Brief Timeline of American
Literature and Events
|1650-1699||Political and Social History||Literature|
|1650-1654||1652 Massachusetts general court rules that the territory of Maine lies within the boundaries of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, thus ending Maine's immediate hopes of independence.||1650, Anne
Bradstreet, The Tenth Muse
1653 John Eliot, Catechism in the Indian Language, first book printed in an Indian language. He will later (in 1661) translate the Bible into the Algonquian language.
1654 Edward Johnson, Wonder-Working Providence of Sion's Saviour in New England
|1655-1659||1656 (Summer) Massachusetts Bay Colony
imprison, and banish the first Quakers to arrive in the colony. Legislation
in 1658 bars the Quakers from holding their services, called "meetings."
22 September. In Maryland, an all-woman jury, the first in the colonies, acquits Judith Catchpole on charges of murdering her unborn child.
1659. 27 October. Quakers William Robinson and Marmaduke Stephenson are hanged for refusing to leave Massachusetts. Mary Dyer, a follower of Anne Hutchinson and later a Quaker, is scheduled to hang with them but is reprieved at the last minute.
|1656 John Hammond, Lea and Rachel; or, The Two Fruitfull Sisters, Virginia and Maryland|
|1660-1664||1660. 1 June. Mary
Dyer is hanged after defying an expulsion order by returning to Boston
in May 1660.
1661 Massachusetts continues to punish Quakers by hanging those who refuse to leave the colony. After a royal edict requires the Massachusetts authorities to release imprisoned Quakers and return them to England, the authorities instead allow them to leave for other colonies. By December, corporal punishment for Quakers and other dissenters is suspended in the Massachusetts Bay colony by order of Parliament.
1664 Maryland Colony passes a law mandating lifetime servitude for black slaves; previous precedent had allowed freedom for those who converted to Christianity and established legal residences there.
1664 New Amsterdam becomes New York after Governor Peter Stuyvesant's surrender to English forces.
|1662 Michael Wigglesworth, The Day of Doom. This immensely popular poem sold 1800 copies in its first year, and according to the Norton Anthology of American Literature (Volume 1), "about one out of every twenty persons in New England bought it" (284).|
|1665-1669||1665 Legislation in several states tightens the bonds of slavery. English law provides that slaves may be freed if they convert to Christianity and establish legal residence, but Maryland, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia pass laws allowing conversion and residence without freeing the slaves.||John Eliot, The Indian Grammar (1666)|
|1670-1674||1670 Hudson's Bay Company is chartered.
1673 Marquette and Joliet travel from Lake Michigan down the Mississippi as far as the Arkansas River, completing a 2500-mile journey of exploration.
|1671 Samuel Danforth, A Brief Recognition
of New Englands [sic] Errand into the Wilderness, a powerful jeremiad
1673-1729 Samuel Sewall's diary
Philip's War. It begins when Metacomet (King Philip) leads an
attack against Swansea in retaliation for the Plymouth colony's execution
of three Wampanoag
tribe members. Metacomet is betrayed and shot on 12 August 1676, and the
war formally ends when Sir Edmond Andros makes peace in Maine on 12 April
1675 (September) The Massachusetts settlements of Deerfield and Hadley experience the first of three raids from the Wampanoag and Nipmuck peoples.
1676. May 2. Mary Rowlandson is ransomed after her capture during an attack on Lancaster.
30 July. Bacon's Rebellion. Tobacco planters led by Nathan Bacon ask for and are denied permission to attack the Susquehannock Indians, who have been conducting raids on colonists' settlement. Enraged at Governor Berkeley's refusal, the colonists burn Jamestown and kill many Indians before order is restored in October. See also these more extensive accounts: Robert Beverley (1704), Mr. King (1835), Mary Newton Standard (1907)
Bradstreet's Poems, a second edition of The Tenth Muse
corrected by Bradstreet, is published posthumously in Boston.
1676 Increase Mather, A Brief History of the War with the Indians in New England
|1680-1684||1681 4 March. William Penn receives
a charter for land on which he will found Pennsylvania
1683 Penn and Native Americans negotiate a peace treaty at Shackamaxon under the Treaty Elm
1684 Charter of the Massachusetts Bay Colony is revoked after critical reports reach England. This ends the requirement of church membership for voting.
The Soveraignty & Goodness of God, Together with
the Faithfulness of His Promises Displayed; Being a Narrative of the Captivity
and Restauration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson
1682-1725 Edward Taylor, Preparatory Meditations (published 1939, 1960)
|1685-1689||1686 Governor Edmund Andros
begins issuing a series of unpopular orders aimed at the consolidation
of colonies into one large settlement. He dissolves the assemblies
of New York and Connecticut, limits the number of town meetings in New
England to one per year, places the militia under his direct control, and
forces Puritans and Anglicans to worship together in the Old South Church.
1689 April. Rebellious colonists force Andros to take shelter in a fort for his own protection.Cotton Mather supports the rebellion.
|1684 Increase Mather, Remarkable
Providences (An Essay for the Recording of Illustrious Providences)
1685 Cotton Mather, Memorable Providences Relating to Witchcraft and Possessions
|1690-1694||1690 (1689-1763). The series of wars
known as the French
and Indian War begins with King William's War. Schenectady, N.
Y. and other areas are burned by French and Native Americans; Massachusetts
colonists capture Port Royal, Nova Scotia; and Canadian forces destroy Casco,
1692 (May). Salem witchcraft trials begin. From June-September 22, 20 people are executed.
1693 The College of William and Mary is founded.
|1692 Deodat Lawson, A Brief and
True Narrative of Some Remarkable Passages Relating to Sundry Persons Afflicted
1692, 1693 Cotton Mather, The Wonders of the Invisible World
Increase Mather, Cases of Conscience Concerning Evil Spirits, a volume denouncing the use of spectral evidence in witchcraft trials.
|1695-1699||1697 Massachusetts general court expresses
official repentance for the witchcraft trials; Samuel Sewall confesses
guilt from his Boston church pew.
1699 Peace treaty at Casco Bay, Maine, brings hostilities between the Abenaki Indians and the Massachusetts colony to an end.
Witch Trials Timeline chronicles the events in 1692.
Witchcraft Accusations. This interesting interactive site provides a map and a timeline as well as information on accusers and the accused.
American History from Revolution to Reconstruction at Rutgers includes essays, documents, outlines, and biographies.