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American History 1--HIST 2111 (OER): Chapter 2: Colliding Cultures

American Yawp Chapter Summary

The Columbian Exchange transformed both sides of the Atlantic, but with dramatically disparate outcomes. New diseases wiped out entire civilizations in the Americas, while newly imported nutrient-rich foodstuffs enabled a European population boom. Spain benefited most immediately as the wealth of the Aztec and Incan Empires strengthened the Spanish monarchy. Spain used its new riches to gain an advantage over other European nations, but this advantage was soon contested.

Portugal, France, the Netherlands, and England all raced to the New World, eager to match the gains of the Spanish. Native peoples greeted the new visitors with responses ranging from welcoming cooperation to aggressive violence, but the ravages of disease and the possibility of new trading relationships enabled Europeans to create settlements all along the western rim of the Atlantic world. New empires would emerge from these tenuous beginnings, and by the end of the seventeenth century, Spain would lose its privileged position to its rivals. An age of colonization had begun and, with it, a great collision of cultures commenced. Read more from Chapter 2 of the American Yawp.

Things to Consider

Questions to be thinking about as you move through the content of this chapter

  1. How did Spanish settlement in Florida, New Mexico and California play out in the sixteenth century? What were the role of Catholic missionaries in this settlement? What were relations between the Spanish and Natives like in this period? What was the “Black Legend”?
  2. Describe France’s strategy in settling New France. What was the role of the fur trade in New France? What were French relations with Native Americans like? What was the role of Catholic missionaries in New France?
  3. What sort of colony was New Netherlands? What was its place in the Dutch colonial trading Empire? What were relations between the Dutch settlers in New Netherlands and the Native Americans like? How did the Dutch contribute to importation of African slaves into North America and the beginning of slavery as an institution in the Americas?
  4. How did the small country of Portugal gain possession of Brazil? How did Brazil become profitable? What was the role of slavery in Brazil?
  5. England did not have any colonies in the Americas during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (r. 1558-1603). However, what developments during Elizabeth’s reign within England as well as those involving England’s relations with colonial powers such as Spain set the stage for the establishment of English colonies?
  6. Why did the English settle in Jamestown in 1607? Who came to Jamestown and what did they expect to find in the New World? What were living conditions like and life in general for English settlers in Jamestown during the first ten years?
  7. How did tobacco change the economy of Virginia in the 1620s and 1630s? What sort of labor force did wealth tobacco farmers in Virginia utilize?
  8. Describe relations between the English settlers in Virginia and the the Powhatan people. How did English settlement change life for the Natives of the Chesapeake?
  9. What were the religious beliefs of the Puritans? Why would some Puritans seek to leave England for the New World? What sort of utopia did they hope to create in the New World?
  10. How did the Puritan “Great Migration” of the 1630s and 1640s lead to the settling of New England? What were the living conditions like in New England? What sort of economy and class structure characterized early New England?

Learning Objectives and Assessment

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Students will demonstrate their ability to read, analyze, and comprehend college level written texts.

  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of diversity among cultures.

  • Students will be able to recognize differing perspectives and points of view.

Course Objectives

  • Students will be able to explain the causes & consequences of exploration & colonization including issues of trade, cultural diversity, & the origins of the American Revolution.

  • Students will be able to understand the diversity of the Native American cultures prior to the arrival of the Europeans.

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