January 2, 1647
Colonial leader and landowner
"Gentlemen of your quality come very rarely into this country."
William Berkeley's comment to Nathaniel Bacon.
Nathaniel Bacon was a political leader and landowner in seventeenth-century Virginia who rose to prominence at a time when the colony was in turmoil. Wide divisions in social classes had produced a sense of unrest, especially among frontier farmers, who had little protection from Native Americans. The situation was brought to a crisis when the British governor, William Berkeley (see entry), adopted the Franchise Act of 1670. The law created an elite government by restricting the voting rights to a chosen few. Bacon became a popular leader when he supported farmers who felt left out of the governing process and needed protection from Native Americans who raided their farms. Bacon's Rebellion of 1676 began after Bacon raised a militia (citizens'...
(The entire section is 2046 words.)
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March 23, 1699
Marple, Delaware County, Pennsylvania
September 22, 1777
Botanist and gardener
John Bartram was "the greatest contemporary 'natural botanist' in the world."
Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus.
John Bartram, an eighteenth-century botanist (a specialist in plant life), was well known in colonial America and Europe. He grew up in Pennsylvania, where he was inspired by the beautiful countryside to study nature. As a young man, Bartram ventured to the nearby city of Philadelphia, one of the scientific centers of colonial America, where he met important scientific figures of the time, including James Logan. He introduced Bartram to the study of botany and, through Logan, Bartram became acquainted with the work of the great Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus. Bartram is best known for the five-acre botanical garden, called "the Garden," that he began planting at Kingsessing, Pennsylvania, in 1728. While conducting a...
(The entire section is 1513 words.)
Austerfield, Yorkshire, England
May 9, 1657
Governor and historian
"And here is to be noted a special providence of God, and a great mercy to this poor people, that here they got seed to plant them corn the next year, or else they might have starved. . . . "
William Bradford was the leader of a religious group called the Pilgrims, who embarked on the famous voyage to the New World (the European term for North America and South America) on board the ship Mayflower. In 1620, after landing on the northeast coast of present-day Massachusetts, the Pilgrims established Plymouth Colony. When the first elected governor, John Carver, died, Bradford took his place. As governor, Bradford grappled with a terrible famine (an extreme scarcity of food) and forged relations with local Native Americans. Bradford's time in office is considered an example of effective early American politics. Although he practiced absolute...
(The entire section is 2603 words.)
September 16, 1672
North Andover, Massachusetts
Colonial American poet
"All things within this fading world hath end,/Adversity doth still our joys attend. . . . "
From Anne Bradstreet's poem "Before the Birth of One of Her Children."
Anne Bradstreet is considered one of America's most important colonial poets. Born in England, she was one of many Puritans (a religious group who believed in strict moral and spiritual codes) who emigrated to North America in 1630. Despite having to endure a difficult life in the New World (a European term for North America and South America), Bradstreet still managed to write poetry. In fact, she achieved many important firsts. Along with being the first published poet in colonial America, she was also the first American woman poet. In addition, her collection of verse, The Tenth Muse (1650), was the first written in America. Her poem "Contemplations" (1645) was the first poem to be inspired by the American landscape. Today, Bradstreet's work remains as a tribute to her intellect and passion and as a valuable source of information about the role of women in Puritan society.
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Landowner and business agent
" . . . it was better for the Collonys safety at the time in her hands then in any mans else in the whole Province. . . . "
The Maryland Assembly.
Margaret Brent was a unique figure in seventeenth-century Maryland. An independent, wealthy woman, she was actively involved in the legal and political affairs of the colony at a time when women had little or no power. Brent is remembered today as a feminist because she demanded the right to vote in Maryland, even though she knew she would be denied the privilege because of her gender. It is believed that she was the first practicing female attorney in America. Some historians point out, however, that Brent was not actually advocating equality for women in general, and she was never licensed as a lawyer. Nonetheless, she was an exceptional woman for her day: she owned and managed a large estate, she was the executor (one appointed to carry out a will) of the Maryland governor's estate, and at one point she managed the supply and payment of an army.
Acquires land in Maryland
Margaret Brent was...
(The entire section is 1979 words.)
Byrd II, William
March 28, 1674
August 26, 1744
Planter, colonial official, and writer
" . . . like one of the patriarchs, I have my flocks and my herds, my bond-men and bond-women, and every soart [sic] of trade amongst my own servants, so that I live in a kind of independence on every one, but Providence."
William Byrd II was a wealthy landowner and government official in eighteenth-century Virginia. His success in large part came from inheriting one of the largest fortunes of the time. After receiving a gentleman's education in England, Byrd returned to America with great political and social ambitions. Elected to the Council of Virginia in 1709, he was firmly devoted to the political interests of the colony. He successfully battled Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood, who tried to limit the power of the council. Byrd had a reputation as a carouser (one who engages in loose behavior) and a womanizer. Despite these...
(The entire section is 2424 words.)
December 31, 1491
September 1, 1557
" . . . the said unknown sickness began to spread itself amongst us after the strangest sort that ever was either heard of or seen. . . . "
Jacques Cartier was a French explorer who made three voyages to Canada during the mid-sixteenth century. His expeditions were inspired by the belief that a natural waterway leading to Asia could be found through the continents of North America and South America. At the time, numerous explorers searched for this route, which became known as the Northwest Passage. During his first voyage, in 1534, Cartier explored the Gulf of St. Lawrence. After the second voyage, a trip up the St. Lawrence River in 1535, he returned to France and claimed that the river could be the passage to Asia. In 1541 the king of France ordered Cartier to establish a colony in North America. His attempts were unsuccessful, however, and France...
(The entire section is 2041 words.)
Champlain, Samuel de
December 25, 1635
Quebec, New France (now Canada)
" . . . I went to Quebec, wither some Algonquin savages came, expressing their regret at not being present at the defeat of their enemies, and presenting me with some furs, in consideration of my having gone there and assisted their friends."
Samuel de Champlain.
In 1608 the French explorer Samuel de Champlain visited New France, a French colony in North America that became the province of Quebec, Canada. Within four years he had convinced the French government that the land in North America had great potential for settlement and commercial development. Champlain made twelve journeys to New France to explore and consolidate French holdings in the New World (a European term for North and South America). He wrote six books about his expeditions and the importance of the new French settlement. Serving for a time as the king's lieutenant in New France, he lived to see Quebec established on both shores of the St. Lawrence River. Today Champlain is considered the father of New France and the founder of Quebec.
Becomes a navigator
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March 27, 1724
New York City
March 10, 1766
"[Jane Colden] is perhaps the only lady that has so perfectly studied your system. She deserves to be celebrated."
English botanist Peter Collinson to Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus.
Botanist Jane Colden was America's first great woman scientist. Having grown up on an estate in the New York countryside, Colden was exposed to nature at an early age. She was trained by her father, Cadwallader Colden, who was active in politics and had a strong interest in science. He began teaching his daughter about science after observing her natural inclination toward botany (a branch of biology dealing with plant life). Colden quickly mastered botany techniques as well as the system of plant classification devised by Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus. She soon rose to the top of the scientific community and carried on correspondences with many well-known botanists. By the time Colden settled into domestic life after marrying in 1759, she had already established a reputation that far surpassed any expectations for colonial American women.
Begins studying botany...
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May 20, 1506
"Thirty-three days after my departure from Cadiz I reached the Indian sea, where I discovered many islands, thickly peopled, of which I took possession without resistance in the name of our most illustrious Monarch, . . . "
Christopher Columbus was the Italian explorer credited with "discovering" the New World (a European term for the continents of North America and South America). Columbus made four voyages to the Caribbean and South America between 1492 and 1504. As governor of Hispaniola (an island in the Caribbean), he oversaw the establishment of the first European settlements in the Americas. Columbus later brought over other Europeans, an act that resulted in devastating consequences to the people he called "Indians." The mistreatment of Native Americans by the Spanish colonists was so cruel that it became known in Europe as "the black legend"—a terrible story...
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Coronado, Francisco Vásquez de
February 25, 1510
September 22, 1554
Mexico City, Mexico
"Neither gold nor silver nor any trace of either was found."
A member of Coronado's exploration party.
Francisco Vásquez de Coronado was a Spanish conquistador (Spanish military leader) who was duped into believing that he could find fabulous cities filled with gold in the New World (a European term for the continents of North America and South America). In 1538, as governor of New Galicia (a province northwest of present-day Mexico City), Coronado headed an expedition to locate these cities full of gold and claim their treasures for Spain. During his three-year search for riches he explored parts of the Rio Grande River Valley and Kansas, and became the first European to reach Palo Duro Canyon (near present-day Amarillo, Texas). Yet Coronado returned empty-handed and was later accused of brutal treatment of Native Americans in his army. However, he was eventually exonerated of the charges.
Seeks "Seven Cities of Cibola"
Francisco Vásquez de Coronado was born in 1510 in Salamanca, Spain, into a family of minor...
(The entire section is 1727 words.)
December 4, 1584
Derby, Derbyshire, England
December 23, 1652
"Democracy I do not conceyve that ever God did ordene as a fitt government eyther for church or commonwealth."
John Cotton was a prominent clergyman in the Massachusetts Bay Colony during the seventeenth century. After introducing Puritanism (a religious philosophy that stresses strict moral and spiritual codes) to a church in England, he emigrated (moved from one country to another) to the New World (the European term for North America and South America) and continued his religious activities. He arrived in Massachusetts in 1633 and quickly became an influential leader of the colony. As a preacher he was interested in both religion and politics, arguing against those who believed the two should remain separate. He participated in many of the major political and religious conflicts that took place in the colony, including the trial of religious heretic (one who violates the laws of the church) Anne Hutchinson (see entry).
Becomes a preacher in England
John Cotton was born at Derby,...
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near Dublin, Ireland
Trader, Indian agent, and landowner
"I always took him for an honest man, and have as yet no reason to think otherwys [sic] of him."
Conrad Weiser, U.S. Indian Affairs Advisor.
George Croghan was a trader and landowner in the English colony of Pennsylvania during the expansion of the western frontier. In Croghan's day, the frontier was the boundary between Pennsylvania and the unsettled territory that became Ohio. An adventurous man, Croghan was enthusiastic about trading with the Native Americans in that region, and he established friendly relations with the Seneca tribe around Lake Erie. The French were dominant in this region and soon came into conflict with the English, whom Croghan represented. Croghan's attempts to bolster trade in the Pennsylvania colony became legendary.
(The entire section is 2224 words.)
June 1, 1660
"In obedience to the will of the Lord God I came, and in His will I abide faithful to the death."
Mary Dyer was an English Puritan (one who practices or preaches a strict moral and spiritual code) who emigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony from England in 1634 or 1635. She became influenced by Anne Hutchinson (see entry), who was preaching "Antimonian" ideas. (Antinomianism is the belief that faith alone is sufficient for salvation from sin. The view was considered heresy because it was contrary to the Puritan teaching that salvation can be gained only by doing good works.) When Hutchinson was excommunicated (excluded from the rights of the church) and banished from Massachusetts in 1638, Dyer also left the colony. After traveling to England with her husband in 1652, Dyer became a Quaker (member of the Religious Society of Friends who believe that the individual can...
(The entire section is 1676 words.)
October 5, 1703
March 22, 1758
Puritan minister, leader of the Great Awakening
"Therefore, let every one that is out of Christ, now awake and fly from the wrath to come."
From Jonathan Edward's "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God."
Jonathan Edwards was a Puritan minister and theologian (a specialist in the study of religion) who became one of the principal leaders of the Great Awakening (a series of religious revivals that swept the American colonies near the middle of the eighteenth century). This movement had a profound effect on American politics and society. Protestant preachers from New England to North Carolina, inflamed by the "spirit of God," set out to "wake up" their congregations, whom they accused of sinful behavior. Edwards became famous for the sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," in which he terrified his listeners with visions of eternal punishment for unrepentant sinners. Yet...
(The entire section is 2398 words.)
August 5, 1604
Widford, Hertfordshire, England
May 20, 1690
It is "absolutely necessary to carry on civility with religion [for] praying Indians."
John Eliot was a Puritan (one who practices strict moral and spiritual codes) missionary known as "the Indian evangelist," or "the Indian Apostle," who devoted his life to converting Native Americans to Christianity. Eliot emigrated from England to the New World (a European term for North America and South America) in 1631. The following year he became a teacher and pastor at the Puritan church in Roxbury, Massachusetts. After learning the Algonquian language, he first preached to Native Americans in 1646. Eliot published many books for his converted or "praying Indians," including a Bible translated into Algonquian in 1663. After Metacom's War (1675–76; also known as King Philip's War), the number of Christian natives dwindled. Eliot's books and achievements still stand, however, as important contributions to colonial American society....
(The entire section is 1491 words.)
1588 (or 1589)
March 15, 1665
Governor and military leader
John Endecott "rebuked the inhabitants [of the Massachusetts Bay Colony] for their profaneness, and admonished them to look to it that they walked better."
Puritan leader John Winthrop.
John Endecott was one of the early leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which consisted of several settlements and towns. He came to the New World (the European term for North and South America) in 1628 as a member of a small group that paved the way for the "Great Migration" of Puritans (a religious group who preached strict moral and spiritual codes) two years later. Endecott was a strict Puritan whose actions generally benefitted the colony. Nevertheless, he could also be extremely cruel, and he dealt very harshly with dissenters (those who question authority) and other rebels. He is infamous for cutting down the maypole at Merry Mount (now Quincy) to punish unruly...
(The entire section is 1790 words.)
Freedman, sailor, author, and abolitionist
"The next day proved a day of greater sorrow than I had yet experienced; for my sister and I were then separated, while we lay clasped in each other's arms."
From The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano.
Olaudah Equiano (pronounced ek-wee-ANH-o; also known as Gustavus Vassa) led a remarkable life as a slave and freedman. The son of an African chief, he was captured at age eleven by African slave traders. After being sold to European traders, Equiano was sent first to the Caribbean. He was then transported to a plantation in Virginia, where he was bought by British naval officer Michael Henry Pascal. While serving Pascal, he received many advantages such as being taught how to read and write English. He also became a skillful sailor during the Seven Years War (1756–63; a worldwide conflict between major European powers). After the war, Equiano was...
(The entire section is 1757 words.)
Hawikuh (a Zuni pueblo in New Mexico)
Explorer and "medicine man"
"After [Estevanico] had left the friars, he thought he could get all the reputation and honor himself, and that if he should discover those settlements with such famous high houses, alone, he would be considered bold and courageous."
Pedro de Casteñeda Estevanico.
Estevanico (also known as Estevan, Estebanico, or Esteban) was a Moroccan slave who, along with an expedition of Spanish explorers, traveled from Florida along the Gulf of Mexico into the southwestern United States. He was captured by Native Americans and escaped to become a successful "medicine man" (a priestly healer). After an epic journey he finally reached the Spanish outpost of Mexico City. Estevanico was the first Westerner to reach some areas of the southwestern United States. He preceded Spanish conquistador Francisco Vásquez de Coronado (see entry) in visiting the "Seven...
(The entire section is 2338 words.)
January 17, 1706
April 17, 1790
Scientist, inventor, author, philosopher, and one of the founding fathers of the United States
"God helps them that help themselves."
From Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanack.
Throughout his lifetime Benjamin Franklin held many positions, including printer, writer, civic leader, inventor, politician, and ambassador. During the colonial period, he gained international recognition for his experiments and writings on electricity. In fact, he was the most famous scientist of his time. Before Franklin, electricity was considered a bizarre and misunderstood force. His numerous investigations established the study of electricity as a valid scientific pursuit. A native Bostonian, Franklin moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the age of seventeen. He started his own printing business and retired a rich man in 1748. Pursuing a wide range of scientific interests, his...
(The entire section is 2369 words.)
French missionary Marie Guyart was a pioneering educator in seventeenth-century Canada. Going against the wishes of her family, Guyart achieved her lifelong dream of becoming a nun (member of a Roman Catholic order for women). In 1631 she entered the Ursuline convent (a house where nuns live) in Tours, France, where she took the religious name Marie de l'Incarnation and began her spiritual training. Eight years later Guyart went to Canada and established a convent in New France (now Quebec). Her school for daughters of settlers and Native Americans thrived in spite of many hardships. A tireless missionary, Guyart also wrote instructional materials in Algonquian and Iroquoian. Her autobiography, titled The Life of the Venerable Mother Marie de l'Incarnation published in 1677, is an important document about the lives of Native American and European women in early Canada.
Pursues dream of becoming nun
Marie Guyart was born in France around 1599 to middle-class parents. Her father was a baker in the French textile center of Tours. As a young woman, Guyart had numerous mystical experiences and hoped to...
(The entire section is 1409 words.)
September 12, 1575
English navigator and explorer
"[The chiefs] concluded it [the Half Moon] to be a large canoe or house, in which the great Mannitto (great or Supreme Being) himself was, and that he was probably coming to visit them."
Translation of traditional Delaware story by John Heckewelder.
Henry Hudson was an English explorer whose career was marked by both success and failure. Although he never managed to find either the Northeast Passage or the Northwest Passage to China, he did explore what came to be known as the Hudson River and the Hudson Bay (in present-day New York). His exploration of the Hudson River in 1609 led to the formation of the Dutch West India Company, a group which founded the colony of New Netherland (later New York) in 1624. During a second attempt to find the Northwest Passage in 1610, Hudson became the first explorer to sail through...
(The entire section is 1785 words.)
Hutchinson, Anne Marbury
Alford, Lincolnshire, England
Pelham Bay Park, New York
"If God give me a gift of Prophecy, I may use it."
Anne Marbury Hutchinson.
Anne Marbury Hutchinson was a religious rebel whose ideas threatened the rule of the Puritan government in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. (The Puritans were a religious group who believed in strict moral and spiritual codes.) Born in England, she received a strong religious education as a young woman and was later influenced by the Puritan preachings of John Cotton (see entry). She was particularly inspired by Cotton's concept of the Covenant of Grace (see below). After emigrating (moving from one country to another) to Boston in 1634, Hutchinson began to preach her own extreme version of the Covenant of Grace during private meetings with other Puritans. Eventually her following grew, creating a division in the colony that had social as well as religious repercussions. By the time Hutchinson went to trial for heresy (violation of accepted religious beliefs or doctrines) in 1638 she had already made a major impact on colonial American history.
Influenced by her father...
(The entire section is 2481 words.)
Somerset County, Maryland
Freedman and landowner
" . . . but now I know myne owne ground and I will worke when I please and play when I please."
The life of Anthony Johnson, an African American landowner in colonial Virginia, presents an intriguing story. At a time when few former slaves could own property, Johnson amassed a sizable estate. He was brought to North America in 1621 and worked as a slave on a Virginia plantation. Gaining his freedom around 1635, he began acquiring his own plantation little by little during the 1640s. By 1651 he owned two hundred and fifty acres of land. Even a catastrophic fire that destroyed much of his estate in 1653 could not halt Johnson's rise to success. Historians believe that Johnson was immensely talented and energetic, enabling him to become what they call the "black patriarch" of Pungoteague Creek (the area of Virginia where his estate was located).
Works as plantation slave
Anthony Johnson arrived aboard the James in Virginia in 1621, two years after African slaves were first brought to the colony. Initially he was...
(The entire section is 2552 words.)
Jolliet, Louis and Marquette, Jacques
June 1, 1637
May 18, 1675
on Illinois River
French-Canadian explorer Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette, a French Jesuit missionary, were the first Europeans to travel down the Mississippi River. Beginning their voyage in 1673, the two explorers traveled from New France (now Quebec) in French North America (now Canada), down the Mississippi to a point just north of the present border between Arkansas and Louisiana. Marquette became ill and could not continue the return trip. He died two years later, but his journal provided a valuable record of the expedition. Jolliet went on to explore the Hudson Bay in 1679, as well as the coast of Labrador (a peninsula between Newfoundland and Quebec) in 1689 and 1694. Engaged in trade with Native American groups he issued warnings about English traders that foreshadowed eighteenth-century conflicts between England and France.
(The entire section is 2092 words.)
May 23, 1701
Privateer turned pirate
"My Lord, it is a very hard sentence. For my part I am the innocentest person of them all. . . . "
William Kidd (known as "Captain Kidd") was one of most famous pirates (a person who robs ships or plunders the land from the sea) in history. Before becoming a great plunderer (a person who steals by force) of the seas, he was a respectable colonial American citizen. In 1695 he was hired by English investors as a privateer (a sailor on a privately owned ship that is authorized by a government to attack and capture enemy vessels) to rid the seas of pirates. During the expedition, however, Kidd began attacking the very ships he was supposed to protect. After murdering one of his own crew members, Kidd was eventually tried and hanged in England in 1701. The value of the treasure of his biggest prize, the Quedagh Merchant, has become one of the famous myths...
(The entire section is 1622 words.)
Kino, Eusebio Francisco
Segno in Tyrol, Austria (now Italy)
March 15, 1711
Mission at Santa Magdalena
Jesuit missionary and explorer
"He died as he had lived, with extreme humility and poverty."
Kino's companion Luis Verde.
Eusebio Francisco Kino was a pioneering seventeenth-century Jesuit missionary. He was also an explorer, mathematician, mapmaker, astronomer, and businessman. In 1665 Kino joined the Jesuits to train as a missionary. (Jesuits are members of the Society of Jesus, a Roman Catholic religious order for men founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola. They are dedicated to academic study and the establishment of foreign missions and schools.) Three years later he participated in an expedition to establish Spanish settlements in Mexico. Beginning in 1687, he spent almost twenty-five years in Primería Alta (the area that is now northern Mexico and southern Arizona), building missions and exploring the southwestern region of North America. His explorations led to the return of the Jesuits to the present-day Baja Peninsula of California in 1697. Kino was also responsible for establishing ranching as a viable economic enterprise in Primería Alta.
(The entire section is 1283 words.)
Knight, Sarah Kemble
April 19, 1666
September 25, 1727
New London, Connecticut
Colonial diarist and businesswoman
"I thought it proper to warn poor Travailers to endeavor to Avoid falling into circumstances like ours. . . . "
Sarah Kemble Knight
Sarah Kemble Knight is best known as the author of The Journal of Madame Knight (published in 1825), an account of her journey through New England in 1704. Her remarkable diary provides a detailed portrait of the landscape and culture of early colonial Connecticut and New York. It also reveals Knight's own strong personality, which enabled her to transcend the limitations placed on women. For instance, at that time many women could not read or write, let alone take on a difficult journey through the wilderness. In addition to writing the journal, Knight was a successful businesswoman and legal advisor.
Active in business and law
Sarah Kemble Knight was born on April 19, 1666, in Boston, Massachusetts, to Thomas Kemble and Elizabeth (Trerice) Kemble. Her mother was the daughter of Nicholas Trerice, a shipowner in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Her father was a...
(The entire section is 1374 words.)
La Salle, René-Robert Cavelier de
November 22, 1643
March 19, 1687
"Such was the end of one of the greatest men of an age, a man of admirable spirit, and capable of undertaking all sorts of explorations."
Italian explorer Henri de Tonti.
René-Robert Cavelier de La Salle was a celebrated French explorer who made great strides in the exploration of North America. As a young man he hoped to be a Jesuit missionary, but he became an explorer instead and later was vital as a builder of New France (present-day Quebec, Canada). After the French government granted La Salle the right to explore, trade, and construct forts in New France, he and his men set out across the Great Lakes in a specially built ship called the Griffon. During their journey they established many present-day cities in the Midwest and La Salle became the first European to sail down the Mississippi River to its mouth. Yet in spite of La Salle's...
(The entire section is 2607 words.)
May 16, 1691
Merchant, militia officer, and rebel
Jacob Leisler was a German merchant and militia officer who led a rebellion in New York (then New Netherland) in 1689. Driven by religious conviction, he tried to lessen Roman Catholic power in the colony. At the time the colony was made up of many diverse groups—rich and poor, Protestant and Catholic. The main conflict was between Protestants and other colonists—primarily the Dutch—who were joining the Church of England (the official religion of England; also known as the Anglican Church). Because of the long tradition of Calvinism in his family, Leisler wanted the Protestants to triumph because he believed the Anglican Church would eventually submit to Catholicism. (Calvinism was a branch of the Protestant religion that placed strong emphasis on the supreme power of God, the sinfulness of mankind, and the doctrine of predestination, which states that all human events are controlled by God.) While historians continue to...
(The entire section is 2186 words.)
Pokanoket, near present-day Bristol, Rhode Island
Wampanoag tribal leader
" . . . not only the greatest King amongst them called Massasoit, but also all the Princes and people round about us, have either made suit unto us, or been glad of any occasion to make peace with us. . . . "
Plymouth Colony governor William Bradford.
Massasoit was a Native American leader who worked to maintain friendly relations with English settlers in the early seventeenth century. He is also believed to have taken part in what has become known as the first Thanksgiving. While it is true that Massasoit strove for good relations with the Europeans, his story is more complicated than schoolbooks have led generations of Americans to believe. Massasoit maintained his treaty with the settlers even after a majority of Native Americans began to resist the colonists' expansion. As a result, he was criticized by other Native Americans for giving up too much in...
(The entire section is 2050 words.)
March 19, 1663
February 13, 1728
Clergyman and scientist
"There is not a Fly but would confute [refute conclusively] an Atheist."
Cotton Mather's life and work illustrate two sides of early American scientific thinking. As a Congregational (Puritan) clergyman and a firm believer in divine revelation (the word of God) and miracles, Mather accepted such unscientific notions as witchcraft. He supported the Salem witch trials, although he later changed his position. The author of hundreds of books and sermons, he ranks highly among the early American theologians. Yet he was also a leading scientist and only one of two colonial Americans to be elected to the Royal Society of London, a prestigious scientific organization in England. (Benjamin Franklin was the other American member; see entry.) Reconciling his interest in science with his religious views, Mather advocated the study of science as...
(The entire section is 2238 words.)
Philip), Metacom (King
August 12, 1676
Native American leader
Metacom (also known as King Philip) was the chief of the Wampanoag tribe. He headed the Native American resistance to colonial power in southern New England during the seventeenth century. Colonists celebrated his death, an event that marked their victory in the conflict named for him, King Philip's War (1675–76), and assured English dominance in the region. Critics of the Puritans (people who believe in a branch of Christianity that stressed strict moral and religious codes), however, portrayed Metacom as a hero and condemned those who pushed him to war. These differing opinions reflect the changing alliances and power structures that existed before King Philip's War.
Remains wary of colonists
Metacom was born around 1640 in present-day southeastern Massachusetts. As he was growing up he was sensitive to the increasing...
(The entire section is 1756 words.)
Massachusetts fur trader and author
"The setting up of this Maypole was a lamentable spectacle to the precise separatists that lived at new Plymouth."
Thomas Morton had a colorful career in the Massachusetts Bay Colony as a fur trader and critic of Puritanism (a branch of Christianity that stressed strict moral and spiritual codes). Soon after arriving in Massachusetts he set up a furtrading post called Merry Mount, where he sold rum and guns to Native Americans. Much to the disapproval of Plymouth settlers, Merry Mount attracted rowdy colonists, Native Americans, and even pirates (people who rob ships or plunder the land from the sea). On May Day 1627, Morton infuriated the Puritans by building a giant Maypole and hosting a celebration with drinking, dancing, and merrymaking. Massachusetts authorities twice deported (forcibly sent out of the country) him to England before sending him to Maine. Morton is also...
(The entire section is 1647 words.)
Mühlenberg, Henry Melchior
September 11, 1711
Hanover (a former state of Germany)
October 7, 1787
Founder of the American Lutheran Church
"Let the Church be Planted."
Henry Melchior Mühlenberg.
Henry Melchior Mühlenberg is known as the "father of the American Lutheran Church." (The Lutheran Church is a Christian religious organization founded by Martin Luther in opposition to the Roman Catholic Church.) He is credited with almost single-handedly uniting the scattered and directionless Lutheran churches in the American colonies. He was later instrumental in organizing the Pennsylvania Ministerium, a central church organization that served the massive numbers of German immigrants (people who move from one country and settle in another) who arrived during the latter part of the eighteenth century.
Trains for ministry
Henry Melchior Mühlenberg was born on September 6, 1711, in Hanover (then a state in Germany). His father was a shoemaker who was active in the local Lutheran church. Mühlenberg attended a classical school (a school devoted to the study of ancient languages and history) and received extensive...
(The entire section is 1276 words.)
New London, Connecticut
Stockbridge, New York
Mohegan preacher, diarist, and hymn lyricist
" . . . I began to think about the Christian Religion, and was under great trouble of Mind for Some Time."
Samson Occom was a significant figure in the religious life of eighteenth-century America. He began his career as a Mohegan (a Native American tribe) minister and missionary in the late colonial period, during a time when many Native Americans and colonists were converted to Christianity known as the Great Awakening. Later, Occom became the first Native American to publish a text—a sermon—in the English language. Through his writings—which also included diaries, letters, and hymn lyrics—he defended his Native American culture. As a preacher he solicited funds for Eleazer Wheelock's charity school, which was dedicated to the education and conversion of young Native Americans (see box). Money raised by Occom in England also led...
(The entire section is 2146 words.)
Oglethorpe, James Edward
December 22, 1696
July 1, 1785
British general and philanthropist, founder of
"One, driven by strong benevolence of soul,/Shall fly like Oglethorpe from pole to pole."
From Imitation of Horace by English poet Alexander Pope.
James Oglethorpe was an English general and member of Parliament (the British legislative body) who obtained a grant to start a colony for debtors (those who cannot pay their bills). He named this North American colony Georgia. The British Crown (monarchy or royal family) had political reasons for approving the Georgia venture: the colony would serve as a buffer between English-held South Carolina and Florida, which was occupied by Spain, an enemy of Britain. In 1733 Oglethorpe founded the city of Savannah, then set about acquiring land from the friendly Yamacraw tribe and fortifying the town against the Spanish. His tenure as...
(The entire section is 1915 words.)
October 14, 1644
July 30, 1718
Founder of Pennsylvania
"When the purchase was agreed, great promises passed between us of kindness and good neighborhood, and that the Indians and English must live in love, as long as the sun gave light."
William Penn was an English aristocrat (member of the upper social class) who founded the colony of Pennsylvania. Although he was born into the Anglican faith (the Church of England, the official state religion), he became a Quaker as a young man. (See box on Quakerism.) At that time Quakerism was outlawed in England, and Penn served at least three jail terms for practicing his religious beliefs. In 1682 he went to America to establish Pennsylvania as a haven for Quakers and others who experienced religious persecution. The colony was a success, yet Penn himself received no profit from his efforts. In fact, the venture ruined him financially, and toward the end of his life he spent a year in debtor's prison. Moreover, he was constantly engaged in a struggle with colonists who wanted to return control of Pennsylvania to the British monarchy. Today, Penn is remembered for signing one of the few treaties that brought a...
(The entire section is 2108 words.)
Pinckney, Eliza Lucas
December 28, 1722?
May 26, 1793
Plantation manager, indigo cultivator
" . . . I was very early fond of the vegetable world. . . . "
Eliza Lucas Pinckney.
Eliza Lucas Pinckney was a South Carolina plantation manager who is known today for her pioneering work in the cultivation of indigo (a plant used to make blue dye). As a result of Pinckney's successful experiments—which she began at the age of seventeen—the Carolina colony sustained a flourishing indigo industry for nearly three decades. During her lifetime Pinckney kept a detailed journal, recording the progress of her experiments. She also maintained extensive correspondence with friends and family members. Her letters, one of the largest surviving collections of letters by a colonial woman, provide valuable information about Carolina plantation life during the eighteenth century.
Left in charge of plantations
(The entire section is 1888 words.)
Powhatan-Renapé "princess" who helped the Virginia colonists
" . . . I will bee for ever and ever your Countrieman. . . . "
The story of Pocahontas, a Powhatan-Renapé "princess," is one of the earliest and most deeply rooted legends of American history. According to the legend, Pocahontas saved John Smith (see entry), one of the founders of the Virginia Colony, from being executed by her father, Powhatan (see entry). If the story is true, Pocahontas may have decisively influenced the course of English settlement in the New World (a European term for North America and South America). Her friendly and generous relationship with Smith and the English settlers helped preserve the colony through the long winters when the colonists were threatened with starvation. With the benefit of hindsight, many Native Americans have criticized her for preventing Powhatan from killing off the...
(The entire section is 2711 words.)
April 20, 1769
Ottawa-Chippewa tribal leader
Pontiac was an Ottawa chief who led the Pontiac Rebellion in 1763, an attack inspired by Native American resentment at European settlers seizing their land. It was the most impressive Native American resistance movement ever encountered by Europeans in North America. Yet the Pontiac Rebellion failed, primarily because the great chief was unable to form an alliance with the French against the British. Pontiac's war was also significant because Native Americans never again had an opportunity to drive back European settlers. Native tribes continued to lose their land as they were pushed westward and their way of life was totally destroyed.
Trained as Ottawa warrior
Although little is known about Pontiac's youth, it is believed he was born around 1714 along the Maumee River in present-day Ohio, to an Ottawa father and a Chippewa mother. The exact meaning of the name Pontiac has never been determined, but in nineteenth-century Ottawa...
(The entire section is 1966 words.)
San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico
San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico
Tewa Pueblo medicine man and political leader
Popé was a seventeenth-century revolutionary leader of the Pueblos, a Native American group in present-day New Mexico. Defying laws established by Spanish conquistadors (conquerors), Popé practiced the traditional Pueblo religion and urged Native Americans to reject Roman Catholicism. (Roman Catholicism is a branch of Christianity that is based in Rome, Italy, and headed by the pope.) Popé also advocated a return to the old Pueblo way of life that had existed before the arrival of the Spaniards. In 1680 Popé organized a revolt at Santa Fe against Spanish forces. During the siege four hundred missionaries and colonists were killed, and the Pueblos forced the survivors to flee hundreds of miles southward. The Pueblos were finally rid of the Spanish. Popé then set about removing all traces of Spanish influence: he outlawed the Spanish language, destroyed Catholic churches, and "cleansed" the people who had been baptized by missionaries. Within a decade, however, Popé's power was weakened by Apache raids, internal Pueblo dissension, and his own tyrannical (being abusive with power) rule. In 1692, less than two years after Popé's death, the...
(The entire section is 1624 words.)
Powhatan (present-day Richmond, Virginia)
" . . . Why should you destroy us, who have provided you with food? What can you get by war? . . . "
Powhatan was a major leader of the Powhatans, Renapé-speaking people of the region that is now Virginia. (Powhatan had taken the name of his tribe to signify his power.) Before the arrival of the English he had several other names, including Wahunsonacock ("He Makes an Offering by Crushing with a Falling Weight" or "He Knows How to Crush Them"). He was the main political leader in the area at the time the English were trying to establish their first permanent settlements, most notably Jamestown. Although Powhatan was suspicious of the English, he maintained generally peaceful relations with them. He used his diplomatic skills to avoid confrontation and to stay one step ahead of the colonists' efforts to take power and land from Native Americans. He was a...
(The entire section is 1521 words.)
March 22, 1622
Virginia colonist, tobacco planter
" . . . as pleasant, sweet, and strong . . . as any under the sunne."
John Rolfe is perhaps best known today as the Jamestown colonist who married Pocahontas (see entry), the Powhatan "princess," in order to seal an alliance between English settlers and the Powhatan tribe. Yet Rolfe had an even greater impact on Virginia. In 1612, two years after he arrived in the colony, he perfected a strain of tobacco for export to England. (Tobacco is a broad-leaf plant that is grown in warm climates. In the seventeenth century it was harvested, dried, and shredded for use in smoking in pipes. Native Americans had long been using tobacco in this manner. Today tobacco is also rolled in small, thin pieces of paper to make cigarettes.) Soon tobacco became a staple Virginia product as well as the first profitable crop to be grown on the mainland of North...
(The entire section is 1688 words.)
Rowlandson, Mary White
1635 (or 1637)
Writer of a famous captivity narrative
" . . . their glittering weapons so daunted my spirit, that I chose rather to go along with those (as I may say) ravenous Bears, then that moment to end my dayes."
From The Narrative of the Captivity and Restauration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson.
Mary White Rowlandson, the wife of a Puritan clergyman, lived with her family on the New England frontier during the late seventeenth century. The violent events of King Philip's War (1675–76; see Metacom entry) transformed Rowlandson from a typical Puritan woman to a best-selling author. On a night in February 1676, a Wampanoag raiding party abducted Rowlandson, her three children, and several other colonists. One of her children died in captivity. Three months later Rowlandson and her two surviving children were released when her husband paid a ransom to the Wampanoags. She wrote about...
(The entire section is 2260 words.)
March 28, 1652
January 1, 1730
Massachusetts businessman and judge
"Tis pity there should be more caution used in buying a horse, or a little lifeless dust, than there is in purchasing men and women. . . . "
Samuel Sewall was a prominent businessman and judge in Boston during a time of social and political upheaval in the Massachusetts colony. He is perhaps best known for making a dramatic public apology for the role he played as a judge in the Salem witch trials, which resulted in the executions of nineteen people. Sewall is also famous for his diary, a remarkable work that spans more than fifty years and provides modern historians with a vivid picture of life in Puritan New England. (The Puritans were a Christian group who observed strict moral and spiritual codes; they controlled social and political life in Massachusetts.) Sewall also was one of the first colonists to speak out against the keeping...
(The entire section is 2010 words.)
First portrait painter in colonial America
"Thy Fame, O Smibert, shall the Muse rehearse,/And sing her Sister-Art [painting] in softer Verse."
American poet Mather Byles.
John Smibert (also Smybert) was the first portrait painter to come to America. After settling in Boston (then located in the Massachusetts Colony), he exerted a profound influence on eighteenth-century American art. Smibert's training in the fashionable Dutch-influenced style of portraiture (the making of portraits) brought a new sophistication to painting in New England. Most of the leading citizens of Boston were his clients. Smibert is credited with organizing the first art show in America. He also influenced a number of young American artists.
Apprenticed as house painter
John Smibert was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1688, where he was raised as a Presbyterian (a Protestant...
(The entire section is 1041 words.)
January 6, 1580
Leader of Jamestown Colony
"At the minute of my execution, [Pocahontas] . . . hazarded the beating out of her own braines to save mine."
John Smith was one of the original seven council members (governors) of Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in America. Smith was a colorful figure as well as an author, whose works about life in early Virginia are still read today. His resourcefulness was invaluable to the Jamestown colonists, who lacked the motivation or skills to survive the harsh circumstances of a strange land. In addition, Smith was one of the few Englishmen to regard Native Americans as fellow human beings. He is perhaps best known for being saved from execution by Pocahontas (see entry), daughter of Powhatan (see entry), the powerful leader of a large Native American confederacy known as the Powhatan people. Although historians have...
(The entire section is 2507 words.)
de Soto, Hernando
May 21, 1542
First Spanish explorer in the southeastern United States
When the Spanish adventurer Hernando de Soto led an expedition along the western coast of Florida in 1539, he was already a seasoned explorer and a wealthy man. He had been drawn to the North American continent by tales of hidden cities containing vast amounts of gold and silver. Although a three-year search for treasure was futile, de Soto and his party possibly became the first Europeans to sight the Mississippi River.
Seeks life of adventure
Hernando de Soto was born around 1500 in Extremadura, a Spanish province near the border of Portugal. Embarking on a life of adventure as a young man, he joined an expedition to Nicaragua led by Spanish explorer Francisco Fernández de Córdoba in 1524. De Soto participated in founding the city of Granada. Sometime after their arrival in Nicaragua, de Soto sided with Córdoba's adversary, Pedro Arias, in a dispute that resulted in Córdoba's death. De Soto then settled in Nicaragua and prospered, partly through his involvement in the slave trade. Once again lured by adventure, however, he joined fellow Spaniard...
(The entire section is 1574 words.)
Patuxet (in present-day Massachusetts)
possibly Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Wampanoag translator and guide
"Squanto continued with them and was their interpreter, and as a special instrument sent of God for their good beyond their expectation."
Plymouth Colony governor William Bradford.
Squanto, also known as Tasquantum (or Tisquantum), was a major seventeenth-century Native American figure. He is remembered as the interpreter, guide, and agricultural advisor who shepherded the English settlers of Plymouth Colony through their unstable early existence in the New World (a European term for North America and South America). Squanto was overshadowed, however, by the Pokanoket chief Massasoit (see entry), who is famous for establishing a peace treaty with the Pilgrims in 1621. Controversy surrounds Squanto's life because of his attempts to undermine Massasoit's authority. Squanto is nevertheless considered to be the person who did more than...
(The entire section is 1895 words.)
Manhattan, New York
Dutch director general of New Netherland
" . . . if any one should [appeal a law], I will make him a foot shorter, and send the pieces to Holland, and let him appeal in that way."
Peter Stuyvesant was the colorful and controversial director general of the Dutch colony of New Netherland (presentday New York State). During his seventeen years in office, he caused considerable unrest by imposing heavy taxes and passing laws that prohibited religious freedom. However, Stuyvesant was also responsible for some important progress in the colony, such as improving relations with nearby English settlements and promoting commerce. Nevertheless citizens of New Amsterdam (now New York City) ultimately forced him to declare the city a municipality (self-governing political unit). Stuyvesant's harsh rule eventually led to the downfall of New Netherland, which was taken over by the English...
(The entire section is 1820 words.)
June 24, 1729
Puritan minister and poet
" . . . Is this thy play,/To spin a web out of thyself/To catch a fly?/For why?"
From Edward Taylor's poem "Upon a Spider Catching a Fly."
Edward Taylor was a Puritan minister in Westfield, Massachusetts, who wrote poetry to express his religious inspiration and beliefs. (Puritans were a Christian group who observed strict moral and spiritual codes.) The only verses by Taylor that appeared in print during his lifetime, however, were two stanzas from "Upon Wedlock & Death of Children" (1682 or 1683), which Puritan minister Cotton Mather (see entry) included in his book Right Thoughts in Sad Hours (1689). His work was virtually unknown until scholars discovered and published his poetry in the twentieth century. Yet today he is considered a major American poet, and his more than two hundred Poetical Meditations (1682–25) have been called the most important poetic achievements of colonial America. Although he accepted the stern beliefs of his fellow Puritans, he often focused on God's grace (good will) and the experience of religious ecstasy (joy) and that spirit is reflected in his verse....
(The entire section is 1501 words.)
Tekakwitha, Catherine (Kateri)
Ossernenon (Auriesville), New York
Mohawk Catholic nun and candidate for sainthood
Catherine (Kateri) Tekakwitha was the first Native American to be venerated (the first step toward being declared a saint) by the Roman Catholic Church. (The Roman Catholic Church is a branch of Christianity based in Rome, Italy. It is headed by a pope who oversees bishops, priests, and other religious officials.) Because of her peaceful religious nature, she was known as "Lily of the Mohawks." Tekakwitha was born in 1656 in Ossernenon (Auriesville), New York, to a Mohawk father and a Christianized Algonquin mother who had been captured by Mohawks about 1653. At the time there was extensive fighting among Native factions (rival groups) and Europeans in order to acquire more territory in the New World (the European term for North America and South America). Tekakwitha was born into this chaotic atmosphere of tribal warfare and Native American cultural and religious battles with Europeans.
Although the French Jesuits (a Roman Catholic order for men) were making some headway in their attempts to Christianize and colonize New France (parts of present-day Canada and upper New York State), Native Americans remained hostile toward the...
(The entire section is 2055 words.)
van Rensselaer, Maria van Cortlandt
July 20, 1645
New Amsterdam (later New York City)
January 24, 1689
Albany, New York
Overseer of Rensselaerswyck
"This lady was polite, quite well informed, and of good life and disposition."
Dutch travel writer Jasper Dankaerts.
Maria van Cortlandt van Rensselaer was an upper-class housewife who lived in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam (which later became New York after being taken over by the English). When her husband died she became the overseer (manager or supervisor) of his family's estate to protect her children's inheritance. Van Rensselaer was raised in the tradition of seventeenth-century women in the Netherlands, who were considered the most independent in Europe. This independence was the result of being educated and trained to manage household accounts so they were able to take over the family business if they were ever widowed. Dutch women in the New World (a European term for North America and South America) were also expected to protect the family's wealth so that their children would have an inheritance. Maria van Cortlandt van Rensselaer fulfilled these expectations. Thus she was able to keep secure for her children one of the largest estates in New York.
(The entire section is 1441 words.)
Verrazano, Giovanni da
Guadeloupe, West Indies
Italian explorer, first European to sight eastern North America
" . . . we reached a new country, which had never before been seen by any one, either in ancient or modern times. . . . "
Giovanni da Verrazano.
Giovanni da Verrazano (also Verrazzano) was an Italian explorer commissioned by the king of France to chart the eastern coast of North America, from Florida to Newfoundland. His main goal was to find a passage to Asia via the Pacific Ocean. Although Verrazano did not fulfill this mission, in 1524 he became the first European to sight New York Harbor as well as Narragansett Bay and other points along the northeastern Atlantic shore. Verrazano did not start any permanent settlements, yet he opened the way for Europeans who came to America in the early seventeenth century. For example, in 1624 the Dutch West India Company established New Amsterdam around New York Harbor and on Manhattan Island (see Peter Stuyvesant entry), and in 1636 English religious dissenter Roger Williams (see entry) founded Rhode Island on the mainland off Narragansett Bay. Verrazano also gave one of the earliest existing accounts of Native American life in North...
(The entire section is 1552 words.)
December 16, 1714
September 30, 1770
Evangelical preacher and leader of the Great
"I drove 15 mad."
George Whitefield (pronounced Whitfield) was an Anglican minister and leader of the early Methodist movement. Although he was ordained in the Anglican Church (also known as the Church of England, the official religion of the country), he preached Calvinist methodism to people of all Christian denominations in England, Scotland, Ireland, and America. (Calvinism is a religion that placed strong emphasis on the supreme power of God, the sinfulness of humankind, and the doctrine of predestination, which states that all human events are controlled by God.) Embarking on a series of evangelical revivals, he used improved transportation and a developing communications network to spread his message. In public he set aside his sweet and gentle personality to become a riveting, even...
(The entire section is 2192 words.)
Pioneer of religious freedom, founder of Rhode Island
" . . . all men may walk as their consciences persuade them."
Roger Williams was a religious leader whose spiritual journey forced him to leave one church and then another. He began his quest in 1636, five years after he arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, when he became an enemy of the Puritans (those who advocated strict moral and spiritual codes). In the process he founded and governed Rhode Island, the first American colony to be based on separation of church and state. Unlike other colonists, Williams also believed that land in New England belonged to Native Americans and therefore should be purchased, rather than seized, by the British government. He is credited with starting the first Baptist church in America.
Shows intellectual abilities
Roger Williams was born around 1603 in London, England. He was the son of Alice and James...
(The entire section is 2185 words.)
Puritan leader, first governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony
" . . . the eies of all people are uppon us. . . . "
John Winthrop was a stern Puritan (member of a Christian group that held strict moral and spiritual views) and the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Prior to emigrating (moving from one country to another) to America, he led a comfortable life as a wealthy lawyer and landowner in England. Then in the 1620s the country became embroiled in religious, economic, and political turmoil. Times were especially difficult for Puritans, who pressed for reforms in the Anglican Church (the official religion; also known as the Church of England) and took a dim view of the moral climate of England. Consequently, they were deprived of political rights, such as serving in Parliament (the British legislative body). Their religious practices were suppressed and held up to ridicule. Winthrop was...
(The entire section is 2363 words.)
October 19, 1720
Ancocas, New Jersey
October 7, 1772
Quaker minister and abolitionist
"But the general Disadvantage which these poor Africans lie under in an enlight'ned Christian Country, [has] often fill'd me with real Sadness. . . . "
John Woolman was a Quaker minister who led a campaign against slavery. (See box for description of Quakers.) His efforts required considerable courage because there was no organized abolition movement (the group that wanted to outlaw slavery) during the early eighteenth century and there was much resistance to his beliefs at the time. By the late 1700s, after Woolman's death, however, Quakers had prohibited slave-holding within the Religious Society of Friends (the official name of their group). They then emerged as leaders in the abolition movement. Woolman was also an essayist who kept a detailed journal. Although he was relatively unknown outside the Quaker community during his lifetime,...
(The entire section is 1858 words.)
Zenger, John Peter
July 28, 1746
New York, New York
Printer and journalist, pioneer of freedom of the press
" . . . They answered by Thomas Bunt, their Foreman, Not Guilty. Upon which there were three Huzzas in the hall which was crowded with people, and the next day I was discharged from my imprisonment."
From the account of John Peter Zenger's trial.
John Peter Zenger was a German-born printer and journalist who published the New-York Weekly Journal. The newspaper was a political forum for colonists who opposed the policies of New York governor William Cosby. Although Zenger did not write the articles he published, he was responsible for their content. Charged with libel (making a false statement that exposes another person to public contempt) in 1734, he was arrested and held in jail for ten months. After he finally went to trial his lawyer, Andrew Hamilton, won an acquittal (not-guilty verdict) that established the first victory for freedom of the press (the right of newspapers to print truthful information) in the American colonies.
Apprenticed to prominent printer
John Peter Zenger was born in Germany in...
(The entire section is 1910 words.)