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.
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.
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.
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.
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 encomiendasystem- 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.