BECK index

America to 1744

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Mayans, Toltecs, Aztecs, and Incas

Toltecs and Anasazi
Aztecs to 1519
Incas to 1532

Spanish Conquest 1492-1580

Columbus and the Caribbean
Caribbean and Panama 1500-21
Cortes in Mexico 1519-28
Mexico 1528-80
Central America and Caribbean 1521-80
Cabeza, Coronado, Soto, and Menendez
Pizarros and Peru 1532-80
New Granada 1525-80
Southern South America to 1580
Las Casas on the Spanish Conquest

Brazil and Guiana 1500-1744

Portuguese in Brazil 1500-80
Brazil and the Dutch 1580-1654
Brazil and Vieira 1654-1700
Brazil and Slavery 1700-44
Guiana to 1744

Spanish Colonies and the West Indies 1580-1744

Rio de la Plata 1580-1744
Peru and Chile 1580-1744
New Granada 1580-1744
Central America 1580-1744
Mexico 1580-1744
Northern Mexico 1580-1744
Spanish and French West Indies 1580-1744
British and Dutch West Indies 1580-1744

Northern America to 1642

Hiawatha and the Iroquois League
Cartier and Champlain in Canada 1534-1642
Raleigh and Roanoke 1585-90
Jamestown, Smith and Pocahontas 1607-16
Virginia Company and Colony 1616-42
Maryland and Cecil Calvert 1632-42
New Netherland Company 1614-42
Plymouth Pilgrims and Bradford 1620-43
Massachusetts Puritans and Winthrop 1629-43
Pequot War and
Connecticut 1634-42
Roger Williams and Rhode Island to 1642

English, French, and Dutch Colonies 1643-1664

French and the Iroquois 1642-63
New England Confederation 1643-64
Rhode Island and Williams 1643-64
New Netherland and Stuyvesant 1642-64
Maryland and the Calverts 1642-64
Virginia and Berkeley 1642-64

New France 1663-1744

Canada of Louis XIV and Frontenac 1663-80
Canada and La Salle 1680-88
Canada, Frontenac, and War 1689-1713
Canada Between Wars 1713-44
Louisiana 1699-1750

New England 1664-1744

New England and Metacom's War 1664-77
New England Disunion 1676-91
Salem Witch Trials
Massachusetts 1692-1744
Cotton Mather and John Wise
Rhode Island 1692-1744
Connecticut 1692-1744
Edwards and the Great Revival

New York to Pennsylvania 1664-1744

New York under James 1664-88
New York 1689-1744
New Jersey 1664-1744
Penn and Pennsylvania 1681-88
Pennsylvania and Penn 1688-1701
Pennsylvania Expansion 1702-44

Maryland, Virginia, Carolinas, and Georgia 1663-1744

Maryland and Calverts 1664-1744
Virginia and Bacon's Rebellion 1664-80
Virginia Expansion 1680-1744
Carolina Proprietary Colonies 1663-88
North Carolina 1689-1744
South Carolina 1689-1719
South Carolina and Slavery 1720-44
Georgia and Oglethorpe 1732-44

Franklin's Practical Ethics

Franklin's Autobiography
Silence Dogood and Franklin's Religion
Franklin's Journalism 1729-47
Poor Richard's Almanac 1733-58

Summary and Evaluation of America to 1744

Mayans, Aztecs, and Incas
Spanish Colonies 1492-1744
Brazil 1500-1744
French, Dutch, and English Colonies to 1664
New France and New England 1664-1744
New York to Georgia 1664-1744
Evaluating American Civilization to 1744


Mayans, Toltecs, Aztecs, and Incas
Colonial Latin America to 1744
Northern Colonies to 1744

Chronology of America to 1817
World Chronology



         The origins of civilization in the American continents were much more isolated than those in Africa, Asia, and Europe. Indigenous tribes and nations developed their own traditions that were usually more egalitarian and respectful of women; but the building of cities and the recording of history were limited to a few places, particularly in central America and the Andes mountains. The Mayans were advanced in many ways, but they suffered from wars between their cities until they fell in the ninth century of our era. Quetzalcoatl was a spiritual teacher for the Toltec culture, which flourished in the 12th century. The Mexica (Aztecs) by conquest rose to be a powerful empire in the 15th century that was being threatened with rebellion when Cortes and the Spaniards arrived in 1519. The Incas also became a strong empire in the Andes region; they were known for taking care of all their people so that none would have to turn to crime for survival. They too were weakened by a civil war when Pizarro came in 1532.
         Suddenly in 1492 with the audacious western voyage by Columbus that was financed by Spain the rest of the world began to become aware of a “new world” in the western hemisphere. The ensuing conquest by the rapacious Spaniards in the 16th century is a horrendous story of imperialist violence, arrogance, and exploitation along with some effort by missionaries to help the natives while transforming their culture. These crimes along with epidemics caused by the diseases the Europeans brought resulted in a genocidal reduction of native populations wherever the Spaniards and Portuguese colonized. The tales of Columbus and other explorers in the Caribbean, Cortes in Mexico, and the Pizarros in Peru reveal the cruelty of power and greed. The Europeans used steel, gunpowder, and horses to overwhelm resistance to their conquests, and the Christian religion was imposed by demanding conversion, destroying temples and idols, and enforcing dogma with the Inquisition. Only such great reformers as Las Casas in the Spanish realm and the Portuguese Vieira in Brazil offered alternatives that were more just and peaceful; but they were voices in the wilderness among the greedy colonists. When they found that Africans survived better and worked harder than the Indians as slaves, hundreds of thousands were imported from Africa.
         Successful colonization by the English, French, and Dutch began early in the 17th century, and they came mostly to North America as well as the West Indies. Champlain founded Quebec in 1608 and was able to develop alliances with the Algonquins and Hurons, but they fought the Five Nations the French called the Iroquois, who were gaining power because of their successful confederation. The French came to Canada primarily to trade for furs or as missionaries. In the 1680s La Salle connected Canada to the mouth of the Mississippi River. The French imported few slaves except in the West Indies and Louisiana.
The Dutch settled in the Hudson River valley and purchased the island of Manhattan from the natives for trinkets. The Dutch had many ships for trading and also governed part of Brazil for a while, but the Portuguese defeated them there in 1654. Ten years later the English overwhelmed New Netherland and renamed it New York.
         The English came to Virginia in 1607 to farm and developed the habit-forming tobacco as their main export and currency. They created the first representative Assembly in 1619. In New England religious motives brought Puritans to America as a refuge where they could practice their beliefs. The pilgrims on the Mayflower in 1620 founded the Plymouth colony that made a treaty and celebrated Thanksgiving with the local Indians. Winthrop and the Puritans who founded the Massachusetts Bay colony in 1630 also set up a theocracy, but they created conflict by taking land from the “heathens” and persecuting those with variant religious beliefs. Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson were banished but established Rhode Island as a haven for religious freedom and the separation of church and state. Virginia, New England, and other colonies had conflicts with Indians that led to hostility and wars.
         Pennsylvania was granted to the Quaker leader William Penn in 1681 and became a “holy experiment” in pacifist government as they refused to establish a military. They developed good relations with the local Indians until the notorious “Walking Purchase” grabbed extra land in 1737. The English colonies not only developed legislative assemblies with increasing power but also universities and newspapers. Benjamin Franklin published satires, news, and political commentary; he initiated various efforts to improve conditions. His practical ethics and defense of liberty would eventually lead to a revolution. The plantation economies of the southern colonies and West Indies exploited large numbers of African slaves, except in Georgia, where in 1732 Oglethorpe began another experiment to help the poor while prohibiting the importation of slaves and alcohol.
         These and many more stories are told in the fall of the native empires and the development of the various colonies up to 1744, when another war broke out between England and France. Most of this book is factual description, but the last chapter contains a summary and ethical evaluation. The Chronological Index has page numbers for looking up events, and names can be found by using the Alphabetical Index.

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