American History


I.                    Natives, Explorers, and Colonists, oh My!

a.       Populating the Americas

                                                               i.      Coming over

1.      Asia and North America are separated by the Bering Sea

2.      Narrowest point is 89 km

3.      When ice cap grows, ocean level sinks creating “land bridge”

4.      Groups from Asia walk across somewhere between 10,000 and 45,000 years ago

                                                             ii.      Population dissemination

1.      9000 B.C. people had reached Patagonia- the southern tip of South America

2.      Present day US had a population of about 11 million Native Americans

a.       In the US at this time the natives were mainly hunters and gatherers

3.       The Anasazi came about 5500BCE

a.       Navajo word meaning “Ancient Ones” also known as the Basket Weavers

b.      Started in enclosed caves

c.       Between 400-700CE started living in pit houses

d.      Built the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde between 700-1000CE

4.      The Mound Builders

a.       In the east from 1000BCE to 1500CE lived the Mound Builders such as the Woodland, of which the most famous is Hopewell, Ohio, and the Mississippian, of which Cahokia Mounds in Illinois is the most famous.

5.      Outside the US

a.       The Mayans

                                                                                                                                       i.      Yucatan Peninsula

                                                                                                                                     ii.      Started spreading in about 5000BCE, reached its peak in 900ACE

                                                                                                                                    iii.      Have historical records from 50BCE

b.      The Aztec

                                                                                                                                       i.      During the 12th century ACE they moved south from Northern Mexico

                                                                                                                                     ii.      In 1325 they founded Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City)

                                                                                                                                    iii.      Were good soldiers, expanding, taking over, and enslaving the other tribes of the region (including the Maya)

c.       The Incas

                                                                                                                                       i.      Peru

                                                                                                                                     ii.      Largest empire in the Americas pre-colonization

                                                                                                                                    iii.      14th century started expanding

                                                                                                                                   iv.      Machu Picchu

b.      Discovery

                                                               i.      The Vikings

1.      Vikings reached Greenland in 870ACE

2.      First “Old Worlder” to see the new world was a Norseman named Bjarni Herjulfsson in 986ACE

3.      About 1000ACE Leif Eriksson wintered in what is now Canada

                                                             ii.      Christopher Columbus

1.      Originally from Genoa, Italy

2.      Encouraged by a lot of miscalculations he thought that Japan was 3,000 miles (4800 km) west of Portugal

3.      Actually, the Bahamas where he first landed were about 3,900 miles (6290 km) from Spain

4.      In 1492, after asking for money from the royalty of many countries, Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain finally financed his trip

5.      Had three ships-  The Niña , the Pinta, and the Santa Maria (which he skippered)

6.      October 12, 1492 they sighted land-  what is now the Bahamas

7.      Dubbed the local American Indians (the Arawak tribe in this case) Indians because he thought he had arrived in India

8.      Upon returning home Portugal and Spain got in a fight over who owned the new land, and in 1493 the Pope divided the yet-to-be-discovered land between Spain and Portugal

a.       This is why Brazil is Portugese!

9.      The first permanent settlement was Santo Domingo on Hispanola in 1496

10.  So, why not Columbia?

a.       Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci (1454-1512) made four Atlantic voyages between 1497-1504.

b.      Hey named it “Mundus Novus

c.       In 1507 German cartographer Martin Waldseemuller used Amerigo’s name on the new world.

c.       Colonization

                                                               i.      Spain and the Conquistadors

1.      Columbus was quickly followed by Spanish “Conquistadors”

2.      Puerto Rico became Spanish during 1508-09 under Juan Ponce de Leon (1460-1521) who came to the US in search of the Fountain of Youth

3.      Jamaica and Cuba became Spanish in 1510 and 1511.

4.      Hernan Cortés

a.       1519 started conquering parts of Mexico

b.      1521 landed in the Aztec capital and was greeted by Montezuma II and many gifts

c.       On August 13, 1521 the Aztecs surrendered to the Spanish

5.      Francisco Pizzaro

a.       On his third try in 1531 took over the Incas of Peru.

6.      After Cortés and Pizzaro, the search up north for equal riches doubled and conquistadors like Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca and Francisco Vazquez de Coronado explored what is now the SW US in 1520 and 1540 in search of the Seven Cities of Cibola

7.      Don Juan de Oñate, in 1598 founded “New Mexico” upon his arrival in El Paso, Texas and colonized the Native Amreican pueblos as he pushed to California.

a.       Not finding any money, he used the natives as slaves to farm the land.

8.      From then, Spanish expansion in the US was mainly driven by Catholicism and converting the Indians

                                                             ii.      The British

1.      In 1497 King Henry VII sent the Italian John Cabot in search of a route to India—they arrived in Canada in May 1497

2.      Exploration of North America continued in hope of finding a Northwest Passage

3.      Under Queen Elizabeth I, Sir Humphrey Gilbert set sail to colonize the Americas first in 1579, but not successfully until 1583 when he reached St. John’s Bay, Newfoundland, Canada.

4.      Virginia

a.       After Gilbert failed to make it back to England, Sir Walter Raleigh set out for the new world and established the first colony at Roanoke in 1587.

                                                                                                                                       i.      The leader, John White, sailed back to England for supplies in when he returned in 1590 all the was left was the word CROATOAN carved into a tree.

b.      Jamestown was founded in 1607 and was the first permanent English colony

                                                                                                                                       i.      Captain John Smith (1579-1631) led the colony through “the starving time” of 1609 by getting adopted by the local natives

                                                                                                                                     ii.      When Pocahontas, an “Indian Princess” helped save John Smith and married one of the colonists which helped save the whole colony.

5.      Massachusetts

a.       In England the Puritans were simultaneously persecuted and gaining power.

b.      Separatists chose to leave England for Holland in 1608.

c.       In 1617, because they feared their children were being brought up Dutch instead of British, they decided to leave for the new world.

d.      September 16, 1620 they (both separatists and “strangers”) left from Plymouth, England on the Mayflower for a 65-day journey to the new world where they landed at Plymouth Rock in what is now Massachusetts.

e.       Following the Pilgrims’ lead, from 1630-1642 20,000 immigrants would arrive in Massachusetts (Boston becoming the main city)

f.        Harvard founded in 1636!

6.      Rhode Island

a.       Founded by Reverend Roger Williams (1603-1683)

b.      Believed  that the land belonged to the Indians, that the government could not enforce religious laws, and religion is an individual matter.

c.       Kicked out of Massachusetts in 1635

7.      Maryland

a.       1632/33 King Charles 1 sent Roman Catholic George Calvert to colonize Maryland, thus making it a Catholic colony.

8.      Pennsylvania

a.       Founded by William Penn (but actually named for his father of the same name) in 1681 as a Quaker colony.

b.      Delaware was added in 1682

9.      Georgia

a.       Founded in 1732 by James Edward Oglethorpe

b.      Idea was to send prisoners from England here for a new start

c.       Slavery and rum were not permitted, but appeared by 1733.

                                                            iii.      The French

1.      France needed money!

2.      Samuel de Champlain (1570-1635) explored the NE (Canada) 12 times between 1603-1633.

3.      Set up Quebec in 1608

4.      Established the fur trade and made alliances with the Algonquin and Huron tribes AGAINST the Iriquois

5.      Jean Baptiste Talon sent Louis Joliet and Jacques Marquette down the Mississippi to find the NW Passage.  Instead, they founded Louisiana

                                                           iv.      The Dutch

1.      Holland freed itself from SPANISH control in 1581 and looked for ways to be its own country

2.      In 1609 Henry Hudson, sailing for the Dutch, reached Albany and claimed the land for Holland, named New Netherland in 1623.

3.      In 1626 Peter Minuit bought Manhattan Island for 60 guilders (about $24)

4.      Also had colonies in Brazil, Dutch Guiana, and the Antilles

5.      Lots of violence between the Dutch and the Native Americans, and also lots of competition with other New England colonies for their alliances

6.      Use of the “patroon” system (where there was a land owner in Holland but not in the Americas) led to dissatisfaction

7.      September 8, 1664 the British invaded and the Dutch just didn’t fight back

                                                             v.      The Swedes

1.      In 1633 the Swedes settled in Delaware led by Minuit (who had been recalled by the Dutch in 1631).

2.      In 1655, the Dutch took over with little resistance.

                                                           vi.      Summary

1.      First colonists: Spanish

2.      First permanent colony: Santo Domingo, Hispañola, 1496

3.      First permanent English colony in the US: Jamestown, Virginia, 1607

4.      Reasons for colonization

a.       Spanish-  Riches in the south, converting people to Catholicism in the US

b.      Portuguese-  The Spanish were doing it

c.       British-  Wanted NW passage and religious freedom

d.      French-  Needed money, so NW passage and fur trade

e.       Dutch-  Wanted to be their own country

f.        Swedes-  Cause hey, why not?


*Source: Axelrod, Alan.  The Complete Idiot’s Guide to American History.  New York City: Alpha Books.  1996.