APUSH Unit 1: 1491 - 1754 Pre-Columbian to Contact!

Pre-Columbian America ---->Exploration----> Contact with Europe!

Unit 1 is comprised of Periods 1 & 2:  1607-1754, Pre-Columbian through Early English Colonial Society.

Student Registration URL: http://login.cengagebrain.com/course/MTPQ-LG1P-3SQ5
Student Registration Instructions: Print instructions
Course Key: MTPQ-LG1P-3SQ5

Unit 1 Textbook Chapters: 

AMSCO / American Pageant Chapters 1-3 Reading Guides (Optional but HIGHLY ENCOURAGED): 
Chapter 3 Reading Guide: Colonial Society

American Pageant chapters 1-5 
If you do  not have your textbook yet, you may read American Pageant chapters online:


All videos are approximately 20 minutes each.

Chapter 1:  The First Americans 

Chapter 2:  European Exploration

Chapter 3:  New England Colonies (1620-1700)

Chapter 4:  Middle Colonies and Lower South (1670s-1750)

Chapter 5:  Colonial Society (Up to 1750)



(alternate recorded lectures!)


Unit 1 Terms:


Sites to Remember:

Lecture Point (podcast lecture with outline notes) 

Hippocampus (topical, multimedia reviews)

CrashCourse (YouTube lectures/reviews)

Optional Activity 

Chapter Summaries:


Chapter 1 Summary (from American Pageant)

          Millions of years ago, the two American continents became geologically separated from the Eastern Hemisphere land masses where humanity originated. The first people to enter these continents came across a temporary land bridge from Siberia about 35,000 years ago. Spreading across the two continents, they developed a great variety of societies based largely on corn agriculture and hunting. In North America, some ancient Indian peoples like the Pueblos, the Anasazi, and the Mississippian culture developed elaborate settlements. But on the whole, North American Indian societies were less numerous and urbanized than those in Central and South America, though equally diverse in culture and social organization.

         The impetus for European exploration came from the desire for new trade routes to the East, the spirit and technological discoveries of the Renaissance, and the power of the new Europeannational monarchies. The European encounters with America and Africa, beginning with the Portuguese and Spanish explorers, convulsed the entire world. Biological change, disease, population loss, conquest, African slavery, cultural change, and economic expansion were just some of the consequences of the commingling of two ecosystems.

         After they conquered and then intermarried with Indians of the great civilizations of South America and Mexico, the Spanish conquistadores expanded northward into the northern border territories of Florida, New Mexico, and California. There they established small but permanent settlements in competition with the French and English explorers who also were venturing into North America.

Chapter 2 summary from American Pageant

The defeat of the Spanish Armada and the exuberant spirit of Elizabethan nationalism finally drew England into the colonial race. After some early failures, the first permanent English colony was established at Jamestown, Virginia. Initially it faced harsh conditions and Indian hostility, but tobacco cultivation finally brought prosperity and population growth.

         The early encounters of English settlers with the Powhatans in Virginia established many of the patterns that characterized later Indian-white relations in North America. Indian societies underwent their own substantial changes as a result of warfare, disease, trade, and the mingling and migration of Indians from the Atlantic coast to inland areas.

            Other colonies were established in Maryland and the CarolinasSouth Carolina flourished by establishing close ties with the British sugar colonies in the West Indies. It also borrowed the West Indian pattern of harsh slave codes and large plantation agricultureNorth Carolina developed somewhat differently,with fewer slaves and more white colonists who owned small farms. Late comer Georgia served initially as a buffer against the Spanish and a haven for debtors.

            Despite some differences, all the southern colonies depended on staple plantation agriculture for their survival and on the institutions of indentured servitude and African slavery for their labor. With widely scattered rural settlements, they had relatively weak religious and social institutions and tended to develop hierarchical economicand social orders.

Chapter 3 Summary from American Pageant

           The New England colonies were founded by English Puritans. While most Puritans sought to “purify” the Church of England from within, and not to break away from it, a small group of Separatists—the Pilgrims—founded the first small, pious Plymouth Colony in New England. More important was the larger group of non-separating Puritans, led by John Winthrop, who founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony as part of the “great migration” of Puritans fleeing persecution in England in the 1630s.

         A strong sense of common purpose among the first settlers shaped the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Because of the close alignment of religion and politics in the colony, those who challenged religious orthodoxy, among them Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams, were considered guilty of sedition and driven out of Massachusetts. The banished Williams founded Rhode Island, by far the most religiously and politically tolerant of the colonies. Other New England settlements, all originating in Massachusetts Bay, were established in ConnecticutMaine (an extension of Massachusetts -- not an independent colony),and New Hampshire. Although they shared a common way of life, the New England colonies developed with a substantial degree of independence.

          The middle colonies took shape quite differently. New York, founded as New Netherland by the Dutch and later conquered by England, was economically and ethnically diverse, socially hierarchical, and politically quarrelsome. Pennsylvania, founded as a Quaker haven by William Penn, also attracted an economically ambitious and politically troublesome population of diverse ethnic groups.

         With their economic variety, ethnic diversity, and political factionalism, the middle colonies were the most typically “American” of England’s thirteen Atlantic seaboard colonies.

Chapter 4 Summary from American Pageant

            Life was hard in the seventeenth-century southern colonies. Disease drastically shortened life spans in the Chesapeake region, even for the young single men who made up the majority of settlers. Families were few and fragile, with men greatly outnumbering women, who were much in demand and seldom remained single for long.

          The tobacco economy first thrived on the labor of white indentured servants, who hoped to work their way up to become landowners and perhaps even become wealthy. But by the late seventeenth century, this hope was increasingly frustrated, and the discontents of the poor whites exploded in Bacon’s Rebellion.

          With white labor increasingly troublesome, slaves (earlier a small fraction of the workforce) began to be imported from West Africa by the tens of thousands in the 1680s, and soon became essential to the colonial economy. Slaves in the Deep South died rapidly of disease and overwork, but those in the Chesapeake tobacco region survived longer. Their numbers eventually increased by natural reproduction and they developed a distinctive African-American way of life that combined African elements with features developed in the New World.

          By contrast with the South, New England’s clean water and cool air contributed to a healthy way of life, which added ten years to the average English life span. The New England way of life centered on strong families and tightly knit towns and churches, which were relatively democratic and equal by seventeenth-century standards. By the late seventeenth century, however, social and religious tensions developed in these narrow communities, as the Salem witch hysteria dramatically illustrates.

          Rocky soil forced many New Englanders to turn to fishing and merchant shipping for their livelihoods. Their difficult lives and stern religion made New Englanders tough, idealistic, purposeful, and resourceful. In later years they spread these same values across much of American society.

          Seventeenth-century American society was still almost entirely simple and agrarian. Would-be aristocrats who tried to recreate the social hierarchies of Europe were generally frustrated.

Ch.5  summary from American Pageant

       By 1775 the thirteen American colonies east of the Appalachians were inhabited by a burgeoning population of two million whites and half a million blacks. The white population was increasingly a melting pot of diverse ethnic groups including Germans and the Scots-Irish.

       Compared with Europe, America was a land of equality and opportunity (for whites), but relative to the seventeenth-century colonies, there was a rising economic hierarchy and increasing social complexity. Ninety percent of Americans remained agriculturalists. But a growing class of wealthy planters and merchants appeared at the top of the social pyramid, in contrast with slaves and “jayle birds” from England, who formed a visible lower class.

       By the early eighteenth century, the established New England Congregational Church was losing religious fervor. The Great Awakening, sparked by fiery preachers like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield, spread a new style of emotional worship that revived religious zeal. Colonial education and culture were generally undistinguished, although science and journalism displayed some vigor. Politics was everywhere an important activity, as representative colonial assemblies battled on equal terms with politically appointed governors from England.

            Eighteenth-century America is a melting pot of races, cultures, religions, and ethnicities.

            One half of the people by the late 18th century are English or of English descent.

            In the 18th century, the triangle trade is essential to trade and commerce in the colonies.

             Challenges to the institutions and ideologies that dominated Europe and early colonial America emerge. 

                  The First Great Awakening leads to the development of American centers of higher learning.  That and political and judicial developments and the advent of the American press play a pivotal role in establishing a uniquely American character.


      The American colonies were a magnet for social, political, ethnic, and religious groups.  For example, the Scots-Irish were instrumental in developing more democratic society than they had experienced under the political disenfranchisement and economic exploitation of the British.

    Despite claims that the American colonies were more democratic and less socially stratified than Europe, a social class structure had indeed taken hold in America.  Slavery had a significant impact on the level of colonial democracy, as did the increasing numbers of indentured servants and lower class immigrants to America.

Notes & Reviews

English begin colonizing        New England              Rhode Island       

Middle Colonies                      Delaware                    New Jersey          

New York                                Pennsylvania

The Carolinas                         Georgia

The Thirteen Colonies Assignment


Unit 1 Guides and Crossroads(Optional but HIGHLY ENCOURAGED):