Notes: Give Me Liberty! An American History: Chapter 1
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Give Me Liberty! Chapter 1: A New World
Book Notes: Chapter 1: A New World
- New Book has been changed significantly
- Ppl are either really for history or against it. Point of book is to prove how HIST is imp to us. It’s also aimed at undergrad’s with little or no knowledge of AM history
- History is what the present chooses to remember about the past.
- There’s a unifying theme about our history, and the fight for freedom.
- Freedom, however, is not a fixed, timeless category w/ a single unchanging definition. The history of the US is the struggle and disagreements over freedom
- It’s been a reality and a mythic ideal
- This book draws attention to three dimensions of freedom
- The Meanings of Freedom
- The Social Conditions that make freedom possible, and
- The Boundaries of freedom that determine who is entitled to enjoy freedom and who is not
- One person’s freedom has frequently been linked to another’s servitude
Civil Right’s movement = called the “freedom movement” Each Chapter begins with a specific historical moment or incident that illuminates some of the major themes that follow. Each contains two brief documentary excerpts called “Voices of Freedom”
- What were the major patterns of Native AM life in N-AM before Europeans arrived?
- How did Indian and Euro ideas of freedom differ on the eve on contact?
- What impelled Euro explorers to look west across the Atlantic?
- What happened when the ppl’s of the AM’s came in contact with Europeans?
- What were the chief features of the Spanish empire in AM?
- What were the chief features of the FR and Dutch empires in N AM?
A New World
- Discovery of AM was one of “the two greatest and most imp events recorded in the history of mankind”. Historians no longer use the word “discovery” to describe it though
- Major pop. decline in New World b/c of new settlers
- 10 million went to New World, 7.7 million were AF slaves
- World offered opportunity for Euros. Some were met (golden cities), land acquisition was most possible/common reason.
- The first inhabitants of AM got there around 15-60,000 yrs ago, then the glaciers melted and the link btwn all continents was under water.
- Maize (corn) was popular in Western hemisphere. Absence of livestock made it harder to farm, though.
- The Western hemisphere contained cities, roads, irrigation systems, extensive trade networks, and large structures such as pyramid temples
- Indian societies of Americas
- Tenochtitlan, capital of Aztec empire, pop around 250k, one of the world’s largest cities. Euro’s called it “like an enchanted vision”
- Incas - 12 million, complex system of roads and bridges along Andes Mtns.
- Indians lacked metal tools and machines, gunpowder, and long distance navigation. No society had literacy. Also lacked wheeled vehicles. Europeans called their lifestyle a “backwardness”.
- However, they perfected techniques of farming, hinting and fishings
- They built large burial mounds and traded across half the continent (mainly through the Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys)
- Had a city w/ 10,000-30,000 inhabitants. Most populated city since New York and Philly in 1800.
- In Arizona, the Hopi and Zuni Indians. Declined probably b/c of drought. The survivors moved SE, where they perfected desert farming (corn, beans, cotton)
- Were called the Pueblo Indians by the Spanish (b/c they lived in small villages)
- From the Gulf of Mexico to present day Canada. Fished, hunted deer, turkeys.
- Each group had its own political system and religious beliefs
- Common throughout was belief that sacred spirits were in everything. Good spiritual powers, they thought, yielded good harvest
- Didn’t have a sharp distinction btwn natural and supernatural
- Didn’t exist in Indian eyes. Some tribes claimed specific areas form hunting but no one was thought to own the land
- Indians didn’t care about accumulation of wealth either. Status did matter, however
- Very few had rigid social distinctions. Few ever went hungry. Englishman described it as “no beggars among them”
- Women could divorce their husbands. Most Indian tribes were matrilineal (clans r kinship groups where children became members of the moms family
- Leaders were men, but female elders helped select male leaders
- Husbands lived with the family of the wife. England = women basically had no identity
- Regarded them in extremes, as “noble savages, or brutal savages
- One called them “beautiful of stature and build”
- Euro descriptions centered on three areas - religion, land use, and gender relations
- Indians saw world as world of spirits and souls, Euros saw it as a source of economic opportunity
- Euros saw weak men and mistreated women. Men hunted (leisure in Eng), and women worked in fields. thought men were “unmanly”
- Believed that in subduing the Indians, they were actually bringing them freedom - the freedom of true religion, private property, and the liberation of both men and women from uncivilized and unchristian gender roles.
- Indian Freedom
- Euros concluded that the notion of “freedom’ was alien to Indian societies
- Small scale slavery did exist in the Indian colonies. Very important to Indians was kinship ties and the well-being and security of one’s community.
- Freedom to Euros meant abandoning the life of sin to embrace the teachings of Christ. Dissenters were persecuted.
- Freedom didn’t have same degree for everyone. there was a hierarchy. Inequality into basically every relationship. Men had authority over women.
- Family life depended on man’s dominance and woman’s submission (Euros)
- Liberties meant formal, specific privileges such as self-government, exemption from taxation, or the right to practice a particular trade. Liberty defined as “privilege”
- Portuguese Navigation
- China thought to be main power, but it didn’t want to expand overseas
- Portugal developed the caravel, a ship capable of long-distance travel, and also developed the compass and the quadrant, both of which helped sailors determine their location w/ greater accuracy than in the past.
- Around 1400, Portugal rivaled Europe in economic importance.
- Africa - today is poorest. 15th century it was known for its wealth
- Mansa Musa = ruler of Mali, had lots of gold
- Portugal est. fortified trading posts along western coast of Africa.
- The profits were called “factories”, merchants called “factors”
- Slaves used to be criminals, debtors, and captives in war. Soon became no basis for making someone a slave
- Vasco de Gama - sailed around Cape Cod to India. 6 yrs before, however, Columbus thought he could sail West to get there
- Like all navigators, he knew the earth was round. Vikings traveled west earlier
- Q Isabella of Spain finally supported his venture
- Columbus in the New World
- October 12th, 1492 was when he landed there. 33 days after leaving Canary Islands. Probably landed in San Salvador
- Nicolas de Ovando - est first permanent Spanish base w/ 2,500 men
- Columbus died thinking he reached Asia
- Amerigo Vespucci - Coach of South America
- Printing press made everyone know about New World really fast
- John Cabot reached Newfoundland (1497)
- Ferdinand Magellan - led first expedition to sail around the world
- Hernan Cortez (1519) - first to encounter a major American civilization (Tenochtitlan). Cortez conquered entire Aztec’s with smallpox and weapons
- Columbian Exchange - transatlantic flow of goodsf
- European population around 1492 was 70 million. Ppl in N&S AM = 90-110 million.
- Overall death was about 80 million - close to 1/5 of mankind in the first century and a half of contact w/ Europeans. Greatest loss of life in human history
- Governing Spanish America
- Spain’s gov. rivaled that of ancient Rome. Catholic Church also played significant tole in administration of Spanish colonies
- Royal officials were generally appointees from Spain, rather than criollos (ppl born in the colonies)
- Large scale farms (haciendas) and gold/silver mines - Spanish landlords forced Indians to work on/in these
- Most ppl who went to New World from Spain just told AF slaves what to do - lived a life of luxery
- Peninsulares - atop the social hierarchy - was a very small portion of SP ppl
- Eventually started mix marriages. Mestizos = ppl of mixed origens - large population of SP AM in 1600.
- Hugo Grotius - asked the question , what allowed one nation to claim possession of lands that “belonged to someone else?”
- Protestant Reformation 1517 (Martin Luther) - Posted the 95 Theses. He argued against indulgences, believed the ppl should read the Bible for themselves, rather than relying on priests to interpret it for them.
- Spain just wanted to transform them into obedient Christians to the crown
- Wanted to completely transform Indian culture and economic/spiritual lives
- Enslaving Indians was justified as a means of liberating them from their backwardness and savagery.
- Pope Paul III, outlawed Indian enslavement 1537. He wrote “A Very Brief Acct of the Destruction of the Indies”
- His writings denounced Spain for causing the deaths of millions of innocent ppl
- Also said that SP deprived them of their freedom. He did want to convert Ind’s
- New Laws made in 1542 - Indians could no longer be enslaved
- Established the repartimiento system - residents of Indian villages remained legally free and entitled to wages, but were still required to perform fixed amt of labor per yr
- Las Casa’s writings eventually contributed to the spread of the Black Legend - the image of Spain as a uniquely brutal and exploitative colonizer
- Juan Ponce de Leon - conquered Puerto Rico, entered Florida looking for wealth, slaves, and the fountain of youth
- Cabeza de Vaca - told of the seven golden citied of Cibola, somewhere over the horizon. By the 17th century, all that was left were buffalo.
- Coronado - Traveled into the continent. First Euro to see buffalo
- Spain wanted to est a military base in FL. Ended up est-ing forts from present-day Miami into S Carolina.
- It failed to attract settlers, remaining an isolated military settlement
- Onate - destroyed the “Sky City” and cut off feet of surviving men
- He was returned to SP for mistreatment of Indians.
- Pope was the leader who coordinated the uprising (Spanish= common language)
- Most complete victory for Indians over Euros. However, when Pope (accent on e) died in 1690, SP reconquered New Mexico (1692)
- B/c of this revolt, Spain developed a more tolerant attitude towards the Indian religious practices
- From Bartolome de las Casas - He was the Dominican priest who dondemned the treatemtn of Indians in the Spanish Empire. His “History” contributed to the Black Legend
- ‘Indians put in extremely harsh conditions, beasts have more freedom. When they got ill, Spaniards kicked them and let them die (basically), Indians died saying “Hungry, Hungry”.
- Said the God of the Spaniards was dead, and that the names of Jesus and Mary should never be uttered
- French Colonization
- First of SP’s major rivals in New World was France
- FR wanted to find a Northwest Passage - sea route directly to the Pacific Ocean. FR didn’t est perm. settlements in the New World until 17th century
- Samuel de Champlain (sponsored by FR fur trading Co.) founded Quebec in 1608. Entire Mississippi R valley was eventually claimed by FR
- Indentured servants (called engages) - returned home after contracts were up (it was a feudal society). 80% migrants were men. FR also claimed Canada
- New FR depended on friendly relations w/ local Indians. They prided themselves on adopting a more humane policy towards Indians
- Jesuits = missionary religious order who sought to convert Indians to Christianity, but gave Indians independence (opposite of SP)
- Big on fur trade
- Mixed ppls were called metis - became the interpreters, guides, and traders
- Henry Hudson - (Dutch East India Co.) - sailed into New York Harbor hoping to find a Northwest passage to Asia. Claimed the area for the Netherlands.
- Est a post at Albany, then Manhattan Island (present day)
- Prided themselves in being a place of liberty, freedom, and refuge
- New Netherland - Not really governed democratically (no real gov established)
- There was liberty in other areas. Some enjoyed “half-freedom” - required to pay an annual fee to the company and work when called upon, but given land to support families.
- Women had more freedom than other colonies
- Very tolerant of religious beliefs - attracted very diverse population
- Dutch West India Company promised religious toleration, cheap livestock, and land in exchange for 6 yrs of labor. New plan was “Freedoms and Exemptions” - offering large estates to patroons (shareholders who agreed to transport tenants for agricultural labor)
- Only 9,000 ppl of NN stayed in AM, making it a small group.
- Came to AM to trade, not to conquer. Aimed more at employing Indians rather than converting them (employing in fur trade)
- Hardly free of conflict with the Indians. They did, however, est friendly relations with the Iroquois Indians (commercial and diplomatic)
- All brought Christianity, new forms of technology and learning, new legal systems and family relations, new forms of economic enterprise and wealth creation.
- Also brought savage warfare and widespread disease
- Also knew about each other’s existence
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