Colonial America
eBook - ePub

Colonial America

A History to 1763

Richard Middleton, Anne Lombard

Share book
  1. English
  2. ePUB (mobile friendly)
  3. Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub

Colonial America

A History to 1763

Richard Middleton, Anne Lombard

Book details
Book preview
Table of contents
Citations

About This Book

Colonial America: A History to 1763, 4th Edition provides updated and revised coverage of the background, founding, and development of the thirteen English North American colonies.

  • Fully revised and expanded fourth edition, with updated bibliography
  • Includes new coverage of the simultaneous development of French, Spanish, and Dutch colonies in North America, and extensively re-written and updated chapters on families and women
  • Features enhanced coverage of the English colony of Barbados and trans-Atlantic influences on colonial development
  • Provides a greater focus on the perspectives of Native Americans and their influences in shaping the development of the colonies

Frequently asked questions

How do I cancel my subscription?
Simply head over to the account section in settings and click on “Cancel Subscription” - it’s as simple as that. After you cancel, your membership will stay active for the remainder of the time you’ve paid for. Learn more here.
Can/how do I download books?
At the moment all of our mobile-responsive ePub books are available to download via the app. Most of our PDFs are also available to download and we're working on making the final remaining ones downloadable now. Learn more here.
What is the difference between the pricing plans?
Both plans give you full access to the library and all of Perlego’s features. The only differences are the price and subscription period: With the annual plan you’ll save around 30% compared to 12 months on the monthly plan.
What is Perlego?
We are an online textbook subscription service, where you can get access to an entire online library for less than the price of a single book per month. With over 1 million books across 1000+ topics, we’ve got you covered! Learn more here.
Do you support text-to-speech?
Look out for the read-aloud symbol on your next book to see if you can listen to it. The read-aloud tool reads text aloud for you, highlighting the text as it is being read. You can pause it, speed it up and slow it down. Learn more here.
Is Colonial America an online PDF/ePUB?
Yes, you can access Colonial America by Richard Middleton, Anne Lombard in PDF and/or ePUB format, as well as other popular books in Historia & Historia de Norteamérica. We have over one million books available in our catalogue for you to explore.

Information

Year
2011
ISBN
9781444396287
Part I
Old and New Worlds Meet
Chapter 1
The Peoples of Eastern North America
Societies in Transition
30,000–11,000 BCE Indian peoples migrate to North America from Asia via the Bering Strait.
11,000 BCE The land bridge disappears as the climate warms.
5000 BCE Agriculture begins to develop in Tehuacan Valley, Mexico.
1200 BCE The first Mesoamerican civilization, the Olmecs, emerges.
500 BCE Mayan civilization flourishes.
500 BCE–400 CE Adena and Hopewell cultures develop in the Ohio Valley.
600 CE The Mississippi mound builders emerge.
1000 CE Eastern Woodlands societies adopt agriculture.
1200 CE The city of Cahokia's population numbers around 30,000.
1300 CE The “Little Ice Age” begins.
1400 CE The Mississippi mound builders disappear. Warfare becomes common among the Eastern Woodlands peoples.
1450 CE The Iroquois form the League of Five Nations.
1 America Before Columbus and the Problem of History
THE STORY OF the North American British colonies begins in America. For well over 12,000 years before Columbus made his accidental landfall in the Bahamas, people had been living on the North and South American continents, where they had created agricultural societies and complex cultures, developed political systems, fought wars, and formed alliances. When Europeans began to arrive, first in 1492 and then with increasing frequency during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, it was these indigenous American people who decided whether the newcomers would be welcomed to stay or forced to flee for their lives. Native Americans would make key decisions that shaped diplomatic relationships, influenced the kinds of colonial societies that could be built in North America, and changed the course of empires. To understand how they influenced the colonial process – to understand why they behaved as they did – we need to begin with their story.
The problem for historians is how to tell that story. Unlike peoples who had developed a written language, the original Americans left no written records. Although surviving oral traditions can tell us a great deal about Native American origin stories and collective memories, they are far removed in time from the events they describe. Of course Europeans, once they arrived and began observing Native American peoples, produced all sorts of written records: descriptions, memoirs, pictures, maps, and other kinds of documents. All of these have provided historians with additional sources about Native American societies. But the testimony of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Europeans about their encounters with indigenous Americans is deeply problematic as a source for twenty-first-century historians. Fifteenth-century Europeans had never imagined that the American continents existed, much less that there were people who had lived here for over 11,000 years. Thus when European observers like Christopher Columbus, Hernando de Soto, Jacques Cartier, and John White tried to understand who these people were and why they acted as they did, they were unable to comprehend this new world except in the context of their own experiences. The lens through which they viewed the Americas produced thousands of distortions and mistakes. Indeed the very term “Indian” was applied because Columbus was mistakenly convinced that he had arrived in Asia.1
The inaccuracies that crept into the earliest European records of encounters with Native Americans in North America have persisted in shaping the way we imagine the past. For example, one of the most commonly asserted misrepresentations of Native American peoples in the early modern era was that they were simple primitives, people who had not yet been caught up in the historical processes that were transforming the rest of the world by the end of the fifteenth century.2 In the past many historians unwittingly contributed to this distortion by portraying the Indians as the helpless victims of European colonizers who had superior technology, broader worldly experience, and more lethal diseases.
More recently, however, historians have used a range of sources that go beyond conventional written records to reconstruct the histories of indigenous American peoples in North America before the arrival of Europeans. Evidence about climate change has allowed historians to estimate the dates of various changes in the North American environment, while archaeological evidence has provided information about the kinds of societies indigenous peoples developed as they adapted to these changes. Evidence about the behavior of Native Americans after the arrival of Europeans has been re-examined alongside the oral traditions of contemporary Native American peoples and the findings of ethnographers so as to understand that behavior in the context of their own cultural traditions and experiences. These sources have enabled historians to understand that the economies, cultures, and political relationships of Native Americans on the eastern seaboard of North America had already undergone a wrenching historical transformation over the 500 years between approximately 1000 and 1500 CE. Well before Columbus arrived on American shores, millions of Native American peoples had been swept up by a saga of war, diaspora, relocation, and rebirth, decades before any contemporary European even dreamed that they existed.3
2 The Americas in Ancient Times
Scholars generally agree that the first Indian peoples came to North America from Siberia by way of the Bering Strait between 30,000 and 11,000 BCE when the Ice Age lowered sea levels, creating a huge land bridge between Asia and North America. Bands of nomadic hunters followed game from eastern Siberia to Alaska, eventually penetrating both North and South America.
These first Paleo-Indian peoples were essentially hunter-gatherers, their largest quarry being mammoths, large-horned bison, musk ox, large antelope, caribou, and, ironically, horses. The rest of their diet consisted of berries, nuts, fruits, fish, birds, and wildfowl. Their material culture was simple but effective. Animals provided skins for clothing; crude shelters were found in caves, rock overhangs, or made from the branches and bark of trees; while simple canoes or even logs provided the means for crossing rivers. Flint knives and scrapers enabled food and other materials to be prepared, while fire was used for keeping warm and cooking.
With the gradual warming of the earth's climate around 9000 BCE and the extinction of the larger mammals, the peoples of North and Central America were forced to adapt. First the mammoth disappeared, then the large-horned bison, followed by the horse. Although the people continued to live as hunter-gatherers, they became less migratory, confining their activities to smaller areas. Since the earth's warming had produced a rise in water levels which covered the original land bridge, people in the Americas were essentially cut off from further contact with Asia. Purely indigenous cultures developed. Different language groups became established, with a wide range of individual tongues within each group. By the time that Europeans began to arrive more than 10,000 years later, there were still more than 2,000 languages being spoken in the Americas.4
The most momentous phase in the early development of North American societies was the horticultural revolution. The peoples of the Tehuacan Valley of central Mexico, with its warm climate and varied plant species, including a wild ancestor of maize, were the first to develop agriculture around 5000 BCE. Elsewhere, horticulture began with the growing of beans, squash, or gourds; but invariably maize or corn was added at some point. Initially all these crops were cultivated from wild plants, but in time selection of the best seeds or hybridization through cross-pollination produced better strains, giving higher yields. In contrast to Africa, Europe, and Asia, however, no animals except dogs and turkeys (and llamas in South America) could be domesticated, since most of the large mammals that had migrated to the continent had disappeared along with the game. In many ways the lack of livestock did not matter, since the cultivation of beans and maize ensured a high-protein diet, especially when supplemented by meat from hunting.
Once a group of people began to rely on horticulture for their food, profound consequences followed. Cultures were radically altered as communities became more settled to allow the planting, harvesting, and protection of their crops. Horticulture also allowed the support of larger populations, which in turn permitted greater diversification and specialization. It is no coincidence that the beginnings of agriculture corresponded with the appearance of ceramics and the first advances in metallurgy. Specialized skills encouraged trade and the growth of towns. These in turn required more complex administrative systems, which led to the emergence of temporal and religious elites.
The eventual results in Central America and the Andean highlands were the highly complex, densely populated civilizations of the Olmecs, Mayas, Toltecs, Aztecs, and Incas. Each of them could lay claim to impressive technological achievements. In North America the Olmecs, who were active between 1200 and 500 BCE, built large temple mounds faced with stone. They also devised irrigation systems and carved huge heads from blocks of basalt, suggesting not only craftsmanship but sophisticated beliefs and organizational ability. The Mayas, who thrived from 500 BCE to 700 ce, wove elaborate cotton textiles, used gold and silver to fashion intricate jewelry, and constructed large stone buildings incorporating the corbeled vault. Equally impressive was their development of hieroglyphic writing carved in stone or painted on paper, invention of an elaborate calendar based on detailed observation of the solar system, and knowledge of mathematics. The Aztecs, recent arrivals to central Mexico from further north, managed by the fifteenth century to create an empire of six million people. At its height their capital city of Tenochtitlan had a population of more than 100,000. Built on an artificial island in the middle of a lake and joined to the mainland by stone causeways, Tenochtitlan contained numerous squares, paved streets, stone temples, and other buildings that astounded the Spanish on their arrival in 1519.
North of the Rio Grande the pace of technological, social, and political development was slower, partly as a result of climatic conditions in the aftermath of the Ice Age and partly because it took time before plants bred for cultivation in southern latitudes could be adapted for cultivation much further north. In the Southwest, among the Hohokam and Anasazi pueblo peoples, new varieties of corn, squash, and beans, all originally Mesoamerican plants, began to be cultivated around 2000 BCE. Over time the Hohokam and Anasazi developed complex systems of irrigation to bring water to their crops in the arid climate of the Southwest. They built permanent towns in which they lived in structures made of adobe or stone, grew cotton which they wove into cloth, and developed extensive trade ties with people in Mesoamerica as well as further north by about 700 ce.
In the lower Mississippi Valley and adjacent areas, horticulture first began to emerge after 1500 BCE. Evidence suggests that peoples in these regions may have cultivated edible plants like gourds, sunflowers, goosefoot, and marsh elder, independent of the plant domestication taking place in Mesoamerica around the same time. Eventually the people here acquired the ability to grow maize as well. But just as in the Southwest, the adoption of full-time horticulture was slow; people in the Mississippi Valley region grew plants only to supplement what they could reap from hunting and gathering of wild foods for some time.
Gradually, beginning around 500 BCE, societies organized around part-time or full-time farming emerged in the Midwest and the Southeast. The people in these societies all developed certain cultural practices in common: all built mounds for burial and other religious purposes; all developed urban settlements; all practiced some form of horticulture; all possessed pottery; and all were familiar with copper for making ornaments and tools. Peoples who were part of the Adena cultural complex, in the Ohio Valley, were still largely hunter-gatherers but practiced some horticulture, notably cultivation of gourds and other squashes. As the Adena peoples shifted to agriculture they became more territorial, building burial mounds to commemorate the dead and filling them with numerous practical and ornamental objects to support the deceased in the afterlife. Then came the Hopewell peoples, whose culture flourished not only in the Ohio Valley but in adjacent areas along the Illinois and Miami rivers, from about 100 BCE to 400 ce. Like the Adena peoples, the people of the Hopewell culture built mounds to honor the dead and for other religious purposes, but their mounds comprised concentric circles and other geometric patterns instead of simple squares. Others were grouped together inside an enclosure to elevate houses or other secular structures, suggesting that the Hopewell people lived in sizable towns. Their burial mounds contained material originating from great distances, such as obsidian from the Rockies, copper from Lake Michigan, and conch shells from Florida, evidence that the Hopewell were engaged in widespread trade and commerce.
The Mississippian cultures, emerging around 600 ce, initiated the largest and most complex phase of mound-building activity. Mississippian peoples' mounds comprised large platform edifices grouped around a central plaza. The size and complexity of these sites indicate towns and cities of thousands of inhabitants, suggesting that the Mississippian cultures by now depended primarily on agriculture for their subsistence. The greatest of the Mississippian cities was Cahokia, near present-day St. Louis. Cahokia had an enclosed area of several square miles, containing over 100 earthworks. Thirty thousand people may have lived there at the city's height around 1200 ce. Archaeologists working in Cahokia have uncovered copper chisels, awls, and punches (for piercing leather), needles, harpoons, spear points, and knives, showing that the Mississippian people had developed technologies for working in metal. A small percentage of the dead appear to have been buried with copper brooches, bracelets, gorgets, and clasps for decorative purposes, evidence that Mississippians had developed hierarchical societies, in which members of a high-status group possessed considerably more wealth than the majority of the population. Non-elite Mississippians, in contrast, still used arrowheads, scrapers, knives, hoes, and axes made of bone, shell, or stone.
Figure 1 Cahokia mounds, circa 1150. Painting by William R. Iseminger. Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site.
img
The advantage of agriculture for a population is its ability to produce more food per acre than hunting and gathering, so that populations can grow and societies become more complex. The disadvantage of agriculture is that it makes a population dependent on particular patterns of rainfall and sunshine. In the event of climate change, hunting and gathering societies in the ancient world would generally move on and adapt, but fully agricultural societies could be devastated. This seems to be what happened to people of the Hohokam and the Anasazi cultures. Between 1100 and 1350 a shift in rainfall patterns led to food shortages, and the Hohokam and Anasazi people abandoned their settlements and migrated to other parts of the Southwest, reorganizing new communities and becoming integrated with other groups in their new locations. Similarly, a cooling of the climate after about 1300 in the Mississippi Valley made farming less productive and created food shortages. The Mississippian mound builders abandoned their cities and towns and migrated south and east, where they reorganized themselves into smaller communities.
In addition to forcing communities to split up and move, climate change commonly produced stresses that increased conflict. Forensic evidence from sites across the continent suggests that rates of violent death increased between 1000 and 1500, most likely caused by increased competition for scarce resources. In the large societies of the Southwest and the Mississippi Valley, internal discord apparently contributed to societal collapse. These societies reorganized themselves into much smaller tribes and chiefdoms, whereupon they were often beset by intense rivalries and shifting coalitions. The main legacy of these peoples' shared past was often a set of enduring rivalries between their new communities.
3 The Eastern Woodlands, 1000–1300
By 1000 ce the horticultural revolution had spread eastwards, and most Ind...

Table of contents