History of the United States: XV-XVIII Centuries

A journey in the history of the United States through the pages of our collection

By Centro Studi Americani

Frontespizio di Storia di America del dottore Guglielmo Robertson, tradotta dall'originale inglese dall'abate Antonio Pillori Fiorentino (1778) by Robertson, WilliamCentro Studi Americani

15th - 16th centuries

At the end of the 15th century the geographical explorations, started with the voyages of Christopher Columbus and Giovanni Caboto, reached the coasts of the American continent. 

At the beginning of the 16th century, the first groups of European settlers, coming mainly from Spain, France and England, settled in the North American territories. Apart from the regions of present-day Mexico, which became a possession of the Spanish, European colonization remained occasional until the end of the 16th century.

Antiporta di Storia di America del dottore Guglielmo Robertson, tradotta dall'originale inglese dall'abate Antonio Pillori Fiorentino (1778) by Robertson, WilliamCentro Studi Americani

The English colonists obtained privileges from the Crown for the exploitation of the Atlantic coast of North America; French explorers went on with the exploration of the territory that included the entire valley of the Mississippi River, laying the groundwork for the control of the vast area between the region of the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico, while the Dutch settlers settled on the coast, founding the city of New Amsterdam (today New York) in 1624.

Frontespizio di Saggio di storia americana o sia storia naturale, civile, e sacra (1782) by Gilii, Filippo SalvadoreCentro Studi Americani

17th century

In the second decade of the seventeenth century, English colonization was favored by the migration of Puritans. The voyage made by the Pilgrim Fathers in 1620 aboard the Mayflower and the founding of the colony of Plymouth, in New England, would become fundamental events of the historical identity of the United States.

Frontespizio di Histoire des troubles de l'Amérique anglaise, écrite sur les mémoires les plus authentiques (1787) by Soulés, FrançoisCentro Studi Americani

18th century

In the course of the eighteenth century, the peculiarities developed of the three great North American areas which included the by-then thirteen English colonial states: the Southern area (Virginia, Maryland, South and North Carolina, and Georgia), the Central area (New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania), and the Northern area (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire), the heart of the first English colonization.

Frontespizio di Storia della guerra dell'independenza degli Stati Uniti d'America (1819) by Botta, CarloCentro Studi Americani

The American Revolution

By American War of Independence, we mean The American Revolution, that is the conflict that broke out between the thirteen British colonies in North America and the motherland, between 1776 and 1783 and that ended with the establishment of an independent nation, the United States of America.

Antiporta di Storia della guerra dell'independenza degli Stati Uniti d'America (1819) by Botta, CarloCentro Studi Americani

In 1778 the war turned into a global war that involved also the main European countries for the control over colonial territories conquered overseas. George Washington, a wealthy landowner from Virginia who had already excelled in the battles against the French during the Seven Years' War, was entrusted with the command of the armed forces.

Frontespizio di Révolution de l'Amerique (1781) by abbé RaynalCentro Studi Americani

George Washington had the opportunity to test his tactical theories during the famous Battle of Bunker Hill. Despite the defeat in terms of soldiers lost, Bunker Hill marked the beginning of the end for the British Army.

Frontespizio di History of the United States from the earliest discoveries to the present time (1863) by Marcius WillsonCentro Studi Americani

July 4, 1776

After nearly a year of war, following several victories in bloody armed confrontations, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776. The thirty-three delegates who later took the name of Founding Fathers approved the Declaration of Independence, which proclaimed the right of Americans to establish a new government on the basis of the natural equality of all men and the inalienable right of everyone to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Antiporta di History of the United States from the earliest discoveries to the present time (1863) by Marcius WillsonCentro Studi Americani

The decisive turning point in the war came with the French, and then Spanish, intervention on the side of the thirteen colonies. In 1783, with the Treaty of Versailles, Great Britain recognized the independence of the thirteen North American colonies and returned some territories to the French.

Frontespizio di Constitutions des treize États-Unis de l'Amérique (1783)Centro Studi Americani

The 1787 Constitution of the United States is the first example of a written constitution of a modern state. This title page belongs to the original edition of the American Constitution of the first 13 colonies, translated into French by Louis-Alexandre de La Rochefoucauld, at the initiative of Benjamin Franklin and printed in a limited edition.

Frontespizio di Biography of the signers to the Declaration of independence (1823) by Sanderson, JohnCentro Studi Americani

The Funding Fathers

The Constitution was signed by the so-called Founding Fathers, 55 delegates, each of them with extensive political experience. In 1787, three-quarters of them were or had been members of the Continental Congress. All 55 delegates had, anyway, governmental experience in colonial institutions or, after independence, in individual states. The majority had also held office at the local or county level.

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