Unit 1: Pre-Columbus Americas through John Adams’ Administration America and Europe on the Eve of Discovery The Americas on the Eve of Discovery



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Unit 1: Pre-Columbus Americas through John Adams’ Administration
America and Europe on the Eve of Discovery
The Americas on the Eve of Discovery
Diverse Societies Develop Across the Americas- After the first nomadic hunter societies crossed the Bering land bridge, exposed by the congealing of ocean waters into glaciers around 35,000 years ago, many diverse groups developed flourishing societies throughout North and South America.
South and Central America

  • Sophisticated societies developed in central and South America, with their foundation planted in the cultivation of maize (corn).

    • Incas- Beginning around 1400 A.D., developed the largest spanning society, ranging some 2,500 miles along mountainous western coast of South America, in present day Peru.

    • Aztecs- Settled the Valley of Mexico in the 1200s, and developed a sophisticated society building large cities, astronomical research, and even included human sacrifice in their religious practices


North American Cultures and Societies

  • Societies in North America on the eve of discovery were more varied and tended to be smaller than their counterparts to the south.

    • Pueblo- in the desert southwest, Pueblo culture survived by building irrigation systems for cornfields and terraced buildings into the protective cliffs

    • Iroquois- Inspired by their leader, Hiawatha, a loose military alliance of tribes was developed in the forests of the northeast, known as the Iroquois Confederacy.

      • The tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy relied on both hunting and gathering, as well as agriculture, for subsistence.

    • Southeastern tribes- Creeks, Cherokee, and Choctaws built societies based on a rich diet of corn, beans, and squash- a technique known as three-sister farming:

      • Beans grow up the stalks of corn, while squash is planted between the rows of corn/beans to retain moisture in the soil

  • For the most part, cultures in North America were small, widely dispersed, and tended to be nomadic hunter-gatherers. In the larger, more settled agricultural groups, common traits included:

    • Matrilineal- power and possessions passed down through the female side of the family.

    • Division of work- women tended crops while men hunted, fished, and gathered fuel.

    • Trade- tribes traded goods locally and over long distances, developing a surprisingly complex trade network.

    • Animism- nearly all Native American societies believed spirits imbued the natural world.

      • Some cultures worshipped on supreme being, variously called “Great Spirit,” “Great Mystery,” or “the Creative Power”

    • Reverie of land- unlike their European counterparts, Native Americans had neither the desire nor technology to aggressively manipulate the land.

      • There was no concept of individual land ownership

        • Tribes would fight or negotiate for access to hunting and farming rights on land, but land could NOT be owned or sold.



Europe on the Eve of Discovery
European Societies of the 1400s- On the eve of discovery of the “New World,” most Europeans lived in small villages and were bound to the land in a way of life that had been in place for centuries…but change was slowly coming.
Social Hierarchy

  • At the top: monarchs and the aristocracy, the wealthy landowners, and members of the clergy.

  • In the middle: artisans and merchants who created and traded goods for money.

    • There were relatively few in the “middle”

    • Their influence would grow, as their tax revenue was important to monarchs seeking to finance overseas exploration and expansion.

  • At the bottom: agricultural laborers and peasants.


Christianity Shapes Europe

  • The Catholic church, and its leader the pope, held religious as well as political power.

    • In 1096, the Church called for the removal of Muslims from the Holy Land around Jerusalem.

  • Two centuries of warfare between the Christians and Muslims, know as the Crusades, failed to “rescue” the Holy Land, but had two important consequences on European exploration and expansion:

    • Crusades opened up Asian trade routes

      • luxuries from the East, including silk, drugs, perfumes, and spices- especially sugar, became highly sought after in Europe

        • These were especially expensive- Muslim middlemen added costly taxes at every stop on the Silk road and other trade routes

        • Eventually European consumers, distributors, and monarchs would look to find cheaper routes to Asia and also develop other sources for goods

    • The Crusades weakened the power of Europe’s nobility

      • Many nobles lost fortunes during the war

      • Monarchs were able to consolidate their power, leading to the development of nation-states

  • By the 1500s, many Europeans called for reforms in the Catholic Church, leading to the Reformation.

    • The Reformation led to a split in Europe’s Christians

      • Those who supported the reformation became known as Protestants

      • The split also deepened rivalries between European nations during the period of North American colonization


Major Nation-states Take Power

  • During the 1400s, the nations of Portugal, Spain, France, and England consolidated their power.

    • Powerful monarchs raised armies, formed stronger governments, and made allies with merchants

      • Remember, merchants were a major source of revenue that would be used to expand trade and empires in the centuries ahead


The Renaissance

  • The 1400s cultural awakening in Europe, known as the Renaissance, had consequential impacts on many areas of life

    • Started in Italy

      • Stimulated by commercial contact with Asia and Africa

      • Spread throughout Europe

    • Impacts on the arts

      • Artists rejected the two-dimensional style of medieval painting, and rediscovered the three-dimensional perspective of the Greeks and Romans.

      • Artists portrayed subjects more realistically

    • Impacts on technology

      • Renaissance men, such as Leonardo da Vinci, made exciting discoveries and inventions

      • Johann Gutenberg’s movable type printing press of the 1450s helped spread the ideas of the Renaissance

    • Impacts on Exploration

      • The Renaissance encouraged people to seek glory through adventure, discovery, and conquest

      • Transportation technology such as the astrolabe, borrowed from Muslim seafarers, would spur European exploration


The Era of Exploration

  • The 1477 publication of Marco Polo’s 13th century journey to China caused renewed interest in the East Asia.

    • The expense and danger of Asian trade routes caused Europeans to look for alternative routes to the East.

    • Renaissance advances in cartography, or mapmaking, inspired the search for water-routes to Asia

  • European monarchies were running out of gold and silver reserves by the mid-1400s

  • Sailing technology improved

    • The caravel: allowed seafarers to sail more directly against the wind

    • The compass and astrolabe allowed sailors to plot direction at sea

  • Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal gathered mariners, geographers, and navigators to spur Portugal as the leader of exploration.

    • Prince Henry’s captains sailed south along the west coast of Africa

      • 1488: Bartolomeu Dias rounded the southern tip of Africa

      • 1498: Vasco de Gama reached India

    • Effects of Portuguese exploration

      • Set up trading posts along the coast of West Africa

        • purchased gold and slaves

      • Adopted the African slave trade and developed the modern plantation system

        • Used slaves to work large-scale sugar plantations established on Atlantic islands off the coast of Africa

  • Spain became united by the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella, leading to competition between Spain and Portugal for trade in the Indies.

    • Because Portugal controlled the African coast, Spain looked westward for a new route to the East.


Spanish North America
Columbus Crosses the Atlantic
Columbus’ Voyage and its Impacts- On August 3, 1492, Christopher Columbus set sail from Spain to find a route to Asia…by sailing west. On October 12 of that year, his crew spotted land. Columbus was convinced he had landed in the East Indies off the coast of Asia, and referred to the people he met as los indios. He and his crew spent 96 days exploring the islands and coastal waters of the Caribbean. Over time, the truth that a new continent had been discovered would result in Columbus undertaking three more voyages to the “New World,” and the eventual colonization and conquering of its people by European nations.

  • Impact on Native Americans: By Columbus’s second voyage in 1493, Europeans had already developed a pattern of colonization:

    • Conquest through superior weaponry

    • A profitable plantation system

    • Use of native peoples for forced labor

    • ***The most devastating path to European conquest in the New World came from the spread of European disease, which native peoples in the Americas had no natural defense against

      • Within 50 years, the native Taino population was decimated by smallpox brought by Spanish explorers. Their numbers dropped from 1 million to about 200.

      • In the centuries following Columbus voyage, as much as 90 percent of the native population of the New World would die.

  • Impact of Africans

    • With the decimation of native peoples in the New World, the Spanish and other European colonizers would turn to African slaves as a source of labor.

      • African cultures lost many young and more able members to the slave trade.

      • By the 1800s, when the Atlantic slave trade ended, as many as 10 million Africans had been shackled away to the Americas/

  • Impact on Europeans

    • Europeans began to cross the Atlantic in search of new lives and opportunities

      • This immigration would be one of the largest voluntary movements of people in world history.

    • Competition between European rivals exploded during the age of colonization

      • Treaty of Tordesillas: In 1494, Spain and Portugal agreed to divide the “heathen lands” of the New World

        • Spain got most of the two continents

        • Portugal was given land that would eventually be Brazil, as well as territory in Africa and Asia.

  • The Columbian Exchange- By far the most long-ranging impact of Columbus discovery is the monumental exchange of plants, wildlife, and even diseases, between the Old World and New World.

    • From the Old World:

      • Plants

        • coffee bean, onion, olive, citrus fruits, banana, grapes, sugar cane, peaches, honey bees

      • Grains

        • wheat, rice, barley, oats

      • Livestock

        • cattle, sheep, pig, horses

      • Disease

        • smallpox, influenza, typhus, measles, malaria, diphtheria, whooping cough

    • From the New World

      • Plants & Animal

        • squash, pumpkin, sweet potato, corn, avocado, tomato, potato, tobacco, vanilla, beans, cacao bean (chocolate), turkey

      • Disease

        • syphilis


Spain’s Empire in the New World
Spain’s Pattern of Conquest- The Spanish followed a systematic pattern of conquest, spurred by the three g’s: God- the spread of Catholic religion; Gold- the desire to find new sources of gold and silver; and Glory- the claiming of lands and people for the Spanish crown. Within 50 years, the foundation of Spain’s New World empire, spanning from Peru in South America up through California on the west coast and east through Texas and the southeast all the way to Florida, would be explored and tamed with the help of conquistadores (conquerors) as well as a lasting system of incorporation of native peoples into Spanish customs and society.
Conquering the Aztecs

  • Hernando Cortes landed in Mexico in 1519, and began to march inland.

    • learned of unrest in the Aztec empire, as well as tales of gold and other wealth in the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan.

      • Was invited into the capital by the Aztec leader Montezuma, and given gifts of gold.

      • Cortes forced the Aztecs to mine more gold and silver, wearing out the Spanish welcome

    • June 30, 1520- Noche triste (sad night): the Aztecs attacked Cortes and his men, driving them out of the Tenochtitlan

      • The Spanish then laid siege to the city

    • August 13, 1521: After the counterattack by Cortes and his men, the Aztecs surrendered, and their capital of Tenochtitlan sacked and burned.

      • The superior firepower of the Spanish proved too much for the Aztec defenders, but another factor played a large role in their defeat.

        • a smallpox epidemic introduced by their European invaders ravaged the Aztecs in 1521


Building Spain’s American Empire

  • In building their empire, the Spanish developed a pattern of living among the native people, imposing Spanish rule while simultaneously creating a new culture.

    • Mestizos- Spanish intermarried with native peopled, creating a distinctive culture of mixed Indian and European heritage

    • The encomienda system- To exploit the land for resources, the Spanish used a system of forced labor on native peoples

      • Under the encomienda system, the government “commended” or gave Indians and their labor to colonists in return for the promise to try and Christianize them

      • This forced labor was harsh and led to many deaths. It was essentially slavery

      • Spanish missionary Bartolome de Las Casas cried out against the encomienda system, and along with other priests, demanded for an end to the harsh forced labor.

        • 1542- The Spanish monarchy abolished the encomienda system.

          • The Spanish began using enslaved Africans for their labor needs.

  • Other Spanish conquistadores and explorers

    • Ponce de Leon: Searching for gold, he explored Florida in 1513 and 1521 (*he probably was NOT looking for the fabled fountain of youth)

    • Ferdinand Magellan: Left Spain in 1519 in hopes of sailing around the world

      • One of his vessels became the first to circumnavigate the globe when it returned to Spain in 1522 (Magellan died in the Philippines)

    • Francisco Coronado: 1540-1542; wandered through Arizona and New Mexico and as far east as Kansas

      • Discovered the Grand Canyon and witnessed huge buffalo herds

    • Hernando de Soto: 1539-1542; led a gold-seeking expedition through Florida westward.

      • Discovered and crossed the Mississippi River

    • 1565: Spanish established St. Augustine, the oldest European city in what would be the United States


The Spanish Empire in the Southwest and West

  • Led by Don Juan de Onate, Spanish conquistadores abused the Pueblo people along the Rio Grand valley in 1598.

    • Battle of Acoma, 1599: the victorious Spanish cut off a foot of each surviving Pueblo Indian

    • 1609: proclaimed the conquered area as the province of New Mexico, with its capital at Santa Fe

      • Sought to convert the native Americans to Catholicism by suppressing native religious customs. This would spell trouble for the Spanish

    • Pope’s Rebellion, 1680:

      • The Pueblos revolted, destroying every Catholic church in the province and killing priests and hundreds of Spanish settlers.

  • Beginning in 1528, the Spanish spent the next two hundred years settling what is now Texas, with its administrative center at San Antonio.

    • The first two missions were built near El Paso in 1682.

    • Numerous missions would be built to help convert Native America people, such as the Apache, including the famous Alamo in San Antonio.

      • Missions also served to educate Native Americans in European culture and crafts, as well as to secure the Spanish land claims from other European colonizers (like the French and eventually the English)

  • In 1769, the Spanish missionary Father Junipero Serra founded the first Californian mission at San Diego.

    • By 1823, a string of 21 missions, each a day’s walk apart, dotted the California coast all the way to San Francisco.


England’s American Colonies
The English Settle at Jamestown
English Motives for American Colonization- Social and economic changes in England caused many English to look toward the Americas for a new life. The “enclosure” movement, along with depression in the woolen districts of England pushed thousands of farmers off the land, and led some to believe England was overpopulated. Furthermore, laws of primogeniture allowed only the eldest son to inherit landed estates. The biggest motive for English colonization, however, was profit. Joint-stock companies, which allowed a group of investors to pool wealth in support of a colony, in hopes of a quick profit, provide the financial means.
A Disastrous Start at Jamestown

  • 1606: The Virginia Company, a joint-stock company, received a charter from the King James I of England for settlement of the New World.

    • The Virginia Co. was intended to last only a few years, as they hoped to yield a profit, and then liquidate the company.

    • The charter of the Virginia Co. is significant

      • It guaranteed the settlers the same rights of Englishmen

      • Ironically, this guarantee of rights would be exactly what patriots would use against the King in their march toward independence

  • May 24, 1607: After months at sea, and being attacked by Indians upon their arrival in Chesapeake Bay, the colonists settled upstream on the banks of the James River, and named the colony Jamestown for King James I. The colony got off to a rough start.

    • Forty colonists died on the initial voyage.

    • Dozens died from disease, malnutrition, and starvation

    • The colonists spent most time looking for gold to satisfy their investors…and thus neglected farming and suffering the consequences.

  • Captain John Smith saves the colony in 1608:

    • He forced colonists to farm with the rule “He who shall not work shall not eat.”

    • After an injury, Smith returned to England, and the colony deteriorated to the point of famine

  • The “starving time” winter of 1609-1610:

    • Colonists continued to die in scores, and were driven to desperate acts

      • One man killed, salted, and ate his wife!

    • The colony was finally brought to order by a new governor, Lord De La Warr, in 1610.

    • But what ultimately saved the colony from going up in smoke was tobacco.



Tobacco Saves the Colony

  • John Rolfe was really the economic savior of the Virginia colony because of his perfection of the tobacco cultivation.

    • European demand for tobacco skyrocketed

    • Tobacco was grown between graves and in the streets of Jamestown

  • The growth of tobacco required heavy labor, and the colony turned first to indentured servants

    • 1618- Virginia adopts the headright system

      • Offered 50 acres of land to any colonist who would pay the cost of transportation for a worker

      • Indentured servants typically agreed to work for 4-7 years, and were given tools, some food, and money at the end of their term of indenture. A lucky few received a plot of land from their boss.


1619- A Important Year in the Virginia Colony

  • The first Africans in British North America were brought to Jamestown and sold by a Dutch warship.

    • While the seeds of American slavery were thus planted, African slaves were far too costly to be used in great numbers for decades.

      • Only three hundred blacks in Virginia in 1650.

      • But by the end of the century, blacks (most enslaved) made up 14% of Virginias population

  • The Virginia Co. authorized the colonists to summon a legislative assemble, known as the House of Burgesses

    • This would be the first representative body in colonial America

      • Included two citizens (or burgesses) from each of Virginia’s eleven districts.

      • Had the authority to raise taxes and pass legislation- subject to the veto of Virginia’s English governor.


Clashes with Native Americans

  • Unlike the Spanish, the English had no desire to cohabit the land with the Native American “savages,” led by Powhatan.

    • During the “starving time,” colonists took to raiding indian food supplies

    • Lord De La Warr arrived with orders from the Virginia Co. that amounted to a declaration of war against the Indians.

    • By 1646, the treaty that ended the Second Anglo-Powhatan War effectively drove the Indians of the Chesapeake from their ancestral lands, and formally separated Indian from white areas of settlement.

Clashes within Virginia…between Virginians- Bacon’s Rebellion

  • By the 1670s, ¼ of the free whites in Virginia were poor former indentured servants.

    • Most lived in the western frontier, and were constantly battling Indians for land

  • The land-starved poor were also frustrated by Virginia’s governor, William Berkeley, and his refusal to retaliate against a series of Indian attacks on frontier settlements.

    • A poor planter, Nathaniel Bacon, led his followers to murderously attack Indians, then marched on Jamestown- burning the town.

    • Chaos swept the colony until Bacon suddenly died of disease, and Gov. Berkeley crushed the uprising, hanging twenty rebels.

  • Bacon’s Rebellions highlighted the resentment of landless former servants against the growing wealth and power of the landed plantation owners.

    • The Lordly planters would look for less troublesome laborers for their growing tobacco kingdom…by turning their eyes to Africa.


Puritans Create a “New England”
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