American Yawp Chapters 1 & 2

Read and take notes from The American Yawp (online version linked)

  1. The New World
  2. Colliding Cultures

Chapters 1 & 2

Chapter 1: The New World

Europeans called the Americas “The New World.” But for the millions of Native Americans they encountered, it was anything but. Humans have lived here for over ten thousand years. Dynamic and diverse, they spoke hundreds of languages and created thousands of distinct cultures. Native Americans built settled communities and followed seasonal migration patterns, maintained peace through alliances and warred with their neighbors, and developed self-sufficient economies and maintained vast trade networks. Native Americans cultivated distinct art forms and spiritual values. Kinship ties knit their communities together. But the arrival of Europeans and the resulting global exchange of people, animals, plants, and microbes—what scholars benignly call the Columbian Exchange—bridged more than ten thousand years of geographic separation, inaugurated centuries of violence, unleashed the greatest biological terror the world had ever seen, and revolutionized the history of the world. It began one of the most consequential developments in all of human history and the first chapter in the long American Yawp.

Please answer these questions in complete sentences:

  1. Where do most scholars believe that Native Americans came from? How did they get to the Americas?
  2. Compare and contrast Native American peoples that lived in the present-day United States prior to the arrival of Europeans in 1492.
  3. Describe the Aztec, Mayan and Inca Empires. Why might one make the case that they were more advanced than Spain before 1492?
  4. Discuss the motivations for European exploration as well as the political and technological changes in the fifteenth and sixteenth century Portugal and Spain that made exploration possible.
  5. Why did Columbus set sail going west across the Atlantic Ocean in 1492? What did he find on his voyages of exploration and did it match his expectations?
  6. What was the Columbian Exchange? Why was disease transmission as well as the discovery of new plants and animals so essential to Spanish conquest and settlement in the Americas?
  7. How did the Spanish treat the land and labor of Native American tribes that they conquered? What sorts of exploitations and abuses did Bartolome de Las Casas document?
  8. After conquering Native peoples, some Spanish men intermarried with Native women. How did this lead to new racial categories and hierarchies in Spanish colonies?
  9. Which groups of people were at the top, in the middle and on the bottom of the social hierarchy in the Spanish colonies? What did this hierarchy reflect?
  10. What areas of the present-day United States did the Spanish explore and settle in the sixteenth century? What Spanish explorers were involved in this and what were the results?

Yawp Ch 1 Lecture

Yawp 1 SAQ

Europeans called the Americas “The New World.” But for the millions of Native Americans they encountered, it was anything but. Humans have lived here for over ten thousand years. Dynamic and diverse, they spoke hundreds of languages and created thousands of distinct cultures. Native Americans built settled communities and followed seasonal migration patterns, maintained peace through alliances and warred with their neighbors, and developed self-sufficient economies and maintained vast trade networks.

Native Americans cultivated distinct art forms and spiritual values. Kinship ties knit their communities together. But the arrival of Europeans and the resulting global exchange of people, animals, plants, and microbes—what scholars benignly call the Columbian Exchange—bridged more than ten thousand years of geographic separation, inaugurated centuries of violence, unleashed the greatest biological terror the world had ever seen, and revolutionized the history of the world. It began one of the most consequential developments in all of human history and the first chapter in the long American Yawp.

Causation SAQ: 

A. Explain why corn may have been used as a staple crop in Mesoamerica. (causes)

B. Identify and describe a major effect of Mesoamerican societies transitioning from hunting in favor of farming.  (effect)

C. Following the transition to farming, describe the challenges faced by the Puebloan people of Chaco Canyon. 

Yawp Ch 2

Chapter 2: Colliding Cultures


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

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

Questions to be answered in complete sentences as you move through the content of this chapter

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

    Yawp 2 Lecture

    Yawp Ch 2 SAQ

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

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


    SAQ: (Comparison)

    A. Contrast the motives for Spanish colonialism  with the motives of French exploration

    B. Identify and describe a reason why Dutch women were more autonomous than their European contemporaries.

    C. Explain how the Black Legend created a different colonial experience for Dutch settlers compared to Spanish settlers.