New England Colonies Fun Facts for Your History Class

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New England Colonies Facts

Gather 'round, history buffs and educators of time-traveling tales, for an enlightening expedition into the heart of the New England Colonies! Imagine a classroom where the past leaps from the pages and the quest for religious freedom is as vivid as the colorful fall foliage of the northeastern United States.


Here's your ticket to turn history lessons into a treasure trove of "New England Colonies fun facts" that will captivate your students!


During the reign of the British king, King James, a pilgrimage in pursuit of a life where one could worship without fear in the New World, where the Atlantic Ocean kissed the rugged coastline, was underway. It was here that waves of English settlers sought freedom from the restrictions of religious persecution that had started to ensnare them across the ocean under the rule of King James.

The original colonies of New England—Massachusetts (Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth Colony), Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire—became beacons of religious freedom, where Puritans and Pilgrims alike could worship without fear.


This quest for spiritual liberty was as much a part of the foundation of the United States as the cobblestone streets of Boston.

Landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock


The New England Colonies stood apart from their Southern and Middle counterparts, not just in climate but in spirit.


The cold winters and rocky soil that challenged the colonists only seemed to fortify their resolve and ingenuity. They built small farms, established town meetings, and created a society that valued education and hard work. The indigenous people, the Native Americans who first called this land home, shared their knowledge of the natural resources, which helped the early settlers survive and eventually thrive. From the contrast of the Middle and Southern Colonies to the distinctive clang of the blacksmith's hammer in a bustling colonial town, each fact below is a thread in the vibrant quilt of Colonial America.


Prepare to infuse your social studies and history classes with wit, wisdom, and a dash of whimsy with these fun and interesting facts!

For each one of the early New England Colonies, here are five facts that are sure to engage your students and help them better understand and comprehend the history of this important time period and what daily life was like for the early colonists.


Connecticut Colony

The Dutch Were the first Europeans to settle in what would eventually become Connecticut

Before the English settlers, the Dutch were actually the first Europeans to establish a fort in Hartford, Connecticut, around 1614, which was a trading post. 

Source: The History Junkie


Great Hurricane of 1635

One of the earliest recorded natural disasters in American history, the Great Hurricane of 1635, struck the Connecticut Colony and may have influenced further migration into the region.

Source:  American History Central


Thomas Hooker's Leadership

Reverend Thomas Hooker led a group of Puritans from Massachusetts Bay Colony to settle in Connecticut in 1636, seeking more freedom and autonomy.

 Source: Fact File


Pequot War

The Pequot War, which lasted from 1636-1637, began just as the colony was founded, significantly affecting the early years of the Connecticut Colony. The war erupted between colonists and Native Americans after years of conflict and dispute over land, trade, and livestock. 



Fundamental Orders of Connecticut

Connecticut is known for developing the first written constitution in America, the Fundamental Orders, adopted in 1639, which stated the powers and limits of government.

Source: American History Central


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Rhode Island Colony

Home of the Narragansett

Before becoming an English colony, the territory was inhabited by the Narragansett Indigenous Peoples, which is reflected in the contemporary town of Narragansett, Rhode Island.

Source: Have Fun With History


First for Religious Freedom

Rhode Island was the first colony to offer complete religious freedom and separate church from state, thanks to its founder, Roger Williams, who established Providence Plantations in 1636.

Source: The History Junkie


King Philip's War

Rhode Island played a role in King Philip's War, fought between 1675 and 1676, and was one of the earliest and most significant conflicts between Native Americans and settlers in New England.

Source: American History Central


Anne Hutchinson's Sanctuary

Anne Hutchinson, an influential Puritan leader, was expelled from Massachusetts for her religious beliefs and found refuge in Rhode Island, which was more tolerant due to its founding principles.



Royal Charter and Democracy

Rhode Island received a Royal Charter from King Charles II, which allowed for an unusual degree of autonomy in the colony and laid the groundwork for American democracy.

Source: The History Junkie


Plymouth Colony

The Mayflower's Companion Ship

The Pilgrims initially set sail with two ships, the Speedwell and the Mayflower. The Speedwell was found to be unseaworthy, leading all passengers to board the Mayflower for the historic voyage.

Source: The History Junkie


First Colonial Settlement in New England

Plymouth holds the distinction of being the first permanent European settlement in New England, established in 1620.

Source: History for Kids


Plymouth Rock

Plymouth Rock is the traditional site of the disembarkation of the Pilgrims in 1620, although there is no contemporary reference to the Pilgrims landing on a rock.



Samoset and Squanto's Aid

The survival of Plymouth Colony was greatly aided by Samoset and Squanto, Native Americans who helped the Pilgrims learn to cultivate the land and form an alliance with the Wampanoag tribe.



First Thanksgiving

The Plymouth Colony is renowned for the First Thanksgiving in 1621, a harvest feast shared between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe as a sign of cooperation and gratitude.



Massachusetts Bay Colony

John Winthrop's "City upon a Hill"

Governor John Winthrop, an English Puritan and the first governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, envisioned the colony as a "city upon a hill," a model of Christian society. His vision had a lasting influence on many early colonists in terms of their cultural and religious ideals, not only in the New England Colonies but in the Middle Colonies and Southern Colonies as well.

Source: The History Junkie - Massachusetts Bay Colony Facts


Harvard College

Founded in 1636 in Cambridge, Harvard was the first college in North America. It was originally established to train ministers.

Source: Britannica


First American Printing Press

Speaking of Harvard, shortly after it was established, in 1638, the first printing press in the United States was set up there.

Source: Have Fun With History


Great Migration

Between 1629 and 1640, approximately 20,000 settlers arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony as part of the Great Migration.

Source: Less Known Facts


Revocation and Reorganization

The Massachusetts Bay Colony's original charter was revoked by King Charles II in 1684. Following the brief establishment of the Dominion of New England, Massachusetts was reorganized under a new charter as the Province of Massachusetts Bay in 1691, which absorbed Plymouth Colony.

Source: Britannica - Massachusetts Bay Colony

Which leads us to....


Massachusetts Colony

Charter and Governance

In 1692, Sir William Phips arrived in the Massachusetts Colony bearing a new charter, which combined the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Plymouth Colony, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, and the territories of Maine into the Province of Massachusetts Bay. This charter allowed for a significant reorganization of the colony's governance.

Source: Wikipedia - Massachusetts Bay Colony


Salem Witch Trials

The infamous Salem Witch Trials occurred in this colony in 1692, reflecting the extreme religious fervor and superstition of the time. Following the Salem Witch Trials, the colony experienced a shift in governance and societal norms, with the 1692 charter leading to the establishment of a more secular government, moving away from the theocratic principles that had previously dominated.

Source: The History Junkie


Economic Expansion

The 18th century saw Massachusetts evolve from a colony primarily focused on subsistence farming into a major trading center, with the Atlantic trade (including the infamous Triangle Trade) becoming a key part of its economy.

Source: Britannica - Massachusetts Bay Colony


Cultural Developments

The early 18th century in Massachusetts was marked by a period of religious revival that had a profound impact on American Protestantism.

Source: History of Massachusetts Blog - Massachusetts Bay Colony Timeline


Great Awakening

This period of religious revival became known as the Great Awakening and played a significant role in shaping the colony's society. The Great Awakening led to increased evangelical fervor throughout the colonies and emphasized themes of sin and salvation and a personal connection with God.


Source: Khan Academy - Puritan New England: Massachusetts Bay


New Hampshire Colony

Changing Hands

New Hampshire Colony was founded in 1623 by Captain John Mason after land in the New World had been granted to him. Control over New Hampshire would go on to change several times in the ensuing decades, first by being claimed by the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1641 up until 1679, when it became a Royal Province (Province of New Hampshire), when it was better known as the Upper Province. And then in 1688, New Hampshire again became a part of Massachusetts before finally gaining its own royal charter and becoming a separate colony, once again, prior to the American Revolution.



Mother of Rivers

New Hampshire is nicknamed the "Mother of Rivers" for the five major New England rivers that originate in its White Mountains: the Cocheco, Salmon Falls, Piscataqua, Sace, and the Androscoggin Rivers 

Source: Have Fun With History


First Potato Planted

New Hampshire is credited with having the first potato planted in the United States in 1719 by Scotch-Irish immigrants.

Source: Land of the Brave


First to Declare Independence

New Hampshire was the first of the British North American colonies to establish a government independent of the Kingdom of Great Britain's authority in January 1776 and was one of the original Thirteen Colonies that founded the United States.

Source: ThoughtCo


Strawberry Banke

The original settlement of Portsmouth was initially known as Strawberry Banke due to the abundance of wild strawberries growing there.

Source: Land of the Brave



Wrapping up our historical jaunt through the New England Colonies, let's take a moment to reflect on the vibrant tapestry of stories that have been woven together to form the foundation of the northeastern United States.


From the rocky shores of Plymouth to the bustling ports of Massachusetts Bay, the New England Colonies have been a cornerstone in the grand, unfolding narrative of American history!


As we've delved into the facts about the New England Colonies, we've uncovered a wealth of interesting tidbits that bring the past to life. From the founding of Rhode Island as a haven of tolerance to the legendary first Thanksgiving, these stories are the threads that connect the New England region to the larger quilt of the British colonies in North America.


The legacy of the New England Colonies is not just a chapter in a textbook; it is etched into the very essence of the United States.


It's in the spirit of innovation that sparked the American Revolution, in the quest for knowledge that led to the establishment of some of the nation's oldest universities, and in the enduring pursuit of the American dream.


So, whether you're a teacher looking to inspire your students or a history buff, remember that the history of the New England Colonies is not just about dates and documents. It's about the people, the places, and the pivotal moments that helped shape a new society. It's a history that's as fascinating as it is foundational and as enduring as it is enlightening. And that is something worth exploring, remembering, and cherishing as we continue to write our own stories in the ongoing saga of the United States!


 I hope the facts that I've provided in this article are useful for your history class and help spark some lively discussions in your classroom!


Many of my personally-designed and built-out U.S. history curriculum bundles incorporate the use of many of the interesting and amusing facts explored in this article!


To learn more about them, click HERE!


I've already taken care of EVERYTHING for you!


I hope you've enjoyed this article and thank you so much for reading!

-Jillian (a.k.a. the "Lesson Plan Guru") 






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