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This page has links to topic page articles in the library's online reference collection, Credo Reference. If you can't find what you're looking for on this page, try a search below.
Christopher Columbus (1451 - 1506): Topic Page
Italian explorer in the service of Spain who determined that the earth was round and attempted to reach Asia by sailing west from Europe, thereby reaching America (1492)
The original peoples of North America collectively have been called Native Americans, American Indians, or Amerindians. These terms are European American inventions that obscure the diversity of peoples indigenous to the Americas.
Pilgrims: Topic Page
The Pilgrims were English settlers, members of a Separatist sect, who emigrated to New England in 1620 in search of the opportunity to practice their religion without persecution.
John Rolfe (1585-1622): Topic Page
John Rolfe was responsible for the development of a cash crop in the Virginia colony; he cross-pollinated tobacco plants to create a mild blend highly desired in Europe.
John Smith (1580-1631): Topic Page
John Smith was a central figure in establishing Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English colony in North America. His greatest influence, however, was as a writer of promotional literature about colonization and a wildly adventurous, albeit bewildering, autobiography.
Pocahontas (d. 1617): Topic Page
Daughter of Wahunsonacook, headman of the Algonquian-speaking Powhatan Confederacy of Tidewater Virginia; mythologized in American literature as an Indian princess and epitomized in Vachel Lindsay’s poem Our Mother Pocahontas as “the mother of us all.”
Roger Williams (1603-1683): Topic Page
One of America’s earliest cultural pluralists and advocates of the separation of church and state, Roger Williams founded Providence, Rhode Island, as a safe haven for early European settlers who had suffered religious persecution. He also believed in forging good relations with the Native peoples of New England.
John Winthrop (1588-1649): Topic Page
Governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony, b. Edwardstone, near Groton, Suffolk, England. Of a landowning family, he studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, came into a family fortune, and became a government administrator with strong Puritan leanings.
William Bradford (1590-1657): Topic Page
Governor of Plymouth Colony, b. Austerfield, Yorkshire, England. As a young man he joined the separatist congregation at Scrooby and in 1609 emigrated with others to Holland, where, at Leiden, he acquired a wide acquaintance with theological literature.
Thirteen Colonies: Topic Page
Original North American colonies that signed the Declaration of Independence from Britain in 1776.
French and Indian War: Topic Page
Begun as colonial muscling for control of the Ohio River valley, the French and Indian War (1754-1760) ignited the worldwide conflict between the British and French known as the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763) and ended France’s North American empire.
Plymouth Colony: Topic Page
Settlement made by the Pilgrims on the coast of Massachusetts in 1620.
New England Confederation: Topic Page
Union for "mutual safety and welfare" formed in 1643 by representatives of the colonies of Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven.
Mississippi Scheme: Topic Page
Plan formulated by John Law for the colonization and commercial exploitation of the Mississippi valley and other French colonial areas.
Salem Witch Trials: Topic Page
In the summer of 1692 all of eastern Massachusetts trembled in fear as neighbors and kinfolk accused one another of practicing witchcraft. Hundreds were jailed, and in the first round of the ensuing trials from June 2 to September 21, 1692—the most extensive mass trials of suspected criminals in the colonial period of American history—all of the defendants were convicted.
Movements, Issues, and Systems
Colonization: Topic Page
Extension of political and economic control over an area by a state whose nationals have occupied the area and usually possess organizational or technological superiority over the native population.
Imperialism: Topic Page
The extension of rule or influence by one government, nation, or society over another.
Mercantilism: Topic Page
Economic system of the major trading nations during the 16th, 17th, and 18th cent., based on the premise that national wealth and power were best served by increasing exports and collecting precious metals in return.
Slavery: Topic Page
Slavery has been found among many groups of low material culture, as in the Malay Peninsula and among some Native Americans; it also has occurred in more highly developed societies, such as the southern United States.
Indentured Servants: Topic Page
Indentured servitude was an arrangement sealed by a contract between emigrants and merchants for temporary labor in exchange for the cost of passage and maintenance to British settlements in the Americas.
Mayflower Compact (1620): Topic Page
The Mayflower Compact was an agreement between the separatist Pilgrims emigrating from England, setting out the guidelines for the envisaged government of their settlement in the New World.
Massachusetts Bay Company: Topic Page
English chartered company that established the Massachusetts Bay colony in New England. Organized (1628) as the New England Company, it took over the Dorchester Company, which had established a short-lived fishing colony on Cape Ann in 1623.