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European Empires in
the Americas 1500 –1700
After arriving in the Caribbean, the
Spaniards continued their exploration
of North and South America. Drawn by
stories of gold, they conquered both the
Aztec and Inca and seized their wealth.
In the early 1600s, the French and Dutch
also started American colonies.

Concepts to Understand
★ How America’s resources contributed to the economic develop-
Journal Note
ment of Spain, France, the Netherlands, and Sweden
★ How conflict and cooperation affected relations between Native
t the
Imagine tha Americans and European settlers
f Europe
monarchs o
you to help Read to Discover . . .
have asked
t settlers
them attrac ★ how the Spaniards settled and
cas. As
to the Ameri governed the lands they conquered.
you read this hings ★ what drew French, Dutch,
on t
take notes
you think m
ight con-
ans to
and Swedish settlers
to North America. HISTORY
vince Europe e coun-
leave their h Chapter Overview
o me to the
tries and c Visit the American History: The Early Years to
Americas. 1877 Web site at and click on
Chapter 4—Chapter Overviews to preview
chapter information.
1521 Aztec surrender to the
Americas 1540 Coronado begins exploring 1560s Spaniards begin missions in
the Southwest borderlands
1500–1549 1550–1599
1517 Protestant Reformation begins 1568 Mercator publishes map of the
in Germany Americas
World 1534 England separates from the
Roman Catholic Church

90 UNIT 1 America’s Beginnings: Prehistory–1700

History De Soto Discovering the Mississippi, 1541

ART by O.F. Barninghaus, 1920

The great explorations of the United States were

common subjects for American artists. This painting
of De Soto was created by American artist O.F.
Barninghaus in 1920.


1608 Champlain founds Quebec

1609 Hudson explores Hudson River
1626 Dutch buy Manhattan Island 1655 Dutch take over New Sweden
1600–1649 1650–1699
1606 Portuguese explorers reach 1653 Taj Mahal completed in India
Australia 1689 Russia and China establish

CHAPTER 4 European Empires in the Americas: 1500–1700 91


The Fall of Two Empires

Main Idea Read to Learn . . .
As the Spanish conquered more of ★ how the Spaniards conquered the Aztec
the Americas, they brought an end to and the Inca.
the Aztec and Incan Empires. ★ how Spanish conquests changed
Mexico and South America.

Terms to Know
Reading Strategy
★ conquistador
Taking Notes As you read about the fall ★ Nahuatl
of the Aztec and Incan Empires, trace each
civilization’s demise in an outline like the
one shown here.
I. Aztec Empire falls. II. Inca Empire falls.
A. A.
B. B.


“ Our lord and king, it is true

that unknown people have
come. They have arrived
at the shores of the great
present-day Gulf of Mexico. The messen-
ger had been sent to find out if the rumors
were true.

sea. . . . Their weapons and

equipment are all made ★ Strangers on the Coast
of iron. Their bodies are
covered everywhere; only Montezuma heard the news with a
their faces can be seen. deepening sense of fear. If Aztec legend
They are very white, as if was correct, the god Quetzalcoatl

made of lime. (KWEHT•suhl•kuh•WAH•tuhl), the Feath-
ered Serpent, had returned to the Aztec
An Aztec messenger delivered this empire to reclaim his throne. “If he comes
message to his emperor, Montezuma . . . he strikes at kings,” the legend warned.
(MAHN•tuh•ZOO•muh) in his palace at The emperor had many doubts. Was the
Tenochtitlán (tay•NAWCH•teet•LAHN) in ancient pale-skinned god of legend truly
1519. For some time, the Aztec had heard among the strangers on the coast? On the
rumors that there were strangers to the other hand, could these be humans who
east, along the shores of the “great sea,” or had come to harm the Aztec?

92 UNIT 1 America’s Beginnings: Prehistory–1700

Montezuma decided to treat the and 200 Cubans. He loaded the ships with
strangers and their leader as if they were horses, cannons, muskets, and specially
gods. He sent five men to the coast with trained war dogs dressed in their own
gifts and an invitation to visit him at armor.
Tenochtitlán. His gifts included golden
masks inlaid with turquoise, headdresses
made of brightly colored feathers, gold
Malintzin the Interpreter
jewelry, and shields. Cortés had crossed the Gulf of Mexico
and landed on the Yucatán Peninsula by
March of 1519. He spent a few weeks sail-
Cortés the Conqueror ing along the coast and learning as much
When the Aztec messengers arrived at as he could from the Maya. Although the
the coast, they presented Montezuma’s great Mayan civilization was gone, Maya
gifts to the leader of the pale-faced descendants still lived and farmed in the
strangers. He was Hernán Cortés region. One Mayan chieftain introduced
(kawr•TEHZ). Instead of a god, Cortés Cortés to a Native American princess
was a Spanish conquistador, a Spanish named Malintzin.
term for conqueror. As a child, Malintzin had been sold into
Cortés was not pleased with Montezu- slavery during a time of famine. She
ma’s messengers. He looked at the gifts spoke both Nahuatl (NAH•WAH•tuhl),
with scorn and asked, “And is this all? Is the language of the Aztec, and the Mayan
this your gift of welcome?” He placed language. Before long, she also learned
Montezuma’s messengers in chains and Spanish. Malintzin became Cortés’s inter-
fired a cannon nearby to frighten them. preter, translating Native American lan-
He told the messengers, “I and my friends guages into Spanish.
suffer from a disease of the heart which Like many people in the coastal areas,
can be cured only by gold.” Malintzin hated the Aztec. She told Cortés
about their wealth and their belief in the
pale-skinned god Quetzalcoatl.
Cortés Arrives in Mexico
Cortés had been in the Caribbean since
1511 managing his estate. As a reward for Cortés Marches Inland
helping Spain conquer Cuba, he had By April, Cortés decided to journey
received a large land grant on the island. inland toward the Aztec capital. Before
Like other Spaniards, Cortés had heard leaving the coast, however, he founded a
tales about magnificent cities of gold on colony and named it Veracruz. In so
the mainland of North America across the doing, he claimed Mexico for Spain and
Gulf of Mexico. He was eager to find the Roman Catholic Church. Sensing that
those riches. the march would be dangerous and diffi-
In 1518 the governor of Spain’s colony cult, Cortés also destroyed his ships. He
in Cuba asked Cortés to set up a post on wanted to prevent his soldiers from
the Mexican mainland to claim land, look retreating to Cuba.
for gold, and begin trading with the Meanwhile, Montezuma became more
Native Americans. Sensing the ambitions and more fearful. He sent sacks of gold to
of Cortés, the governor changed his mind the approaching Spaniards, hoping to sat-
at the last minute. Cortés decided to dis- isfy them and convince them to turn back.
obey the governor and go anyway. The gifts, however, only made the
He had outfitted 11 ships for his trip and Spaniards more eager to reach the Aztec
enlisted the help of 600 Spanish soldiers capital and its riches.

CHAPTER 4 European Empires in the Americas: 1500–1700 93

★ Cortés in Tenochtitlán fires to melt them into gold bars. The bars
were easier to carry away. Today the gold
Cortés arrived at the entrance to that Cortés took from the Aztec would be
Tenochtitlán on November 8, 1519. There worth more than $8 million.
Montezuma, perhaps still uncertain about
who the Spaniards were, gave him a
grand welcome. That same day he gave
A New Spanish Ally: Disease
the Spaniards their own quarters in the During the months that Montezuma
palace and presented them with many was held captive by the Spaniards, he
precious gifts. Finally, speaking through became unpopular among the Aztec peo-
Malintzin, he offered Cortés the Aztec ple. He was killed by a stone thrown by an
empire to command. Aztec during a revolt against the Spanish.
Cortés sensed that Montezuma feared After Montezuma’s death, however, the
him. He also saw that he and his troops Aztec united and drove the Spaniards
were in a dangerous position. Montezuma from Tenochtitlán. Fleeing Spaniards—
could be leading him into a trap. Aztec many slowed down with the weight of the
warriors were everywhere. If they drew treasure they carried—were hunted down
up the bridges leading into the city, the and killed.
Spaniards would have no escape. The Aztec had little chance to enjoy
Cortés decided that the best way to their victory, however. One Aztec account
control the Aztec would be to seize Mon- told that:

tezuma and hold him captive. Montezu-
After the Spaniards had left
ma remained a prisoner of the Spaniards the city of Mexico, and
in his own palace for months. before they had made any
Meanwhile, the Spaniards ransacked all preparations to attack us
the gold or other treasures they could find again, there came amongst
in the capital. They piled gold jewelry and us a great sickness, a

other items into large heaps and started general plague. . . .

 INTERPRETER FOR CORTÉS Malintzin’s people, the Maya, lived on the east coast
of Mexico. What colony did Cortés found there?
H istory

94 UNIT 1 America’s Beginnings: Prehistory–1700


Linking Past and Present


Spanish an Atlantic hurricane. The

Atocha ran into a jagged reef Now
Treasure Ships and sank to the ocean floor, tak- Treasure Hunt
Throughout the 1500s and ing its treasure and more than
100 crew members with it. In 1985, modern
1600s, hundreds of Spanish
treasure hunter and
treasure ships carried tons of
underwater diver
American gold, silver, and
Mel Fisher found
jewels to Spain.
the Atocha’s wooden
hull covered with sand off the
Then coast of the Florida Keys. Still
Lost at Sea buried with it were more than
3,000 emeralds; 30 tons of sil-
In 1622 the Spanish ship ver; and hundreds of gold bars,
Atocha departed Cuba for chains, and coins. Some esti-
Spain. The unlucky crew soon mate that the treasure is worth
realized that they had sailed into $300 million to $1 billion.


The “great sickness” the Aztec wrote Cortés ordered that a new city be built
about was probably smallpox or measles. on the site of Tenochtitlán. It would be
These diseases were deadly because the the new Spanish capital, renamed Mexi-
Aztec had never been exposed to them co City.
before. The diseases brought by the
Spaniards turned into a deadly weapon.
★ Pizarro and the Inca
The Final Conquest Thirteen years after the conquest of the
Cortés returned to Tenochtitlán 10 Aztec, the Inca also faced the strength of
months later. With mounted soldiers in the Spaniards. The leader of the attack
the lead, thousands of Native Americans against the Inca was the Spanish conquis-
and at least 1,000 Spanish soldiers tador Francisco Pizarro.
attacked the capital. The Aztec fought on Like Cortés, Pizarro had heard many
foot without horses or guns. Their stone stories of the great wealth in the lands of
knives, copper shields, and cloth armor South America. He made several expedi-
were no match for the iron weapons and tions along the coast to look for the trea-
heavy cannons of the Spaniards. sure. It was not until 1526, however, when
The Aztec surrendered to Cortés on one of his ships spotted an Incan trading
August 13, 1521. It had taken only two boat loaded with silver and gold, that he
years for the Spaniards to destroy the believed the stories were true.
mighty Aztec empire. Tenochtitlán lay in Pizarro ordered his men to capture the
ruins and the golden treasures of the ship. He trained some of the Incan crew to
Aztec now belonged to Cortés and to be interpreters, then planned his assault
Spain. on the Incan empire.

CHAPTER 4 European Empires in the Americas: 1500–1700 95

control the Inca was through their emper-
or. He took Atahualpa captive.
To gain their leader’s freedom, the
Inca were ordered to pay a ransom. They
collected enough gold and silver to fill
the room where their emperor was kept
prisoner. At today’s prices the roomful of
precious metals would be worth more
than $65 million. Pizarro promised to
free Atahualpa when the ransom was
paid, but instead had the Incan leader

The Fall of an Empire

Pizarro then sent soldiers up the moun-
tains to capture the Incan capital of
 ATAHUALPA BEFORE PIZARRO The Incan ruler Cuzco. By 1535 most of the Incan empire
Atahualpa was captured by Pizarro. What later
H istory had fallen. Pizarro set up his capital in
happened to Atahualpa?
Lima, Peru. From there he sent expedi-
tions to take control of most of the rest of
South America outside Portuguese-held
A Broken Promise Brazil. The Portuguese had held claim to
In 1531 Pizarro led 180 soldiers across Brazil since 1494.
the Isthmus of Panama and then sailed Unlike the Aztec, who fell to Cortés in
southward along the west coast of South only 2 years, parts of the Incan empire
America. When Pizarro’s small Spanish held out against the Spaniards for 40
army landed in the coastal city of Caja- years. The Inca’s system of rule encour-
marco, it learned that the Incan ruler aged loyalty among its many subjects and
Atahualpa (AH•tuh•WAHL•puh) was the empire was much better unified than
resting after a bitter civil war with his the Aztec Empire.
half-brother. After killing thousands of The Spaniards found far more gold in
Inca, the Spaniards marched to Atahual- South America than in Mexico. The for-
pa’s summer home. Like Cortés among mer Incan empire became Spain’s richest
the Aztec, Pizarro thought the best way to colony.

★ Section Assessment★
Checking for Understanding Spanish conquests changed Mexico and
1. Define conquistador, Nahuatl. South America.
2. What weapons did the Spanish have that the Spanish Conquests
Aztec and Inca did not have?
3. Why was the city of Lima important to
5. The Arts Imagine you are an Aztec mes-
Critical Thinking
senger warning the Inca that the Spanish
4. Analyzing Effects Re-create the diagram
are coming to attack them. Draw a series of
shown here, and list the ways in which the
five pictures telling them what to expect.

96 UNIT 1 America’s Beginnings: Prehistory–1700

Social Studies Skills

Understanding Latitude and Longitude

For more than 17 centuries,
mapmakers have used lines of
latitude and longitude from
Spanish Colonies in the Americas
120° W 90° W 60° W 30° W 0°
the global grid to pinpoint
locations on maps and globes. NORTH

Prime Meridian
Mexico St. Augustine 30° N
Gulf of Cuba Hispaniola
Learning the Skill Tenochtitlán Mexico
Veracruz Santiago Santo Domingo
The imaginary horizontal Caribbean Sea

lines that circle the globe from Isthmus of

Panama Equator 0°
east to west are lines of lati- Cajamarca
tude. Because the distance Lima SOUTH
between the lines of latitude is AMERICA OCEAN

always the same, they are also 30° S

called parallels. The imaginary PACIFIC
vertical lines that intersect the 0 1,500 3,000 miles

parallels are lines of longitude, 0 1,500 3,000 kilometers

also called meridians.

Parallels and meridians are
numbered in degrees. The
Equator, located halfway
between the North and South Practicing the Skill
Poles, is 0°. Moving north or south of the 1. What are the approximate coordi-
Equator, the number of degrees increases nates of Santo Domingo on
until reaching 90°N or S latitude at the Hispaniola?
poles. St. Augustine, Florida, at 29°N lati-
2. Is the Isthmus of Panama located
tude, is 29° north of the Equator. Cuzco, about 8°N or 8°S latitude?
Peru, at 13°S latitude is 13° south of the
3. What Spanish capital was built at
12°S and 76°W?
The Prime Meridian is 0° longitude.
Moving east or west of the Prime Glencoe’s Skillbuilder Interactive
Meridian, the number of degrees E or W Workbook, Level 1 provides in-
increases up to 180°. The 180° line of struction and practice in key social
studies skills.
longitude is located on the opposite side
of the globe from the Prime Meridian. It is
called the International Date Line. APPLYING THE SKILL
The point at which parallels and meridi- 4. Use your Atlas to help you sketch a
ans intersect are the coordinates of an exact map of the east coast of the United
location. The coordinates for St. Augustine States and the Atlantic Ocean. On your
are 29°N and 81°W. The coordinates for map draw a small circle at about 32°N
Cuzco are 13°S and 71°W. and 75°W. Imagine the circle is a hurri-
cane traveling west. Label the state the
hurricane will probably strike.


Spain Builds a Vast Empire

Main Idea Read to Learn . . .
Throughout the sixteenth century, ★ what life was like in the
Spain built a vast American empire Spanish colonies.
that stretched from South America to ★ what areas of the present-day
what is today the United States. United States the Spaniards
★ how Spain settled the
Reading Strategy American Southwest.
Organizing Information As you read
about Spain’s conquest of the Terms to Know
Americas, use a diagram similar to ★ borderlands
the one shown here to describe ★ viceroy
the settlement types and social
★ pueblo
classes in its new empire.
★ mission
Settlement Types Social Classes
★ presidio
★ peninsulare
★ creole
Spain’s Empire
 ★ mestizo

I n 1523 three barefoot men in tattered

brown robes got off a Spanish ship at the
were friars, members of a Catholic reli-
gious order. Their influence over Cortés
newly built port of Veracruz on the Gulf was just one sign of the important role reli-
of Mexico. Then they walked more than gion played as Spain went on to strengthen
200 miles (320 km) over rugged trails to and enlarge its empire in the Americas.
reach Mexico City.
Outside the city, Cortés—now ruler of
Mexico—met the three men. Thousands
★ Spain’s American Empire
of Native Americans watched in amaze- Spain used the wealth gained from its
ment as Cortés knelt down before the men conquest of the Aztec and Inca to enlarge
and begged forgiveness for his treatment its army and navy. It was able to finance
of the Native Americans. more explorations and settlements in the
Who were these simply dressed, bare- Americas. As the most powerful nation in
foot men? Why did they have such power Europe, Spain faced little interference
over the mighty Hernán Cortés? The men from other European countries.

98 UNIT 1 America’s Beginnings: Prehistory–1700

Ruling the Empire Viceroys and lesser officials sent regular,
lengthy reports back to Spain. Likewise
Spain divided its American empire into
officials in Spain sent many rules and reg-
two parts. The southern part was made
ulations to the colonies.
up of its claims in South America and was
called Peru. The northern part, named
New Spain, took in all the land north of Three Kinds of Settlements
South America. It included the Caribbean Spanish law called for three kinds of
Islands, Central America, Mexico, and all settlements in the Americas—pueblos,
the lands bordering Mexico and the Gulf missions, and presidios. Pueblos, or
of Mexico. These lands along the northern towns, were established as centers of
edges of Spanish territory were the Span- trade. Most pueblos were built around a
ish borderlands. central square that included a church and
Spain put a governing official called a government buildings. Many towns in
viceroy in charge of each part of its Mexico and South America still reflect the
empire, one in New Spain and one in style of the Spanish pueblos.
Peru. The main responsibility of the Missions were religious communities
viceroy was to produce wealth for Spain. that usually included a small town, sur-
For many years, this was not difficult to rounding farmland, and a church. They
do. New, rich deposits of silver were were started by Catholic religious work-
found northwest of Mexico City. These ers called missionaries.
mines produced tons of silver for ship- Life in a mission centered around the
ment to Spain. Cotton, sugarcane, and church. Priests taught Native Americans
other crops grown on plantations were about the Roman Catholic religion and
also shipped to Spain. various crafts and skills. Usually a pre-
Despite the distance across the Atlantic, sidio, or fort, was built near a mission.
rulers in Spain succeeded in keeping tight Spanish soldiers stationed at a presidio
control over their American colonies. protected the missions from invaders.

 SPANISH MISSION The priests raised crops to feed the many people who lived
at the mission. What were the three types of Spanish settlements?
H istory

CHAPTER 4 European Empires in the Americas: 1500–1700 99

Biography ★★★★ ★ Social Classes
Sor Juana Writes Poetry in New Spain
The life of Juana Inés de la Cruz The people of Spain’s American colonies
reflects how opportunities for women formed a structured society where position
were limited in New Spain. Men held all was determined mostly by birth.
the important positions. Women had two
choices: to marry and put themselves Peninsulares and Creoles
under the control of their husbands, or to Peninsulares, or people born in Spain,
join a convent and put themselves under had the highest positions in Spanish colo-
the control of the church. nial society. Peninsulares held the best
Juana Inés de la Cruz was born in a tiny jobs in government and in the church.
village near Mexico City in 1651. At 17 They also owned much of the land and
Juana chose to enter a convent to become ran the large estates on which the Native
a nun, or religious sister. She believed the Americans worked. They controlled most
convent would allow her the time and of the wealth and power.
opportunity to write poetry and study. Creoles were below the peninsulares
Religious leaders soon became angry on the social ladder. These colonists had
that Juana wrote poetry about such Spanish parents but had been born in
worldly subjects as love and the rights of New Spain. Although they could not rise
women. A Catholic bishop wrote her a let- as high as the peninsulares, they still held
ter of warning. important positions in the government,
Inside the convent other nuns shunned church, army, and business.
Sor Juana. Few people from the outside
dared to visit her. Finally in 1694 Juana Mestizos
gave in. She reaffirmed her vows as a nun.
Her library was removed from her room. By the late 1500s, there were about
A year later when an epidemic swept 60,000 peninsulares and creoles in New
through Mexico City, Juana insisted on Spain. They were greatly outnumbered,
staying in the convent to tend to the nuns however, by mestizos, people of mixed
who were ill. At age 43 she died of cholera. Spanish and Native American descent.
Today, many scholars regard Sor Juana as Most mestizos worked on farms and
the Americas’ first great poet. ★★★ ranches. In towns they worked as carpen-
ters, bakers, tailors, and soldiers.

Treatment of Native Americans

Native Americans made up the largest
group of people in Spain’s empire. They
were forced to work in the mines and on
plantations under cruel conditions. Most
were paid so little that they had to borrow
from landowners just to buy food. They
could not change jobs until all their debts
were paid. As a result, they were trapped
in a system that was close to slavery.
Bartolomé de Las Casas devoted his
life to trying to change the Spaniards’
 JUANA INÉS DE LA CRUZ abuse of the Native Americans. Las Casas

100 UNIT 1 America’s Beginnings: Prehistory–1700

first came to the Caribbean Islands with

Columbus in 1502 and later became a
priest. In 1542, Spain passed laws meant to
end the system of forced labor altogether.
Las Casas often found the laws impossible • Introduction of new Asian trade
to enforce, however. goods in Europe
• Strong national rulers make travel
safe for merchants in Europe
★ The Spanish • Europeans improve shipbuilding
and apply navigational tools such
Borderlands as the compass and astrolabe
Even before the conquest of the Aztec,
Spanish explorers had turned their atten-
tion to the borderlands. Their first goal • The Age of Exploration
was always to find gold.

Settlement in Florida

As early as 1513, explorer Juan Ponce
de León visited Florida, searching for
riches—and according to legend—a foun- • Europeans make voyages to the
tain that promised eternal youth. He Americas
found neither, and in 1521 lost his life in a • Rise of large European empires in
conflict with Native Americans. North and South America
In 1565, a group of French people land- • Destruction of many Native Ameri-
ed in Florida intending to start a settle- can populations and cultures
ment. To keep out the French, the • Competition among European coun-
Spaniards built a fort and settlement of tries for control in the Americas
their own along the east coast of Florida.
They called their settlement St. Augus-
tine. Founded in 1565, St. Augustine For nearly nine years the men wan-
today is the oldest city in the United States dered through the borderlands of south-
started by Europeans. west North America trying to find their
way to Mexico. When they finally reached
Spanish territory in 1536, they had walked
A Lost Expedition
halfway across the continent.
In 1528 a large Spanish expedition went
to Florida looking for gold. The Spaniards
lost their way, however, and retreated to Coronado in the Southwest
Florida’s west coast. De Vaca claimed that Native Americans
The men built rafts and tried to sail had told him of seven cities in a land
across the Gulf of Mexico. Of the 300 men called Cibola that had huge stockpiles of
who started the trip, only 4 survived. gold, silver, and precious jewels. Francis-
Those 4 were washed ashore near present- co Vásquez de Coronado organized a
day Galveston, Texas. One of them was a large expedition to the Southwest to find
noble named Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca the fabled Seven Cities of Cibola in 1540.
(kuh•BAY•zuh duh VAH•kuh). Another Coronado traveled for almost three
was an African who had been enslaved, years through lands of the present-day
named Esteban (ehs•TAY•bahn). southwestern United States. He passed

CHAPTER 4 European Empires in the Americas: 1500–1700 101

Spanish Explorers, 1513 –1598
120°W 100°W 80°W 60°W

Coronado 1540
Oñate 1598
Cabeza de Vaca 1536
De Soto 1539
40°N NORTH AMERICA Ponce de León 1513

0 200 400 600 miles
Grand ver
Canyon o Ri
lo rad Arkansa 0 200 400 600 kilometers

i Riv
Co s


Diego Santa Fe ATLANTIC
St. Augustine OCEAN
El Paso

Gulf of

e Mexico
20°N Rico
Mexico City Cuba
Caribbean Sea

Region Spanish explorers claimed all of Florida, the islands of the Caribbean
Sea, and most of southwestern North America. Which Spaniard explored
areas along the southern half of the Mississippi River?

cliff dwellings abandoned by the ancient of the seven cities of gold. De Soto started
Anasazi and explored settlements of the his journey in Florida. For the next 2
Zuni, Hopi, Apache, and Navajo. years, he and 600 men made their way
To his disappointment Coronado found through present-day South Carolina,
no splendid cities of gold. His expedition Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Ten-
did, however, give Spain claim to lands nessee. Although he had failed to find
far to the north of Mexico. gold, he gave Spain a claim to all the land
he had explored.
De Soto and the Mississippi River
In 1539 another Spanish expedition—
led by Hernando de Soto—went in search
★ Borderland Missions
For many years Spanish settlers paid lit-
HISTORY tle attention to the northern borderlands.
The Spanish government, however, want-
Student Web Activity
Visit the American History: The Early Years to 1877 Web ed to attract settlers to the area to discour-
site at and click on Chapter 4—Student age other countries from making claims.
Web Activities for an activity about Spain’s empire. Instead of soldiers, the government sent
missionaries to start new settlements.

102 UNIT 1 America’s Beginnings: Prehistory–1700

Knowing how badly the Native Ameri- had scheduled activities that they had to
cans of the Caribbean and Mexico had attend. The new religion also required
been treated, government officials in them to give up their own religious beliefs
Spain thought that missionaries would be and traditions.
able to develop kinder relationships with Many Native Americans rebelled. Some
the people who lived in the borderlands. attacked the missions, killing missionaries.
From the 1560s to the 1820s, Spain set up Others simply left the missions.
hundreds of missions in present-day New
Mexico, Arizona, Texas, California, Flori-
da, and Georgia. Stopping the Russians in California
Spanish missions met many of the
Upper California was the last border-
Native Americans’ basic needs. In return,
land Spain settled. The Spaniards had
the Native Americans were expected to
claimed this territory in 1542 when they
accept the Catholic religion, practice Span-
sailed along the Pacific Coast and
ish customs, and work at the mission.
explored the site of present-day San
Missions usually provided dining
Diego. However, they ignored Upper Cal-
areas, schools, workshops, and a church.
ifornia until the 1760s, when they became
Some had living quarters where the
alarmed at the activities of traders from
Native Americans could stay with their
Russian-held Alaska. From time to time,
families. In the workshops, Native Ameri-
the Russians went ashore to hunt and
cans could learn needlework, carpentry,
gather furs.
and metalworking skills.
Spanish officials sent an expedition to
California in 1769. Their first goal was to
Native American Responses establish a chain of missions and military
Some Native Americans enjoyed the posts along the California coast. The
benefits that missions provided. Others Spaniards began a settlement they called
did not like the restrictions the missions San Diego. This was the first of 21 mis-
placed on them. They could not leave sions built between San Diego and San
without permission, and each day they Francisco.

★ Section Assessment★
Checking for Understanding 5. Organizing Information The Spanish
explored much of what is today the southern
1. Define borderlands, viceroy, pueblo, mission, United States. Use a diagram such as the one
presidio, peninsulare, creole, mestizo. shown here to give the present-day state
2. What social class of New Spain was the names of the regions the Spanish explored.
largest? Why?
3. What was the basis for Spain’s claims to the
Spanish Exploration
American Southwest?

Critical Thinking
4. Determining Cause and Effect What earlier
Spanish experiences in the Americas might
have encouraged Coronado to believe in the 6. Citizenship Create a diagram to illustrate
seven cities of gold? the differences among social classes in
New Spain.

CHAPTER 4 European Empires in the Americas: 1500–1700 103



An Age of Mercantilism


Pesos (In millions)

Pesos (In millions)





01531– 1541– 1551– 1561– 1571– 1581– 1591– 1601– 1611– 1621– 1631– 1641–
1531– 1541– 1551– 1561– 1571– 1581– 1591– 1601– 1611– 1621– 1631– 1641–
1535 1545 1555 1565 1575 1585 1595 1605 1615 1625 1635 1645
1535 1545 1555 1565 1575 1585 1595 1605 1615 1625 1635 1645
Source: Spain in America, 1966. Year
Source: Spain in America, 1966. Year

Between the 1400s and 1700s, European

countries adopted an economic system called Making the Math Connection
mercantilism. According to the theory of Use the graph to answer the follow-
mercantilism, a country could be rich only if ing questions.
wealth continually flowed into its economy
and its government treasury. 1. During which two five-year periods
Colonies were one source of wealth. It was did the value of resources fail to reach
always the colonists’ duty to ship most of the 1 million pesos?
gold, silver, or other resources found in the 2. During which three five-year periods
colony back to their home country in Europe. did wealth sent to Spain reach peak
Spain was the first European country in amounts?
the Americas to profit from mercantilism. 3. About how much more wealth was
Just one ship leaving Cuba carried more than gained during the period from
900 bars of silver, 160 bars of gold, 580 bars of 1601–1605 than from 1641–1645?
copper, 225,000 gold coins, and 300 popcorn-
sized emeralds. ACTIVITY
As other European countries set up
colonies in the Americas, they too followed 4. Create a chart of American goods you
mercantilism. For about 300 years, most of think could have been shipped to Spain
during the 1500s and 1600s. List the
the natural resources gathered in the Ameri-
names of the items and a possible
cas were sent to Europe.
value, such as “tobacco—3,000 pesos.”
When you have finished, add up the
total value of the ship’s cargo.


French, Dutch, and

Swedish Colonies
American Empires
Main Idea
The French established a large but New France New Amsterdam
sparsely populated empire in North
America, while the Dutch and Swedes
carved out smaller colonies there. Read to Learn . . .
★ about French colonization in North
Reading Strategy
★ why the Dutch established New
Organizing Information As you read Netherland.
about the different European empires
in North America, list their main 
characteristics in a diagram similar EUROPEAN
to the one in column two.

W hen French explorer Jacques

Cartier had arrived in eastern Canada in
In addition, France in the mid-1500s
was fighting wars in Europe. It had little
1534, his sailors planted a 30-foot (9-m) money or energy for exploring new lands.
wooden cross on the shore. Cartier him- In 1589, however, the wars in France
self formally claimed the land for France. ended. The French monarch began to take
Nearby, a group of Native Americans had a closer look at the lands Cartier had
gathered to watch this strange ceremony. claimed along the St. Lawrence River.
They seemed angry as they pointed to the
cross and spoke.
The French had no need to be con-
★ Establishing New France
cerned about the Native Americans for a Cartier had reported to a group of
number of years. Neither Cartier’s first French fur companies that there were a
voyage in 1534 nor his two later voyages great many furbearing animals in north-
promised a new route to Asia or gold and ern North America. These fur companies
silver. As a result, the French king had lit- paid for the first major attempt the French
tle interest in what the North American made to settle America. They hired
continent had to offer. Samuel de Champlain to lead the effort.

CHAPTER 4 European Empires in the Americas: 1500–1700 105

Major European Explorers, 1487–1682
Explorer Dates of Accomplishments
For Portugal
Bartolomeu Dias 1487-1488 Sailed around the southern tip of Africa Most European
Vasco da Gama 1497-1499 Sailed around Africa to India explorers reached
Pedro Alvares Cabral 1500 Sailed to Brazil
the Western
For Spain Which two
Christopher 1492-1504 Explored the islands of the Caribbean countries
Columbus Sea explored the east
Juan Ponce de León 1508-1509, Explored Puerto Rico
coast of North
1513 Explored Florida America?
Ferdinand Magellan 1519-1522 First to sail around the world

Cabeza de Vaca 1530 Explored Spanish northern Mexico and

Francisco Coronado 1540-1542 Explored southwestern North America

Hernando de Soto 1516-1520, Explored Central America

1539-1543 Led expedition to the Mississippi River

Juan Cabrillo 1542-1543 Explored the west coast of North America

For England
John Cabot 1497-1501 Rediscovered Newfoundland (east coast
of North America)
Henry Hudson 1610-1611 Explored Hudson Strait and Hudson Bay

For the Netherlands

Henry Hudson 1609 Explored the Hudson River

For France
Giovanni da 1524 Explored the east coast of North
Verrazano America, including New York harbor
Jacques Cartier 1534-1542 Explored the St. Lawrence River

Samuel de 1603-1615 Explored the St. Lawrence River

Champlain Founded Quebec
Jacques Marquette/ 1673 Explored the Mississippi River
Louis Joliet
Robert de La Salle 1666-1682 Explored the Great Lakes
Founded Louisiana after reaching the
mouth of the Mississippi River CHAMPLAIN

Founding Quebec In 1608, Champlain established Que-

Champlain sailed to North America in bec—the first permanent French settle-
1603. He landed on the eastern coast of ment—near the mouth of the St. Lawrence
the present-day Canadian provinces of River. Here, he and a small group of 24
Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince settlers built a wooden fort to prepare for
Edward Island. The French called this the first winter. The winter was bitterly
region Acadia. cold and only 8 settlers survived.

106 UNIT 1 America’s Beginnings: Prehistory–1700

The French and North America, they claimed more land
the Native Americans for France. Native Americans they met
along the way told them of a great river
Champlain saw the importance of
that lay south of the area the French had
maintaining peace with the Native Amer-
icans. He sent out young men to learn
A trader, named Louis Joliet, and a
their languages and to study the customs
priest, Father Jacques Marquette, heard
of the Algonquin and Huron.
the stories of the mighty river and hoped
Unlike the Spaniards, who tried to
it was the trade route to Asia that every-
change Native American cultures, most
one had been looking for. In 1673 the two
French settlers—beginning with Cham-
men set out to find the waterway, travel-
plain—tried to accept Native American
ing down the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers.
ways. Because of this attitude, some
Eventually, they reached the Mississippi
Native Americans became strong allies of
River. For several weeks, they paddled
the French.
more than 1,000 miles (1,600 km) downriv-
Champlain explored and mapped Lake
er. At length, they realized that the Missis-
Ontario and Lake Huron, two of the five
sippi River flowed south and was not a
Great Lakes located at the western end of
western route to the Pacific Ocean.
the St. Lawrence River. He also traveled to
Ten years later, Robert de La Salle was
present-day northern New York. There he
determined to find out how far the Mis-
came to another lake which he named
sissippi flowed. In 1682 he reached the
after himself—Lake Champlain. Cham-
mouth of the Mississippi, where it emp-
plain became known as “the Father of
ties into the Gulf of Mexico. He and his
New France.” Just as the Spaniards called
men erected a stone column that claimed
their North American empire New Spain,
all the lands of the Mississippi Valley for
the French called theirs New France.
France. He named the area Louisiana in
honor of King Louis XIV.

The French Fur Trade ★ The Boundaries of

The economy of New France was based
on the fur trade. Traders sent a steady the French Empire
supply of beaver, otter, and fox skins back By 1700 New France took in a huge por-
to France. These skins, especially beaver tion of North America. It included Acadia,
skins, were highly prized for making hats Canada, and Louisiana. Canada was
and coats. Beaver hats were very fashion- everything west of Acadia to the Great
able in Europe, and upper-class Euro-
peans were eager to buy them.
French traders and trappers traveled
across New France using the rivers and
lakes as highways. They set up trading Flag of New France
posts along the way and became friendly Settlers in New France
with some Native Americans who sup- flew this French flag,
plied them with furs. which was based on
the French Royal Ban-
ner, until 1763. White was the French
Exploring the Mississippi royal color of the time.
As explorers, missionaries, and fur ★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★
traders moved west into the interior of

CHAPTER 4 European Empires in the Americas: 1500–1700 107

French Explorers, 1535–1682
50° N
100° W 90° W 80° W 70° W 60° W 50° W
Hudson Bay
Lake Superi Three Rivers


Mi ce
ss L ren



e Huron
Frontenac .

Ft. Champlain
Detroit Lake
Lake E

Ontario 40° N

ur i

Riv Michigan



Cartier 1535–1536

i ve Champlain 1609–1615
rk Ohio R IA

a n s as Marquette and Joliet 1673
PA La Salle 1669–1671, 1679–1682



79 French territory Settlement

English territory Fort

Spanish territory

0 200 400 600 miles

0 200 400 600 kilometers

Florida 30° N

Movement Explorers from France followed rivers and lakes into the interior of
North America. Which early French explorer traveled up the St. Lawrence

Lakes. Louisiana was the southern colony ★ Attracting

that stretched through central North
America, along the Mississippi River, to French Settlers
the Gulf of Mexico. While New France eventually pros-
Trappers, traders, priests, and soldiers pered, it did so without many French set-
continued to move into the lands that tlers. Reports of cold weather and attacks
France claimed and built many trading by the Iroquois kept many people from
posts and forts. Today’s cities of Detroit, leaving France. Also, the government and
St. Louis, and New Orleans stand on the economy of France was stable and people
sites of earlier French trading posts. had no reason to leave.

Footnotes to History
The Wall in Wall Street The Dutch in New Amsterdam built a wall across the
southern end of Manhattan to keep Native Americans out of their settlement.
Wall Street, world-renowned center of finance in present-day New York City,
takes its name from this wall.

108 UNIT 1 America’s Beginnings: Prehistory–1700

In 1625 fewer than 60 people lived in northeast around Europe, through the
Quebec. By 1665 there were only about Arctic Ocean.
2,500 French settlers, mostly men, in all of In 1609 Dutch sailors aboard a ship
New France. To encourage settlement, called the Half Moon attempted to find such
King Louis XIV set up a land grant sys- a route. After waiting a month for ice in the
tem. It gave land to French nobles in Arctic Ocean to thaw, their captain—an
return for bringing settlers from France to English sailor named Henry Hudson—
farm the land. decided to turn around and sail west
Despite its slow population growth, across the Atlantic Ocean. The Half Moon
New France eventually had enough peo- landed along the North American coast.
ple to establish several important towns Hudson claimed the area for the Dutch.
along the banks of the St. Lawrence The Dutch quickly became interested
River. in the North American fur trade. They
The French government set up a net- built a post for trading with the Native
work of military forts that connected Americans at present-day Albany, New
Canada with Louisiana and its claims York. They also started the settlement of
along the Mississippi River. The forts, New Amsterdam on Manhattan Island.
combined with close ties between French Eventually the Dutch colony, called New
settlers and many Native American Netherland, spread to include parts of
groups, put France in a strong position. It present-day New York, New Jersey, Con-
could easily defend its empire against necticut, and Delaware.
Spain and other European countries. In the late 1630s, Sweden began send-
ing people to North America. The Swedes
settled just south of New Netherland on
★ Arrival of the Dutch the Delaware in an area they called New
Sweden. Though small, New Sweden
and Swedes troubled the Dutch in New Amsterdam.
By the 1600s Europe’s hopes of find- The Dutch did not want to compete with
ing a Northwest Passage to Asia were other European countries for fur trade.
fading. Dutch merchants began to won- Conflict between the two groups would
der if ships could reach Asia by going soon arise.

★ Section Assessment★
Checking for Understanding 5. Sequencing Information Re-create the time
1. How did most French settlers choose to line shown here, and list the key events of
make their living? French colonization of North America.
Use the dates provided as a guide.
2. What kinds of settlements did the French
build in Louisiana? 1589 1682

3. Why did the Dutch become interested in

North American settlements? 1608


4. Drawing Conclusions Why do you think 6. Economics Create a newspaper adver-
the Native Americans might have considered
tisement for fashionable beaver hats that
the fur traders to be less of a threat than
would appeal to wealthy Europeans of
farmers were?
the 1600s.

CHAPTER 4 European Empires in the Americas: 1500–1700 109

5. Create a diagram similar to this one, and list
HISTORY the similarities and differences between
French and Spanish colonies in the Americas.
French Spanish
Self-Check Quiz
Visit the American History: The Early Years to
1877 Web site at and click on
Chapter 4—Self-Check Quizzes to prepare for Critical Thinking
the chapter test. 1. Drawing Conclusions Based on evidence in
this chapter, do you think the Spanish or
French government did a better job of govern-
Using Key Vocabulary ing their colonies?
2. Making Inferences Why do you think the
Match the numbered items in Column A with French had trouble attracting settlers to New
their definitions in Column B. France?
1. conquistador 3. presidio
2. mestizo 4. creole History and Geography
a. person of mixed Spanish and Native Missions in New Spain
American background
Study the map showing Spanish missions in
b. Spanish military fort
northern Mexico and the borderlands. Then
c. Spanish conqueror
answer the following questions.
d. person of Spanish descent born in America
1. Location Near what city was the northern-
most Spanish mission located?
Reviewing Facts
2. Place Along which river did the Spaniards
1. Name two things that aided the Spanish in
build a line of presidios?
their attack on the Aztec.
2. Describe the position of Native Americans in
Spanish colonial society.
3. List the three areas of New France. Missions in New Spain by the 1700s
4. Who made Dutch claims in North America? 120° W 110° W 100° W 90° W
San Francisco

CA UT 40° N
Understanding Concepts Santa Barbara
Los Angeles Santa Fe
Economic Development San Diego
El Paso
1. How did the gold and silver from the Ameri- TX
cas contribute to Spain’s power? Rio 30° N

San Antonio
an d

2. What was the main economic activity of the


French and Dutch in North America? OCEAN Gulf of
3. What role did Native Americans play in the
economy of New France? Mission Presidio
City 20° N

Conflict and Cooperation 0 200 400 600 800 miles Mexico City
0 200 400 600 800 kilometers
4. Why was it helpful for the French to make
allies of the Native Americans?

110 UNIT 1 America’s Beginnings: Prehistory–1700

3. Region Between what two major bodies of
water did the lands of new Spain lie? French Claims in North America
4. Movement In what direction would a priest about 1700
travel to go from a Sante Fe mission to a mis- 100° W 90° W 80° W 70° W 60° W
50° N
sion near Los Angeles? NEW FRANCE
Straits of
Lake Superior Mackinac Quebec
R . Lak St. Lawerence R. ACADIA



L. Michigan

e Huron

Lake Ontario

Cooperative Interdisciplinary Activity: 40° N
R. W
R. Lake Erie

Learning Language Arts LOUISIANA ATLANTIC
as Ohio R
Working in a group, research the influence of R.
Spanish, French, or Dutch colonization on Amer- 0 500 1,000 miles
ican culture. Choose one group and decide how 30° N
New Orleans
0 500 1,000 kilometers

words in our language, styles of architecture, and Gulf of Mexico

foods were influenced by them. Other areas of
influence might include clothing styles, tradi-
tions, and holidays. Present your findings in an
illustrated brochure. Photographs from old mag- Technology Activity 30

azines and maps could be used to add informa-


Developing a Multimedia

tion to your brochure. Personal experiences of


classmates might also add details. Include infor- Presentation

mation about locations in the United States where Use the Internet and
the cultural influence is particularly strong. other resources to find out more about
one of the explorers mentioned in the chart on
page 106. Create a multimedia report about the
Practicing Skills explorer’s accomplishments. Give your presenta-
Understanding Latitude and Longitude tion to the class.
Use the map showing the area of French settle- ABOUT

ment to answer the following questions. Using
1. What are the latitude and longitude coordi- Your Jou
nates of New Orleans? Use
2. Between what lines of longitude do four of the as you r notes you took
five Great Lakes lie? to write d this chapter
an adver
that will tisemen
3. Which rivers meet at 33°N, 91°W and flow attract t
settlers new
south to the Gulf of Mexico? to the A
Describe m
4. What line of longitude lies closest to Quebec the adva ericas.
of leavin ntages
on the east? settling Europe and
5. Between what lines of latitude on the map across t this land
he sea.
does Lake Ontario lie?

CHAPTER 4 European Empires in the Americas: 1500–1700 111

A merican Literary Heritage
Read to Discover
In this selection from History of the Indies, Las
Casas writes about the opponents of Christopher
Columbus and the arguments against his voyages. As
you read, think of how you might have reacted to
Columbus’s plans in the 1400s. Would you have sup-
ported or opposed him?

Reader’s Dictionary
Ptolemy ancient Greek astronomer
sages wise people
vaunted boasted about
proponents people who are in favor of
subtle not strong
antipodes lands on the opposite side of
the earth
adduced gave examples
refrain a repeated phrase
contradict argue against
Bartolomé de Las Casas convened met
was born in Spain but
moved to Hispaniola
around the age of 26. from History of the Indies
There, he became first a by Bartolomé de Las Casas (1474–1566)
landowner and later a Some said that it was impossible that after so many
bishop in the Catholic thousands of years these Indies should be unknown, if
there were such places in the world, for surely Ptolemy
Church. Las Casas is prob-
and the many other astronomers, geographers, and
ably best remembered for sages that had lived would have known something of
his efforts to aid the Native them, and would have left some reference to them in
writing, since they had written of many other matters;
Americans in Hispaniola. hence, they said, to affirm what Columbus affirmed
Concerned about the mis- was to claim to know or divine more than anyone else.
Others argued this way: The world is infinitely large,
treatment of the native
and therefore in many years of navigation it would be
peoples, Las Casas never impossible to reach the end of Asia, as Christopher
gave up working for laws Columbus proposed to do by sailing westward. . . .
Still others, who vaunted their mathematical learn-
to end their oppression. ing, talked about astronomy and geography, saying that

112 UNIT 1 America’s Beginnings: Prehistory–1700

only a very small part of this inferior
sphere is land, all the rest being entirely
covered with water, and therefore it could
only be navigated by sailing along the
shores or coasts, as the Portuguese did
along the coasts of Guinea; the proponents
of this view had read precious few books
on navigation, and had done even less sail-
ing themselves. They added that whoever
sailed directly west, as Christopher Colum-
bus proposed to do, could never return, for
supposing that the world was round, and
that going westward you went downhill,
then once you had left the hemisphere  MAP OF HISPANIOLA
described by Ptolemy, on your return you
must go uphill, which ships could not do—
Responding to Literature
truly a subtle and profound reason, and
proof that the matter was well understood! 1. How did Las Casas answer
those people who thought
Others cited Saint Augustine, who . . .
the seas could be navigated
denied the existence of antipodes . . . and only by sailing along the
their refrain was: “Saint Augustine doubts.” shores or coasts?
Then someone had to bring up the business
2. According to Las Casas, why
of the five zones, of which three, according did some people believe a
to many are totally uninhabitable; this was ship could never return from
a commonly held opinion among the a westward voyage?
ancients, who, after all, did not know very 3. St. Augustine is said to deny
much. Others adduced still other reasons, the existence of antipodes.
not worth mentioning here since they came What reasons can you think
from the kind of people who disagree with of for his belief?
everybody—who find any statement illogi- 4. According to the ancients,
cal, no matter how sound. . . . how many zones existed in
And so Christopher Columbus could the world?
give little satisfaction to those gentlemen
whom the monarchs had convened, and ACTIVITY
therefore they pronounced his offers and
promises impossible and vain and worthy 5. Imagine that you are a friend and sup-
of rejection. . . . Finally the monarchs sent porter of Christopher Columbus. Think
of three reasons that his voyage
a reply to Columbus, dismissing him for
should be financed. Using note cards,
the time being, though not entirely depriv- outline these reasons. Then prepare a
ing him of the hope of a return to the sub- short speech to convince a monarch
ject when their Highnesses should be less or businessperson to grant Columbus
occupied with important business, as they the money and supplies he needs.
were at that time by the War of Granada.

UNIT 1 America’s Beginnings: Prehistory–1700 113

Standardized Test Practice
Directions: Choose the best answer to each of the following
multiple choice questions. If you have trouble answering a
question, use the process of elimination to narrow your choices.
Write your answers on a separate piece of paper.
1. Early Native Americans living in the 3. Which of the following is NOT a reason
Southwest learned to build irrigation Europeans began trading with Asia and
systems to water their crops. This is an Africa?
example of which theme of geography?
A A new middle class had more money to
A Location spend on foreign goods.
B Movement B Goods from Asia and Africa were
C Human-environment interaction superior to European products.
D Region C The Crusades introduced new goods
from other lands that people wanted.
D The Crusades led to more trade routes
Test-Taking Tip: Eliminate answers
that you know are wrong. For example, between Europe and Asia.
answer A, Location, refers to the position of a
specific place on Earth’s surface. It doesn’t Test-Taking Tip: Be careful—overlook-
have anything to do with how people adapt to ing the words NOT or EXCEPT in a question
their surroundings. is a common error. Look for the answer
choice that does NOT fit the question. For
example, since the Crusaders did bring back
2. On which type of map would you most desirable goods from foreign lands, you can
likely find the locations of Civil War eliminate answer C.

F Political map 4. During the Columbian Exchange,

G Special-purpose map Spanish explorers brought gold and
silver from the Americas to Spain. What
H Physical map
is one thing they brought to the
J General-purpose map Americas?

F Tobacco
Test-Taking Tip: Process of elimination
can be useful here, too. Remember, physical G Hieroglyphic writing
maps show natural features, and political H Democratic government
maps show places like cities, states, and
countries. Neither would show battle locations, J Disease
so both can be eliminated.
Test-Taking Tip: Eliminate answers
that don’t make sense. For instance, the
Spanish had a monarchy (King Ferdinand
and Queen Isabella), not a democracy.
Therefore, it would be illogical for them
to bring democratic government to the

114 UNIT 1 America’s Beginnings Prehistory–1700

Standardized Test Practice
5. Read the passage below and answer the 6. Use the time line below to answer the
question that follows. question that follows.
Priests, many of whom were rulers, were According to this time line, which explorers
the most important people in the Mayan were sailing at the same time?
empire. The priests helped the Maya
please the gods. Gods were thought to F Columbus and Verrazano
control the sun, rain, and other forces of G de Soto and Cartier
nature. The Maya believed that if the gods
H de Champlain and de La Salle
were pleased they would favor the people
with good weather and bountiful crops. J Coronado and de Champlain
Based on this passage, which of the
following is most accurate? Test-Taking Tip: Look for information
on the time line to support your answer. Do
A The Maya lived in a place with good NOT try to answer the question by memory.
weather and plentiful crops. Work through each choice systemically, until
B The Maya overcame many natural disasters. you find two explorers whose dates overlap.
C Religion was important to the Maya.
D The Maya hoped to expand their empire.

Test-Taking Tip: This question asks

you to make a generalization about the Maya.
A generalization is a conclusion based on
facts. Look for facts in the passage to support
your answer. Do not rely only on your memory.
Determine the main idea of the paragraph. The
main idea can help you eliminate answers that
do not fit. Also look for the statement that is
true AND that is covered in the paragraph.


1530 Cabeza de Vaca
Spain 1492–1504 Christo- 1516–1520 Hernando 1540–1542 Francisco
pher Columbus de Soto Coronado

1492–1513 1516–1522 1530–1543

1508–1509, 1513 1519–1522 Ferdinand 1539–1543 Hernando
Juan Ponce de Magellan de Soto

France 1524 Giovanni da 1603–1615 Samuel de 1666–1682 Robert de

Verrazano Champlain La Salle

1524–1542 1603–1615 1666–1682

1534–1542 Jacques 1673 Jacques
Cartier Marquette/
Louis Joliet

UNIT 1 America’s Beginnings Prehistory–1700 115