- ›› Coverage Geographical : South America
At the end of the first millennium, most people in the Eastern Hemisphere had a firm sense of how the world was arranged, who occupied it, and how they had come to be where they were. Various sacred texts as well as long-standing folk beliefs suggested a virtually eternal order of things, instilling a sort of...
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.
The story of European colonialism in the Americas and its victimization of Africans and Indians follows a central paradigm in most textbooks. Indians are described in terms of their succumbing in large numbers to disease, with the survivors facing dispossession of their land. This paradigm—a basic one in the history of colonialism—omits a crucial aspect of the story: the indigenous peoples of the Americas were enslaved in large numbers. This exclusion distorts not only what happened to American Indians under colonialism, but also points to the need for a reassessment of the foundation and nature of European overseas expansion.
British North Americans were not the only group of European colonists in the Americas to rebel against their distant rulers in this era. Beginning in 1808, those in Spain’s vast American empire—spanning from Mexico in the north to Buenos Aires in the south; Peru in the west to the present-day coast of Venezuela in the east—rose up against Spanish rule.
Charles Mann, author of 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus (Knopf, 2005), looks at new research on the population density of pre-Columbian America.
This tract, a summary of a debate concerning the subjugation of Indians, contains the arguments of Bartolomé de Las Casas, the Bishop of Chiapas, Mexico, and Juan Gines Sepulveda, an influential Spanish philosopher, concerning the treatment of American Indians in the New World.
When Columbus arrived back in Spain on March 15, 1493, he immediately wrote a letter announcing his discoveries to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, who had helped finance his trip. The Latin printing of this letter announced the existence of the American continent throughout Europe.
This unit is part of Gilder Lehrman’s series of Common Core State Standards–based teaching resources. These units were written to enable students to understand, summarize, and analyze original texts of historical significance. Students will demonstrate this knowledge by writing summaries of selections from the original document and, by the end of the unit, articulating their understanding of the complete document by answering questions in an argumentative writing style to fulfill the Common Core State Standards....