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Chapter 2 Europeans and Africans Reach the Americas. The American People , 6 th ed. I. Breaching the Atlantic. The Columbian Voyages. Intending to discover an oceanic passage to Asia, in 1492 Christopher Columbus instead mistakenly discovered the Americas.

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Chapter 2 europeans and africans reach the americas l.jpg

Chapter 2Europeans and Africans Reach the Americas

The American People, 6th ed.



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The Columbian Voyages

  • Intending to discover an oceanic passage to Asia, in 1492 Christopher Columbus instead mistakenly discovered the Americas.


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Religious Conflict During the Era of Reconnaissance

  • Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation

  • John Calvin’s Calvinism

  • Henry VIII and the Anglican Church



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Caribbean Experiments

  • Columbus’s second voyage to the New World established the first Spanish colony in the Americas (in present-day Santo Domingo).

  • Tainos were the first indigenous people to meet the Spaniards.


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The Conquistadors’ Onslaught at Tenochtitlan

  • Within a single generation after the death of Columbus, Spain had conquered most of the New World.

  • Spain was motivated by religion, nationalist pride, and dreams of personal enrichment.


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The Great Dying

  • Spanish contacts with the natives of the Caribbean, central Mexico, and Peru in the early sixteenth century triggered a biological epidemic of smallpox in which some 6 million people perished in 15 years.


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The Columbian Exchange

  • Imported animals from Europe (cattle, goats, pigs, etc.) devastated the fragile environment of the New World.

  • Various plants (especially weeds) imported accidentally from Europe caused significant damage to the ecosystem


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Silver, Sugar, and Their Consequences

  • Silver was found abundantly in the New World, especially in South America.

  • Native labor was coerced into mining the metal for the Spanish.

  • Wild influx of silver nearly destroyed the financial markets of Europe.

  • Sugar production grew at an alarming rate, due to the changing tastes of Europeans.

  • African slaves were deemed the best labor to produce the sugar.


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Spain’s Northern Frontier

  • Composed of the present-day Sun Belt of the United States:

  • Texas

  • Florida

  • New Mexico

  • Arizona

  • California



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England Challenges Spain

  • England was the slowest European power to begin expansion in the New World.

  • They were initially motivated by the need to expand fishing areas and find new sources of wood.

  • The rift between England and Spain centered on religion (Catholic v. Protestant).

  • England defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588; a gigantic upset.


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The Westward Fever

  • The opportunities of the New World began to permeate all levels of English society in the 1580s.

  • England’s first effort at colonization occurred in Ireland.

  • England’s first attempts at American colonization were weak and unprofitable.


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Anticipating North America

  • Early English settlers had vague ideas about the nature of the American natives, some true some false.

  • Some saw Indians as savage predators to be conquered quickly.

  • Others saw them as docile and child-like,



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The Slave Trade

  • The African slave trade began as an attempt to fill a labor shortage in the Mediterranean region as early as the eighth century.

  • Portuguese merchants were the first European slave traders following decades of trade by the Arabs and Moors.


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The Middle Passage

  • Also known as the Atlantic Passage, transferred slaves to the New World in four to eight weeks on board sailing vessels.

  • Conditions were incredibly bad and many Africans died during the forced journey.


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Slavery in Early Spanish Colonies

  • Many thousands of African slaves were brought along by the great Spanish explorers of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries:

  • Ponce de Leon

  • Vasquez

  • De Soto

  • Coronado


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