A virgin soil epidemic occurs when bacteria or viruses are introduced into an area where no similar diseases have ever occurred before. Lacking even partial immunity, populations are devastated by such epidemics. Many scholars believe that the severity of Native American loss of life during the first decades of European colonization was due to the fact that these were virgin soil epidemics.
Hopewell culture, a prehistoric American Indian culture of mound builders in east-central North America, prospered ca. 500–1000. Named for a farm in southern Ohio where related artifacts were discovered, Hopewell culture developed along waterways and relied upon agriculture as well as hunting and gathering.
In 1550–1551, Bartolomé de Las Casas and Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda debated in a junta at the Council of Valladolid. At the center of the debate was the question of the American Indians’ place in Spanish America. The Council sided with Las Casas, who argued for the Indians’ humanity and rights as well as for their peaceful Christianization and ruled that they were human beings with souls, but the Council’s ruling had little impact on Spanish treatment of the Native Americans.
The first British colony, granted to Sir Walter Raleigh, was established on Roanoke Island. Most settlers returned to England in 1586, however, under threat of a Spanish raid. A few settlers remained to defend the settlement, but none survived.
Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, sailing for Spain’s Ferdinand and Isabella, accidently discovered the New World. Columbus had set out to find a route west to Asia from Europe, and, upon landing in the present-day Bahamas, he at first believed he...
Following the founding of Quebec City, Samuel de Champlain entered into an alliance with the Huron Indians. The alliance created a lasting trade partnership between the French and Hurons and helped strengthen both groups against the Iroquois.
The Columbian Exchange refers to the flow of people, animals, plants, and microorganisms between Europe and Africa, and the Americas. For American Indians, disease was the most significant effect of the exchange with as much as 90 percent of the Native population dying during the first century of interaction. For Africans and Europeans, the most important effect was the arrival of new American crops that increased food supplies significantly. This led to population explosions in Africa and parts of Europe, which fed migration from those...