“In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” School children learn this rhyme to remember who “discovered” the New World. While technically true, Columbus only qualifies as the first verifiable explorer to have reached the New World; several others might also have reached the New World but 110 verification or proof exists.
Already inhabited by what Columbus called “Indians” (since he thought he had landed in the East Indies), the New World had also attracted other explorers from France, Spain and Portugal. Officially, Jamestown became the first European settlement, established May 14,1607. This began an influx of colonists who came for a variety of reasons, including adventure, a new start, land, religious persecution, economics, punishment and indentured servitude. This convergence of ideas, classes, education, and wealth led to diverse settlements up and down the Atlantic coast.
The American Revolution (1773-1783)
The land we now call the United States began as a settlement of the British Empire, divided up into the original 13 colonies. These colonies became the first states: Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia.
The Colonists became increasingly disgruntled with the British Tax system. Britain charged a tax for everything they purchased from the colonies, including a tea tax, an import tax, an export tax, etc. Once the government had deducted all the taxes, no profit remained. The colonists felt they should have a say in Parliamentary process and law if they paid their taxes, but the colonists had no representative in the government. “No Taxation without Representation” became their cry.
With the unrest came an influx of British Soldiers, causing more resentment among the colonists. British law expected homeowners to house them and feed the soldiers and their horses. The culmination of the unrest and unhappiness set off an event known as “The Boston Tea Party.” Men dressed as Native American Indians boarded the English ships sitting in Boston Harbor and dumped the entire cargo of tea into the Boston Harbor. The chaos escalated into mobs and riots, but no battles occurred until August of 1775 when King George of England declared the American colonies “traitors to the crown.”
The 13 colonies declared independence from the British Empire on July 4th, 1776 by signing the Declaration of Independence. After many battles and much bloodshed, the colonists took control and expelled the British soldiers from the colonies. Signed in 1783, the Treaty' of Paris gave all the land east of the Mississippi and south of the Great Lakes to the American Colonies. Now they needed to establish a government, laws, and financial and judicial systems.