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"I offer this time line as a way of encouraging study of the past and I also hope it will spark conversation about what is truly important for us to know.... America is our home ? and how lucky we are that it is."
Did you know that John Adams thought we would celebrate America's birthday on the second of July? That ten generals went on to become president? That our country has had nine different capitals, including Trenton, New Jersey, and ...
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"I offer this time line as a way of encouraging study of the past and I also hope it will spark conversation about what is truly important for us to know.... America is our home — and how lucky we are that it is."
Did you know that John Adams thought we would celebrate America's birthday on the second of July? That ten generals went on to become president? That our country has had nine different capitals, including Trenton, New Jersey, and Annapolis, Maryland?
Bestselling author and historian Lynne Cheney takes readers through America's story of freedom in this time line of key moments in our history. Starting with our nation's beginnings and carrying through to events that affect our lives today, Mrs. Cheney enriches our understanding of defining moments by presenting them with facts that add perspective and by linking them with the historic words of men and women who were there.
Placing the important happenings and great figures of our history into context and showing the expansion of freedom in this land that we love, A Time for Freedom is a book families will cherish and want to share together.
Exerpt from A Time for Freedom
Early migrants to America arrive from Asia, perhaps across the Bering Land Bridge or possibly even by boat. Over thousands of years they will be followed by others, who will travel across North, Central, and South America.
The Adena people begin building ceremonial earth mounds in what is today the midwestern and south-eastern United States. Subsequent Indian cultures — the Hopewell and the Mississippian — will also build mounds, some very large.
THE LARGEST OF THE MOUNDS, PRESERVED ON THE SITE OF AN ANCIENT CITY CALLED CAHOKIA (NOW CAHOKIA MOUNDS STATE HISTORIC SITE IN ILLINOIS), ONCE HAD A MASSIVE BUILDING ATOP IT, PROBABLY A PALACE FOR THE PRINCIPAL RULER. A THOUSAND YEARS OLD, A HUNDRED FEET HIGH, AND BUILT ENTIRELY OF EARTH, THIS MOUND, CALLED MONKS MOUND, COVERS MORE THAN FOURTEEN ACRES.
Anasazi Indians build cliff dwellings in the Mesa Verde region, in what is today southwestern Colorado.
Distinctive Indian cultures exist all across the area we now know as the United States. In the Northeast five Indian nations form the Iroquois Confederacy.
The number of Indians living in North America as the European age of exploration began is a matter of debate. According to a survey published in 1992, estimates in history textbooks range from two million to ten million.
Under the sponsorship of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, Christopher Columbus and his crew sail three ships, the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa María, more than three thousand nautical miles across the Atlantic. Hoping to find the Indies, Columbus lands instead on an island in the Bahamas that he names San Salvador, or "Holy Savior."
— RODRIGO DE TRIANA, lookout aboard Columbus's ship the Pinta, upon seeing land
COLUMBUS MADE FOUR VOYAGES TO THE NEW WORLD, WHICH HE PERSISTED IN BELIEVING WAS THE INDIES. HE DIED IGNORANT OF HIS REAL ACCOMPLISHMENT.
"An age will come after many years when the ocean will loose the chains of things, and a huge land lie revealed."
— a prophecy in Seneca's Medea, a play Columbus knew well
"This prophecy was fulfilled by my father the admiral, in the year 1492."
— FERDINAND COLUMBUS, writing alongside the prophecy in his father's copy of Seneca
John Cabot, sailing for Henry VII of England, reaches North America aboard a small ship, the Mathew. Almost a century will pass, but his voyage will become the basis for English claims in the New World.
JOHN CABOT, OR GIOVANNI CABOTO, WAS AN ITALIAN, LIKE CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS, OR CRISTOFORO COLOMBO. CABOT, TOO, WAS SEEKING A SHORT ROUTE TO THE INDIES.
Inspired by news of voyages taken by Florentine merchant Amerigo Vespucci, who traveled to the New World around the turn of the sixteenth century, mapmaker Martin Waldseemüller names the new land America.
WALDSEEMÜLLER APPARENTLY HAD A CHANGE OF HEART ABOUT NAMING THE NEW WORLD AFTER VESPUCCI. IN A 1513 ATLAS HE CALLED THE NEW LAND TERRA INCOGNITA AND CREDITED COLUMBUS WITH ITS DISCOVERY. BUT BY THEN IT WAS TOO LATE, AND AMERICA IT WAS.
Spanish exploration of mainland North America begins with Juan Ponce de León on the east coast of Florida. Among the others who will search for riches in the mainland are Hernando de Soto and Francisco Vásquez de Coronado.
"He also said that the lord of that country took his afternoon nap under a great tree on which were hung a great number of little golden bells, which put him to sleep as they swung in the air."
— An account of what a Pawnee guide told Coronado about a country of fabulous wealth. The fabled land was never found, and the guide was killed.
THE CONQUISTADORES, WHO EXPLORED THE LAND THAT IS TODAY THE UNITED STATES, FOUND LITTLE GOLD. BUT HERNÁN CORTÉS, WHO CONQUERED THE AZTECS IN MEXICO IN 1521, AND FRANCISCO PIZARRO, WHO CONQUERED THE INCAS IN PERU IN THE 1530S, FOUND TONS OF PRECIOUS METAL TO SHIP BACK TO SPAIN.
Sailing for the French, Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazano explores the east coast of North America, including New York harbor, searching for a passage to the Indies.
French explorer Jacques Cartier makes the first of three voyages to North America.
AUGUST 10 IS THE FEAST DAY OF SAINT LAWRENCE, A ROMAN MARTYR WHO WAS PUT ON A GRILL AND ROASTED ALIVE. WHEN CARTIER SAILED INTO A WELL-PROTECTED HARBOR ON AUGUST 10, 1535, HE NAMED IT AFTER THE SAINT, AND FROM THENCE CAME THE NAMES OF THE GULF, THE RIVER, AND THE MOUNTAIN RANGE.
At the direction of Philip II of Spain, Gen. Pedro Menéndez de Avilés establishes the first permanent European settlement in North America: Saint Augustine in Florida.
"The general marched up to the cross, followed by all who accompanied him, and there they kneeled and embraced the cross."
— CHAPLAIN FRANCISCO LÓPEZ DE MENDOZA GRAJALES, describing General Menéndez in the founding ceremony
Sir Walter Raleigh, a favorite of Queen Elizabeth of England, sponsors two efforts to establish an English settlement on Roanoke Island. Most of the first group of settlers return to England; the second group, composed of more than one hundred men, women, and children, disappears and becomes known as the lost colony.
— Word carved on a post at the lost colony, thought to indicate a nearby island to which settlers had gone. But they were never found.
JOHN WHITE, GOVERNOR OF THE SECOND GROUP ON ROANOKE ISLAND, SAILED TO ENGLAND SOON AFTER THE COLONY WAS ESTABLISHED TO GET SUPPLIES. CONFLICT BETWEEN ENGLAND AND SPAIN PREVENTED HIM FROM RETURNING FOR MORE THAN TWO YEARS. BY THEN THE COLONY, INCLUDING HIS DAUGHTER AND GRANDDAUGHTER, HAD DISAPPEARED.
Three ships from England, the Susan Constant, the Discovery, and the Godspeed, enter Chesapeake Bay and sail up the James River. The passengers, some one hundred men, found Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in America.
"There was no talk, no hope, no work, but dig gold, wash gold, refine gold, load gold."
— JOHN SMITH, a leader of the Jamestown settlement, who managed to convince the colonists that since there was no gold, they should plant crops
Juan Martinez de Montoya, a Spanish conquistador, establishes a settlement at Santa Fe. In 1610, at the order of Philip III, Santa Fe will become the capital of the province of New Mexico.
Samuel de Champlain sails up the Saint Lawrence River and founds Quebec.
Henry Hudson, sailing for the Dutch, explores the river that will bear his name.
John Rolfe plants tobacco seeds in Jamestown, starting the colonists on their way to a successful commercial venture. By 1630 Virginia will be exporting well over a million pounds of tobacco a year.
ROLFE'S 1614 MARRIAGE TO POCAHONTAS, DAUGHTER OF THE POWERFUL POWHATAN, BEGAN A TRUCE BETWEEN VIRGINIA SETTLERS AND INDIANS, BUT WARFARE BROKE OUT AGAIN IN 1622 WHEN AN INDIAN ATTACK LEFT NEARLY A THIRD OF THE COLONISTS IN VIRGINIA DEAD.
The Virginia House of Burgesses, its members chosen by freemen in the colony, convenes at Jamestown and becomes the first elected assembly in America.
"The most convenient place we could find to sit in was the choir of the church.... But forasmuch as men's affairs do little prosper where God's service is neglected,...a prayer was said by Mr. Bucke, the minister, that it would please God to guide and sanctify all our proceedings."
— JOHN PORY, secretary of the House of Burgesses
Some twenty Africans, brought to Jamestown on a Dutch ship, are sold to colonists, most to work in tobacco fields.
Pilgrims sail aboard the Mayflower from England to the New World, dropping anchor off Cape Cod. After forty-one men aboard the ship sign the Mayflower Compact, a plan for governance, the Pilgrims go ashore.
"Being thus arrived in a good harbor, and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of Heaven who had brought them over the fast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth, their proper element."
— WILLIAM BRADFORD, governor of Plymouth Colony
OF THE 102 MAYFLOWER PASSENGERS 52, OR 53 PERHAPS, WERE PROTESTANT DISSENTERS WHO WANTED TO SEPARATE FROM THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. THE OTHERS, WHOM BRADFORD CALLED "STRANGERS," HAD NO APPARENT QUARREL WITH THE CHURCH. MEMBERS OF BOTH GROUPS WERE BRAVE, SUFFERED GREATLY, AND ARE COMMONLY CALLED PILGRIMS.
The Pilgrims celebrate the autumn harvest, feasting on turkey, duck, and venison with Indians of the Wampanoag nation.
"Our harvest being gotten in,...many of the Indians [came] amongst us, and among the rest their greatest King Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted."
— EDWARD WINSLOW, a Mayflower passenger
To protect their claim to lands they call New Netherland, the Dutch establish the settlement of New Amsterdam on Manhattan Island.
"They have purchased the Island Manhattes from the Indians for the value of 60 guilders."
— PIETER SCHAGEN, Dutch West India Company official, 1626
John Winthrop and Puritan followers arrive from England and establish the Massachusetts Bay Colony, where they hope to create a pure and godly community. In the decade ahead thousands will follow in the Great Migration.
"He shall make us a praise and glory [so] that men shall say of succeeding [colonies], 'May the Lord make it like that of New England.' For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us."
— JOHN WINTHROP, Puritan leader
NEARLY TWO THIRDS OF THE COLONISTS AT JAMESTOWN DIED IN THE FIRST YEAR. HALF THOSE IN PLYMOUTH DIED DURING THE PILGRIMS' FIRST WINTER THERE. THE PURITANS, BETTER ORGANIZED, HAD A BETTER SURVIVAL RATE. STILL, ONE OF EVERY FIVE PERISHED DURING THEIR FIRST YEAR IN AMERICA.
Under the sponsorship of Lord Baltimore, who wants to create a place where Catholics can worship, some 150 Catholics and Protestants sail aboard the Ark and the Dove to Maryland.
"The soil...is excellent so that we cannot set down a foot, but tread on strawberries, raspberries, fallen mulberry vines, acorns, walnuts, [and] sassafras."
— Father Andrew White
Massachusetts congregations move into the Connecticut River valley. A group headed by Puritan minister Thomas Hooker will found Hartford the next year.
Roger Williams is expelled from Massachusetts for his beliefs. He flees to Narragansett Bay and, in a few years, establishes the colony of Rhode Island, where Protestants, Jews, and Catholics are all free to worship.
"True civility and Christianity may both flourish in a state or kingdom, notwithstanding the permission of divers and contrary consciences, either of Jew or Gentile."
— ROGER WILLIAMS
Puritans in the Massachusetts Bay Colony found Harvard College.
"After God had carried us safe to New England, and we had builded our houses, provided necessaries for our livelihood, reared convenient places for God's worship, and settled the civil government: One of the next things we longed for, and looked after was to advance learning, and perpetuate it to posterity."
— Members of Harvard's first board of overseers
THE FIRST PRESIDENT OF HARVARD, HENRY DUNSTER, SET FORTH RULES AND PRECEPTS FOR THE SCHOOL. EVERY STUDENT HAD TO WRITE AND SPEAK LATIN, DILIGENTLY ATTEND LECTURES, AND "BE PLAINLY INSTRUCTED, AND EARNESTLY PRESSED TO CONSIDER WELL, [THAT] THE MAIN END OF HIS LIFE AND STUDIES IS, TO KNOW GOD AND JESUS CHRIST WHICH IS ETERNAL LIFE."
After Pequot Indians kill two Englishmen, war breaks out between Pequots and New England settlers. Colonists, acting with Mohegan and Narragansett allies, attack and burn a Pequot village, killing hundreds.
Anne Hutchinson, a religious dissenter, is ordered out of Massachusetts.
"Mrs. Hutchinson, the sentence of the court you hear is that you are banished from out of our jurisdiction as being a woman not fit for our society, and are to be imprisoned till the court shall send you away."
— GOVERNOR JOHN WINTHROP
ANNE HUTCHINSON WAS THE MOTHER OF FIFTEEN CHILDREN, THREE OF WHOM DIED IN ENGLAND BEFORE SHE MOVED TO MASSACHUSETTS. WHEN SHE WAS BANISHED, SHE MOVED WITH HER CHILDREN TO NARRAGANSETT BAY, WHERE HER HUSBAND, WILLIAM, AND SOME FRIENDS HAD ESTABLISHED A NEW SETTLEMENT. AFTER WILLIAM DIED, ANNE, IN HER EARLY FIFTIES, MOVED TO LONG ISLAND SOUND. THERE SHE AND FIVE OF HER CHILDREN WERE KILLED BY INDIANS.
Swedish settlers aboard the Kalmar Nyckel and the Fogel Grip establish the colony of New Sweden in the Delaware River valley.
Sir William Berkeley arrives in Jamestown. During two terms as governor he will persuade members of England's elite families to move to Virginia.
"A small sum of money will enable a younger brother to erect a flourishing family in a new world; and add more strength, wealth and honor to his native country, than thousands did before."
— SIR WILLIAM BERKELEY, explaining the advantages of Virginia to younger sons, who had no hope of inheriting their families' fortunes
When an English naval force sails into New Amsterdam's harbor, New Netherland passes into English hands. It is divided into two parts, which are given the names New York and New Jersey. New Jersey will subsequently be divided into two parts, East and West Jersey.
THE COLONY OF NEW SWEDEN, OR DELAWARE, WHICH HAD BECOME PART OF NEW NETHERLAND, ALSO PASSED INTO ENGLISH HANDS IN 1664. THE DUKE OF YORK SUBSEQUENTLY GRANTED IT TO WILLIAM PENN, BUT IT HAD ITS OWN LEGISLATURE AND RETAINED A LARGE MEASURE OF AUTONOMY.
English immigrants from Barbados arrive in the Carolina Colony, bringing at least one enslaved African with them. The sugarcane they have been growing in the West Indies does not flourish in the Carolina climate, but in the 1690s rice, another plantation crop, will be successfully introduced.
Fighting between New England colonists and Indians led by Metacom, also known as King Philip, kills hundreds of colonists and thousands of Indians before Metacom himself is captured and killed.
METACOM WAS THE SON OF MASSASOIT, WHO HELPED THE PILGRIMS.
Nathaniel Bacon, convinced that Sir William Berkeley, the royal governor of Virginia, is providing colonists insufficient protection against Indians, leads a rebellion and burns Jamestown. The rebellion ends when Bacon becomes sick and dies.
New Hampshire, which has been part of Massachusetts, becomes a separate royal province.
William Penn, wishing to establish a community that reflects Quaker ideals of peace and tolerance, founds Pennsylvania. He resolves to deal justly with Indians.
"There is one great God and power that hath made the world and all things therein, to whom you, and I, and all people owe their being and well-being, and to whom you and I must one day give an account for all that we have done in the world.... Now this great God has been pleased to make me concerned in your part of the world;...but I desire to enjoy it with your love and consent, that we may always live together as neighbors and friends."
— WILLIAM PENN, writing to the Lenape nation
PENN ADVISED HIS CHILDREN TO CULTIVATE THE VIRTUES OF HUMILITY, PATIENCE, MERCY, GENEROSITY, JUSTICE, GRATITUDE, DILIGENCE, AND FRUGALITY. "HAVE AN HOLY AWE UPON YOUR MINDS TO AVOID THAT WHICH IS EVIL," HE TOLD THEM, "AND A STRICT CARE TO EMBRACE AND DO THAT WHICH IS GOOD."
French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, travels the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico. He names the entire river basin Louisiana in honor of Louis XIV and claims it for France.
In Salem, Massachusetts, six men and fourteen women are executed for witchcraft. Nineteen are hanged, and one is pressed to death.
"An army of devils is horribly broke in upon the place which is the center."
— COTTON MATHER, Puritan minister
MATHER ENTERED HARVARD AT AGE ELEVEN, LEARNED SEVEN LANGUAGES, PUBLISHED MORE THAN FOUR HUNDRED BOOKS, AND WAS THE FATHER OF FIFTEEN CHILDREN, ONLY TWO OF WHOM SURVIVED HIM. HE SAW WITCHCRAFT AS A GRAVE MORAL THREAT, BUT OTHERS AT THE TIME KNEW THAT GREAT INJUSTICE WAS BEING DONE.
"Ages will not wear off that reproach and those stains which these things will leave behind them upon our land."
— THOMAS BRATTLE, Boston merchant
Williamsburg becomes the capital of Virginia.
VIRGINIANS DECIDED TO MOVE THEIR CAPITAL TO WILLIAMSBURG AFTER THE STATEHOUSE IN JAMESTOWN WAS DESTROYED BY FIRE FOUR TIMES: IN 1655, AROUND 1660, IN 1676, AND IN 1698.
East Jersey and West Jersey, under English control, are united into a single colony.
Thousands of German immigrants arrive in America, to be followed by tens of thousands more, many of them indentured servants.
"People come from the city of Philadelphia and other places...and go on board the newly arrived ship...and select among the healthy persons such as they deem suitable for their business, and bargain with them how long they will serve for their passage money, which most of them are still in debt for."
— GOTTLIEB MITTELBERGER, who was not indentured, describing the fate of some of his fellow immigrants
ACCORDING TO THE 2000 CENSUS, NEARLY FORTY-THREE MILLION AMERICANS TRACE THEIR ANCESTRY TO GERMANY. THAT IS MORE THAN TO ANY OTHER NATION, INCLUDING ENGLAND.
Carolina divides into North Carolina, where small farms prevail, and South Carolina, a land of rice plantations.
Facing economic hardship and religious oppression, the Scots-Irish begin to emigrate to America in large numbers. They come to New England, then Pennsylvania. Many will move on to settle the frontier.
"There are now seven ships at Belfast that are carrying off about 1,000 passengers thither."
— ARCHBISHOP BOULTER, Primate of Ireland, on departures for America
FAMOUS SCOTS-IRISH AMERICANS ASSOCIATED WITH THE FRONTIER: ANDREW JACKSON, DAVY CROCKETT, SAM HOUSTON — AND JOHN WAYNE.
Benjamin Franklin, a seventeen-year-old runaway apprentice, arrives in Philadelphia. As printer, publisher, author, inventor, scientist, philosopher, and statesman, he will shape his city and his country.
"Strive to be the greatest man in your country, and you may be disappointed; strive to be the best, and you may succeed."
— BENJAMIN FRANKLIN
In what will become known as the Great Awakening, a series of religious revivals sweep across the colonies.
"As grace is at first from God, so it is continually from him, and is maintained by him, as much as light in the atmosphere is all day long from the sun."
— JONATHAN EDWARDS, New England clergyman
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, GOING TO HEAR GEORGE WHITEFIELD, FAMED ENGLISH PREACHER OF THE GREAT AWAKENING, RESOLVED NOT TO CONTRIBUTE TO WHITEFIELD'S CAUSE. BUT IN THE END, FRANKLIN WROTE, "I EMPTIED MY POCKET WHOLLY INTO THE COLLECTOR'S DISH, GOLD AND ALL."
British philanthropist James Oglethorpe leads a band of settlers to Georgia to create a colony intended to be a haven for the poor and oppressed.
WITH THE FORMATION OF GEORGIA THE OUTLINES WERE IN PLACE FOR THIRTEEN BRITISH COLONIES: FOUR IN NEW ENGLAND (MASSACHUSETTS, CONNECTICUT, RHODE ISLAND, AND NEW HAMPSHIRE), FOUR MIDDLE COLONIES (NEW YORK, NEW JERSEY, DELAWARE, AND PENNSYLVANIA), AND FIVE COLONIES TO THE SOUTH (VIRGINIA, MARYLAND, NORTH CAROLINA, SOUTH CAROLINA, AND GEORGIA).
VERMONT, ITS LANDS CLAIMED BY NEW YORK AND NEW HAMPSHIRE, DECLARED ITSELF TO BE A FREE AND INDEPENDENT REPUBLIC IN 1777 AND MAINTAINED THAT STATUS UNTIL IT ENTERED THE UNION AS THE FOURTEENTH STATE IN 1791.
MAINE WAS PART OF MASSACHUSETTS UNTIL 1820, WHEN IT ENTERED THE UNION AS A SEPARATE STATE.
Printer John Peter Zenger, on trial for "seditious libel" because his newspaper has criticized the Crown-appointed governor of New York, is found innocent.
"The question before the court and you gentlemen of the jury is not of small nor private concern, it is not the cause of a poor printer, nor of New York alone, which you are now trying: No! It may in its consequence affect every freeman that lives under a British government on the main of America. It is the best cause. It is the cause of liberty."
— ANDREW HAMILTON, Zenger's defense attorney
Copyright© 2005 by Lynne V. Cheney