North America

North America: An Introduction

Michael M. Brescia
John C. Super
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 247
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt2ttkvb
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  • Book Info
    North America
    Book Description:

    "This exquisitely written history of a complex but unstudied continent should be required reading for all residents of the emerging region of North America." - Robert A. Pastor, Professor and Director of the Center for North American Studies, American University

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-0343-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-xii)
    M.M.B. and J.C.S.
  4. A NOTE ON TERMINOLOGY
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. LIST OF MAPS
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. CHAPTER 1 CONVERGENCE AND DIVERGENCE
    (pp. 1-14)

    On 1 January 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect, signaling the final achievement of a process that had its origins in the early twentieth century. Canada, the United States, and Mexico agreed to lower and eventually eliminate tariffs on most goods. The three countries also created new mechanisms for resolving disputes and for safeguarding the environment. Despite the substantial opposition to NAFTA in all three countries, national governments proclaimed it with enthusiasm and fanfare, arguing that a new era in continental cooperation had been reached.

    On the same day that NAFTA was launched, theEjército...

  7. CHAPTER 2 CONTOURS OF THE PAST
    (pp. 15-36)

    The panorama of North American history stretches from the arrival of the first migrants from Asia millennia ago to the rapidly changing society of today. Vast in chronological scope and for the most part hidden from view, the continent’s story is difficult to summarize. One way to do so is to emphasize the key shifts and turns that mark the past, the silhouette of the human experience that outlines the main contours of North American history. As this chapter demonstrates, it is all too easy to assume that the three major nation-states of North America have always existed in the...

  8. CHAPTER 3 REGIONS AND RESOURCES
    (pp. 37-62)

    Geography is a basic tool for understanding the history and culture of any people. Human activity takes place in space; that activity influences and is influenced by space. In North America, with its many climatic and vegetation zones that stretch from the arctic north to the tropical south, space assumes special importance in explaining the varieties of human experience. The boundaries that delineate each nation-state within North America are artificial creations that emerged in the nineteenth century; these borders, drawn as they were by men of their time, illustrate in concrete fashion the political and diplomatic features of the North...

  9. CHAPTER 4 POLITICS AND POWER
    (pp. 63-88)

    Geography and the location and distribution of natural resources facilitated, as we have seen, similar and dissimilar trajectories of economic growth and social change in North America, with most historians emphasizing differences rather than commonalities. As the dawn set on European colonialism in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the political history of North America also seemed to fracture as each country confronted a particular set of problems. The commonalities in colonial administrations dissolved into three political histories, each with so many threads running in so many different directions that it is difficult to weave them into a coherent...

  10. CHAPTER 5 CONTINENTAL DIPLOMACY
    (pp. 89-108)

    The political divisions of North America experienced rapid change beginning in the sixteenth century. These new divisions either built upon or eliminated the old settlement and land-use patterns of indigenous peoples. Spain, France, England, and then the United States, Mexico, and Canada clashed to determine the current borders of the continent. They did so in the face of local and regional resistance by indigenous peoples and in the context of international politics. It is a story not only of wars and diplomacy but also of competition for resources, population size, transportation routes, and much more.

    Older narratives of the North...

  11. CHAPTER 6 INDIANS AND EUROPEANS
    (pp. 109-128)

    While the building blocks of continental diplomacy may seem abstract without its biographical components (Jefferson, Santa Anna, Macdonald, etc.), the story of the interaction between Indians and Europeans is vast and touches on many dimensions of North American history. The archaeological record reveals the human drama of Indian North America long before Christopher Columbus arrived in the hemisphere, while ethnography and oral history tell us much about the richness and diversity of indigenous culture. Europeans advanced quickly in some cases, slowly in others, but the advance was relentless, always narrowing the spaces between Indian culture and that of the new...

  12. CHAPTER 7 IMMIGRATION
    (pp. 129-148)

    Two broad currents of immigration have influenced the historical development of North America since the sixteenth century. The first and most pronounced was the arrival of people from Europe and Africa and then the rest of the world. Immigrants continue to arrive daily, bringing their culture and dreams with them. Second was the movement of people within North America, migrating from the central valleys of Mexico to the northern deserts, the seaboard English colonies to the Appalachian highlands and beyond, and the St. Lawrence River to the interior of the continent.

    The movement of peoples within North America had deep...

  13. CHAPTER 8 LABOR AND CLASS
    (pp. 149-166)

    Labor relationships evolve from cultural practices and economic transformations. In North America during the early years of settlement, natural resources and the size of the Indian population helped to determine the type of economic activities undertaken, which in turn provided the context for the type of work available and the way in which workers interacted with the owners of the resources. With the advent of industrialization, social and class relationships entered a new era dominated by the rise of labor organizations, big business, and strong flows of investment capital. The strength and vitality of labor unions, usually the result of...

  14. CHAPTER 9 TRADE AND TARIFFS
    (pp. 167-186)

    Long before the arrival of Europeans, trade helped to stimulate the economies of many indigenous societies. The latter created mechanisms to try and ensure favorable trade terms and at times resorted to military action to protect trading interests. Europeans did the same, building on traditions that had their origins in the Commercial Revolution of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in the Mediterranean world. Christopher Columbus had trade in mind when he set sail in 1492. Spain, England, and France built their empires on commercial and mercantilist policies that sought maximum benefit for the mother country; the economic benefits often came...

  15. CHAPTER 10 CHURCH, STATE, AND SOCIETY
    (pp. 187-202)

    Religion bridges culture, economy, and polity, touching on them in different ways as it influences the development of state and society. In North America it has traditionally been the most powerful voice expressing the moral beliefs of society. As an encompassing force, religion has both united and divided people, leading to widely held fundamental beliefs, while at the same time provoking rancor and discord. Religion’s influence has waxed and waned through the centuries, but it has always been influential in North American political and social life.

    Faith and theology, shaped as they are by more formal, institutional understandings of the...

  16. CHAPTER 11 STRUCTURES OF THE PAST
    (pp. 203-216)

    This chapter summarizes some of the fundamental differences and similarities in the historical development of North America. It emphasizes what might be called the structural features of the North American experience, those characteristics and patterns that endure for long periods of time. This approach has advantages and disadvantages. Historical abstractions conceal much of the diversity and richness of the past, much like the rounded hills and eroded ridges of the Appalachian Mountains hide the lives of the men and women living in the hollows and river valleys. These abstractions, however, can reveal broad patterns of change and continuity that are...

  17. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 217-230)
  18. INDEX
    (pp. 231-247)