Before you enter Colonial Williamsburg
Before you visit the Colonial Williamsburg you should know some basic historical facts. Then, you can easily broad your knowledge, first at the Visitors Center (on my picture).
1492 - Christopher Columbus from Spain discovers the Bahamas and other Carribean Islands,
1497 - John Cabot from Italy discovers Newfoundland, Canada now,
1498 - Christopher Columbus discovers Venezuela (and in 1502-1503: Panama, Honduras, Costa Rica)
1513 - Juan Ponce de Leon from Spain lands in Florida,
1524 - Giovanni da Verrazano, sponsored by France, lands in the area around the Carolinas, then he sails north and discovers the Hudson River, and continues northward into Nova Scotia (Canada now),
1541 - Hernando de Soto of Spain discovers the Mississippi River,
1565 - the first permanent European colony in North America is founded in St. Augustine (Florida) by the Spanish,
1607 - Jamestown is founded in Virginia by the British colonists,
1613 - a Dutch trading post is set up on lower Manhattan island,
1619 - the first session of the first legislative assembly in America occurs as the Virginia House of Burgesses convenes in Jamestown,
1620 - November 9, the Mayflower ship lands at Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with 101 colonists. The Mayflower Compact is signed by the 41 men, establishing a form of local government. The colonists agree to abide by majority rule and to cooperate for the general good of the colony. The Compact sets the precedent for other colonies as they set up governments. COLONIAL AMERICA
There were 13 British colonies in North America separately chartered and governed since 17th century till 1776. From the North:
- Massachussets (Massachussets + Maine now),
- New Hampshire,
- New York (New York + Vermont now),
- Rhode Island,
- New Jersey,
- Virginia (Virginia + West Virginia now),
- North Carolina,
- South Carolina,
The colonies were bounded by the Appalachian Mountains on the West and the Atlantic Ocean on the East and there were approx. 2.5 mln settlers living in the colonies in 1775 (1/3 of total population of the Great Britain!).
The oldest colony was Virginia (founded in 1607 in Jamestown). Look at the map here. During the colonial era, Virginia was known as the Colony and Dominion of Virginia, thus today its state nickname is the "Old Dominion". The colony became the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1776 when the 13 colonies signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and formally broke with the Kingdom of Great Britain, leading to the American Revolutionary War and the establishment of the United States of America.
Williamsburg was settled in 1632 as Middle Plantation and renamed in 1699 when it became the capital of the Colony and Dominion of Virginia and since 1776 the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Williamsburg was important as the seat (since 1693) of the College of William and Mary in Virginia and it was the scene of important conventions during the movement for American independence. It lost its leading position since 1780 when the Virginia's capital was moved to Richmond.