Brief Timeline of American Literature and Events: 1700-1749 (Text version)

On these pages, the historical information for each section appears first, followed by the information on literary events.

Pre-1650 1650 1700 1750 1800 1810 1820 1830 1840 1850 1860 1870 1880 1890 1900 1910 1920

1700 Massachusetts representative assembly orders all Roman Catholic priests to vacate the colony within three months, an action also taken by the New York legislature.
Population of the American colonies: about 275,000 people. Boston has 7,000 people and New York 5,000.
1702-1713 Queen Anne's War (War of the Spanish Succession)
1704 28-29 February. Deerfield, Massachusetts is destroyed and 100 residents are abducted, a consequence of Queen Anne's War.
1700. 24 June.  Judge Samuel Sewall publishes The Selling of Joseph, an anti-slavery tract.
1702 Cotton Mather, Magnalia Christi Americana
1704 (October) Sarah Kemble Knight begins her Private Journal of a Journey from Boston to New York (published 1825).
1705. Laws restricting the travel of slaves and banning  miscegenation are enacted in New York, Massachusetts, and Virginia (Virginia Black Code of 1705).
1707 Settlers in Charlestown, South Carolina successfully defend their town against an attack by French and Spanish colonists from Havana and St. Augustine.
1705 Robert Beverley, History of Virginia
1706 Cotton Mather, The Good Old Way, a book that laments the declining Puritan influence in America.
1707 John Williams, The Redeemed Captive, a best-selling captivity narrative recounting his abduction during the Deerfield raid.
1708 The Sot-Weed Factor, satirical poem by Ebenezer Cook
1710 3,000 German refugees from the Palatinate settle near Livingston Manor on the Hudson River in New York to produce naval stores.  When the colony fails, the settlers go first to the Mohawk Valley (in New York) and finally to eastern Pennsylvania.
1710 Cotton Mather, Bonifacius (Essays to Do Good), a book that influenced Benjamin Franklin
1712-13 Tuscarora Indian War in North and South Carolina
1713 England's South Sea Company is allowed to transport 4,800 slaves per year into the Spanish colonies of North America.
1714 Cotton Mather preaches a sermon in which he states his belief in the Copernican theory of the universe, which places the sun at the center and planets in orbit around it; the traditional or Ptolemaic view at that time held  that all revolved around the earth.
1715 Yamasee tribes attack and kill several hundred Carolina settlers.
1716 South Carolina settlers and their Cherokee allies attack and defeat the Yamassee.
1717 Scots-Irish immigration begins, with most settling to western Pennsylvania.
1718 French found New Orleans.
City of San Antonio founded by the Spanish.
1719-41 The Boston Gazette
1720 Estimated population of colonies: 474,000.
The French build forts on the Mississippi, the St. Lawrence, and the Niagara rivers.
1723 Benjamin Franklin leaves Boston for Philadelphia, a trip that he chronicles in his Autobiography.
1724 Jewish settlers are exiled from the Louisiana colony.
1722 Benjamin Franklin, the "Dogood Papers"
1727 Benjamin Franklin founds the Junto Club.
1728 Prospective brides arrive in Louisiana for the French settlers there; they are known as "casket girls" because they have received dresses in small trunks or caskets as an incentive for immigration.
1728 Col. William Byrd keeps a diary of his travels in determining the boundary between Virginia and North Carolina; it is published in 1841 as History of the Dividing Line.
1727 Dr. Cadwallader Colden, History of the Five Indian Nations
1728 God's Mercy Surmounting Man's Cruelty, Exemplified in the Captivity and Redemption of Elizabeth Hanson (captivity narrative of a Quaker woman)
1729 Franklin purchases and publishes the Pennsylvania Gazette, which later becomes The Saturday Evening Post.
1731.Franklin's Junto club establishes the Library Company of Philadelphia, the first circulating library in the US.
1732 Birth of George Washington.
1734 John Peter Zenger, editor  of the New York Weekly Journal, is imprisoned in New York for upholding freedom of the press.  He is accused of libeling New York Governor William Cosby.  In 1735, Zenger is acquitted when his attorney, Andrew Hamilton, says that the charges cannot be libelous because the accusations against Cosby were true.
Jonathan Edwards begins preaching fiery sermons to crowds in Northampton, Massachusetts. This begins the religious revival movement known as the Great Awakening.
1732 Benjamin Franklin begins publishing Poor Richard's Almanac.
1738 British preacher George Whitefield arrives in Savannah; his sermons help to promote the "Great Awakening" throughout the 1740s. One of the thousands  impressed by his eloquence is Benjamin Franklin, who writes in his Autobiography, "I happened soon after to attend one of his Sermons, in the Course of which I perceived he intended to finish with a Collection, & I silently resolved he should get nothing from me. I had in my Pocket a Handful of Copper Money, three or four silver Dollars, and five Pistoles in Gold. As he proceeded I began to soften, and concluded to give the Coppers. Another Stroke of his Oratory made me asham’d of that, and determin’d me to give the Silver; & he finish’d so admirably, that I empty’d my Pocket wholly into the Collector’s Dish, Gold and all." Other preachers in this movement included Theodore Frelinghuysen of the Dutch Reformed Church, Gilbert Tennent (Presbyterian), and Jonathan Edwards.
1739-42 War of Jenkin's Ear (against Spain in the Southern colonies)
1741 Vitus Bering surveys the Alaskan coast  for Russian Tsar Peter the Great
1741 Jonathan Edwards, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, one of the most famous sermons of the Great Awakening
1745 French attack and burn Saratoga during King George's War (1745-8; ended by Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle)
1749. First American repertory acting company established in Philadelphia; it opens with Thomas Keane in Richard III.
1749. Trustees of Georgia colony revoke their prohibition on slavery in the colony, marking a legal recognition of slavery there.

The Early American Paintings site at the Worcester Art Museum has a timeline of American painting.
For a more comprehensive chronology of historical events in this period:
 "Chronicling Black Lives in Colonial New England" (Christian Science Monitor, 1997)
The Chronology on the History of Slavery lists events from 1619 to1789.

Page written and maintained by D. Campbell