SS History of Our Nation, Unit 1


The Hebrews believed in 1 God. At the heart of Judaism is a set of religious and moral rules called the 10 commandments. Even the most powerful ruler was subject to God's law.


The religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Also taught that Jesus was the son of God. In the eyes of God everyone is equal.

Judeo-Christian Tradition

A mix of Judaism & Christianity, foundation of American democratic thought based on moral and ethical principles that guide all decision making. "all equal before the eyes of God," helped shape American ideas of government.

Athenian Democracy

Athens was the first city-state to adopt direct democracy. Direct democracy is a system of government in which an assembly of ordinary citizens makes decisions. This differs from the modern American form of government, citizens elect representatives to ma

Roman Government and Law

509 B.C., Romans ousted their king and set up a republic. A republic is a system of government in which that people choose representatives who govern in their name.

Greco-Roman Tradition

Had a strong influence on modern American government

Magna Carta

English document from 1215 that limited the power of the king and provided basic rights for citizens such as the right to trial by jury and the right to own private property.


A group of people that had the power to make laws for England. Only the Parliament could approve new taxes. Made up of the House of Lords (nobles, inherited their titles) and House of Commons (elected).

English Bill of Rights

1689, a list of freedoms that guaranteed the rights of english citizens such as trial by jury, no monarch could raise taxes or an army without consent of Parliament, and Habeas corpus.

bill of rights

a written list of freedoms that a government promises to protect

Habeas Corpus

a person cannot be help in prison without being charged with a specific crime.

Roots of American Political ideas

all people are equal under the law, US Congress is an elected legislature that makes laws, Bill of Rights that guarantees basic freedom.

What ties linked Asia and Africa in the 1400s?

Muslims traded with China along a long route known as the Silk Road. Traders carried silks from China, spices from Southeast Asia.

Reasons Europeans began to explore.

The Crusades - brought new ideas and increased the interest in trade between Europe and Asia.
The Renaissance - Europeans rediscovered Greek & Roman classics which lead to new discoveries in art, medicine, and science.
Printing Press - Helped spread redis

Christopher Columbus

Italian navigator who unintentionally discovered the New World in the service of Spain while looking for a westward route to Asia.

The Columbian Exchange

Brought many European, Asian, and African goods to the Americas. At the same time, American crops and livestock were distributed to the rest of the world.
Diseases, small pox and influenza, were passed from Europeans to Native Americans.
Growth of slavery


Economic system in which people put money, or capital, into a business in order to make a profit. It encouraged exploration.


Economic policy which held that a nation's wealth was measured by its supply of gold and silver. Colonies were vital to mercantilism. They were a cheap source of raw materials that might otherwise need to be imported from other lands. Colonies also gave t

How did capitalism support exploration?

Investors formed companies to equip sea voyages or to start colonies. As wealth flowed in from overseas, the merchant and banking class in Europe became more powerful.

Why did France, the Netherlands, and England want to colonize North America?

They were seeking wealth and the Northwest passage.

Northwest Passage

Many people during the Age of Exploration searched for a water route that cut through North America from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. Although a passage was never found the search resulted in the discovery of the resources the North American region


First permanent English settlement in North America, was governed by an elected assembly. It struggled to survive before the colonist began growing and exporting tobacco for profit.


an official document that gives certain rights to an individual or group.

House of Burgesses

Virginia company gave some Jamestown settlers a voice in government. Marked the start of representative government in the colonies where voters elect others to make laws. The tradition of representative government goes back to the Roman Republic.

How were members of the House of Burgesses chosen?

Male settlers voted for representatives

Plymouth Colony

In 1620, a group of Pilgrims (separatists) set sail for Virginia on a ship called the Mayflower to practice their religion freely. The ship went off course and landed far north of Virginia, off the coast of present day Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Mayflower Compact

In 1620, the 41 male passengers on the Mayflower agreed on a set of rules to govern over themselves. They agreed to accept majority rule and participate in an elected government for the best interest of all members of the colony.

New England Colonies

Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, & Connecticut. They had a short growing season, long and cold winters, rocky soil, and forests. Economy was based on trading, shipping, and ship building.

Subsistence farming

a type of agriculture in which people live on what they grow themselves, rather than selling what they produce.

Why was farming difficult?

Much of the land was made up of hills & valleys, farms were small. The thin rocky soil wore out quickly.

Middle Colonies

New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Had fertile soil, milder climate, and a longer growing season. Economy was based on farming (cash crops), mining, craft jobs, crops, grain, manufacturing, and trade.

cash crops

crops that are grown to be sold

William Penn

founded the colony of Pennsylvania. He was a Quaker, a member of a small Protestant sect which taught that all people are equal.

Southern Colonies

Virginia, Maryland, North and South Carolina, and Georgia. Established as a haven for Catholics. Warmest climate, hot summers, and mild winters. Huge plantations produced cash crops such as tobacco and rice. Plantation farming depended on a large labor fo

Plantation Economy

Depended on slavery. Laws treated slaves as property and deprived them of almost all rights.

Why did slavery grow in the Southern colonies?

Huge plantations need a large number of workers.

Triangle Trade

A 3 way trade route linked the colonies to the Caribbean and Africa, New England slave ships carried captive Africans to the West Indies in exchange for sugar and molasses.

Navigation acts

Colonists were required to ship certain products, tobacco and cotton, exclusively to England. Which created jobs for English workers who turned these raw materials into finished products.

Why did European monarchs send out explorers?

They wanted to increase their wealth by trading with Asia. Needed to find a new trade route.

What was the goal of Columbus's voyage?

To prove that going west across the Atlantic would be a quicker way to reach Asia.