Chapter 01 New World Beginnings

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Chapter 01 - New World Beginnings

The Azetcs were a Native American Empire who lived in Mexico. Their capital was Tenochtitlan. They worshipped everything around them especially the sun. Cortes conquered them in 1521.

Pueblo Indians

The Pueblo Indians lived in the Southwestern United States. They built extensive irrigation systems to water their primary crop, which was corn. Their houses were multi-storied buildings made of adobe.

Joint Stock Companies

These were developed to gather the savings from the middle class to support finance colonies. Ex. London Company and Plymouth Company.

Spanish Armada

"Invincible" group of ships sent by King Philip II of Spain to invade England in 1588; Armada was defeated by smaller, more maneuverable English "sea dogs" in the Channel; marked the beginning of English naval dominance and fall of Spanish dominance.

black legend

The idea developed during North American colonial times that the Spanish utterly destroyed the Indians through slavery and disease while the English did not. It is a false assertion that the Spanish were more evil towards the Native Americans than the English were.


Spanish explorers that invaded Central and South America for it's riches during the 1500's. In doing so they conquered the Incas, Aztecs, and other Native Americans of the area. Eventually they intermarried these tribes.


After the Middle Ages there was a rebirth of culture in Europe where art and science were developed. It was during this time of enrichment that America was discovered.

Canadian Shield

geological shape of North America; 10 million years ago; held the northeast corner of North America in place; the first part of North America to come above sea level.

Mound Builders

The mound builders of the Ohio River Valley and the Mississippian culture of the lower Midwest did sustain some large settlements after the incorporation of corn planting into their way of life during the first millennium AD. The Mississippian settlement at Cohokia, near present-day East St. Louis, Ill., was perhaps home to 40,000 people in about AD 1100. But mysteriously, around the year 1300, both the Mound Builder and the Mississippian cultures had fallen to decline.


Aztec chieftan; encountered Cortes and the Spanish and saw that they rode horses; Montezuma assumed that the Soanush were gods. He welcomed them hospitably, but the explorers soon turned on the natives and ruled them for three centuries.

Christopher Columbus

An Italian navigator who was funded by the Spanish Government to find a passage to the Far East. He is given credit for discovering the "New World," even though at his death he believed he had made it to India. He made four voyages to the "New World." The first sighting of land was on October 12, 1492, and three other journies until the time of his death in 1503.

Hernan Cortes

He was a Spanish explorer who conquered the Native American civilization of the Aztecs in 1519 in what is now Mexico.

Francisco Coronado

A Spanish soldier and commander; in 1540, he led an expedition north from Mexico into Arizona; he was searching for the legendary Seven Cities of Gold, but only found Adobe pueblos.

Treaty of Tordesillas

In 1494 Spain and Portugal were disputing the lands of the new world, so the Spanish went to the Pope, and he divided the land of South America for them. Spain got the vast majority, the west, and Portugal got the east.

The Mestizos were the race of people created when the Spanish intermarried with the surviving Indians in Mexico.

Marco Polo
Italian explorer; spent many years in China or near it; his return to Europe in 1295 sparked a European interest in finding a quicker route to Asia.

Francisco Pizarro

Francisco Pizarro -- New World conqueror; Spanish conqueror who crushed the Inca civilization in Peru; took gold, silver and enslaved the Incas in 1532.

Juan Ponce de Leon

Spanish Explorer; in 1513 and in 1521, he explored Florida, thinking it was an island. Looking for gold and the "fountain of youth", he failed in his search for the fountain of youth but established Florida as territory for the Spanish, before being killed by a Native American arrow.

Hernando de Soto

Spanish Conquistador; explored in 1540's from Florida west to the Mississippi with six hundred men in search of gold; discovered the Mississippi, a vital North American river.

I. The shaping of North America

  1. Earth’s continent took their positions slowly; they used to all be one giant mass-continent.

    • Shifting caused mountain ranges to form

  2. About 2 million years ago a great chill covered the planet beginning the Great Ice Age
    When the glaciers receded and melted they scraped away topsoil and the great lakes were formed and filled.

II. Peopling the Americas

  1. Some 35,000 years ago the Great Ice Age did more than change the environment, it contributed to the origins of the continent’s human history.

    • As the sea level dropped, it exposed a land bridge connecting Eurasia with North America in the area of the present-day Bering Sea.

    • Across that bridge, probably following migratory herds of game, ventured small bands of nomadic Asian hunters. They spread to all parts of America in over 2,000 years.

    • Around 10,000 years ago when temperatures rose the land bridge was covered alienating those that had crossed.

  2. Incas in Peru, Mayans in Central America, and Aztecs in Mexico shaped stunningly sophisticated civilizations.

III. The Earliest Americans

  1. Corn growing helped the population grow and quickly became a staple crop.

  2. Everywhere it was planted, corn began to transform nomadic hunting bands into settled agricultural villagers.

    • Corn cultivation reached other parts of North America considerably later. The Mound Builders of the Ohio River valley, the Mississippian culture of the lower Midwest, and the desert-dwelling Anasazi peoples of the Southwest did * sustain some large settlements after the incorporation of corn planting.

    • But mysteriously, perhaps due to prolonged drought, all those ancient cultures fell into decline by about 1300 c.e.

  3. Maize, Beans and Squash made possible three-sister farming. ( beans grow on cornstalks with squash on the planting mounds to keep in moisture.)

  4. The Iroquois in the northeastern woodlands, inspired by a legendary leader named Hiawatha, created in the sixteenth century perhaps the closest North American approximation to the great empires of Mexico and Peru.

    • But for the most part, the native peoples of North America were living in small, scattered, and impermanent settlements.

  5. In more settled agricultural groups, women tended the crops while men hunted, fished, gathered fuel, and cleared fields for planting. Many societies had matrilineal cultures where power and possessions were passed down the female side of family line.

    • The Native Americans had neither the desire nor the means to manipulate nature aggressively. They revered the physical world and endowed nature with spiritual properties. (They did however light huge forest fires to create better hunting habitat that created the open woodlands that amazed European explorers)

IV. Indirect Discoverers of the New World

  1. The Scandinavians were actually the first to encounter the continent of North America.

    • They landed near Newfoundland but since their governments weren’t looking to expand or settle they lost the new settlements and America was forgotten about except in song and stories.

  2. Christian crusaders must rank high among America’s indirect discoverers.

    • Looking to expand their beliefs to Asia they eventually acquired a taste for the foreign goods.
      The expense of transporting items from Asia to Europe was so much that they started to look for alternate ways.

V. Europeans Enter Africa

  1. Marco Polo’s travels inspired Europeans to look for cheaper ways to get to desirable goods.

  2. Europeans had invented new ships called caravels -- that could help them travel more and had discovered new trade winds that would take them home easier. (Did well traveling against wind)

  3. The Portuguese were the first to travel to southern Africa.

    • They quickly set up trading posts for gold and slaves.

    • Slave trading became a big business and became the origins of the modern plantation system

    • The seafaring Portuguese pushed still farther southward in search of the water route to Asia. Bartholomeu Dias rounded the southernmost tip of Africa in 1488. ten years later Vasco da Gama finally reached India.

  4. Meanwhile, Spain was growing stronger and also wanted to reach new wealth and discovery. Since Portugal controlled Africa and its water route to India, Spain therefore looked westward.

VI. Columbus Comes upon a New World

  1. Spain was ready for new power and riches. The dawn of the Renaissance in the fourteenth century nurtured an ambitious spirit of optimism and adventure.

  2. Christopher Columbus persuaded the Spanish monarchs to outfit him with three tiny but seaworthy ships. October 12th, 1492 he reached the Bahamas

    • Seeking a new water route to the fabled Indies, he in fact had bumped into an enormous land barrier blocking the ocean pathway. He was so sure that he had reached the Indies that he called the natives there Indians which stuck.

    • His discovery would join the four continents- Europe, Africa and the two Americas.

  3. For Europeans as well as for Africans and Native Americans, the world after 1492 would never be the same, for better or worse.

VII. When Worlds Collide

  1. New world plants such as tobacco, maize, beans, tomatoes, and especially the lowly potato eventually revolutionized the international economy as well as the European diet. In exchange the Europeans introduced Old World crops and animals to the Americas. (often called the Columbian Exchange)

  2. Unwittingly, the Europeans also brought other organisms in the dirt on their boots and the dust on their clothes

    • Such as the seeds of Kentucky bluegrass, dandelions, and daisies.

  3. Most ominous of all, in their bodies they carried the germs that caused smallpox, yellow fever, and malaria.

    • The Natives didn't have any antibodies against the diseases.

  4. Enslavement and armed aggression took their toll, but the deadliest killers were microbes. As many as 90% of native population perished in the centuries that followed.

  5. Syphilis is introduced to Europe for the first time.

VIII. The Spanish Conquistadores

  1. The Europeans realized that there were riches in the Americas.

  2. The Treaty of Tordesillas was established dividing the new world between Portugal and Spain.

    • Lots of explorers then thirsted for riches and went forth to discover new things and conquer people both in North and South America. (conquistadores)

    • The New World gold helped transform the world economy.

  3. The Europeans used techniques to subdue the natives; the most popular one was the Encomienda system which was still slavery

  4. Vasco Nunez Balboa discovered the Pacific Ocean in 1513 (Panama)

  5. Ferdinand Magellan left with 4 ships in 1519 and went through Magellan Straight off tip of South America and was killed in Philippines. One of his ships made it back home in 1522 becoming first to circumnavigate the globe

  6. 1513 and 1521 Juan Ponce de Leon explored Florida for gold

  7. 1540-1542 Francisco Coronado went through Arizona and New Mexico and as far east as Kansas. Discovered Grand Canyon and huge herds of buffalo

  8. Francisco Pizarro crushed the Incas of Peru bringing to Spain much gold

IX. The Conquest of Mexico

  1. In about 1519, Hernan Cortes set sail from Cuba with men and horses.  Along the way, he picked up two translators - A Spanish prisoner of Mayan-speaking Indians, and a female Indian slave named Malinche who knew both Mayan and Nahuatl the language of the Aztec rulers

  2. The Spaniards arrived at Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital with the intention of stealing all of the gold and other riches; superstitious Moctezuma- the Aztec ruler also believed that Cortés was the god Quetzalcoatl.

    • He allowed Cortez to come near the city unopposed and offered lavish gifts but the Spanish lust for gold soon exhausted their welcome

    • June 30, 1520 the Aztec's attack ... Spanish retreat but then lay siege to the city

  3. Because of the Spanish treatment and disease, the Indian population in Mexico went from 20 million to 2 million in less than a century.

  4. The invader brought more than conquest and death. He brought his crops and his animals, laws and language.

  5. created distinctive culture of "mestizos" people of mixed Indian and European heritage

X. The Spread of Spanish America

  1. Spain’s colonial empire grew swiftly and impressively.

    • A lot of Spanish cities flourished and by this time other countries wanted in on the wealth.
      The Spanish began to fortify and settle their North American borderlands and to block the entrance of the French and others. (St. Augustine, Florida 1565)

    • 1609 Province of New Mexico with capital Santa Fe (lots of Catholic evangelism)

  2. The natives, tired of being forced into a different religion, launched a rebellion known as Popes Rebellion, where they burned down churches and killed priests. 

    • It took nearly half a century for the Spanish fully to reclaim New Mexico from the insurrectionary Indians.

  3. The Spaniards, who had more than a century’s head start over the English, were genuine empire builders and cultural innovators in the New World. They didn't just bring death, steal gold, infect with smallpox and leave only misery (Black Legend)

    • They eventually intermarried and mixed their culture with the indigenous people instead of shunning them like the English did.

    • The Spanish invaders did indeed kill, enslave, and infect countless natives, but they also erected a colossal empire and set the foundation for many Spanish-speaking nations.

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