Spanish explorers of the 1500s were called conquistadors, Spanish for “conquerors.” They traveled to spread Christianity, find wealth, and win fame


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Spanish explorers of the 1500s were called conquistadors, Spanish for “conquerors.” They traveled to spread Christianity, find wealth, and win fame.

  • Spanish explorers of the 1500s were called conquistadors, Spanish for “conquerors.” They traveled to spread Christianity, find wealth, and win fame.

  • Ponce de León explored Puerto Rico and became its governor.

  • In 1513, he left to search for gold and a “fountain of youth.” He was the first Spanish explorer to touch mainland North America when he landed on the Florida coast.

  • Hernán Cortés landed in Mexico to conquer the Aztec Empire.

  • Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca traveled from the present-day Texas coast near Galveston through New Mexico and Arizona, then down the Mexican Pacific coast. His tales may have given rise to the legend of Seven Golden Cities of Cíbola, cities rich in gold.



Expeditions in search of the Seven Cities legend

  • Expeditions in search of the Seven Cities legend

  • Hernando de Soto explored from Florida to the Carolinas and Tennessee. He was the first European to see the Mississippi River. Also explored Arkansas

  • Francisco Vásquez conquered the Pueblo peoples. Then his group split up; one of his men was the first European to see the Grand Canyon. The others traveled to present-day Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

  • Juan Cabrillo explored the coast of California.

  • The Spanish never found gold in the American Southwest, so they turned their attention to mining in Mexico.

  • Pedro Menendez de Avilés founded St. Augustine in Florida. Today it is the oldest city in the United States.



The government of Spain established colonial governments while conquistadors were exploring North America.

  • The government of Spain established colonial governments while conquistadors were exploring North America.

  • Spain set up viceroyalties, provinces that were ruled by a representative of the monarch.

  • New Spain was a viceroyalty and included much of the American Southwest and present-day Mexico, Florida, Central America, part of Venezuela, and some Caribbean islands.



Social Structure

  • Social Structure

  • Peninsulares: people who came from Spain. Considered themselves superior to the creoles

  • Creoles: people born in the Americas of pure Spanish descent

  • Mestizos: mixed Spanish and Native American descent

  • Lowest on social scale were people of mixed Spanish and African descent, pure-blooded Indians, and Africans

  • Catholic missionaries ran missions and taught Native Americans Christianity, European farming, herding, and crafts.



The Pueblo Revolt

  • The Pueblo Revolt

  • Juan de Oñate was sent to settle New Mexico in 1598.

  • Missionaries wanted all native religions replaced by Christianity.

  • In 1680 the Pueblo Indians, led by a shaman named Popé, revolted in Santa Fe to take back their ways of life.

  • Many villagers joined the revolt.

  • After a 10-day siege, the Spanish settlers fled.

  • Popé tried to restore their traditional ways and wipe out all traces of Spanish culture.

  • In 1692 Spanish soldiers retook Santa Fe.









English settlers had many reasons to come to the New World.

  • English settlers had many reasons to come to the New World.

  • There were economic problems in England, and many wanted new opportunities.

  • English farm workers were unemployed, and small farmers were struggling.

  • In the wealthy class, large plots of land had been divided among heirs for years until land was scarce.

  • Young men who did not inherit land were looking for adventure.

  • King James issued a charter that divided America between the Plymouth Company and the London Company.

  • The two groups were joint-stock companies. They were to govern and maintain the colonies. Profits from the colonies went back to the companies’ investors.



The First Settlers

  • The First Settlers

  • In 1606 the London Company sent three ships and 144 men to Virginia. 100 survived the crossing.

  • They built Jamestown 60 miles up the James River.

  • Site was low and swampy, filled with malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

  • Jamestown was in the territory of the Powhatan Confederacy, led by Powhatan.

  • Water supply wasn’t safe; some settlers died of malaria or dysentery from drinking it.

  • Other settlers became too weak to work, while others spent more time looking for treasure than for food.

  • Many were English gentlemen, unused to physical labor.

  • Only 38 were alive when more English colonists arrived.



  • Captain John Smith helped trade for food with the Native Americans, built houses, and explored the area.

  • When the Powhatans captured him and were about to kill him, Powhatan’s daughter, Pocahontas, intervened. Later she helped keep the peace between the Powhatans and the colonists.

  • In 1608 Smith became the leader of Jamestown.

  • More settlers came in 1609. That winter was called the starving time because the Indians, who were angry about the food raids, killed the settlers’ livestock and prevented them from hunting.



  • Growing tobacco finally made Jamestown profitable.

  • John Rolfe was the first settler to grow tobacco.

  • Rolfe and Pocahontas married. Their marriage secured peace between the settlers and the Powhatans.

  • Conflicts with Powhatans arose by 1622. Both Pocahontas and Powhatan were dead.

  • The English farmers were taking over more Indian lands to farm tobacco.

  • In 1622 the Indians launched a surprise attack on Jamestown, killing many settlers, including John Rolfe.

  • Attacks persisted for twenty more years.



The Virginia Company offered headrights, 50-acre grants of land. There were various ways to obtain them

  • The Virginia Company offered headrights, 50-acre grants of land. There were various ways to obtain them

  • The company brought in skilled artisans to help the economy grow

  • The company also sent 100 women to marry the colonists and make society more stable







Puritans wanted to “purify” the Church of England.

  • Puritans wanted to “purify” the Church of England.

  • Separatists were more strict Puritans.

    • Wanted to remove all traces of Catholicism from their religion
    • Wanted total separation from the Church of England
  • Church of England was the official church of the land.

    • English subjects required to attend services and pay taxes to support the church
    • Dissenters were fined and put in prison


Plymouth Colony

  • Plymouth Colony

  • Some English Separatists moved to the Netherlands in 1608.

  • Their children were becoming more Dutch than English.

  • War with Spain seemed near. They were ready to move to the New World.

  • Led by William Bradford, 35 Separatists joined 66 others on the Mayflower in 1620.

  • Their sponsor, the Virginia Company, intended they land near the Hudson River. They landed instead at Cape Cod.

  • Founded Plymouth Colony south of present-day Boston

  • Colony never grew very large



  • Dissenters left the Massachusetts Bay Colony and settled new towns.

  • Thomas Hooker, a Puritan minister, and his congregation settled in the Connecticut River Valley. They adopted America’s first written constitution: the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut. It extended voting rights to all free men, not just church members.

  • Roger Williams, a Separatist minister who believed in religious tolerance and the separation of church and government. Bought land from the Narragansetts to establish Providence, now Rhode Island

  • Anne Hutchinson believed that people did not need a minister’s teachings to be spiritual. Was imprisoned, tried, and banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony

  • Hutchinson’s brother-in-law left Massachusetts to start a settlement in present-day New Hampshire. In 1679 it became a royal colony, under direct control of the king.









New York

  • New York

  • Had a diversified population: English, Dutch, Scandinavians, Germans, French, Native Americans, and enslaved Africans

  • Grew and prospered under English rule

  • A treaty with the Iroquois protected the fur trade.

  • The Duke of York gave the land south of the Hudson River to two of his political allies. They named it New Jersey.

  • By early 1700s, New York and New Jersey became royal colonies.



The Carolinas

  • The Carolinas

  • Was co-owned by eight men

  • Gave themselves large estates

  • Some people had to pay to bring in boatloads of settlers.

  • Southern Carolina

    • Had a port in Charles Town
    • Had prosperous estates of aristocrats
    • Plantation owners from West Indies moved there with their enslaved Africans.
  • Northern Carolina settlers were small farmers without slaves.

  • They did not have a good harbor.



  • Of all the Nonconformist groups, the Quakers upset people the most.

  • They believed in direct, personal communication with God; they had no ministers or hierarchy of priests and bishops.

  • They had simple meetings where their members rose to speak.

  • They believed in the equality of all men and women.

  • They were pacifists who refused to fight in wars.

  • They were only welcomed in Rhode Island.



  • A tolerant colony

  • William Penn named his colony Pennsylvania and named the city Philadelphia, Greek for “City of Brotherly Love.”

  • In the 1600s, wars in Europe ruined farms and trade, and religious clashes caused social upheaval.

  • Penn offered refuge for Quakers and others suffering religious persecution. He offered opportunities and land at reasonable prices.

  • German Protestant sects such as the Amish and Mennonites moved to Pennsylvania. French Protestants, called Huguenots, settled there, too.



In 1638 small colony of Swedes settled near present-day Wilmington, Delaware

  • In 1638 small colony of Swedes settled near present-day Wilmington, Delaware

  • In 1655 the Dutch took over New Sweden.

  • Later the colony was seized by England.

  • William Penn persuaded the duke of York to make him the proprietor of an area along the Delaware River and bay.

  • This was the area that would later became the colony of Delaware.

  • Control of this waterway gave Pennsylvania access to the Atlantic Ocean






























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