Tag Archives: Western Hemisphere

A Nationalist Foreign Policy: The Monroe Doctrine

Part of President  James Monroe’s State of the Union message to Congress on December 2, 1823, the “Monroe Doctrine” was the brainchild of Secretary of State John Quincy Adams. It was a response to the continued European intervention and interference in the affairs of newly independent nations in Central and South America. The Monroe Doctrine, with its stated desire of the United States to stay out of the affairs of Europe, and for Europe to stay out of the affairs of the Western Hemisphere, would be one of the driving forces of US foreign policy until the early 20th century.

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New England: Witchcraft?

Although the Salem, Massachusetts witchcraft trials are the most well-known, courts in New England had dealt with the perceived issue of witchcraft for decades. This case, from Connecticut, describes the case of Elizabeth Knap. At the conclusion the author provides his own assessment of the evidence in the case.

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The Chesapeake: Class Conflict

 Bacon’s Rebellion, a Virginia uprising led by Nathaniel Bacon in 1676, was an example of the growing class divisions in the colonial Chesapeake as well as the continuing conflict between Native American tribes and the Virginians. This document details the rebels’ demands.

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Captivity Narratives: A Window on Native/English Relations

During the late 1600s, there was increasing conflict between the New England colonies and Native American tribes.  Much of this conflict resulted from the New Englanders’ enormous appetite for land and increasing Native desperation to not see their way of life extinguished. The most devastating of these conflicts was Metacom’s War (also known as King Philip’s War).

One example of the evidence we have about life during this time were “captivity narratives.” These were accounts of the kidnapping and eventual ransom of (generally) English women by hostile (to the English) Natives. This excerpt, by Mary Rowlandson of Massachusetts who was a captive during Metacom’s War, is one of the most well-known.

Rowlandson organized her account as a series of “removes”–each discussion one location of her long, mobile captivity.

Note: this is a longer-than-usual excerpt, so allow yourself plenty of time to get through it!
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European/Native Relations: the French

The relationship between the French and the Native American tribes they encountered was a product of the French goals in North America. Unlike the Spanish they did not arrive with large armies or attempt to enslave the Natives. Unlike the English, the French did not attempt to establish large-scale settlements. In many, but not all, cases, the relationship between the French and the Native tribes was based on mutual gain–the French gained access to natural resources such as beaver pelts and the Natives gained access to high quality European goods.

Cultural differences did exist, however, as evidenced by this account from a leader of the Micmac tribe, recorded by a French priest named Chrestian LeClerq.

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The Pueblo Revolt and Cultural Colonialism in Spanish America

The Pueblo Revolt, led by a native leader named Pope, resulted in a significant—but temporary—lost of territory for the Spanish in North America.  This description of the motivations of the rebelling natives illustrates the cultural tensions between the native peoples and the occupying Spanish.

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North America before Europeans

The first inhabitants of North America arrived via the Beringia land bridge approximately 20,000 years ago, although archaeological work on the earliest Americans is ongoing.  Widespread occupation of the Americas dates to around 13,000 to 16,000 years ago.
In North America, these peoples spread out, developing distinct but sometimes related languages and cultures (as shown in the map below).  Ways of life varied, from hunting and gathering societies to organizations of urban hubs and hinterlands (such as the Mississippian civilization centered on the city of Cahokia).

This image (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Langs_N.Amer.png) is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

This image (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Langs_N.Amer.png) is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

John Smith and Jamestown

John Smith (1580-1631) was one of the leaders of Jamestown, the first permanent English colony in North America. His background was in soldiering more than managing, but his imposition of strict discipline brought stability to Jamestown in its early years.

This excerpt from Smith’s account of the founding of Jamestown and the Virginia colony describes the “Starving Time” which occurred during the winter of 1609-1610.

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