In is Memoirs Bernal Diaz del Castillo describes the sights the Spanish conquistadors beheld in the Aztec capital Tenochtitlán. He comments that when they entered the Aztec market they were “…astounded at the great number of people and the quantities of merchandise, and at the orderliness and good arrangements that prevailed, for we had never seen such a thing before….” It would seem that they were highly surprised at the level of development the Aztec empire displayed. In fact, the Aztecs and Spaniards had much in common. Nevertheless, a relatively small band of conquistadors led by Cortés will bring down the Aztec empire.
The Europeans who follow will repeat some of the feats of the Spaniards who preceded them. However, the Spanish will be the ones to carry the “Black Legend” label, alluding to their atrocities in the Americas.
- Could the direction of discovery and colonization in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries have been reversed-that is, could the Aztecs have discovered and colonized western Europe? Why or why not?
- English adventurers and Spanish conquistadors were “brothers under the skin.” To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?
- Upon reading the linked document, what evidence can you find that the Spanish were indeed awed by the Aztec empire, and that this was a highly developed civilization?
Although they were seeking religious freedom, the Puritan leaders were not a tolerant people. They might best be described as religious bigots.
Discuss only ONE of the following questions.
- Explain if you agree or disagree with the statement, “…the Puritan leaders were not a tolerant people. They might best be described as religious bigots.” Make sure you support your argument with concrete examples.
- Although New England Puritans were devout reformers, they persecuted the Quakers. Discuss why, and how Quaker beliefs and customs challenged traditional English society.
- Both religious and economic factors made it easier for the French than the English to coexist with Indian cultures. Discuss why you agree or disagree with the statement.
Earlier readings in this course have addressed the transplanting of a labor system to the Americas that has existed throughout history. Because of its contractual nature which included a fixed time for ending their servitude, it is easy to forget that indentured servants were in fact slaves. Indentured servitude will start to wain in the late seventeenth century, but only the nature of slavery will change; the status of Africans will become one of lifelong servitude. Although the tendency is to equate slavery with the South, the fact is that until passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, slaves could be found through the United States.out
- Explain why African slavery took root in the North American colonies.
- Although it prevailed in all of the British colonies, why was slavery concentrated in the colonies located in the “South” and not in the “North”?
- Indentured servitude was not really slavery! Agree or disagree with this statement. Support your position with facts.
The British entered the Revolutionary war with clear advantages in population, wealth, and power, leading them to believe that they would be engaging in a quick police action. It was clear to them that once they isolated and removed the radicals in Massachusetts and Philadelphia, the rebellion would be over. The colonists on the other hand had a home advantage fighting on familiar ground. They were also fueled by the republican virtue of freedom, and equality, boldly stating “….that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” While these were very inspiring words, the reality was that these conditions were not shared by all colonists.
- In your opinion, which group played the most significant role in helping to win the war? The Continental Army, the colonists, the rebel militias, the French allies, or the British themselves? Support your argument.
- In which ways was the American Revolution democratic? Not democratic? Explain your position.
- How Revolutionary was the American war for Independence? Did it bring enough change to warrant the name “Revolution”?
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