American Pageant Chapter 1 Summary

Shaping North America 350 million years ago- The Appalachian Mountains formed 225 million years ago- Earth’s supercontinent broke up into separate continents. 135-25 million years ago- Western North American mountain ranges formed. 10 Million years ago- North America’s basic geological shape is formed 2 Million years ago- The Ice Age begins; glaciers carve into the land creating formations such as the Great Lakes. 10,000 years ago- The Ice Age ends Peopling the Americas Evidence suggests that the first people came to America across a land bridge from Eurasia to North America.

It is also a controversial theory that some people came to America from across the Pacific Ocean via boats, although this theory is much less supported. Asian tribes probably first came across the land bridge following migratory hears of animals, and once the ice age ended, and the glaciers melted, the tribes were marooned in North America. Over time, these tribes dispersed and traveled as far as South America, forming their own cultures and some building great empires such as the Aztecs, the Mayans, and the Incans.

The Earliest Americans When Mexican natives developed wild grass into corn, it allowed tribes to establish permanent settlements, ultimately leading to the birth of centralized Aztec and Incan nation-states as well as other native tribes to grow in number and technological advance. This new process of cultivating corn spread throughout America, allowing tribes all over the continent to settle in one place and advance their population, although most tribes in North America never progressed into empires like the Aztecs.

Groups that used corn to build large tribes include the Mound Builders of the Ohio River valley, the Mississippian culture, and the southwest Anasazi. When corn cultivation reached the Atlantic coast, a method, known as three-sister farming, developed. Indirect Discoveries of the New World The first Europeans to land in the Americas were the Norse sailors who landed near Newfoundland around A. D. 1000. For the next couple of centuries, other European nations wanted to explore more of the world, particularly Asia, which held the fabled silk, spice, and drugs that they had heard about during the Crusades.

After many years of long, treacherous, and expensive travel to trade for these prized goods, Europeans began wishing for a more efficient way to Asia. Europeans Enter Africa When Marco Polo returned from a twenty year trip with legends of China, Europeans started to search for a better way to get to Asia. The Portuguese developed a way to sail down the coast of Africa in 1450 with the help of their new ships known as caravels. This travel also allowed for discovery of sub-Saharan Africa, previously known only in myths and legend, which the Portuguese soon took advantage of, setting up trade posts on the west coast for slaves and gold.

The slave trade became a big business, with about 40,000 slaves being traded in the late 15th century. The efficiency of running plantation with slaves was discovered, which would later influence American history immensely. This caused the relation of Africa to slaves to be established early in European history. Bartholomeu Dias rounded the southernmost tip of Africa in 1488 and Vasco da Gama reached India via this route ten years later and later returned home with a small prize of jewels and spices.

Meanwhile, the empire that would become Spain rid its country of the Moors, and, wanting a part in this trade with Asia, began thinking of other ways to get there. Columbus Comes upon a New World Advancements in technology as well as spirit in Europe encouraged the desire for exploration and conquest. Christopher Columbus soon persuaded the royalty of Spain to finance his trip westward. After many long weeks at sea, his crew caught sight of land on October 12, 1942. Although he was attempting to reach Asia, he ended up landing on an island in the Bahamas.

From this point on, life would never be the same in Europe, America, or Africa. When Worlds Collide Upon exploring the new land, Columbus’s crew was introduced to strange, exotic organisms they had never seen before. The old world and the new world were introduced for the first time. This led to an exchange of organisms from one world to the other, both intentional, such as potatoes and corn, and unintentional, such as diseases. The new world offered the old world gold, silver, corn, potatoes, pineapples, tomatoes, tobacco, beans, vanilla, chocolate, and syphilis.

The old world also gave to the new world; new species include wheat, sugar, rice, coffee, horses, cows, pigs, smallpox, measles, bubonic plague, influenza, typhus, diphtheria, and scarlet fever. Slaves from Africa were also brought to the New World. The Spanish Conquistadores Spain and Portugal made the Treaty of Tordesillas to split the land, which gave Spain the large chunk of land in the New World. All throughout the 16th century, Spain rose to prominence as an empire to be feared.

Conquistadores traveled throughout the Americas, conquering lands in the name of Spain, for the Glory of God, as well as for gold and silver. In 1513, Vasco Nunez Balboa stepped into the Pacific Ocean on the west coast of the America’s and claimed everything on it’s shore in the name of Spain. Later in 1519 Ferdinand Magellan set of with 5 ships, one of which would return home and be the first to ever circumnavigate the world. Other Spanish explorers set off to North America. Ponce de Leon would be the first to explore Florida.

Francisco Coronado set off to find fabled cities of gold, but unfortunately only came across small adobe houses. Hernando de Soto set off in search of gold with 400 armored men and went from Florida to just west of the Mississippi River, where died of wounds and fever. Francisco Pizarro conquered the Incas of Peru in 1532. By 1600, Spain was extremely rich from treasures found in the new world. The massive increase in silver and gold led to a revolution in the economic system that would become similar to modern day capitalism.

The West Indies became a place for New World travelers to locate and organize themselves, as well as posts for preparing for battles with Native tribes. A form of slavery developed in which the Spanish government commended Indians to explorers as long as they converted them to Christianity. The Conquest of Mexico In 1519, Hernan Cortes set off to Mexico from Cuba with 11 ships of men and horses. He acquired a slave girl and a Spaniard who had been enslaved by a Mayan-Speaking tribe who allowed him interpretation of the Aztecan language.

When he arrived in Teotihuacan, Montezuma received him as a god and gave him all the gold he requested. Over time, the Aztecs became tired of his constant greed and on June 30, 1520, the Aztecs attacked Cortes and his men. They retreated, and after a counter-siege and a smallpox epidemic, they conquered Teotihuacan. The Mexican population dropped from 20 million to 2 million with the Spanish invasion. Cortes also brought his culture and created a blended race known as mestizos. The Spread of Spanish America

Half a century from the discovery of America, hundreds of Spanish cities were founded in the New World, populate by 100,000 Spanish men. Scholars studied at American universities. Meanwhile, the English had sent Giovanni Cabot to explore the North American east coast, while the French Giovanni da Verrazano and Jacques Cartier made themselves known as explorers of the New World. The Spanish began to fortify and settle their North American borderlands with attempts including the construction of St. Augustine to block the French and protect the Caribbean sea-passages.

Spanish conquistadores also started to travel upwards to modern day Southwest U. S. They conquered the native tribes and found fur and gold. However, their main mission was in the name of the Church, to convert Native Indians to Christianity. This led a rebellion by the Indians called Pope’s Rebellion in 1680. The Pueblo rebels destroyed every Catholic Church in the region as well as killed many priests and Spanish settlers. The Spanish began around 1716 to establish settlements in Texas as a direct result of the French expedition in 1680 down the Mississippi River led by Robert de La Salle.

Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo explored the California coast in 1542, although nothing of importance was found, and California remained unexplored for the next 2 centuries. In 1769 Spanish Missionaries led by Father Junipero Serra founded at San Diego the first of a chain of twenty-one missions that wound up the coast as far as Sonoma, north of San Francisco Bay. These missions took in Native Americans and converted them to Christianity, although most of them didn’t last long due to disease vulnerability.