Europeans Reach the Americas
(1000 – 1650)
From Revolution to Republic
Europeans look overseas
The first English colonies
Important events (1745 -1775)
Rivalry in North America
The French and Indian War
A Storm over taxes
• In the first part we’ll find out:
why Europeans looked beyond their
What countries the leaders in
exploring the new lands were from.
• During the Middle Ages, a period from about 500
to 1350, many Europeans thought of the world as
a disk floating on a great ocean. The disk was
made up of 3 continents: Europe, Africa and
• Toward the end of the Middle Ages Europeans
began to look beyond their borders. Religious
wars and the lure of new products from faraway
lands brought major changes in the way
• During the Middle Ages weak European kings
and queens divided their lands among powerful
nobles. These nobles or lords had their own
armies and courts but still owed loyalty to their
king. This system of rule by lords who owe
loyalty is called feudalism. Under feudalism there
were few merchants and traders. Most of them
were Christians and belonged to the Roman
Catholic Church. The Church had great
influence. And from about 1100 to 1300, the
Roman Catholic Church fought a series of
religious wars to gain control of the Holy Land
from Turkish Muslims. The wars were known as
• Large numbers of Europeans traveled beyond the
towns. In the Middle East they ate strange foods,
such as rice, oranges; they tasted ginger, pepper
and other spices. From Arab traders, they bought
silks and colorful rugs. Arabs also taught Italian
sailors how to use new instruments to navigate
large bodies of water, such as the Mediterranean
Sea. The magnetic compass, with a needle that
always pointed north, helped ship captains sail a
• The new rulers of England, France, Portugal and
Spain all looked for ways to increase their
wealth. However, Arab and Italian merchants
controlled the trade routes across the
Mediterranean Sea. If they wanted a share of the
trade, European rulers had to find another route
to Asia. The Portuguese turned to the Atlantic
Ocean. By 1498, the Portuguese sailor Vasco da
Gama passed the southern tip of Africa and
continued north and east to India. Using their
new route, the Portuguese built a successful
trading empire in Asia.
• As the Portuguese sailed east toward Asia, the
Spanish watched with envy. So in August 1492
Christopher Columbus set sail with three vessels
and a crew of 90 sailors. On October, 7 they
reached the shore. In 1493 Columbus founded the
first Spanish colony in the Americas. A colony is
a group of people who settle in a distant land and
are ruled by the government of their native land.
Columbus died in 1506 convinced that he had
• Columbus and the Europeans who came after him
saw the Americas as the place where they could
trade and grow rich.
• In the part «The first English colonies »
we’ll find out:
what European nations searched for a
northwest passage and why.
How self-government began in
Why the Pilgrims started a colony in
• When European states expanded to the Americas,
they brought their religious and political rivalries
with them. Foe example, in the late 1500s,
Roman Catholic monarchs ruled Spain and
France. England had a Protestant queen,
Elizabeth. Elizabeth encouraged English
adventures to sail along the coasts of New Spain,
riding Spanish treasure fleets. England and
France also were religious rivals. In North
America, each tried to claim as much as possible.
• Not all rivalries were religious, however. The
Netherlands, like England, was a Protestant
nation. Yet Dutch and English merchant ships
competed with each other for markets all over the
• The arrival of the European settlers affected
Native Americans. Missionaries tried to convert
Indians to Christianity. Indians eagerly adopted
European trade goods, such as copper kettles and
knives, as well as muskets and gunpowder for
hunting. Alcohol sold by European traders had a
harsh effect on Native American life.
• The French, Dutch and English all seized Indian
lands. At one time or another, each of these
European nations also enslaved Native
Americans and sold them to plantations in the
• In 1606, the Virginia Company of London
received a charter from King James I. A charter
is a legal document giving certain rights to a
person or company. The charter gave the
Virginia Company the right to land between
North Carolina and the Potomac River. The land
was called Virginia. The charter guaranteed
colonists of Virginia the same rights as English
citizens. And in the spring of 1607, 105 colonists
arrived in Virginia. They began building homes
along the James River. They named their outpost,
Jamestown, after their king, James I.
• By the summer of 1608, the Jamestown
colony was near failure. Captain, John
Smith, saved the settlement By 1620
England was importing more than 30,000
pounds of tobacco a year. At last Virginia
had found a way to make money.
• In 1619, a Dutch ship landed in Jamestown
with about 20 Africans. The Dutch sold
the Africans to Virginians who needed
laborers for growing tobacco. By 1644,
about 300 Africans lived in Virginia. Some
of them were slaves for life. Others worked
as servants and expected one day to own
their own farms. Some Africans were
already free planters.
• In 1619 the Virginia Company sent a governor.
Male electors were allowed to elect burgesses.
They met in an assembly called the House of
• In 1619, the investors sent about 100 women to
Virginia to help «make the men more settled».
The first shipload of women quickly found
husbands in Jamestown. Each man who married
one of these women had to give the Virginia
Company 150 pounds of tobacco.
• In November 1620, another band of English
settlers, the Pilgrims, sailed for the Americas.
Their charter was for the colony in Virginia, but
exhausted by the sea voyage, they decided to stay
ashore and name their colony Plymouth. Nearly
half the settlers died of disease or starvation. The
Pilgrims’ religious faith was strong, however.
Next fall the Pilgrims had a good harvest.
Because they believed that God had given them
this harvest, they set aside a day for giving
thanks. It’s nowadays called Thanksgiving.
• When we speak about the road to revolution we
must also concern the events, which took place in
the world from 1745 to 1775
• 1740s – English settlers moved westward into the
Ohio Valley. Here settlers clear the land.
• 1748 – Britain and France fight for control of
trade in India.
• 1754 – As a young major George Washington
played an important role when fighting began in
the French and Indian War.
• 1759 – The battle for Quebec was a turning point
in the French and Indian War.
• 1763 – Conflict with Native Americans, led by
Chief Pontiac, convinced Britain to issue the
Proclamation of 1763. it closed western lands to
• 1753 – Treaty of Paris ends French power in
• 1765 – To raise money from the colonies, Britain
passed the Stamp Act. All items listed in the act
carry a stamp.
• 1775 – The war for American independence
began with shots fired in Lexington and Concord.
• 1774 – Quebec Act guarantees religious freedom
• Three times between 1689 and 1748, France and
Great Britain had fought for power in Europe and
North America. Both France and England tried to
make Indian allies because Indians controlled the
fur trade in the heart of North America. Most
French were traders not farmers, they didn’t
destroy hunting grounds by clearing forests for
farms. Also, marry French married Native
American women and adopted their ways.
• In contrast, English settlers were mostly farm
families. They ignored Indian rights, and they
didn’t respect Indian ways.
• In 1754, fighting broke out again. The long
conflict that followed was called the French and
Indian war. Young George Washington played
an important part as fighting began.
• While Washington was defending Fort Necessity,
delegates from 7 colonies gathered in Albany,
New York. They met for two reasons:
to persuade Iroquois to help them against
to plan a united defense.
• The French and Indian War had plunged Britain
deeply into debts. As a result, the tax bill for
citizens in Britain rose sharply. The Stamp Act of
1765 put a tax on legal documents as wills,
diplomas and marriage papers, newspapers,
playing cards and even dice. All items named in
the law had to carry a stamp showing that the tax
had been paid. When British officials tried to
enforce the Stamp Act in colonies, they met with
stormy protests. So in 1766, Parliament canceled
the Stamp Act.
• But in 1773 Parliament trying to help East India
Company passed the Tea Act. The act let the
company sell tea directly to colonists at lower
tax. But colonists protested the Tea Act. And in
November 1773 citizens of Boston bordered the
ships and dumped the tea into the harbor. It was
called later the Boston Tea Party. It was meant to
show Britain that the colonists would act firmly.
By 1775 the 13 colonies became a new
independent from the British nation.
Define: rivals, charter, burgess.
Why did Europeans send explorers to North
Name three ways in which the arrival of
Europeans affected Native Americans.
History Through Literature.
• Read The Double Life of Pocahontas by Jean
• Answer the questions after the text (written)