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“Before 1607” was the theme of a WMQ-EMSI workshop held at the Huntington Library in May 2013, and this article responds to the papers and discussion. Fundamentally, it questions the traditional beginning of early American history with Jamestown in 1607, and argues that this truncated approach ignores both the very powerful and important empires in the continent’s interior and the crucial role of Spanish and French expeditions in creating the knowledge base that encouraged a commitment to foundation of permanent Spanish, French, and English colonies in the first decade of the seventeenth century. Santa Fe, Quebec, and Jamestown were all founded in this decade; Saint Augustine, the first surviving colony, was founded half a century earlier. The traditional approach, and its customary use of terms such as king, chief, tribe, and nation, overestimates the degree of national integration in Europe, while ignoring the great Indian polities in the interior has diminished our understanding of the kinds of empires that existed in America. Work on the period before 1607 requires scholars to move beyond written sources to bring knowledge from archaeology, geology, and historical climatology, as well as the Indians' oral tradition, into conversation with the written record.

As a unit of analysis, “before 1607” makes sense. To many early Americanists, 1607 implies that the founding of Jamestown, England’s first lasting settlement in North America, is the beginning point of American history. But, in fact, as the way historians write about the later sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries has opened up, the founding of Santa Fe and Quebec at about the same time as Jamestown means that the seventeenth century’s first decade saw a new and broad-based kind of European imperial interest in North America north of Mexico. Saint Augustine had continued from its founding in 1565, but Spain’s commitment to permanent occupation of northern New Spain and France’s decision to sponsor a year-round colony in the area where its fishermen and fur traders had operated seasonally for more than a century, along with England’s founding of colonies in the Chesapeake and in Maine, meant that three European nations had simultaneously decided the region was worth some investment.

Europeans’ commitment to trying for a permanent presence in North America stemmed in part from developments in Europe, but its principal source was new knowledge about the societies and resources in the interior. For Europeans, this was a new world of possibilities; that many ventures did not work out should not stop us from seeing their importance at the time. Looking before 1607 offers a very different cast of European characters from those of [End Page 3] traditional early American history with its focus on the English colonies to the exclusion of all others. As David Beers Quinn asserts, “The major contributions to the exploration of North America were made under the auspices of the crowns of France and Spain.”1 No longer are we restricted to the East Coast and the relative handful of Europeans and the Indians who were active there. Over the course of the sixteenth century, North America, like the three other continents bordering the Atlantic, increasingly became oriented toward that ocean; Pacific interests also began to figure in American economies. But the largest and most powerful native groups were active in the continent’s interior, and it is their stories that emerge more clearly in studying this period. They saw incoming Europeans as potential new allies in the empires they were already constructing. And it was Spanish and French explorers, not English, who first began to describe the interior for Europeans. The roughly simultaneous expeditions of Hernando de Soto from the east and Francisco Vásquez de Coronado from the west in the 1540s crossed and described the southern part of the entire continent and many of its people. Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca’s account of his party’s experiences as they made their way from the Gulf Coast overland to Mexico City was published in the same decade.

Sixteenth-century Europeans with an interest in the western side of the Atlantic read widely, so English prospectors, even though they were late on the scene as colonizers, knew the Portuguese, Spanish, and French record and knew what they had found. Their accounts were quickly translated into other European languages and widely disseminated. Promoters such as Richard Hakluyt and entrepreneurs such as Theodor de Bry collected and translated accounts that they then published in massive collection series. In this way, making sense of America was a joint European project. Some Americans appeared in Europe from the very beginning of the sixteenth century, and the first maps that included some of the Americas’ coasts were made in the century’s first decade.2

In the twenty-first century, making sense of this period is a joint scholarly project that necessarily draws on a variety of disciplines and approaches. The 2013 WMQ-EMSI workshop, “Before 1607,” cosponsored by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the University of Southern California-Huntington Library Early Modern Studies Institute, was devoted to North American history in the period before 1607. The call for proposals asserted that “historians are no longer patient with the idea that ‘America’ can trace its origin to struggling outposts near the Chesapeake, or to any Anglo-American settlements. The burst of scholarship [End Page 4] over the past generation, since at least the Columbian Quincentennial of 1992, has given us a much richer understanding of the Americas that long predated the founding of Jamestown, Santa Fe, and Quebec.” It called for proposals from a wide range of disciplines and promised that “this workshop will assess the relationship between studies of the long sixteenth century and those that stress developments after 1607, as well as chart a new course for future pre-1607 scholarship, primarily for North America north of the Rio Grande.” We sought work from scholars looking at the period from a native perspective as well as from the full complement of Europeans involved in transatlantic enterprises. The questions the call suggested were: “What did Europeans see as they looked across the Atlantic at North America in 1600? What was the relationship of earlier European economic activities, such as fishing on the northeastern coast and the fur trade, to later colonial ventures? What explains Europeans’ wavering commitment to making substantial investments in capital and colonists in the vast territory north of Mexico? Why did Indian leaders decide to allow initial settlements and missions?”3 The eight papers presented at the workshop fulfilled our aims of bringing many disciplinary and regional perspectives to our discussions.4

One of the questions on which our discussions centered was what we can know about this early period and how. Historians who choose to work on North America before large-scale European involvement there must draw on the findings of colleagues working in many other disciplines, especially [End Page 5] archaeology, anthropology, and folklore studies, but also historical climatology and geology. Interdisciplinarity is one of the elements that make study of the period so rich, but interdisciplinarity also poses daunting challenges. Archaeology has enabled us to understand the documents much more fully than we could before. As Audrey Horning points out, archaeologists’ findings can enhance the way we read early documents, but they also complicate our understanding of those documents and can create ambiguities. At the same time, such ambiguity can provide a productive intersection between artifacts and written record. In fact, according to Alan Mayne, “acknowledging ambiguity is not an impediment to analysis; it is a starting point for nuanced analysis.”5 All kinds of sources require interpretation; as they are removed from their contexts in the ground or the volume, they must be placed in contexts created by scholars through imaginative reconstruction.

One major pitfall of borrowing from disciplines other than a scholar’s primary field was revealed early in our discussions: use of terminology. Scholars employ terms that seem transparent only to find that they are contested and problematic. One such formulation on which our discussions stumbled was the word prehistory. Historians are accustomed to thinking that this is a clear and simple way to describe the study of cultures without written records. It quickly became obvious that this usage is not always agreed on or clear. Donald R. Kelley has traced the term from ancient times, writing, “Prehistory itself had a prehistory.”6 Early modern writers believed history before written documents could be recovered through the study of myths and sagas, of the evolution of languages, and of monuments and other material objects. As documentation about American Indians began to come to Europe, some scholars argued they could recover something of their own past through studying these newly revealed societies. But this approach implied that those societies were permanently primitive. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel conveyed this way of thinking, saying that Africa “is no historical part of the World. . . . What we properly understand by Africa, is the Unhistorical, Undeveloped Spirit, still involved in the conditions of mere nature, and which had to be presented here only as on the threshold of the World’s History.” Hegel turned then to Asia and Europe, “the real theatre of History.”7

Kelley argues that the term prehistory was coined by Daniel Wilson in 1851, and it was cemented into scholarship with the discovery of the [End Page 6] Neanderthals in 1857.8 The idea that human societies and cultures go through fixed stages of development, so that the study of what early modern scholars deemed primitive societies in America could allow them to understand their own early history, explains why prehistory is a problematic term in the twenty-first century. It carries a lot of ideological baggage. Moreover, it implies that societies before history is deemed to have begun were static; change and development start with the coming of the Europeans and their written records. Robbie Ethridge takes on this hypothesis directly when she writes, “My work characterizes America’s ancient pasts as dynamic, historical, and changing, and influential in how the European colonial projects later unfolded.”9 Ethridge describes how Soto, as he embarked on his expedition across the South in 1540, headed for the rich chiefdom of Cofitachequi, whose fame had spread to the Florida coast. As Soto traveled across the Southeast, he began to understand the political relationships that bound smaller to greater polities. He was bowled over by the majestic self-presentation of the paramount chief at Coosa. Sixteenth-century Europeans with direct experience knew that Americans did not live in an unchanging world. Europeans were intruding on a complex and dynamic set of relationships that reached far back in time and were often contested.

A related question is, how should we describe the detectable crises that native societies had experienced in the past, as well as the rupture when Europeans first appeared?10 The great center of Cahokia, which reached its height as one of the largest cities in the world around 1200, declined and disappeared, with most of the population leaving the region about 1350. Had Cahokia exceeded ecological limits or was its demise a result of the onset of the Little Ice Age and attendant drought? Should this be described as a catastrophe? Is collapse a better word for such past events, especially given the proliferation of polities that succeeded in Cahokia’s wake?

As Robert Morrissey argues, Cahokia is often seen as outside of history, sealed off in the distant past, an impression intensified by archaeologists labeling the area where it had been the “vacant quarter.” But he demonstrates that if we look at the important groups, such as the Illinois, that coalesced in the wake of Cahokia’s decline and dominated the Midwest, then we can understand the region as having a recognizable and dynamic history bridging from Cahokia to the coming of the Europeans and the attendant expansion of Iroquoia. It is, as Morrissey writes, “a story of conquest, opportunism, expansion, of risky behavior and bold intentions.”11 [End Page 7]

Environmental change was crucial to the evolution of the Illinois as a power. The same colder and drier conditions that contributed to Cahokia’s demise also led, Morrissey argues, to extension of the bison’s range as they expanded east of the Mississippi River into this rich environment. The availability of these resources drew Siouan-speakers from the west, who coalesced into the Oneota culture, and Algonquians from the east, who formed the Illinois group. These colonizers created new cultural forms including the exploitation of a wider range of food resources—a change as fundamental as that created by the arrival of Europeans and the new trades they fostered. Following Pekka Hämäläinen, Morrissey argues that bison made it possible to transform the calories stored in prairie grass into food for human beings.12 Bison began to appear in the Ohio Valley at about the same time as Europeans began to range the East Coast and venture into the interior. Thus our picture of the distribution of flora and fauna over the landscape and of the natural limits of species requires amendment, as does our understanding of the distribution of people. During this same period, the Algonquian-speaking Illinois people displaced the Oneotas, while also absorbing some of their culture, and came to dominate the region south of the Great Lakes.

New advances in archaeology allow us to understand the interior of the continent as politically and culturally dynamic long before the early seventeenth century. As Ethridge and Morrissey argue, this new understanding allows us to revise the story of declension and defeat that the written sources have given us with a new, more realistic story of people who imagined the coming of the Europeans as a way to expand existing modes of alliance and trade.

Is collapse the best term for what happened with the European arrival? When and how did Atlantic contacts affect native people living in the interior? Certainly the expeditions of Soto and Coronado across the continent in the 1540s were destabilizing, both because of the Spanish habit of attacking whenever they felt threatened and because of their inadvertent introduction of diseases to which Indians did not have acquired immunity. The Spanish disrupted existing relationships by responding to offers of alliance. The expeditions also leaked people, European and African, as they moved through the land, and those who remained behind would have brought new kinds of lore to native societies. Ethridge argues that the integration of American polities into the world trade system reached far into the interior as European colonies were developed on the coasts and that this integration was the most destabilizing aspect of contact.

How we should refer to the societies that confronted each other in North America in the sixteenth century is another topic that provoked [End Page 8] much discussion. Should we use the imported word tribe for Indian polities? While early modern Europeans may have been thinking of ancient Israel and the possible survival of the ten lost tribes in America when they employed this term, in the twenty-first century the word tribe is more problematic. The media today explain apparently inexplicable conflict around the world by calling it tribal, an explanation that is thought to require no further discussion. Legal and social systems that are deemed premodern and that pass judgments repugnant to Western observers are characterized in the press as tribal.

Chiefdom seems a more neutral word, but it appears to evoke a contrast with nation or state, the terms we normally use for England, France, and Spain. As Brett Rushforth pointed out in our discussions, these European polities were only in the process of becoming nations in the sixteenth century. Mark Peterson wrote about how early modern Europeans conceptualized their world, in America and in Europe, in terms of islands; maps tended to show island-like enclosed cities with vacant land in between indicating that a ruler’s power did not extend over the land. Would it make sense to describe Francis I or Henry IV in France or Queen Elizabeth in England as paramount chiefs who ruled over, or were patrons of, lesser chiefs? We need to determine the content of these terms. Daniel K. Richter suggests that we should employ the terms that native people themselves used where possible and include discussion of the harder-to-recover spiritual sources of authority as well as the political and military. As Peter Cook argues, we need to “reconstruct . . . their worldviews” to the extent we can.13 And we need to think about the content of terms such as tribe, state, chief, king, paramount chief, and emperor.

Cook poses the question, what did it mean when a European writer described a native leader as a king? Are sachem or cacique, which early writers identified as the Indians’ own terms, better identifiers? In documents generated by the French in America, he detects a late sixteenth-century shift from king as the preferred term to “capitaines (captains), principaux (headmen), or anciens (elders).”14 At the same time, English writers continued to describe the Indian leaders they met as kings. Cook traces the change in French descriptions to conflict with Indians in America but also to discussions of the nature of kingship in France, and he argues that continued use of the term in some English descriptions reflects their own concerns about the best form of polity. Sophie Lemercier-Goddard reads maps and texts produced out of the expeditions led by Martin Frobisher to the far north as also exhibiting concerns about the nature of empire and monarchy; she argues that they present an image of the state that decenters monarchy and instead describes an [End Page 9] “autonomous organism” in which wealth circulated freely.15 One consequence of Europeans finding kings and kingdoms in America, Cook posits, is that the initial colonies that were founded around the year 1607 were all settled in places where Europeans believed they would find such polities.

Cook points out that nineteenth-and early twentieth-century historians transformed the picture of native societies transmitted by sixteenth-and early seventeenth-century eyewitness writers. Historians diminished the status both of native polities and of early observers. Europeans’ descriptions of kings and empires were seen as products of their own preconceptions or their desire for self-aggrandizement. This change was especially present in nineteenth-century English translations of participants who wrote in Spanish or French, where scholars translated “‘king’ or ‘lord’ as ‘chief’ or ‘headman.’”16 Recent advancements in archaeology, in company with learning from the Indians’ own oral traditions, have allowed us to reread the early accounts with new understanding, and we find that they are actually more true to the reality on the ground than later glosses.

Archaeological work in the last few decades has transformed our understanding of American societies as they existed before and after the arrival of Europeans. Although many sites were damaged by earlier digging and by agriculture, it has been possible to find sufficiently intact sites in many places to apply the latest techniques with striking results. Remote sensing techniques reveal what is out of sight below ground. Sites that would have been of little interest to people looking for artifacts can be interpreted on the basis of stains in the soil that reveal structures that are no longer there. So sophisticated are modern methods that in some cases it has been possible to revisit the results of earlier digs and to reinterpret them in the light of recent archaeology. Government funding, especially as a result of the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and the creation of the National Register of Historic Places, has tremendously enhanced the range of archaeological work. Anniversaries, such as those of Roanoke and Jamestown, have also contributed to the extension of archaeology.17

What kinds of interpretations can we make on the basis of archaeological finds? Ethridge argues that the lack of palisaded towns in its region implies a Pax Cahokia, a reign of peace enforced by Cahokia’s power, although endemic warfare with groups outside the Cahokia mandate is indicated by the appearance of palisades at the borders and in the burials of slain enemies.18 Archaeologists working on the East Coast have found evidence for highly structured societies with powerful leaders and hereditary [End Page 10] elite systems, evidence that matches the accounts of the early Europeans on the scene who described powerful leaders and nobles. So, rather than being blinded by their own preconceptions derived from European models, early observers were describing what they saw.

Surekha Davies argues that analysis of visual representations of native societies can add to this new understanding. She shows artists and mapmakers deeply engaged in trying to represent newly acquired knowledge and argues that we can see this epistemology at work even where they seem to be merely transmitting inherited lore, such as when they depict cannibals, Amazons, and headless people with eyes in their chests. John White’s paintings of coastal Carolina Algonquians depict a society with dignified, impressive leaders matching writers’ descriptions of these polities. Davies argues that in posing these leaders and other members of that society, White may have been attempting to convey a truth beyond surface reality.

Because White’s paintings were turned into copperplate engravings in de Bry’s Frankfurt workshop and were published with Thomas Hariot’s A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia as the first volume of de Bry’s America series, we have a unique opportunity to compare paintings by the eyewitness White with engravings made by German artists who had never been to America. Davies points out that de Bry, while reprinting Hariot’s pamphlet, first published in 1588, radically shifted its focus from concentrating on the land and its resources to producing an ethnographic travel narrative that emphasized the capacity of the Algonquians for European-style civility. The engravings, as Peter Stallybrass has argued, incorporated knowledge from the written sources as well as the paintings to enhance understanding of this American culture.19

The second volume in de Bry’s America series, published in 1591, included engravings based on Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues’s depictions of Florida natives from 1565. Like written accounts, engravings circulated through multiple reproductions, especially on maps, and, Davies argues, mapmakers chose the most pacific of Le Moyne’s images and omitted the many scenes of extreme violence that he had included. Also, engravers continued to study written accounts in order to enhance the message of the pictorial while refiguring medieval ways of representing kingship for depictions of American leaders. These images had long lives. De Bry’s engravings of the coastal Carolina villages of Secotan and Pomeiooc appeared as Apache sites on a map of New France by Guillaume Delisle in the early eighteenth century.20 [End Page 11]

Focusing on the period before 1607 reconfigures Atlantic geography. The circum-Caribbean region clearly garnered the attention of all Europeans. Spain was established in the region, including in Florida, and French and English privateers were active in trying to limit Spain’s power and extract some of its wealth. At the same time, French and English attention also centered on the far north, a region that appears much less important in the historiography of ensuing centuries. French fishermen—principally Basques, Normans, and Bretons—dominated Newfoundland fishing in the sixteenth century and into the seventeenth. A smaller number of English ships came annually beginning in the last third of the sixteenth century. Quinn argues that European fishermen might have discovered the rich fishing on America’s north Atlantic coast even before 1492.21 And Peter E. Pope affirms that the value of the fish coming into Europe annually in the later sixteenth century was greater than the wealth coming out of the Gulf of Mexico.22

Jacques Cartier’s voyages along the Saint Lawrence River, penetrating far into the northern interior, match the expeditions of Soto and Coronado across the southern part of the continent; Cartier’s first voyage in 1534 actually preceded theirs by a few years. Though permanent settlements came later, the expeditions produced a rich documentary record that made the far north familiar to Europeans and raised the issue of why the American climate differed so dramatically from that of European regions in the same latitudes.

Lemercier-Goddard recalls us to the English search for the Northwest Passage, which loomed so large in early aspirations. If they could find a way to Asia that was both shorter and freer of competition than those controlled by the Iberians, then national wealth would surely increase. Concentrating on the period before 1607 forces historians to conceptualize American possibilities as contemporaries did. Too often, for those options that did not work out, failure seems overdetermined, and we dismiss the seriousness with which expeditions were undertaken. As Lemercier-Goddard argues, in the early period, “the northern part of North America was seen as England’s natural area of expansion.”23 Writing on Frobisher’s voyages to the land Queen Elizabeth named Meta Incognita, Lemercier-Goddard demonstrates both the seriousness of the undertaking—Frobisher’s men extracted by hand 1,200 tons of rock believed to be gold-bearing ore—and the way it was written into the English national story.

One issue that emerges most clearly in the period before permanent European settlement concerns the motivations of Europeans. Christopher J. Bilodeau contrasts explanations that center on environmental conditions with those that see difference in national cultures as leading to different [End Page 12] strategies. The first implies that Europeans responded to the constraints and possibilities of the environments available to them. Thus, French venturers were invited into the fur trade by highly organized and connected Indian nations with the stipulation that the newcomers could not operate unless they treated their native partners with a degree of parity. Further, the fur trade demanded that Indian nations retain their power, so large-scale settlement by French people was discouraged. The English with interests in the north, in this environmentalist approach, found themselves largely excluded from the fur trade, so their engagement with fishing ultimately led to permanent settlements whose people earned their living by agriculture. For this reason, the environment-centered explanatory model suggests, English settlers were displacing Indians.

Focusing on the first decade of the seventeenth century and designs on the Gulf of Maine, Bilodeau argues that differences between French and English actions stemmed rather from distinct imperial visions for their relationship with America and were thus deeply embedded in the political culture of those countries. French raison d’état assumed that “sovereignty over land focused not on the land itself but on the people who inhabited it,” and their expeditions brought Jesuits to carry Christianity to the Indians.24 Samuel de Champlain’s accounts demonstrate his concern to establish good relations with the Indians he encountered and also the generally warm welcome the French received.

English aspirations, by contrast, according to Bilodeau, centered exclusively on control of land; Indians were placed outside of English plans. Control of land included manipulation of the environment to facilitate a life of civility; without such manipulation, even Europeans would degenerate. Indians who wished to enter this land must become civil in the European sense. Bilodeau contrasts accounts of George Weymouth’s New England voyage of 1605 with Champlain’s account to show that Weymouth was looking for good land, especially with prospects for mining, and expected and received only hostility from the Indians. As with Frobisher’s failed expedition seeking the Northwest Passage three decades earlier, mining for the ore the English were certain must be there was the default position in setting up the Sagadahoc colony in Maine.25

Peterson points to the conceptual centrality of cities in European thinking about America. He elucidates the biblical conflation of colony and city in descriptions of the spread of the early church, on which colonizers based their thinking, and demonstrates translators’ difficulty with the word colonia, for which there was no English equivalent through much of the sixteenth century. Only in the early seventeenth century after accrued [End Page 13] experience did the translators of the King James version of the Bible feel comfortable simply rendering it as “colony.”

Beginning with Lima in 1535, Spanish cities in America were laid out on a formal grid that was designed both to embody civility and to express “a religious ideal that was realized perhaps for the first time in urban form and space.” Many texts and images compared Lima to the Heavenly Jerusalem as described in the biblical book of the Revelation of St. John the Divine. Saint Marys City, the first settlement in the English Roman Catholic colony of Maryland, was laid out on a Baroque plan.26 Drawing on the long preoccupation with cities as centers of civil life that was exemplified in Thomas More’s Utopia, English promoters styled their colonies as cities regardless of how ramshackle and small they were. Thus, Sir Walter Ralegh called his second attempt to settle a colony on North America’s east coast “The City of Ralegh” in Virginia, and Jamestown’s backers insisted that it was a city. Samuel de Champlain’s drawing of Quebec showed it as a walled city.

Although the full extent of the city of Cahokia would not be known to those of European descent until the nineteenth century, early venturers to America did see cities among the Indians. The magnificent city of Tenochtitlán, as described by Hernán Cortés and his men, became famous throughout Europe. Giovanni Battista Ramusio, who created the well-known image of Tenochtitlán for his Navigationi et viaggi, also made a woodcut of the Huron city of Hochelaga, as described by Cartier, showing a palisaded city consisting of neat squares on a geometric plan (Figures III). Cartier described Hochelaga as consisting of “three tiers like a pyramid,” each tier having a different orientation within the palisade.27

Modern archaeology has demonstrated that Lima was laid out over a preexisting Inca city on a similar grid. Cholula, the oldest continually occupied city in the Americas, is also on a grid. As the Incas expanded, they created cities on an orthogonal grid in their colonies.28 In northern New Spain, Spanish venturers called the Indians “Pueblos,” the Spanish word for city, because of their impressive permanent urban centers built around plazas and incorporating sites of worship. And the Jesuits wrote that Father Andrew White, S.J., was living in Maryland in the “metropolis of Pascatoa” in the palace of the emperor.29 [End Page 14]

Figure I. Giovanni Battista Ramusio, “View of Mexico City,” Navigationi et viaggi, vol. 3 (Venice, 1556), plate, leaf 308 verso. <br/><br/>Courtesy of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University.
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Figure I.

Giovanni Battista Ramusio, “View of Mexico City,” Navigationi et viaggi, vol. 3 (Venice, 1556), plate, leaf 308 verso.

Courtesy of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University.

[End Page 15]

Figure II. Giovanni Battista Ramusio, “La terra de Hochelaga nella Nova Franca,” Navigationi et viaggi, vol. 3 (Venice, 1556), plate, 446–47. <br/><br/>Courtesy of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University.
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Figure II.

Giovanni Battista Ramusio, “La terra de Hochelaga nella Nova Franca,” Navigationi et viaggi, vol. 3 (Venice, 1556), plate, 446–47.

Courtesy of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University.

Molly Warsh points to the dramatic expansion of the Spanish presence south and west of the Caribbean in the first half of the sixteenth century and the wide range of relationships Spanish agents forged with native people, many of whom became formal allies. But the nature of these relationships was also influenced by the material resources of each area and what was needed to extract and export them. As the Spanish Crown faced internal resistance in the Spanish-controlled Protestant Netherlands and the Morisco Revolt, both beginning in the late 1560s, and also acute financial problems with the first of many bankruptcies declared in 1557, American wealth became ever more crucial to maintaining sovereignty and solvency. The recently discovered silver deposits at Potosí (in modern-day Bolivia) assumed crucial importance in this pursuit, but, Warsh argues, the Spanish monarchy maintained a marked interest in strengthening Caribbean enterprises, among them the pearl fisheries.

Pearls offer a particularly interesting case because they are portable, easily transferred, and impossible to mark with an owner’s identity; in the sixteenth century they functioned as a kind of currency. The international movement of pearls involved people from all over Europe, Protestants and Jews as well as the [End Page 16] Roman Catholic Spanish authorities, who wanted to control the trade. Just as beads made of Venetian glass fueled relationships with Americans, pearls from America decorated clothing and cemented relationships in Europe.

Difficult as it was to control the flow of pearls across the Atlantic and within Europe, controlling the communities of the pearl fisheries and forcing them to conform to royal will was even more difficult. Increasingly, the fisheries depended on enslaved Africans for the actual fishing. Skilled pearl divers exercised a great deal of control over what happened to the pearls and what part of the catch went to those nominally in positions of authority. Although Spanish officials created elaborate categories for pearls accompanied by schedules of taxation and distribution, attempts to organize the trade could never be more than partially successful. Our knowledge of the informal circulation of pearls and the kinds of practices followed by those in the fisheries, however, comes from reports filed by Spanish officials who monitored transactions closely.

One of Warsh’s most surprising findings is that illicit trade in pearls was carried on by Spanish officials, including some at the highest levels of the system. This conforms to the picture of the European presence in America as consisting of people who thought of themselves to some extent as independent operators. National entities were developing in this period and no one knew for sure what the outcome would be. Philip II was married to Mary Tudor, so the king of Spain had briefly been king of England. And Elizabeth I’s resistance to marriage and refusal to name a successor put the fate of England in limbo. James I presided over a council many of whose members secretly accepted pensions from the king of Spain, and James hoped to marry his son, Henry, to the Spanish infanta. In fact, Pope argues that “England was often, in effect, a client state of Spain.”30 The long revolt in the Netherlands would not culminate until well into the seventeenth century, and the Thirty Years’ War and encroaching Ottoman armies from the East put the future of much of Europe in question.

Because the prospects for Europe, and for European commitments in America, were so uncertain, individuals involved in transatlantic enterprises went where opportunity took them. Dutch, French, and English privateers, theoretically licensed by the state to recover property lost to enemy attack but actually attacking when and where they saw good prospects, made life dangerous for themselves and others. Philip D. Morgan writes that English privateers brought annually 100,000 pounds worth of “sugar, hides, logwood, indigo, silver, gold, and pearls from the Spanish Main.”31 Presumably many thousands of pounds of goods were not reported or were redeemed in other places. [End Page 17]

Privateering that struck at the Spanish enemy was deemed to be both patriotic and religiously motivated because American treasure fueled the Spanish campaign to reverse the Reformation in Europe. Dutch writers, drawing on the work of Bartolomé de Las Casas, created one of the most powerful and long-lived propaganda campaigns in history: the Black Legend, which argued that Spain had been uniquely cruel and rapacious in its treatment of American Indians and even of other Europeans. This theme was eagerly taken up by French and English promoters, who self-consciously described their own colonial efforts to contrast with the Spanish record as portrayed in La Leyenda Negra.32

But on the ground national enmities sometimes seemed less real or important than survival. With governments and investors in Europe stretched thin, colonists often felt neglected and short of supplies. One story from the 1585 expedition carrying the first set of Roanoke colonists offers a case in point. Following the course that was routine at the time, the ships sailed down the coast of Africa to the point where they could catch the trade winds that would carry them across the Atlantic; the first port of call for voyages in this period was the Caribbean. Sir Richard Grenville, admiral of the fleet, called at a port in Hispaniola. After some initial confrontations, the Spanish governor approached the English and the two parties engaged in formal diplomatic exchanges. The English created “two banquetting houses covered with greene boughs . . . and a sumptuous banquet was brought in served by us all in Plate, with the sound of trumpets, and consort of musick.” In recompense the Spanish governor “caused a great heard of white buls, and kyne [cows], to be brought together from the Mounteines.” Every gentleman was offered a horse “ready sadled” and then the three best bulls were singled out to be hunted. After three hours, the Spanish and English settled down again and “many rare presents and gifts were given and bestowed on both partes.” The following day “wee plaied the Marchants in bargaining with them by way of trucke and exchange for divers of their commodities, as horses, mares, kyne, buls, goates, swine, sheepe, bul hydes, sugar, ginger, pearle, tabacco, and such like commodities of the Iland.”33

Spain and England were at war in 1585, which makes this encounter even more remarkable. The “wiser sort” among the English believed that the Spaniards had been so welcoming because of the size and strong sense of purpose of the English forces. “If they had bene stronger than wee,” [End Page 18] the account argued, the English would have received “no better curtesie at their hands, then Master I[J]ohn Hawkins,” John Oxnam (Oxenham), and “divers others of our Countrymen in other places.”34

Life in the sixteenth-century North American colonies was rugged at best; apart from Saint Augustine, no colony survived and inadequate support contributed to those failures. Many colonists, such as those at Roanoke in 1585–86, the Huguenots at Charlesfort and Fort Caroline, and the separatist puritans who attempted to establish a colony in the Magdalen Islands in the north, were able to return home. In each case a few stragglers were left behind, and many colonists were killed in the Spanish attack on Fort Caroline. The second Roanoke colony, though, made those other efforts seem fortunate, as events in Europe interfered with plans to reprovision it, and these families became the famous Lost Colonists. Despite the capital letters, they were not unique. Hundreds of Europeans had melted into Indian life after shipwrecks along the Florida coast, and every expedition found that some members chose to stay behind. Juan Pardo led two ventures into the interior in the 1560s and built a series of forts along the Appalachian mountain chain. One of these, Fort San Juan, three hundred miles west of the coast near present-day Morganton, North Carolina, has recently been rediscovered, and excavations have begun there.35 The forts were attacked by Indians on whose territory they had intruded, and the Spanish abandoned them. Santa Elena, settled by the Spanish on the site of the French Fort Caroline, was also abandoned in the face of persistent drought. At the very end of the sixteenth century, Juan de Oñate accepted a commission and led a party north into New Mexico. That April 1598 expedition would ultimately lead to the founding of Santa Fe.

Looking at North America in the period before 1607 raises an interesting counterfactual question: how might American history have been different if the colonists clinging to the coast on the east side of the Appalachians had encountered the complex and powerful empires that controlled the continent’s interior? Put another way, why is American history as it has traditionally been written so truncated and thus peculiar? As the Spanish entered the Americas through the Caribbean, they encountered the great cities of Mexico and Peru soon after their initial contacts. Based on the criteria early modern Europeans were accustomed to, there could be no doubt that [End Page 19] these cities and ceremonial sites were created by advanced cultures. Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra argues that the Spanish readily recognized the polities they encountered to be highly organized societies, as exemplified in the cities they created. And it was in part this recognition that caused intellectuals among the Spanish to study American historical traditions and to create a composite history of the regions they occupied. For the Spanish, according to Cañizares-Esguerra, the history of their American places began in the distant past, not with the arrival of Europeans.36

In contrast, the great ceremonial centers associated with Cahokia along the Mississippi River, in the Ohio Valley, and throughout the Southeast were only very dimly known to those Europeans who settled in eastern North America. Hernando de Soto’s expedition saw mounds in the Southeast in the sixteenth century, and the great mounds were partially reported early in the eighteenth century; French and English traders saw them no later than the mid-eighteenth century. George Washington and his men described the Grave Creek Mound in present-day West Virginia in 1772, and the missionary David Zeisberger and others saw mounds in Ohio in the 1770s. Nonetheless, so distinguished a scholar as Thomas Jefferson in his Notes on the State of Virginia wrote, “I know of no such thing existing as an Indian monument: for I would not honour with that name arrow points, stone hatchets, stone pipes, and half-shapen images. Of labour on the large scale, I think there is no remain as respectable as would be a common ditch for the draining of lands: unless it be the Barrows, of which many are to be found all over this country.”37

For those who actually saw the monuments, the question of who might have created these structures was intriguing, but travelers and scholars alike rejected the idea that the ancestors of the Indians they knew could have been the builders of these great works. Benjamin Smith Barton wrote in his Observations on Some Parts of Natural History, likely published in 1787, that “the oldest Indians are incapable of giving any account of this curious antiquity.” Furthermore, “these nations have not furnished us with one monument of their industry or of their skill.” Writers variously supposed that Trojans, Danes, Aztecs, Tartars, or Carthaginians must have created these “eminences.” Barton argued against the widely accepted idea that ancient Welsh colonists built the monuments and asserted instead, pointing to similarities to the remains of Viking buildings in Ireland, that they were created by Danes who would go on to build the Toltec centers in Mexico. A decade later, Barton revised his opinion in his New Views of the Origin [End Page 20] of the Tribes and Nations of America, where he drew on Indians’ own oral traditions that their forebears had come from the west. Pointing to the preponderance of monumental structures in the west, he now accepted that the ancestors of contemporary Indians had created them.38 George Rogers Clark endorsed American oral tradition that the mounds were “the works of their forefathers.”39 Jefferson’s views also began to change by the later eighteenth century, and he was prepared to use the word “monuments” to describe the mound centers in the Ohio Valley.40

The great center at Cahokia was first described for Euroamericans by Henry Marie Brackenridge, who visited the region several times and walked among the many centers. Like Barton, he addressed his work to Jefferson. He wrote Jefferson about his discoveries in 1813, saying that he was emboldened to write him because of his “knowledge that research into the history of the primitive inhabitants of America, is one of your favorite amusements.”41 He also wrote that he had been inspired in youth by reading Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia and by visiting mounds near his home in Pittsburgh. Saying that since 1810 he had visited every mound center on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, he hypothesized that the ancient population had been much greater than had been supposed and possibly exceeded what Euroamericans could support in his day.

Nearly opposite St Louis there are the traces of two such cities, in the distance of five miles, on the bank of the cohokia, which crosses the American bottom at this place. There are not less than one hundred mounds, in two different groups; one of the mounds falls little short of the Egyptian pyramid Mycerius. [W]hen I examined it in 1811, I was astonished that this stupendious monument of Antiquity Should have been unnoticed by any traveller: I afterwards published an account in the newspapers at St Louis, detailing its dimensions describing its form, position &a, but this, which I thought might almost be considered a discovery, attracted no notice: and yet I [End Page 21] stated it to be eight hundred paces in circumference (the exact Size of the pyramid of Asychis.) and one hundred feet in height.

He also wrote, “Who will pretend to speak with certainty as to the Antiquity of America? . . . The philosophers of Europe with a narrowness and Selfishness of mind have endeavoured to depreciate every thing which relates to it. They have called it the New world, as though its formation was posterior to the rest of the habitable globe.”42

In Brackenridge’s Views of Louisiana, published a year later, he ventured to say that others who had written on the great mounds in the Mississippi Valley, including Jefferson, had put forward “theories founded on a very imperfect acquaintance” because they had not themselves seen the sites. “The subject is still new.” He dismissed those who explained the ancient monuments by citing the Danes or the Welsh and affirmed that the remains, which were spread all over the interior, were always built in areas best for agriculture and thus for supporting large populations. “I have heard a surveyor of the public lands observe, that wherever any of these remains were met with, he was sure to find an extensive body of fertile land.” At Cahokia, the mounds were organized in extensive groups. “When I reached the foot of the principal mound, I was struck with a degree of astonishment, not unlike that which is experienced in contemplating the Egypt pyramids. What a stupendous pile of earth!” After looking at the various remains, “I concluded that a very populous town had once existed here, similar to those of Mexico, described by the first conquerors.” And he reiterated that he had seen groups of very similar mounds at other places.43

Jefferson wrote Brackenridge thanking him for his letter: “I have read with pleasure the account it gives of the antient mounds & fortifications in the Western country. I never before had an idea that they were so numerous. [P]resuming the communication was meant for me in my relation with the Philosophical society, and deeming it well worthy their attention, I have forwarded it to them.”44 A decade earlier, Jefferson had instructed Meriwether Lewis to record any evidence of antiquities that he encountered as he sent Lewis and William Clark on their expedition to chart the newly acquired western lands, but they were also to look for the blond, blue-eyed, Welsh-speaking Mandans. Finally, in 1815, Jefferson accepted that the mounds at Cahokia were evidence of major cultures in the ancient past. The record was amplified with the publication in 1848 of E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis’s massive Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley, the first in [End Page 22] the newly formed Smithsonian Institution’s “Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge” series. This book presented precise diagrams and descriptions of hundreds of sites. Squier and Davis did not think the earthworks could have been created by the ancestors of contemporary Indians, however, and the notion that the mounds were built by a vanished superior race persisted well into the twentieth century.45

Unlike the Spanish histories based on deep research in the Indian past uncovered by Cañizares-Esguerra, the histories of the new nation being written at the end of the eighteenth century and into the nineteenth began with the arrival of Europeans. New England’s founding was often portrayed as the true founding, so the messier beginnings in the South were marginalized. Here the hypothesis argued by Christopher J. Bilodeau at our workshop becomes highly relevant. Is the very different way national histories were constructed a product of differences between Spanish and English cultures? Or should we also look at the different historical experiences of the two areas and ponder how historical construction might have been different if the people who settled in North America’s east had seen the evidence of great and highly organized cultures in the interior from the beginning of their lives here?

Even after the mound centers’ presence had been certified, they continued to be disregarded throughout the nineteenth and into the twentieth centuries. Seventy of the great mounds were leveled before the Civil War, and in 1930 the second largest mound at Cahokia was removed using a steam shovel. The Grand Plaza, center of the ceremonies conducted by the ancient builders, was a housing development in the 1940s. Highways crossed the site, and farmers plowed the land. In the 1960s, when archaeologists were first beginning to document the site and its importance, the Eisenhower administration, intent on creating a system that would link the entire nation with reliable roads, drove several of them through Cahokia. The state of Illinois had bought some of the land to create a state park following pioneering archaeological work in the 1920s, but no laws protected the rest of the site. As archaeologists worked feverishly to rescue as much as they could before the bulldozers came through, they found evidence of a huge Stonehenge-like calendar built of cypress logs that was keyed to the appearance of the sun. Thus people with sophisticated astronomical understanding as well as knowledge of geometry built Cahokia. The creation of the National Register of Historic Places in 1966 made protection of such sites possible. NAGPRA was not passed until 1990. But, as Barbara J. Mills and Severin Fowles point out, NAGPRA links site protection to specific groups who can establish a claim to ownership, thus adding greater intensity to interpreting the ambiguity inherent in all kinds of sources. Given the dynamism we now see in Indian polities long before the sustained presence [End Page 23] of Europeans, establishing chains of identity with groups in the distant past offers daunting new challenges.46

The presence of human beings in the Americas is being pushed further and further back in time as archaeology documents very early sites.47 Iberians and Africans were in the territory of the future United States a century before Jamestown, and Spain had created the first permanent settlement at Saint Augustine almost half a century before Jamestown. Such evidence makes starting American history with the arrival of English settlers, an artifact of nineteenth-century historical writing, increasingly bizarre. Looking at the period before 1607 allows historians and teachers to conceptualize American history more inclusively and to acknowledge that Indians and peoples from all over the eastern side of the Atlantic are integral to that history.

Such conceptualization requires a continental approach to early American history. Germany did not become a unified nation until the 1870s, but no one would endorse beginning German history only at that point. On the same pattern, early American history must include Florida and New Mexico and the French presence in the Great Lakes region from the beginning; the practice of adding them only when they became formally part of the United States in the nineteenth century cannot be sustained. Indian empires in the interior also are essential to a true American history, and they must be present in that history from before the first European presence, not when representatives of the United States first encountered them. The pattern of treating Indians only when they oppose or hinder European Americans and their ambitions is unsustainable because it presumes that only people from the eastern side of the Atlantic are the true subjects of history. Textbooks should begin with the nations developing in the continent’s interior and the resources and relationships that fueled their growth. Arrivals from across the Atlantic can then be treated as they affected those relationships and as they began slowly to develop their own stories. [End Page 24]

Karen Ordahl Kupperman

Karen Ordahl Kupperman is Silver Professor of History emerita at New York University. The author wishes to thank the members of the Seminar on Early American History and Culture at Columbia University, Christian Crouch, Michael LaCombe, and Gabriel Rocha for their comments on earlier versions of this piece.

Editor’s note

The following essay grew out of the 2013 WMQ-EMSI workshop, “Before 1607,” the eighth in an annual series cosponsored by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the University of Southern California-Huntington Library Early Modern Studies Institute, with support from the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, held at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, on May 24–25, 2013. The workshops are intended to foster intellectual exchange among a group of scholars approaching a general historical question from diverse chronological, geographic, and methodological perspectives. Karen Ordahl Kupperman acted as the workshop’s convener; Daniel K. Richter presented reflections on the workshop’s themes. The participants, most of whom were completing their first book projects, were Christopher J. Bilodeau, Peter Cook, Surekha Davies, Robbie Ethridge, Sophie Lemercier-Goddard, Robert Morrissey, Mark Peterson, and Molly Warsh. Each supplied a precirculated paper and offered a formal comment on another essay.


1. David Beers Quinn, England and the Discovery of America, 1481–1620: From the Bristol Voyages of the Fifteenth Century to the Pilgrim Settlement at Plymouth: The Exploration, Exploitation, and Trial-and-Error Colonization of North America by the English (New York, 1974), 160–91 (quotation, 160).

2. Americans denotes people whose home is in North America. In the period before 1607, almost all Americans were native people, ancestors of today’s Native Americans.

3. Call for proposals, “Before 1607,” 2013 WMQ-EMSI workshop. For previous framings by workshop conveners published in the William and Mary Quarterly, see Peter Thompson, “Inventive Localism in the Seventeenth Century,” WMQ, 3d ser., 64, no. 3 (July 2007): 525–48; Michael Meranze, “Culture and Governance: Reflections on the Cultural History of Eighteenth-Century British America,” WMQ 65, no. 4 (October 2008): 713–44; Fred Anderson and Andrew Cayton, “The Problem of Authority in the Writing of Early American History,” WMQ 66, no. 3 (July 2009): 467–94; Eric Hinderaker and Rebecca Horn, “Territorial Crossings: Histories and Historiographies of the Early Americas,” WMQ 67, no. 3 (July 2010): 395–432; Karen Halttunen, “Grounded Histories: Land and Landscape in Early America,” WMQ 68, no. 4 (October 2011): 513–32; Terri L. Snyder, “Refiguring Women in Early American History,” WMQ 69, no. 3 (July 2012): 421–50; Annette Gordon-Reed, “Writing Early American Lives as Biography,” WMQ 71, no. 4 (October 2014): 491–516.

4. Richter’s presentation was entitled “State-Forms, Chief-Forms, and Transformations,” and the other presented papers were Bilodeau, “French and English Imperial Styles in Colonial Maine, 1604–1608”; Cook, “The Invention of American Kingship in Sixteenth-Century Europe”; Davies, “Knowledge Transfer and Invention: Representations of the Virginia Algonquians, 1585–1624”; Ethridge, “The Native South at the Time of Contact”; Lemercier-Goddard, “Writing the Nation: Voyages in Search of the Northwest Passage, 1576–1583”; Morrissey, “Illinois Ethnogenesis: Native Power in the Borderlands before 1607”; Peterson, “Boston in the Mind’s Eye: City Thinking in the Early Modern Atlantic World”; Warsh, “Subjects and Objects in Flux, 1555–1600.” Cook’s paper has since been published; see Peter Cook, “‘A King in Every Countrey’: English and French Encounters with Indigenous Leaders in Sixteenth-Century America,” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association, n.s., 24, no. 2 (2013): 1–32.

5. Alan Mayne, “On the Edges of History: Reflections on Historical Archaeology,” American Historical Review 113, no. 1 (February 2008): 93–118 (quotation, 112); Audrey Horning, Ireland in the Virginian Sea: Colonialism in the British Atlantic (Chapel Hill, N.C., 2013), 8–11.

6. Donald R. Kelley, “The Rise of Prehistory,” Journal of World History 14, no. 1 (March 2003): 17–36 (quotation, 17).

7. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, The Philosophy of History, rev. ed., trans. J. Sibree (New York, 1900), 91–99 (quotations, 99).

8. Kelley, Journal of World History 14: 17–36.

9. Robbie Ethridge, “The Native South at the Time of Contact,” paper presented at the 2013 WMQ-EMSI workshop, 2.

10. On this point, see Horning, Ireland in the Virginian Sea, 10–11.

11. Robert Morrissey, “Illinois Ethnogenesis: Native Power in the Borderlands before 1607,” paper presented at the 2013 WMQ-EMSI workshop, 5 (quotations).

12. Pekka Hämäläinen, “The Politics of Grass: European Expansion, Ecological Change, and Indigenous Power in the Southwest Borderlands,” WMQ 67, no. 2 (April 2010): 173–208.

13. Peter Cook, “The Invention of American Kingship in Sixteenth-Century Europe,” paper presented at the 2013 WMQ-EMSI workshop, 3.

14. Ibid., 4.

15. Sophie Lemercier-Goddard, “Writing the Nation: Voyages in Search of the Northwest Passage, 1576–1583,” paper presented at the 2013 WMQ-EMSI workshop, 20.

16. Cook, “Invention of American Kingship,” 2 n. 2.

17. David G. Anderson and Kenneth E. Sassaman, Recent Developments in Southeastern Archaeology: From Colonization to Complexity (Washington, D.C., 2012).

18. Ethridge, “Native South at the Time of Contact,” 4, 6.

19. Peter Stallybrass, “Admiranda narratio: A European Best Seller,” in Thomas Hariot, A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia. . . . (Charlottesville, Va., 2007), 9–30. This is a facsimile edition accompanied by the modernized English text, based on the 1590 Theodor de Bry Latin edition.

20. Helen Wallis, Raleigh and Roanoke: The First English Colony in America, 1584–1590 (Raleigh, N.C., 1985), 99.

21. Quinn, England and the Discovery of America, 5–23.

22. Peter E. Pope, Fish into Wine: The Newfoundland Plantation in the Seventeenth Century (Chapel Hill, N.C., 2004), 11–33.

23. Lemercier-Goddard, “Writing the Nation,” 2.

24. Christopher J. Bilodeau, “French and English Imperial Styles in Colonial Maine, 1604–1608,” paper presented at the 2013 WMQ-EMSI workshop, 4.

25. Christopher J. Bilodeau, “The Paradox of Sagadahoc: The Popham Colony, 1607–1608,” Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 12, no. 1 (Winter 2014): 1–35.

26. Humberto Rodríguez-Camilloni, “Utopia Realized in the New World: Form and Symbol in the City of Kings,” in Settlements in the Americas: Cross-Cultural Perspectives, ed. Ralph Bennett (Newark, Del., 1993), 28–52 (“religious ideal,” 29); Henry M. Miller, “St. Mary’s City: A Baroque City in the Wilderness,” Maryland Humanities (November 1998): 2–5.

27. Jacques Cartier, The Voyages of Jacques Cartier, ed. Ramsay Cook (Toronto, 1993), 61 (quotation); “La terra de Hochelaga nella Nova Francia,” map, in ibid., n.p.

28. Graziano Gasparini, “The Pre-Hispanic Grid System: The Urban Shape of Conquest and Territorial Organization,” in Bennett, Settlements in the Americas, 78–109.

29. “Extracts from the Annual Letters of the English Province of the Society of Jesus, 1639,” in Narratives of Early Maryland, 1633–1684, ed. Clayton Colman Hall (New York, 1910), 124.

30. Pope, Fish into Wine, 17 (quotation); Bruce P. Lenman, “Virginia’s Father: King James I,” Colonial Williamsburg Journal, Autumn 2001, 44–48.

31. Philip D. Morgan, “Virginia’s Other Prototype: The Caribbean,” in The Atlantic World and Virginia, 1550–1624, ed. Peter C. Mancall (Chapel Hill, N.C., 2007), 342–80, esp. 349–50 (quotation, 349); Philip P. Boucher, “Revisioning the ‘French Atlantic’; or, How to Think About the French Presence in the Atlantic, 1550–1625,” ibid., 274–306.

32. See Morgan, “Virginia’s Other Prototype,” 348; Boucher, “Revisioning the ‘French Atlantic,’” 292; Peter Cook, “Kings, Captains, and Kin: French Views of Native American Political Cultures in the Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries,” in Mancall, Atlantic World and Virginia, 307–41, esp. 336.

33. David Beers Quinn, ed., “The Tiger Journal of the 1585 Voyage: The Voyage Made by Sir Richard Greenuile for Sir Walter Ralegh, to Virginia, in the yeere, 1585,” in The Roanoke Voyages, 1584–1590: Documents to Illustrate the English Voyages to North America. . . . (London, 1955), 1: 178–93, esp. 1: 186 (“banquetting”), 187 (“many rare”), 181–83.

34. Quinn, Roanoke Voyages, 1: 187 (quotations). John Hawkins’s fleet was attacked at San Juan de Ulua in 1567 with devastating results, though he lived to achieve high honor in England and played a crucial role in the defense against the Armada. Sir John Oxenham was not so fortunate. He and his men were captured in 1577 and he was hanged at Lima in 1580. See the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography,

35. John Noble Wilford, “Fort Tells of Spain’s Early Ambitions,” New York Times, July 22, 2013,

36. Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, How to Write the History of the New World: Histories, Epistemologies, and Identities in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World (Stanford, Calif., 2001). See also Rolena Adorno, The Polemics of Possession in Spanish American Narrative (New Haven, Conn., 2007).

37. Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (1785), ed. William Peden (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1955), 97.

38. Benjamin Smith Barton, Observations on Some Parts of Natural History: To Which is Prefixed an Account of Several Remarkable Vestiges of an Ancient Date, Which Have Been Discovered in Different Parts of North America. Part I (London, [1787?]), 20 (“oldest Indians”), 40 (“these nations”), 42, 48, 61–66; Barton, “Preliminary Discourse,” New Views of the Origin of the Tribes and Nations of America (Philadelphia, 1797), i–cix, esp. xcii–civ.

39. George Rogers Clark to Matthew Carey, n.d., repr. in James Alton James, The Life of George Rogers Clark (Chicago, 1928), app. 2, 495–99 (quotation, 497).

40. Anthony F. C. Wallace, Jefferson and the Indians: The Tragic Fate of the First Americans (Cambridge, Mass., 1999), 136–39 (quotation, 136); Roger G. Kennedy, Hidden Cities: The Discovery and Loss of Ancient North American Civilization (New York, 1994), 131–38.

41. Henry M. Brackenridge to Thomas Jefferson, July 25, 1813, in J. Jefferson Looney, ed., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series, Mar. 11 to Nov. 27, 1813 (Princeton, N.J., 2009), 6: 322–30 (quotation, 6: 322).

42. Ibid., 6: 324–25 (“Nearly opposite”), 328 (“Who will pretend”).

43. H[enry] M[arie] Brackenridge, Views of Louisiana; Together with a Journal of a Voyage up the Missouri River, in 1811 (Pittsburgh, 1814), 181–95, esp. 181–84 (“theories,” 181, “have heard,” 184), 187–89 (“When I reached,” 187, “I concluded,” 188).

44. Thomas Jefferson to Henry M. Brackenridge, Sept. 20, 1813, in Looney, Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 6: 518.

45. E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis, Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley (New York, 1848); Wallace, Jefferson and the Indians, 130–60, esp. 130–43.

46. Timothy R. Pauketat, Cahokia: Ancient America’s Great City on the Mississippi (New York, 2009); Barbara J. Mills, “The Archaeology of the Greater Southwest: Migration, Inequality, and Religious Transformations,” in The Oxford Handbook of North American Archaeology, ed. Timothy R. Pauketat (Oxford, 2012), 547–60; Severin Fowles, “The Pueblo Village in an Age of Reformation (AD 1300–1600),” ibid., 631–44.

47. Simon Romero, “Discoveries Challenge Beliefs on Humans’ Arrival in the Americas,” New York Times, Mar. 28, 2014, A5.

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