History Discussion Questions With Sample Answers

1. Imagine a prominent historian of the early modern period saying “we should consider 1492 as a revolutionary new starting point in history.” Why revolutionary? Explain why this might be true, giving details, facts, and events for support.

2. How did New World societies view themselves and their relationships with other tribes, nature, or the world? How did they view the Europeans who arrived after 1492? Discuss.

3. How did Old World societies view themselves and their relationships with other nations, nature, or the world?  Why did the European Atlantic states (Portugal, Spain, England, France, and the Netherlands, among others) seek to trade, voyage, and discover? How did they view the natives of the New World? Explain.

4. Alfred Crosby called the meeting of the Old and the New Worlds “the Columbian Exchange.” What happened when the two worlds encountered each other?  What types of exchanges occurred? Give examples.

5. How would one compare and contrast the different European colonial experiments in the New World?  Demographically?  Politically?  Social organization?  Relations with the metropolitan center (home country)?  Economically?  (Examine the Spanish, French, and British efforts, or others).

6.  Compare and contrast the experience of the various British New World colonies?  Compare the colonial experiments in the north, south, and middle Atlantic colonies in North America?  How did these compare with the British Caribbean settlements?  (You may use some of the same factors noted in the first question).

7.  Did geography and climate contribute to the different development paths of these colonies?  Explain.

8.  Did religion play a role in the settlement of both the European colonies generally, and the British colonies specifically?  Explain, giving examples.

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