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Notes: Give Me Liberty! An American History: Chapter 1

Eric Foner: Give Me Liberty! An American History: Chapter notes, study guide, book outline.

Eric Foner: Give Me Liberty! An American History: Chapter notes, study guide, book outline.


Included here are notes for almost the entire book. It's interactive so come and learn!

You can use these notes; however, you must credit this site, which is completely based on the book, Give Me Liberty! An American History: Volume 1 Second Edition. Also, if other people are interested, please direct them here. Thank you!


Answer the Focus Questions and Review Questions and type your answers in the "Comment" Section below. I will post the best answers on here and credit you! Good luck!

Give Me Liberty! Chapter 1: A New World

Book Notes: Chapter 1: A New World

  1. Preface
  1. New Book has been changed significantly
  2. Ppl are either really for history or against it. Point of book is to prove how HIST is imp to us. It’s also aimed at undergrad’s with little or no knowledge of AM history
  3. History is what the present chooses to remember about the past.
  4. There’s a unifying theme about our history, and the fight for freedom.
  1. Freedom, however, is not a fixed, timeless category w/ a single unchanging definition. The history of the US is the struggle and disagreements over freedom
  2. It’s been a reality and a mythic ideal
  3. This book draws attention to three dimensions of freedom
  1. The Meanings of Freedom
  2. The Social Conditions that make freedom possible, and
  3. The Boundaries of freedom that determine who is entitled to enjoy freedom and who is not
  4. One person’s freedom has frequently been linked to another’s servitude

Civil Right’s movement = called the “freedom movement” Each Chapter begins with a specific historical moment or incident that illuminates some of the major themes that follow. Each contains two brief documentary excerpts called “Voices of Freedom”

Chapter 1

Focus Q’s

  1. What were the major patterns of Native AM life in N-AM before Europeans arrived?
  2. How did Indian and Euro ideas of freedom differ on the eve on contact?
  3. What impelled Euro explorers to look west across the Atlantic?
  4. What happened when the ppl’s of the AM’s came in contact with Europeans?
  5. What were the chief features of the Spanish empire in AM?
  6. What were the chief features of the FR and Dutch empires in N AM?

All Chapter Notes

A New World

  1. Discovery of AM was one of “the two greatest and most imp events recorded in the history of mankind”. Historians no longer use the word “discovery” to describe it though
  1. Major pop. decline in New World b/c of new settlers
  2. 10 million went to New World, 7.7 million were AF slaves
  3. World offered opportunity for Euros. Some were met (golden cities), land acquisition was most possible/common reason.

The settling of America

  1. The first inhabitants of AM got there around 15-60,000 yrs ago, then the glaciers melted and the link btwn all continents was under water.
  2. Maize (corn) was popular in Western hemisphere. Absence of livestock made it harder to farm, though.
  3. The Western hemisphere contained cities, roads, irrigation systems, extensive trade networks, and large structures such as pyramid temples
  4. Indian societies of Americas
Scroll to Continue
  1. Tenochtitlan, capital of Aztec empire, pop around 250k, one of the world’s largest cities. Euro’s called it “like an enchanted vision”
  2. Incas - 12 million, complex system of roads and bridges along Andes Mtns.
  3. Indians lacked metal tools and machines, gunpowder, and long distance navigation. No society had literacy. Also lacked wheeled vehicles. Europeans called their lifestyle a “backwardness”.
  1. However, they perfected techniques of farming, hinting and fishings

Mound builders of Mississippi Valley

  1. They built large burial mounds and traded across half the continent (mainly through the Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys)
  2. Had a city w/ 10,000-30,000 inhabitants. Most populated city since New York and Philly in 1800.

Western Indians

  1. In Arizona, the Hopi and Zuni Indians. Declined probably b/c of drought. The survivors moved SE, where they perfected desert farming (corn, beans, cotton)
  2. Were called the Pueblo Indians by the Spanish (b/c they lived in small villages)

Indians of Eastern North America

  1. From the Gulf of Mexico to present day Canada. Fished, hunted deer, turkeys.

Most striking feature about Nat AM society at Euro time was its sheer diversity.

  1. Each group had its own political system and religious beliefs

When the Euro’s arrived, many Indians saw them as simply one group among many. First thought to the Indians was to enhance their standing in relation to other native ppls, rather than unite against them. Native American Religion

  1. Common throughout was belief that sacred spirits were in everything. Good spiritual powers, they thought, yielded good harvest
  2. Didn’t have a sharp distinction btwn natural and supernatural

Land and Property

  1. Didn’t exist in Indian eyes. Some tribes claimed specific areas form hunting but no one was thought to own the land
  2. Indians didn’t care about accumulation of wealth either. Status did matter, however
  3. Very few had rigid social distinctions. Few ever went hungry. Englishman described it as “no beggars among them”

Gender Relations

  1. Women could divorce their husbands. Most Indian tribes were matrilineal (clans r kinship groups where children became members of the moms family
  2. Leaders were men, but female elders helped select male leaders
  3. Husbands lived with the family of the wife. England = women basically had no identity

European Views of the Indians

  1. Regarded them in extremes, as “noble savages, or brutal savages
  2. One called them “beautiful of stature and build”
  3. Euro descriptions centered on three areas - religion, land use, and gender relations
  4. Indians saw world as world of spirits and souls, Euros saw it as a source of economic opportunity
  5. Euros saw weak men and mistreated women. Men hunted (leisure in Eng), and women worked in fields. thought men were “unmanly”
  6. Believed that in subduing the Indians, they were actually bringing them freedom - the freedom of true religion, private property, and the liberation of both men and women from uncivilized and unchristian gender roles.

Indian Freedom, European Freedom

  1. Indian Freedom
  1. Euros concluded that the notion of “freedom’ was alien to Indian societies
  2. Small scale slavery did exist in the Indian colonies. Very important to Indians was kinship ties and the well-being and security of one’s community.

Christian Liberty

  1. Freedom to Euros meant abandoning the life of sin to embrace the teachings of Christ. Dissenters were persecuted.

Freedom and authority

  1. Freedom didn’t have same degree for everyone. there was a hierarchy. Inequality into basically every relationship. Men had authority over women.
  2. Family life depended on man’s dominance and woman’s submission (Euros)

Liberty and Liberties

  1. Liberties meant formal, specific privileges such as self-government, exemption from taxation, or the right to practice a particular trade. Liberty defined as “privilege”

Expansion of Europe

  1. Portuguese Navigation
  1. China thought to be main power, but it didn’t want to expand overseas
  2. Portugal developed the caravel, a ship capable of long-distance travel, and also developed the compass and the quadrant, both of which helped sailors determine their location w/ greater accuracy than in the past.
  3. Around 1400, Portugal rivaled Europe in economic importance.

Portugal and West Aftica

  1. Africa - today is poorest. 15th century it was known for its wealth
  2. Mansa Musa = ruler of Mali, had lots of gold
  3. Portugal est. fortified trading posts along western coast of Africa.
  1. The profits were called “factories”, merchants called “factors”

Eventually started taking slaves from AF and sending them to sugar plantations in N AM Freedom and Slavery in Aftica

  1. Slaves used to be criminals, debtors, and captives in war. Soon became no basis for making someone a slave
  2. Vasco de Gama - sailed around Cape Cod to India. 6 yrs before, however, Columbus thought he could sail West to get there

The Voyages of Columbus

  1. Like all navigators, he knew the earth was round. Vikings traveled west earlier
  2. Q Isabella of Spain finally supported his venture


  1. Columbus in the New World
  1. October 12th, 1492 was when he landed there. 33 days after leaving Canary Islands. Probably landed in San Salvador
  2. Nicolas de Ovando - est first permanent Spanish base w/ 2,500 men
  3. Columbus died thinking he reached Asia
  4. Amerigo Vespucci - Coach of South America

Exploration and Conquest

  1. Printing press made everyone know about New World really fast
  2. John Cabot reached Newfoundland (1497)
  3. Ferdinand Magellan - led first expedition to sail around the world
  4. Hernan Cortez (1519) - first to encounter a major American civilization (Tenochtitlan). Cortez conquered entire Aztec’s with smallpox and weapons

The Demographic Disaster

  1. Columbian Exchange - transatlantic flow of goodsf
  2. European population around 1492 was 70 million. Ppl in N&S AM = 90-110 million.
  3. Overall death was about 80 million - close to 1/5 of mankind in the first century and a half of contact w/ Europeans. Greatest loss of life in human history

The Spanish Empire - Middle of 16th century, Spain had huge Empire from Europe to America to Asia

  1. Governing Spanish America
  1. Spain’s gov. rivaled that of ancient Rome. Catholic Church also played significant tole in administration of Spanish colonies
  2. Royal officials were generally appointees from Spain, rather than criollos (ppl born in the colonies)

Colonists in Spanish AM

  1. Large scale farms (haciendas) and gold/silver mines - Spanish landlords forced Indians to work on/in these
  2. Most ppl who went to New World from Spain just told AF slaves what to do - lived a life of luxery

Colonists and Indians

  1. Peninsulares - atop the social hierarchy - was a very small portion of SP ppl
  2. Eventually started mix marriages. Mestizos = ppl of mixed origens - large population of SP AM in 1600.

Justifications for Conquest

  1. Hugo Grotius - asked the question , what allowed one nation to claim possession of lands that “belonged to someone else?”

Spreading the Failth

  1. Protestant Reformation 1517 (Martin Luther) - Posted the 95 Theses. He argued against indulgences, believed the ppl should read the Bible for themselves, rather than relying on priests to interpret it for them.
  2. Spain just wanted to transform them into obedient Christians to the crown
  1. Wanted to completely transform Indian culture and economic/spiritual lives

Piety and Profit

  1. Enslaving Indians was justified as a means of liberating them from their backwardness and savagery.

Las Casas’s Complaint

  1. Pope Paul III, outlawed Indian enslavement 1537. He wrote “A Very Brief Acct of the Destruction of the Indies”
  2. His writings denounced Spain for causing the deaths of millions of innocent ppl
  3. Also said that SP deprived them of their freedom. He did want to convert Ind’s

Reforming the Empire

  1. New Laws made in 1542 - Indians could no longer be enslaved
  2. Established the repartimiento system - residents of Indian villages remained legally free and entitled to wages, but were still required to perform fixed amt of labor per yr
  3. Las Casa’s writings eventually contributed to the spread of the Black Legend - the image of Spain as a uniquely brutal and exploitative colonizer

Exploring North AM

  1. Juan Ponce de Leon - conquered Puerto Rico, entered Florida looking for wealth, slaves, and the fountain of youth
  2. Cabeza de Vaca - told of the seven golden citied of Cibola, somewhere over the horizon. By the 17th century, all that was left were buffalo.
  3. Coronado - Traveled into the continent. First Euro to see buffalo

Spanish Florida

  1. Spain wanted to est a military base in FL. Ended up est-ing forts from present-day Miami into S Carolina.
  2. It failed to attract settlers, remaining an isolated military settlement

Spain in the Southwest

  1. Onate - destroyed the “Sky City” and cut off feet of surviving men
  1. He was returned to SP for mistreatment of Indians.

The Pueblo Revolt

  1. Pope was the leader who coordinated the uprising (Spanish= common language)
  2. Most complete victory for Indians over Euros. However, when Pope (accent on e) died in 1690, SP reconquered New Mexico (1692)
  3. B/c of this revolt, Spain developed a more tolerant attitude towards the Indian religious practices

Voices of Freedom

  1. From Bartolome de las Casas - He was the Dominican priest who dondemned the treatemtn of Indians in the Spanish Empire. His “History” contributed to the Black Legend
  1. ‘Indians put in extremely harsh conditions, beasts have more freedom. When they got ill, Spaniards kicked them and let them die (basically), Indians died saying “Hungry, Hungry”.

From Josephe - A Spanish speaking Indian questioned by royal attorney in Mexico City investigating the Pueblo Revolt

  1. Said the God of the Spaniards was dead, and that the names of Jesus and Mary should never be uttered

The French and Dutch Empires

  1. French Colonization
  1. First of SP’s major rivals in New World was France
  2. FR wanted to find a Northwest Passage - sea route directly to the Pacific Ocean. FR didn’t est perm. settlements in the New World until 17th century
  3. Samuel de Champlain (sponsored by FR fur trading Co.) founded Quebec in 1608. Entire Mississippi R valley was eventually claimed by FR
  4. Indentured servants (called engages) - returned home after contracts were up (it was a feudal society). 80% migrants were men. FR also claimed Canada

New France and the Indians

  1. New FR depended on friendly relations w/ local Indians. They prided themselves on adopting a more humane policy towards Indians
  2. Jesuits = missionary religious order who sought to convert Indians to Christianity, but gave Indians independence (opposite of SP)
  3. Big on fur trade
  4. Mixed ppls were called metis - became the interpreters, guides, and traders

The Dutch Empire

  1. Henry Hudson - (Dutch East India Co.) - sailed into New York Harbor hoping to find a Northwest passage to Asia. Claimed the area for the Netherlands.
  1. Est a post at Albany, then Manhattan Island (present day)

The Dutch invented the joint stock company - a way of pooling financial resources and sharing the risk of maritime voyages (central to capitalism) Dutch Freedom

  1. Prided themselves in being a place of liberty, freedom, and refuge

Freedom in New Netherland

  1. New Netherland - Not really governed democratically (no real gov established)
  2. There was liberty in other areas. Some enjoyed “half-freedom” - required to pay an annual fee to the company and work when called upon, but given land to support families.
  3. Women had more freedom than other colonies
  4. Very tolerant of religious beliefs - attracted very diverse population

Settling New Netherland

  1. Dutch West India Company promised religious toleration, cheap livestock, and land in exchange for 6 yrs of labor. New plan was “Freedoms and Exemptions” - offering large estates to patroons (shareholders who agreed to transport tenants for agricultural labor)
  2. Only 9,000 ppl of NN stayed in AM, making it a small group.

New Netherland and the Indians

  1. Came to AM to trade, not to conquer. Aimed more at employing Indians rather than converting them (employing in fur trade)
  2. Hardly free of conflict with the Indians. They did, however, est friendly relations with the Iroquois Indians (commercial and diplomatic)

Spanish, FR, and Dutch empires

  1. All brought Christianity, new forms of technology and learning, new legal systems and family relations, new forms of economic enterprise and wealth creation.
  1. Also brought savage warfare and widespread disease
  2. Also knew about each other’s existence

Dreams of freedom inspired and justified coloinization


Please feel free to comment and/or like/share this page. Thank you so much for reading. And last but not least, please support the sponsors of this page. Thanks again!


yoonjung from Singapore on April 26, 2015:

I need help with the review questions for Chap 1 & 2

my email is

angie on February 08, 2015:

thank you so much, I just came across this website and found your notes to be very helpful. my professor just talks in class and I find myself just writing quickly and trying to catch up. but now with your notes and his lectures I can look at them and have a peace of mind in class. I also record him.

Cobie on September 17, 2014:

Your notes were very helpful. If you can would you send me the rest as in chapter 5 and 6? my email is

Amber on February 10, 2014:

Could u give me the answers of focusing questions of chapter 1-6.

kiki817 on January 26, 2014:

I need help with focus Questions 1 and 5. My email is

Carina on September 26, 2013:

So I have the "Give Me Liberty! an american history" Second Edition.

This weeks study guide focuses on the first 2 chapters + personal notes.

I have not been able to find the answer to our first question "According to Columbus's journals, what was his impression of the people he encountered?"( ie. the native americans) and I was wondering if you could tell me whether there was anything about Columbus's journals and his impressions, because there seems to be a lack there of when I have read through the chapters. Thanks so much.

jose on February 26, 2013:

does this notes is it the same for the third edition or is it completely different

chasemillis (author) on January 30, 2013:

This is all I've got, sorry Steven! If anybody else has some and wants to post the rest of the chapters feel free to post them and send me a link and I'll put it up. Or send me the info and I'll do the formatting and what not. Either works!

Steven on January 21, 2013:

May I know when can I find the notes from chapter 15-28? Thanks.

jmoehler on November 12, 2012:

THANK YOU Chase!! I'm working 2 jobs and have 4 internet courses that are very demanding of my time. I've read all the way up to Ch10 but I'm falling behind. God Bless you

chasemillis (author) on October 24, 2012:

Yes, I have through chapter 15. I will have the other notes on here in a little while

jmoehler on October 23, 2012:

Are you going to have notes on here after Ch 9? Just wondering

chasemillis (author) on September 24, 2012:

No problemo everyone, just make sure you learn something as you go through them. I'm not going to email the notes because it's the same thing that I'm posting online, and it's a lot more of a hassle for me dealing with emails from random ppl that I don't know.

And I don't actually have notes for Ch 5 and Ch 6, I just had to skim it when I was going through it. There's a few chapters I don't have, but not a lot.

jmoehler on September 23, 2012:

Thank you sssooooooooo're a life saver. I'm with Stara, I actually read the chapters but by the time I'm done it's clouded with a bunch of extra goop. You're notes are helping me out tremendously. Thanks again for sharing =)

kf01389 on September 18, 2012:

Just wondering, do you have chapter 5 and 6 as well?

kf01389 on September 18, 2012:

ok, nevermind I see them on your page, but thank you so much for posting them!

kf01389 on September 18, 2012:

PLEASE email me your notes. Your notes are wonderful!!!!!! my email is THANK YOU for being awesome :)

chasemillis (author) on August 25, 2012:

I'm working on getting everything else uploaded, I'm glad it's helping so much!

maissa on August 25, 2012:

Your notes ARE the best I have found for this particular chapter.. I have searched so many outlines for this chapter after reading it and your outline hit every main point. I would really enjoy seeing more of your outline posts, it really does point out important facts in every paragraph and helped me out a lot. Thanks :)

chasemillis (author) on August 23, 2012:

Glad it's helped! I literally have notes for just about the entire book. I just need a couple hours to put them all on here. I'll get them on here in the next week or so hopefully. If anyone knows how to get the Word Doc format on here then let me know. It's a lot better cause I've got a lot more bullet points and what not.

Elana on August 22, 2012:

I totally agree your notes is everything I need for my History 17A class. Could you send me all you have from Eric Foner book? My email is

Stara on August 07, 2012:

I agree! These were incredibly helpful, and after reading the chapter and being completely muddled by the extra wordings, these cleared my brain out and I gathered what I needed. If you could send me the rest of the notes as well, I'd greatly greatly appreciate it. Haha, who knows, you may get a whole flock of people needing these notes. You took great, clean, and helpful notes. Thanks for allowing us to benefit from them. I swear I can't thank you enough for this.

My email is

jontom7777 on August 04, 2012:

Hi Chase,

Your notes are incredibly helpful. Any chance you could email me the rest of the notes in Word format? I would greatly appreciate it. My email is



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