Treaty of Tordesillas
• Queen Isabella of Castile and King Jon II of Portugal signed the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494, dividing all future discoveries in the New World between their respective nations. This treaty soon proved unworkable because of the flood of expeditions to the New World and the proliferation of different countries' claims to its territory.
• John Cabot explored the northeast coast of North America in 1497 and 1498, claiming Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and the Grand Banks for England.
• A French sailor who explored the St. Lawrence River region between 1543 and 1542, Cartier searched for a northwest passage, a waterway through which ships could cross the Americas to Asia. He found no such passage, but opened the region up to exploration and colonization by the French.
Samuel de Champlain
• Samuel de Champlain, a Frenchman, explored the Great Lakes and established the first French colony in North America at Quebec in 1608.
• Columbus sailed to the New World under the Spanish flag in 1492. Although not the first European to reach the Americas, he is credited with the journey across the Atlantic that finally opened the New World to exploration. In 1493, he established Santo Domingo on the island of Hispanola as a base for further exploration.
• Conquistador is a general term for any one of a group of Spanish explorers in the New World who sought to conquer the native people, establish dominance over their lands, and prosper from their natural resources, including gold. The Conquistadors established a large Hispanic empire stretching from Mexico to Chile and wreaked havoc among native populations.
• Hernando Cortes was a Spanish conquistador who went to the West Indies in 1504. In 1519, Cortes established Veracruz, the first Spanish colony in Mexico. By 1521, he had conquered the Aztec empire using horses, gunpowder, and steel weapons.
Sir Francis Drake
• From 1577 to 1580, Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the globe. Drake was a privateer, or a captain who could loot other ships. He was sent by England's Queen Elizabeth I to raid Spanish ships and settlements for gold. Drake helped defend England against the Spanish. As a result, the Spaniards called him El Draque, or "the Dragon"
• Leif Ericson is the alleged leader of a group of Icelandic people who sailed to the eastern coast of Canada and unsuccessfully attempted to colonize the area around the year 1000, nearly 500 years before Columbus arrived in the Americas
• An English explorer sponsored by the Dutch East India Company, Hudson sailed up the river that now bears his name in 1609, nearly reaching present-day Albany. His explorations gave the Dutch territorial claims to the Hudson Bay region.
Vasco de Gama
• Vasco de Gama was a Portugese explorer who was the first European to sail from Europe to India. He led four ships that sailed around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa, opening a trade route that is still used today.
Juan Ponce de Leon
• Juan Ponce de Leon was a Spanish explorer who was trying to find a Fountain of Youth. Instead, he landed in Florida.
• Magellan was a Portuguese explorer who wanted to find a sea route to the Spice Islands by sailing west around the American continent. In 1520, he led five ships across the Atlantic Ocean and south around South America through a narrow passage. This passage, which links the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean, is now called the Strait of Magellan. Magellan died during the trip, but his crew was the first to circumnavigate the world and prove that the world was round.
Sir Walter Raleigh
• Sir Walter Raleigh was an English explorer who established England's first American colony in 1585. This settlement was off the coast of North Carolina, on Roanoke Island.
• The first English settlement in the New World was on the island of Roanoke, off the coast of North Carolina, established in 1587. Virginia Dare, the first English child born in America was born on Roanoke Island. The settlement failed, and no one knows what became of the people who first settled there.
French and Indian War
The French and Indian War in North America (1754-1763) mirrored the Seven Years War in Europe (1756-1763). English colonists and soldiers fought the French and their Native American allies for dominance in North America. England's eventual victory brought England control of much disputed territory and eliminated the French as a threat to English dominance in the Americas.
• Mercantilism was a theory of trade stressing that a nation's economic strength depended on exporting more than it imported. British mercantilism manifested itself in triangular trade and in laws passed between the mid-1600s and the mid-1700s, such as the Navigation Acts (1651-1673), aimed at fostering British economic dominance.
• Passed under the mercantilist system, the Navigation Acts (1651-1673) regulated trade in order to benefit the British economy. The acts restricted trade between England and its colonies to English or colonial ships, required certain colonial goods to pass through England before export, provided subsidies for the production of certain raw goods in the colonies, and banned colonial competition in large-scale manufacturing.
• The Mayflower was the ship that carried the Pilgrims across the Atlantic from the Netherlands to Plymouth Plantation in 1620 (the Pilgrims had fled England to the Netherlands before heading to the New World).
• The Mayflower Compact is often cited as the first example of self-government in the Americas. The Pilgrims, having arrived at a harbor far north of the land that was rightfully theirs, signed the Mayflower Compact to establish a "civil body politic" under the sovereignty of James I.
• The Puritans were a Protestant group aiming to purify the Anglican Church. In the early 1600s, the Puritans suffered religious persecution in England and emigrated to the Americas. The first group of Puritans established the Massachusetts Bay Colony in Boston. From Boston, Puritan influence in North America spread throughout the region of New England and with it came a focus on family life and a pious restraint of passion.
• John Rolfe was an English settler in Jamestown. He married the daughter of the chief of the Native American Powhatan tribe, Pocahontas, and introduced the Jamestown colonists to West Indian tobacco in 1616. Tobacco soon became the lifeblood Jamestown colony, bringing in much revenue and many immigrants eager for a share in the colony's expanding wealth.
Salem Witch Trials
• In 1692, several girls in Salem, Massachusetts, accused their neighbors of witchcraft. More than 100 people were tried as witches, and 19 women and one man were executed. Puritan minister Cotton Mather eventually helped stop the trials and executions.
• Throughout the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, the English government did not enforce those trade laws that most harmed the colonial economy. The purpose of salutary neglect was to ensure the loyalty of the colonists in the face of the French territorial and commercial threat in North America. The English ceased practicing salutary neglect following British victory in the French and Indian War.
• John Smith effectively saved Jamestown when the colony was on the verge of collapse in 1608, its first year of existence. Smith's initiatives to improve sanitation and hygiene and to organize work gangs to gather food and build shelters dramatically lowered mortality rates among Jamestown colonists.
• The Separatists were English Protestants who would not accept allegiance in any form to the Church of England. One Separatist group, the Pilgrims, founded Plymouth Plantation and went on to found other settlements in Rhode Island and elsewhere in New England. Other notable separatist groups included the Quakers and Baptists.
New England Confederation
• New England colonists formed the New England Confederation in 1643 as a defense against local Native American tribes and encroaching Dutch. The colonists formed the alliance without the English crown's authorization.
• Penn, an English Quaker, founded Pennsylvania in 1682, after receiving a charter from King Charles II the year before. He launched the colony as a "holy experiment" based on religious tolerance.
First Great Awakening
• The First Great Awakening was a time of religious fervor during the 1730s and 1740s. The movement arose in reaction to the rise of skepticism and the waning of religious faith brought about by the Enlightenment. Protestant ministers held revivals throughout the English colonies in America, stressing the need for individuals to repent and urging a personal understanding of truth.
• The Pilgrims were a group of English Separatists who had originally sought refuge in the Netherlands. In 1620, they sailed to Plymouth in the Mayflower and established the colony of Plymouth Plantation.
• In 1676, Nathaniel Bacon, a Virginia planter, led a group of 300 settlers in a war against the local Native Americans. When Virginia's royal governor questioned Bacon's actions, Bacon and his men looted and burned Jamestown. Bacon's Rebellion manifested the increasing hostility between the poor and wealthy in the Chesapeake region.
• As governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, Winthrop (1588-1649) was instrumental in forming the colony's government and shaping its legislative policy. He envisioned the colony, centered in present-day Boston, as a "city upon a hill" from which Puritans would spread religious righteousness throughout the world.
• Triangular trade routes under the mercantilist system linked England, its colonies in North America, the West Indies, and Africa. At each port, ships were unloaded of goods from another port along the trade route, and then reloaded with goods particular to that site. New England rum was shipped to Africa and traded for slaves, who were brought to the West Indies and traded for sugar and molasses, which went back to New England.
Treaty of Paris (1763)
• The 1763 Treaty of Paris ended the Seven Years War in Europe and the parallel French and Indian War in North America. Under the treaty, Britain won all of Canada and almost all of the modern United States east of the Mississippi.
• A dissenter, Roger Williams clashed with Massachusetts Puritans over the issue of separation of church and state. After being banished from Massachusetts in 1636, he traveled south, where he founded the colony of Rhode Island, which granted full religious freedom to its inhabitants.
• Set up by the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Congregationalism was a church system in which each local church served as the center of its own community. This structure stood in contrast to the Church of England, in which the single state church held sway over all local churches.
House of Burgesses
• The House of Burgesses, established in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619, is considered to be the first representative government in the New World. It consisted of 22 representatives from 11 districts of colonists.
• Anne Hutchinson was a dissenter in the Massachusetts Bay Colony who caused a schism in the Puritan community. Eventually, Hutchinson's faction lost out in a power struggle for the governorship. She was expelled from the colony in 1673 and traveled southward with a number of her followers, establishing the settlement of Portsmouth, Rhode Island.
• Indentured servants were usually white adult males who bound themselves to labor in the colonies for a fixed number of years in order to secure their freedom. Some immigrants came to the colonies willingly, while others were criminals, and still others were kidnapped or manipulated into coming in order to remedy the severe labor shortage in the colonies.
Joint Stock Companies
• By 1600, the English crown and parliament were hesitant to spend money on colonization, having exhausted much time and money in the battle against the Spanish for position in North America. In the absence of government funding, joint-stock companies formed to accrue funding for colonization
Boston Tea Party
• Boston patriots organized the Boston Tea Party to protest the 1773 Tea Act. In December 1773, Samuel Adams warned Boston residents of the consequences of the Tea Act. Following the meeting, approximately 50 young men dressed as Mohawk Indians boarded British ships and dumped the cargo into Boston Harbor.
• In March 1770, a crowd of colonists protested against British customs agents and the presence of British troops in Boston. Violence flared and five colonists were killed.
Bill Of Rights
• Although the Anti-Federalists failed to block the ratification of the Constitution, they did ensure that the Bill of Rights would be created to protect individuals from government interference and possible tyranny. The Bill of Rights, drafted by a group led by James Madison, consisted of the first ten amendments to the Constitution, which guaranteed the civil rights of American citizens.
Battles of Lexington and Concord
• The battles of Lexington and Concord initiated the Revolutionary War between the American colonists and the British. British governor Thomas Gage sent troops to Concord to stop the colonists who were loading arms. The next day, on April 19, 1775, the first shots were fired in Lexington, starting the war. The battles resulted in a British retreat to Boston.
• Paine published his pamphlet Common Sense in January 1776, exhorting Americans to rise in opposition to the British government and establish a new government based on Enlightenment ideals. Historians have cited the publication of this pamphlet as the event that finally sparked the Revolutionary War. Paine also published rational criticisms of religion, most famously in The Age of Reason (1794-1807)
• The 1787 Northwest Ordinance defined the process by which new states could be admitted into the Union from the Northwest Territory. He ordinance forbade slavery in the territory but allowed citizens to vote on the legality of slavery once statehood had been established. The Northwest Ordinance was the most lasting measure of the national government under the Articles of Confederation.
New Jersey Plan
• The New Jersey Plan was presented at the Constitutional Convention as an alternative to the Virginia Plan. The New Jersey Plan favored small states in that it proposed a unicameral Congress with equal representation for each state.
• "Minutemen" was the nickname given to local militiamen who fought against the British during the Revolutionary War. They were called minutemen because of their supposed ability to be ready for battle at a minute's notice.
Mason and Dixon Line
• The Mason and Dixon Line was created in the 1760s to set the boundary between the colonial charters of William Penn and Lord Baltimore. The Mason and Dixon line, which is named after Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, the line's surveyors, is at the present-day boundary between Pennsylvania and West Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. The Mason and Dixon line was perceived as a divider between free and slave states before the Civil War.
• During the Revolutionary War, Benjamin Franklin served as an ambassador to France. Franklin was the oldest delegate to the Constitutional Convention and his advice proved crucial in the drafting of the Constitution. Franklin has often been held up as the paradigm of Enlightenment throughout in Colonial America because of his contributions to the fields of science and philosophy.
• The 1765 Stamp Act required colonial Americans to buy special watermarked paper for newspapers and all legal documents. Violators faced juryless trials in vice-admiralty courts, as under the 1764 Sugar Act. The Stamp Act provoked the first organized response to British impositions.
Siege of Yorktown
• In 1781, French and American forces encircled and trapped British General Cornwallis's army, forcing surrender of 8,000 troops.
Second Continental Congress
• Convened in May 1775, the Congress opposed the drastic move toward complete independence from Britain. In an effort to reach a reconciliation, the Congress offered peace under the conditions that there be a cease-fire in Boston, that the Coercive Acts be repealed, and that negotiations begin immediately. King George III rejected the petition.
• The Revolutionary War lasted from the Declaration of Independence in 1776 until the Treaty of Paris in 1783. The American colonists defeated the British and won independence.
• Heavily influenced by the Enlightenment, rationalists criticized most traditional religion as irrational and thus unfounded. Proponents of rationalism held that religious beliefs should not simply be accepted but should instead be acquired through investigation and reflection.
• The Quartering Act required colonists to provide room and board to British troops. British troops could be quartered anywhere, even homes.
• After the French and Indian War, colonists began moving westward and settling on Indian land. This migration led to Pontiac's Rebellion in 1763, when a large number of Indian tribes banded together under the Ottawa chief Pontiac to keep the colonists from taking over their land. Pontiac's Rebellion led to Britain's Proclamation of 1763, which stated that colonists could not settle west of the Appalachian Mountains.
• Led by Alexander Hamilton, the Federalists believed in a strong central government. They were staunch supporters of the Constitution during ratification and were a political force during the early years of the United States. The Federalist influence declined after the election of Republican Thomas Jefferson to the presidency and disappeared completely after the Hartford Convention.
The Federalist Papers
• A series of newspaper articles written by John Jay, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton, the Federalist Papers enumerated the arguments in favor of the Constitution and refuted the arguments of the Anti-Federalists.
• Benjamin Franklin submitted the Albany Plan at 1754 gathering of colonial delegates in Albany, New York. The plan called for the colonies to unify in the face of French and Native American threats. The delegates approved the plan, but the colonies rejected it for fear of losing too much power. The Crown did not support the plan either, as it was wary of too much cooperation between the colonies.
• A prominent statesman, Thomas Jefferson became George Washington's first secretary of state. Along with James Madison, Jefferson took up the cause of strict constructionists and the Republican Party, advocating limited federal government. As the nation's third president from 1801 to 1809, Jefferson organized the national government by Republican ideals, doubled the size of the nation, and struggled to maintain American neutrality
• Intolerable Acts, passed in 1774, were the combination of the four Coercive Acts, meant to punish the colonists after the 1773, Boston Tea Party and the unrelated Quebec Act. The Intolerable Acts were seen by American colonists as a blueprint for a British plan to deny the Americans representative government. They were the impetus for the convening of the First Continental Congress.
• Hamilton emerged as a major political figure during the debate over the Constitution, as the outspoken leader of the Federalists and one of the authors of the Federalist Papers. Later, as secretary of treasury under Washington, Alexander Hamilton spearheaded the government's Federalist initiatives, most notably through the creation of the Bank of the United States.
• Influenced by the spirit of rationalism, Desists believed that God, like a celestial clockmaker, had created a perfect universe and then had stepped back to let it operate according to natural laws.
• Passed in 1766 just after the repeal of the Stamp Act, the Declaratory Act stated that Parliament could legislate for the colonies in all cases. Most colonists interpreted the act as a face-saving mechanism and nothing more. Parliament, however, continually interpreted the act in its broadest sense in order to legislate in and control the colonies.
Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence was approved by Congress on July 4, 1776. drafted by Thomas Jefferson, it formalized the colonies' separation from Britain and laid out the Enlightenment values (best expressed by John Locke) of natural rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" upon which the American Revolution was based.
In response to the Annapolis Convention's suggestion, Congress called for the states to send delegates to Philadelphia to amend the Articles of Confederation. Delegates came to the convention in May 1787, and drafted an entirely new framework that would give greater powers to the central government. This document became the Constitution.
The Constitution outlines the operation and central principles of American government. As opposed to the Articles of Confederation, which it replaced, the Constitution created a strong central government with which broad judicial, legislative, and executive powers, though it purposely restricted the extent of these powers through a system of checks and balances. Written at the Constitutional Convention, the Constitution was ratified by the states in 1789.
First Continental Congress
The First Continental Congress convened on September 5, 1774, to protest the Intolerable Acts. The congress endorsed the Suffolk Resolves, voted for a boycott of British imports, and sent a petition to King George III, conceding to Parliament the power of regulation of commerce but stringently objecting to its arbitrary taxation and unfair judicial system.
Also known as the Age of Reason, the Enlightenment was an intellectual movement that spread through Europe and America in the eighteenth century. Followers championed the principles of rationalism and logic in all areas of thought - religious, political, social, and economic. Their skepticism toward beliefs that could not be proved by science or clear logic naturally led to Deism.
• Article I, Section VIII, of the Constitution states that Congress shall have the power "to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution... powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States." This clause, known as the "elastic clause," was a point of contention between those who favored a loose reading of the Constitution and those who favored a strict reading.
Articles of Confederation
Adopted in 1777 during the Revolutionary War, the Articles established the United States of America. The Articles granted limited powers to the central government, reserving most powers for the states. The result was a poorly defined national state that couldn't govern the country's finances or maintain stability. The Constitution replaced them in 1789.
• Anti-Federalists rose up as the opponents of the Constitution during the period of ratification. They opposed the Constitution's powerful centralized government, arguing that the Constitution gave too much political, economic, and military control. They instead advocated a decentralized governmental structure that granted most power to the states.
• Originally planning to discuss the promotion of interstate commerce, delegates from five states met at Annapolis in September 1786 and ended up suggesting a convention to amend the Articles of Confederation.
• Strict constructionists favored a strict reading of the Constitution, especially for the elastic clause, in order to limit the powers of the central government. Led by Thomas Jefferson, strict constructionists comprised the ideological core of the Republican Party.
Stamp Act Congress
• Angered over the Stamp Act, representatives of nine colonial assemblies met in New York City at the Stamp Act Congress in October 1765. The colonies agreed widely on the principles that Parliament could not tax anyone outside of Great Britain and could not deny anyone of a fair trial, both of which had been dictates of the Stamp Act. The meeting marked a new level of colonial political organization.
• Ending weeks of stalemate, the Connecticut Compromise reconciled the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan for determining legislative representation in Congress. The Connecticut Compromise established equal representation for all states in the Senate and proportional representation by population in the House of Representatives.
• Thomas Paine published the pamphlet Common Sense in 1776, in which argued that the colonists should free themselves from British rule and establish an independent government based on Enlightenment ideals - one that would protect man's natural rights. Common Sense became so popular that many historians credit it with dissolving the final barriers to the fight for independence.
Committees of Correspondene
• Committees of Correspondence, organized by patriot leader Samuel Adams, was a system of communication between patriot leaders in New England and throughout the colonies. They provided the organization necessary to unite the colonies in opposition to Parliament. The committees sent delegates to the First Continental Congress.
Checks and Balances
• The Constitution set forth a government composed of three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. Each branch was given certain powers over the others to ensure that no one branch gained a dangerous amount of power.
• The Whigs were originally colonists supporting independence. In the mid 1830s, the Whig Party opposed Jackson's strong-armed leadership style and policies. The Whigs promoted protective tariffs, federal funding for internal improvements, and other measures that strengthened the central government. Reaching its height of popularity in the 1830s, the Whigs disappeared from the national political scene by the 1850s.
• Prime minister George Grenville invoked the concept of virtual representation to explain why Parliament could legally tax the colonists even though the colonists could not elect any members of Parliament. The theory of virtual representation held that the members of Parliament did not only represent their specific geographic constituencies but also took into consideration the well-being of all British subjects when deliberating on legislation.
• In response to the 1765 Stamp Act, Patrick Henry persuaded the Virginia House of Burgesses to adopt several strongly worded resolutions that denied Parliament's right to tax the colonies. Known as the Virginia Resolves, these resolutions persuaded many other colonial legislatures to adopt similar positions.
• The Virginia Plan was presented to the Constitutional Convention and proposed the creation of a bicameral legislature with representation in both houses proportional to population. The Virginia Plan favored the large states, which would have a much greater voice. In opposition, the small states proposed the New Jersey Plan. In the end, the two sides found common ground through the Connecticut Compromise.
• Samuel Adams played a key role in the defense of colonial rights. He had been a leader of the Sons of Liberty and suggested the formation of the Committees of Correspondence. Adams was crucial in spreading the principle of colonial rights throughout New England and is credited with provoking the Boston Tea Party.
Treaty of San Lorenzo
• Signed with Spain in 1795, the Treaty of San Lorenzo - also known as Pinckney's Treaty - gave the U.S. unrestricted access to the Mississippi River and established the border between the U.S. and Spanish Florida.
Letters from a Pennsylvania Farmer
• This series of twelve letters published by John Dickinson denounced the Townshend Duties by demonstrating that many of the arguments employed against the Stamp Act were valid against the Townshend Duties as well. The letters inspired anti-British sentiment throughout the colonies.
King George III
• King George III, the king of England from 1760 to 1820, exercised a greater hand in the government of the American colonies than had many of his predecessors. Colonists were torn between loyalty to the king and resistance to acts carried out in his name. After King George III rejected the Olive Branch Petition, the colonists came to see him as a tyrant.
• During the framing of the Constitution, Southern delegates argued that slaves should count toward representative seats, while the delegates of Northern states argued that to count slaves as members of the population would grant an unfair advantage to the Southern states in Congress. The result of this debate was the adoption of the three-fifths clause, which allowed three-fifths of all slaves to be counted as people.
• The 1773 Tea Act eliminated import tariffs on tea entering England and allowed the British East India Company to sell directly to consumers rather than through merchants. This act effectively created a monopoly for the East India Company, which had been in financial difficulties. This, along with the Tea Act's reinforcement of the long-resented tax on tea, outraged many colonists and prompted the Boston Tea Party.
• The Sugar Act (1764) lowered the duty on foreign-produced molasses as an attempt to discourage colonial smuggling. The act further stipulated that Americans could export many commodities - including lumber, iron, skins, and whalebone - to foreign countries only if the goods passed through British ports first. The terms of the act and its methods of enforcement outraged many colonists.
• The First Continental Congress endorsed Massachusetts's Suffolk Resolves, which declared that the colonies need not obey the 1773 Coercive Acts, since they infringed upon basic liberties.
• Popularly referred to as the Townshend Duties, the Revenue Act of 1767 taxed glass, lead, paper, paint, and tea entering the colonies. The colonists objected to the fact that the act was clearly designed to raise revenue exclusively for England rather than to regulate trade in a manner favorable to the entire British empire.
• The Tories were colonists who disagreed with the move for independence and did not support the Revolution.
Treaty Of Grenville
• After their defeat at the Battle of the Fallen Timbers in 1794, 12 Native American tribes signed the Treaty of Grenville, which cleared the Ohio territory of tribes and opened it up to U.S. settlement
Writs of Assistance
• Legalized by Parliament during the French and Indian War writs of assistance were general search warrants that allowed British customs officers to search any colonial building or ship that they believed might contain smuggled goods, even without probable cause for suspicion. The colonists considered the writs to be a grave infringement upon their personal liberties
Treaty of Paris (1783)
• While there have been many Treaties of Paris throughout history. The most important in American History is the treaty signed in September 1783 and ratified by Congress in January 1784, which ended the Revolutionary War and granted the United States its independence. It further granted the U.S. all land east of the Mississippi River. While generally accepted, the Treaty of Paris opened the door to future legislative and economic disputes.
lizabeth Cady Stanton
• A prominent advocate of women's rights, Stanton organized the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention with Lucretia Mott
• In 1819, Representative Tallmadge proposed an amendment to the bill for Missouri's admission to the Union, which the House passed but the Senate blocked. The amendment would have prohibited the further introduction of slaves into Missouri and would have mandated the emancipation of slaves' offspring born after the state was admitted. In 1821, Congress reached a compromise for Missouri's admission known as the Missouri Compromise.