header by Emerson Taymor, 2005

1. The Colonial Era: 1607-1763

2. The Revolutionary Era: 1763-1789

3. The Early National Period: 1789-1824

4. Jacksonian America: 1824-1848

5. Antebellum America: 1848-1860

6. The Civil War Era: 1861-1877

7. The Gilded Age: 1877-1901

8. Progressivism: 1901-1920

9. The Twenties

10. Depression and New Deal: 1929-1939

11. World War II: 1939-1945

12. Early Cold War: 1945-1963

13. Social Ferment: 1945-1960

14. The Sixties

15. The Seventies and After




Chapter 1: The Colonial Era

blank map of the colonies

the Columbian Exchange (map); Nick Nuttall, "Skeletons Date Syphilis up to 200 years early": syphilis and the Columbian Exchange; Steve Hendrix, "Christopher Columbus and the Potato that Changed the World," Washington Post (Oct. 2018); timeline of the 17th century


James Axtell, "Colonial America without the Indians: A Counterfactual Scenario"

The Moundbuilders, from the Newberry Library

tribal nations map

images of Chaco Canyon; Thomas Harriot's observations of Roanoke (1590); images of Secotan (early 17th century)

Sean Sherman, "The Thanksgiving Tale is a Harmful Lie. As a Native American, I've Found a Better Way to Celebrate the Holiday," Time (2018); Dana Hedgepeth, "This Tribe Helped the Pilgrims Survive for Their First Thanksgiving. They Still Regret it 400 Years Later," Washington Post (Nov. 4, 2021); Paul Lejeune, "On the Good Things Which Are Found Among the Indians" (1634); Jean de Brebeuf, "Cure by Lacrosse" (1636); Miantonomi calls for Algonquian unity against the English (1643)

Juan (Tiwa Pueblo) explains the Pueblo Revolt (1681); the Pueblo Revolt from the Spanish perspective; Simon Romero, "Why New Mexico's Pueblo Revolt is Echoing in 2020 Protests," New York Times (Sep. 27, 2020)

Chickasaw political organization (1723)

Daniel Richter, "Native Peoples in an Imperial World": how capitalism changed Natives' lives, from Looking East from Indian Country; early American captivity narratives (website); Englishmen refuse to return home after being captured (1750)

Kyle Mays, "Why We Need to Rethink Afro-Indigenous History in the United States," Literary Hub (2021); Gregory Smithers, "How Indigenous Societies Fought to Preserve Their Blended Gender Identities in the Face of Colonialism," Literary Hub (2021)

Gary Kamiya, "Junípero Serra wanted to save souls, but the missions he founded led to the destruction of native peoples. So why is Pope Francis making him a saint?" (San Francisco Magazine, August 24, 2015)


Richard Hakluyt advertises the benefits of colonization (1582, 1585); parody ad for "Jamestown estates"; William Penn offers a prospectus for merchants in Pennsylvania (1683); Penn on the climate and culture of Pennsylvania (1683); Thomas Nairne reassures prospective settlers about opportunities in South Carolina (1710); James Oglethorpe, "Persons Reduc'd to Poverty May be Happy in Georgia" (1732); William Byrd promotes immigration to Virginia (1736)

Alan Taylor, Colonial America, on New France

table comparing English, French, and Spanish colonies


patterns of settlement in early colonial Jamestown

English thoughts about Virginia colonization (1609)

the ecology of Jamestown, from National Geographic; passenger list to Jamestown; Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, "Bloody Footprints": on putting colonists' violence toward native peoples in context, from An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States

Powhatan, speech to Captain John Smith (1609); Alan Taylor, Colonial America: A Very Short Introduction (2013), on native leaders' political assumptions

from Camilla Townsend, Pocahontas and the Powhatan Dilemma (2004):
what the English knew about the natives and how they justified colonization; Powhatan considers what to do about the new colony; how John Smith negotiated with Powhatan; the 1644 uprising and final thoughts on the meaning of Pocahontas

more on Pocahontas: Steve Chagollan, "The Myth of the Native Babe: Hollywood's Pocahontas" (New York Times, 2005); excerpt from John Smith's autobiography on Pocahontas (1624); Powhatan tribe, "The Pocahontas Myth"; Pocahontas: Icon at the Crossroads of Race and Sex, from the Crossroads history project; Daniel Richter on Pocahontas, from Facing East from Indian Country; Edward Rothstein, "Ethnicity and Disney: It's a Whole New Myth," New York Times, 1997; Virginia Historical Society on Pocahontas

Dale's Code: Lawes Divine, Moral, and Martial (1612); Jill Lepore, "Our Town: Four centuries on the battles over John Smith and Jamestown still rage" (The New Yorker, April 2, 2007); Edward Waterhouse reports on the uprising of 1622; an indentured servant describes life in Virginia, 1623; John Smith, checklist for Virginia-bound colonists (1624); Alan Taylor, from Colonial America, on the class characteristics of Chesapeake migrants

Matthew Desmond, "In Order to Understand the Brutality of American Capitalism, You Have to Start on the Plantation," from the New York Times' 1619 Project; notes on indentured servitude in Virginia [legal cases] (1640); edited version of the cases; an indenture contract, 1684; Jason Belzer and Andy Schwartz, "National Letter of Indenture: Why College Athletes are Similar to Indentured Servants of Colonial Times" (Forbes, 2012); Kambiz GhaneaBassiri on how enslaved Muslims were thought of in colonial America, from A History of Islam in America (2010)

Marcia Zug, "The Mail-Order Brides of Jamestown, Virginia" (The Atlantic, 2016): discussion of how many marriages in Virginia may have involved kidnapping

a history of the spread of tobacco (graphic), from the World Health Organization; Bhu Srinivasan, "Tobacco," from Americana: a 400-Year History of American Capitalism (2017)


Mayflower Compact (1620)

passengers on the Arbella

John Winthrop: A Modell of Christian Charity (1630); Patrick Henry college student handbook (contemporary); Winthrop: What Warrant Have We to Take That Land? (1629)

Winthrop on "The Idea of the Covenant" (1630); Winthrop on reasons for Puritan migration (1629); Ted Widmer: "Who Built This City": recent evidence that Winthrop may never have delivered the "Christian Charity" sermon

Brett Anderson, "The Thanksgiving Myth Gets a Deeper Look This Year," New York Times (Nov. 2020)--about how traditional myths of Thanksgiving are being challenged and changed

layout of a typical Puritan town (map)

excerpts from Peter Waldman, Founding Faith: How Our Founding Fathers Forged a Radical New Approach to Religious Liberty (2008); John Fea on the heritage of Christian fear in the US, from Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump (2018)

play some Colonial House interactive games from the website (dress-up! survival quiz! and more)

why don't Americans go to church that much? Because they're doing CrossFit: Heather Havrilesky, "Why Are Americans So Fascinated with Extreme Fitness?" New York Times Magazine (2014)

Alan Taylor, Colonial America on native assumptions about Puritans, and vice versa; Ned Blackhawk on the Pequot War, from The Rediscovery of America; reactions to the Pequot War (1637); primary sources on the war; Joel Baden on how Puritans interpreted the story of Exodus; David Stannard, "Sex, Race, and Holy War," from American Holocaust

Max Carocci, "Written Out of History: Contemporary Native American Narratives of Enslavement," Anthropology Today (2009): on the long-term legacy of Pequot enslavement for their descendants; Lisa Rab, "What Makes Someone Native American?" Washington Post (Aug. 20, 2018), on the Lumbees' quest to be identified as Native people

John Eliot, Rules of Conduct for the Praying Indians (1650)

the trial of Anne Hutchinson (1637); Roger Williams, The Hireling Ministry (1652); Roger Williams, "The Bloudy Tenet of Persecution" (1644); historian Francis Bremer, "The Puritans and Dissent: the cases of Williams and Hutchinson"

John Winthrop laments the growth of competitive economic practices in New England (1639); Bhu Srinivasan, "Venture," Americana: a 400-Year History of American Capitalism (2017); John Woolman's Christian conscience impels him to leave retailing (1756)

Harvard fundraising letter, 1643; The Old Deluder Act (1647); Massachusetts sumptuary law (1651); General Court synod jeremiad (1679); condensed version of both documents

brief summary of King Philip's War, from the History Channel; Metacom (King Philip), complaints about English settlers, 1675; Cotton Mather, "History of the Warre with the Indians" (1676)

Norton, "The Years of Magical Thinking" (on the Salem Witch Trials); historian James Morone on Puritan thinking about Indians and witches; epidemological map, showing how witchcraft accusations spread like disease; testimony from the trials

historian Peter Carroll, excerpts from Puritans in the Wilderness (1969)


Anne Bradstreet, Two Poems on Family Life, 1650

Selections from the New England Primer, 1683

John Lawson on women in the household economy in Carolina (1709) from A New Voyage to Carolina

Benjamin Wadsworth, A Well-Ordered Family (1712)

Jean-Bernard Bossu advises newcomers on the way to health in Louisiana (1762)


Mannahatta Project: a website that lets you see NYC before it was NYC

Maryland Toleration Act (1649); William Penn, "First Frame of Government" (1682); from the charter of privilges granted by William Penn, 1701; Pennsylvania memorial against non-English immigration (1727)

Alan Taylor, Colonial America, on the origins of the Carolinas; on Georgia


"Persons of Mean and Vile Condition": historian Howard Zinn on Bacon's Rebellion, from A People's History of the United States (1980); a shorter version; James Rice, "Rethinking the 'American Paradox': Bacon's Rebellion, Indians, and the U.S. History Survey"

historian Alden Vaughan on the origins of slavery, from Roots of American Racism: Notes on the Colonial Experience (1995)

Nathaniel Bacon, in the Name of the People (1676); Alan Taylor, Colonial America, on Bacon's Rebellion

South Carolina passes an act for the capture of runaway slaves (1700); ads for runaway slaves (1738); South Carolina slave code, 1740; excerpts from the 18th-c diary of Virginia planter William Byrd; New-York Historical Society's "Slavery in New York City" exhibit; Manisha Sinha on colonial anti-slavery, from The Slave's Cause


England's Act of Toleration (1689)

Benjamin Franklin, A Receipt to Make a New England Funeral Elegy (1722); Franklin on George Whitefield, 1739; Franklin, Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pennsylvania (1749); Franklin, excerpt from a letter about good works, 1758

libel trial of John Peter Zenger in NYC, 1733

Stephen Castle, "That Debt from 1720? Britain's Payment is Coming," New York Times (2014): the British are still paying off 300-year-old debt!

page from the Boston Weekly Rehearsal (Sep. 24, 1733)

Jonathan Edwards, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God (1741); George Whitefield, "Marks of a True Conversion"; all of Whitefield's sermons; Anthony Chaney, "'Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God' in the Hands of an Angry Reader," US Intellectual History Blog (2018)--how the sermon creates a Christian environmentalism

for a modern comparison, look at how much more religious leaders' followers interact on Twitter than do celebrities' followers; great source of First Great Awakening sermons

Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker on sailors and the hidden history of the Revolutionary Atlantic

confused about all those different religious denominations? look at this chart