Archive for August, 2008

Reminder: Test on Friday!

Start studying NOW over chapters 1-4, including any readings from right here!

Who was Thomas West, Lord De La Warr?

 The guy who really threw the book at the Jamestown settlers… and the Indians.


Go to the above brief link ( to find out more. In particular, you need to understand the term “Irish tactics” and what that means.

The Basis of the “Black Legend”

The struggle between Catholic and Protestant ideologies in the 16th century coincided with the competition among European nations for influence in the newly discovered lands in the Western Hemisphere. Some historians claim that one outgrowth of this antipathy was the enduring account of Spanish atrocities in the Western Hemisphere designated as the Black Legend, which some claim is anti-Catholic. While Protestant nations such as England and the Netherlands certainly promoted the Black Legend, French intellectuals also did their part to indict the Spanish for atrocities. According to this version of events, the Spanish were vicious and bloodthirsty conquerors who committed acts of unspeakable barbarity against the generous and gentle indigenous people they encountered. Ironically, much of the information upon which the Black Legend was based came from a Spaniard, Bishop Bartolomeo de las Casas, the bishop of Chiapas, who made a career of advocating for the rights of the Indians. According to the Digital History website, one other interesting fact about de las Casas is that he was supposedly one of the first to suggest that Africans be imported to the Indies as laborers in the place of the Indians, and thus some people indict him as an accomplice in the spread of the slave trade in the Western Hemisphere. His apology for advocating the spread of African slavery was not published until almost three hundred years after his death.

In the Black Legend, a simplistic dichotomy is established between the “noble savages” whose childlike innocence is no match for the “predatory and genocidal” Spaniard. The level of hyperbole used in describing native and Spaniard is one of the most damaging facets of the claim, and provides the groundwork for the criticism of the Black Legend. The historian must separate the fact from the rhetoric when dealing with documents from the past, and De las Casas’ account provides an early opportunity to engage in this sort of analysis.

In the excerpt below, you will read the indictment de las Casas made against the Spanish conquistadores.

As you read, consider the following questions:
1. Evaluate the reliability of the information contained in this excerpt in terms of bias.
2. What parts of his account are the most verifiable?
3. Although the Indians are often called “savages,” who does de las Casas truly indict? Does his acknowledgement of Spanish behavior cause him to question the superiority of Spanish or “Christian” culture? Why or why not?
4. Research what successes de las Casas had in ameliorating the conditions of the Indians.

Excerpt from An Account of the Destruction of the Indies, (also known as The Tears of the Indians) 1542
Bartolomeo de las Casas

The common ways mainly employed by the Spaniards who call themselves Christian and who have gone there to extirpate those pitiful nations and wipe them off the earth is by unjustly waging cruel and bloody wars. Then, when they have slain all those who fought for their lives or to escape the tortures they would have to endure, that is to say, when they have slain all the native rulers and young men (since the Spaniards usually spare only the women and children, who are subjected to the hardest and bitterest servitude ever suffered by man or beast), they enslave any survivors. With these infernal methods of tyranny they debase and weaken countless numbers of those pitiful Indian nations.

Their reason for killing and destroying such an infinite number of souls is that the Christians have an ultimate aim, which is to acquire gold, and to swell themselves with riches in a very brief time and thus rise to a high estate disproportionate to their merits. It should be kept in mind that their insatiable greed and ambition, the greatest ever seen in the world, is the cause of their villainies. And also, those lands are so rich and felicitous, the native peoples so meek and patient, so easy to subject, that our Spaniards have no more consideration for them than beasts. And I say this from my own knowledge of the acts I witnessed. But I should not say “than beasts” for, thanks be to God, they have treated beasts with some respect; I should say instead like excrement on the public squares. And thus they have deprived the Indians of their lives and souls, for the millions I mentioned have died without the Faith and without the benefit of the sacraments. This is a well known and proven fact which even the tyrant Governors, themselves killers, know and admit. And never have the Indians in all the Indies committed any act against the Spanish Christians, until those Christians have first and many times committed countless cruel aggressions against them or against neighboring nations. For in the beginning the Indians regarded the Spaniards as angels from Heaven. Only after the Spaniards had used violence against them, killing, robbing, torturing, did the Indians ever rise up against them….

On the Island Hispaniola was where the Spaniards first landed, as I have said. Here those Christians perpetrated their first ravages and oppressions against the native peoples. This was the first land in the New World to be destroyed and depopulated by the Christians, and here they began their subjection of the women and children, taking them away from the Indians to use them and ill use them, eating the food they provided with their sweat and toil. The Spaniards did not content themselves with what the Indians gave them of their own free will, according to their ability, which was always too little to satisfy enormous appetites, for a Christian eats and consumes in one day an amount of food that would suffice to feed three houses inhabited by ten Indians for one month. And they committed other acts of force and violence and oppression which made the Indians realize that these men had not come from Heaven. And some of the Indians concealed their foods while others concealed their wives and children and still others fled to the mountains to avoid the terrible transactions of the Christians.

And the Christians attacked them with buffets and beatings, until finally they laid hands on the nobles of the villages. Then they behaved with such temerity and shamelessness that the most powerful ruler of the islands had to see his own wife raped by a Christian officer.

From that time onward the Indians began to seek ways to throw the Christians out of their lands. They took up arms, but their weapons were very weak and of little service in offense and still less in defense. (Because of this, the wars of the Indians against each other are little more than games played by children.) And the Christians, with their horses and swords and pikes began to carry out massacres and strange cruelties against them. They attacked the towns and spared neither the children nor the aged nor pregnant women nor women in childbed, not only stabbing them and dismembering them but cutting them to pieces as if dealing with sheep in the slaughter house. They laid bets as to who, with one stroke of the sword, could split a man in two or could cut off his head or spill out his entrails with a single stroke of the pike. They took infants from their mothers’ breasts, snatching them by the legs and pitching them headfirst against the crags or snatched them by the arms and threw them into the rivers, roaring with laughter and saying as the babies fell into the water, “Boil there, you offspring of the devil!” Other infants they put to the sword along with their mothers and anyone else who happened to be nearby. They made some low wide gallows on which the hanged victim’s feet almost touched the ground, stringing up their victims in lots of thirteen, in memory of Our Redeemer and His twelve Apostles, then set burning wood at their feet and thus burned them alive. To others they attached straw or wrapped their whole bodies in straw and set them afire. With still others, all those they wanted to capture alive, they cut off their hands and hung them round the victim’s neck, saying, “Go now, carry the message,” meaning, Take the news to the Indians who have fled to the mountains. They usually dealt with the chieftains and nobles in the following way: they made a grid of rods which they placed on forked sticks, then lashed the victims to the grid and lighted a smoldering fire underneath, so that little by little, as those captives screamed in despair and torment, their souls would leave them….

After the wars and the killings had ended, when usually there survived only some boys, some women, and children, these survivors were distributed among the Christians to be slaves. The repartimiento or distribution was made according to the rank and importance of the Christian to whom the Indians were allocated, one of them being given thirty, another forty, still another, one or two hundred, and besides the rank of the Christian there was also to be considered in what favor he stood with the tyrant they called Governor. The pretext was that these allocated Indians were to be instructed in the articles of the Christian Faith. As if those Christians who were as a rule foolish and cruel and greedy and vicious could be caretakers of souls! And the care they took was to send the men to the mines to dig for gold, which is intolerable labor, and to send the women into the fields of the big ranches to hoe and till the land, work suitable for strong men. Nor to either the men or the women did they give any food except herbs and legumes, things of little substance. The milk in the breasts of the women with infants dried up and thus in a short while the infants perished. And since men and women were separated, there could be no marital relations. And the men died in the mines and the women died on the ranches from the same causes, exhaustion and hunger. And thus was depopulated that island which had been densely populated.

Links for further information:
The Black Legend in the 18th century
Viewers and the Viewed: the Black Legend from the University of Pennsylvania library
The Black Legend and the White Legend

Vocabulary for this post:
rhetoric (3b)
extirpate (2)
buffet (second definition)

Open Thread: What impacts did European exploration have on the various continents?

Welcome to the first day of APUSH!

To see how this works, post a comment addressing the above question. You don’t have to be exhaustive– just any one facet you wish to address.

Reading Schedule for Semester 1

AP United States History
Fall 2008 Schedule

The following schedule includes due dates of all reading assignments and test dates for the semester. We will do our best to stick to the schedule. Place this paper in the front of your notebook; there will not be any excuses for not knowing when assignments are due.

You must be responsible for keeping up with all assignments and readings. There will be additional primary and secondary source readings and in class and out of class essays throughout the semester.

August 14 Summer Assignment Chapters 1-3 Due– Colonization

August 19 Chapter 4 Due– Colonial life

August 22 Chapters 1-4 Test

August 25 Chapter 5 Due– Road to Revolution

August 27 Chapter 6 Due– French and Indian War

September 2 Chapter 7 Due– Revolution

September 5 Chapters 5-7 Test

September 8 Chapter 8 Due– Revolution

September 15 Chapter 9 Due– Constitution

September 22 Chapter 10 Due– Early Republic

September 26 Chapters 8-10 Test

September 29 Chapter 11 Due– Jeffersonian Democracy

October 1 Chapter 12 Due– Nationalism

October 6 Chapter 13 Due– Age of Jackson

October 8 Chapters 11-13 Test

October 13 Chapter 14 Due– Whigs vs Democrats

October 17 Chapter 15 Due– Reform

October 21 Chapter 16 Due– Slavery

October 24 Chapters 14-16 Test

October 27 Chapter 17 Due– Manifest Destiny

November 3 Chapter 18 Due– Sectionalism

November 10 Chapter 19 Due– Civil War

November 14 Chapters 17-19 Test

November 17 Chapter 20 Due– Civil War

November 19 Chapter 21 Due– Civil War

November 26 Chapters 20-21 Test

December 1 Chapter 22 Due– Reconstruction

December 8 Chapter 23 Due– Gilded Age

December 12 Chapters 22-23 Test

December 16-19 Final Exams