Chapter 1 “First Founders”

1) When Columbus arrived in 1492 he found large Native American populations that had been living throughout the Americas for millennia. The very first Americans migrated across the Bering Straight (a land bridge between Russia and Canada) around 20,000 years ago.

2) “Ancient America” 500=1500 (1000 year period before Columbus, really pre-Columbian America). In North America there were the Anasazi in the Southwest and Mississippians in the Southeast, they were complex cultures, built pueblos, mounds, complex religious calendars but the only large empires (true urban complexes, big cities) were in Peru (the Inca ruled the largest empire in pre-Columbian history, great engineers of roads, bridges, tunnels) and in Mexico starting with the Olmec (the mother culture) in the ancient period (1000BC) followed by great cities like Teotihuacan and great civs, Toltec, Maya, Aztec and their city Technochtitlan (present-day Mexico city).

3) “Precolumbian Arrivals and Spanish Conquest.” More and more evidence suggest that other “Old World” people visited the “New World” before Columbus. It seems likely that boats from West Africa (see web readings) arrived in Brazil in the early 1300s and a Chinese fleet circumnavigated the globe in the 1420s (a century before Magellan’s fleet did). It has long been established that Vikings reached North American even earlier, around 1000BC. So although Columbus did not “discover” the “New World” (a huge portion of the world’s population had been living here for millennia and other explorers from the Old World reached the America’s before Columbus) his voyage is the one that initiates the colonization of the New World, which will change world history.

4) During the 16th century, Spain sent many explorers and conquistadors to the New World. Cortez’s conquest of the Aztec in Mexico inspired Pizarro’s conquest of the Inca in Peru. Other Spaniards like Coronado in the American west and Ayllon, Ponce de Leon, Narvaez, De Soto. Several free Afro-Spaniards accompanied the conquistadores (for example, Juan Gonzales and Juan Garrido) and several slaves of African descent accompanied them as well. Thus numerous persons of African descent settled in the Americas well before the first English colonies.


Chapter 2 “European Footholds 1600-1660”

5) Before 1600, only Spain had managed to create settlements in the New World (in the Caribbean, Mexico, Peru, and Florida—St. Augustine North America’s first town 1565. In the early 1600’s Spain would also expand north from New Spain (Mexico) to New Mexico in the American Southwest (capital Santa Fe). During the first half of the 17th century (1600-1660) several other European powers created “footholds” (small scale, tenuous settlements) on the fringes on the continent: the French in Canada (Quebec and Montreal); the Dutch in New York (the colony was known as New Netherland, what would be Manhattan was New Amsterdam) and the English, first at Jamestown (the Virginia Colony) and then Plymouth (the Massachusetts Bay Colony). People of African descent were among the earlier settlers the early colonial settlements of Santa Fe, New Amsterdam, and Jamestown


Chapter 3 “Controlling the Edges of the Continent 1660-1715.”

6) “Native American Resistance and Assistance.” Early colonial settlements were not peaceful. The Native Americans whose land was being encroached upon at times tried to forge alliances with the Old World settlers and at other times resisted fiercely. In the Virginia Colony, the Powhatans and the English fought and died in the 1620s and the 1640s. In New England, the Pequot War of 1637 would lead to enslavement of Pequot prisoners and the introduction of African slaves to New England (well before the legalization of slavery in Virginia). In 1675 the utter devastation of Metacom’s War would effectively end Native American resistance in New England. In Spanish Florida there were several Native American uprisings, the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 in Spanish New Mexico is remarkable because the Pueblo defeated the Spanish.

7) Bacon’s Rebellion in Virginia in 1676 is an example of serious colonial conflict

8) The founding of fort Mose in 1681 signals the first free black settlement in North America and is an example is of organized slave resistance.

9) King Williams war in 1689 (see Glorious Revolution of 1688) signaled the start of England and France’s many frontier battles in North America (often fought by their Native America allies).

10) The Salem witch trials in Massachusetts in 1692 revealed another type of conflict.