New Netherland, like other early American colonies, was a state-sponsored venture, the aim of which was to realize a profit. Fifteen years after Hudson’s arrival, New Netherland, the newest commercial outpost of the Dutch empire, consisted of a small group of traders living at the edge of a vast and rich wilderness. By 1645, the island was populated by some four or five hundred men of different sects and nationalities speaking eighteen different languages.
Native Americans discovered Europe at the same time Europeans discovered America. Just as Europeans struggled to fit evidence of “new worlds” into their frames of understanding, so too did Native North Americans in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.
Though most research on Africans’ involuntary migration to the Americas focuses on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the roots of the transatlantic slave trade are much deeper, stretching back to Iberia (Spain and Portugal), Atlantic Africa, and Latin America during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
Colonial America’s Jewish population offers a good case study of how original plans often went awry, though undoubtedly in the case of the Jews in large part to their satisfaction, rather than to their dismay and disappointment. The history of the Jewish people on the North American mainland dates to 1654, when a small band of twenty-three men, women, and children made landfall at New Amsterdam on the southern edge of Manhattan Island.
Quakers sponsored not only radical ideas like abolitionism and pacifism but also initiatives that contributed significantly to mainstream American cultural traits like the belief that traumatizing children is an evil idea and that each child contains a divine spirit; that women should be at least equal to men in public secular and religious forums; that religious toleration is beneficial; that slavery is evil and had to be ended immediately; and that a handshake is a better greeting than a groveling bow or a curtsy.
Philadelphia was the commercial and cultural hub of the British colonies and is indelibly linked in Americans’ minds as the site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the writing of the US Constitution.
By 1899, the United States had become a world power. It was not only the world’s greatest industrial nation, but in the war with...
The Lewis and Clark expedition is rightly considered one of the great American stories. In May of 1804 Meriwether Lewis and William Clark set off by keelboat up the Missouri River with thirty-one men, the “Corps of Discovery,” on an expedition authorized by Congress at the request of Thomas Jefferson. The expedition’s grip on the popular imagination is understandable. It features adventures and trials, close calls and improbable coincidences, exotic encounters and fascinating personalities.
By the time Jefferson entered the White House, Congress was shelling out nearly one-fifth of the national budget to buy off the Barbary pirates. Jefferson wanted war, but was convinced that Congress would not support it. He therefore asserted an executive privilege: by executive order he sent a small fleet of American warships to the Mediterranean with instructions to protect US commerce.