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Corn or Maize

Staple crop that formed the economic foundation of Indian civilizations.


First European nation to send explorers around the west coast of Africa.


Animal introduced by Europeans that changed Indian way of life on the Great Plains

Treaty of Tordesillas

Treaty that secured Spanish title to lands in Americas by dividing them with Portugal.


Person of mixed European and Indian ancestry.

St. Augustine

Founded in 1565, it's the oldest continually inhabited European settlement in US territory

Black Legend

Belief that the Spanish only killed, tortured, and stole in the Americas while doing nothing good

Roanoke Island, NC

Colony founded by Sir Walter Raleigh that mysteriously disappeared in the 1580's.


Forerunner of the modern corporation that enabled investors to pool financial capital for colonial ventures.


Royal document granting a specified group the right to form a colony and guaranteeing settlers their rights as English citizens.

Indentured Servants

Penniless people obligated to forced labor for a fixed number of years, often in exchange for passage to the New World.

Act of Toleration

Maryland statute of 1649 that granted religious freedom to all Christians, but not Jews and atheists.


Poor farmers in North Carolina and elsewhere who occupied land and raised crops without gaining legal title to the soil

House of Burgesses

First representative government in New World.

Ferdinand and Isabella

Financiers and beneficiaries of Columbus's voyages of discovery.


Conqueror of the Aztecs.


Conqueror of the Incas.

Dias and DaGama

Portuguese navigators who led early voyages of discovery.


Italian-born explorer who believed he arrived off the coast of Asia rather than on an unknown continent.


Powerful Aztec monarch who fell to Spanish conquerors

Elizabeth I

Unmarried English ruler who led England to national glory.


Legendary founder of the powerful Iroquois Confederation

John Cabot

Italian-born explorer sent by the English to explore the coast of North America in 1498


Founded as a refuge for debtors by philanthropists.

North Carolina

Colony that was called "a vale of humility between two mountains of conceit".

Smith and Rolfe

leaders who rescued Jamestown from the "starving time".


Founded as a haven for Roman Catholics.

Lord Baltimore

Catholic aristocrat who sought to build a sanctuary for his fellow believers.

South Carolina

Colony that turned to disease-resistant African-American slaves for labor in its extensive rice plantations.

Raleigh and Gilbert

Elizabethan courtiers who failed in their attempts to found New World colonies.


Riverbank site where Virginia Company settlers planted the first permanent English colony.

Treaty of Paris (1783)

Treaty Between England and the Colonies, formally ended the American Revolutionary War.

Battle of Yorktown

The last major battle of the war, in which American and French troops bombarded Yorktown and forced Cornwallis to surrender his army.

Battle of Saratoga

The battle which was the turning point of the Revolution; after the colonists won this major victory, the French decided to support the colonies with money, troops, ships, etc.

Thomas Paine

Revolutionary leader who wrote the pamphlet Common Sense (1776) arguing for American independence from Britain. In England he published The Rights of Man.

Olive Branch Petition

On July 8, 1775, the colonies made a final offer of peace to Britain, agreeing to be loyal to the British government if it addressed their grievances (repealed the Coercive Acts, ended the taxation without representation policies). It was rejected by Parliament, which in December 1775 passed the American Prohibitory Act forbidding all further trade with the colonies.

Second Continental Congress

The Continental Congress that convened in May 1775, approved the Declaration of Independence, and served as the only agency of national government during the Revolutionary War.

Lexington and Concord

In 1775, conflicts between Massachusetts Colonists and British soldiers that started the Revolutionary War.

Declaration of Rights and Grievances

Adopted by the First Continental Congress, it promised obedience to the king, but denied parliament's right to tax the colonies.

First Continental Congress

(1774) Against the Intolerable Acts, it was meant to coordinate a protest. 55 delegates sent from 12 of the colonies (excluding Georgia) to write a list of their rights and grievances to the King as a petition. It united the colonies and created a sense of togetherness.

Quebec Act

Law which established Roman-Catholicism as the official religion in Quebec and gave it more freedom. Angered the colonists, who felt that they are threatened and should deserve better.

Coercive Acts

Also known as the Intolerable Acts. Several British laws designed to punish colonists for their role in the Boston Tea Party. The most famous of the acts shut down Boston Harbor until the tea was paid for.

Tea Act

1773 act which eliminated import tariffs on tea entering England and allowed the British East India Company to play monopoly in America tea business. Led to the Boston Tea Party.

Committees of Correspondence

Samuel Adams started the first committee in Boston in 1772 to spread propaganda and secret information by way of letters, which were extremely effective, and a few years later almost every colony had one. This kept the opposition alive.

Boston Massacre

(1770) British soldiers fired into a crowd of colonists who were teasing and taunting them; five colonists were killed. The colonists blamed the British and the Sons of Liberty and used this incident as an excuse to promote the Revolution.

James Otis

A colonial lawyer who defended (usually for free) colonial merchants who were accused of smuggling. Argued against the writs of assistance and the Stamp Act. "No taxation without representation."

Samuel Adams

Founder of the Sons of Liberty, he is one of the most vocal patriots for independence; signed the Declaration of Independence.

John Dickinson

Drafted a declaration of colonial rights and grievances, and also wrote the series of "Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania" in 1767 to protest the Townshend Acts. However, he is against revolution, and refused to sign the Declaration of Independence.

Writs of Assistance

A part of the Townshend Acts that approved the customs officers to search in ships or private homes for smuggles without warranty.

Townshend Acts

Charles Townshend's tax for the Americans on paper, paint, lead, glass, and tea. The colonists protested again as a result; Boston Tea Party engendered.

Declaratory Act

Act passed in 1766 right after the repeal of the Stamp Act; stated that Parliament could legislate for the colonies in all cases.

Sons of Liberty

Secret society formed by Samuel Adams to protest new taxes passed by Parliament. It led the Boston Tea Party and threatened tax collectors; also firm supporters of independence.

No taxation without representation

Otis' claim that states taxes were unjust, insisted only they or their elected representatives had the right to pass taxes, and the parliament had no right to tax them.

Stamp Act

An act passed by the British parliament in 1756 that raised revenue from the American colonies by a duty in the form of a stamp required on all newspapers and legal or commercial documents; raised much protests.

Quartering Act

1765; required colonists to provide food and shelter to British troops stationed in the colonies.

Sugar Act

(1764) British was deeply in debt for the French & Indian War, so the English Parliament placed a tariff on sugar, coffee, wines, and molasses. The Colonists avoided the tax by smuggling and bribing tax collectors.

George Grenville

Appointed by King George III as the Prime Minister, he had the opinion that the colonists should obey the laws and pay a part of the cost of defending and administering the British empire; passed the Sugar and Stamp Acts.

Proclamation of 1763

A proclamation from the British government which forbade British colonists from settling west of the Appalacian Mountains, and which required any settlers already living west of the mountains to move back east.

Pontiac's Rebellion

A 1763 conflict between Native Americans and the British over settlement of Indian lands in the Great Lakes area.

Salutary Neglect

British colonial policy during the reigns of George I and George II which relaxed supervision of internal colonial affairs; planted the seed of American self government.

Peace of Paris (1763)

Ended French and Indian War. The French ceded to Great Britain some of their West Indian islands and most of their colonies in India. Canada, all French territory east of Mississippi to Britain except New Orleans; all land west of Mississippi plus New Orleans to Spain.

Albany Plan of Union

Plan proposed by Benjamin Franklin in 1754 that aimed to unite the 13 colonies for trade, military, and other purposes; the plan was turned down by the colonies and the Crown.

Fort Duquesne

A fort built by the French in Pittsburgh and still stands today; it was involved in the first encounter of the Seven Years War with George Washington.

French and Indian War

War fought between France and England between 1754 and 1763 over territorial claims in North America; the British victory and debts led directly to the later taxes.

John Peter Zenger

Journalist who questioned the policies of the governor of New York in the 1700's. He was jailed; he sued, He was found not guilty. This court case was the basis for the America's freedom of speech and press.

Poor Richard's Almanac

Benjamin Franklin's publish containing many sayings called from thinkers of the ages emphasizing such home spun virtues as thrift industry morality and common sense.

Benjamin Franklin

Printer, author, inventor, diplomat, statesman, and one of the Founding Fathers. One of the few Americans who was highly respected in Europe, primarily due to his discoveries in the field of electricity.

George Whitefield

One of the preachers of the great awakening (key figure of "New Light"); known for his talented voice inflection and ability to bring many a person to their knees.

Johnathan Edwards

An American theologian and congregational clergyman whose sermons stirred the religious revival (Great Awakening); known for sinners in the hands of an angry god sermon.

Great Awakening

Religious revival in the American colonies of the eighteenth century during which a number of new Protestant churches were established.

Middle Passage

The route between the western ports of Africa to the Caribbean and southern U.S. that carried the slave trade.

Triangular Trade

A three way system of trade during 1600-1800s Africa sent slaves to America, America sent raw materials to Europe, and Europe sent guns and rum to Africa.

John Locke

English philosopher who advocated the idea of a "social contract" in which government powers are derived from the consent of the governed and in which the government serves the people; also said people have natural rights to life, liberty and property.

Glorious Revolution

A bloodless conflict in which the Massachusetts people imprisoned the corrupt governor: Sir Edmund Andros.

Dominion of New England

1686, the British government combined the colonies of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Connecticut into a single province headed by a royal governor (Andros); ended in 1692, when the colonists revolted and drove out Governor Andros.

Navigation Acts

Laws that governed trade between England and its colonies. Colonists were required to ship certain products exclusively to England. These acts made colonists very angry because they were forbidden from trading with other countries.


An economic policy under which nations sought to increase their wealth and power by obtaining large amounts of gold and silver and to export more than to import.

James Oglethorpe

Founder and governor of the Georgia colony, which is a tightly-disciplined, military-like colony. Slaves, alcohol, and Catholicism were forbidden in his colony. Many colonists felt that Oglethorpe was a dictator, and that (along with the colonist's dissatisfaction over not being allowed to own slaves) caused the colony to break down and Oglethorpe to lose his position as governor.

Holy Experiment

William Penn's term for the government of Pennsylvania, which was supposed to serve everyone and provide freedom for all.

William Penn

A Quaker that founded Pennsylvania to establish a place where his people and others could live in peace and be free from persecution.


English dissenters who broke from Church of England, preach a doctrine of pacifism, inner divinity, and social equity; under William Penn they founded Pennsylvania. They were loathed by the majority.

Restoration Colonies

King Charles' pay back to his supporters (restorers) with land in America. Include Carolina, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

King Philip's War

1675, a series of battles in New Hampshire between the colonists and the Wompanowogs, led by a chief known as King Philip. The war was started when the Massachusetts government tried to assert court jurisdiction over the local Indians. The colonists won with the help of the Mohawks, and this victory opened up additional Indian lands for expansion.

New England Confederation

Formed in 1643 as a defense against local Native American tribes and encroaching Dutch. The colonists formed the alliance without the English crown's authorization.

Halfway Covenant

A Puritan church policy of 1662, which allowed partial membership rights to persons not yet converted into the Puritan church; It lessened the difference between the "elect" members of the church from the regular members. Women soon made up a larger portion of Puritan congregations.

John Davenport

He was as Puritan clergyman who acquired the patent for a colony in Massachusetts in 1637; cofounder of New Haven.

Fundamental Order of Connecticut

Ordered in 1639, this governmental system was adopted by the Connecticut puritans that included representative assemblies and a popularly-elected governor; referred to as the first written constitution of America.

Thomas Hooker

A Puritan minister who led about 100 settlers out of Massachusetts Bay to Connecticut because he believed that the governor and other officials had too much power. He wanted to set up a colony in Connecticut with strict limits on government.


An interpretation of Puritan beliefs that stressed God's gift of salvation and minimized what an individual could do to gain salvation; identified with Anne Hutchinson.

Anne Hutchinson

Religious radical who attracted a large following in mass. Stated that people can achieve salvation without the church, Convicted of Antinomian heresy. Banished to Rhode Island in 1638.

Roger Williams

English clergyman and colonist who was expelled from Massachusetts for criticizing Puritanism; he founded Providence in 1636 and obtained a royal charter for Rhode Island in 1663.

Headright system

Headrights were parcels of land consisting of about 50 acres which were given to colonists who brought indentured servants into America. They were used by the Virginia Company to attract more colonists.

Indentured servants

People who could not afford passage to the colonies could become indentured servants. Another person would pay their passage, and in exchange, the indentured servant would serve that person for a set length of time (usually seven years) and then would be free.

Bacon's Rebellion

A revolt against powerful colonial authority in Jamestown by Nathaniel Bacon and a group of landless frontier settlers that resulted in the burning of Jamestown in 1676; the people started to find new labor sources afterwards.

William Berkeley

A Governor of Virginia appointed by King Charles I, he was governor from 1641-1652 and 1660-1677. Berkeley enacted friendly policies towards the Indians that led to Bacon's Rebellion in 1676 (hanged 20 rebellions).

Maryland Act of Toleration

1649, ordered by Lord Baltimore after a Protestant was made governor of Maryland at the demand of the colony's large Protestant population. The act guaranteed religious freedom to all Christians.

Types of colonies

Royal colonies were owned by king, ex: Virginia; Proprietary Colonies were owned by individual, ex: Pennsylvania and Maryland; Corporate Colonies owned by group of citizens, ex: Rhode island.

Virginia House of Burgesses

1619, first elected legislative assembly in the New World established in the Colony of Virginia. Served as an early model of elected government in the New World.

Great Puritan Migration

Many Puritans migrated from England to North America during the 1620s to the 1640s due to belief that the Church of England was beyond reform. Ended in 1642 when King Charles I effectively shut off emigration to the colonies with the start of the English Civil War.

City upon a hill

A phrase that is associated with John Winthrop's sermon "A Model of Christian Charity," given in 1630. Winthrop warned the Puritan colonists of New England who were to found the Massachusetts Bay Colony that their new community would be a "city upon a hill," watched by the world.

John Winthrop

The first governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony. Puritan who opposed total democracy, believing the colony was best governed by a small group of leaders. He helped organize the New England Confederation in 1643 and was its first president.

William Bradford

A Pilgrim, the second governor of the Plymouth colony, Between 1621-1657, he developed private land ownership and helped colonists get out of debt. He helped the colony survive droughts, crop failures, and Indian attacks.

Mayflower Compact

This document was drafted in 1620 prior to settlement by the Pilgrims at Plymouth Bay in Massachusetts. It declared that the 41 males who signed it agreed to accept majority rule and participate in a government in the best interest of all members of the colony. This agreement set the precedent for later documents outlining commonwealth rule.

John Rolfe

He was one of the English settlers at Jamestown (and he married Pocahontas). He discovered how to successfully grow tobacco in Virginia and cure it for export, which made Virginia an economically successful colony.

John Smith

Helped finding and governing Jamestown. His leadership and strict discipline helped the Virginia colony get through the difficult first winter.

Father Junipero Sera

1769, led Spanish missionaries (founded at San Diego) the first of a chain of 21missions that wound up the coast of San Fran Bay. He and his friars Christianized 300 thousand Californians. Mission Indians adopted Christianity, but lost culture and lives.

Joint stock company

A company made up of a group of shareholders. Each shareholder contributes some money to the company and receives some share of the company's profits and debts.

Amerigo Vespucci

The Italian sailor who corrected Columbus's mistake, acknowledging the coasts of america as a new world. America is named after him.

Columbian Exchange

The exchange of plants, animals, diseases, and technologies between the Americas and the rest of the world following Columbus's voyages.

Christopher Columbus

Italian navigator who discovered the New World in the service of Spain while looking for a route to China (1451-1506).

Protestant Reformation

Religious reform movement within the Latin Christian Church beginning in 1519. It resulted in the 'protesters' forming several new Christian denominations, including the Lutheran and Reformed Churches and the Church of England.

Astrolabe, compass, quadrant

Navigation tools that helped the era of exploration to boom; resulted in the dicover of the New World.


American civilizations in Peru and Mexico that existed before the European arrival.

George/Cecil Calvert

G. Calvert is also known as Lord Baltimore (and a Catholic), invested in the Virginia Company and eventually got land for his family; helped finding Maryland. Cecil Calvert is his son, the second Lord Baltimore; actually found and ran Maryland.


The Puritans are protestants in England hoping to "purify" the Anglican church of Roman Catholic traces in practice and organization. A group of Puritans that wanted to completely separate from the Church of England are the Separists.

Virginia Company

The pair of joint stock companies in North America with the purpose to settle in the New World; Virginia Company of London and Virginia Company of Plymouth.

Declaration of the Causes and Necessities for Taking Up Arms

A declaration by the representatives of the united colonies of North America, now met in Congress at Philadelphia, setting forth the causes and necessity of their taking up arms. " Our cause is just, our union is perfect"


American colonists who were determined to fight the British until American independence was won.


Americans that feared revolution; supported the British.


Opponents of the 1787 Constitution, they cast the document as antidemocratic, objected to the subordination of the states to the central government, and feared encroachment on individuals' liberties in the absence of a bill of rights.

Articles of Confederation (1781)

First American constitution that established the United States as a loose confederation of states under a weak national Congress, which was not granted the power to regulate commerce or collect taxes. The Articles were replaced by a more efficient Constitution in 1789.

civic virtue

Willingness on the part of citizens to sacrifice personal self-interest for the public good. Deemed a necessary component of a successful republic.

civil law

Body of written law enacted through legislative statutes or constitutional provisions. In countries where civil law prevails, judges must apply the statutes precisely as written.

common law

Laws that originate from court rulings and customs, as opposed to legislative statutes. The United States Constitution grew out of the Anglo-American common law tradition and thus provided only a general organizational framework for the new federal government.


To separate an official state church from its connection with the government. Following the Revolution, all states disestablished the Anglican Church, though some New England states maintained established Congregational Churches well into the nineteenth century.


Proponents of the 1787 Constitution, they favored a strong national government, arguing that the checks and balances in the new Constitution would safeguard the people's liberties.

Great Compromise (1787)

Popular term for the measure which reconciled the New Jersey and Virginia plans at the constitutional convention, giving states proportional representation in the House and equal representation in the Senate. The compromise broke the stalemate at the convention and paved the way for subsequent compromises over slavery and the Electoral College.

Land Ordinance of 1785

Provided for the sale of land in the Old Northwest and earmarked the proceeds toward repaying the national debt.

New Jersey Plan (1787)

"Small-state plan" put forth at the Philadelphia convention, proposing equal representation by state, regardless of population, in a unicameral legislature. Small states feared that the more populous states would dominate the agenda under a proportional system.

Northwest Ordinance (1787)

Created a policy for administering the Northwest Territories. It included a path to statehood and forbade the expansion of slavery into the territories.

Old Northwest

Territories acquired by the federal government from the states, encompassing land northwest of the Ohio River, east of the Mississippi River and south of the Great Lakes. The well-organized management and sale of the land in the territories under the land ordinances of 1785 and 1787 established a precedent for handling future land acquisitions.

Shays's Rebellion (1786)

Armed uprising of western Massachusetts debtors seeking lower taxes and an end to property foreclosures. Though quickly put down, the insurrection inspired fears of "mob rule" among leading Revolutionaries.

Society of the Cincinnati (1783)

Exclusive, hereditary organization of former officers in the Continental Army. Many resented the pretentiousness of the order, viewing it as a vestige of pre-Revolutionary traditions.

The Federalist (1788)

Collection of essays written by John Jay, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton and published during the ratification debate in New York to lay out the Federalists' arguments in favor of the new Constitution. Since their publication, these influential essays have served as an important source for constitutional interpretation.

three-fifths compromise (1787)

Determined that each slave would be counted as three-fifths of a person for the purpose of apportioning taxes and representation. The compromise granted disproportionate political power to Southern slave states.

Virginia Plan

"Large state" proposal for the new constitution, calling for proportional representation in both houses of a bicameral Congress. The plan favored larger states and thus prompted smaller states to come back with their own plan for apportioning representation.

Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1786)

Measure enacted by the Virginia legislature prohibiting state support for religious institutions and recognizing freedom of worship. Served as a model for the religion clause of the first

Thomas Jefferson

Secretary of State under Washington

Alexander Hamilton

Secretary of Treasury under Washington

Henry Knox

Secretary of War under Washington

Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio

Three territories where most of the trans-Appalachian settlers settled.

New York City

Temporary capital of United States

James Madison

Drafted the Bill of Rights

Judiciary Act of 1789

Organized the Supreme Court, federal district and circuit courts, and an attorney general

John Jay

First chief justice of the United States


Federal government takes on state debts and pays them off


Product that was taxed by Hamilton that was so freely traded that it was used for money

Bank of the United States

Government would be a major stockholder of this bank, and it would print paper money for the country. Supported by Hamilton

loose construction

Federalist version of interpreting the Constitution, what the Constitution didn't forbid it permitted

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