The Indies were discovered in the year one thousand four hundred and ninety-two. In the following year a great many Spaniards went there with the intention of settling the land. Thus, forty-nine years have passed since the first settlers penetrated the land, the first so claimed being the large and most happy isle called Hispaniola, which is six hundred leagues in circumference. Around it in all directions are many other islands, some very big, others very small, and all of them were, as we saw with our own eyes, densely populated with native peoples called Indians. This large island was perhaps the most densely populated place in the world. There must be close to two hundred leagues of land on this island, and the seacoast has been explored for more than ten thousand leagues, and each day more of it is being explored. And all the land so far discovered is a beehive of people; it is as though God had crowded into these lands the great majority of mankind.
This course explores the history of the social, cultural, and political developments in the British North American colonies from the first contact between indigenous and colonizing cultures to the eve of the American Revolution. Since the colonial era of American history covers more than 250 years of historical developments, this course cannot cover every topic or colony. Rather, it will be a thematic exploration into some of the important historical problems during this era. Many of those problems remain central to the history of American life and culture — the origins of slavery; the origins of capitalism, consumerism, and religious revivalism; as well as the future of indigenous peoples amid a migrating and colonizing people of European ancestry.