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The Americas
Beginnings to 1607

Map of the World 1607 72 dpi.jpg

The study of American history begins more than 30,000 years ago with the arrival of the first peoples on the continent. Ancient societies existed in both North and South America, and would interact differently with European colonial powers.  While the Vikings forayed onto American soil first, it was the late 15th century Columbian voyages that truly set the stage for the collision of cultures. These conquistadors were met with native populations undergoing their own changes and growth, the paths of which would be in some cases drastically altered by the arrival of more and more Europeans. The previous years of economic growth, innovation and religious issues led to an increase in trans-oceanic voyages and the development of colonial systems in the Americas, and the introduction of African slaves to both continents.

There were major changes brought about during this time period.  Populations were redistributed, both willingly and by force.  Europe developed the first trans-oceanic empires, a system that would continue far past the American Revolution.  Economic and commercial growth increased with the introduction of new natural resources and new labor forces. Finally, while Western Europe moved away from the idea of slavery and serfdom, these ideas had already taken hold in the colonies, most notably in the plantation system.

 Learn more in the National U.S. History Content Standards.

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Captain John Smith, Map of Virginia, circa 1606

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