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The Native Americans, Explorers, and Puritans. Foundations and Encounters to 1800. European Settlers vs. American Indians Native Americans survived in North America long before Columbus “discovered” it. Native American Contribution. European Contribution.

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the native americans explorers and puritans

The Native Americans, Explorers, and Puritans

Foundations and Encounters to 1800

European Settlers vs. American IndiansNative Americans survived in North America long before Columbus “discovered” it.

Native American Contribution

European Contribution

The settlers relied on the Native Americans to teach them survival skills.

In return, the Native Americans received steel tools, fire arms, and textiles (manufactured cloth)

The settlers also shared smallpox, wiping out most of the Native American population.

explorer s writing
Explorer’s Writing
  • Spanish and French settlers emphasized America’s abundance, peace, hospitality, and unlimited wealth in their writings.
  • In 1528 Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca landed in Florida but wandered all the way to Texas.
  • His writings reveal Native American life (Religion, eating habits, living customs etc.)
salem witch trials
Salem Witch Trials
  • 1691-1692: The daughter and niece of a minister participated in witch craft.
  • After showing signs of distress (siezures, lesions), the girls began accusing others of bewitching them.
  • Some of the accused confessed to save their lives.
  • Those who refused to lie through a false confession were hung.
puritan background
Puritan Background
  • Protestant group that wanted to simplify the church.
  • They were persecuted in England and fled to America.
  • Believed in a personal connection to God. No clergymen or government necessary!
puritan beliefs
Puritan Beliefs
  • All humans are damned because of original sin.
  • The “elect” were automatically saved because of Jesus Christ.
  • Puritan qualities: self-reliance, industrious, simplicity, temperance
puritan politics
Puritan Politics
  • Founded America as a constitutional democracy through the Mayflower Compact.
  • Despite being an early democracy, not everyone was equal. The “Elect” had more power.
  • There was no separation of church and state. Stability relied on unified ideas on morality and politics.
the bible and puritan writings
The Bible and Puritan Writings
  • The Puritans believed the bible was the story of humanity’s creation, fall, wanderings, and salvation.
  • They used the bible to inspire and analyze their own lives.
  • Puritan Writing used the plain style and usually took the form of diaries, journals, and histories.
the age of reason
The Age of Reason
  • Began in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries.
  • Colonies began experimenting/tinkering with science.
  • Rationalism: The belief that humans can find truth through reason.
  • Rationalism clashed with the puritan belief that they need God and the bible to find truth.
  • Newton compared God to a clock maker who was not active in human life.
the small pox plague
The Small Pox Plague
  • In 1721 there was a major small pox outbreak.
  • Cotton Mather, a minister, began experimenting with a small pox inoculation.
  • The medical community was against this practice because a Muslim came up with the idea.
  • Yet Mather inoculated 300 people and saved most of their lives.
  • The belief that God made it possible for all people at all times to discover natural laws through their god given power of reason.
  • Deists were more optimistic; the world and its people were essentially orderly and good.
  • They believed God’s objective was the happiness of his creatures.
  • Due to this belief, the best form of worship is to do good for others.
self made americans
Self-Made Americans
  • The Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin used these Rationalist and Deist principles.
  • Benjamin Franklin’s goal was to exemplify how the use of reason can help to elevate a person’s life.
  • A self-made American utilizes the puritan values and reason to improve their lives; spiritually, financially, politically, and personally.
  • Can you think of any modern day examples?
in a nutshell
In a Nutshell…



Wanted to simplify the church

Humans are born with sin

Some people were automatically saved

Truths are found in the bible

Began in the 17th and 18th centuries

Relied on science, not the bible to find truth

Acknowledged God as the creator, but not present in peoples’ lives.


  • Believed humans are essentially good since they are made in the image of God.
  • God gave humans the ability to reason and therefore, we should use reason to find truth.
  • God wanted humans to be happy, so honor God by doing good for others.