Unit 1 - AP Objectives 1-4 – American
and European Societies before 1492
1. What were Native American societies like
before Europeans arrived.
2. What changes occurred Europe that
made exploration possible.
3. What impact did European arrival have on
Native Americans.
4. To what extent did Native Americans
resist European encroachment.
America: Past and Present
Chapter 1: New World Encounters
The chapter opens with the story of a fatal misunderstanding
between members of the Wicomesses and the Susquehannocks at
a trading post owned by British Captain William Claiborne. After
being embarrassed by the Susquehannocks in front of the Brits, the
group of Wicomesses gained revenge by killing 5 of their mortal
enemies and three Englishmen from the trading post. Wicomess
leaders approached the governor of Maryland to offer to make
amends. The governor then expected the natives to hand over the
offenders to suffer British justice. The Wicomesses were astonished
that the visitors assumed the right to be in control of this legal
situation even though they were the ones who had encroached and
were truly little more than visitors in 1635. This would, of course, be
just the beginning of a grand series of misunderstandings that would
change the culture and history of natives and Europeans forever.
Certainly there were people on the North American
continent before the Europeans arrived, people who had
populated the land for thousands of years.
Their physical isolation (or absence of domesticated
livestock) had protected them from various diseases
such as smallpox, and measles, but that protection also
meant a loss of immunity.
*”By placing these complex, often unsettling experiences
within an interpretive framework of creative
adaptations-rather than of exploration or settlementwe go a long way toward recapturing the full human
dimensions of conquest and resistance.”
“Bering Straight” Land Bridge
“Indian” Virginia
The Great Transformation: Food, Climate, and Culture
Rapid population growth in the Americas
Sustained by abundant natural food supplies
Hunting and gathering
Agricultural cultivation
SW=beans, corn and squash
Agricultural Revolution
Revolutionized early American cultures
Stable food supplies allowed other
Material culture
Governmental hierarchies
Permanent villages
4 million Native Americans lived north of
Mexico at the time of the original
encounter with Europeans
Mysterious Disappearances
Anasazi Pueblo culture was sophisticated (NM)
Pueblo housing structures
Irrigation canals for agriculture
Hundreds of miles of roads
Cahokia (Ill.) had a population of 30,000+
Large ceremonial burial mounds remain
*Both cultures disappeared before Europeans
arrived, survivors dispersed and built new cultures
Cahokia burial ground
Aztec Dominance
Many impressive cultures inhabited Mexico and Central America
Incas (Peru), Mayan and Toltec (Central Mexico)
Built vast cities (perhaps 100,000= in some)
Governed bureaucratically
Developed hieroglyphics
Had accurate solar calendars
Aztecs (Valley of Mexico)
Aggressive and warlike
Conquered established city-states
Tenochtitlan - major ceremonial center
250,000= residents
Site of human sacrifice to Aztec sun god
Connected to agricultural cycle
Victims’ blood= fertility powers
Eastern Woodlands Culture (Check out the map on p.8)
Fewer than 1 million on the Atlantic Coast
Primarily subsisted on hunting and gathering, some agriculture
Women cultivated maize while men hunted and fished
English settlers were likely to cross paths with Algonquians (CAN)
Powhatans (VA), Narragansetts (RI) and Abenakis (CAN)
Spoke different dialects, did not communicate easily
Were often enemies but shared “cultural assumptions”
- Personal and familial bonds defined one’s “place”
- The “clan” was the basic social unit
- Authority was often egalitarian and loosely structured
- Some matriarchal with women owning the planting fields
and houses, maintaining tribal customs, and had a role
in tribal gov’t
Warfare was rare and conducted on a small scale
Motivated by revenge for insult or attack
Captives could be tortured or adopted
Eastern Great Lakes Indians spoke Iroquoian dialects
(Pretty clever of your authors, eh?) Perhaps they just want you to note that
native cultures were profoundly changed by the influence of European
explorers, conquerors, traders and settlers.
Creative Adaptations
1. Natives desired fair and peaceful trade with Europeans
2. Natives and Europeans saw their own culture as superior, although
each desired aspects of the others material culture
3. Communication was aided by sign language and gestures
4. Europeans tried to impose their culture, language and customs
- Some natives converted to Christianity, others pacified the
- Native women were less likely to embrace conversion
- Preferred polygamy and systems that gave power,
5. Young natives rejected traditional European classroom education
- In cases of intermarriage, the couple usually adopted native
Dependency: Trade and Disease
Interaction between natives and Europeans
altered the landscape and led to debt
Debt led to dependence
Disease was more destructive than debt
- Natives lacked natural immunity to smallpox,
measles and the flu
- Some historians estimate a 90-95% population loss
- Perhaps led to the importation of slaves
- Tribes who “kept their distance” were more likely to
Population loss led some to question traditional religious beliefs
Columbian Exchange - See Featured Essay (p. 12-13)
“Ecological Revolution”
Islam was a major cultural force in W Africa starting in 1030 AD
Muslim missionaries made many converts in this region
Intricate trade networks linked regional cultures
Mali, Benin and Kongo were major states during initial European
Governments and languages varied widely within the region
Euro contact began with the Portuguese
Lateen (triangular) sails and new ship designs enabled these
African trade networks charges tolls and fees to Europeans
Slave sales were negotiated as local currencies
Slaves were readily used in the Madeira and Canary Islands
(note—near the coast of Morocco)
More Africans than Europeans “emigrated” to the America from
Madeira and the Canaries
Yes, the Vikings were the first Europeans on American shores
984 AD - Eric the Red traveled from Iceland to Greenland
His son Leif founded Vinland in Newfoundland
[see map of L’Anse aux Meadows]
Other Europeans (Columbus) were unaware of these voyages
L'Anse aux Meadows
(from the French L'Anse-aux-Méduses or "Jellyfish Cove")
is an archaeological site on the northernmost tip of the island
of Newfoundland, located in the province of
Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, where the remains of
a Norse village were discovered in 1960 by the Norwegian
explorer Helge Ingstad and his wife Anne Stine Ingstad,
an archaeologist. L'Anse aux Meadows was determined to be Norse
because of definitive similarities between the characteristics of
structures and artifacts found at the site and those of
Greenlandic and Icelandic sites from around A.D. 1000
Building New Nation-States
- Ignorance, disease and provincial loyalties discouraged early
- But, changed conditions led to a greater desire for exploration and
trade = population growth, general prosperity
The Renaissance – fostered an expansive outlook
Improved food supplies
Greater earnings for landlords-more people, more land needed
More $$ and desire for luxuries from Asia
Centralized political authority-New Monarchs
Powerful Nation-States 1400s
• Tudors ended the “War of the Roses”
[between the Houses of Lancaster and York for the English
• Ferdinand and Isabella’s union brought the reunification of
Spain (Aragon and Castile) and the Reconquista-all of the
Iberian peninsula united under Christian rulers
• Ancient knowledge of geography became more widely known
• Printing press/movable type facilitated communicationcommunications revolution 1440s Johann Gutenberg
Those seeking the infamous “Three Gs” (God, Gold, Glory) spurred
the urge for adventure in Spain - ”los conquistadores”
Spain became the leading world power in spite of a lack of natural
Sugar plantations were created in the Canary Islands
Native deaths led to the growth of African slavery
The labor system was brutal
Calculating Risks and Rewards
Our Italian friend Columbus made a plan to sail west to China
Portugal wasn’t funding…
The King thought Columbus underestimated the length of the voyage
[est. 3,000 nau. miles was 10,600]
They funded Vasco de Gama and others instead
Spain was interested = hired Columbus
King and Queen provided leadership and
support for overseas exploration
The voyage took Columbus to the W Indies
Columbus returned three times—no gold or
The “new” continent was named for Amerigo Vespucci
Pope Alexander IV arranged for the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494)
Prevented war over “Asia”
Divided the “new world” between Portugal and Spain
The Conquistadores (Spainsh)
These “adventurers” certainly left their mark on the Americas
They desired instant wealth (not permanent settlements)
Bernal Diaz—the Caribbean Islands
Hernan Cortes “Cortez the Killer” - Cuba, Mexico
He apparently looked like a god (or at least an agent)
The guns and horses were also quite impressive
Montezuma’s indecision cost him dearly…
Spain and the conquistadors gained great wealth-precious metals
From Plunder to Settlement
Conquistadores were awarded encomiendas
Main goal—to re-establish royal authority
Dominicans and Franciscans were also sent to protect and convert
Bartolome de las Casas defended Indian rights-Historia de las Indiassome reforms as a result
A mixing of cultures and peoples occurred
Catholicism and native traditions combined
La Virgen de Guadalupe-symbol of Mexican nationalism
Many single men came from Spain…
Mestizos=Spanish + Indian
Mulattos=Spanish + black
Other terms: peninsulares=pure blood
Spanish from Spain
Criollos=Spanish heritage but born in the New
A caste system helped keep folks in their places
Spain could not rule these vast land claims
- The area was too large and too distant
- The treasure bankrupted the economy due
to inflation
Spain became dependent on “American” wealth
Jacques Cartier looked for a NW passage through the Americas (1534)
Navigated through the Gulf of St. Lawrence (Left in 1542)
Samuel de Champlain returned to settle the region in 1542
French explorers hoped for three Gs also
Rivers and Great Lakes helped establish a profitable trading network
All exports and imports had to go through Quebec
Pere Jacques Marquette traveled down the Mississippi
Robert de LaSalle followed the river through the Gulf of Mexico
Louisiana was then established
New Orleans was the most important port city on the Gulf
Priests (Jesuits and Recollects) had some success at conversion
Small population and harsh weather hampered France’s imperial dreams
*French viewed the natives as necessary economic partners
*French crown remained indifferent to Canadian affairs
John Cabot and his son Sebastian sailed for England and explored the Hudson
Bay while looking for a NW passage
*England behind in exploration
a. Henry VIII no standing army, small navy
b. international diplomacy-English merchants enjoyed
limited rights to trade in Spain’s Am. colonies
Birth of English Protestantism
Yes, the Reformation.
Henry VIII (Tudor) broke with the Catholic Church over some great matter of
Cardinal Thomas Wol$ey did his part to sway the people
[flaunted his wealth-symbol of spiritual corruption] = led to anticlericalism
Pope Clement VII refused the king’s request for an Annulment - this got Henry angry
The King severed ties with the Church, assumed property & leadership of the
new Church of England (1534)
Henry and many others continued as observant Catholics
*Land owned by Cath. Church passed into private
hands-gave people a vested interest in Protestantism
Mary I (the first) attempted to return England to the
Dissenters were martyred (recorded by John Foxe)
Book of Martyrs
Mary died, Protestants returned – now Marian exiles
exposed to Calvinism become leaders of the
Elizabethan church
Elizabeth I established English Protestantism
*Max Weber-German sociologist-argues Protestant ethic led to
diligence, large profits thus economic impact
Militant Protestantism
The Reformation proper begins in Germany 1517 = Martin Luther
God spoke to ordinary men through the Bible
Indulgences and rituals did not gain one salvation
Salvation was through faith alone
John Calvin (Swiss) stressed God’s omnipotence & the idea of “the elect”
“The elect” would exhibit proper holy behavior [predestination]
Not knowing whether or not you were saved caused a bit of tension
French Huguenots and Scottish Presbyterians shared these beliefs
Those in England who shared these beliefs were known as “Puritans”
Woman in Power
The Pope referred to her as a “woman of illegitimate birth”
Elizabeth pursued moderate change, preserved old rituals
Radical change and persecution seemed impractical to her
Pope Pius V excommunicated her
Spain vowed to restore England to the Church and overthrow theTudors
Religion, War and Nationalism
English Protestantism became an accepted part of the national identity
English “Sea Dogs” seized Spanish treasure for the Virgin Queen
Philip II constructed the Spanish Armada to counteract the arrogant Brits
The small, maneuverable British fleet defeated the Armada
English settlers inhabited N Ireland in hopes of civilizing the inhabitants
The “natives” were Gaelic-speaking Catholics who did not take well to
rule by British Protestants
This conflict will continue…William Wallace anyone?
English Conquest of Ireland
The English ridiculed Irish pastoral farming, customs, superstitions, etc
The English began to structure Irish society “as it ought to be”
English Brutality
Irish resistance to English rule led to violence and brutality
Sir Humphrey Gilbert beheaded captors
* Conquest in Ireland led to conquest in the Americas-here the English first
learned to subdue a foreign population.
• After Irish Catholic
rebellion and civil war,
Oliver Cromwell, on
behalf of the English
Commonwealth, reconquered Ireland
during the time from
1649 to 1651. Under
landownership in
Ireland was
overwhelmingly to
Protestant colonists.
Roanoke Mystery
Elizabeth I granted the land to Sir Walter Raleigh but didn’t help w/ $ Sir Walter Raleigh founded Roanoke in 1584-difficult to reach on
NC Outer Banks [see map]
When Sir Francis Drake returned from a Caribbean voyage and visited
Roanoke colonists all went home
1587-Ralegh launched a second colony
John White was left in charge – The settlers landed on Roanoke
Island on July 22 1587. On August 18, White's daughter (Eleanor) delivered
the first English child born in the Americas: Virginia Dare.
Spanish Armada severed as communication
-all Eng. vessels in military service so no ship arrived.
When Raleigh returned, the colony was gone
Croaton? Ask Stephen King
*Failure of Roanoke colony may have been a blessing in disguise
Spanish would be aware of English intrusion and send out an expedition
or build forts on entire coast and it was likely the English would not return
Dreams of Possession
Richard Hakluyt the Younger published The
Principall Navigations, Voyages, and
Discoveries of the English Nation (1589)
He told readers they would reap without
sowing, ignored toil and suffering
Hakluyt’s central point-England needed
American colonies – they were essential to the
nation’s prosperity and independence
*His writings greatly encouraged
colonization-without him the dream of
American colonization might have died in

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