The History of New England
New England is the oldest clearly defined region of the United States. It is unique among U.S. geographic regions in that it is also a former political entity. New England was originally inhabited by indigenous peoples, Algonquian-speaking native peoples including the Abenaki, the Penobscot, the Pequot, the Wampanoag, and many others. During the 15th and 16th centuries, Europeans such as Giovanni da Verrazzano, Jacques Cartier and John Cabot charted the New England coast. They referred to the region as Norumbega, named for a fabulous native city that was supposed to exist there.
English Pilgrims and especially Puritans, fleeing religious persecution in England, arrived in the 1620-1660 era. They dominated the region, and their religion was later called Congregationalism. They and their descendants are called Yankees. While the farming was poor, fishing and lumbering prospered, as did seafaring and merchandizing. The region was the scene of the first Industrial Revolution in the United States, with many textile mills and machine shops operating by 1830.
New England (and Virginia) led the way to the American Revolution, The region became a stronghold of the conservative Federalist Party and opposed the War of 1812 with Great Britain. By the 1840s it was the center of the anti-slavery movement, was the leading power in American literature and higher education.
On 1606-04-10, King James I of England issued two charters, one each for the Virginia Companies, of London and Plymouth, respectively. The purpose of both was to claim land for England and trade. Under the charters, the territory allocated for Plymouth was defined as follows: Virginia Company of Plymouth: All land, including islands within 100 miles (160 km) from the coast and implying a westward limit of 100 miles (160 km), between 38 Degrees (Chesapeake Bay, Virginia) and 45 Degrees (Border between Canada and Maine) north latitude. Its charter included land extending as far as present-day northern Maine.
The region was named “New England” by Captain John Smith, who explored its shores in 1614, in his account of two voyages there, published as A Description of New England. The name “New England” was officially sanctioned on November 3, 1620, when the charter of the Virginia Company of Plymouth was replaced by a royal charter for the Plymouth Council for New England, a joint stock company established to colonize and govern the region. In December 1620, a permanent settlement known as the Plymouth Colony was established at present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts by the Pilgrims, English religious separatists arriving via Holland. They arrived aboard a ship named the Mayflower and held a feast of gratitude which became part of the American tradition of Thanksgiving. Plymouth, with a small population and limited size, was absorbed by Massachusetts in 1691.