Colonial American History - The Atlantic and Pacific Worlds - New Spain and New France - British America

Chapter 2: Death on a Coastal Fringe (Parts 1-2) :: The Barbarous Years – The Peopling of British North America: The Conflict of Civilizations, 1600-1675 by Bernard Bailyn

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “It was into this still-traditional though changing, animist, violently competitive, and delicately poised world, constantly beset by disbalancing shocks, that a small contingent of Englishmen arrived in 1607. They were people whose way of life, sensibilities, assumptions, skills, knowledge, social relations, and aspirations—their entire experience and view of the world and the universe—could scarcely have been more different from those of the people who watched their arrival from the shores of Chesapeake Bay.”
  • “Yet they were clearly barbarians”
  • “These mingled images of natives in the alien lands of the Atlantic world—advanced but satanic people whose wealth and labor could easily be exploited; simple, innocent, natural folk whose resources were as yet unknown and who could presumably be led, through Christianity, to higher stages of civilization; and brutish, debased people condemned by their animal-like wildness to live beyond an exclusionary pale—such visions had little in common except barbarousness, paganism, and the threat of dark mysteries as yet unrevealed. The inconsistency of these images would in itself prove to be a force in race relations in North America.”
  • “It is less surprising that the annals of their sojourn in America record endless turmoil and conflict—that they were hopelessly improvident and constantly engaged in quarrels among themselves and in deadly warfare with the natives—than that the settlement they led survived at all.”

Thought Questions

  • Explain and Expand: “Spirit existed, mind existed, not as a part of the shared physical world but apart from it; these were unique attributes of humanity.”
  • Explain and Expand: “Their relation to the land was the heart of their world.”
  • Compare and Contrast: The living conditions for working / working poor in Britain and the Native Americans they encountered in moving to America
  • How did Elizabeth’s long reign impact British colonialism?
  • Describe the “British ideology of empire”
  • Who was Richard Hakluyt and how did he impact British colonialism
  • Explain and Expand: “The dominant energizing force in the early seventeenth century, however, was the newly empowered commercial organizations”
  • Compare and Contrast: the goals and motivations of the English landed class and the English merchant class
  • Who was Humphrey Gilbert and how did he impact British colonialism
  • React and Respond: “The image that informed Englishmen had of the American Indian population on the eve of permanent settlement in America was an inconsistent blend of notions derived from scattered sources, all of which reinforced an assumption of immense European superiority in religion, culture, power, and capacity.”
  • How did British views of the pre-historic Picts impact their views of Native Americans? “how that the inhabitants of the great Brettanie have bin in times past as savvage as those of Virginia.”
  • In what ways did the English experience in Ireland impact their actions in America? “The “wild Irish” were said by would-be colonizers in the 1560s to be godless.”
  • Explain and Expand: “they both lived in worlds that were at least in part experienced as magical.”
  • React and Respond: “For the English, magic and witchcraft were not abnormal and extraordinary but commonplace and realistic, and that would be especially true in North America, for that distant land was known to be “one of the dark places of the earth,” one of the “wild partes” ultimately ruled by Satan and his minions; there the native priests were known to be “no other but such as our witches are.””
  • Explain and Expand: “was from this advanced, modernizing world, still in many ways close to its medieval origins, that the first English colonists in North America were drawn.”
  • Describe the two groups of English settlers that left for North America in 1606
  • Describe the characteristics of the group of English colonizers that landed at Jamestown
  • Who were the leaders of the Jamestown colony and what skills did they bring to the settlement?
  • Who was Christopher Newport and what impact did he have on colonization in America?
  • Who was Bartholomew Gosnold and what impact did he have on colonization of America
  • Who was George Kendall and what impact did he have on colonization in America?
  • Who was John Smith and what was his life experience before coming to Jamestown
  • What was the significance of the pamphlet “Good News from Virginia”
  • Explain and Expand: “In the first years of Virginia’s European history these representatives of England’s affluent intelligentsia would explore the Indians’ world, report on it, attempt to understand it and to conceive ways of exploiting it.”

Primary Sources