The first European settlers (16th century)

The first settlers in what is now known as the United States of America were indigenous peoples who had lived on the North American continent for thousands of years before the arrival of European settlers. These indigenous peoples had their own cultural, linguistic, and social structures and lived in diverse regions of North America, from the Native Americans in Alaska to the tribes of the southwestern United States.

The first European settlers came to the east coast of North America in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Here are some of the most well-known early settler groups:

  • Jamestown Settlers (1607): The English Virginia Company of London founded the settlement of Jamestown in present-day Virginia in 1607. This was the first permanent English settlement in North America.
  • Pilgrims in Plymouth (1620): The Pilgrims, a group of religious dissidents from England, arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620 aboard the ship Mayflower. They founded the Plymouth Colony and are known for celebrating Thanksgiving with the native Wampanoag.
  • Dutch Settlers in New Amsterdam (1626): The Dutch founded the settlement of New Amsterdam, which later developed into New York City when Peter Minuit purchased the island of Manhattan from the local Lenape Indians in 1626.
  • Settlers in New England: In the following decades, thousands of English Puritans and other religious groups came to New England and founded colonies such as Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
  • The settlers in Virginia and Maryland: The English colony in Jamestown was expanded by further settlements in Virginia and Maryland, where tobacco was mainly grown.

It is important to note that the arrival of these European settlers had a significant impact on indigenous peoples, including land loss, conflict, and the spread of disease that decimated indigenous populations. The history of the United States is marked by the interactions between indigenous peoples and European settlers, which over time led to conflicts, treaties and cultural exchanges.