This book represents an attempt to bring together into a single unitary, coherent and, in so far as practicable, chronological narrative, the European settlement and colonization, in those areas North America that now constitute the United States of America, down to the Revolution. While the story the English “plantations” forms the core of the volume, I have attempted to give an adequate treatment of the history of colonization by other nations too. My desire has been to give a balanced, yet truthful view of the time sequence in the development of the different regions of the present-day United States.
The colonization process in North America has been presented against a broad European and international background, an approach which, I think, best serves the full understanding of this era. I have traced the intermingling of Native Americans, Europeans and Africans, which often resulted in violent conflicts with tragic effects, but have tried to emphasize that the Native Americans and the Black Africans were intricately involved in the creation of colonial society and of a new, hybrid American culture.
It has been my strongest desire to bring to light some specific histories of people - including Native Americans, Hispanics, English, French, Black Africans, women and certain religious communities. They form the subject matter of specific sections. The book also gives due emphasis to the great civic issues - the causes and effects of immigration, colonization, slavery, or the impact of religion on American life, and to tracing the evolution of major public political and economic institutions, which the colonizers built through pain and struggle.
I have tried to incorporate, to the best of my ability, of the rich scholarship in economic, social, political cultural and intellectual history that has appeared of late, and to present these materials clearly as possible to aid readers.
In relating the story of the American past, I saw a people composed, from the beginning, of several ethnic and racial strains, in continuous transformation. The Native Americans, the early Europeans and the first black slaves developed intricate life ways that merged Old World or African traditions and New World experiences - an evolution that articulated new cultural identities and prepared the settlers for the idea of political independence.