- 1849 – California gold rush sends starry-eyed prospectors westward
- 1850 – A nascent Underground Railroad proposes Canada as the promised land, after the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act enables abduction and capture of runaway slaves - and in some cases even unlucky free blacks who couldn't prove their freedom - nationwide.
- 1861-1865 – American Civil War
Along the Atlantic coast were the Thirteen Colonies, part of the British Empire. Although many of the buildings have been torn down and replaced by new ones or railways and streets, some old towns, historic buildings and objects still remain, mostly in the following cities:
Boston, MassachusettsMuch of the prelude to the War of Independence happened here, such as the Boston Tea Party and the Boston Massacre. The Freedom Trail will be of particular interest to Revolutionary War buffs.
Concord (Massachusetts)One of the first battlefields of the War of Independence has been commemorated with the Minute Man National Historical Park.
Gloucester (Massachusetts)The oldest seaport in the United States.
Washington, D.C.Founded in 1800, this city contains many artifacts from the Independence era
Allegheny Portage Railroad, PennsylvaniaA railroad, operating 1834 to 1854, which became an early gateway between the Atlantic and the Midwest. Contains the first American railroad tunnel.
Williamsburg, VirginiaIncludes the Jamestown settlement, the first British colony to survive in what's now the United States; Colonial Williamsburg; and other preserved relics from the colonial and revolutionary periods.
Charleston, South CarolinaThis charming city has a neighborhood with a large number of well-preserved antebellum (that is, pre-Civil War) mansions. Many houses in other parts of town are elegant and of some age, too.
The Alamo, San Antonio, TexasConsidered to be hallowed ground and the Shrine of Texas Liberty, the Alamo is a former mission which was also the site of the Battle of the Alamo (1836). Admission is free, although donations are appreciated. Revenues from an adjacent gift shop fund the historic preservation efforts.
- Roanoke one of the earliest attempts at a British colony in North America
- Black Heritage Trail — This trail covers ten sites important in American black history scattered throughout Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood.
- Braddock Expedition
- El Camino Real
- Erie Canal
- The Freedom Trail — A major tourist draw of significant historical sites in Boston. These 17 locations spread over are crucial to understanding revolutionary era America.
- From Plymouth to Hampton Roads showcases historical destinations along the Atlantic coast
- American Industry Tour begins with the antebellum industries of the Northeast.
- Touring Shaker country
- Trail of Tears
- Underground Railroad