The colonial era in the United States refers to the nearly 150 years of exploration and colonization undertaken by European powers in North America, that began in the early 1600s and concluded as the original 13 colonies began their quest for independence from Great Britain in the 1760s.
The primary European countries playing a role in creating settlements along the eastern seaboard. Europeans fledgling were leaving the ports of Great Britain, France, the Netherlands and Spain. Settlers from other countries such as Germany, Sweden, Finland and Norway also found their way to the New World to develop new communities that were instrumental in helping found of the United States.
The colonial period in North America first saw hundreds and then thousands of European citizens leave their homes to establish new communities that still had strong ties to their mother countries. Colonial settlers came to the new land that would eventually become the United States for many different reasons. Some of the colonial settlers primarily came to make money from the trade of natural resources available in the New World such as tobacco, furs, and rice and indigo. Others escaped to the colonies due to religious persecution. The colonial period saw an increase in the population of European settlers from under 5,000 in 1630 to well over 1.5 million in 1760, according to estimates.
Many cultural trends that had their roots in the colonial era are still a part of life in the U.S. today. Foods, architecture, furniture and even farming all can trace some of their important elements back to the colonial period. For example, Georgian and saltbox houses were popular architectural styles that are still seen today, while settlers in the 17th and 18th centuries hunted game and cooked cornmeal cakes, just as consumers do today. Furniture in particular is a trend of the colonial era that is still prized today. Furniture in the U.S. colonial era used as its influence the designs of the settlers’ home countries but was constructed of materials found in the New World. Many people appreciate the design of colonial furniture pieces, such as the furniture at Bombay stores that are still classics today.