Category: Colonial America

Categories: US History

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Succeeded by United States of America

Colonial America

The colonial history of the United States covers the history of European settlements from the start of colonization of America until their incorporation into the United States. In the late 16th century, England, France, Spain and the Netherlands launched major colonization programs in eastern North America. Small early attempts—such as the English Lost Colony of Roanoke—often disappeared; everywhere the death rate of the first arrivals was very high.

Nevertheless successful colonies were established. European settlers came from a variety of social and religious groups. No aristocrats settled permanently, but a number of adventurers, soldiers, farmers, and tradesmen arrived. Diversity was a characteristic of the colonization of North America, as the Dutch of New Netherland, the Swedes and Finns of New Sweden, the English Quakers of Pennsylvania, the English Puritans of New England, the English settlers of Jamestown, the French of New France and the "worthy poor" of Georgia. They came to the new continent and built colonies with distinctive social, religious, political and economic styles.

Occasionally one colony took control of another (during wars between their European parents). Only in Nova Scotia (now part of Canada) did the conquerors expel the previous colonists (Expulsion of the Acadians). Instead they all lived side by side in peace. There were no major civil wars among the 13 colonies, and the two chief armed rebellions (in Virginia in 1676 and in New York in 1689–91) were short-lived failures. Wars between the French and the British—such as the French and Indian Wars/Seven Years War and Father Rale's War—were recurrent, and involved French-support for Wabanaki Confederacy attacks on the frontiers. By 1760 France was defeated and the British seized most of its colonies.

Canada, Nova Scotia, St John's Island and Newfoundland did not join the Independence movement, where some of these areas were unsuccessfully invaded during the Revolution in an attempt to coerce their inclusion in the new republic.

In the areas that eventually became the United States, there were four distinct regions: New England, the Middle Colonies, the Chesapeake Bay Colonies, and Southern Colonies (the latter two sometimes referred to as "Upper South" and "Lower South"). Some historians add a fifth region, the Frontier, which was never separately organized. By the time European settlers arrived around 1600–1650, the majority of the Native Americans living in the eastern United States had been decimated by new diseases, introduced to them decades before by explorers and sailors. [1]

The four distinct regions

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