Timeline of the colonization of North America

Timeline of the colonization of North America

This is a chronology of the colonization of North America, with founding dates of European settlements. See also European colonization of the Americas.


Before Columbus


  • 1492: Columbus reaches the Bahamas
  • 1493: Start of permanent settlement (La Isabela on northern Hispaniola)
  • 1497: John Cabot may have reached Newfoundland.
  • 1502: Columbus sails along the mainland coast south of Yucatan
  • 1511: Conquest of Cuba begins
  • 1513: Ponce de Leon in Florida
  • 1521: Cortez conquers Mexico.
  • 1521: Juan Ponce de León tries and fails to settle in Florida
  • 1524: Giovanni da Verrazzano sails along most of the east coast
  • 1526: Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón tries to settle in South Carolina
  • 1527: Fishermen are using the harbor at Saint John's, Newfoundland and other places on the coast
  • 1535: Jacques Cartier reaches Quebec
  • 1536: Cabeza de Vaca reaches Mexico City after wandering the North American Southwest.
  • 1538: Failed Huguenot settlement on St. Kitts in the Caribbean (destroyed by the Spanish)
  • 1539: Hernando de Soto explores the interior from Florida to Arkansas
  • 1540: Coronado travels from Mexico to eastern Kansas
  • 1540: Spanish reach the Grand Canyon (the area is ignored for the next 200 years)
  • 1541: Failed French settlement at Quebec City (Cartier and Roberval)
  • 1542: Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo on the California coast.
  • 1559: Failed Spanish settlement at Pensacola, Florida
  • 1562: Failed Huguenot settlement in South Carolina (Charlesfort-Santa Elena site)
  • 1564: French Huguenots at Jacksonville, Florida (Fort Caroline)
  • 1565: Spanish slaughter French 'heretics' at Fort Caroline.
  • 1565: Spanish found Saint Augustine, Florida
  • 1566-87: Spanish in South Carolina (Charlesfort-Santa Elena site)
  • 1568: Dutch revolt against Spain. The economic model developed in Holland would define colonial policies in the next two centuries
  • 1570: Failed Spanish settlement on Chesapeake Bay (Ajacan Mission)
  • 1576: Martin Frobisher on the coast of Labrador and Baffin Island
  • 1579: Sir Francis Drake claims New Albion.
  • 1583: England formally claims Newfoundland (Humphrey Gilbert)
  • 1585: Failed English settlement on Roanoke Island, North Carolina (Lost Colony).
  • 1587: Filipino settlement in Morro Bay.
  • 1598: Failed French settlement on Sable Island off Nova Scotia
  • 1598: Spanish reach Northern New Mexico
  • 1600: By 1600 Spain and Portugal were still the only significant colonial powers. North of Mexico the only settlements were Saint Augustine and the isolated outpost in northern New Mexico. Exploration of the interior was largely abandoned after the 1540s. Around Newfoundland 500 or more boats annually were fishing for cod and some fishermen were trading for furs, especially at Tadoussac on the Saint Lawrence.

Seventeenth Century

Map of the northern part and parts of the southern parts of the America, from the mouth of the Saint Laurent River to the Island of Cayenne,with the new discoveries of the Mississipi (or Colbert) River. This map shows the results of the expeditions of Father Marquette and L. Jolliet (1673) and the Cavelier de la Salle expedition in the Mississipi valley. The map shows three forts built between 1679 and 1680: Conty fort (near Niagara Falls), Miamis Fort (south of Michigan lake), and Crèvecœur fort (Left bank of the Illinois River). Mississippi river course is only shown downstream of Ohio confluence.

Eighteenth Century

See also

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