The Settling of America

I have been taking notes from a great book that I have decided will be (along with my A.P. textbook) the cornerstone of my teaching of the American Colonial period in my Advanced Placement class. Alan Taylor’s book American Colonies: The Settling of North America (The Penguin History of the United States, Volume1) (Hist of the USA) is in my opinion exceptional. He goes into sufficient detail, intertwines interesting tidbits and details, but most important is even keel and straightforward for the most part. For example, when Taylor discusses something controversial like pre-1492 Indian population, he talks about the “low-counters” and “high-counters” and discusses how scholarship on the topic has evolved and then comes to a very scholarly opinion. Very good!

The book is broken up into parts, first he starts with some pre-Colombian information and then moves into the first encounters with Europeans. He finishes with the establishment of America and its pre-Empire beginnings. The narrative is engaging and most importantly a lot of great material and well researched. I highly recommend it!

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3 Responses to The Settling of America

  1. Michael Schack says:

    N the 1700’s a number o culture clashes occurred between the Americas and Europe
    As the culture of America was forming colonizing countries began to assert their environment as being better for dome reason in the area of vitality. One of the first to doso was Georges Louis Bufon and his theory of degeneracy. This theory stated that the New world when compared to the Old World, was in a state of degeneration. In the midst of the Enlightenment with its value of scientific observation and measurement Bufon made this accusation never having visited the New World. His theory explained that the animals in America were smaller then in Europe. Not being as robust, energetic, or fecund. He based the cause of this on environmental reasons. The atmosphere was damper so the air consisted of increased debilitative vapors. His other reason was the Native Americans and their period of ruling America the country incorporated their laziness, inability to reproduce to the same degree as Europeans. – Due to smaller genitals, and their lack of Industry. As proof he states that Europeans who move to N. America degenerate, as do the animals they bring with hem. Further proof was the fact that no Creole has ever produced even one book. Following Bufon were a number of other Naturalist who were even more intemperate then Bufon. Probably the most complex person of this group was Thomas Reynal whose book Philosophical and political History of Settlements went into 30 publications at least 4 editions, and Translated into Spanish English, German, Italian , and Dutch. Reyna was anti slavery, monarchy and strongly supported the American Revolution. There is a story of Benjamin Franklin and a party of colonists while visiting in France having dinner with Renal and a group of Frenchmen. During the meal Renal brought the theory of degeneracy, Franklin asked for a test of the theory. Since the French were on one side of the table the Americans on the other Franklin asked everyone to stand. It became very visible that the Americans were taller and appeared physically stronger. Renal himself barely broke five feet two Renal also was also influenced by Rousseau’s “Noble Savage.” What Rena did was identify specific cultural activities hat the Native American did and praised those while still insisting that his theory held for the entire culture. Right after the Revolutionary was Renal changes his opinion drastically.
    The Founding Fathers knew about this theory and were very defensive As the Francophile it fell on T. Jefferson’s Shoulder’ to rebut the theory. Franklin ND Hamilton believed strongly that immigration would be the tool for America Growth so they did not want the idea of people coming over to believe this idea;

    Hamilton in the Federalist papers book11 mentions it there. Madison another naturalist begins to measure animals that were found on both continents.

  2. Michael Schack says:

    Being from New Ebgoland I love this part Jefferson decides that the best way to rebut Bafon is to send a Moose skeleton over to himinI France. His requests a 17 foot Moose to be killed and its skeleton sent over. Now as secretary of state he managing all these tasks for the country, but stil isl writing letters to New Hampshire about the Moose. Finally they get one, ship it over too late for Bafon dies before it arrives. Strangely it is Washington Irving who ends this nonsense by his satirical writings.

  3. darcy says:

    I dont get that

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