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United States History to 1877

United States History to 1877

by Arnold M. Rice, Charles M. Harris, John A. Krout
Prepared for students by renowned professors and noted experts, here are the most extensive and proven study aids available, covering all the major areas of study in college curriculums. Each guide features: up-to-date scholarship; an easy-to-follow narrative outline form; specially designed and formatted pages; and much more.


Prepared for students by renowned professors and noted experts, here are the most extensive and proven study aids available, covering all the major areas of study in college curriculums. Each guide features: up-to-date scholarship; an easy-to-follow narrative outline form; specially designed and formatted pages; and much more.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
College Outline Series
Edition description:
8th ed
Product dimensions:
7.26(w) x 9.36(h) x 0.81(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Europe and the New World

CA.1 000 A.D. Viking settlement at "Vinland," believed to be Newfoundland
1275 Marco Polo reaches China
1418 Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal founds school fornavigators; Portuguese voyages of exploration begin soon thereafter
1469 Kingdom of Spain united by the marriage of Ferdinand of Castile and Isabella of Aragon
1492 Colombo (Columbus) discovers the New World, first landing in the Bahama Islands
1494 Treaty of Tordesillas divides western hemisphere between Spain and Portugal
1497 John Cabot explores North America for England
1513 Ponce de Leon reaches Florida, Balboa the Pacific Ocean
1517 Protestant Reformation begins with posting of Martin Luther's 95 theses in Wittenberg (in Germany)
1519-1521 Hernando Cortes conquers the Aztecs in Mexico, first of several conquests of the conquistadores
1519-1522 Magellan's circumnavigation of the globe
1529-1536 King Henry VIII of England clashes and breaks with the pope and the Roman Catholic Church
1536 Publication of John Calvin's Institutes in Geneva
1558-1603 Reign of Queen Elizabeth I in England
1566 England begins the conquest and colonization of Ireland
1585 Roanoke Island settlement made by the English
1588 English defeat of the Spanish Armada
1603-1625 Reign of King James I in England
1608 Samuel de Champlain founds first French settlement at Quebec
1682 French explorer La Salle reaches mouth of the MississippiRiver
In terms of human history and the history of the North American continent and its peoples, the history of the United States is but a recent episode. The continent itself, the theater of human activity, took its modern form between 54 million and 2 million years ago. A variety of native cultures had developed in the western hemisphere prior to the first European exploration and settlement in the 15th century. The discovery and conquest of a "new world" was from the European perspective a heroic enterprise. However this process also proved to be destructive of life (natural and human) as it had evolved in North and South America over thousands of years. The European nations had several motives for pursuing colonization in the western hemisphere and they established their colonies in quite different ways.


The first inhabitants of the western hemisphere were themselves immigrants, nomadic hunters who began to migrate from Asia across the Bering Strait at least 15-20,000 years ago. By the time the Europeans discovered the western hemisphere, many different peoples and tribes inhabited what became known as the Americas.

Civilizations of Central and South America

The "new" world was new only from a European perspective. The Mayas in southern Mexico and Central America, the Aztecs in Mexico, and the Incas in Peru had created advanced civilizations and administered extensive empires-although, most noticeably in the case of the Aztecs, whose religion sanctioned human sacrifice, they retained primitive practices. The written language, numbers, and calendar of the Mayas rivaled those of the early Mediterranean cultures. The architecture and civil engineering projects of the Aztecs and Incas continue to exert influence on modem designers.

Early inhabitants of North America

By the fifteenth century, most of the tribes that inhabited the areas of North America that would become the United States had developed some kind of farming (or fishing), while remaining hunters and retaining nomadic traits. It is estimated that they numbered at least 2 million in 1500. They roamed the high western plains, hunted the mountain valleys, and farmed along the rivers from the Pacific to the Atlantic. These North American peoples did not create great civilizations. Neverthelessthere was considerable diversity, and several hundred different languages, among the wideranging tribes. The Iroquois, based in upstate New York, were the most successful of these peoples in achieving political unity and extending their influence. Their League of Five (later Six) Nations remained a significant force well into the eighteenth century. Their rivals to the north and south, the larger group of Algonquin tribes, were never as unified, perhaps because they spoke in many different dialects.

The American aborigines or "Indians," as they came to be known after Columbus's voyages, were fiercely proud and independent peoples. They were well adapted to their own environment but vulnerable to the advanced technologies of warfare that the Europeans possessed. Having had no exposure to Europeans, they lacked immunity to their diseases, the most common of which, such as measles, devastated their populations like plagues. The Indians strengthened themselves by taking on some of the European ways-they made effective use of domestic animals and the horse, guns, and metalwork. They derived benefits from their role in the European fur trade, as well as a growing dependency on it.

Without the aid of the Indians, the first Europeans might not have survived in the New World. Many of the Indian vegetables, such as maize and potatoes, became important staples of the Anglo-American diet. The Indian ways however were too strikingly different from those of the European colonists-and superficially too primitive-to gain their respect.

The Europeans' demand for land proved insatiable. In establishing their settlements, whether for purposes of extracting wealth or tilling the soil, they deprived the Indians of their hunting territories and forced them into the interior. The attacks and wars the Indians waged against the inward movement of settlers became excuses for efforts to subjugate or eliminate these indigenous peoples of North America.

Information about the early inhabitants of the Americas continues to accumulate. Since what we know of them derives almost entirely from archaeology and anthropology, and because scientific breakthroughs in diagnostic technologies have been dramatic in recent years, it is likely that knowledge of these peoples and their cultures will grow significantly in the next century, despite the destructive effects that modem life has had on ancient sites.

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