Archive for August 8th, 2013

Welcome to APUSH, 2013-2014

The school year is almost here! I hope you are as eager to get started as I am!

First, some housekeeping.

1. Do not worry about bringing your book to class unless I specifically tell you to, or unless you have a specific question. I would suggest that you bring them with you on days in which we have tests, so that you can start on the reading the text and doing the assignment for the next chapter as soon as you finish your test.

2. DO bring a notebook of some sort in which you will keep your class notes. This needs to be a spiral or neatbook, or a section in a binder. Keep those notes in order (I suggest you date and title them each day). IF YOU CHOOSE TO TAKE NOTES ON THE COMPUTER, BE AWARE THAT THIS PRIVILEGE WILL BE RESCINDED IF YOU ARE SURFING THE WEB OR DOING OTHER ACTIVITIES WHILE CLASS DISCUSSION IS GOING ON– NO WARNINGS.

3. You need a separate section for your assignments– this can be another spiral or neatbook, or a separate section of a binder.

4. Plagiarism, sharing assignments, etc. will harm your ability to learn the material and will not be tolerated. If your work is copied by or is the copy of someone else’s or taken from a different source, you will receive a zero.

5. All homework assignments must be hand written in either blue or black or ink or in pencil.

6. You will be allowed to turn in only TWO assignments late each semester. Late work must be complete. Other late assignments will earn 1 point. You may not do extra credit unless all regular work is turned in.

7. Please come to class prepared. As you are doing your reading, if you have questions, write them down (with page number) and ask them in class.

8. When the bell rings to start class, it is expected that you have read the agenda on the board and have your materials out to begin to ask questions, discuss, and take notes.

9. Please have your computer charged before class. If your battery dies, switch to paper and pencil, and have that available.

10. All cell phones will be silenced and put away during class.

Look forward to seeing you on Monday! If you have any questions about the summer assignment, please talk to me about it in class on Monday.

The Depopulation of the Indies

As you read, consider the following questions:
1. Summarize how the author describes the character of the Indian natives.
2. By describing why he believes the Taino are not greedy, what implicit indictment does de las Casas make against the conquistadores?
3. Quantify what effect de las Casas claims the Spanish had upon the Taino population.

Excerpt from A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies, 1542
Bartolomeo de las Casas

And of all the infinite universe of humanity, these people are the most guileless, the most devoid of wickedness and duplicity, the most obedient and faithful to their native masters and to the Spanish Christians whom they serve. They are by nature the most humble, patient, and peaceable, holding no grudges, free from embroilments, neither excitable nor quarrelsome. These people are the most devoid of rancors, hatreds, or desire for vengeance of any people in the world. And because they are so weak and complaisant, they are less able to endure heavy labor and soon die of no matter what malady. The sons of nobles among us, brought up in the enjoyments of life’s refinements, are no more delicate than are these Indians, even those among them who are of the lowest rank of laborers. They are also poor people, for they not only possess little but have no desire to possess worldly goods. For this reason they are not arrogant, embittered, or greedy. Their repasts are such that the food of the holy fathers in the desert can scarcely be more parsimonious, scanty, and poor. As to their dress, they are generally naked, with only their pudenda covered somewhat. And when they cover their shoulders it is with a square cloth no more than two varas in size. They have no beds, but sleep on a kind of matting or else in a kind of suspended net called bamacas. They are very clean in their persons, with alert, intelligent minds, docile and open to doctrine, very apt to receive our holy Catholic faith, to be endowed with virtuous customs, and to behave in a godly fashion. And once they begin to hear the tidings of the Faith, they are so insistent on knowing more and on taking the sacraments of the Church and on observing the divine cult that, truly, the missionaries who are here need to be endowed by God with great patience in order to cope with such eagerness. Some of the secular Spaniards who have been here for many years say that the goodness of the Indians is undeniable and that if this gifted people could be brought to know the one true God they would be the most fortunate people in the world.

Illustration for De las Casas book
Yet into this sheepfold, into this land of meek outcasts there came some Spaniards who immediately behaved like ravening wild beasts, wolves, tigers, or lions that had been starved for many days. And Spaniards have behaved in no other way during the past forty years, down to the present time, for they are still acting like ravening beasts, killing, terrorizing, afflicting, torturing, and destroying the native peoples, doing all this with the strangest and most varied new methods of cruelty, never seen or heard of before, and to such a degree that this Island of Hispaniola once so populous (having a population that I estimated to be more than three million), has now a population of barely two hundred persons.

The island of Cuba is nearly as long as the distance between Valladolid and Rome; it is now almost completely depopulated. San Juan [Puerto Rico] and Jamaica are two of the largest, most productive and attractive islands; both are now deserted and devastated. On the northern side of Cuba and Hispaniola he the neighboring Lucayos comprising more than sixty islands including those called Gigantes, beside numerous other islands, some small some large. The least felicitous of them were more fertile and beautiful than the gardens of the King of Seville. They have the healthiest lands in the world, where lived more than five hundred thousand souls; they are now deserted, inhabited by not a single living creature. All the people were slain or died after being taken into captivity and brought to the Island of Hispaniola to be sold as slaves. When the Spaniards saw that some of these had escaped, they sent a ship to find them, and it voyaged for three years among the islands searching for those who had escaped being slaughtered , for a good Christian had helped them escape, taking pity on them and had won them over to Christ; of these there were eleven persons and these I saw.

More than thirty other islands in the vicinity of San Juan are for the most part and for the same reason depopulated, and the land laid waste. On these islands I estimate there are 2,100 leagues of land that have been ruined and depopulated, empty of people.
As for the vast mainland, which is ten times larger than all Spain, even including Aragon and Portugal, containing more land than the distance between Seville and Jerusalem, or more than two thousand leagues, we are sure that our Spaniards, with their cruel and abominable acts, have devastated the land and exterminated the rational people who fully inhabited it. We can estimate very surely and truthfully that in the forty years that have passed, with the infernal actions of the Christians, there have been unjustly slain more than twelve million men, women, and children. In truth, I believe without trying to deceive myself that the number of the slain is more like fifteen million.

Links for more information:
The Indigenous Legacy of the Caribbean
Surviving Columbus in Puerto Rico

Vocabulary for this post:

Aztec Impression of the Conquistadores: The Messengers’ Report

The Encounter between Native and European was certainly not one-sided. The Aztecs have also left behind a record of their impressions of the Spanish. Montezuma sent messengers to meet with Cortés, to present him gifts and greetings. Cortés responded with as de las Casas described: by discharging his weapons in an attempt to awe the natives. The messengers reported back to Montezuma their impressions, which had a strong effect upon the great warrior.

As you read, consider the following questions:
1. Compare the impression the Aztecs had with that of the Europeans. What characteristics did each find remarkable about the other? What does this indicate about the cultures of each group?
2. How might Montezuma’s reaction have contributed to the Spanish conquest of the Americas?
3. What do you think was the purpose of the dogs? Why would the Spanish bring dogs with them?

The Messengers’ Report, 1519

[Montezuma] was also terrified to learn how the cannon roared, how its noise resounded, how it caused one to faint and grow deaf. The messengers told him: “A thing like a ball of stone comes out of its entrails: it comes out shooting sparks and raining fire. The smoke that comes out of it has a pestilential odor, like that of rotten mud. This odor penetrates even to the brain and causes the greatest discomfort. If the cannon is aimed against a mountain, the mountain splits and cracks open. If it is aimed against a tree, it shatters the tree into splinters. This is a most unnatural sight, as if the tree had exploded from within.”

The messengers also said: “Their trappings and arms are all made of iron. They dress in iron and wear iron casques [helmets] on their heads. Their swords are iron; their bows are iron; their shields are iron; their spears are iron. Their deer carry them on their backs wherever they wish to go. These deer, our lord, are as tall as the roof of a house.

“The strangers’ bodies are completely covered, so that only their faces can be seen. Their skin is white, as if it were made of lime. They have yellow hair, though some of them have black. Their beards are long and yellow, and their moustaches are also yellow. Their hair is curly, with very fine strands.

“Their dogs are enormous, with flat ears and long, dangling tongues. The color of their eyes is a burning yellow; their eyes flash fire and shoot off sparks. Their bellies are hollow, their flanks long and narrow. They are tireless and very powerful. They bound here and there, panting, with their tongues hanging out. And they are spotted like an ocelot.”

When [Montezuma] heard this report, he was filled with terror. It was as if his heart had fainted, as if it had shriveled. It was as if he were conquered by despair.

Links for further information:
Belize and Ambergri Caye: The Aztec Acount of the Spanish Conquest of Mexico