From the final decades of the 1500s through the mid-1700s, the North American continent witnessed a whirlwind of competition and colonization as European powers vied to establish their place in the northern reaches of the New World. Each power—whether England, France, Holland, Spain, or others—relied on strong-willed individuals who were driven by motives as different as night and day—from religious freedom to gold and glory. These adventurous people served as conquerors and colonists, explorers and evangelists, promoters and profiteers, farmers and freemen, Puritans and planters, sovereigns and servants. Before the era of European colonization in North America was complete, each had made his or her contribution, creating possibilities for themselves and their descendents in America that many had never thought possible. Learn how these colonists flourished in the midst of overwhelming obstacles in Colonial America: 1543-1763.