American History: A Survey (Brinkley), 13th Edition


Primary Sources

John Smith is one of the most famous names associated with the English colonization of America and his writings did much to introduce Europeans to America and to promote English colonization efforts. The document that follows is from his General Historie of Virginia, New England, and the Summer Isles…(1624), a chronicle of English exploration that drew heavily on the earlier work of Richard Hakluyt. This account of a meeting in 1584 between English explorers and Indians, although seen through the eyes of the English, tells us much about Indian life before the transformation of the tribes was complete. While reading it, consider the culture and possessions of the Indians and the English attitude toward what the Indians obviously valued. Also pay particular attention to what the English noticed about the Indians, and speculate on why these things were important to them.

John Smith

Christopher Columbus penned this letter to his patrons, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, sometime in the 1490's. What do Columbus's plans for the "colonization and commerce of the Island of Espanola" suggest about the reasons motivating Spanish (and European) exploration of the New World? How do his plans accord with the later practices of the Spanish empire in North America under the conquistadores?

Similarly, here is the colonial charter granted to Sir Walter Raleigh by Queen Elizabeth I in 1584. What does this document suggest about the motivations impelling English colonization? Does the document differ substantially in tone and intent from Columbus's letter and, if so, how?

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