quarta-feira, 29 de janeiro de 2014



Pre colonial America
Native Americans in the United States (also Indians, American Indians, First Americans, Indigenous Peoples, Aboriginal Peoples, Aboriginal Americans, Amerindians, Amerinds, or Original Americans) are those indigenous peoples within the territory which is now encompassed by the continental United States, and their descendants in modern times. This collective term encompasses a large number of distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of them still enduring as political communities. A comprehensive tribal list can be found under "Classification of Native Americans."...
Native Americans in the United States (also Indians, American Indians, First Americans, Indigenous Peoples, Aboriginal Peoples, Aboriginal Americans, Amerindians, Amerinds, or Original Americans) are those indigenous peoples within the territory which is now encompassed by the continental United States, and their descendants in modern times. This collective term encompasses a large number of distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of them still enduring as political communities. A comprehensive tribal list can be found under "Classification of Native Americans."
The U.S. states and several of the inhabited insular areas which do not form part of the continental U.S. territory also contain indigenous groups. These other indigenous peoples in the United States are not generally designated as "Native Americans". This includes groups such as the Alaska Natives (Inuit, Yupik, Aleut, etc.), Native Hawaiians (also known as Kanaka Maoli and Kanaka 'Oiwi), and various Pacific Islander peoples such as the Chamorros.
There is some controversy surrounding the names used to describe these peoples. U.S. specific teminology considerations are also covered in the Terminology differences section, below.

Early history

The Bering Strait Land Bridge theory

Based on anthropological and genetic evidence, most scientists believe that most Native Americans descend from people who migrated from Siberia across the Bering Land Bridge between 17,000 and 11,000 years ago, where the Bering Strait is today.
The exact epoch and route is still a matter of controversy.
It should be noted, however, that many Native Americans reject theories of modern anthropology, having their own traditional stories that offer accounts to their origins, which are seen only as folklore by the scientific community.
The primarily Siberian origin is widely regarded as the most likely, consisting of at least three separate migrations from Siberia to the Americas:
·                   The first wave, during the late Pleistocene, would be the forerunners of the Clovis and Folsom cultures, both hunting the abundant large mammals of the virgin continent. This wave eventually spread over the entire hemisphere, as far south as Tierra del Fuego and is believed to have reached the New World no later than 11,000 years ago.
·                   The second migration brought the ancestors of the Na-Dene peoples. They lived in Alaska and western Canada, but some migrated as far south as the Pacific Northwestern U.S. and the American Southwest, and would be ancestral to the Dene, Apaches and Navajos. This group is believed to have reached North America between 6,000 to 8,000 years ago.
·                   The third wave brought the ancestors of the Inuit, Yupik and Aleut peoples. They may have come by sea over the Bering Strait, after the land bridge had disappeared. They are believed to have reached Alaska as early as 3,000 years ago.
In recent years, molecular genetics studies have suggested as many as four distinct migrations from Asia. These studies also provide surprising evidence of smaller-scale, contemporaneous migrations from Europe, possibly by peoples who had adopted a lifestyle resembling that of Inuits and Yupiks during the last ice age.
While many Native American groups retained a nomadic or semi-nomadic lifestyle through the time of European occupation of the New World, in some regions, specifically in the Mississippi River valley of the United States, in Mexico, Central America, the Andes of South America, they built advanced civilizations with monumental architecture and large-scale organization into cities and states.

Settling down

By 1500 B.C. many tribes had settled into small indigenous communities. These began as temporary settlements built by the hunter-gatherers, and over the centuries they grew into small villages, mostly established in the river valleys of North America, where crops could be raised. While exhibiting widely divergent social, cultural, and artistic expressions, all Native American groups worked with materials available to them and employed social arrangements that augmented their means of subsistence and survival. Gradually, these communities became more sophisticated; examples of more complex societies included the tribes of the southern United States from the Atlantic Coast to the Mississippi River. These groups, usually known as the Mississippian Culture, were the most highly developed Indian cultures north of Mexico. They constructed large and complex earthworks, and were particularly skilled at small stone sculptures and engravings on shell and copper.
The large pueblos, or villages, built on top of rocky talleland or mesas of Southwest around A.D. 700, were a complicated aggregate of family apartments. Towns were one large complex of buildings, with multistoried houses arranged around courtyards or plazas. Wooden ladders provided access to upper levels. Under the courtyards, subterranean kivas, or ceremonial structures, served as meeting rooms for religious societies.

European colonization

Initial impacts

The European colonization of the Americas forever changed the lives and cultures of the Native Americans. In the 15th to 19th centuries, their populations were ravaged, by the privations of displacement, by disease, and in many cases by warfare with European groups and enslavement by them. The first Native American group encountered by Christopher Columbus, the 250,000 Island Arawaks more properly called Taino of Haiti Quiskaya, Cubanacan (Cuba) and Boriquen as Puerto Rico were known then, were enslaved. It is said that only 500 survived by the year 1550, and the group was considered extinct before 1650. Yet DNA studies show that the genetic contribution of the Taino to that region continues, and the mitochondrial DNA studies of the Taino are said to show relationships to the Northern Indigenous Nations, such as Inuit (Eskimo) and others.
In the 15th century Spaniards and other Europeans brought horses to the Americas. Some of these animals escaped and began to breed and increase their numbers in the wild. Ironically, the horse had originally evolved in the Americas, but the last American horses, died out at the end of the last ice age. The re-introduction of the horse had a profound impact on Native American culture in the Great Plains of North America. This new mode of travel made it possible for some tribes to greatly expand their territories, exchange goods with neighboring tribes, and more easily capture game.
Europeans also brought diseases against which the Native Americans had no immunity. Chicken pox and measles, though common and rarely fatal among Europeans, often proved fatal to Native Americans, and more dangerous diseases such as smallpox were especially deadly to Native American populations. It is difficult to estimate the total percentage of the Native American population killed by these diseases. Epidemics often immediately followed European exploration, sometimes destroying entire villages. Some historians estimate that up to 80% of some Native populations may have died due to European diseases. For more information, see population history of American indigenous peoples.

Early relations

During the Seven Years' War many Native Americans sided with France although some did fight alongside the British.
During the American War of Independence, the newly proclaimed United States competed with the British for the allegiance of Native American nations east of the Mississippi River. Most Native Americans who joined the struggle sided with the British, hoping to use the war to halt colonial expansion onto American Indian land. Many native communities were divided over which side to support in the war. For the Iroquois Confederacy, the American Revolution resulted in civil war. Cherokees split into a neutral (or pro-American) faction and the anti-American Chickamaugas, led by Dragging Canoe. Many other communities were similarly divided.
Frontier warfare during the American Revolution was particularly brutal, and numerous atrocities were committed on both sides. Noncombatants of both races suffered greatly during the war, and villages and food supplies were frequently destroyed during military expeditions. The largest of these expeditions was the Sullivan Expedition of 1779, which destroyed more than 40 Iroquois villages in order to neutralize Iroquois raids in upstate New York. The expedition failed to have the desired effect: American Indian activity became even more determined.
Native Americans were stunned to learn that when the British made peace with the Americans in the Treaty of Paris (1783), the British had ceded a vast amount of American Indian territory to the United States without even informing their Indian allies. The United States initially treated the American Indians who had fought with the British as a conquered people who had lost their land. When this proved impossible to enforce (the Indians had lost the war on paper, not on the battlefield), the policy was abandoned. The United States was eager to expand, and the national government initially sought to do so only by purchasing Native American land in treaties. The states and settlers were frequently at odds with this policy.

Removal and reservations

In the 19th century, the incessant Westward expansion of the United States incrementally compelled large numbers of Native Americans to resettle further west, sometimes by force, almost always reluctantly. Under President Andrew Jackson, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which authorized the President to conduct treaties to exchange Indian land east of the Mississippi River for lands west of the river. As many as 100,000 American Indians eventually relocated in the West as a result of this Indian Removal policy. In theory, relocation was supposed to be voluntary (and many Indians did remain in the East), but in practice great pressure was put on American Indian leaders to sign removal treaties. Arguably the most egregious violation of the stated intention of the removal policy was the Treaty of New Echota, which was signed by a dissident faction of Cherokees, but not the elected leadership. The treaty was brutally enforced by President Martin Van Buren, which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 4,000 Cherokees (mostly from disease) on the Trail of Tears.
Conflicts generally known as "Indian Wars" broke out between U.S. forces and many different tribes. Authorities entered numerous treaties during this period, but later abrogated many for various reasons. Well-known military engagements include the atypical Native American victory at the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876, and the massacre of Native Americans at Wounded Knee in 1890. On January 31, 1876 the United States government ordered all remaining Native Americans to move into reservations or reserves. This, together with the near-extinction of the American Bison which many tribes had lived on, set about the downturn of Prairie Culture that had developed around the use of the horse for hunting, travel and trading.
American policy toward Native Americans has been an evolving process. In the late nineteenth century reformers in efforts to "civilize" Indians adapted the practice of educating native children in Indian Boarding Schools. These schools, which were primarily run by Christians, proved traumatic to Indian children, who were forbidden to speak their native languages, taught Christianity instead of their native religions and in numerous other ways forced to abandon their Indian identity and adopt European-American culture. There are also many documented cases of sexual, physical and mental abuses occurring at these schools.

Current status

There are 563 Federally recognized tribal governments in the United States. The United States recognizes the right of these tribes to self-government and supports their tribal sovereignty and self-determination. These tribes possess the right to form their own government; to enforce laws, both civil and criminal; to tax; to establish membership; to license and regulate activities; to zone; and to exclude persons from tribal territories. Limitations on tribal powers of self-government include the same limitations applicable to states; for example, neither tribes nor states have the power to make war, engage in foreign relations, or coin money.
In addition, there are a number of tribes that are recognized by individual states, but not by the federal government. The rights and benefits associated with state recognition vary from state to state.
Military defeat, cultural pressure, confinement on reservations, forced cultural assimilation, outlawing of native languages and culture, termination policies of the 1950s, and 1960s, and slavery have had deleterious effects on Native Americans' mental and physical health. Contemporary health problems include poverty, alcoholism, heart disease, diabetes, and New World Syndrome.
As recently as the 1970s, the Bureau of Indian Affairs was still actively pursuing a policy of "assimilation", the goal of which was to eliminate the reservations and steer Indians into mainstream U.S. culture. As of 2004, there are still claims of theft of Indian land for the coal and uranium it contains.
In the state of Virginia, Native Americans face a unique problem. Virginia has no federally recognized tribes, largely due to the work of one man, Walter Ashby Plecker. In 1912, Plecker became the first registrar of the state's Bureau of Vital Statistics, serving until 1946. An avowed white supremacist and fervent advocate of eugenics, Plecker believed that the state's Native Americans had been "mongrelized" with its African American population. A law passed by the state's General Assembly recognized only two races, "white" and "colored". Plecker pressured local governments into reclassifying all Native Americans in the state as "colored", leading to massive destruction of records on the state's Native American community.
Even after his death, Plecker still haunts the state's Native American community. In order to receive federal recognition and the benefits it confers, tribes must prove their continuous existence since 1900. Plecker's policies have made it impossible for Virginia tribes to do so. The federal government, while aware of Plecker's destruction of records, has so far refused to bend on this bureaucratic requirement. A bill currently before U.S. Congress to ease this requirement has been favorably reported out of a key Senate committee, but faces strong opposition in the House from a Virginia member concerned that federal recognition could open the door to gambling in the state.
In the early 21st century, Native American communities remain an enduring fixture on the United States landscape, in the American economy, and in the lives of Native Americans. Communities have consistently formed governments that administer services like firefighting, natural resource management, and law enforcement. Most Native American communities have established court systems to adjudicate matters related to local ordinances, and most also look to various forms of moral and social authority vested in traditional affiliations within the community. To address the housing needs of Native Americans, Congress passed the Native American Housing and Self Determination Act (NAHASDA) in 1996. This legislation replaced public housing, and other 1937 Housing Act programs directed towards Indian Housing Authorities, with a block grant program directed towards Tribes.
Gambling has become a leading industry. Casinos operated by many Native American governments in the United States are creating a stream of gambling revenue that some communities are beginning to use as leverage to build diversified economies. Native American communities have waged and prevailed in legal battles to assure recognition of rights to self-determination and to use of natural resources. Some of those rights, known as treaty rights are enumerated in early treaties signed with the young United States government. Tribal sovereignty has become a cornerstone of American jurisprudence, and at least on the surface, in national legislative policies. Although many Native American tribes have casinos, they are a source of conflict. Most tribes, especially small ones such as the Winnemem Wintu of Redding, California, feel that casinos and their proceeds destroy culture from the inside out. These tribes refuse to participate in the gaming industry.
Many of the smaller eastern tribes have been trying to gain official recognition of their tribal status. The recognition confers some benefits, including the right to label arts and crafts as Native American and they can apply for grants that are specifically reserved for Native Americans. But gaining recognition as a tribe is extremely difficult because of a Catch-22 in the process. To be established as a tribal groups, members have to submit extensive genealogical proof of tribal descent, yet in past years many Native Americans denied their Native American heritage, because it would have deprived them of many rights, such as the right of probate. The Waccamaw tribe and the Pee Dee tribe of South Carolina were granted official recognition February 17, 2005. Two other tribal applications were denied for lack of documentation.
According to 2003 United States Census Bureau estimates, a little over one third of the 2,786,652 Native Americans in the United States live in three states: California at 413,382, Arizona at 294,137 and Oklahoma at 279,559 .
As of 2000, the largest tribes in the U.S. by population were Cherokee, Navajo, Choctaw, Sioux, Chippewa, Apache, Blackfeet, Iroquois, and Pueblo. In 2000 eight of ten Americans with Native American ancestry were of mixed blood. It is estimated that by 2100 that figure will rise to nine of ten.
The Massachusetts legislature repealed a 330-year-old law that barred Native Americans from entering Boston on the 19th of May 2005.

Cultural aspects

Though cultural features, including language, garb, and customs vary enormously from one tribe to another, there are certain elements which are encountered frequently and shared by many tribes.
Early nomadic hunters forged stone weapons from around 10,000 years ago; as the age of metallurgy dawned, newer technologies were used and more efficient weapons produced. Prior to contact with Europeans, most tribes used similar weaponry. The most common implement were the bow and arrow, the war club, and the spear. Quality, material, and design varied widely.
Large mammals such as the mammoth were largely extinct by around 8,000 B.C., and the Native Americans were hunting their descendants, such as bison or buffalo. The Great Plains tribes were still hunting the buffalo when they first encountered the Europeans. The acquisition of the horse and horsemanship from the Spanish in the 17th century greatly altered the natives' culture, changing the way in which these large creatures were hunted and making them a central feature of their lives.


The Iroquois tribes, living around the Great Lakes and extending east and north, used strings or belts called wampum that served a dual function: the knots and beaded designs mnemonically chronicled tribal stories and legends, and further served as a medium of exchange and a unit of measure. The keepers of the articles were seen as tribal dignitaries.
Pueblo tribes crafted impressive items associated with their religious ceremonies. Kachina dancers wore elaborately painted and decorated masks as they ritually impersonated various ancestral spirits. Sculpture was not highly developed, but carved stone and wood fetishes were made for religious use. Superior weaving, embroided decorations, and rich dyes characterized the textile arts. Both turquoise and shell jewelry were created, as were high-quality pottery and formalized pictorial arts.
Navajo religion focused on the maintenance of a harmonious relationship with the spirit world, often achieved by ceremonial acts, usually incorporating sand paintings. The colors—made from sand, charcoal, cornmeal, and pollen—depicted specific spirits. These vivid, intricate, and colorful sand creations were erased at the end of the ceromony.


The most widespread religion at the present time is known as the Native American Church. It is a syncretistic church incorporating elements of native spiritual practice from a number of different tribes as well as symbolic elements from Christianity. Its main rite is the peyote ceremony. The church has had significant success in combatting many of the ills brought by colonization, such as alcoholism and crime. In the American Southwest, especially New Mexico, a syncretism between the Catholicism brought by Spanish missionaries and the native religion is common; the religious drums, chants, and dances of the Pueblo people are regularly part of Masses at Santa Fe's Saint Francis Cathedral.

Gender roles

Most Native American tribes had traditional gender roles. In some tribes, social and clan relationships were matrilinear and matriarchal but several different systems were in use. Men filled the war leader role. The cradle board is used by mothers to carry their baby whilst working or traveling.
As in many indigenous cultures around the world, homosexual and transgender individuals (and animals) are considered routine and expected. Many Native American tribes formally recognize these homosexual and transgender individuals in the role of the "two-spirit" person (previously labeled by Europeans as "berdache", a term now considered obsolete). Two-spirit transgender and homosexual roles are known to have been recognized and honored, at the present time or historically, in more than 150 different tribes.
The two-spirit is a man or woman who mixes gender roles by wearing clothes of the opposite or both genders, doing both male and female (or primarily "opposite-gender") work, and often engaging in same-sex relations with other members of the tribe. Two-spirit people often are shamans, performing religious and/or mediating functions. Their special status is thought to invest them with exceptional spiritual power, as a result of which they are both feared and respected.

Music and art

Native American music is almost entirely monophonic, but there are notable exceptions. Traditional Native American music often includes drumming and/or the playing of rattles or other percussion instruments but little other instrumentation. Flutes and whistles made of wood, cane, or bone are also played, generally by individuals, but in former times also by large ensembles (as noted by Spanish conquistador de Soto). The tuning of these flutes is not precise and depends on the length of the wood used and the hand span of the intended player, but the finger holes are most often around a whole step apart and, at least in Northern California, a flute was not used if it turned out to have an interval close to a half step.
Performers with Native American parentage have occasionally appeared in American popular music, most notably Shania Twain (ethnically European, but raised by a First Nations adoptive father), Buffy Sainte-Marie, Robbie Robertson, Rita Coolidge, Wayne Newton, and Redbone (band). Some, such as John Trudell have used music to comment on life in Native America, and others, such as R. Carlos Nakai integrate traditional sounds with modern sounds in instrumental recordings. A variety of small and medium-sized recording companies offer an abundance of recent music by Native American performers young and old, ranging from pow-wow drum music to hard-driving rock-and-roll and rap.
The most widely practiced public musical form among Native Americans in the United States is that of the pow-wow. At pow-wows, such as the annual Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, New Mexico, members of drum groups sit in a circle around a large drum. Drum groups play in unison while they sing in a native language and dancers in colorful regalia dance clockwise around the drum groups in the center. Familiar pow-wow songs include honor songs, intertribal songs, crow-hops, sneak-up songs, grass-dances, two-steps, welcome songs, going-home songs, and war songs. Most indigenous communities in the United States also maintain traditional songs and ceremonies, some of which are shared and practiced exclusively within the community. For further information, see A Cry from the Earth: Music of North American Indians by John Bierhorst (ISBN 094127053X).
Native American art comprises a major category in the world art collection. Native American contributions include pottery, paintings, jewelry, weavings, sculptures, basketry, and carvings.
Artists have at times misrepresented themselves as having native parentage, most notably Johnny Cash, who traced his heritage to Scottish ancestors and admitted he fabricated a story that he was one-quarter Cherokee. The integrity of certain Native American artworks is now protected by an act of Congress that prohibits representation of art as Native American when it is not the product of an enrolled Native American artist.


Survival in the environments in which they lived defined the work of the native groups. The Inuit, or Eskimo, prepared and buried stocks of dried meat and fish. Pacific Northwest tribes crafted seafaring dugouts 40-50 feet long for fishing. Farmers in the Eastern Woodlands tended fields of maize with hoes and digging sticks, while their neighbors in the Southeast grew tobacco as well as food crops. On the Plains, some tribes engaged in agriculture but also planned buffalo hunts in which herds were efficiently driven over bluffs. Dwellers of the Southwest deserts hunted small animals and gathered acorns to grind into a flour with which they baked wafer-thin bread on top of heated stones. Some groups on the region's mesas developed irrigation techniques, and filled storehouses with grain as protection against the area's frequent droughts.
As these native peoples encountered European explorers and settlers and engaged in trade, they exchanged food, crafts, and furs for trinkets, blankets, iron, and steel implements, horses, firearms, and intoxicating liquids.

Terminology differences

When Christopher Columbus arrived in the "New World", he described the people he encountered as Indians because he mistakenly believed that he had reached the islands known to Europeans as the Indies. Despite Columbus's mistake, the name Indian (or American Indian) stuck, and for centuries the native people of the Americas were collectively called Indians in America, and similar terms in Europe. The problem with this traditional term is that the peoples of India are, of course, also known as Indians.

Common usage in the U.S.

The term Native American was originally introduced in the United States by anthropologists as a more accurate term for the indigenous people of the Americas, as distinguished from the people of India. Because of the widespread acceptance of this newer term in and outside of academic circles, some people mistakenly believe that Indians was outdated or offensive. People from India (and their descendants) who are citizens of the United States are known as Indian Americans.
However, some American Indians have misgivings about the term Native American. Russell Means, a famous American Indian activist, opposes the term Native American because he believes it was imposed by the government without the consent of American Indians. Furthermore, some American Indians question the term Native American because, they argue, it serves to ease the conscience of "white America" with regard to past injustices done to American Indians by effectively eliminating "Indians" from the present.Still others (both Indians and non-Indians) argue that Native American is problematic because "native of" literally means "born in," so any person born in the Americas could be considered "native". However, very often the compound "Native American" will be capitalized in order to differentiate this intended meaning from others. Likewise, "native" (small 'n') can be further qualified by formulations such as "native-born" when the intended meaning is only to indicate place of birth or origin. However, neither of these two senses invalidates the other, so long as the intended sense is made clear by the context.
A 1996 survey revealed that more American Indians in the United States still preferred American Indian to Native American. Nonetheless, most American Indians are comfortable with Indian, American Indian, and Native American, and the terms are now used interchangeably.The continued usage of the traditional term is reflected in the name chosen for the National Museum of the American Indian, which opened in 2004 in Washington, D.C.

Colonial America – 1497-1776
Starting in the late 16th century, the English began to colonize North America. The first attempts, notably the Colony of Jamestown, resulted in failure, but successful colonies were soon established. The colonists who came to the New World were by no means a homogeneous band, but rather a variety of different social and religious groups which settled in different locations on the seaboard. The Quakers of Pennsylvania, the Puritans of New England, the gold-hungry settlers of Jamestown, and the convicts of Georgia each came to the new continent for vastly different reasons, and they created colonies with very different social, religious, political, and economic structures...

Starting in the late 16th century, the English began to colonize North America. The first attempts, notably the Colony of Jamestown, resulted in failure, but successful colonies were soon established. The colonists who came to the New World were by no means a homogeneous band, but rather a variety of different social and religious groups which settled in different locations on the seaboard. The Quakers of Pennsylvania, the Puritans of New England, the gold-hungry settlers of Jamestown, and the convicts of Georgia each came to the new continent for vastly different reasons, and they created colonies with very different social, religious, political, and economic structures.
To summarize the areas of development in colonial America, historians typically recognize four regions in the lands that later became the eastern United States. Listed from north to south, they are: New England, the Middle Colonies, the Chesapeake Bay Colonies and the Southern Colonies. Some historians add a fifth region, the frontier, which had certain unifying features no matter what sort of colony it sprang from. By the late 18th century, these different colonies found themselves more closely united than ever before, at odds with the British government on issues of taxation and representation.

Motives for exploration and colonization


During the 15th and 16th centuries, Europe emerged from the Middle Ages and entered the Renaissance, a development that encouraged exploration and colonization in many ways. Excuse me, but what is the European Renossance? Thanks a lot Bye! A revival in classical learning sparked an interest in geography and an intellectual curiosity about the world that had subsided during the Middle Ages. At the same time, the intellectual growth of the Renaissance led to the development of seafaring technologies needed to make long voyages across open water.
As the "New Monarchs" began to forge nations, they acquired the degree of centralized wealth and power necessary to begin systematic attempts at exploration. Also, as the economy of Europe began to revive, it became clear that the first nation to find a direct trade route to the "Indies" would benefit immensely. It was in this atmosphere that Christopher Columbus left Spain on his famous westward voyage. He sought for Asia, but the lands he came upon were found to belong to an entirely different landmass. Spain and Portugal quickly mounted an effort of colonization and conquest. Within a few years, they had divided up lucrative South and Central America.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, a new generation of colonial powers arose: Britain, France, and the Netherlands. The lands that now make up the eastern United States presented themselves as an attractive place for these new powers to establish colonies. Though these northerly lands were relatively close to Europe, Spain and Portugal had taken little interest in them, so as far as the Europeans were concerned, they were still free for the taking.


England made its first successful efforts at the start of the 17th century for several reasons. During this era, English proto-nationalism and national assertiveness blossomed under the threat of Spanish invasion, assisted by a degree of Protestant militarism and adoration of Queen Elizabeth. At this time, however, there was no official attempt by the English government to create a colonial empire. Rather, the motivation behind the founding of colonies was piecemeal and variable. Practical considerations such as commercial enterprise, over-population and the desire for religious freedom played their respective parts.

Early colonial failure

The English made a number of failed ventures in the closing decades of the sixteenth century. One of the more nearly successful of these was the Lost Colony, established in 1586 on the outer banks of modern day North Carolina, then part of Virginia, with the finances of Sir Walter Raleigh. A resupply ship, the second to be sent and after being delayed for several years by circumstances in England, found only a deserted settlement and the mysterious word "Croatoan" carved on a tree. Though previous attempts to colonize the area had involved conflict with neighboring tribes, no evidence of a struggle was found. John White (surveyor), Colonial Governor, grandfather of Virginia Dare and leader of the resupply party, was unable to search the nearby Croatoan Island due to a hurricane, and so returned to England.

The Chesapeake

The first truly successful English colony was established in 1607, in a region called Virginia (named in honor of Queen Elizabeth I, the "Virgin Queen"). It lay on an island in the James River, near its Chesapeake Bay estuary. Jamestown - named after the recently enthroned James I - very nearly became the next in the string of failed colonies.
The venture was financed and coordinated by a joint stock company - the London Virginia Company. The company hoped to follow in the footsteps of the Spanish conquistadores by finding gold. With that in mind, the company sent jewelers, goldsmiths, aristocrats, and the like - but not a single farmer. The colonists behaved as the company had expected them to. Hoping to obtain all of their food by trading with the nearby Powhatan tribes, they spent their time searching for gold. This meant that their settlement was highly socially unstable as well as unprofitable, since individual colonists felt little attachment to their community but instead were seeking individual wealth. A lack of social bonds in the community was further exacerbated by the fact that all the initial colonists, and most of the additional colonists, were male. Without wives or children to protect, the colonists had little incentive to protect their settlement or work towards its long-term growth.
Archaeological findings have indicated that the entire region was, at the time, struck by the most severe drought in centuries. American Indians were not very willing to give away their corn, and the colonists, without a harvest, named the winter the Starving Times. Only a third of the colonists survived the first winter. In fact, source documents indicate that some turned to cannibalism. However, the colony survived, in large part due to the efforts of an enigmatic figure named John Smith. Smith made himself the benevolent, if uncompromising, autocrat of the colony. His motto was "No work, no food," and his strict martial attitude was enough to bring the independent-minded settlers into line. He put the colonists to work, and befriended Pocahontas, daughter of Chief Powhatan, who was able to supply the colony with more food.
John Smith had saved the colony, but it had yet to turn a profit. Gold was nowhere to be found. Finally, in 1612, John Rolfe hit upon the cultivation of tobacco as a cash crop. The new product earned fabulously high profits in the first year, and substantially lower but still extraordinary ones in the second year. This state of economic affairs did not last, but tobacco continued to be the mainstay of the region's economy for two centuries. Tobacco cultivation is labor-intensive. To provide this labor, the colonists first relied on white indentured servants, but starting in 1619 tapped into the slave trade, which was already bringing large numbers of Africans to the sugar-producing islands of the Caribbean. 1619 also marked the year in which the first females arrived in Jamestown.
The Virginia Colony was strongly informed by the cultivation of tobacco and the ownership of slaves. Plantation agriculture came early to this region. At first, plantation owners employed white indentured servants, who would sign on as laborers for a period of time. However, there were few other choices available for a poor laborer, so most indentured servants renewed their contracts for as long as they could. This led to the creation of the plantation owners' greatest fear: a permanent class of poor, unhappy, and armed laborers. After their fears were realized with Bacon's Rebellion, a class revolt led by the gentryman Nathaniel Bacon that succeeded in burning Jamestown to the ground, plantation owners sought a less rebellious form of labor - African slaves.
As cash crop producers, these plantations were heavily dependent on trade. Without the ability to construct roads, and with irrigation needs, the planters were confined to the banks of rivers. However, because rivers and creeks were abundant, this allowed the plantations to spread out. Thus, individual workers on the plantation fields were usually without family and separated from their nearest neighbors by miles. This meant that little social infrastructure developed for the commoners of Virginia society, in contrast with the highly developed social infrastructure of colonial New England.
Another cause of social decentralization in the Chesapeake region was that Virginia society was predominantly secular. The lucrative tobacco business attracted unmarried men eager to make a living - not the sort of audience that is usually receptive to the call of religion. It did not attract many ministers, and even if it had, they would have had a difficult time building their congregations out of the far-flung tobacco planters. Thus, unlike in Puritan New England, there were few churches to serve as social and religious centers.
The colonial assembly that had governed the colony since its establishment was dissolved, but reinstated in 1630. It shared power with a royally appointed governor. On a more local level, governmental power was invested in county courts, also not elected.

New England

The next successful English colonial venture was of an entirely different sort than the Chesapeake settlements. It was founded by two separate groups of religious dissenters. Both demanded greater church reform and elimination of Catholic elements remaining in the Church of England. But whereas the Pilgrims sought to leave the Church of England, the Puritans wanted to reform it by setting an example of a holy community through the society they were to build in the New World.

The Pilgrims

The first and smaller of these two groups, called the Pilgrims, originated from a small Protestant congregation in Scrooby Manor, England, whose members sailed in 1605 for the Netherlands. At this time the Netherlands were gaining a reputation as a safe haven for those facing persecution. The emigrants grew dissatisfied with the heavy Dutch influence on their children and with poor economic conditions. They also experienced some persecution, motivated by the Dutch government's alliance with James I. As a result, some of them joined a larger group of Separatists who had remained in England, and sailed for the New World, taking the name Pilgrims.
Finally these men and women, sailed to America on the Mayflower, intending to arrive in the northern parts of what was known as Virginia - somewhere in the area of today's New York. Blown off course, they came instead to what is now Massachusetts, and landed on the west side of Lower Cape Cod. Before disembarking, they drew up the Mayflower Compact, by which they gave themselves broad powers of self-governance. They later relocated to Plymouth Colony on the mainland, establishing that settlement on December 21, 1620. (The first settlement there is the site of present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Like the settlers at Jamestown, the Pilgrims had a difficult first winter, having had no time to plant crops. Most of the settlers died of starvation, including the leader, John Carver. William Bradford (1590-1657) was chosen to replace him in the spring of 1621. Later that year, the colonists enlisted the aid of Squanto and Samoset, two American Indians who had learned to speak some English. That fall brought a bountiful harvest, and the first Thanksgiving was held.

The Puritans

A second group of colonists established the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1629. This group was the Puritans, who sought to reform the Anglican Church by creating a new, pure church in the New World. This expedition consisted of 400 Puritans organized by the Massachusetts Bay Company. Within two years, an additional 2,000 had arrived in America in waves of emigration known as the "Great Migration." In the New World the Puritans created a deeply religious, socially tight-knit and politically innovative culture that still lingers on in the modern United States.
Although it is a common myth in modern American society that the Puritans came to America seeking religious freedom, perhaps a more accurate term would be "religious domination." They hoped that America would be a "redeemer nation" (see exceptionalism). Though they fled from religious repression in England, they did not seek to establish toleration in America. The Puritan social ideal was that of the "nation of saints" or the "City upon a Hill," an intensely religious, thoroughly righteous community that would serve as an example for all of Europe and stimulate mass conversion to Puritanism. For example, Roger Williams came to Massachusetts preaching religious toleration, separation of Church and State, and complete break with the Anglican Church and was banished from the colony for his "crimes." He left and founded Rhode Island Colony, which was soon to become a haven for other religious refugees from the Puritan community. Another important example is Anne Hutchinson (1595 - 1643), an intelligent and charismatic woman who preached Antinomianism, her conviction that everyone's interpretation of the word of God was equally correct. Like Roger Williams she believed in religious toleration and freedom of thought. She, too, was exiled to Rhode Island.
As with its religious nature, the political structure of the Puritan colonies is often misunderstood. Officials were elected by the community, but only white males who were members of a Congregationalist church could vote. From a modern American standpoint, Puritan society was by no means a democracy. Officials had no responsibility to "the people"--their function was to serve God by best overseeing the moral and physical improvement of the community. However, it was not a theocracy either--Congregationalist ministers had no special powers in the government. On the other hand, by contemporary European standards, it was quite politically liberal--arguably more so than that of any European power of the day. Thus, in the political structure of Puritan society could be seen both the democratic form and the emphasis on civic virtue that was to characterize post-Revolutionary American society.
Socially, the Puritan society was tightly knit. No one was allowed to live alone for fear that their temptation would lead to the moral corruption of all of Puritan society. Because marriage generally took place within the geographic location of the family, within several generations many "towns" were more like clans, composed of several large, intermarried families. The strength of Puritan society was reflected through its institutions--specifically, its churches, town halls, and militias. All members of the Puritan community were expected to be active in all three of these organizations, ensuring the moral, political, and military safety of their community. Although some characterize the strength of Puritan society as repressively communal, others point to it as the basis of the later American values of civic virtues and education, essential foundations for the development of democracy.
Economically, Puritan New England fulfilled the expectations of its founders. Unlike the cash-crop oriented Chesapeake region, the Puritan economy was based on the efforts of individual farmers, who harvested enough crops to feed themselves and their families and to trade for goods they could not produce themselves. There was a generally higher economic standing and standard of living in New England than in the Chesapeake. On the other hand, town leaders in New England could literally rent out the town's impoverished families for a year to anyone who could afford to board them, as a form of alms and as a form of cheap labor. Along with farming growth, New England became an important mercantile and shipbuilding center, often serving as the hub for trading between the South and Europe.

The Middle Colonies

For details on each specific colony, see Delaware Colony, Province of New Jersey, Province of New York, and Province of Pennsylvania.
The Middle Colonies, consisting of the present-day states of New York, Pennsylvania, the three counties of Delaware, and Maryland were characterized by a large degree of diversity - religious, political, economic, and ethnic. Many Dutch and Irish immigrants settled in these areas (also moving into Long Island and Connecticut); the Pennsylvania Dutch would stand out as a unique ethnic group.

The South

For details on each specific colony, see Province of Georgia, Province of Maryland, Province of North Carolina, Province of South Carolina, and Virginia Colony.
The Southern Colonies are Georgia, the two Carolinas and Virginia, with the sometime inclusion of Maryland (always a borderland), which is sometimes grouped with the Middle Colonies.

The Carolinas

The first attempted settlement of the South by England was the Province of Carolina. A group of English Lords Proprietors, hoping that a new colony in the south would become profitable like that of Jamestown, obtained a royal charter to the Carolinas in 1663, but not settled until 1670. Their venture was initially a failure for the simple reason that there was no incentive for emigration to the south. However, eventually the lords combined their remaining capital and financed a settlement mission to the area led by John West. The expedition located fertile and defensible ground at what was to become Charleston (originally Charles Town for Charles II of England), thus beginning the British colonization of the southern mainland. The original settlers in South Carolina established a lucrative trade in provisions, deerskins and Indian captives with the Caribbean islands. The cultivation of rice was introduced during the 1690s. North Carolina remained a frontier backwater through the early colonial period.
At first, South Carolinas was politically divided. Its ethnic makeup included the original settlers, a group of rich, slave-owning British settlers from the island of Barbados, and a French-speaking community. Nearly continuous frontier warfare during the era of King William's War and Queen Anne's War drove economic and political wedges between merchants and planters. The disaster of the Yamasee War in 1715 set off a decade of political turmoil. By 1729, the proprietary government had collapsed, and the Proprietors sold both colonies back to the crown.


James Oglethorpe is often viewed as the founder of Georgia Colony. An 18th century British Member of Parliament, he laid the groundwork for the colonization of the state. At that time, tension between Spain and England was high, and there was a fear among the English that Spanish Florida was threatening the British Carolinas. Georgia was a key contested area, lying in between the two colonies. It was standard practice at the time to imprison debtors, but Oglethorpe decided to send them to a colony instead. This would both rid England of its undesirable elements and provide her with a base from which to attack Florida. The first colonists arrived in 1733.
Georgia was established on strict moralistic principles. Slavery was forbidden, as was alcohol and other forms of supposed immorality. However, the reality of the colony was far from ideal. The colonists were unhappy about the puritanical lifestyle, and complained that their colony could not compete economically with the Carolina rice plantations. Georgia initially failed to prosper, but once the restrictions were lifted it became as prosperous as the Carolinas.

Unification of the British colonies

Although each of the British colonies was strikingly different from the others, throughout the 17th and 18th centuries several events and trends took place that brought them together in various ways and to various degrees. Some of these sprung from their common roots as part of the British Empire - others served to distance them from Britain and led to the American Revolution.
In 1754, these trends were manifested in the Albany Congress, where Benjamin Franklin proposed that the colonies be united by a Grand Council overseeing a common policy for defense, expansion, and Indian affairs. While the plan was thwarted by colonial legislatures and King George II, it was an early indication that the British colonies of North America were headed towards unification.

The Great Awakening

One event that began to unify the religious background of the colonies was the Great Awakening, a Protestant revival movement that took place in the 1730s and 1740s. It began with Jonathan Edwards, a Massachusetts preacher who sought to return to the Pilgrims' strict Calvinist roots and to reawaken the fear of God. "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" is perhaps his most famous sermon. Edwards was a powerful speaker and attracted a large following. The English preacher George Whitefield continued the movement, traveling across the colonies and preaching in a dramatic and emotional style, accepting Christians as his audience.
Those attracted to his message and that of the itinerant preachers who sprang up across the colonies called themselves the "New Lights," and those who did not were called the "Old Lights." One manifestation of the conflict between the two sides was the establishment of a number of universities, now counted among the Ivy League, including Kings College (now Columbia University) and Princeton University. The Great Awakening was perhaps the first truly "American" event, and as such represented at least a small step towards the unification of the colonies.
The Great Awakening may also be interpreted as the last major expression of the religious ideals on which the New England colonies were founded. Religiosity had been declining for decades, in part due to the negative publicity resulting from the Salem witch trials. After the Great Awakening, it subsided again, although later American history abounds with revival movements (most notably the Second Great Awakening). The forces driving the colonies' history for the next eighty years would be overwhelmingly secular, although America would remain (and many parts of the nation remain to this day) a deeply religious nation.

The French and Indian War

The French and Indian War (1754-1763) was the American extension of the general European conflict known as the Seven Years' War. It began, however, two years before any fighting broke out in Europe, and lasted for nine years. The war in the European theater was motivated primarily by Austria's desire to reclaim land lost to Prussia in the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748). (That earlier conflict also spilled over into the colonies, where it was known as King George's War, in reference to George III of the United Kingdom.)
The war is called the French and Indian because the Iroquois confederacy, which had been playing the British and the French against each other successfully for decades, saw that Britain was getting the upper hand and threw itself decisively into the French camp. The move did not succeed, and the French were defeated anyway. In the Treaty of Paris (1763), France surrendered its vast North American empire to Britain.
The French and Indian war took on a new significance for the North American colonists in Britain when William Pitt the elder decided that it was necessary to win the war against France at all costs. For the first time North America was one of the main theatres of what could be termed a "world war". During the war the thirteen colonies's identity as part of the British Empire was made truly apparent, as British military and civilian officials took on an increased presence in the lives of Americans. The war also increased a sense of American unity in other ways. It caused men, who might normally have never left their colonies, to travel across the continent, fighting alongside men from decidedly different, yet still "American," backgrounds. Throughout the course of the war British officers trained American ones (most notably George Washington) for battle, which would later benefit the Revolution to come. Also, state legislatures and officials had to cooperate intensively for what was arguably the same time, participating a continent-wide military effort.
The British and colonists triumphed jointly over a common foe. The colonies' loyalty to the mother country was stronger than ever before. However, the seeds of trans-Atlantic disunity had been sown. The British Prime Minister of the time (William Pitt the elder) decided to wage the war in the colonies with the use of troops from the colonies and tax funds from Britain itself. This was a successful wartime strategy, but after the war was over, each side believed that it had borne a greater burden than the other. The British populace, the most heavily taxed of any in Europe, pointed out angrily that the colonies paid little to the royal coffers. The colonists replied that their sons had fought and died in a war that served European interests more than their own. The British answered that the colonists' poor discipline made them inferior soldiers anyway. This dispute was to set off the chain of events that brought about the American Revolution.

Ties to the British Empire

Although the colonies were very different from one another, they were still a part of the British empire in more than just name.
Socially, the colonial elite of Boston, New York, Charleston, and Philadelphia saw its identity as British. Although many had never been to England, they imitated British styles of dress, dance, and etiquette. This social upper crust built its mansions in the Georgian style, copied the furniture designs of Thomas Chippendale, and participated in the intellectual currents of Europe, such as the Enlightenment. To many of their inhabitants, the seaport cities of colonial America were truly British cities.
Many of the political structures of the colonies drew upon various English political traditions, most notably the Commonwealthmen and the Whig traditions (see also colonial government in America). Many Americans at the time saw the colonies' systems of governance as modeled after the British constitution of the time - with the king corresponding to the governor, the House of Commons to the colonial assembly, and the House of Lords to the Governor's council. The codes of law of the colonies were often drawn directly from British law; British common law survives even in the modern United States. Eventually, it was a dispute over the meaning of some of these political ideals, especially political representation, that led to the American Revolution.
Another point on which the colonies found themselves more similar than different was the booming import British goods. The British economy had begun to grow rapidly at the end of the seventeenth century, and by the mid-eighteenth century, small factories in Britain were producing much more than the island nation could consume. Finding a market for their goods in the British colonies of North America, Britain increased her exports to that region by 360% between 1740 and 1770. Because British merchants offered generous credit to their customers, Americans began buying staggering amounts of English goods. From New England to Georgia, all British subjects bought similar products, creating and Anglicanizing a sort of common identity.

From unity to revolution

The Royal Proclamation

The general sentiment of inequity that arose soon after the Treaty of Paris was solidified by the Royal Proclamation of 1763. This was a prohibition against settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains, on land which had been recently captured from France. In issuing this decree, the government was no doubt influenced by disgruntled taxpayers (see "The French and Indian War," above) who did not wish to bankroll the subjugation of the native people of the area to make room for colonists. In fact, there was still land available east of the mountains; for instance, the valley of the Mohawk River in western New York would not be fully settled until decades later.
The colonists resented the measure. To many Americans, it seemed unnecessary and draconian, an unproductive piece of legislation mandated by a far-away government that cared little for their needs. The latter was a reasonable assertion, since none of the MP's were elected by colonists. Parliament had generally been preoccupied with affairs in Europe, and let the colonies govern themselves. It was no longer willing to do so. A series of measures resulting from this policy change would continue to arouse opposition in the colonies over the next thirteen years.
·                   Sugar Act
·                   Stamp Act 1765
·                   Quartering Act
·                   Declaratory Act
·                   Townshend Revenue Act
·                   Tea Act
·                   The Intolerable Acts, also called Coercive or Punitive
o                 Quartering Act
o                 Quebec Act
o                 Massachusetts Government Act
o                 Administration of Justice Act
o                 Boston Port Act
·                   Prohibitory Act 


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